As the internet becomes an increasingly important source of information for the public, government repression is shifting from traditional journalists to bloggers, according to the latest Worldwide Press Freedom Index issued by Reporters Without Borders. The report notes the arrest of bloggers in China, Egypt, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as the case of San Francisco blogger Josh Wolf, who was jailed for eight months for refusing to provide evidence in a grand jury investigation. "We are concerned about the increase in cases of online censorship," the organization states. "More and more governments have realised that the Internet can play a key role in the fight for democracy and they are establishing new methods of censoring it. The governments of repressive countries are now targeting bloggers and online journalists as forcefully as journalists in the traditional media."
CRIMES AND CORRUPTION OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER NEWS: House passes Homegrown Terrorist Act: See the document that could get me arrested
Complaint Filed Against Former Defense Secretary for Torture, Abuse
at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib
October 26, 2007, Paris, France – Today, the International Federation
for Human Rights (FIDH) along with the Center for Constitutional
Rights (CCR), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
(ECCHR), and the French League for Human Rights (LDH) filed a
complaint with the Paris Prosecutor before the "Court of First
Instance" (Tribunal de Grande Instance) charging former Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld with ordering and authorizing torture.
Rumsfeld was in Paris for a talk sponsored by Foreign Policy magazine.
"The filing of this French case against Rumsfeld demonstrates that we
will not rest until those U.S. officials involved in the torture
program are brought to justice. Rumsfeld must understand that he has
no place to hide. A torturer is an enemy of all humankind," said CCR
President Michael Ratner.
"France is under the obligation to investigate and prosecute
Rumsfeld's accountability for crimes of torture in Guantanamo and
Iraq. France has no choice but to open an investigation if an alleged
torturer is on its territory. I hope that the fight against impunity
will not be sacrificed in the name of politics. We call on France to
refuse to be a safe haven for criminals." said FIDH President Souhayr
"We want to combat impunity and therefore demand a judicial
investigation and a criminal prosecution wherever there is
jurisdiction over the torture incidents," said ECCHR General
Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck.
"That a criminal State representative should benefit from impunity is
always unacceptable. Because the USA is the super power of the
beginning of this century and, above all, because it is a democracy,
the impunity of Donald Rumsfeld is even more insufferable than that
of a Hissène Habré or a Radovan Karadzic", underlined Jean-Pierre
Dubois, LDH President.
The criminal complaint states that because of the failure of
authorities in the United States and Iraq to launch any independent
investigation into the responsibility of Rumsfeld and other
high-level U.S. officials for torture despite a documented paper
trail and government memos implicating them in direct as well as
command responsibility for torture – and because the U.S. has refused
to join the International Criminal Court – it is the legal obligation
of states such as France to take up the case.
In this case, charges are brought under the 1984 Convention against
Torture, ratified by both the United States and France, which has
been used in France in previous torture cases.
French courts therefore have an obligation under the Convention
against Torture to prosecute individuals responsible for acts of
torture if they are present on French territory (1). This will be the
only case filed while he is in the country, which makes the
obligations to investigate and prosecute under international law
Rumsfeld's presence on French territory gives French courts
jurisdiction to prosecute him for having ordered and authorized
torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in
Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.
In addition, having resigned from his position of U.S. Secretary of
Defense a year ago, Rumsfeld can no longer try to claim immunity as a
head of state or government official. Nor can he claim immunity as
former state official, as international law does not recognize such
immunity in the case of international crimes including the crime of torture.
Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, former commander
of Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, submitted written
testimony to the Paris Prosecutor for the plaintiffs' case on
Rumsfeld's responsibility for the abuse of detainees.
This is the fifth time Rumsfeld has been charged with direct
involvement in torture stemming from his role in the Bush
administration's program of torture post-9/11.
Two previous criminal complaints were filed in Germany under its
universal jurisdiction statute, which allows Germany to prosecute
serious international crimes regardless of where they occurred or the
nationality of the perpetrators or victims. One case was filed in
fall 2004 by CCR, FIDH, and Berlin attorney Wolfgang Kaleck; that
case was dismissed in February 2005 in response to official pressure
from the U.S., in particular from the Pentagon.
The second case was filed in fall 2006 by the same groups as well as
dozens of national and international human rights groups, Nobel Peace
Prize winners and the United Nations former Special Rapporteur on
Torture. The 2006 complaint was presented on behalf of 12 Iraqi
citizens who had been held and abused in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq
and one Saudi citizen still held at Guantánamo. This case was
dismissed in April 2007, and an appeal will be filed against this
decision next week.
Two other cases were filed against Rumsfeld in Argentina in 2005 and
in Sweden in 2007.
