by ZERO HEDGE | MARCH 28, 2015
US Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said:
Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.
But there’s no longer much sunlight to disinfect the corruption of the government or the powers-that-be.
More and more commonly, the government prosecutes cases based upon “secret evidence” that they don’t show to the defendant … or sometimes even the judge hearing the case.
As just one example, government is “laundering” information gained through mass surveillance through other agencies, with an agreement that the agencies will “recreate” the evidence in a “parallel construction” … so the original source of the evidence is kept secret from the defendant, defense attorneys and the judge. A former top NSA official says that this is the opposite of following the Fourth Amendment, but is a “totalitarian process” which shows that we’re in a “police state”.
Indeed, even the laws themselves are now starting to be kept secret. And it’s about to get a lot worse.
American citizens are also being detained in Guantanamo-like conditions in Chicago … including being held in secret, with the government refusing to tell a suspect’s lawyer whether his client is being held. And see this, this and this.
The Department of Defense has also made it a secret – even from Congress – as to the identity of the main enemies of the United States.
Today, Glenn Greenwald adds yet another twist to the trend towards secrecy:
A truly stunning debasement of the U.S. justice system just occurred through the joint efforts of the Obama Justice Department and a meek and frightened Obama-appointed federal judge, Edgardo Ramos, all in order to protect an extremist neocon front group from scrutiny and accountability. The details are crucial for understanding the magnitude of the abuse here.
At the center of it is an anti-Iranian group calling itself “United Against Nuclear Iran” (UANI), which is very likely a front for some combination of the Israeli and U.S. intelligence services. When launched, NBC described its mission as waging “economic and psychological warfare” against Iran. The group was founded and is run and guided by a roster of U.S., Israeli and British neocon extremists such as Joe Lieberman, former Bush Homeland Security adviser (and current CNN “analyst”) Fran Townsend, former CIA Director James Woolsey, and former Mossad Director Meir Dagan. One of its key advisers is Olli Heinonen, who just co-authored a Washington Post Op-Ed with former Bush CIA/NSA Director Michael Hayden arguing that Washington is being too soft on Tehran.
This group of neocon extremists was literally just immunized by a federal court from the rule of law. That was based on the claim — advocated by the Obama DOJ and accepted by Judge Ramos — that subjecting them to litigation for their actions would risk disclosure of vital “state secrets.” The court’s ruling was based on assertions made through completely secret proceedings between the court and the U.S. government, with everyone else — including the lawyers for the parties — kept in the dark.
In May 2013, UANI launched a “name and shame” campaign designed to publicly identify — and malign — any individuals or entities enabling trade with Iran. One of the accused was the shipping company of Greek billionaire Victor Restis, who vehemently denies the accusation. He hired an American law firm and sued UANI for defamation in a New York federal court, claiming the “name and shame” campaign destroyed his reputation.
Up until that point, there was nothing unusual about any of this: just a garden-variety defamation case brought in court by someone who claims that public statements made about him are damaging and false. That happens every day. But then something quite extraordinary happened: In September of last year, the U.S. government, which was not a party, formally intervened in the lawsuit, and demanded that the court refuse to hear Restis’s claims and instead dismiss the lawsuit against UANI before it could even start, on the ground that allowing the case to proceed would damage national security.
When the DOJ intervened in this case and asserted the “state secrets privilege,” it confounded almost everyone. The New York Times’s Matt Apuzzo noted at the time that “the group is not affiliated with the government, and lists no government contracts on its tax forms. The government has cited no precedent for using the so-called state secrets privilege to quash a private lawsuit that does not focus on government activity.” He quoted the ACLU’s Ben Wizner as saying: “I have never seen anything like this.” Reuters’s Allison Frankel labeled the DOJ’s involvement a “mystery” and said “the government’s brief is maddeningly opaque about its interest in a private libel case.”
Usually, when the U.S. government asserts the “state secrets privilege,” it is because they are a party to the lawsuit, being sued for their own allegedly illegal acts (such as torture or warrantless surveillance), and they claim that national security would be harmed if they are forced to defend themselves. In rare cases, they do intervene and assert the privilege in lawsuits between private parties, but only where the subject of the litigation is a government program and one of the parties is a government contractor involved in that program — such as when torture victims sued a Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen, for its role in providing airplanes for the rendition program and the Obama DOJ insisted (successfully) that the case not go forward, and the victim of U.S. torture was thus told that he could not even have a day in court.
