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Archive for the ‘Edward Snowden’ Category

Panama Papers Fallout: Geneva, Switzerland

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More than a week ago now, the NYT‘s Nick Cumming, Bruce and Eric Liptonjune wrote that an “employee of the law firm at the center of the leaks of the Panama Papers, which have revealed offshore wealth held in secretive accounts worldwide, has been arrested here on charges of data theft, one of the employee’s lawyers, Romain Jordan, said on Wednesday [, 15 June 2016] It was not immediately clear what connection, if any, the person might have had with the Panama Papers, a trove of 11.5 million documents from a Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca. A consortium of news organizations began publishing findings from the documents — some dating to the 1970s — in April [2016], and the disclosures have prompted investigations of politicians and other prominent figures around the world. On Wednesday, the Swiss newspaper Le Temps reported that an information technology employee in the Geneva office of Mossack Fonseca had been arrested on suspicion of stealing confidential information. Computer equipment was seized as part of the inquiry, Le Temps reported. Asked about the report, a spokesman for Claudio Mascotto, the chief prosecutor in Geneva, declined to comment. The spokesman said only that the office had opened a criminal investigation based on a complaint filed by Mossack Fonseca. The employee’s name was not made public, and the lawyer did not give his client’s name or provide any detail about him. Le Temps quoted a lawyer for Mossack Fonseca, Thierry Ulmann, as saying: ‘What we know is that the data were removed from his computer in Geneva and that this I.T. worker had full access privileges'”.[1]

Thierry Ulmann

Thierry Ulmann told Le Temps that “[t]he law firm filed a complaint against the worker for illegal removal of data and for violating the confidentiality of the law firm”.[2] The Süddeutsche Zeitung‘s Bastian Obermayer “said on Wednesday [,15 June 2016] that the man arrested in Geneva was not his source who leaked the documents, but left open the possibility that there might be more than one person behind the leaks. In a phone interview, Mr. Obermayer said [furthermore] of the man arrested in Geneva, ‘We can say that it is not the person that we have been in contact with’, a statement he also made on Twitter”.[3] Obermayer then said that “[t]here is still a theoretical possibility that John Doe is many persons, and one of them might be this person”.

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AFP reports that ‘[t]he spokesman for the Geneva’s prosecutor’s office, Henri Della Casa, told AFP that “a criminal case has been opened . . . following a complaint by Mossack Fonseca.” He declined to comment on whether an arrest had been made. News of the detention was first given by the Swiss newspaper Le Temps, which said it had no information on whether the arrested individual was the so-called “John Doe” who has claimed credit for the unprecedented “Panama Papers” leak. Mossack Fonseca said in April [2016] that the leak was the result of a hack that came from foreign servers’.[4]

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[1] Nick Cumming, Bruce and Eric Liptonjune, “Employee of Panama Papers Law Firm, Mossack Fonseca, Is Arrested in Switzerland” New York Times (15 June 2016). http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/16/world/europe/employee-of-panama-papers-law-firm-mossack-fonseca-is-arrested-in-switzerland.html.

[2] Nick Cumming, Bruce and Eric Liptonjune, “Employee of Panama Papers Law Firm, Mossack Fonseca”.

[3] Nick Cumming, Bruce and Eric Liptonjune, “Employee of Panama Papers Law Firm, Mossack Fonseca”.

[4] “‘Panama Papers’ firm demands prosecution of suspect in Switzerland” AFP (18 June 2016). https://www.wort.lu/en/business/mossack-fonseca-panama-papers-firm-demands-prosecution-of-suspect-in-switzerland-5764ed8cac730ff4e7f62200.

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Panama Papers: The Revolution Will Be Digitized

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About a month ago, the Panama Papers were first revealed . . . and the world has never been the same, or rather, for a few days the whole world was abuzz but then the buzz died down and people went about their business as usual. In the coming days, the whole circus is set to start up anew: “On May 9 ICIJ will publish information about secret offshore companies and the people behind them, based on data from the Panama Papers investigation. The searchable database will include information about more than 200,000 companies, trusts, foundations and funds incorporated in 21 tax havens, from Hong Kong to Nevada in the United States”.