The complaint and the documents attached are available on FIDH Website :
Press contact : Karine Appy + 33 1 43 55 14 12 / + 33 1 43 55 25 18 /
+ 33 6 68 42 93 47
(1) See articles 689 para 1 and 2 of the french Code of Criminal Procedure :
- Article 689-1)
In accordance with the international Conventions quoted in the
following articles, a person guilty of committing any of the offences
listed by these provisions outside the territory of the Republic and
who happens to be in France may be prosecuted and tried by French
courts. The provisions of the present article apply to attempts to
commit these offences, in every case where attempt is punishable.
- Article 689-2
For the implementation of the Convention against Torture and
other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted in
New York on 10th December 1984, any person guilty of torture in the
sense of article 1 of the Convention may be prosecuted and tried in
accordance with the provisions of article 689-1.
At the beginning of October, the Labour government “activated” part three of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) granting various branches of the state wide powers to access telephone records without recourse to a judge.
According to some reports, up to 800 state bodies and agencies can now seek access to telephone records, including all of Britain’s local authorities and even such quasi-non-governmental organisations as the Scottish Ambulance Service Board or the Food Standards Agency.
Security and Counter-terrorism Minister Tony McNulty told BBC Radio 4 that the data could provide three levels of information, with the simplest being about the phone’s owner. The second level of data is not merely about the subscriber, “but also the calls made by that phone.
“And the third level, which is purely for the security forces, police, etc., is not just the subscriber information and the calls made, but also the calls coming in and location data—where the calls are made from.”
Since telecom operators retain geographic data about the “cells” over which calls are routed, these provide sufficient information to locate a mobile phone. In urban areas, where the cell transmitters are very densely sited, this enables a phone’s position to be calculated to within a few feet.
Further powers include demanding encryption keys that may have been used to encrypt data and emails be handed over, with failure to comply attracting a possible prison sentence of from two to five years.
Under section 49 of RIPA, the police can serve a notice requiring encrypted data to be “put into an intelligible form”—i.e., decrypted. It can force people to hand over their encryption keys, which will then be held by the National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC). According to the Home Office, this is a “twenty-four hour centre operated on behalf of all the law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies, providing a central facility for the complex processing needed to derive intelligible material from lawfully intercepted computer-to-computer communications and from lawfully seized computer data that are increasingly encrypted.”
The government has sought to justify this extension of state powers mainly by citing the “fight against terrorism,” but it has also admitted that the use of encryption has grown more rapidly than it had anticipated, and that this is also a reason why it has now “activated” the powers already contained in RIPA when it was placed on the statute books in 2000.
The new powers provide a quasi-judicial veneer for the fact that various state agencies were already seeking far wider access to private data, and this is set to expand even further. A commentary by the civil liberties organisation Statewatch in 2003 had already noted that “hundreds of thousands of requests for access to communication data are already being made by agencies even though there is no legal power to do so.”
According to a report this month by the civil and human rights group Liberty, there were “nearly 440,000 authorisations for communications data traffic between June 2005 and March 2006.”
This massive extension of the state’s powers to intrude into the life of the ordinary citizen was introduced without recourse to a debate in parliament but through the mechanism of a “parliamentary instrument” signed by the home secretary, Jacquie Smith, which one press report said was “quietly approved” in July.
The government claims to have held “full consultation” on the introduction of the new measures, but this is contested by those who follow civil liberties issues closely. Writing in the Observer newspaper, Henry Porter said, “Yeah, right. When? With whom? The Welsh Ambulance Service? The Postal Services Commission? Wychavon district council? All of them can now acquire your phone records. There was absolutely no debate about this, and it is nothing but a straight lie to claim otherwise.”
“We are not intruding into people’s private lives,” a Home Office spokesperson said, going on to claim that the exercise of the new powers was consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights and UK Human Rights Act, as long as the demand for decryption is “both necessary and proportionate.”
But who decides what is “necessary and proportionate”? And what public scrutiny is there to ensure that these powers are not being abused arbitrarily?
To require judicial approval for such a level of access requests would completely swamp the court system. So authorisation has been devolved to what Statewatch has called the office of the “toothless” Interception of Communications Commissioner, “which is hardly likely to engender public confidence.”
“The holders of this post, and the Tribunal to which members of the public can complain about surveillance, were created under the 1985 Interceptions of Communications Act (now replaced by RIPA 2000), have never in the eighteen years of their existence upheld a complaint,” according to Statewatch.
In a further Kafkaesque twist, those receiving a notice under section 49 of RIPA are legally prohibited from telling anyone apart from their lawyer about it.
