Pan Africa Newswire
Demonstrators behind a barricade in Istanbul, Turkey on June 1, 2013. Unrest has continued for the last three days in the NATO country., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Police use tear gas against protesters in Ankara
Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:9AM GMT
The Turkish police have used tear gas against protesters in Ankara on the eleventh day of anti-government demonstrations in the country.
On Monday night, the Turkish riot police flooded Tunali Hilmi street in the capital which has not largely experienced demonstrations until now.
On the third consecutive night of clashes between protesters and police, most of the demonstrators escaped after they were charged by the police and the restaurant owners shut their restaurants to avoid the gas.
The new wave of protests came despite the fact that Erdogan had accepted to meet protest leaders earlier in the day.
On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Erdogan would meet the protest leaders on Wednesday, but did not say exactly who would be invited to the meeting.
For the past 11 days, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have held demonstrations in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Mugla, Antalya, and many other cities and towns.
Two protesters and a policeman have been killed and almost 4,800 people have been injured in the unrest, according to the Turkish Human Rights Association.
Erdogan has been harshly criticized for the way he has handled the crisis, and Amnesty International has censured the Turkish police for using excessive force against peaceful protesters.
The anti-government unrest began on May 31 after police broke up a sit-in staged in Istanbul’s Taksim Square to protest against the demolition of Gezi Park.
The protesters say Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and demonstrations as well as a popular tourist destination, is Istanbul's last green public space.
National Security Agency octupus conducts widespread surveillance of people in the United States and around the world. The US Senate recently gave broader authority to the state to carry out spying., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-snowden-20130610,0,6769836.story
Snowden leak shows the weakness of oversight
Our view: NSA whistleblower's revelations of disturbing but apparently legal surveillance suggest those who watch over America's secrets need watching themselves
5:30 PM EDT, June 10, 2013
The 29-year-old former CIA employee who admitted over the weekend to leaking documents about the National Security Agency's targeting of phone records, email accounts and Internet use of millions of Americans exemplified the ethical dilemma facing those who consider themselves government whistleblowers: They may firmly believe their fellow citizens have a right to know what the government is doing in their name, but if everyone with access to sensitive information felt justified in betraying the secrets entrusted to them, the government couldn't function.
Edward Snowden, the former Maryland resident who recently fled to Hong Kong from his job in Hawaii with government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, said he leaked the documents in order to alert Americans to the extent of the nation's intelligence agencies' reach into their private lives. The materials he provided documented the existence of a massive electronic surveillance program that appears to have operated for years in near-total secrecy with minimal congressional oversight.
Whether the programs he exposed are truly necessary to safeguard national security and whether they indeed represent a dangerous breach of Americans' privacy are now subjects of heated debate. But it is certainly true that the American public had no idea that such surveillance was being conducted, and it is also clear that those few members of Congress who did know considered it largely unremarkable. That disconnect suggests that those charged with watching over America's secret intelligence agencies may need watching themselves.
Earlier news reports had detailed the rise of a vast national security apparatus composed of dozens of government agencies and hundreds of private contractors since the terrorist attacks of 2001. According to an investigation by The Washington Post, the public and private entities that constitute what is known as "the intelligence community" collectively employ some 850,000 people with top-secret security clearances spread across the country and around the globe. Mr. Snowden says he was driven to act as he did because of his belief that the power and influence of this virtual state-within-a-state is so all-pervasive that ultimately it is beyond the control of any single individual and is accountable to no one.
Congress' reaction to Mr. Snowden's revelations has hardly been reassuring. Knowledge of the NSA's surveillance has been confined for years to a handful of legislative leaders charged with overseeing intelligence matters, who apparently had few misgivings about the agency's activities — or at least not enough to publicly question what was going on. Like many Americans, they seem to have tacitly accepted President Barack Obama's argument last week that the government is justified in invading citizens' privacy in order to keep the country safe and that the agency's data-collection program violated no laws.
That may be true as far as it goes — the special court set up to oversee secret intelligence programs seems to have been willing to go along with whatever the agency requested in the name of national security — but it also suggests that that the civilians responsible for monitoring such programs have been captured by the agencies they are supposed to oversee. In that respect they may differ little from the employees of government regulatory agencies who become so close to the industries they are supposed to be monitoring that they fail to protect the public interest. In this case the people watching over the nation's intelligence community clearly seem to have a different idea of what they're supposed to be doing than the rest of us.
That's why a more robust separation between the intelligence community and the lawmakers and judges charged with overseeing it is a necessity if the system of checks and balances in a democracy is to work. More frequent rotation of the senators and representatives on intelligence panels may be necessary, for example. As it is, most members of Congress aren't even privy to the details of intelligence community programs, despite the fact that they are ultimately responsible for funding the government agencies and contractors engaged in spying.
Mr. Snowden says he accepts the fact that he will likely be punished for revealing the existence of the NSA program, but unlike Bradley Manning, the former Army intelligence clerk currently on trial for giving classified material to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, Mr. Snowden's unauthorized release of classified material appears to be narrowly targeted. When Mr. Snowden found specific information he thought the public should know, he revealed only enough to document the truth of his allegations and nothing more. Mr. Manning, by contrast, indiscriminately dumped hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, apparently with little regard for the consequences.
Mr. Snowden's relative restraint may not exactly make him a hero — he still violated the oath he took to guard his country's secrets — but it should serve as a mitigating factor if and when he is ever called to account for his act of civil disobedience.
Egyptian prime minister meets with Qatar monarchy. Qatar says it will provide Egypt with natural gas amid shortages., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Qatar to give Egypt five natural gas cargoes over the summer
Reuters, Monday 10 Jun 2013
The gas-rich gulf state will grant Egypt five shipments of gas to meet its energy needs over the summer
Qatar will grant Egypt five shipments of natural gas to help Egyptians get through the summer, a statement from the Egyptian petroleum ministry said on Monday.
"Qatar will supply five cargos of liquefied natural gas as a gift to the Egyptian people during the summer months, with the first of these shipments beginning at the end of July (and continuing) until mid-September," Qatar's Energy and Industry Minister Mohammed Al-Sada was quoted as saying in the statement.
The statement did not give the size of the shipments
Cairo fuel shortages have prompted long lines at petrol stations. Egypt is facing an economic crisis stemming from its continued alliance with the imperialist states and their allies., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Govt steps up petrol deliveries to Egypt gas stations to offset shortages
Ahram Online , Monday 10 Jun 2013
In effort to ease Egypt's ongoing fuel shortage, government provides gas stations nationwide with additional 16,500 tonnes of petrol per day
The Egyptian government is providing petrol stations nationwide with an additional 16,500 tonnes per day of different types of petrol in an effort to counter ongoing shortages, Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website reported on Sunday.
Al-Ahram cited a petroleum ministry source – who preferred anonymity – as saying that the amounts to be provided would exceed the needs of Egyptian motorists.
The source added that Egypt currently produces 90 percent of its domestic petrol demand while importing 10 percent of the more expensive 95 octane, which is used in producing different types of petrol.
He added that around 52 percent of the fuel to be provided to petrol stations would be 80 octane, while 92 octane would account for 40 percent. 90 octane would account for the remaining 8 percent.
Over the last week, petrol stations nationwide have seen long lines of motorists waiting to fill up their tanks.
In April, Ahram Online interviewed then-petroleum minister Osama Kamal, who blamed ongoing fuel shortages on fuel smuggling activities caused by Egypt's post-revolution security vacuum.
Kamal estimated that smuggling and black market activity accounted for no less than 20 percent of all fuel provided by the ministry.
He also blamed users' consumption habits. "Fuel is not consumed rationally because it is sold at very cheap prices," Kamal asserted.
Shielded by government subsidies, fuel prices in Egypt remain among the cheapest in the world. The government last increased fuel prices in 2008.
One litre of diesel oil, used mainly in commercial vehicles, is currently sold at $0.15 per litre, while petrol 92 octane – used by private automobiles – is priced at a just above $0.25 per litre.
The government recently announced plans to introduce a smart-card system in July and August aimed at rationing subsidised fuel.
The new system will allow consumers to buy a limited amount of subsidised fuel, beyond which they will have to pay market prices. The system aims to reduce Egypt's annual energy subsidy bill by over LE30 billion ($4.28 billion).
Newly appointed petroleum minister Sherif Haddara has said the new system would reduce the amounts of subsidised fuel smuggled or sold on the black market.
Egypt's total energy subsidies bill is expected to reach LE100 billion in the 2013/14 fiscal year, compared to some LE120 billion forecast for this year.
