Tuesday, February 22, 2011
As Clinton Hawks 'Freedom to Connect,' Justice Department Shields 'War on Terror' Fraudsters, Targets WikiLeaks
by Tom Burghardt
While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was praising the role that the internet played in toppling oppressive regimes (ironically enough, close U.S. allies), the Justice Department was in court in Alexandria, Virginia seeking to invade the privacy and political rights of WikiLeaks supporters even as it shields well-connected "War on Terror" fraudsters.
Scarcely batting an eyelash, Madame Clinton told her audience at George Washington University that "the goal is not to tell people how to use the internet any more than we ought to tell people how to use any public square, whether it's Tahrir Square or Times Square."
Rich with rhetorical flourishes that should have evoked gales of laughter but didn't (this is America, after all), Clinton averred that "together, the freedoms of expression, assembly, and association online comprise what I've called the freedom to connect. The United States supports this freedom for people everywhere, and we have called on other nations to do the same."
Has the honorable Secretary attended a demonstration of late, or found herself on the receiving end of a police baton, a rubber bullet, a jolt from a taser or ear-piercing blast from a "nonlethal" sonic weapon?
Or perhaps Madame Clinton has been served with a National Security Letter that arrives with its own built-in, permanent gag order, had her organization infiltrated by provocateurs, been the focus of "spear phishing" attacks by a secret state agency, say the FBI or one of their private contractors, who've implanted surveillance software on her laptop or smart phone, or summoned by subpoena to appear before a Star Chamber-like grand jury?
I didn't think so.
The Secretary's hypocrisy and mendacity would be amusing if the American people hadn't already lived through a decade where the cheapening of constitutional rights, particularly First and Fourth Amendment guarantees, hadn't been eroded to the point of savage annihilation by all branches of government and by both capitalist parties.
After all, in the filthy Washington trough where money rules, "liberal" Democrats and "conservative" Republicans alike are joined at the hip and outdo one another in paying obeisance to the National Security State.
Indeed, just a hop, skip and a jump across the icy Potomac, an Alexandria courthouse witnessed the "change" regime's Justice Department move to seize the contents of private Twitter accounts, including those of left-wing Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, and other WikiLeaks supporters.
While Mrs. Clinton hypocritically praised the role of social networking sites in helping to bring down torture-friendly, corrupt regimes in Egypt and Tunisia (close U.S. allies in the multibillion dollar kabuki dance known as the "War on Terror"), a grand jury was investigating whether there are grounds for filing criminal charges against WikiLeaks, its founder Julian Assange, and the heroic Bradley Manning, the incarcerated Army private suspected of leaking compromising files to the organization.
Outraged by revelations of American war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Apache helicopter gunship murder of a dozen people, including two Reuters journalists, as well as the release of thousands of diplomatic cables, the secret state is bringing the full weight of its formidable machinery down upon anyone, anywhere who have the temerity to challenge the lies of our militarist masters.
Denouncing the Obama regime's latest assault, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argued that forcing Twitter to turn over users' data to the government would hand the state a veritable road map of people connected to WikiLeaks, including journalists who may have communicated with the group, and would seriously chill free speech.
EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn pointed out that "Twitter is a publication and communication service, so the information sought by the government relates to what these individuals said and where they were when they said it. This raises serious First and Fourth Amendment concerns. It is especially troubling since the request seeks information about all statements made by these people, regardless of whether their speech relates to WikiLeaks."
Public knowledge of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's criminal probe recently surfaced when U.S. Magistrate Theresa Carroll Buchanan, granted a motion by three Twitter clients that partially unsealed some government filings in the case.
Plaintiffs' attorneys argued that Buchanan should overturn her earlier ruling ordering Twitter "to disclose its clients' data, as well as unseal documents in the case, including requests from prosecutors to get information from other technology companies," the The Washington Post reported.
When news of the federal government's fishing expedition first broke in January, The New York Times reported that what made the case unusual weren't de rigueur secret state subpoenas, but the fact that Twitter challenged the Justice Department's gag order "and won the right to inform the people whose records the government was seeking."
The Times noted that "WikiLeaks says it suspects that other large sites like Google and Facebook have received similar requests and simply went along with the government."
Such demands, and long-suspected capitulation by internet behemoths Google and Facebook, are at the heart of current debates over data retention.
As security analyst and surveillance critic Christopher Soghoian pointed out last month, "The hypocrisy of the government's push for such data retention is clear when compared to the extreme efforts that government agencies go to in order to shield their own communications, documents and other records from the American people."
Particularly when lawbreaking by favored contractors are cloaked by bogus claims of "national security."