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Monday, 8 July 2013

The US Postal Service is digitally photographing and archiving every piece of paper mail processed in the United Stat esunder a program called the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program

The New York Times: US Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement
July 3, 2013
Summary: The US Postal Service is digitally photographing and archiving every piece of paper mail processed in the United States under a program called the Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, which was set up after 9/11. This information gained by the government is very similar to gathering the metadata of emails and phone calls. This method was used ocassionally pre-9/11 but only when there was suspicion of a crime.
Key Quote: “It’s a treasure trove of information,” said James J. Wedick, a former F.B.I. agent who spent 34 years at the agency and who said he used mail covers in a number of investigations, including one that led to the prosecution of several elected officials in California on corruption charges. “Looking at just the outside of letters and other mail, I can see who you bank with, who you communicate with — all kinds of useful information that gives investigators leads that they can then follow up on with a subpoena.”
But, he said: “It can be easily abused because it’s so easy to use and you don’t have to go through a judge to get the information. You just fill out a form.” [emphasis added]

NBC: NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake Makes Passionate Rally Speech
July 4, 2013
Summary: National Security Agency whistleblower and GAP client Thomas Drake, at a rally yesterday to restore American rights to privacy as given by the Constitution, declared “our independence from the Surveillance State” in this speech given before an impassioned crowd. The rally “to restore the 4th” where Drake was speaking was one of many gatherings taking place yesterday that altogether brought out an estimated 10,000 people nationwide.
Related Articles: Reuters, Fox News

Associated Press: European States Were Told Snowden Was on Morales Plane, Says Spain
July 5, 2013
Summary: According to the Spanish Foreign Minister, the decision by France and Portugal to deny airspace entry to Bolivian President Evo Morales’s plane this week was based on information given to all European states that NSA surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board. While it is unclear where the information originated, Morales blames the US for pressuring European countries and has threatened to close the US embassy in his country. For a look at the varying perspectives of the different countries involved in the controversial flight, this article provides details.
Further burying the United Nations’ already-dismal reputation for whistleblower protection, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has spoken out against the actions of Snowden. Speaking in front of the foreign affairs committee of the Icelandic parliament, Ban called Snowden’s disclosures “misuse” of the NSA’s digital communications, also saying that individuals “have to show more responsibility” with what they put online. GAP recently exposed the UN ethics office and its whistleblower retaliation policy for the mere façade that it is while advocating for James Wasserstrom. In response to Ban’s personal statement, Icelandic Minister of Parliament Birgitta Jónsdottir, a member of the committee, said “I see it as wrong for the secretary general of the United Nations to condemn Snowden personally in front of our foreign affairs committee. He seemed entirely unconcerned about the invasion of privacy by governments around the world, and only concerned about how whistleblowers are misusing the system.”
The Prime Minister of Iceland, a country known for its free-speech rights and initially a strong asylum prospect for Snowden, has said that the whistleblower will have to be in the country to apply for asylum, a difficult proposition since the US government revoked his passport. Some lawmakers in Iceland have filed a proposal to grant citizenship to Snowden instead, which would facilitate the process of travel, though it is apparently unlikely to be approved by a majority.

In any case, the debate around Snowden continues to swirl, with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange continuing to advocate for Snowden, most recently in this scathing review of American hypocritical actions, written with the Director of Reporters Without Borders. The piece calls for the European Union to welcome Snowden with open arms, especially after the revelation that many of their nations’ offices are being targeted by the US surveillance system as well. Another column from the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson highlights that the Director of National Intelligence will in all likelihood go unprosecuted for his recent lie in a congressional hearing. Furthering the debate that media attention has focused too much on Snowden and not enough on what he disclosed, the Al Jazeera White House correspondent says the whistleblower’s story is being used as a distraction from the truth.

FireDogLake: CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou’s Open Letter to Edward Snowden
July 2, 2013
Summary: GAP client and CIA/torture whistleblower John Kiriakou, currently serving a 30-month sentence in a federal penitentiary in Pennsylvania, has written a letter to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. In the letter, Kiriakou offers his own advice as an enemy of the state, charged under the Espionage Act and pursued by the national security apparatus of the US government to the greatest extent of the law and beyond.

CBC: Snowden Case – Has Obama Broken Pledge to Protect Whistleblowers?
July 3, 2013
Summary: President Obama has, during his time in office, signed monumental whistleblower legislation and made numerous statements praising transparency, declaring an end to the era of government secrets. But the dogged pursuit of Edward Snowden, and treatment of NSA and intelligence whistleblowers, runs palpably contradictory to his message. His administration has charged more intelligence whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined.

Key Quote: But many who disagree are hailing people like Snowden a hero. The Government Accountability Project, which dubs itself the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization, slammed the Obama administration, saying it's clear that Snowden is a whistleblower.
"The Obama administration’s charge of espionage against Edward Snowden is not a surprise. This administration has continually sought to intimidate federal employees — particularly intelligence community workers — and suppress any attempt they might make to speak out against gross corruption, wrongdoing, and illegality."
It praised Snowden for disclosing information about a secret program that he reasonably believed to be illegal. "His actions alone brought about the long-overdue national debate about the proper balance between privacy and civil liberties, on the one hand, and national security on the other," it said. "Charging Snowden with espionage is yet another effort to retaliate against those who criticize the overreach of U.S. intelligence agencies under this administration."

DNI/OPM Sensitive Designation A ‘Threat to the Survival of Civil Service Law”
July 3, 2013
Summary: GAP strongly opposes the proposed rule from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that would allow federal employers to designate nearly any position as ‘sensitive,’ thereby allowing for unwarranted job-dismissal, effectively eliminating whistleblower and anti-retaliation rights.

Whistleblowing is Patriotic
July 4, 2013
Summary: In honor of Independence Day, GAP Investigator Shanna Devine reminds readers of today’s foremost patriots – whistleblowers – and their much-deserved protection. Sign the petition here to ban the criminalization of whistleblowers.

The Nationalist: Whistleblowers to Receive Up to Five Years Wages Under New Plan
July 3, 2013
Summary: A new piece of legislation in Ireland could, if passed, reward whistleblowers that disclose wrongdoing with up to five years’ wages. The bill applies to both public and private sector workers.

The New York Times: In Rural Oasis, Serpico Finds New Adversaries
July 4, 2013
Summary: New York Police Department whistleblower Frank Serpico, who exposed a vast corruption network within the law enforcement agency that subjected him to nearly fatal retaliation, has wound up in another controversial standoff – this time at his Hudson River valley oasis two hours north of the city.


Free All Political Prisoners!

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