Since 2004, telecom and Internet service providers have voluntarily provided data when requested; now, they will be required to retain such information for one year. However, since the provisions only apply to data within the UK, large corporations could easily avoid this by keeping their data and encryption keys offshore.
By 2009, the retention of data including Internet sites visited, emails sent and VOIP (Voice over IP or Internet telephony) will be mandatory.
This will put into UK law the highly contentious European Commission Directive on mandatory data retention, adopted in 2005, and will replace the current “voluntary” code introduced in the UK in 2003. This regulation does not just cover terrorism but all crime, however minor.
Not only in Britain but throughout Europe and internationally, the rights to free speech and personal privacy are being seriously eroded, with governments habitually citing the “fight against terrorism” to justify their mounting curtailment of long-standing democratic norms.
“Nothing to hide, nothing to fear” is the false mantra repeated by ministers of every political stripe.
But the latest extension of state powers in Britain through RIPA means historically determined democratic rights such as the presumption of innocence and against arbitrary state actions are being further abrogated. Such laws, enabling almost routine trawling operations through mountains of personal data by the state, weight the balance of power overwhelming in favour of “state rights” against those of the individual citizen.
Yahoo officials have been asked to testify before a House committee in November about a Chinese journalist's case.
Lantos, a California representative and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, asked Yahoo Inc. officials to testify about the company's role in a case that sent Chinese newspaper writer and editor Shi to prison on a 10-year sentence.
Lantos asked Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Jerry Yang and Senior Vice President and General Counsel Michael Callahan to appear November 6.
"Our committee has established that Yahoo provided false information to Congress in early 2006," Lantos said in a written statement. "We want to clarify how that happened, and to hold the company to account for its actions both before and after its testimony proved untrue. And we want to examine what steps the company has taken since then to protect the privacy rights of its users in China."
The newspaper reporter had posted information under a pseudonym on an overseas Web site called Democracy Forum about a government crackdown on media and democracy activists, Lantos said.
Shi was later arrested in his home in Beijing after Yahoo gave Chinese authorities information about his e-mail account, his computer address, his log-on history and the contents of several weeks of his e-mail, Lantos said.
Lantos said a Yahoo official testified last year that the company knew nothing "about the nature of the investigation" of Shi, a pro-democracy activist now serving time on what Lantos called "trumped-up charges."
China puts the squeeze on Web controls
"We have now learned there is much more to the story than Yahoo let on, and a Chinese government document that Yahoo had in their possession at the time of the hearing left little doubt of the government's intentions," said Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey.
"U.S. companies must hold the line and not work hand in glove with the secret police."
In a written statement, Yahoo spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said Yahoo representatives have been truthful with Congress. He called the House committee's accusation "grossly unfair" and said it "mischaracterizes the nature and intent of our past testimony."
During a February 2006 subcommittee hearing on limits to freedom on the Internet in China, Lantos and Smith questioned Callahan about Shi.
Callahan testified to the subcommittee that Yahoo handed over the information to Chinese authorities at a time when it knew nothing about the investigation, Lantos said.
But the San Francisco, California-based human-rights group The Dui Hua Foundation released documents in July indicating police in China had written to Yahoo saying they were seeking evidence about Shi for illegally "providing state secrets to foreign entities," a charge frequently levied against political dissidents in China.
"This new documentation suggests that Yahoo's Beijing office was at least aware of the general nature of the crime being investigated in the Shi Tao case," said Joshua Rosenzweig, manager of research and publications for The Dui Hua Foundation.
Even if Yahoo was unaware of the specific circumstances of the Chinese government's inquiry, "One does not have to be an expert in Chinese law to know that 'state secrets' charges have often been used to punish political dissent in China," said Rosenzweig.
Shi has appealed his 10-year sentence for divulging state secrets, saying he did not know the information he shared was classified. He accused the police of using improper procedures in the investigation and arrest.
In addition, he has filed suit in U.S. federal court against Yahoo and its Hong Kong-based subsidiary.
Yahoo's spokeswoman said the company is working with other companies and the human rights community "to develop a global code of conduct for operating in countries around the world, including China."
10TH OCTOBER 2007
Press Contact Andrew Beckett or Sarah Johnson 07875 708873
5 PEOPLE ARRESTED FOR KARAOKE!
Police arrested 5 people during a peaceful demonstration outside a
Brighton-based arms manufacturer today. Thirty people turned out to
demonstrate against the factory during a themed ‘Bad Karaoke’
demonstration. Over 40 police were present.
