A federal judge postponed for a week his decision on whether to grant bond to former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner, who has been accused of violating the Espionage Act, following a spirited hearing Friday in a Georgia courthouse that lasted more than five hours.
Winner appeared calm and never spoke throughout the session, her stiff posture and arms folded neatly behind her back serving as a reminder of her six years in the Air Force. Her tight cornrow braids and messy, youthful hairdo were also a reminder that the defendant is only 25 years old.
“Certainly nobody here is concerned about her holding up a liquor store,” Magistrate Judge Brian Epps said, amid a discussion about needing more time to evaluate whether to let Winner out of jail. He had yet to decide if she was a flight risk or posed danger to her community if let out before her March trial. His area of concern, he added, was “a macro look at our country in general.”
Winner, a linguist working for NSA contractor Pluribus International, was arrested on June 3 and charged under the 1917 Espionage Act with possessing “defense information” and transmitting it to unauthorized recipients. The term defense information is often disputed but broadly defined as “closely-held” information that, if released, could be harmful to the U.S. or help a foreign government.
Ten armed FBI agents, according to an account from Winner, searched her Augusta home and interrogated her about the alleged disclosure, a charge to which she pleaded not guilty. A transcript of the interrogation released in a court filing shows an agent suggesting that Winner had been “angry over everything that’s going on, politics-wise.” The agent charged that a document she printed “made its way to an online news source that you subscribe to.”
Winner’s defense is seeking to suppress an alleged confession given to federal agents during that interrogation. They argued that her Miranda rights were violated, since she was not told she had the right to remain silent amid what amounted to a “custodial interrogation” wherein being appraised of one’s rights is required by law.“Certainly nobody here is concerned about her holding up a liquor store.”
The government has not made public the name of the news outlet nor the subject of the documents Winner is charged with leaking. During the hearing, defense attorney John Bell asked FBI special agent Justin Garrick, responsible for investigating Winner, his opinion about the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Guardian. Bell then asked if he thought The Intercept was similarly a “respectable” news outlet. After a long pause, Garrick responded: “No, I do not.”
Two days after her arrest, The Intercept published a report based on a National Security Agency internal document that described a cyberattack by Russian military intelligence against a U.S. voting software supplier ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The Intercept said in a statement after Winner’s arrest that it received the document anonymously, and has no knowledge of its source; the Intercept’s parent company, First Look Media, has contributed to Winner’s legal support through its Press Freedom Defense Fund and also provided funds to the Stand with Reality campaign.
The arguments on Friday dealt less with questions of Winner’s culpability than with her character and political views. While the government portrayed her as a reckless, dissenting defense contractor with eyebrow-raising interest in U.S. adversaries overseas, her defense and family described her as a worldly Middle East specialist with engaged with current events and global religions in a way fitting with her line of work.
The frequently animated arguments covered whether use of online privacy tools by Winner was a sign of malicious behavior or a desire to avoid tech companies selling her personal data to marketers; if political Facebook messages to her sister — “I only say I hate America like three times a day,” for instance — indicated what the government attorney called “nothing but contempt for our country and our security” or hyperbole understood between siblings; and whether a national security employee should be held without bail simply due to the danger of what they know.
“It’s safe to say that she knows things in her head that, if disclosed, could cause great damage,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Solari.
Solari also raised the subjects of Winner’s alleged internet searches and research as evidence to keep her in detention, including looking for information on moving to Jordan or the Palestinian territories; how to support the online hacker collective Anonymous; and for the Twitter account of the Taliban.
“She would be welcome with open arms by any one of our adversaries,” said Solari.
Winner, who had experience with languages including Farsi, Pashto, and Dari, studied at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, before leaving the air force to work with Pluribus on Iranian aerospace issues. Her mother said that as a teenager, Winner ordered Arabic kits online to teach herself the language.
Winner’s sister, Brittany Michele Winner, was questioned about a Facebook chat she had with Reality, the transcript of which she saw for the first time at the hearing. In one line, the defendant said that she needed to take a polygraph for work and added, #gonnafail.
The older Winner called her sister’s response dramatic. “We assumed it was a safe place,” she said of the chat box.
Though he did not explicitly call her a “whistleblower,” Bell, Winner’s lawyer, brought a book called “Whistleblowers” to his closing remarks. He spoke of legal protections for government employees who disclose information of wrongdoing in the public interest. He said the government’s efforts to identify “foreign contacts” of Winner had come to nothing.
“We are not looking at a rich and powerful defendant,” he said.
The post Judge Delays Decision In Motion To Release Reality Winner On Bail appeared first on The Intercept.
A Michigan judge barred conservative provocateur James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas organization from publishing documents or recordings of union officials, finding that the defendants likely planned to use the information to characterize the Michigan affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in a false light.
The judge also ruled that it appeared likely the information was illegally obtained. Project Veritas and the operative at the heart of the sting were served the injunction on Friday afternoon, a union official told The Intercept.
“I don’t have any comment until I can see what you’re referring to,” O’Keefe said, when reached by The Intercept. The sting has not been previously reported. O’Keefe did not appear to have known his operative had been exposed.
“Nobody’s been served,” said Russell Verney, executive director of Project Veritas, saying that nobody has put documents in their hands. “We don’t comment on investigations, either real or imagined ones,” he said. Andrew Crook, an AFT spokesperson, said the union has a UPS confirmation of delivery, which he said meets the Michigan legal standard for service; Crook provided the UPS confirmation to The Intercept.
The union group quietly filed the lawsuit on Wednesday accusing Project Veritas of infiltrating and illegally gathering proprietary information from AFT Michigan over the summer, including by surreptitiously recording office conversations. Michigan Circuit Court Judge Brian R. Sullivan granted the group’s request for an emergency injunction barring the defendants from disseminating said information.
“We intend to pursue their activity to the fullest extent of the laws,” AFT President Randi Weingarten told The Intercept.
She said that the union was most concerned not with Project Veritas uncovering something untoward, but that they may heavily edit the video or take a remark out of context. “Our worst-case scenario is what they do in their deception and what they do in their distortion,” she said.
Weingarten said she did not know the substance on the recordings. “I am sure in a union office, just like in any other office setting, around the water-cooler there are comments that are made that nobody would want to see on the front pages of newspapers. Do I know what they are? No.”
According to the complaint, political operative Marisa Jorge posed as a University of Michigan student interested in becoming a teacher and applied for a summer internship with the teachers union. (Verney, the Project Veritas executive director, said he knows Marisa Jorge, but wouldn’t confirm or deny whether she works for the organization.) Jorge was hired as an intern in May, and over the course of three months, she gathered information that exceeded the scope of her duties, the lawsuit alleges. For example, she showed a particular interest in employees who were disciplined for inappropriate sexual interactions with students. On more than one occasion, the lawsuit alleges, Jorge was found sitting alone in other employees’ offices, accessing information she had no right to.
Jorge told her internship bosses that she wanted to be a second-grade teacher, so they arranged for her to visit classrooms. She asked to attend bargaining sessions and, through the course of her work, was given access to confidential databases, according to the lawsuit. Her co-workers had no reason to believe she was not who she claimed to be.
“Defendant’s purpose was to use private, proprietary information to attempt to embarrass the Plaintiff and adversely impact labor organizations representing public schools,” the lawsuit said. “Plaintiff believes that Defendant Jorge and PV” — Project Veritas — “intended to disclose private and proprietary information to the public at large. Defendant has engaged in such behavior on numerous occasions in the past.”
Weingarten said that Jorge was trusted by the staff. “People embraced her, she went to people’s homes, she went out to meals,” she said.
They became suspicious when, after her internship ended, Jorge returned and asked if there was more work to be done. The staff wondered, wait, wasn’t she supposed to be back at school at the University of Michigan? They then swapped notes, and it was soon clear they’d been had. They searched for images of O’Keefe operatives, and found Jorge’s photo from her unsuccessful attempts to infiltrate the inaugural protests. They also discovered that she is a graduate of Virginia’s Liberty University.