Ethiopians protest in Egypt over what they say is growing xenophobia. Egypt and Ethiopia are currently in a dispute over the future of the Blue Nile., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Amid dam row, Ethiopian refugees in Egypt protest rising xenophobia
Hazel Haddon, Sunday 9 Jun 2013
Ethiopian refugees complain of increasingly frequent assaults and harassment amid Egypt's ongoing dispute with Addis Ababa over latter's planned Nile dam project
Dozens of Ethiopian refugees protested on Sunday outside the Egypt office of UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Cairo's 6 October City to demand protection from what they describe as increasingly frequent xenophobic attacks by Egyptians.
Protesters, mostly from the Oromo ethnic group, said that members of their community had faced several violent attacks in Egypt in recent weeks.
The apparent trend comes against the backdrop of mounting tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt over a plan by the former to build a dam on the Blue Nile.
"We have some reports of people being attacked just because of their nationality," protest organiser Jeylan Kassim told Ahram Online.
"We need the UNHCR's protection; and we need the UNHCR to raise the awareness of the Egyptian community [about our plight]."
Egyptian media has been dominated by speculation regarding the new Nile dam project since Ethiopian engineers began partially diverting the course of Blue Nile on 28 May to prepare a site for the new dam's construction.
Last week, fiery rhetoric reached a climax when a group of leading Egyptian politicians, speaking at a meeting with the president, suggested sabotage or covert interference in Ethiopian affairs to prevent the dam from negatively affecting Egypt’s share of Nile water – without realising the meeting was being broadcast live on television.
Ethiopian refugees at Sunday's protest argued that they were suffering the brunt of mounting Egypt-Ethiopia tensions.
"Two of my friends were beaten; one was sent to hospital, but they refused to treat him," claimed Mulis, an Ethiopian refugee in Egypt since 2011, while speaking to Ahram Online.
According to UNHCR Deputy Regional Representative for Egypt Elizabeth Tan, a number of Ethiopian refugees in recent weeks have reported being evicted from their homes or losing their jobs because of their nationality, along with facingdifficulties obtaining medical care at Egyptianhospitals.
"The UNHCRis concerned about these allegations and calls on all Egyptians to differentiate between the political dispute with the Ethiopian government and their treatment of Ethiopian refugees who fled their country seeking asylum in Egypt," commented Tan in a written statement to Ahram Online.
"I was threatened by the owner of the building I live in," Mulis told Ahram Online. "He said, 'since you are cutting the river from us, I won't give you shelter'."
"But we're not part of the problem," he added. "We're against the Ethiopian government, and against its policies."
Around 2,500 Ethiopian refugees and asylum seekers, of different ethnic groups, are currently registered withUNHCRCairo.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr. He will be traveling to Ethiopia to discuss disagreement over the diversion of the Blue Nile by Addis Ababa., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
'No Nile, no Egypt', Cairo warns over Ethiopia dam
Reuters, Monday 10 Jun 2013
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr to travel to Addis Ababa to discuss controversial Renaissance Dam
Egypt's foreign minister, vowing not to give up "a single drop of water from the Nile", said on Sunday he would go to Addis Ababa to discuss a giant dam that Ethiopia has begun building in defiance of Cairo's objections.
Speaking to Egypt's state news agency MENA two days after the Ethiopian government flatly rejected a request from Cairo to halt the project, Mohamed Kamel Amr said Egyptians view any obstacle to the river's flow as a threat to national survival.
"No Nile - no Egypt," he said, highlighting the pressure on the Egyptian government, whose popularity is wilting in the face of economic troubles, to prevent the hydro power plant cutting already stretched water supplies for its 84 million people.
Last week, Ethiopia summoned the Egyptian ambassador after politicians in Cairo were shown on television suggesting military action or supporting Ethiopian rebels - a mark of the threat felt in Cairo from the plan to dam the Blue Nile, the tributary that supplies the bulk of water downstream in Egypt.
"Egypt won't give up on a single drop of water from the Nile or any part of what arrives into Egypt from this water in terms of quantity and quality," Amr told MENA, noting that Egypt has little rain and is effectively desert without its great river.
Speaking at a news conference, he declined to detail the action Egypt might take next but noted Ethiopian assurances that Africa's biggest hydro station would not cut water supplies.
"We have a plan for action, which will start soon," Amr said. "We'll talk to Ethiopia and we'll see what comes of it.
"Ethiopia has said it will not harm Egypt, not even by a liter of water. We are looking at ... this being implemented."
Countries that share the Nile have long argued over the use of its waters, repeatedly raising fears that the disputes could eventually boil over into war. Egypt, struggling with a shortage of cash and bitter internal political divisions following a 2011 revolution, called on Ethiopia to stop work after engineers began diverting the course of the Blue Nile late last month.
In Addis Ababa, a government spokesman called that request a "non-starter" and dismissed threats from Cairo of "sabotage" and "destabilization", saying attempts by Egypt under its previous military rulers to undermine Ethiopian leaders had failed.
The possible downstream effects of the $4.7-billion Grand Renaissance Dam, some 40 km (25 miles) from Ethiopia's border with Sudan, have been disputed and full details are unclear.
While letting water through such dams - of which Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia already have several - may not reduce its flow greatly, the filling of the reservoir behind any new dam means cutting the river's flow for a time. Evaporation from reservoirs can also permanently reduce water flowing downstream.
Now 21 percent complete, the new dam on the Blue Nile will eventually have capacity of 6,000 megawatts and is central to Ethiopia's plans to become Africa's leading exporter of power.
Sudan, which borders Egypt and Ethiopia and also gets much of its water from the Nile, said it supported the project.
"The Grand Renaissance Dam brings many benefits and blessings for us," Information Minister Ahmed Belal Osman told reporters in Khartoum.
He gave no details, but Sudanese officials have said the dam will enable Ethiopia to export power to Sudan, a country with frequent outages and one of its closest allies in Africa.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi with International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde. Egypt is seeking a nearly $5 billion loan from the U.S.-based bank linked to ongoing neo-colonialism and underdevelopment within Africa., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
President Morsi calls for Egyptian 'unity' in face of threats to Nile water
Ahram Online, Tuesday 11 Jun 2013
Egyptian president tells Islamist audience that Egypt must 'stand united' before potential threats to country's water resources, while stressing that dialogue with upstream states remains 'best means' of resolving crisis
In an attempt to show unity against potentially adverse effect of Ethiopia's Grand Nile Dam project on Egypt, President Mohamed Morsi delivered a speech to an all-Islamist audience on Monday evening, at which he urged attendees to stand united in the face of Egypt's latest foreign policy challenge.
"If Egypt is 'the gift of the Nile,' then the Nile is God’s gift to Egypt," were the opening lines of Morsi’s speech at a national conference organised by Egyptian Islamist parties. The event was held to discuss recommended responses to Ethiopia's recent decision to divert the course of the Blue Nile – a move that Egyptian critics fear could diminish Egypt's traditional share of Nile water.
"This is a great show of unity that reveals that we stand together to face threats to the country," the president said before cheering crowds.
"As free revolutionaries, we will continue on our path," large swathes of the audience chanted in unison.
Blaming Egypt's former regime and "those who wish to see [the former regime's] return" for alienating Egypt from fellow African countries, Morsi stressed Egypt's vital role in the region. He went on to blame the current row with Ethiopia on decades of Mubarak-era corruption and lack of transparency.
The president also stressed that Egypt would not be distracted from its mission to protect its borders, water resources and land by post-revolution political turbulence or economic challenges. "We will defend each drop of Nile water with our blood if necessary," he warned.
President Morsi repeatedly stressed that Egyptians would "not tolerate" any threat to their traditional allotment of Nile water, describing the river as the country's "primary source of livelihood, history and civilisation."
"The people of Egypt are patient with anything, unless their borders and lives are put under threat... in which case we will stand united to tear out the threat at the root," he declared. "With our faith in God and the will of the Egyptian people, we will surmount all difficulties."
Calls for 'dialogue'
The president went on to stress, however, that "dialogue" with its fellow riparian states represented Egypt's "best means" of resolving the crisis.
After May 2011, he said, Egypt had joined an international commission tasked with studying the dam's potential impact on downstream states. The commission, he said, had so far held six meetings and conducted four field visits to Ethiopia.
The studies, however, had proven insufficient to assess the dam's impact on Egypt or assess its overall environmental and social impacts, he said. Independent technical studies by foreign specialists, he added, had revealed that the dam would have negative ramifications if it was not built in accordance with certain criteria.
Morsi went on to say Egypt had been exerting efforts to bolster relations with Nile Basin states, especially Ethiopia, citing recent increases in tourist numbers and bilateral trade, along with $2 billion worth of recent Egyptian investments in Ethiopia.
An Egyptian committee, meanwhile, has also been drawn up, he said, to prepare Egypt for the "defence of its security from any possible threat."