But in this case, there is no apparent U.S. government conduct at issue in the lawsuit. At least based on what they claim about themselves, UANI is just “a not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group” that seeks to “educate” the public about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program. Why would such a group like this even possess “state secrets”? It would be illegal to give them such material. Or could it be that the CIA or some other U.S. government agency has created and controls the group, which would be a form of government-disseminated propaganda, which happens to be illegal?
What else could explain the basis for the U.S. government’s argument that allowing UANI to be sued would risk the disclosure of vital “state secrets” besides a desire to cover up something quite untoward if not illegal? What “state secrets” could possibly be disclosed by suing a nice, little “not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group”?
We don’t know the answers to those questions, nor do the lawyers for the plaintiffs whose lawsuit the DOJ wants dismissed. That’s because, beyond the bizarre DOJ intervention itself, the extreme secrecy that shaped the judicial proceedings is hard to overstate. Usually, when the U.S. government asserts the “state secrets privilege,” at least some information is made public about what they are claiming: which official or department is invoking the privilege, the general nature of the secrets allegedly at risk, the reasons why allowing the claims to be adjudicated would risk disclosure, etc. Some redacted version of the affidavit from the government official making the secrecy claim is made part of the case.
Here, virtually everything has been hidden, even from the plaintiffs’ lawyers. Not only did the U.S. government provide no clue as to what the supposedly endangered “state secrets” are, but they concealed even the identity of the agency making the claim: was it the CIA, the Treasury Department, the State Department, some combination? Nothing is known about any of this, not even who is making the secrecy claim.
Instead, the DOJ’s arguments about why “secrecy” compels dismissal of the entire lawsuit were made in a brief that only Judge Ramos (and not even the parties) gets to read, but even more amazingly, were elaborated on in secret meetings by DOJ lawyers in the judge’s chambers with nobody else present. Were recordings or transcripts of these meetings made? Is there any record of what the U.S. government whispered in the ear of the judge to scare him into believing that National Security Would Be Harmed™ if he allowed the case to proceed? Nobody knows. The whole process is veiled in total secrecy, labeled a “judicial proceeding” but containing none of the transparency, safeguards or adversarial process that characterizes minimally fair courts.
This sham worked. This week, Judge Ramos issued his ruling dismissing the entire lawsuit (see below). As a result of the DOJ’s protection, UANI cannot be sued. Among other things, it means this group of neocon extremists now has a license to defame anyone they want. They can destroy your reputation with false accusations in a highly public campaign, and when you sue them for it, the DOJ will come in and whisper in the judge’s ear that national security will be damaged if — like everyone else in the world — UANI must answer in a court of law for their conduct. And subservient judicial officials like Judge Ramos will obey the U.S. government’s dictates and dismiss your lawsuit before it begins, without your having any idea why that even happened.
Worse, in his written ruling, the judge expressly acknowledges that dismissal of the entire lawsuit at the start on secrecy grounds is what he calls a “harsh sanction,” and also acknowledges that “it is particularly so in this case because Plaintiffs not only do not get their day in court, but cannot be told why” (emphasis added). But he does it anyway, in a perfunctory 18-page opinion that does little other than re-state some basic legal principles, and then just concludes that everything the government whispered in his ear should be accepted. Just read for yourself what Judge Ramos said in defending his dismissal to see how wildly disparate it is from everything we’re propagandized to believe about the U.S. justice system:
What kind of “justice system” allows a neocon “advocacy” group to be immunized from the law, because the U.S. government waltzed into court, met privately with the judge, and whispered in secret that he had better dismiss all claims against that group lest he harm national security? To describe what happened here is to illustrate what a perverse travesty it is. Restis’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement this week:
We are disappointed that some secret relationship between UANI and the government allows UANI to hide from disclosing that association or to defend what has now been proven to be its false and defamatory allegations directed at Mr. Restis and his company. We are mystified that the U.S. government has such a stake in this case that it would take such extraordinary steps to prevent full disclosure of the secret interest it has with UANI or others. And, we are concerned that, in our court system, such a result could occur on the basis of sealed, one-sided filings and meetings in which we were not allowed to participate.
Indeed, the government is going to incredible lengths to keep secrets, including:
- Treating reporters like terrorists. Andsee this
- Prosecuting and demanding draconian jail sentences for whistleblowers
- Framing whistleblowers with false evidence
Sadly, the sunlight is fading … and America is falling into darkness.
Postscript: On “Freedom of Information Day” – in the middle of “Sunshine Week” – the Obama administration announced that White House emails are not subject to freedom of information requests, and urged that a whole new category of information be kept secret from the American people.
Orwell would be proud.
Clinton has refused to turn her email server over to an independent third party and claims she has wiped the server clean
By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has refused to turn her email server over to an independent third party and claims she has wiped the server clean, dealing a setback to the special investigative committee looking into the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, the probe said late Friday.
Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy said the whole House will have to decide what the next steps are in the push to pry information from Mrs. Clinton, but said she will likely have to appear and testify on her decision-making about her emails, setting up another dramatic showdown between the former first lady and her congressional critics.
“Not only was the secretary the sole arbiter of what was a public record, she also summarily decided to delete all emails from her server ensuring no one could check behind her analysis in the public interest,” Mr. Gowdy said in a statement excoriating Mrs. Clinton’s actions.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the top Democrat on the Benghazi probe, said that proves Mrs. Clinton has already produced all of her official records concerning the terrorist attack.
“It is time for the committee to stop this political charade and instead make these documents public and schedule Secretary Clinton’s public testimony now,” he said.
Mrs. Clinton said at a press conference earlier this month that she culled through more than 60,000 emails from her time as secretary and decided about 30,000 of them were public records that should have been maintained. She said the rest were private messages relating to her daughter’s wedding or her yoga class schedule, and she didn’t keep those.
He said it wasn’t clear when Mrs. Clinton made the final decision, but he said it appeared to have happened after the State Department asked her to turn over her government business messages in late October.
Mrs. Clinton rejected use of a government-issued email account during her four years as secretary, first relying on an account she used while a senator and then later setting up an email server at her home in New York and using an account on that to conduct all of her business, both public and private.
She insists she followed the law, which at the time didn’t require officials to use government-issued accounts but did require them to turn over all official records to be stored. Mrs. Clinton didn’t turn over those records until last December, after the Benghazi probe noticed she had used a private email and requested those records from the State Department, which then asked Mrs. Clinton for them. The law doesn’t set a date for turning over records.
Open-records experts, however, question Mrs. Clinton’s designation of her server as private, saying it was set up in order to do government business, and so it and the emails on it arguably belong to the government.
Mrs. Clinton’s email practices have put the Obama administration in a difficult position. Obama lawyers have admitted in federal court that for years, they were not correctly performing open-records searches because they didn’t have her emails, but they say they are unilaterally going back and doing those searches now.
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter
Obama’s push to legalize millions of illegal immigrants is leaving many Americans’ families locked out of the United States
White House Correspondent
President Barack Obama’s push to legalize millions of illegal immigrants is leaving many Americans’ families locked out of the United States.
American engineer Jimmy Gugliotta and his Argentinian wife and children have been stuck in Chile for so long that he’s pleading for donations to buy food and airfares while the U.S. visa agency slowly processes the visa documents needed by his wife and children.
“I was initially told the process would take 6 to 9 months and we had enough money to get us through until that time,” he wrote in his March 19 GoFundMe online appeal.
“We are trying to sell the few possessions that we have left,” said Gugliotta, who escaped a hard-knock childhood by learning computer design while earning $8 an hour in various manual labor jobs.
Chile’s immigration laws have kept Gugliotta from working in Chile, but U.S. immigration laws have kept him and his family from going home to the United States.
“I have been unemployed [in Chile] since early 2013, trying to get back to the U.S. to work… it has been 16 months and still no visa,” he added.
On March 25, he got another letter from the visa agency at the Department of Homeland Security.
“The National Visa Center (NVC) received your documents on 23-MAR-15. We are currently receiving an increased number of approved petitions from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. As a result, we are experiencing increased review times for documents received. “We expect it will be at least 60 days from the date we received your mail before we complete the review of your documents. We will notify you when we review your documents. “We are working to reduce these processing times and we appreciate your patience.”
According to Jessica Vaughan, the policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies, Gugliotta is a victim of bureaucratic incompetence exacerbated by Obama’s choice to rush millions of illegal immigrants past routine immigration barriers.
In November, Obama ordered his agency to reorganize themselves so they can start awarding work-permits and other documents to four million illegals who were brought to the United States by their parents.
That’s level with the number of Americans who will turn 18 in 2015.
The agency’s workload was also raised when Obama allowed roughly 130,000 Central American adults and youths to cross the southern border in 2014, and when he ordered officials to grant extra work-permits to roughly 100,000 spouses of foreign guest-workers.
Since 2009, Obama ahas also given work-permits to roughly 4.7 million foreign students, tourists and border-jumping migrants.
On March 23, Obama also invited companies to bring in “hundreds of thousands” of L-1B guest-workers, who can work in the United States while being paid wages level with the wages paid in their home country, such as India or China.