— Brendan Orsinger??? (@ToBeSelfEvident) January 9, 2017
The lawsuit accuses Jorge of fraudulent misrepresentation, trespass, eavesdropping, and theft. It also accuses Jorge and Project Veritas of conspiring to infiltrate AFT Michigan, gather and copy proprietary information, and disseminate that information to paint the union group in a false light.
By granting a temporary restraining order, Sullivan has indicated his belief that the allegations are more than likely to be true and that the benefit of barring the defendants from disseminating the information Jorge collected outweighs the harm of suppressing her speech. The injunction will stay in place for at least 14 days, and the case is set for a hearing on October 5.
Michigan is a hotbed in the fight between public schools, whose teachers AFT represents, and the charter school movement. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s super-wealthy family has been the most powerful and influential player in the charter school movement in the state, generally, and Detroit in particular. With a net worth of well over $5 billion, the DeVos family has contributed at least $100 million to Michigan political campaigns and conservative causes over the past two decades.
O’Keefe has “mentioned her specifically in the past few weeks,” Weingarten said, referring to DeVos. “Let’s put it this way: The Michigan story under DeVos’s advocacy is one that has really hurt children.” (A call to DeVos’s foundation was not immediately returned.)
This would not be the first time Project Veritas targeted a labor organization that represents public school employees. Founder James O’Keefe in 2010 infiltrated the New Jersey Education Association Leadership Conference and produced a project called “Teachers Union Gone Wild.” Last summer, the group produced another video purporting to show a New Jersey middle school teacher offering journalists cocaine at a 2015 union convention. Following the video release, O’Keefe went on the radio to say his teacher union exposés are not over.
O’Keefe made his name in 2009 by helping to bring down ACORN, a liberal community-organizing group. The next year, he and three others walked into the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu dressed as telephone repairmen as part of an undercover operation, and he was arrested and ultimately convicted of entering federal property under false pretenses. In 2011, O’Keefe released undercover conversations with two high-ranking NPR executives, forcing them to step down. He recently turned his sights to CNN, releasing an undercover video of a CNN producer saying the network’s coverage of possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia was “mostly bullshit.”
Trump’s foundation donated $10,000 to Project Veritas one month before Trump announced his candidacy.
O’Keefe and his group were hit with a $1 million lawsuit in June after sending an operative undercover to work as an intern with Democratic campaign consultants Democracy Partners.
The post Conservative Provocateur James O’Keefe’s Group Hit With Restraining Order, Blocking Latest Sting appeared first on The Intercept.
Since The Intercept’s founding, reader privacy has been a top priority in the design of our website and how we operate. We were early to embrace encrypted content delivery, went the extra mile to anonymize readers when counting them, and sought to avoid disclosure of online activity to third parties whenever practical.
Today, we’re publishing what we call our “privacy philosophy,” a short summary of the commitments and values that underpin the decisions we make around privacy. We hope this document will provide clarity about those decisions, as well as accountability to ensure our actions live up to our ideals.
The document is not simply a piece of public information; it will also guide how we operate internally. It was created as part of a collaborative process that brought together members of our editorial, product, and development teams. (Ryan Chanatry, vice president of audience development and intelligence at our parent company, First Look, shepherded this process.)
The idea behind the privacy philosophy is to help answer questions like, “Can we use this third-party system on our site, or should we build our own tool?” and “Why do we shield readers from analytics trackers, but sometimes embed tweets and YouTube videos?” It also points toward some coming privacy improvements (for example, in how we handle those embedded tweets and YouTube videos).
We hope our new privacy philosophy will be another major step forward in how we protect and inform Intercept readers. Please share any thoughts you have about it, or our privacy practices generally, directly or in the comments below.
A cerca de um anoda eleição, o agrupamento de forças para a corrida presidencial é ainda um nevoeiro de baixa visibilidade – muito mais do que nas últimas disputas, quando ao menos os principais postulantes estavam, uma hora dessas, definidos em torno do PT e do PSDB, hoje duas das legendas mais rejeitadas do país. As pontas até então intocadas da polarização partidária se esgarçou, porém, após 2015. Entre tantas dúvidas, três perguntas fundamentais permanecem sem respostas até aqui. A primeira é quase óbvia:O ex-presidente Lula, favorito nas pesquisas, estará no jogo?
E, se sim, com que força entrará na disputa enquanto responde a denúncias contra ele na Justiça?
Réu em seis processos e já condenado por Sérgio Moro a nove anos de prisão pelo triplex no Guarujá, o petista tenta reverter a decisão na segunda instância, o Tribunal Regional Federal de Porto Alegre. Caso contrário, e tudo indica um avanço acelerado do julgamento no colegiado, Lula pode cumprir pena ou ter a candidatura barrada pela Lei da Ficha Limpa.No PT, ninguém discute abertamente o plano B
Sem ele, o cenário para 2018 será completamente diferente, a começar pela ausência de um nome com o mesmo peso histórico e eleitoral no campo progressista. O PT lançou candidato a presidente em todas as eleições desde 1989 – das sete, ganhou quatro e foi ao segundo turno em duas. Sem um nome de consenso, a sigla poderia (o que é pouco provável) optar entre compor a chapa de outro candidato (quem?) ou fazer figuração com nomes menos conhecidos nacionalmente (os prováveis sucessores de Lula no início dos anos 2000 eram os denunciados ou condenados de 2017, caso de José Dirceu e o agora inimigo Antonio Palocci). No PT, ninguém discute abertamente o plano B, mas dois prováveis nomes seriam Fernando Haddad e Jaques Wagner.
Lula da Silva visita Marcolândia, no Piauí, durante caravana pelo Nordeste no início de setembro.
A ausência do ex-presidente na disputa mudaria não só o discurso da esquerda para 2018, provavelmente calcado no resgate de um passado nem tão distante, na denúncia do golpe e no ataque aos adversários que propuseram reformas impopulares e colocaram oA ausência do ex-presidente na disputa mudaria não só o discurso da esquerda para 2018
país à venda no atacado. Mudaria também o discurso dos opositores. Mais do que o ex-presidente, sairia de campo a retórica anti-lulista, como ensaiada até aqui pelo prefeito de São Paulo, João Doria (PSDB). Ou seja, não apenas os eleitores históricos do lulismo ficariam órfãos, mas também os adversários mais ferozes. É possível supor que, sem essa referência em jogo, eles sejam levados a domar a obsessão e mudar de assunto – quem sabe discutindo, inclusive, propostas para o país.De que lado estará João Doria?
Repare que a pergunta não é se João Doria, o prefeito que governa São Paulo viajando pelo país, vai participar ou não da disputa. Ele fatalmente será um ator da próxima eleição – seja como candidato, pelo partido que for, ou não.
Com a implosão do ex-comandante-em-chefe do PSDB Aécio Neves, Doria, segundo o noticiário, disputa com o padrinho político, Geraldo Alckmin, o posto de presidenciável tucano. As farpas com o governador paulista mostram que Doria mal pode esperar pelo próximo voo – e não se trata, aqui, de mais uma viagem para algum ato político fora da capital paulista vendido como encontro de gestores, a nova mitologia da política contemporânea.
Tudo pode ser jogo de cena quando se trata de alguém com domínio da fala e da câmera – até mesmo para auxiliar o padrinho, citado na lista da Odebrecht como “o santo”, a passar ileso do noticiário, até aqui concentrado na disputa paroquial.
Mas, uma vez formalizada a opção Doria, dois fenômenos devem ser acompanhados atentamente. O primeiro é a reação de São Paulo em relação ao seu provável ex-prefeito. Para quem se intitula a locomotiva do país, o figurino de trampolim político pode não ser bem digerido na maior cidade do país. José Serra, que assinou compromisso de ficar no cargo até o fim do mandato mas saiu para disputar o governo do estado e, outra vez eleito, deixou o posto para tentar a presidência, que o diga.O outro fenômeno é o racha dos votos liberais e conservadores.