The president also said that "all options" were on the table to respond to the current situation and insisted that Egypt would not accept infringements on its water security.
"We have said several times that Egyptians with their revolution carry a message of peace...We do not want war, but we do not accept threats to our security."
Morsi also asked opposing political forces to stand united at a time when Egypt faces hard challenges and to put aside all political rivalries. He went on to call for "national reconciliation," adding that he was certain that political figures would respond positively to his appeals.
"The country demands that we stand united," he said, issuing his call for reconciliation only weeks before planned mass demonstrations on 30 June to demand snap presidential elections.
Finally, the president said that Egypt sought to "strengthen unity" with other African states, especially Ethiopia. "We do not want to create enemies; we want dialogue... and development for Africa," he asserted.
With hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members outside the conference venue and hundreds more inside the auditorium, the president was constantly cheered by supporters.
Also speaking at the podium were Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya member Safwat Abdel-Ghani, representing the political parties that hosted the event, and Akram El-Ganzouri, representing participating professional syndicates.
Abdel-Ghani expressed concern that Egypt was facing many "conspiracies and challenges," including limited water resources and a steadily mounting population, but also referred to "international forces interfering in Africa [in an effort] to become regional players at the expense of Egypt’s diminishing role."
"We should not forget that these forces are plotting against Egypt and exploiting the region's poverty," he said, hinting that the Ethiopian dam project had been encouraged by foreign interests.
Listing the recommendations of political parties, Abdel-Ghani demanded that Ethiopia halt any further work on the dam until a comprehensive study is finalised by the tripartite committee and Egypt and Sudan had coordinated their positions.
The Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya leader also called on Egypt to "watch the movements of the Zionist enemy operating within the Nile Basin countries."
"We will say this one generation after the other: we will remain Israel's enemy," the crowd chanted in response.
At a 3 June meeting between political forces and the presidency, concern was expressed by some attendees that Ethiopia might use the dam project to export Nile water to Israel, with whom Addis Ababa had long enjoyed good relations.
"All options should remain open to defend Egypt’s right to water, which an issue of national security," Abdel-Ghani concluded.
The conference was called for by Islamist parties at a meeting hosted by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) last week, held to mull possible responses to the Nile dam crisis.
Earlier last week, President Morsi met with a group of political figures to discuss the report issued by the international technical committee tasked with studying the Ethiopian dam's impact.
The meeting triggered a storm of controversy as various figures present made open threats against Ethiopia, unaware that the meeting was being televised live.
Ethiopia set off alarm bells in Cairo two weeks ago when it began diverting a stretch of the Blue Nile to make way for the $4.7 billion hydroelectric Renaissance Dam project.
Ethiopia has faced criticism by downstream Nile countries Egypt and Sudan for going ahead with the project without waiting on the recommendations of the committee tasked with studying the regional impact of the dam.
Nile riparian countries have argued over the division of Nile water for decades. Analysts have repeatedly warned that the dispute could eventually boil over into military conflict.
Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has gained the support from many African and Arab states in light of the International Criminal Court indictment against him. He has dismissed the charges as an imperialist plot to seize the oil wealth of Sudan., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Sudan Reiterates Support of Ethiopian Dam Plans
9 JUNE 2013
Khartoum — Sudan's information minister and government spokesperson Ahmed Bilal Osman insisted today that Sudan would benefit from the controversial Ethiopian renaissance dam and stressed that Ethiopia has engaged Sudan in all operations associated with the dam building.
At a press conference in Khartoum, Osman announced that Sudan's minister of water resources and electricity Osama Abdalla Mohamed al-Hassan will travel for Cairo early next week.
He said that the ten-member committee which includes representatives from Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt as well as international experts has dispelled all concerns raised about the dam, adding that Sudan is ready to send experts and technicians to help in the construction of the dam.
The Sudanese official also downplayed fears of a possible collapse of the dam which could lead to flooding Sudan and said that construction technology has improved and added that the Italian company which is building the dam would not risk its reputation, noting that Khartoum is keen on strengthening relations with Cairo and Addis Ababa.
Osman mentioned that several dams such as Al-Rusairs dam in East Sudan and the Aswan dam in Egypt which accommodates 162 billion cubic meters of water have survived for tens of years and did not crumble.
He said that Sudan sacrificed 22 villages and a million palm trees and an entire civilization in the far north in order to allow the Egyptians build the Aswan dam in 1964.
Osman demanded those whom he said do not comprehend the sanctity of the relations between Egypt and Sudan to stop "muddling".
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, formerly known as the Millennium Dam is being constructed on the Blue Nile 40km from the Sudanese border.
Egypt and Sudan had previously argued that the construction of the dam would negatively affect their water shares and insisted the project should be blocked, calling on international donors against funding it.
However Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir announced his support to the project in March 2012, saying his government understands the mutual benefits the project could offer Ethiopia and Sudan.
Khartoum's stance have aggravated Egypt in recent weeks with many political figures blasting Sudan's "treachery".
Egypt believes its "historic rights" to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87 percent of the Nile's flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.
But a new deal was signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allowing them to work on river projects without Cairo's prior agreement.
The first phase of construction of the $4.2 billion dam is expected to be complete in three years, with a capacity of 700 megawatts.
Once complete, the dam will have a capacity of 6,000 megawatts.
Sudan oil refinery where the newly-emerging oil-rich central African state has been under fire from U.S. imperialism for years. The leadership of the country is being hounded by the ICC which it is not a party to the Rome Statute., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
South Sudan urges Sudan to keep security pact
By RODNEY MUHUMUZA | Associated Press
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Sudan's threat to shut down South Sudan's oil exports over its alleged support for rebels in Sudan will not spark a return to armed hostility as long as Sudan respects a security agreement reached earlier this year, a South Sudanese military official said Monday.
South Sudanese army spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said, however, that any violations of an African Union-mediated pact signed in March would be taken as an act of provocation.
"The oil can be shut down," he said from Juba, South Sudan's capital. "What may amount to a declaration of war is if the security agreements that have been reached are violated. Oil is just a bilateral agreement which the Sudanese government has the choice to accept or not to accept."
Aguer said Sudan had yet to implement President Omar al-Bashir's recent order to close pipelines carrying South Sudan's oil exports over charges the government in Juba supports armed rebels seeking to topple the Sudan's government. Mohammed Atta al-Moula, Sudan's spy chief, told reporters on Sunday that the country also will suspend its security and economic pacts with South Sudan if the country does not end its alleged support for rebels who recently have mounted attacks on the Sudanese army.
Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, told reporters in Washington that Sudan's threat to shut down oil pipelines "is deeply disappointing."
She said implementing this threat would be a "violation of Sudan's obligations under the September 27th agreements, which only allow for a shutdown with 60 days of notice for economic or technical reasons ..."
South Sudan —which also accuses Sudan of supporting a rebel group led by a former South Sudanese army colonel named David Yau Yau —denies backing Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, rebels.
"We are not helping any rebels," Aguer said.
"The allegations are baseless. It's just because they have been unable to defeat the rebels that they are looking for an explanation elsewhere."
But Small Arms Survey, an independent Swiss research firm, said in a report in April that South Sudan provided logistical, financial and political support, but not weapons, to rebels fighting the Sudanese military. The group said South Sudan's government is providing vehicles, fuel and food to SPLM-N fighters and other rebel groups. The SPLM-N operates on the Sudan side of the border between the two countries but is ideologically aligned with South Sudan.
South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of civil war, pumps its crude exports through pipelines that run through Sudan. In early 2012 South Sudan charged that Sudan was stealing its oil and then shut down its oil industry, a decision that crippled the government budgets of both countries.
Since their 2011 division there has been fighting between the two countries, and threats to resume hostilities. International mediators including the African Union have been working to keep the peace and normalize relations between the Sudans.
Sudan and South Sudan signed an agreement in March that the United Nations said improved border security and could "lead to the permanent resolution of outstanding issues between the two countries."
Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.
African Union mediator and former South African President Thabo Mbeki wih Presidents Silva Kiir of South Sudan and Omar Hassan al-Bashir of the Republic of Sudan in Ethiopia for peace talks. They have agreed to establish a demilitarized zone., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
S.Sudan 'still exporting oil' to Sudan despite threat
Publish Date: Jun 11, 2013
JUBA - South Sudan continues to export oil to Sudan despite a threat from its African neighbor to stop cross-border flows in a row over alleged support for rebels, its oil minister said on Monday.
Sudan said on Sunday it would close the two export pipelines with the African neighbor within two months unless Juba gave up any support for insurgents operating across the shared border.
The row, the latest in a series of problems between the former civil war foes, threatens to hit supplies to Asian buyers such as China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), India's ONCG Videsh and Malaysia's Petronas, which run the oilfields in both countries.