Panama Papers (2016)

John Doe has now broken his silence and issued a public statement explaining himself: “Titled The Revolution Will Be Digitized the 1800-word statement gives justification for the leak, saying that “income inequality is one of the defining issues of our time” and says that government authorities need to do more to address it. Süddeutsche Zeitung has authenticated that the statement came from the Panama Papers source”.[i] And here are some of his words: “Income inequality is one of the defining issues of our time. It affects all of us, the world over. The debate over its sudden acceleration has raged for years, with politicians, academics and activists alike helpless to stop its steady growth despite countless speeches, statistical analyses, a few meagre protests, and the occasional documentary. Still, questions remain: why? And why now? The Panama Papers provide a compelling answer to these questions: massive, pervasive corruption. And it’s not a coincidence that the answer comes from a law firm. More than just a cog in the machine of ‘wealth management’, Mossack Fonseca used its influence to write and bend laws worldwide to favour the interests of criminals over a period of decades. In the case of the island of Niue, the firm essentially ran a tax haven from start to finish. Ramón Fonseca and Jürgen Mossack would have us believe that their firm’s shell companies, sometimes called ‘special purpose vehicles’, are just like cars. But used car salesmen don’t write laws. And the only ‘special purpose’ of the vehicles they produced was too often fraud, on a grand scale”.[2]

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And then, John Doe goes on to explain himself: “For the record, I do not work for any government or intelligence agency, directly or as a contractor, and I never have. My viewpoint is entirely my own, as was my decision to share the documents with Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), not for any specific political purpose, but simply because I understood enough about their contents to realize the scale of the injustices they described. The prevailing media narrative thus far has focused on the scandal of what is legal and allowed in this system. What is allowed is indeed scandalous and must be changed. But we must not lose sight of another important fact: the law firm, its founders, and employees actually did knowingly violate myriad laws worldwide, repeatedly. Publicly they plead ignorance, but the documents show detailed knowledge and deliberate wrongdoing. At the very least we already know that Mossack personally perjured himself before a federal court in Nevada, and we also know that his information technology staff attempted to cover up the underlying lies. They should all be prosecuted accordingly with no special treatment. In the end, thousands of prosecutions could stem from the Panama Papers, if only law enforcement could access and evaluate the actual documents. ICIJ and its partner publications have rightly stated that they will not provide them to law enforcement agencies. I, however, would be willing to cooperate with law enforcement to the extent that I am able”.[3]

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As an apparently self-conscious and strong-willed whistleblower and moral crusader, John Doe then goes on to make the following case: “I call on the European Commission, the British Parliament, the United States Congress, and all nations to take swift action not only to protect whistleblowers, but to put an end to the global abuse of corporate registers. In the European Union, every member state’s corporate register should be freely accessible, with detailed data plainly available on ultimate beneficial owners. The United Kingdom can be proud of its domestic initiatives thus far, but it still has a vital role to play by ending financial secrecy on its various island territories, which are unquestionably the cornerstone of institutional corruption worldwide. And the United States can clearly no longer trust its fifty states to make sound decisions about their own corporate data. It is long past time for Congress to step in and force transparency by setting standards for disclosure and public access. And while it’s one thing to extol the virtues of government transparency at summits and in sound bites, it’s quite another to actually implement it. It is an open secret that in the United States, elected representatives spend the majority of their time fundraising. Tax evasion cannot possibly be fixed while elected officials are pleading for money from the very elites who have the strongest incentives to avoid taxes relative to any other segment of the population. These unsavoury political practices have come full circle and they are irreconcilable. Reform of America’s broken campaign finance system cannot wait. Of course, those are hardly the only issues that need fixing. Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand has been curiously quiet about his country’s role in enabling the financial fraud Mecca that is the Cook Islands. In Britain, the Tories have been shameless about concealing their own practices involving offshore companies, while Jennifer Shasky Calvery, the director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the United States Treasury, just announced her resignation to work instead for HSBC, one of the most notorious banks on the planet (not coincidentally headquartered in London). And so the familiar swish of America’s revolving door echoes amidst deafening global silence from thousands of yet-to-be-discovered ultimate beneficial owners who are likely praying that her replacement is equally spineless. In the face of political cowardice, it’s tempting to yield to defeatism, to argue that the status quo remains fundamentally unchanged, while the Panama Papers are, if nothing else, a glaring symptom of our society’s progressively diseased and decaying moral”.[4]