O outro fenômeno é o racha dos votos liberais e conservadores. Doria e Alckmin podem concorrer por partidos diferentes em 2018, e um fatalmente tiraria votos do outro. Em campo, Doria disputaria também o eleitor anti-establishment, que atribui todas as mazelas nacionais à política tradicional e se mostra disposto a aceitar qualquer discurso antipolítico, do qual Doria faz uso. Neste caso, disputaria também com outro nome “diferente” de tudo o que está aí, embora tenha quase três décadas de atuação política, um desempenho pífio como parlamentar e tenha feito da seara um cabide de emprego para os filhos: Jair Bolsonaro.
O desempenho do militar da reserva, aliás, estará diretamente relacionado à presença de Lula ou Doria nesta eleição. Sem um ou outro, ele incorporaria sozinho o sentimento por mudanças – com um favoritismo nada desprezível.
Por fim, a pergunta sobre a qual, até aqui, poucos parecem se debruçar. De que lado estará Michel Temer e a cúpula do PMDB que ainda não foi presa? Engana-se quem pensa que, feita a travessia na pinguela até 2018, Temer reunirá as sacolas e medalhas pelos desserviços prestados e passará as férias com a família no Guarujá. Ninguém ali quer acordar no primeiro dia útil de 2019 com um oficial de Justiça batendo à porta rumo à primeira instância.
Temer estará com o corpo, a alma e o esqueleto na próxima campanha. Os 3% de aprovação popular, segundo a última pesquisa CNI/Ibope, não alimentam qualquer ambição como candidato, mas o que não deve faltar são interessados em garantir a máquina governista, o tempo de TV e os palanques nos redutos onde o PMDB formou seu cinturão.Seria a troca de apoio político (discreto, mas com peso) pelo foro privilegiado.
Pelos serviços prestados à sucessora, ninguém imagina que Temer voltará à disputa como candidato a vice. Nem que dará a cara como cabo eleitoral. Em 2016, ele atuou como uma espécie de Midas às avessas: desgraçou todo o candidato para o qual apontou o dedo, entre eles a neoaliada em São Paulo Marta Suplicy, hoje no PMDB.
Ainda assim, é possível imaginar que Temer, Eliseu Padilha, Moreira Franco e velho elenco tenham protagonismo considerável, pelas sombras e pelas beiradas, na disputa com vistas a permanecerem onde estão, provavelmente em algum ministério de expressão. Seria a troca de apoio político (discreto, mas com peso) pelo foro privilegiado.
Mas quem dará guarida? Henrique Meirelles, o todo poderoso ministro da Fazenda, hoje no PSD, já se anima como balão de ensaio, enquanto Alckmin, o possível candidato do mesmo campo, é parte da ala tucana que já defendeu o desembarque do governo.
Doria, por sua vez, parece mais aberto à parceria. (Para quem gosta de lembrar dos adversários presos em Curitiba, no entanto, vai ser preciso um esforço retórico significativo para justificar o apoio a quem andava de mãos dadas até ontem com alguns dos mais notáveis condenados da capital paranaense, Eduardo Cunha entre eles).
As interrogações sobre Lula, Doria e Temer devem ser determinantes para desenhar qualquer cenário, hoje, para 2018, se tiver eleição até lá. Com os elementos visíveis até agora, qualquer esboço de respostas, passíveis a mudanças por fatores externos, como os espirros da economia e as algemas da Lava Jato, são meros exercícios de futurologia e adivinhação.
The post Lula será candidato? João Doria estará de que lado? Temer aceitará sair de cena? appeared first on The Intercept.
The regional government of Catalonia made it clear on Friday that it has no plans to abandon a referendum on independence from Spain scheduled for Sunday, despite the deployment of thousands of Spanish police officers to Barcelona, the Catalan capital, with orders to prevent the vote from taking place.
Responding to a week of dramatic actions by Spain’s central government — including a court order barring the referendum as illegal, the arrest of local officials who organized it, the confiscation of ballot papers by police officers from outside the region and the blocking of electoral websites — Catalan officials displayed a new set of ballot boxes for reporters on Friday.
— Tot Badalona (@Totbadalona) September 29, 2017
Speaking at a news conference where the ballot boxes were unveiled, the regional government’s foreign minister, Raül Romeva, said that there was no legal basis for treating the vote as a criminal act.
— Govern. Generalitat (@govern) September 29, 2017
With Spain’s central government, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative People’s Party, taking increasingly harsh steps to block the vote, Romeva and other Catalan officials have appealed to the European Union to intervene on behalf of what they see as undemocratic measures.
Rajoy, an ardent opponent of Catalan independence, was mocked in a video made by the journalist Raul Gallego, who spliced together the prime minister’s pitch for Catalan votes at an earlier election — in which he said, “I like Catalans, they do things” — with images of the referendum supporters.
Have a look at my last video with images from the last days of ongoing protest and tension in Catalonia because of S…https://t.co/wAM6z4fOQK
— Raul Gallego Abellan (@raulgaab) September 22, 2017
On Thursday, Romeva was in Brussels, where he called for the European Commission to mediate between officials in Barcelona and Madrid. Underlining the urgency of the situation, Romeva made it clear that the Catalan parliament, known as the Generalitat, still plans to declare independence within 48 hours of the referendum if the Yes side prevails.
Even opponents of Catalan independence are outraged by the repression of the vote. Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, a former activist of the left, appealed to the mayors of other European cities to speak up, even while making it clear that she is “no separatist” and has been a critic of the Catalan regional government’s center-right leadership.
I've sent a letter to 27 European mayors asking them to support our call for the EU to mediate between the Catalan & Spanish governments pic.twitter.com/8HFBw6nzqG
— Ada Colau (@AdaColau) September 28, 2017
“There are many non-separatists,” Colau wrote in a Guardian op-ed, who “are calling for a negotiated solution in accordance with the feelings of 82 percent of the Catalan population, who support the holding of an agreed referendum, like the one conducted in Scotland.”
While recent polls suggest that Catalonia’s population is almost evenly divided on independence (an El Pais survey in April showed the Yes camp trailing by 49 percent to 44), there is overwhelming support for the principle that the population should be allowed to vote on the matter.
Outside Spain, there has been sympathy for the argument that the Catalan people have a right to vote, particularly from activists on the left, including Naomi Klein and Owen Jones, who called the legal measures taken by Spain’s conservative government clearly repressive.
— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) September 28, 2017
— Owen Jones? (@OwenJones84) September 28, 2017
Among the most prominent voices in support of the movement to press ahead with the vote is Gerard Piqué, a star of F.C. Barcelona, the fan-owned soccer team that boasts of being “more than a club,” due to its role as a bastion of Catalan culture during the long years of Franco’s dictatorship, when even the region’s language was banned.
After Piqué tweeted in favor of voting, and against any resort to violence — without revealing whether he was for or against secession from Spain — he was subjected to a fierce backlash from Spanish nationalists who called for him to be dropped from the Spanish national team.
Des d'avui i fins diumenge, expressem-nos pacíficament. No els hi donem cap excusa. És el que volen. I cantem ben alt i ben fort. #Votarem
— Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) September 28, 2017
While the Catalan struggle has been peaceful so far, and there is no history of the sort of violence once used by Basque separatists to press their case, the heavy police presence, and the defiance of the local population which has rallied in the streets of even smaller cities like Girona, has raised tensions and fears of conflict.
El 'camión-botijo' llega a Barcelona dentro de los preparativos policiales del 1-O. pic.twitter.com/nw9jlioMmH
— La Vanguardia (@LaVanguardia) September 27, 2017
— Oscar Jané (@OscarJaneCh) September 28, 2017
— ElNacional .cat (@elnacionalcat) September 29, 2017
Those fears have not been helped by images of flag-waving Spanish nationalists cheering the deployment of police officers to Catalonia as if they were going into battle.