The United States called on Khartoum to reconsider.
"We deplore this action and urge Sudan to reverse this decision," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. If carried out, she said, such action would violate an agreement that says any shutdown can only occur after a 60-day notice period, and only for economic or technical reasons.
The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, expressed concern and warned that such a move "would have serious consequences for the viability of the two states, relations between them, and the wider region".
The landlocked South, which has to use Sudan's pipelines and port facilities to sell its crude, has piped around 7 million barrels of crude to its neighbor since resuming production in April, Oil Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau told reporters.
"This is increasing every day. This is not the final figure because producing is still on, we have not received any official communication from the government of Sudan so we are still producing," he said in the capital Juba.
He gave no production figure but officials said last month the country was pumping around 200,000 barrels a day from its main Palouge Field in Upper Nile state.
An industry source also said oil was flowing "normally" to Sudan.
South Sudan used to pump 300,000 bpd before it turned off wells last year in a row with Sudan over fees. But oil sources say it is unlikely to produce more than 230,000 bpd until year-end as some facilities were damaged during fighting between the two countries in April 2012.
Kiir strikes back
On Saturday, Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir accused the neighbor of backing rebels of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), which launched a major attack on towns in central Sudan in April, a shock to many ordinary Sudanese.
But South Sudan's President Salva Kiir rejected the claims and said Bashir was only upset because his army struggled to contain the rebels.
"Instead of admitting they have failed to repulse or push back the rebels they say it is South Sudan which is fighting them," Kiir told reporters. "President Bashir is declaring war indirectly without saying it. We are not for war."
He said Sudan was supporting rebels in South Sudan's Jonglei state, where the government wants to search for oil with France's Total and U.S. major Exxon.
"He slapped me and he cried and ran and accused me. This is what Bashir is doing," Kiir said of Bashir's alleged support for insurgents in South Sudan.
Sudan said it would allow the export of the oil which has already arrived on its soil. CNPC last week said it had already sold 1.2 million barrels of South Sudanese oil.
Dau said any shutdown would be done gradually in coordination with Sudan and the oil companies. "It will not be done in one day, it will be done in 60 days gradually until you reach zero production," he said.
A confirmed closure of the pipelines would be devastating for both underdeveloped economies which have been struggling without oil, the main source for dollars to fund imports.
President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has been targeted by the Western imperialist countries over the conflict in the Darfur region. The oil magnates, who dictate US policy, want to seize the petroleum resources and deny the right of self-determination., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
10 June 2013
Last updated at 06:15 ET
South Sudan says Sudan troops enter Upper
South Sudan has accused Sudanese troops of crossing into its territory, as tension between the two states rises.
The troops moved about 10km (six miles) into Upper Nile state, Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said.
On Saturday, Sudan said it would block oil exports from the South after accusing it of backing rebels fighting President Omar al-Bashir's government.
But Sudanese officials now say the ban will take effect in 60 days. Oil is vital to the economies of both states.
South Sudan became independent in 2011 after decades of conflict with Khartoum and the two neighbours still disagree on several issues.
South Sudan, which gets 98% of its revenues from oil, has massive deposits but is landlocked and reliant on Sudan's ports for export.
The two countries have long disputed how much the South should pay to use Sudan's pipelines.
Mr Benjamin said South Sudan would protest to the African Union (AU) and the United Nations about Sudan's actions.
"They always violate agreements.... Sudan must be brought to book," he told the BBC's Newsday programme.
On Sunday, Sudan's intelligence chief Mohammed Atta said South Sudan had failed to stop supporting rebels operating in Darfur and two border states.
"They [rebels] get supplied with weapons, ammunition, petrol, spare parts for cars, food... They send their wounded to hospitals in the south. Tens of wounded [rebels] are now being treated in the South," he said at a press conference in Khartoum, Reuters news agency reports.
Sudan's Information Minister Ahmed Belal Osman said Sudan planned to close the oil pipelines within 60 days.
However, it would reverse its decision if South Sudan stopped backing the rebels, he said, Reuters reports.
Correspondents say his comments suggest that Sudan is rowing back from a report by state media on Saturday that Mr Bashir had given an order to shut the pipeline.
The Sudanese army is fighting a rebel insurgency in at least three regions.
An umbrella rebel group called the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) has launched attacks on several towns, briefly occupying the major city of Um Rawaba in central Sudan in April.
Sudan and the South came to the brink of war last year, prompting Juba to shut down production - badly hitting both countries.
It only resumed pumping oil in April.
Libyans scatter after a militia group fired on protesters killing at least 31. NATO has been requested to come back into the oppressed state to assist with security., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
UN Mission in Libya Urges Restraint as Benghazi Clashes Kill 31
By Christopher Stephen and Dana El Baltaji - Jun 9, 2013
The United Nations mission to Libya called for “maximum restraint” from all parties following the death of 31 people in clashes with a militia in the eastern city of Benghazi over the weekend.
In a statement yesterday, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya reiterated “the necessity of resolving disagreements peacefully through dialogue.”
Clashes between the Libya Shield brigade and protesters in Benghazi on June 8 left 31 dead and at least 120 wounded, the state-run LANA news agency reported, more than doubling an earlier fatality count.
The violence erupted after demonstrators demanding that the power of militias be curbed reached the gates of the brigade, LANA said. The news agency had earlier reported that 11 people had been killed and 38 injured in the fighting in Benghazi, the city where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed in an attack last year.
Libyan Army Chief of Staff Youssef Mangoush resigned yesterday during a closed-door session of the General National Congress, LANA reported. Mangoush’s action was accepted by parliament, the agency said.
The Libya Shield abandoned its base following Saturday’s violence, according to Libyan television station Al Asima. Adel Tarhuni, a spokesman for Libya Shield, told the station that one of his soldiers was killed and four others were wounded by protesters who were armed and hurled stones. “We had to defend ourselves,” he said.
The Libya Shield and other militias formed by rebels who fought dictator Muammar Qaddafi in the country’s 2011 civil war remained intact after he was toppled and killed. They have challenged the authority of the weak central government that has emerged since and have been linked to continuing violence that plagues the country.
The protests in Benghazi, and another in the capital, Tripoli, had been called in support of Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zaidan’s demand that illegal militias disband or come under control of the country’s security forces.
Chad’s President Idriss Deby said in an interview published June 8 by the French daily Le Figaro that Libya is increasingly controlled by brigades of jihadists and Islamist militants because it has no army, no institutions and no civil society.
To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Stephen in Tripoli at email@example.com; Dana El Baltaji in Dubai at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nancy Moran at email@example.com; Andrew J. Barden at firstname.lastname@example.org
Youth and workers protesting the closing of 61 school building in the city of Chicago. The actions by Mayor Rahm Emanuel are part of a nationwide austerity campaign against municipalities., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
CTU keeps eye on Philadelphia schools, where 3,000 layoffs loom
BY TINA SFONDELES
Last Modified: Jun 10, 2013 02:13AM
Chicago Teachers Union officials fear the city could soon follow Philadelphia’s steps and send out thousands of layoff notices.
On Friday, the Philadelphia School District notified more than 3,000 employees of layoffs.
Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Becky Carroll said in an email that a budget submitted by the district to schools does not include layoffs, but she added: “Under school based budgeting, principals create their own staffing plans and determine what their needs will be classroom by classroom.”
Jackson Potter, of the Chicago Teachers Union, said on Friday that based on the city’s deficit, in addition to jobs lost because of school closings, the city could see 6,000 layoffs. In the last school year, CPS recorded 41,498 employees.
“Seeing what happened in Philadelphia, we are definitely concerned,” said Potter, a staff coordinator.
Among those being laid off in Philadelphia are 676 teachers, 282 counselors and 769 teacher’s assistants, according to Philadelphia Federation of Labor spokesman George Jackson. Twenty-four schools were closed and three schools were converted to charter schools in March, he said.
Potter said Chicago may see similar numbers next month, when CPS puts out a districtwide budget.
“They’re going to threaten Armageddon and a disaster scenario where we have to raise class sizes to 40 and lay off thousands of teachers, and there are other options,” Potter said. “Why not take the TIF surplus and put it back where it belongs, in schools, parks and libraries?”
Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said tax-increment finance money has helped build schools and make school improvements in nearly every community throughout Chicago.
Chicago’s and Philadelphia’s school districts bear some similarities, besides being major urban districts. But a key difference in Philadelphia’s situation is that its union is still negotiating a contract, which expires Aug. 31. Also, teachers are not allowed to strike under a state law that says a teacher who strikes could lose certification.
Still, Jackson says Philadelphia teachers are watching Chicago.
“There seems to be a disturbing notion that our kids aren’t worth spending the money on, let’s just cut back their services,” Jackson said. “We’re seeing that in Chicago. We’re definitely seeing that here. And we’re of course watching what’s happening in Chicago.”