The police used a local byelaw to seize the karaoke machine and
arrested 5 people, during a rendition of “We are the champions”
one of them aged only 16. Although members of a BBC film crew were
present this did not stop the police from aggressively arresting 3
more people. Police then surrounded protesters and pushed them away
from the site of their regular Wednesday demonstrations to the bottom
of the road.
Sarah Johnson said “We have been protesting outside this factory
for four years. This is the most heavy handed policing we’ve seen
outside this factory in over two years. Arms dealers EDO have used
Sussex police as their rotweillers before and their efforts have
ended in failure and humiliation for the company. This is a desperate
act by a failing company. The community has shown time and again that
this aggression will not silence us. We will continue to protest
against EDO until it has been shut down.”
Press Contact Andrew Beckett or Sarah Johnson 07875 708873
Notes for Journalists
EDO MBM Technologies Ltd are the sole subsidiary of
huge U.S arms conglomerate EDO Corp. They supply
crucial components for Raytheon's Paveway guided bomb
system, widely used in the "Shock and Awe" campaign in
Campaign against EDO MBM.
EDO MBM makes electrical weapons components for the
Israeli military. EDO MBM manufactures components to
be incorporated into the Hellfire missile, which the
Israeli army has recently used to attack the civilian
population of Gaza . They have organised conferences
on the development of UCAVs, unmanned aircraft which
are widely used in aerial attacks on Gaza . EDO
Corporation, of which EDO MBM Brighton is a wholly
owned trading unit, has a direct contract with the
Israeli Navy who murdered 10 civilians on a beach near
Beit Lahiya, Gaza, earlier this month.
People involved in the anti-EDO campaign include, but
are not limited to: local residents, the Brighton
Quakers, peace activists, anti-capitalists, Palestine
Solidarity groups, human rights groups, trade
unionists, academics and students.
The campaign started in August 2004 with a peace camp.
It's avowed aim is to expose EDO MBM and their
complicity in war crimes and to remove them from
Contact Andrew Beckett or Sarah Johnson For more
Email - email@example.com
From Iraq To Burma: Hypocrisy
Rules The West
By Paul Craig Roberts
01 October, 2007
Shame has vanished from Western "civilization." Hypocrisy has taken its place.
On September 28, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown could be heard on National Public Radio decrying the use of violence against democratic protesters by the government in Burma. Brown declared the British people's revulsion over the violence inflicted by the Burmese government on its people. But Brown said nothing about the violence the British government was inflicting on Iraqis and Afghans.
George W. Bush also struck the blameless pose when he declared: "The world is watching the people of Burma take to the streets to demand their freedom, and the American people stand in solidarity with these brave individuals."
Bush and Brown do not have the same sympathy for the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan. Neither Bush nor Brown stand in solidarity with those who are demanding their freedom from foreign occupation by American and British troops. Indeed, Bush and Brown, as commanders in chief, are on a killing spree that makes the government in Burma look extremely restrained by comparison.
Why were British soldiers sent to kill Iraqis and Afghans? September 11 had nothing whatsoever to do with the UK. No doubt but that the corrupt Tony Blair was paid off to drag the British people into Bush's Middle East war for American/Israeli hegemony, but Brown has done nothing to terminate Bush's use of the British military as mercenaries.
The NPR announcers also supported the Burmese people, but they, too, show little disturbance over Bush's five-year old wars that we now know were based entirely on lies. Al Qaeda is not the Taliban, and Iraq had no WMD. Neither country was a threat to the US. Now that we know this, why does the media still give Bush and Brown a free pass to use violence against Iraqis and Afghans?
To cut to the chase, what is the difference between Bush and Brown on one hand and the murderous Burmese government on the other? Bush and Brown are actually worse. They pretend to be democrats concerned with what people actually want. The Burmese government doesn't pretend to be anything but a military dictatorship. Moreover, the Burmese government is clean by comparison as it hasn't committed acts of naked aggression--war crimes under the Nuremberg standard--by invading other countries and attempting to occupy them.
Despite all the killing Bush has accomplished, he thirsts for yet more blood. Iran is in his and Israel's sights. All indications are that Bush is going to attack Iran. Propaganda, demonizations, and crass lies are pouring out of the Bush regime and its media and academic propagandists such as Columbia University president Lee Bollinger. Both parties in Congress have lined up behind the coming attack on Iran. The despicable senator Joe Lieberman even snuck language into a bill to give Bush the go ahead.
Who is going to stop Bush from a third war crime? Not his vice president, Not his national security adviser, not his secretary of defense. Not his secretary of state. Not Congress. Not the US military. Not the corporate fat cats. Not the Israel Lobby. Not the bought and paid for "allies." Not the anti-war movement. Not the American people. Certainly not the media.