"¡A por ellos!" le gritan en Huelva a la GC antes de partir hacia Cataluña. Yo no quiero vivir en un país así. pic.twitter.com/2467waiQCs
— PabloMM (@PabloMM) September 25, 2017
Los compañeros de la USECIC de la Comandancia de Guadalajara salen para Barcelona. Un abrazo compañeros!!. pic.twitter.com/b2GZRKACHe
— Plan Director GC GU (@PDirectorGcGU) September 26, 2017
¡No estáis solos! ?? pic.twitter.com/tr9u2m8gCt
— Jaime Carnicero (@jaicarnicero) September 26, 2017
The post Catalonia Refuses to Halt Independence Referendum, Defying Spanish Court appeared first on The Intercept.
The Trump administration is pushing hard for the reauthorization of a key 2008 surveillance law — section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA — three months before it sunsets in December.
To persuade senators to reauthorize the law in full, the Trump administration is holding classified, members-only briefings for the entire House and Senate next Wednesday, with heavy hitters in attendance: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, NSA Director Mike Rogers, and FBI Director Christopher Wray will give the briefings, according to an internal announcement of the meetings provided to The Intercept and confirmed by multiple sources on Capitol Hill.
Section 702 serves as the legal basis for two of the NSA’s largest mass surveillance programs, both revealed by Edward Snowden. One program, PRISM, allows the government to collect messaging data sent to and from foreign targets, from major internet companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft. The other, UPSTREAM, scans internet backbone sites in the U.S. and copies communications to and from foreign targets.
Both programs ostensibly only “target” foreigners, but likely collect massive amounts of Americans’ communications as well. And despite persistent questioning from members of Congress, the Obama and Trump administrations have repeatedly refused to provide an estimate of how many domestic communications the programs collect. Civil liberties advocates have long warned liberal defenders of the program under President Obama that one day the surveillance apparatus may fall into the hands of a president with little regard for rule of law or constitutional protections.
Privacy activists have also raised concerns about how the data is shared with law enforcement, and routinely used for purposes unrelated to national security. The FBI frequently conducts “backdoor searches” on the data during ordinary criminal investigations, which allows them access to Americans’ communications without having to get a warrant.
According to a 2014 letter the Obama administration sent to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, the FBI frequently queries FISA 702 data, and the number of those backdoor searches is “substantial.” And before the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the government has compared the frequency of these searches to the frequency of making Google searches, according to documents obtained by the ACLU and reported on by The Intercept in April.
It is unclear whether the Senate will pass a reauthorization of Section 702 without reforms, but the prospect of a “clean reauthorization” is likely to face serious resistance in the House. The House has twice passed legislation defunding warrantless “backdoor” searches, but both times the measures gained no traction in the Senate and were stripped out by leadership.
The post Trump Administration Lobbying Hard for Sweeping Surveillance Law appeared first on The Intercept.
At the height of the movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction last fall, the Federal Aviation Administration imposed a rare “temporary flight restriction,” also known as a no-fly zone, covering nearly 154 square miles of airspace above the pipeline resistance. The no-fly zone — a response to the activities of indigenous drone pilots, whose aerial videos documenting the struggle at Standing Rock drew large social media followings — was approved from October 25 to November 4 in 2016 and renewed twice to cover a smaller area, remaining in effect until December 13.
Documents obtained via open records requests, as well as material from court cases, reveal new details about how the FAA and state agencies helped police and private security companies wrest control of the airspace above the NoDAPL resistance from indigenous water protectors.
Following the flight ban, the media was no longer permitted to use aircraft to cover the events without undergoing a review process. According to the FAA’s no-fly order, “Only relief aircraft ops under direction of North Dakota Tactical Operations Center [were] authorized in the airspace.” Meanwhile, aircraft operated by Dakota Access Pipeline security officials continued to fly over the area to conduct surveillance. The FAA confirmed to The Intercept that the flights would have been legal only if the private security aircraft were participating in a law enforcement action. Prosecutors have used footage from those flights as evidence in felony cases brought against pipeline opponents, displaying an unusual and troubling partnership between the private security operatives and law enforcement.
As The Intercept has previously reported, pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners hired the shadowy mercenary firm TigerSwan in September 2016 to oversee its security operation. TigerSwan moved quickly to establish a collaborative relationship with law enforcement. The Intercept received more than 100 leaked documents from a TigerSwan contractor describing those efforts in detail, along with DAPL security’s broader strategy of using aerial surveillance, infiltration, and social media monitoring to counter the water protector movement. TigerSwan, which began as a military and State Department contractor, frequently used the language of counterterrorism to inflate threat assessments, at times comparing the water protectors to jihadi insurgents.
Court documents confirm that DAPL security personnel were coordinating their flights with state agencies. In a police report concerning a highly militarized October 27 police raid during the no-fly period, Lt. Cody Trom of the Bismarck Police Department wrote that a team of officers assigned to clear protesters from a bridge at County Road 134 included a “DAPL air asset.” A spokesperson for the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, one of the agencies leading the police response at Standing Rock, told The Intercept, “DAPL was not deputized.” The spokesperson did confirm, however, that law enforcement personnel were present on DAPL aircraft. “During no-fly zone periods, a law enforcement officer was always on board the helicopter. The helicopter was flown by a private contractor, and a law enforcement officer accompanied him to conduct aerial surveillance.”
As the temporary flight restriction went into effect, at least one DAPL security aircraft circled the airspace above the police raid on October 27, photographing water protectors and coordinating with police.
The DAPL photos from that day have become key evidence in a federal felony case accusing five indigenous men of helping set fire to barricades on North Dakota County Road 134. If convicted, they each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
In a January 24 affidavit and in a later court hearing, Special Agent Derek Hill of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives described how he identified at least two of the defendants, Michael Markus and Brennon Nastacio. “While law enforcement was conducting their operation, a helicopter that was being utilized by the Dakota Access Pipeline was monitoring the situation from the air,” Hill wrote in the affidavit. “A passenger in the helicopter was utilizing a digital camera to document the operation, and these digital photos were provided to law enforcement.”
“From a constitutional standpoint, landowners and others who have property rights have every right to show the police evidence that someone has trespassed on their land,” says Lee Rowland, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “But if this instead amounted to deputizing a private company to take aerial surveillance of protesters on public property, including streets, and snitch on them to the police, that’s deeply problematic.”
According to water protectors, a DAPL helicopter frequently strayed from Dakota Access property. “The yellow helicopter that we’d identified as being DAPL’s flew to the south of DAPL property lots of times on October 27,” says Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, who often filmed and livestreamed from the water protector camps in North Dakota.
A spokesperson for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services did not respond to a request for comment. Vicki Granado, a spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners, told the Intercept, “We are thankful for the professionalism and the services provided by all the law enforcement teams that were on the ground in North Dakota that ensured the safety not only of our employees, but the safety of those who live and work in the Mandan area. Beyond that, we do not comment on our security programs.” TigerSwan did not respond to inquiries.
A spokesperson for the FAA noted, “The Federal Aviation Administration carefully considers requests from law enforcement and other entities before establishing Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) in U.S. airspace. The TFR over the pipeline protest was approved to ensure the safety of aircraft in support of law enforcement and the safety of people on the ground.”
The FAA spokesperson noted that the flight restriction offered provisions for media to operate aircraft as long as they complied with FAA rules around licensing and safety, and coordinated with the agency before flying. The agency did not respond to questions about how many media operators obtained waivers, stating, “We did not deny any requests from media who met those requirements.” One drone pilot, Rob Levine, eventually obtained a media waiver, but only in a small segment of the restriction zone.