Carroll said CPS faces a billion-dollar budget deficit, with a $400 million pension payment included in that figure. But CPS is working on ways to cut the deficit, including using a one-time reserve.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Thursday that a first priority in budget talks is “to protect the classroom and to protect our children’s education.”
Chicago Public Schools says it faces a $400 million increase in annual pension payments and is trying to avoid cuts to the classroom ever since the Illinois General Assembly last week wouldn’t grant them further pension relief.
Security personnel for Chase Bank outside their headquarters in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bail Out the People Movement held a demonstration there demanding a moratorium on foreclosures. (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
JPMorgan’s Alabama Debacle Set to Cost Bank $1.6 Billion
By William Selway on June 05, 2013
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) may see as much as $1.6 billion go down an Alabama (BEESAL) sewer.
The biggest U.S. bank by assets agreed to forgive $842 million of debt owed to it by Jefferson County, Alabama, where it took the lead in arranging risky securities deals that pushed the county into the largest U.S. municipal bankruptcy, in November 2011.
That agreement follows a $722 million settlement in 2009 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission related to the Jefferson County financing. JPMorgan’s total costs amount to a quarter of the $6.2 billion trading loss in 2012 from corporate-credit bets by a trader known as the London Whale.
Elizabeth C. Seymour, a bank spokeswoman, had no comment on the accord announced yesterday. If accepted by the court, it would cap almost a decade-long fiscal disaster in Alabama’s largest county, where JPMorgan initially reaped substantial fees arranging interest-rate swaps that subsequently proved tainted by municipal corruption and devastating to taxpayers during the 2008 credit crisis.
“Everybody thought there was a free lunch and they could all take advantage of it at the same time,” said Christopher Taylor, the former executive director of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. “It burned them all.”
The Jefferson County deals were arranged while Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, 57, was running rival Bank One Corp., which New York-based JPMorgan acquired. They also resulted in a prison sentence for former County Commissioner and Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford for bribery.
Neither the Jefferson County nor London Whale episodes have prevented JPMorgan from reporting a third consecutive year of record profit in January. Dimon survived a shareholder vote in May that could have forced him to give up his role as chairman.
JPMorgan fell 1.9 percent to $53.03 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 21 percent this year.
Jefferson County, which encompasses Birmingham, the state’s largest city by population, yesterday said the agreement was made with holders of about $2.4 billion of its $3.1 billion in sewer-system debt, which would be refinanced, and may help it emerge from bankruptcy by year-end. Along with JPMorgan, the accord includes three insurance companies that guaranteed the county’s bonds, and hedge funds that own the securities.
The agreement would increase residents’ sewer fees by 7.4 percent annually in the first four years
JPMorgan would forgive about 70 percent of the $1.2 billion in sewer debt it holds, according to a statement from the county.
Other creditors would take smaller hits. Hedge funds owed about $872 million will collect more than 80 cents on the dollar, according to the agreement.
Court approval for the deal would put an end to Jefferson County’s more than five-year struggle with its debts, which began with the effects of the subprime mortgage crash that cascaded in unexpected ways through complex financing arranged for the county by Wall Street banks led by JPMorgan.
The arrangements left almost all of the county debt taken on to pay for a new sewer system with interest rates that reset periodically, similar to adjustable-rate mortgages. JPMorgan and other banks also sold the county related derivatives to protect against the risk posed by the securities, earning undisclosed fees of about $120 million, according to the county’s former financial adviser.
Business with the county was so lucrative that JPMorgan bankers agreed to pay local counterparts, including Bill Blount, a friend of Langford, for doing little or no work to secure its place in the deals, according to the SEC.
“I got to get the politics lined up. And, of course, we have to pick the partners who are going to get free money from us this time,” JPMorgan banker Charles LeCroy said to an associate at the time, according to the SEC’s complaint against him.
Blount was later sentenced to 52 months in prison for paying bribes of cash, clothes and jewelry to Langford. LeCroy is planning to fight the SEC’s civil claims against him, according to his lawyer, Lisa Mathewson.
The transactions backfired on the county during the financial crisis of 2008. When credit dried up on Wall Street, investors dumped Jefferson County’s sewer bonds and their yields soared, pushing the county’s costs sharply higher. Derivatives that were supposed to protect against such an event added to the costs as central banks cut interest rates. Lenders that were paid fees to buy back some of the debt had the right to force early redemptions from the county, which it couldn’t afford.
Officials spent years unsuccessfully seeking an agreement to resolve the impasse. In 2011, after a court ruling struck down a local tax that was a key revenue source, Jefferson County sought court protection under Chapter 9 of U.S. bankruptcy law.
Jimmie Stephens, chairman of the county commission’s finance committee, said the agreement announced yesterday will “form the backbone” of a plan to pare down debt.
“I look forward to restoring Jefferson County to its former position of leadership,” he said.
The county was the municipality hardest hit by the unraveling of derivative deals arranged by Wall Street banks for government borrowers. In other cases, which included the operator of the San Francisco Bay Bridge and Pennsylvania school districts, borrowers paid at least $4 billion in fees to back out of the contracts.
Such trades weren’t limited to the U.S. Italian Judge Oscar Magi in Milan ruled that JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank AG (DB), UBS AG (UBSN) and Depfa Bank Plc (DEP) tricked his city into agreeing to a financing deal that didn’t meet its objective of cutting borrowing costs, and misleading the city about derivative counterparties. The banks have said they will appeal the February decision.
In 2008, under Dimon, JPMorgan decided to get out of the business of selling derivatives to municipalities. In 2009, without admitting or denying wrongdoing, the bank agreed to pay $75 million and forgive $647 million in derivative fees owed by Jefferson County to settle with the SEC over the undisclosed payments made to local bankers.
In 2011, JPMorgan agreed to a $228 million settlement with federal and state regulators for allegedly rigging bids on investments that state and local governments buy with the proceeds of municipal bonds, which allowed the bank to pick up added profits. The employees involved had left JPMorgan by that time.
Bank of America Corp., UBS and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC). agreed to similar accords in connection with such investment contracts, which were typically handled by the same bankers who arranged municipal derivative trades.
Regulators tightened their grip on the derivative business under a law signed by President Barack Obama in 2010. That measure seeks to protect municipal-debt issuers from being misled into risky derivatives deals.
It was too late to help Jefferson County.
“Everyone came in and wanted to suck that place dry,” said Taylor, the former regulator. “Everybody looks bad in this. And everybody should look bad.”
To contact the reporter on this story: William Selway in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Window at the house on Detroit's east side where 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was killed. This window was shattered when a flash grenade was thrown in and landed on her. She was later shot in the head by a cop. (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe) , a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
June 10, 2013 at 9:30 pm
Aiyana's grandmother says cops 'came to kill'
The Detroit News
Detroit — In emotional testimony lasting more than two hours Monday, the grandmother of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones accused police of having the intent to “murder” when they raided her family’s home in pursuit of a murder suspect.
“That’s what I figured all of them was there to do — to murder. They came to kill, and they killed a 7-year-old,” said Mertilla Jones, a key witness to the May 16, 2010, raid of the two-story home on Lillibridge Street that ended in the fatal shooting of Aiyana.
Jones’ testimony marked the fifth day of the involuntary manslaughter trial for Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley, 37.
Breaking down sobbing, Jones described the police raid, saying “their gun was pointed at Aiyana’s head. They pulled the trigger. Blood started coming out of her mouth. She was dead.”
Jones was unable to continue testifying, so the jury was excused for about 15 minutes.
Weekley — a member of the elite Special Response Team — was the first officer in the Lillibridge home following a planned explosion of a stun grenade. The early morning raid was to find Chauncey Owens, a suspect in a murder case.
Police sought Owens in the slaying of Jer’ean Blake Nobles, 17, two days earlier at a party store.
At issue in the trial are the events between that explosion and the firing of Weekley’s weapon, which killed the girl, who had been asleep on a couch in the home.
Aiyana was one of four children inside and police had initially said that Weekley’s gun accidentally discharged after he was confronted by or collided with Aiyana’s grandmother.
On Monday, defense attorney Steve Fishman reminded Jones that during her interview with police in the hours after the shooting, and in later interviews, she had said shots came through the front window. According to Fishman, those interviews contradicted her testimony Monday that police walked in and then shot the little girl.
Jones’ testimony Monday also rebutted earlier claims by attorney Geoffrey Feiger, who filed two civil suits against the Detroit Police Department days after the shooting. Feiger claimed he had video proof that the fatal shot was fired from outside the house.
But the only video shown in the trial, which was taken by a camera crew from the cable television reality show “First 48,” was shot from the sidewalk, and did not show officers firing into the home.