Americans are content with whatever crimes their government commits as long as the justification is Americans' safety.
Americans' willingness to murder others out of fear for their own safety is a result of September 11. The antiwar movement is impotent, because it has accepted the government's 9/11 story. To oppose a war when you accept the government's reason for the war is an indefensible position.
The Bush regime knows that if people will believe its 9/11 story, they will believe anything. Propaganda silences facts, and Americans fall for one set of falsehoods after another. The alleged 9/11 hijackers all came from countries allied with the US, principally Saudi Arabia, but Americans believe the government's lies that Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Syria are responsible. Americans have been convinced that without "regime change" in these countries, the American superpower will remain helpless in face of stateless Muslims armed with box cutters.
Americans have been brainwashed to believe that Muslims hate us for our "freedom and democracy," whereas in fact the problem is the US government's immoral foreign policy and interference in the internal affairs of Muslim countries. Bush's message to the Middle East is clear: Be a puppet state or be destroyed.
In the meantime, to prevent democracy and civil liberties from getting in the way of making Americans safe, Bush has set aside habeas corpus, due process, right to legal representation, privacy, and the separation of powers mandated by the US Constitution. Otherwise, Bush says, we will lose the "war on terror."
Bush says he has made Americans safe by ridding them of these constitutional impediments to their safety. And once American bombs fall on Iran and Syria, those countries will be free and democratic, too, like Iraq and Afghanistan.
In leading Americans to this conclusion, Bush has sunk the United States to a new low in human intelligence and morality.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com
AL-HAQ PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
18 September 2007
UK High Court of Justice to Hear Legal Challenge
on UK Sale of Arms-Related Equipment to Israel
A full public hearing will be held before the UK High Court of Justice in London on 10 -11 October 2007 in the case of R (Saleh Hasan) v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. Following the blanket refusal by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to respond to the claimant’s request for a justification of UK policy on arms-related sales to Israel, the High Court will hear arguments in a claim filed on 15 November 2006 by UK Solicitor Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), in cooperation with Al-Haq.
PIL will argue that the UK’s sale of arms-related equipment to Israel is in breach of UK obligations under international law as well as UK statutory law, specifically, the UK Export Control Act of 2002, which incorporates the “consolidated criteria” governing the export of military equipment. According to these criteria, the UK government may not issue export licenses to countries where there is a clear risk that the export might be used for “[i]nternal repression…in violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms as set out in relevant international human rights instruments” or where export would be “inconsistent with…the UK’s international obligations”. The “consolidated criteria” also makes clear that “special caution and vigilance” should be exercised in the case of prospective arms-related sales to countries where serious human rights violations have been established by competent bodies.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest judicial authority in the United Nations, in its 2004 advisory opinion on the legality of the Israeli Annexation Wall definitively established that Israel’s human rights record is severely compromised. The Court declared the illegality of the construction of the Wall and its associated regime in the West Bank under both international human rights and humanitarian law. The ICJ called for its dismantling and found that all States have a legal obligation to neither recognise the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the Wall nor render any aid or assistance in maintaining the situation.
The claimant, Saleh Hasan, a 60-year old resident of Bethlehem, is one of tens of thousands of Palestinians who until now have found no effective remedy for Israel’s unlawful acts. In 2005, Israel used military equipment to bulldoze agricultural assets and permanently confiscate his land in order to make way for the Wall. That same year, one year after the ICJ advisory opinion on the Wall, the UK’s arms-related exports to Israel saw a two-fold increase.
PIL will argue that the UK government had and continues to have clear evidence from authoritative international bodies that Israel might use equipment imported from the UK for purposes prohibited under the “consolidated criteria.” As such PIL will seek a declaration from the High Court that in future the UK Government must be transparent about how it has satisfied itself that there is no risk of a breach of these criteria and to make publicly available information that establishes there is no risk of any arms related products from the UK being used for repressive purposes. In the absence of any legal justification for continuing its current policy, Al-Haq, PIL and Palestinians like Saleh Hasan call on the UK government to suspend all arms-related exports to Israel until such time as Israel complies in full with its obligations under international law.
This hearing is of great significance, and any support you can offer is most welcome. Aside from actually attending the hearing, it would be greatly appreciated if you could forward this letter to any other parties you think may be interested. Al-Haq is in the process of organising various public meetings prior to the hearing. Please do not hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, comments or require further information pertaining to the case.
- Ends -
For a listing of all events on Palestine in the UK please visit the PSC website: www.palestinecampaign.org
Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Box BM PSA
Tel: 020 7700 6192
Fax: 020 7609 7779