Myron Dewey, a videographer who attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers to his series of DAPL-related videos on social media, was among the people whose use of consumer drones to document the anti-DAPL struggle spurred the request for a no-fly zone.
“I told the FAA, the difference between how we’re approaching this is that I’m exercising sovereignty,” said Dewey, who is Newe-Numah/Paiute-Shoshone. “I said, ‘If you want to bring up a no-fly zone, you need to go to the tribal council and make your request to them.’”
The no-fly zone came at a moment of heightened tension between police and pipeline opponents, as water protectors, claiming what they called “eminent domain,” built a new camp on land owned by Energy Transfer Partners that would have been covered under the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. Two days after the no-fly zone was imposed, law enforcement and private security officers forcibly evicted the new camp, using military-grade armored personnel carriers and shooting protesters with rubber bullets and other “less-than-lethal” weapons.
Yet even before the no-fly zone, law enforcement had been targeting drone operators. On October 19, Aaron Turgeon, a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe of South Dakota, was charged with two counts of “reckless endangerment” and one count of “physical obstruction of a government function” for flying his drone in the vicinity of a law enforcement operation. Prosecutors also charged Dewey with misdemeanor “stalking” for flying his drone near a DAPL security guard. Turgeon was eventually found not guilty, and Dewey’s charges were dropped.
Law enforcement went so far as to shoot at a drone belonging to Dean Dedman, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, in the days leading up to the temporary flight restriction, claiming that the drone was flying too close to a helicopter.
An October 24 law enforcement email obtained by The Intercept shows police and emergency response officials communicating with a representative of the California-based security company Trak Assets, which had offered a demonstration on “drone defense technology” for the police to use in North Dakota. And a “logistics tracking sheet” shows that law enforcement acquired a “drone shoot down device” from the Dakota Zoo to “disable protestor drones” on November 4. The document notes that the device was eventually returned to the zoo.
This wasn’t the first time the FAA had been accused of allowing law enforcement to use flight restrictions to keep out cameras. The agency came under criticism in 2014 when a temporary flight restriction was put in place over protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. In audio recordings obtained by the Associated Press, an FAA manager described how St. Louis police “finally admitted it really was to keep the media out.”
Recognizing the “substantial sensitivities” of the issue, officials “at the highest levels” of the FAA weighed in on the decision to institute the no-fly zone at Standing Rock. Internal records show the request generated controversy within the agency. “I know this is a high profile event so I wanted you onboard with my denial. I plan on denying the request based on there being no hazard from the ground to [aircraft], exp: no shots fired,” wrote Kevin George, an air traffic control specialist at the FAA, on October 23. George noted that violations of law by drone pilots would be more appropriately pursued individually by police.
When a request to renew the restriction was submitted in November, FAA officials again expressed hesitation. “Candidly,” an FAA official wrote at the time, “some of the involved tribes are arguing that the FAA’s action to implement a [temporary flight restriction] was driven not by a genuine safety/security threat, but rather by the desire of the local [law enforcement agents] handling the situation to prevent the protesters from using drones to surveil unlawful actions on the part of [law enforcement] that infringe on the protesters’ First Amendment rights.”
“A pattern we have to be very vigilant about in the future is that the FAA tends to just respond in lockstep to requests from law enforcement,” the ACLU’s Rowland told The Intercept. “And we need to ensure that law enforcement does not get used to the perverse incentive of asking for an over-broad no-fly zone that creates a blackout on media surveillance.”
Ultimately, North Dakota law enforcement officers helped sway FAA officials by suggesting that anti-DAPL water protectors would take up arms and consumer drones might cause a fatal accident. “There is also good intel they are going to be even more desperate in their actions,” wrote Sean Johnson of the state’s Department of Emergency Services.
In the same email exchange, Johnson alleged that pilots had intentionally flown their drones toward law enforcement aircraft, and “it is only a matter of time until a law enforcement officer, a lawful protester, or member of the public is injured (or worse yet killed) as a result of unlawful actor usage of UAS.” Highway Patrol officer Shannon Henke added, “We can only pray for the best that a flight crew is not lost due to the violations that keep occurring.” Henke claimed that law enforcement had observed protesters wielding “both long guns and handguns” and stated, “We need to ensure the movement of law enforcement trying to protect the innocent is not being broadcast live by the use of drones.”
In the spring of 2017, as TigerSwan expanded its surveillance effort to new camps in multiple states, the security firm encouraged staff to “focus on becoming Certified Drone Pilots to support the DAPL program,” according to a situation report dated May 5 that was leaked to The Intercept. A day later, TigerSwan confirmed that one of its contractors “completed drone training and has successfully passed the drone operator test” and “is now an official drone operator in the state of SD.”
The post Police Used Private Security Aircraft for Surveillance in Standing Rock No-Fly Zone appeared first on The Intercept.
O bate-boca nuclear entre o presidente Donald Trump e o líder norte-coreano Kim Jong-un às vezes parece uma enlouquecedora brincadeira de provocação, em que um comentário descompensado de um lado logo recebe uma réplica alucinada do outro. Trump chama Kim de “homem foguete”, Kim chama Trump de “velho gagá”, Trump publica no Twitter que Kim “não dura mais muito tempo”, e por aí vai.
Tudo isso levanta uma questão importante: qual desses homens incrivelmente equivocados é o mais instável e perigoso? O caminho para encontrar uma resposta começa com um artigo que Evan Osnos escreveu para a revista The New Yorker sobre sua recente viagem à totalitária Coreia do Norte. A “Carta de Pyongyang” tem 14 mil palavras, e foi elogiada como uma reportagem excepcional, que revelou os contornos rígidos e impenetráveis do mais conhecido pesadelo nuclear mundial.
Osnos descreveu a forma como foi recebido no aeroporto de Pyongyang por um educado vigia do governo que não o perdia de vista. Ele se hospedou em um hotel especial para estrangeiros, isolado da população em geral, e visitou uma escola em que até as falas dos alunos eram ensaiadas. Foi levado ao metrô de Pyongyang, e ouviu a explicação de que os profundos túneis poderiam servir de abrigo na hipótese de uma guerra nuclear com os Estados Unidos. Não lhe foi permitido fazer visitas espontâneas à casa de ninguém.
Essas coisas me impressionaram porque tive exatamente as mesmas experiências quando viajei para a Coreia do Norte — em 1989. O mesmo tipo de vigia, hotel e escola, a mesma proibição de aparecer no apartamento de qualquer um, e até o mesmo comentário do meu vigia de que o metrô serviria também como abrigo caso os EUA atacassem. Osnos e eu fomos levados à zona desmilitarizada entre as Coreias e fizemos o mesmo pedido inútil de entrevistar o líder supremo do país. Chegamos inclusive à mesma conclusão de que uma névoa obscura dificultava compreender melhor o que ocorria no país.
Fui correspondente do jornal The Washington Post na Coreia do Sul no final dos anos 1980, e tive sorte quando solicitei um visto norte-coreano. O título da reportagem de capa que escrevi 28 anos atrás poderia servir ainda hoje para o artigo de Osnos: “A Coreia do Norte mantém um sistema orwelliano.” Não estou querendo criticar o trabalho de ninguém — não há mesmo muito espaço para criatividade narrativa quando todo mundo é alimentado com a mesma ração há meio século.
Para um leitor regular de reportagens ocidentais sobre a Coreia do Norte, é possível perceber um padrão gritantemente imutável. Há tempo demais o governo da Coreia do Norte diz as mesmas coisas (que às vezes soam como disparates) e age da mesma forma (às vezes, disparando mísseis ou acionando dispositivos nucleares), fazendo um ótimo trabalho de ir até o limite, sem nunca atravessar. A Coreia do Norte só teve três líderes em toda sua existência: Kim Il-sung; seu filho, Kim Jong-il; e, por fim, o filho deste, Kim Jong-un. É crucial compreender que, longe de ser uma incógnita, esse é provavelmente o regime mais previsível do mundo; eles não são o fator surpresa no atual jogo de nervos.