After the shooting, Jones was taken into custody, fingerprinted, questioned and given DNA tests, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran said Monday, to determine if she’d touched Weekley’s weapon.
Prosecutors say Weekley failed to use “ordinary care” when he stormed into the house. Fishman has argued that he was a good cop going into a difficult situation that many officers face and called the shooting an “accident.”
Jones also testified Monday that she didn’t think anyone in the home, including her sons and nephews, had any guns.
Jones was then shown Facebook photos of her sons and nephews brandishing handguns and an assault rifle.
“What does that look like to you?” Fishman asked Jones after showing her the photos. She replied the weapons looked like BB guns and toy guns.
During redirect questioning, Moran asked Jones whether she took the pictures, or knew when they’d been taken. She answered “no” to both questions.
Also Monday, three members of the Special Response Team who raided the house testified, including Officer Larry Davis, who said Weekley told him, “someone grabbed his weapon and it went off.”
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130610/METRO01/306100053#ixzz2VsE0ZcFy
Scene from a videotape shot by the U.S. military when they killed civilians, including journalists, in Baghdad in 2007. WikiLeaks has made the video available along with over 90,000 documents exposing war crimes in Afghanistan., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Pfc. Bradley Manning’s court-martial under fresh spotlight as new leak scandal unfolds
By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, June 10, 7:32 PM
FORT MEADE, Md. — Army Pfc. Bradley Manning’s court-martial for giving hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to WikiLeaks entered its second week Monday in a fresh spotlight cast by a brand-new leak by another low-level intelligence employee.
Like Manning, Edward Snowden could find himself hauled into court by the U.S. government after he unmasked himself Sunday as the leaker who exposed the nation’s secret phone and Internet surveillance programs to reporters.
Legal experts closely following both cases said they were shocked to find out young, low-ranking people had such access to powerful government secrets. Manning was 22 when he turned over the military and diplomatic cables about three years ago; Snowden is 29.
“In that respect, these cases suggest we should be much more careful about who is given security clearances,” said David J.R. Frakt, a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer who has taught at several law schools.
At the same time, legal experts saw differences between the two cases, namely that Manning’s secret-spilling was more scattershot, while Snowden appeared more selective.
“I’m not awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom here,” Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale Law School, said of Snowden. “I’m just saying you could say it is something more akin to educating the American public about sensitive surveillance issues that have some level of First Amendment concern attached to them.”
As for how Snowden’s revelation will affect the Manning case, Fidell said it probably won’t influence the military judge, who is hearing the case without a jury, but “it ratchets up the entire subject in the public eye.” Fidell said it could spur outrage about government secrecy in general, but could also underscore the dangers of leaks — and that, he said, won’t help Manning.
“It’s a reminder that if what Manning did and what Snowden did is OK, then it’s basically every man for himself,” Fidell said, adding that national security would end up with “more holes than cheese.”
Manning is charged under federal espionage and computer fraud laws. The most serious charge against him is aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence. Testimony was expected to continue Tuesday.
As the trial opened last week, prosecutors said they would show that some of the secrets fell into the hands of Osama bin Laden himself. Manning’s attorney said he was young and naive, but a good-intentioned soldier who wanted to make the world a better place by exposing the way the U.S. government was conducting itself.
Snowden said his motives were similar but told The Guardian newspaper of London: “I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest.”
Manning never publicly acknowledged his actions until more than two years after his arrest. He was seized only after an informant turned him in. Snowden is hiding out in Hong Kong, perhaps eventually hoping for asylum somewhere.
At Manning’s trial Monday, his defense team won an intense battle over the admissibility of a piece of evidence supporting his claim that he leaked secrets to expose wrongdoing by the U.S. military and State Department.
The evidence was WikiLeaks’ ”Most Wanted Leaks of 2009.” Army criminal investigator Mark Mander testified he found several versions of the list, including one prefaced by an explanation that the records were sought by “journalists, activists, historians, lawyers, police or human-rights investigators.” That’s the version the defense sought to admit; prosecutors offered a version without the preface. They objected strenuously to the defense’s version but the military judge, Col. Denise Lind, said both versions were equally relevant.
Inside the court-martial, Manning’s supporters mostly cheered the Snowden leak.
“We’re all complicit in the crimes that these wonderful, brave young people told us about,” said Kathy Boylan, a charity worker in Washington.
Gresko reported from Washington.
Edward Snowden is being sought by the United States government after he was fingered for exposing the massive surveillance against the peoples of the world by the National Security Agency (NSA)., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
June 10, 2013
U.S. Preparing Charges Against Leaker of Data
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT, ERIC SCHMITT and KEITH BRADSHER
New York Times
WASHINGTON — As Justice Department officials began the process Monday to charge Edward J. Snowden, a 29-year-old former C.I.A. computer technician, with disclosing classified information, he checked out of a hotel in Hong Kong where he had been holed up for several weeks, according to two American officials. It was not clear where he went.
Whether Mr. Snowden remained in Hong Kong or fled to another country — like Iceland, where he has said he may seek asylum — the charges would strengthen the Justice Department’s hand if it tries to extradite him to the United States. One government typically must charge a suspect before another government will turn him over.
“There’s no hesitation” about charging Mr. Snowden, one of the American officials said, explaining that law enforcement officials had not been deterred by the debate inside and outside the administration about its leak investigations. The brazenness of the disclosures about some of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs and Mr. Snowden’s admission in the newspaper The Guardian on Sunday left little doubt among law enforcement officials, the official said.
Officials at the White House, the Justice Department and intelligence agencies declined to comment on Monday on the investigation and on Mr. Snowden.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who is the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee and has praised the programs’ effectiveness, said the panel would hold a closed briefing for all senators on Thursday to hear from N.S.A., F.B.I. and Justice Department officials. A similar closed hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in the House.
In Hong Kong, legal experts said the government was likely to turn over Mr. Snowden if it found him and the United States asked, although he could delay extradition, potentially for months, with court challenges, but probably could not block the process. The Hong Kong authorities have worked closely with United States law enforcement agencies for years and have usually accepted extradition requests under longstanding agreements, according to Regina Ip, a former secretary of security who serves in the territory’s legislature.
“He won’t find Hong Kong a safe harbor,” Ms. Ip said.
The Mira Hotel said Mr. Snowden had stayed at the hotel but checked out on Monday.
The Justice Department investigation of Mr. Snowden will be overseen by the F.B.I.’s Washington field office, which has considerable experience prosecuting such cases, according to one of the officials. The department’s investigation into Mr. Snowden is one of at least two continuing government inquiries. The N.S.A. began trying to identify and locate the leaker when The Guardian published its first revelations on Wednesday, and there were indications that agency officials considered Mr. Snowden a suspect from the start.
According to Kerri Jo Heim, a real estate agent who handled a recent sale of a Hawaii home that Mr. Snowden had been renting, the police came by the house Wednesday morning, perhaps even before The Guardian published its story. The police asked Ms. Heim if they knew Mr. Snowden’s whereabouts. Mr. Snowden moved last spring to the house on Oahu, 15 miles northwest of Honolulu, in a neighborhood populated by military families tied to the nearby Schofield Barracks, an Army base.
The N.S.A. investigation is also examining the damage that the revelations may have on the effectiveness of programs. James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, said over the weekend on NBC News that he was concerned about “the huge, grave damage it does to our intelligence capabilities.” He did not cite specific examples of the damage caused by the disclosures.
Members of Congress criticized Mr. Snowden on Monday. He “has damaged national security, our ability to track down terrorists, or those with nefarious intent, and his disclosure has not made America safer," said Representative Jim Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
The string of articles describing the surveillance programs will probably prompt a broad review within government agencies on granting federal workers and private contractors access to classified data.
Three years ago, the State Department significantly tightened access to its classified data, in reaction to the release of department cables to WikiLeaks by a low-level intelligence analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning.
In Mr. Snowden’s case, similar questions are emerging: Why would a relatively low-level employee of a large government contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, posted in Hawaii for only three months, have access to classified presidential directives or a PowerPoint presentation on Internet surveillance, and how could he download them without detection?
At a White House briefing Monday, Jay Carney, the press secretary, went out of his way not to discuss Mr. Snowden, referring to him as “the individual.” Mr. Carney declined to say whether President Obama had watched a video in which Mr. Snowden explained his motivations and argued that the United States government conducted too much surveillance of its citizens.
American officials cited the continuing inquiry as the reason for the low-key approach. By keeping silent on Mr. Snowden and his case, the Obama administration also avoids elevating his status, even as whistle-blower advocacy groups championed him and his disclosures on Monday. A petition to pardon Mr. Snowden, posted on the White House Web site, attracted more than 25,000 electronic signatures by Monday afternoon.