Jennifer Shasky Calvery

Finally, John Doe calls for a revolution: “Democratic governance depends upon responsible individuals throughout the entire system who understand and uphold the law, not who understand and exploit it. On average, lawyers have become so deeply corrupt that it is imperative for major changes in the profession to take place, far beyond the meek proposals already on the table. To start, the term ‘legal ethics’, upon which codes of conduct and licensure are nominally based, has become an oxymoron. Mossack Fonseca did not work in a vacuum—despite repeated fines and documented regulatory violations, it found allies and clients at major law firms in virtually every nation. If the industry’s shattered economics were not already evidence enough, there is now no denying that lawyers can no longer be permitted to regulate one another. It simply doesn’t work. Those able to pay the most can always find a lawyer to serve their ends, whether that lawyer is at Mossack Fonseca or another firm of which we remain unaware. What about the rest of society? The collective impact of these failures has been a complete erosion of ethical standards, ultimately leading to a novel system we still call Capitalism, but which is tantamount to economic slavery. In this system—our system—the slaves are unaware both of their status and of their masters, who exist in a world apart where the intangible shackles are carefully hidden amongst reams of unreachable legalese. The horrific magnitude of detriment to the world should shock us all awake. But when it takes a whistleblower to sound the alarm, it is cause for even greater concern. It signals that democracy’s checks and balances have all failed, that the breakdown is systemic, and that severe instability could be just around the corner. So now is the time for real action, and that starts with asking questions. Historians can easily recount how issues involving taxation and imbalances of power have led to revolutions in ages past. Then, military might was necessary to subjugate peoples, whereas now, curtailing information access is just as effective or more so, since the act is often invisible. Yet we live in a time of inexpensive, limitless digital storage and fast internet connections that transcend national boundaries. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots: from start to finish, inception to global media distribution, the next revolution will be digitized. Or perhaps it has already begun”.[5]

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[1] “Panama Papers Source Offers Documents To Governments, Hints At More To Come” ICIJ. https://panamapapers.icij.org/20160506-john-doe-statement.html.

[2] “Panama Papers Source Offers Documents To Governments, Hints At More To Come”.

[3] “Panama Papers Source Offers Documents To Governments, Hints At More To Come”.

[4] “Panama Papers Source Offers Documents To Governments, Hints At More To Come”.

[5] “Panama Papers Source Offers Documents To Governments, Hints At More To Come”.

War on Whistleblowers (2015)

‘With President Obama’s commitment to transparency and the passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, there was hope that whistleblowers would finally have more protection and encouragement to speak up. But according to the film, times have never been worse for national security whistleblowers. Obama’s administration has attacked more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined (28 May 2015)’.

Citizenfour

‘CITIZENFOUR is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute, giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA). Poitras had already been working on a film about surveillance for two years when Snowden contacted her, using the name “CITIZENFOUR,” in January 2013.  He reached out to her because he knew she had long been a target of government surveillance, stopped at airports numerous times, and had refused to be intimidated. When Snowden revealed he was a high-level analyst driven to expose the massive surveillance of Americans by the NSA, Poitras persuaded him to let her film. CITIZENFOUR places you in the room with Poitras, Greenwald, and Snowden as they attempt to manage the media storm raging outside, forced to make quick decisions that will impact their lives and all of those around them. CITIZENFOUR not only shows you the dangers of governmental surveillance—it makes you feel them. After seeing the film, you will never think the same way about your phone, email, credit card, web browser, or profile, ever again’.[1]

[1] “About” CITIZENFOUR. https://citizenfourfilm.com/about.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Government Surveillance or the Dick Pick Programme

 ‘There are very few government checks on what America’s sweeping surveillance programs are capable of doing. John Oliver sits down with Edward Snowden to discuss the NSA, the balance between privacy and security, and dick-pics (5 April 2015)’  

Documents show al-Baghdadi trained by MOSSAD???

‘Press TV has conducted an interview with Edward Corrigan, a human rights attorney, from Ontario, about the irony of American airstrikes on ISIL militants in Iraq, an entity created and supported by the US itself (23 August 2014)’.