Em uma série de comentários dignos de nota, Dennis Blair, almirante reformado que já comandou a Frota do Pacífico dos Estados Unidos e ex-diretor nacional de inteligência do país, reconheceu esse ponto:
“A coerência da política norte-coreana tem sido notável há uns cinquenta anos, eu diria, e [Kim Jong-un] está essencialmente continuando essa política, que é de provocar, praticar ações ultrajantes abaixo do nível de desencadeamento de um conflito relevante com os EUA e a Coreia do Sul”, disse Blair a Susan Glasser da revista Politico. Alguns dias antes, Trump, em um discurso na ONU, ameaçara “destruir completamente” a Coreia do Norte — não apenas seu líder, mas, aparentemente, todo o país. Glasser comentou que os Estados Unidos haviam se tornado autores de, como ela delicadamente descreve, “abordagens heterodoxas”.
“Nós costumávamos ser o tipo forte e calado em relação a toda essa retórica maluca de Pyongyang, e esse não é o estilo do atual presidente”, respondeu Blair. “Agora temos nosso próprio fluxo retórico retornando para a Coreia do Norte. Isso mudou.”
Blair dá muito crédito a uma imagem idealizada dos EUA, de um país estoico como Gary Cooper, ator de filmes como o faroeste “Matar ou Morrer”. Até o final da Guerra Fria, os Estados Unidos mantiveram armas nucleares na Coreia do Sul, muito embora a Coreia do Norte, à época, ainda não as possuísse. Quase 65 anos depois do fim da Guerra da Coreia, em 1953, os americanos ainda mantêm dezenas de milhares de soldados estacionados na Coreia do Sul (a Coreia do Norte não tem soldados estrangeiros em seu território) e realizam exercícios militares regularmente na região (recentemente, bombardeiros B1 sobrevoaram uma área próxima ao espaço aéreo norte-coreano).
Mas a dinâmica mudou, e não foi por obra do fã de Dennis Rodman Kim Jong-un, ou das armas nucleares que ele gosta de detonar (como seu pai, que criou o programa nuclear da Coreia do Norte e supervisionou suas primeiras detonações — a coerência da família é tão arrasadora quanto sua brutalidade). Agora temos Donald Trump e os canais de notícias, que exibem 24h por dia o bobo da corte em seu palco na Casa Branca. Incitar a guerra sempre ajudou a vender jornais, mas a competição por atenção e lucros anda especialmente acirrada, e embora CNN e MSNBC sejam bastante ruins, a Fox News é muito provavelmente a campeã no esforço de invocar o apocalipse para melhorar a audiência. Infelizmente, a Fox é também a rede de televisão favorita da estrela de reality show que foi seis vezes à falência e que, de alguma forma, conseguiu reunir votos suficientes para colocá-lo no controle do arsenal dos EUA.
Trump e os canais de notícias são um circuito que se retroalimenta rumo ao inferno nuclear. Pensando de forma bem restrita, é bom para os jornalistas americanos que queiram escrever sobre a loucura política. Não é mais necessário viajar milhares de quilômetros para visitar a zona de impacto de uma bomba insana e perigosa.
Tradução: Deborah Leão
The post A Coreia do Norte é o regime mais previsível do mundo. A verdadeira ameaça é o governo dos EUA appeared first on The Intercept.
Puerto Rico has rejected a bondholder group’s offer to issue the territory additional debt as a response to the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Officials with Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority said the offer was “not viable” and would harm the island’s ability to recover from the storm.
The PREPA (Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority) Bondholder Group made the offer on Wednesday, which included $1 billion in new loans, and a swap of $1 billion in existing bonds for another $850 million bond. These new bonds would have jumped to the front of the line for repayment, and between that increased value and interest payments after the first two years, the bondholders would have likely come out ahead on the deal, despite a nominal $150 million in debt relief.
Indeed, the offer was worse in terms of debt relief than one the bondholder group made in April, well before hurricanes destroyed much of the island’s critical infrastructure.
Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority suggested that profit motive rather than altruism was the bondholder group’s real goal. “Such offers only distract from the government’s stated focus and create the unfortunate appearance that such offers are being made for the purpose of favorably impacting the trading price of existing debt,” the agency said in a statement.
Thomas Wagner of Knighthead Capital Management, one of the members of the bondholder group, admitted as much on Bloomberg TV yesterday, saying “What we’re trying to do is lend where our investors are not disadvantaged.” He added that the loan could be a “win-win” for the utility and the bondholders, “where the capital is not expensive.”
If the idea was to increase the value of PREPA bonds, that hasn’t really happened. The bonds were trading at 43.4 cents on the dollar Wednesday according to Bloomberg. Prices were at 52.5 cents in late August.
Hurricane Maria, and Irma before it, left Puerto Rico in shambles, particularly the electric utility. The island’s 3.4 million residents were without power in the immediate aftermath of the storm, and most continue without power today. PREPA has limited ability to restore the grid, given the island’s cash-strapped status.
Creditor groups should “refrain from making unsolicited financing offers at the expense of the people of Puerto Rico,” the fiscal agency said.
Despite growing calls for debt relief, no bondholder has said they would supply it in the days following the storm, nor have creditor lawsuits been withdrawn. However, David Tepper, the hedge fund manager behind Appaloosa LP, did pledge $3 million for hurricane relief from his family charity and the hedge fund. The money would go to Feeding America, a food bank network.
Tepper’s Appaloosa LP is the only non-bank creditor to so much as publicly donate to disaster recovery efforts. Three banks who hold Puerto Rican debt have donated $1.25 million.The list of creditors:
Angelo, Gordon & Co. – Member of Prepa Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief
Appaloosa Management – Offered $3 million for hurricane relief
Archview Investment Group – no response
Ambac – no response
Aristeia Capital – no response
Arrowgrass Capital Partners – no response
Assured Guaranty – Member of Prepa Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief
Aurelius Capital Management – no response
Avenue Capital Group – no response
BlueMountain Capital Management – Member of Prepa Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief
Brigage Capital Management – no response
Candlewood Investment Group – no response
Canyon Capital Partners – no response
Carmel Asset Management – no response
Centerbridge Partners – no response
Cyrus Capital Partners – no response
Citibank – Donated $250,000 to the Red Cross.
D.E. Shaw – no response
DoubleLine Capital – no response
Farallon Capital Management – no response
FGIC – no response
Fir Tree Partners – no response
Fortress Investment Group – no response
Franklin Templeton Investment Co. – Member of Prepa Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief
Fundamental Advisors – no response
Golden Tree Asset Management – no response
Goldman Sachs – Gave $500,000 to “organizations assisting in immediate search, clean-up and recovery efforts” in the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma.
Highbridge Capital Management – no response
Knighthead Capital Management – Member of Prepa Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief
Mackay Shields – declined to comment
Maglan Capital – no response
Marathon Asset Management – Member of Prepa Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief
MatlinPatterson Global Advisors – no response
MBIA – no response
Meehan Combs – fund shut down
Merced Capital – no response
Monarch Alternative Capital – no response
Och-Ziff Management – no response
Oppenheimer Funds Co. – Member of Prepa Bondholders Group, offered $1.85 billion in DIP loans and $150 million in debt relief
Perry Capital Management – fund shut down
Principal Global – no response
Redwood Capital Management – no response
Scotiabank – gave $500,000 for Hurricane Irma relief in the Caribbean.
Sound Point Capital Management – no response
Stone Lion Capital Partners – no response
Syncora – no response
Taconic Capital Partners – no response
Tilden Park Capital Management – no response
Vårde Partners – no response
Whitebox Advisors – “We have a policy of not discussing Puerto Rico or any securities in which we are involved.”
The post Puerto Rico Rejects Loan Offers, Accusing Hedge Funds of Trying to Profit Off Hurricanes appeared first on The Intercept.