In a separate case, a federal appeals court ruled Monday against a civil-liberties advocacy group that challenged the constitutionality of the N.S.A.’s warrantless wiretapping program. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, refused to overturn a lower-court ruling dismissing the lawsuit, brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights.
The suit initially sought to end the Bush-era wiretapping program, and later challenged the constitutionality of new legislation passed by Congress after the original program was disclosed by The New York Times in December 2005.
Michael S. Schmidt and Eric Schmitt reported from Washington, and Keith Bradsher from Hong Kong. Jonathan Weisman and James Risen contributed reporting from Washington, and Richard A. Oppel Jr. from New York.
Obama has continued the US imperialist militarism throughout the world. His administration has escalated the war in Central Asia and sent the CIA and AFRICOM into Libya and other regions of Africa., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Paul Krugman: NSA Surveillance State 'On The Authoritarian Side'
The Huffington Post | Posted: 06/09/2013 12:16 pm EDT
With the rise in technology, Americans should expect that they're being monitored by the government, but the surveillance state we’re living in has perhaps gone too far, according to Paul Krugman.
In an appearance on ABC’s “This Week”, The Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist cited a 2008 paper from Jack Balkin, a Yale Law School professor, indicating that increased surveillance is a predictable outcome of the rise in technology. Still, that doesn't mean the surveillance should be widespread and secretive, Krugman said.
“You can have a democratic surveillance state which collects as little data as possible and tells you as much as possible about what it's doing, or you can have an authoritarian surveillance state which collects as much as possible and tells the public as little as possible,” Krugman said. “And we are kind of on the authoritarian side.”
Krugman’s comments were in reference to the National Security Agency spying scandal, which erupted last week after The Guardian reported the agency was collecting phone records of millions of Americans in an aim to prevent acts of terrorism. The Washington Post also reported last week that major technology companies were providing the government with access to customers' chats, photos, emails and other information -- a claim that most of the companies allegedly involved denied.
Obama defended the agency, saying Americans have to choose when balancing privacy with security. Still, that hasn’t stopped critics from blasting the President over the scandal.
According to Krugman, security isn't the issue though. He said on "This Week" that Balkin argues in his paper that the boost in government spying is less a function of the nation's security situation and more the result of the increased availability of data on its citizens.
"Technology means that we're going to be living in a surveillance state," Krugman said. "No matter what happens."
Kimberly Rivera, a female soldier who fled the U.S. military in order to avoid the war in Iraq, plays with her children in their Toronto home on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. Rivera was deported from Canada on September 20, 2012., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
How Canadian Internet users may be getting caught in U.S. surveillance
CTV News: Is Canada spying on its citizens?
A little-known program authorized by the defence minister is scouring personal electronic data trails. Richard Madan reports.
The growing scandal around secret U.S. government surveillance also affects Canadians who use Facebook and Google.
Power Play: What is metadata surveillance?
What is metadata surveillance? Geoffrey O'Brian, former CSIS chief of counter-intelligence, explains.
Published Monday, June 10, 2013 9:22AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, June 10, 2013 10:30AM EDT
Canadians who use U.S.-based Internet services, or simply surf such popular websites as Facebook or Google, run the risk that their personal information is being caught up in a controversial American surveillance program.
In recent days, it has emerged that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been operating an Internet surveillance program called PRISM that gives it access to data from nine U.S. Internet companies, including Google and Facebook.
Another leaked program tracks "telephony metadata" related to millions of phone calls each day in the U.S. Both PRISM and the phone program apparently seek to collect information about online networks and connections between groups of users, as opposed to the content of actual emails or phone calls.
Canadians who use U.S.-based Internet services, or simply surf such popular websites as Facebook or Google, run the risk that their personal information is being caught up in a controversial American surveillance program.
But Canadians who use U.S. services such as Facebook, Google or Gmail are also subject to the program, said Christopher Soghoian of the American Civil Liberties Union.
"I think Canadians really need to look at whether it's safe to be trusting foreign companies, in this case a U.S. company, with as much of their private data, given what the American government has been doing," Soghoian told CTV's Canada AM from Washington, D.C. on Monday.
"When you give your information, whether it's your personal emails or private photographs or social networking information, when you give that to a company not in your country you really give up control of that and you allow a foreign government to access that, in addition to your own."
Even Canadian emails sent through servers based in the U.S. would theoretically be subject to the program -- and most people will never even know their information was collected or monitored.
According to some estimates, 90 per cent of Canadian cyber traffic is routed through servers south of the border.
"The vast majority of our data and activities online is being routed through our neighbours to the south and so we are subject to all their regulations anyway, regardless of what the authorities in Canada might be doing," said Keith Murphy, a cyber-security expert.
In the past, U.S. authorities needed a warrant to search a home or hard drive. But since the Patriot Act was introduced after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S., the rules have changed so that companies can now monitor emails and social networks in search of suspicious connections and even terrorist networks, said David Hyde, a security and risk management specialist.
"What we've seen post-9/11 is a shift in the pendulum in terms of how authorities can access, without a warrant, this type of information," he said.
Hyde added that the rules concerning what the Canadian government can monitor are much stricter. Under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001, only the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) can actually eavesdrop or monitor online communications.
"But there are strict provisions in terms of when they're allowed to do that, how they must do that, who they must get permission from. So there's a lot of oversight built into that, but yes the potential is there that they could be monitoring Canadian communications," Hyde said.
On Monday, the Globe and Mail reported that Canada also has a secret metadata surveillance program that was renewed by Defence Minister Peter MacKay in 2011 after first being brought in by the former Liberal government in 2005.
The program had been on hiatus prior to 2011 over concerns it could lead to warrantless surveillance of Canadians, but was quietly reinstated after MacKay signed a ministerial directive on Nov. 21, 2011.
Both CSEC and the NSA have said that the programs can only look at the metadata surrounding communications, and not the communications themselves, which would be illegal without a warrant.
Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/how-canadian-internet-users-may-be-getting-caught-in-u-s-surveillance-1.1318910#ixzz2Vs2kicPm
James Bamford, a writer on the National Security Agency (NSA), exposed the intelligence group many years ago. The NSA has been further exposed by Edward Snowden., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
June 10, 2013
The N.S.A.’s Chief Chronicler
Posted by Alexander Nazaryan
In 1982, long before most Americans ever had to think about warrantless eavesdropping, the journalist James Bamford published “The Puzzle Palace: A Report on N.S.A., America’s Most Secret Agency,” the first book to be written about the National Security Agency, which was started in 1952 by President Harry Truman to collect intelligence on foreign entities, and which we learned last week has been collecting the phone and Internet records of Americans and others. In the book, Bamford describes the agency as “free of legal restrictions” while wielding “technological capabilities for eavesdropping beyond imagination.” He concludes with an ominous warning: “Like an ever-widening sinkhole, N.S.A.’s surveillance technology will continue to expand, quietly pulling in more and more communications and gradually eliminating more and more privacy.” Three decades later, this pronouncement feels uncomfortably prescient: we were warned.
Bamford, who served in the Navy and studied law before becoming a journalist, published three more books after “The Puzzle Palace,” composing a tetralogy about the N.S.A.: “Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency” (2001); “A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies” (2004); and “The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret N.S.A. from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America” (2008). As the progression of subtitles indicates, Bamford has become disenchanted with the agency that he knows probably better than any other outsider. Fellow investigative journalists regard him with what can broadly be described as admiration, though, as the Times reporter Scott Shane wrote, in 2008, “His relationship with the National Security Agency might be compared to a long and rocky romance, in which fascination with his quarry’s size and capabilities has alternated with horror at its power to invade privacy.”
The image of a troubled romance is one that Bamford readily summons. “I have a love-hate relationship with the N.S.A.,” Bamford joked when I spoke to him last week, in the wake of the revelation that the N.S.A. is gathering metadata from telecommunications and Internet companies. “I love them, and they hate me.” They have good reason.
Bamford, who divides his time between Washington, D.C., and London, is a slightly mischievous character whose obvious persistence and curiosity have served him well. He talks with the relish of a child who has entered a forbidden room and knows that he will do so again. He decided to write about the N.S.A., which is believed to receive ten billion dollars in annual government funding and employ some forty thousand people, because no one had done it before—and because it was probably more fun than reading case law. While doing research at the Virginia Military Institute, he uncovered a load of N.S.A.-related documents from the files of the masterful Moldovan-born cryptographer William Friedman, as well as those of Marshall Carter, who headed the agency from 1965 to 1969. And, incredibly enough, the Department of Justice, under Jimmy Carter, complied with Bamford’s Freedom of Information Act requests, supplying him with secret documents related to the Church Committee, the Senate group that, in 1975, investigated American intelligence agencies for potential transgression of their mandates.