The following is an approximate transcript of the interview

‘Press TV: The situation dealing with the ISIL terrorists continues to spiral out of control now we’ve seen that more and more Westerners are actually also involved in this. We see now in the United States, the UK and other Western governments condemning the terrorists for their actions. The question is, do you think they would have even gotten this far if it hadn’t been for the situation in Syria and basically the propping up of these kinds of groups by Western governments?

Edward Corrigan: I agree with that. I think the whole ISIS, ISIL were generated by the West. The Americans, the British, the Israelis have all been supporting them with arms and money; they’ve also gotten money from some Western client states like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. The original foundation is simply from British intelligence. According to documents supposedly released by Edward Snowden, Abu al-Baghdadi who is supposed to be the head of ISIL, he was trained by the MOSSAD for a year and may in fact be a MOSSAD agent. He is trying to organize Islamic fundamentalist and radicals to destroy the secular national Arab state of Syria and they’ve expanded into Iraq. But you’ve got the American government, British government and the Israelis supporting the Islamic fundamentalists in Syria, ISIL, giving them weapons and arms and at the same time they’re attacking them because they’re posing a threat to the American client state in Iraq. So you’re arming them in Syria and then you’re attacking the same people in Iraq. I think that’s my definition of insanity. You can’t have it both ways. The other thing is, according to documents released by Edward Snowden that this is sort of a honey-trap where they want to gather all of the Islamic radicals and militants in one place; they control them, use them for their own purposes, but also maybe in the end destroy them. And especially when you’re getting Islamic militants coming from the United States, Britain and other countries… the person who executed the gentleman journalist in Iraq, he had a British accent. So you are concentrating them there, using them to destroy Syria obviously, but now they are posing a threat to Iraq and they’re talking about attacking Saudi Arabia and other feudal countries in the Persian Gulf region. It’s a very dangerous game; it’s a crazy game… ISIL supposedly executed 2,000 Yazidis; they’re fighting the Iraqi government; they’re fighting the Kurds – the whole thing is chaos and destruction and out of that supposedly some people think they can get some sort of political and economic benefit. But it really is a crazy policy that doesn’t make any sense unless your idea is to destroy the whole region.

Press TV: What about what you just said, “unless your goal is to destroy the whole region”… When Western countries support this type of terrorist or extremist behavior, going into it do they not realize that it could also go back to haunt them? Obviously this type of insanity you can’t control and just limit to a particular country or region, but it will expand as we have seen so many individuals from all over the world joining in to fight for ISIL. So why can’t they as far as these political experts and strategists that look all at these situations prior to going into it, why could they not have foreseen this happening?

EC: It’s happened repeatedly. I think part of it is the arrogance of the CIA and British and Israeli planners because they think they can control the situation. But what you’re talking about is the term ‘blowback’, when you support Islamic radical to let’s say the Russian in Afghanistan and then when they turn on you and perhaps were involved in the 9/11 attack or other terrorist attacks against the United States… you train the you arm them you show them how to do things and then you’re happy they’re attacking the superpower of Russia in Afghanistan, but when they turn their attention to the other superpower then you get upset. But it’s something that they really set the dynamics for and trained people, armed them and given them the weapons. So you’ve given the weapons to ISIL in Syria and the same weapons end up in Iraq fighting allies of the American government. I think it’s arrogance and hubris that they think they can do it, but now they realize there is a real threat of blowback and terrorist attack especially if they’re British or American citizens who are trained at basically the defense of the Americans or the British and the Israelis and then they’re also going to resort to terrorism in their home countries’.

On his personal website, Corrigan calls himself a ‘Barrister & Solicitor’, adding that he is the “only specialist certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada in citizenship and immigration and also immigration and refugee protection in London and Central South-Western Ontario”.[1]

The Canadian Centre of Research on Globalization released a somewhat dubious and not necessarily completely trustworthy statement, attributed to the Gulf Daily News (with circular hyperlink provided): the “former employee at US National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden, has revealed that the British and American intelligence and the Mossad worked together to create the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Snowden said intelligence services of three countries created a terrorist organisation that is able to attract all extremists of the world to one place, using a strategy called “the hornet’s nest”. NSA documents refer to recent implementation of the hornet’s nest to protect the Zionist entity by creating religious and Islamic slogans. According to documents released by Snowden, “The only solution for the protection of the Jewish state “is to create an enemy near its borders”. Leaks revealed that ISIS leader and cleric Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi took intensive military training for a whole year in the hands of Mossad, besides courses in theology and the art of speech”.[2]

 

 

[1] Citizenship and Immigration Law Office. http://www.edcorrigan.ca/.