After Equifax Breach, GOP Senators Don’t Yet Have Votes to Overturn Critical Rule That Protects Consumers
Senate Republicans are currently short of the votes they need to overturn a critical consumer protection rule, Sen. John Thune, a member of Republican leadership from South Dakota, said on Tuesday.
With all eyes on health care, the urgency of Puerto Rico’s humanitarian crisis, and President Donald Trump’s ongoing NFL feud, Senate Republican leaders are scrambling to secure the votes to overturn a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule that bars companies from forcing consumers into arbitration in boilerplate contracts nobody reads. If they are successful, they will effectively be protecting financial companies from class-action lawsuits and forcing consumers to forfeit their right to a day in court.
When asked by The Intercept whether he expects a vote this week, Thune said he wasn’t sure. The decision, he said, is a “judgment call the leader will have to make about what he slots in given the opening that we now have,” referring to the Graham-Cassidy health care bill that was killed on Tuesday, freeing the Senate up to focus on other legislation.
Asked if one problem was a lack of votes, Thune said yes. “There are some issues related to that, that I think are still being worked on, and I suspect that it probably won’t come up unless they think, unless [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is] convinced we have the votes for it. They’ve been whipping it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the House has already passed a resolution overturning the rule.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., opposes the move and several other Republicans are undecided, including Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, have not publicly supported the vote either. The 52 Senate Republicans can only lose two votes if they want to meet the 50-vote threshold they need to move forward, as Democrats are confident they can put up a unified opposition.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a press conference Wednesday that passing a repeal on CFPB’s rule “is the equivalent of Republicans handing out a get-out-of-jail-free card to Wells Fargo and to Equifax,” and “a green light to Wall Street to be free to continue to hose consumers without any consequences.”
“Why, in the wake of some of the most malicious, nasty, disgusting actions we’ve seen since Enron, would the Senate limit the power of the average person in favor of helping corporate America avoid punishment for very severe misdeeds?” Schumer said.
“We can’t let this happen,” he said. “We are all dedicated to fighting it from happening. Our Republican colleagues shouldn’t even think of bringing a provision that would defang any rights consumers have to the floor because we’ll do everything we can to fight it and to defeat it.”
Executives for Wells Fargo and Equifax, the credit reporting bureau that made headlines after waiting months to report one of the greatest data breaches in history, will testify in Senate committees next week.
Equifax is encouraging the 143 million people it exposed to identity theft to enroll in TrustedID Premier, a free, one-year service that also includes an arbitration clause in its terms of service. Such arbitration clauses force customers to waive their right to enter into a class action lawsuit while pushing all disputes out of court, handing the little power consumers have over to the company.
Both Equifax and Wells Fargo have used arbitration clauses to block class-action lawsuits. CFPB proposed a rule to ban arbitration clauses from all consumer agreements in early 2016. The rule was finalized in July and is set to go into effect next March, which explains why Republicans are rushing to stop it.
Overturning the rule before Wells Fargo and Equifax executives come to Congress would be ideal for repeal proponents, given that the hearings are likely to shed light on how financial companies distort the justice system to continue to take advantage of consumers. The executives are unlikely to make sympathetic figures, and even Republicans on the panel will be incentivized to pound away at them.
The clock is ticking for the Senate to reverse the rule. Congress has 60 legislative days from the publication of a rule in the Federal Register to use a special resolution to disapprove of regulations under limited debate and without possibility of filibuster. The CFPB rule was published July 19, and according to the Senate legislative calendar, today is the 34th day the chamber has been in session since then. So, depending on breaks in the schedule, the Senate has until roughly sometime in early November to kill the rule.
Nas eleições de 2016, a Operação Lava Jato já estava em sua 35ª fase, e o financiamento empresarial de campanha, proibido no Brasil. Ex-presidente da organização que carrega no nome, Marcelo Odebrecht e outros grandes empresários estavam atrás das grades por pagamento de propinas a políticos. Enquanto isso, seus familiares e pelo menos um executivo do grupo continuaram a realizar doações para campanhas.
Ao todo, o Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (TSE) registra que pessoas ligadas à Odebrecht transferiram pelo menos R$ 50 mil para campanhas em 2016. Prefeito reeleito de Salvador, ACM Neto (DEM) foi o principal beneficiado. Os dados fazem parte de um levantamento inédito das doações eleitorais declaradas pelo grupo desde 2002.
No total, ACM Neto recebeu R$ 45 mil por meio de transferências feitas em nome de Ilka Odebrecht, Emílio Odebrecht Peltier de Queiroz (sobrinho de Emílio Alves Odebrecht, presidente do Conselho de Administração do grupo), Francisco Peltier de Queiroz e Ruy Lemos Sampaio. O valor equivale a cerca de 2% das doações de pessoas físicas declaradas pelo então candidato. A assessoria de ACM Neto foi contatada para comentar as doações, mas não se manifestou.
Além de mãe de Emílio Peltier, Ilka é tia de Marcelo Odebrecht e sócia-administradora da Kieppe Participações, holding familiar com capital social de R$ 630 milhões e controle sobre as demais empresas do grupo Odebrecht. Outro sócio, Francisco Peltier de Queiroz, é primo de segundo grau de Emílio Peliter.
Já Ruy Lemos Sampaio não pertence à família, mas é funcionário da empresa desde os anos 1980. Hoje, ele administra a Kieppe. Em 2016, Ruy declarou também uma transferência eletrônica de R$ 5 mil para a campanha do vereador Pedro Godinho (PMDB) em Salvador.
Em nota (veja na íntegra abaixo), a empresa negou envolvimento com as doações: “As pessoas citadas não integram o Grupo Odebrecht. Seus atos privados não guardam relação alguma com decisões ou opções do Grupo”.As doações para ACM Neto em 2016 ocorreram por meio de seis repasses
Apesar do vínculo com a Kieppe, a Odebrecht sustenta que Ruy Lemos, Ilka e Francisco Peltier não tomam decisões sobre os negócios da empresa. Segundo a assessoria, Emílio Alves Odebrecht (pai de Marcelo Odebrecht e irmão de Ilka) exerce um mandato conferido pelos demais sócios da Kieppe para representá-los no Conselho de Administração da empresa que controla a Odebrecht: “Não há, desde 2015, nenhum representante da família [Odebrecht] na gestão executiva da Odebrecht S.A ou de qualquer uma das empresas do grupo”.
As doações para ACM Neto em 2016 ocorreram por meio de seis repasses, a maioria deles em setembro. Ruy Lemos fez a primeira transferência no valor de R$ 10 mil logo no início do mês. No dia 15, foi a vez de Emílio Peltier repassar R$ 5 mil. No dia seguinte, Ilka e Francisco encaminharam mais R$ 5 mil cada. Em outubro, Ruy complementou com mais duas doações de R$ 10 mil cada.
Após as revelações da Lava Jato, em 2015, o Supremo Tribunal Federal proibiu a doação de empresas nas eleições. Pelas regras atuais, além do Fundo Partidário, os candidatos e partidos podem receber recursos apenas de pessoas físicas, e estas não podem doar mais que 10% do seu rendimento declarado. Ex-presidente da Odebrecht Ambiental, Fernando Reis afirmou à Justiça que a Odebrecht foi procurada por “vários políticos” que buscavam doações não declaradas em 2016, mas disse que nenhum pagamento foi feito.Doação fantasma
No total, em valores corrigidos, Ruy Lemos repassou R$ 73 mil em doações legais para candidatos da Bahia, favorecendo principalmente ACM Neto, que conta com sua contribuição desde 2008. Na época, ele se candidatava pela primeira vez – sem sucesso – ao posto de prefeito da capital baiana. Quatro anos depois, quando de fato foi eleito, ACM Neto também contou com o apoio da empreiteira conterrânea.