That the government would hand over sensitive information to Bamford predictably infuriated the N.S.A.; Reagan Administration lawyers tried to bully Bamford into ceding his goods, threatening him with the Espionage Act, while the N.S.A. attempted to sequester the documents he’d uncovered. But because he was a lawyer, Bamford knew that he had done nothing wrong.
Unlike the secret court order on wiretapping that required Verizon to supply the N.S.A. with its customers’ phone records which was passed covertly to the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, Bamford’s information was obtained through legal channels.
I had a hard time finding “The Puzzle Palace.” Online bookstores notwithstanding, the only physical copy I could locate promptly was at the Queens Central Library. The book was in storage, I was told, and would take some time to retrieve. Indeed, “The Puzzle Palace” has the feel of an artifact, the darkly revealing kind. Though published during the Reagan years, the book is coolly subversive and powerfully prescient. Its warnings of “technotyranny” and reminders that “the same technology that is used against free speech can be used to protect it” sound like something you might hear from a Google executive at a TED talk. Bamford writes with stinging skepticism about the legal procedures created in 1978 under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to adjudicate spying—the same laws that, since 9/11, have allowed for domestic wiretapping—calling them “a super hush-hush surveillance court that is virtually impotent.”
Bamford’s 1982 book is a reminder to anyone who thinks that domestic eavesdropping is a necessary part of a post-9/11 world that the N.S.A. has tested the bounds of the Fourth Amendment before. Project Shamrock, carried out after the Second World War, compelled companies like Western Union to hand over, on a daily basis, all telegraphs entering and leaving the United States. A younger sibling, Project Minaret, born in 1969, collected information on “individuals or organizations, involved in civil disturbances, antiwar movements/demonstrations and Military deserters involved in the antiwar movement.”
My own favorite passage is of a lighter variety. It describes the N.S.A.’s headquarters, near Washington—sometimes called Crypto City—which Bamford got to visit in exchange for making a few concessions regarding information the N.S.A. was particularly eager to keep out of public view. He writes, “Although security at the Puzzle Palace appears close to hermetic, much of it is little more than illusion. Triple-wrapping in chain link and electricity notwithstanding, access to the front lobby and plush reception area is easier than walking into a Greyhound bus station.” I’m quite certain such laxity is long gone.
If “The Puzzle Palace” is hard to find, it is only because the book that followed, “Body of Secrets,” almost entirely eclipsed it.
Published months before 9/11, it is the story of an agency adrift, the Soviet menace diminished but the one from the Middle East not yet in full focus. The book is turgid with agency history, partly because it was the work for which Bamford would receive the most thorough coöperation from the N.S.A. Then director Michael Hayden, who had taken charge of the agency in 1999, even invited Bamford to a dinner at his house. (“He had a three-piece band,” Bamford told me. “Generals get these things.”)
The history is not always kind: “Body of Secrets” opens with a description of American intelligence agents at the end of the Second World War desperate to poach Nazi codebreakers who might have been helpful against the looming Soviet threat. The Suez Crisis of 1956, in which Israel, Britain, and France attacked Egypt, “marked a dismal entry into the world of crisis intelligence,” Bamford writes, the agency’s analysis consisting of nothing more specific or useful than “communications between Paris and Tel Aviv.”
Eight years later, the N.S.A. committed a “major blunder,” in Bamford’s words, by inflating the threat of a second attack in the Gulf of Tonkin in the early days of August, 1964, which President Lyndon B. Johnson would use as a pretext for leading the nation into what would become the Vietnam War. Later, Bamford alleges that the N.S.A. lost cryptographic equipment to the North Koreans, who passed it on to the Soviets, who, in turn, handed it over to their North Vietnamese allies (the N.S.A. has disputed this claim).
The agency did draw an “electronic noose” around the Soviet Union, though, as Bamford told me later, “because the Cold War remained cold, the N.S.A. was never tested against its ultimate challenge.”
Slow to change during the nineteen-nineties, the agency began to adapt to the digital world by the time Hayden took office. Its codebreakers were by and large brilliant mathematicians and computer scientists, but they were not always au courant.
Bamford writes that, “as the Cold War passed, so did the N.S.A.’s boom years,” noting that, by 1997, “the intelligence community budget had shrunk to what it had been in 1980.” For the N.S.A., that meant that in the first seven years of the nineties, it had to cut its staff by 17.5 per cent.
Because the N.S.A. appears to have treated Bamford almost like a civilian ombudsman at the time, the book is full of odd little details: the post office in Crypto City, as of 2000, distributed seventy thousand pieces of mail each day, and the “N.S.A. is the largest contributor to Maryland’s blood donor program.”
There is even “an annual film festival, sponsored by the Crypto-Linguistic Association and a Battlegaming Club, not to mention a Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.” The details are intended to endow, with a sheen of normalcy, what Bamford describes as “an avatar of Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘Library of Babel,’ a place where the collection of information is both infinite and monstrous, where all the world’s knowledge is stored, but every word is maddeningly scrambled in an unbreakable code.”
The great irony here is that the agency charged with omniscience overlooked the fact that several of the 9/11 hijackers were living in Laurel, Maryland, an N.S.A. bedroom community. Bamford speculates that the five terrorists-to-be who were sequestered there may have exercised at the same Gold’s Gym as many N.S.A. employees.
Bamford is generally kind to Michael Hayden. Yet after 9/11, which came only months after the book’s publication in the spring of 2001, the N.S.A. became both a scapegoat and one of the organizations charged with preventing further attacks.
Part of this mission involved bolstering, along with the Central Intelligence Agency, the White House’s claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction—claims later shown to be largely false, as “Pretext for War” amply demonstrates. In that book, he also reports that the N.S.A. was told by the Bush Administration “to spy on the United Nations weapons inspectors and pressure undecided members of the UN Security Council to vote in favor of its go-to-war.”
Nor did Bamford know the worst of it. Once again, his book had come on the cusp of a cataclysm. On December 16, 2005, the Times published an article titled “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts,” alleging that the President “secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials”—a predecessor to the Prism program being unravelled today. Bamford felt betrayed.
Though he had reported on the excesses of Shamrock and Minaret, he thought that the N.S.A., under Hayden’s leadership, was a more scrupulous outfit than it had been in the past. Bamford now considers the book much too generous toward Hayden.
“The Shadow Factory,” Bamford’s rageful 2008 book about the N.S.A.’s current troubles, is probably the most relevant of Bamford’s books today. In it, he describes an agency that has become increasingly cavalier about what data it will collect, and from whom. As one official told Bamford, “It’s what the N.S.A.’s been doing since 9/11.
They’re just sweeping the stuff up.” Hayden, by this time, has been made into “a three-star sycophant unwilling to protect the agency from the destructive forces of Cheney and [David] Addington,” Cheney’s chief of staff.
Whereas “Body of Secrets” referenced Borges, “The Shadow Factory” alludes to Orwell.
Particularly irksome is the suspicion that, as far as spy agencies are concerned, the N.S.A. just isn’t very good: Bamford said it has “failed badly” in preventing attacks since the Cold War, missing everything from the first World Trade Center attack in 1993 to the recent Boston Marathon bombing.
That’s partly because, as the agency has been inundated with so much data, it has perhaps lost the ability to evaluate information in a timely manner. You need people to point out patterns, to say what is relevant and what is not. Or, as Bamford puts it in “A Pretext for War,” the “N.S.A. needs human intelligence sources to help tell it where, and to whom, to listen.” In the past, a rivalry with the C.I.A.—which is largely responsible for human intelligence, in contrast to the N.S.A.’s general focus on data—had prevented that sort of symbiosis.
At the root of Bamford’s fixation on the N.S.A. is a fascination with Americans’ willingness to “buy the company line” of spymasters, who assure us that the letter of the law is being followed, that civil liberties are respected, even as evidence accumulates suggesting the opposite. It seems we want to believe that those charged with protecting us may occasionally break the law, but will only do it to keep us safe, the way the roguish patriot Carrie Mathison, played by Claire Danes, routinely does on the TV show “Homeland.”
All this has made Bamford increasingly outraged. Though he refused to gloat during our conversation, it was clear that he felt vindicated for all his years of dogged pursuit.
And he is still angry, as angry as he was back in 1982, when few Americans had ever heard of Crypto City. Surprisingly apolitical, Bamford simply wants the spies to account for what they do before they do it: “You want to do this?” he says of the N.S.A.’s Prism program. “Put a bill through Congress. Have a public debate.”
Alexander Nazaryan is a writer living in Brooklyn.
Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/06/the-nsas-chief-chronicler.html?printable=true¤tPage=all#ixzz2Vry8yPfH