[2] “ISIS Leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi Trained by Israeli Mossad, NSA Documents Reveal” Global Research (16 July 2014). http://www.globalresearch.ca/isis-leader-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-trained-by-israeli-mossad-nsa-documents-reveal/5391593.

A New Leaker or Revealing Obama’s Secretive Activities

On Tuesday, 5 August 2014, RT reported that the ‘United States government has concluded that a new leaker has been supplying members of the media with classified documents, CNN reported on Tuesday [, 5 August]. Earlier that day, The Intercept published a new article based off of disclosures provided to them by an unnamed source pertaining to the US government’s use of watchlists to monitor known and suspected terrorists. Previously, The Intercept has worked closely with top-secret National Security Agency documents admittedly provided to journalists by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the NSA. Tuesday’s leak, however, is of a document dated August 2013 — weeks after Snowden chose to identify himself as the source of the NSA leak and had already arrived in Moscow where he later received asylum and remains today”.[1]

On The Intercept, Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux disclose that these “documents, obtained from a source in the intelligence community, also reveal that the Obama Administration has presided over an unprecedented expansion of the terrorist screening system. Since taking office, Obama has boosted the number of people on the no fly list more than ten-fold, to an all-time high of 47,000—surpassing the number of people barred from flying under George W. Bush”.[2]

 

RT summarizes that “[a]ccording to the journalists’ report, more than 40 percent of the 680,000 individuals listed in the US Terrorist Screening Database shared with local police agencies, contractors and governments around the globe — or around 280,000 people — have ‘no recognized terrorist group affiliation’. Additionally, the documents reveal that the number of people barred from flying in the US — entrees on the infamous ‘no-fly list’ — has increased by 10-times since President Barack Obama entered the White House in 2009 to a total of around 47,000 . . . Tuesday’s Intercept story contains a trove of previously unreported details concerning the administering of federal watchlists and its massive expansion under the Obama administration. As of 2013, the website reported, the main terrorism database operated by the US contains more than 860,000 biometric files on 144,000 people, who are but a sliver of the 680,000 individuals on the lists”.[3]

Scahill and Devereaux, for their part, explain that the “classified documents were prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center, the lead agency for tracking individuals with suspected links to international terrorism. Stamped “SECRET” and “NOFORN” (indicating they are not to be shared with foreign governments), they offer the most complete numerical picture of the watchlisting system to date. Among the revelations:

  • The second-highest concentration of people designated as ‘known or suspected terrorists’ by the government is in Dearborn, Mich.—a city of 96,000 that has the largest percentage of Arab-American residents in the country.
  • The government adds names to its databases, or adds information on existing subjects, at a rate of 900 records each day.
  • The CIA uses a previously unknown program, code-named Hydra, to secretly access databases maintained by foreign countries and extract data to add to the watchlists”.

Going on to say that a “U.S. counterterrorism official familiar with watchlisting data told The Intercept that as of November 2013, there were approximately 700,000 people in the Terrorist Screening Database, or TSDB, but declined to provide the current numbers. Last month, the Associated Press, citing federal court filings by government lawyers, reported that there have been 1.5 million names added to the watchlist over the past five years. The government official told The Intercept that was a misinterpretation of the data. ‘The list has grown somewhat since that time, but is nowhere near the 1.5 million figure cited in recent news reports’, he said. He added that the statistics cited by the Associated Press do not just include nominations of individuals, but also bits of intelligence or biographical information obtained on watchlisted persons”.[4]

17 Jan 2014

 

 

[1] “US officials: New leaker compromised national security documents after Snowden” RT (05 August 2014). http://rt.com/usa/178232-us-national-security-leaker-snowden/.

[2] Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux, “Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers” The Intercept (05 August 2014). https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/08/05/watch-commander/.

[3] “US officials: New leaker compromised national security documents after Snowden”.

[4] Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux, “Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers”.