Obama’s support for foreign workers contrasts with this 2012 campaign rhetoric, in which he repeatedly told Americans that he would bet on American workers. “Ohio, we’re not about to take a knee and do nothing… I stood with American workers. I stood with American manufacturing. I believed in you. I bet on you. I’ll make that bet any day of the week,” he told a cheering audience Sept. 3, 2012 in Ohio.
This effort to provide documents to foreign workers has sidelined people with legitimate claims, said Vaughan.
Before Obama’s push for amnesty and more guest-workers, the spouses and immediate relatives of U.S. citizens were in the highest priority category for visas processing, and were supposed to be completed in five months, Vaughan said.
But by last December, the processing time had stretched out to eight months, she said.
Published on Mar 28, 2015
Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, was told by the EU and the International Monetary Fund that his country would not receive any more bailout funding until his government provided details regarding pension, tax and public sector pay reforms along with measures to fight corruption. Detailed reform proposals were submitted to the European Commission on Friday and they will be considered by Greece’s creditors over the weekend before a special meeting of EU finance ministers takes place next week to decide if the measures are sufficient. Speaking during a debate on the subject in the European Parliament, European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, expressed optimism that the reform proposals will be acceptable.
Washington is considering letting Iran operate hundreds of centrifuges at a formerly secret bunker, in exchange for limiting research at other sites, US officials taking part in the nuclear talks in Geneva told AP.
Instead of uranium, any centrifuges permitted at the Fordo facility would work on isotopes used in medicine, science or industry, the officials said. In return, Iran would scale back the number of centrifuges it currently operates at the Natanz facility, and accept inspections and other restrictions.
According to AP, the total number of centrifuges currently operating at Natanz is 10,000. If the leaked proposal is accepted, the combined number of centrifuges at both sites would be under 6,500. The formerly secret site at Fordo, which Iran revealed in 2009, is controversial because it is dug into a mountainside and fortified against air attacks.
Officials, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity, said the goal since the beginning of the talks was to have the Fordo facility converted “so it’s not being used to enrich uranium.”
All of the proposed options are designed to keep Iran at least a year away from producing a nuclear weapon for the 10-year duration of the agreement, the officials said.
Meanwhile, the White House has said that the US expects “tangible commitments” from Iran, but refused to confirm the agreement would be in writing.
Led by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, the negotiators are trying to reach a preliminary agreement before the end of March. Deadline for the final agreement is June 30.
Tehran disclosed the existence of the Fordo Fuel Enrichment Plant, unfinished at the time, to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in September 2009. Iran said the purpose of the facility was the production of uranium enriched up to five percent of U-235, the isotope capable of sustaining a fission reaction. According to the Iranian disclosure, the facility was being built to operate approximately 3,000 centrifuges in 16 cascades. It is dug into the mountainside near the Shia holy city of Qom, 78 miles (125 km) southwest of Tehran.
The extensive facility at Natanz, whose existence was revealed in 2002, is in the Isfahan province, 204 miles (328 km) southeast of Tehran. It is reportedly eight meters (approx. 26 feet) underground and extends over 100,000 square meters, with a capacity of 19,000 centrifuges.
“We will continue 20 percent enrichment at Fordo and Natanz to meet our needs,” Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Director Fereydoun Abbasi told the Tehran Times in January 2013, a year after one of the Natanz scientists was killed in a car bombing that Iran blamed on Israel.
The US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – known as the “P5+1” – are trying to reach an agreement with Iran to restrict the country’s nuclear program in return for lifting the economic blockade imposed by the UN.
The Obama administration has come under criticism by the Republican-led Congress over the Iran talks. Earlier this month, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu was invited to address Congress without White House approval, and blasted the talks in his speech. Days later, 47 Republican senators sent a letter informing Iran that any deal would be invalid without their approval. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has likewise come under criticism by political opponents who do not trust the US to honor any agreement.
BY GARY DEMAR
Plans are already in the works for Obama’s Presidential Library. The most likely site will be Chicago, although New York and Hawaii are in the running. “A decision on the final selection among four announced finalists (the University of Chicago; the University of Illinois at Chicago; Columbia University and the University of Hawaii) will be made by First Lady Michelle Obama in March 2015.”
These institutions don’t need the money that will be poured into these communities. The people and businesses of Ferguson do.
If Obama is really serious about human rights, he needs to reconsider and rework his plans and build his library in Ferguson, Missouri.
He, Holder, and a number of “black leaders” have destroyed the city. And let’s not forget all the lies that came out about the shooting incident. Black athletes and personalities also bear some responsibility that led to the deplorable economic conditions in Ferguson because they didn’t wait for all the evidence to come in. Now they look like fools, but worse, they destroyed a city.