Além de sede da Odebrecht, a Bahia é também o estado mais beneficiado por suas doações, de acordo com levantamento das doações do grupo desde 2002.
Em seu depoimento para a Justiça, Marcelo Odebrecht contou que, apesar do grupo não ter interesse em campanhas municipais em geral, Salvador e Rio de Janeiro eram exceções. Além disso, a influência dos “caciques políticos” levou a empresa a também doar para esses cargos. “As eleições municipais são onde os deputados e senadores fazem sua base. Então, muitas vezes os deputados e senadores pediam apoio para as eleições municipais”, explicou na delação.
Odebrecht“As pessoas citadas não integram o Grupo Odebrecht.”
Confira a nota da empresa sobre as doações feitas pelos sócios da Kieppe na última eleição:
“As pessoas citadas não integram o Grupo Odebrecht. Seus atos privados não guardam relação alguma com decisões ou opções do Grupo. A Kieppe Participações é uma holding familiar que, entre outras coisas, é acionista majoritária da Odbinv, da qual detém 63%. A Odbinv é a controladora integral da Odebrecht S.A., que por seu turno é a empresa holding do Grupo Odebrecht. Emílio Odebrecht integra o Conselho de Administração da Odbinv, como único representante da Kieppe na empresa, onde exerce mandato a ele conferido para este fim pelos demais sócios da Kieppe.”
Esta reportagem foi realizada por Adriano Belisário, com a colaboração dos analistas de dados Rafael Polo e Álvaro Justen, como parte do programa de bolsas de produção da Plataforma de Jornalismo Connectas.
The post Mesmo após Lava Jato, família Odebrecht manteve doações de campanha em 2016 appeared first on The Intercept.
Fresh off winning the Republican nomination in a contentious runoff Tuesday night, Judge Roy Moore’s campaign says he has no intention of debating his general election opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, before the vote on December 12.
“We haven’t given it any consideration and probably will not give it any consideration,” Moore’s campaign chair, Bill Armistead, told The Intercept in an interview Wednesday. “I don’t think we’re gonna give it any consideration.”
After defeating Sen. Luther Strange in the Republican primary, the Moore campaign feels the hardest part of this special election is over. The general election — and a debate — are just formalities for a Republican in Alabama. A debate hasn’t been held for a major statewide office since the 2010 gubernatorial race.
And the Jones campaign might just let Moore have his way.
Sebastian Kitchen, a spokesperson for Jones, says his candidate hasn’t decided if he wants to insist on a debate with Moore, adding that he needs to “sit down” with Jones and have that discussion soon.
But quietly, Jones has been building a war chest for the general election.
According to Kitchen, the campaign has raised “over $1 million” since Jones announced his candidacy this summer. Federal Election Commission filings from July 31 show the campaign had only raised $287,752 during first-quarter fundraising, meaning the bulk of Jones’s cash came in the past two months alone.
Over the last week, however, the Democratic National Committee sent out three fundraising emails for Jones saying he had a “real opportunity to take back a seat in the Senate,” which could partially explain the massive increase.
When asked how the national attention had affected their fundraising efforts, Kitchen only said the campaign had seen a “substantial” increase in donations in the past two weeks, refusing to give specifics.
“We have had two consecutive weeks of record fundraising for the campaign,” Kitchen explains, “[w]ith a notable surge in the last 24 hours.”
Luckily for Jones, Moore is a notoriously bad fundraiser. The judge has been outspent in every major race he’s competed in, and this Senate race is no exception.
During the primary, Moore raised just $1.4 million against Luther Strange’s $3.9 million, according to FEC filings from earlier this month. Going into the general election, Moore is relying on Strange’s donors switching to him and whatever money Steve Bannon can scare up on the outside. (Even Moore’s lackluster haul outpaces Jones, a sign of how uphill the climb is for Jones.)
“We know that with the federal campaign, you know, it won’t be so hard [to attract donors],” says Armistead, “unless, you know, they want to provide support to a third party.”
But the Republican leadership and donor class fought hard to keep Moore from winning the Republican nomination.
Before the campaign even got underway in April, the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced it was treating Strange as an incumbent, telling political operatives in Alabama that if they worked for Strange’s opponents, they’d be blackballed from future NRSC contracts.
The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, also backed Strange, dropping $2 million in statewide ad buys.
In their most popular ad — broadcast on both TV and radio — the SLF claimed Moore and his family had taken over $1 million in salary from his nonprofit, the Foundation for Moral Law. The ads infuriated Moore, who took particular offense to the mention of his wife.
“I’ll tell you this,” he said at an event in Shelby County last month, “I love that woman out there, and it hurts me very badly to see her attacked and see the foundation that we worked so hard for [attacked].”
In the last weeks of his campaign, Moore turned the ads into a platform to berate Strange, McConnell, and the NRSC for being part of the “Washington swamp.” The anti-establishment tone of the campaign attracted the nationalist wing of the Republican party, including Sarah Palin, Chuck Norris, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, and former Trump advisers Bannon and Sebastian Gorka.
Even President Donald Trump, who visited Alabama last Friday to campaign for Strange, said he “might have made a mistake” not endorsing Moore. While ostensibly giving a speech in support of Strange, Trump said that if Moore won Tuesday, he’d “be here campaigning like hell for him.”
Moore’s victory wasn’t a referendum on Trump so much as it was a referendum on former Gov. Robert Bentley.
Strange was Alabama’s attorney general when Bentley appointed him in February. While he was courting Bentley for the appointment, however, Strange had also been investigating the governor for corruption in covering up an illicit affair he’d had with a senior staffer. The appointment was widely seen as a quid pro quo between Strange and Bentley, who was able to resign quietly in April.
Voters never got a chance to express their anger with Bentley, so the election of Strange turned out to be the next best thing.
If anything, Moore’s nomination is the ultimate victory for Trump. It shows the president can win, even when he loses.
Not only has Moore embraced Trump’s border wall, the transgender military ban, the Muslim ban, and most other pillars of the Trump platform, but he’s also been backed by Breitbart, Bannon, Carson, Gorka, and other members of Trump’s orbit. Even the pro-Trump Great American PAC dumped $20,000 into pro-Moore advertising.
Moore is a Trump-style nationalist who has said homosexuality “should be illegal” and told Vox that “there are communities under Sharia law right now in our country.” Like Trump, Moore has also pushed the idea that former President Barack Obama was not an American citizen.
By Wednesday, the Moore campaign said it had received phone calls from the president, the vice president, McConnell, and representatives of the NRSC. And while the campaign has eagerly “welcomed” the president and vice president’s backing, it’s unclear if Moore will accept the olive branch offered by the Republican establishment.
Armistead says they have yet to decide whether they’ll accept outside support from the establishment wing of the party. “We have not made a final decision on it yet,” Armistead says, “We feel a little burned by what they did. And when you have someone attacking you the way they attacked us, and advocating lies about you, it takes a little while to get over that. So we’ll see how it plays out.”
The post Alabama Democrat Doug Jones Has Now Raised $1 Million, But Roy Moore Has No Plans to Debate Him appeared first on The Intercept.
Michel Temer tem se mostrado o presidente mais reacionário desde a ditadura militar. Não, não é exagero. O próprio Sarney, com seu bigodão e sua origem escancaradamente oligárquica, pelo menos trazia algo de novo: o governo dele marcava o início de uma democracia. E os que vieram depois sempre trouxeram certo ar de novidade, ainda que algumas tenham sido tão desastrosas quanto o Plano Collor.
Temer é diferente. Não traz nenhum cheirinho de pós-modernidade e, apesar de parecer improvável, consegue soar ainda mais antiquado do que sua figura vampiresca transparece. Desde que se pendurou na faixa presidencial, deu ainda mais espaço no governo a nomes como Geddel Vieira Lima e Romero Jucá, políticos que têm feito de tudo para que nada mude – ou mude só a favor deles. E que pertencem a um partido que se tornou símbolo da imobilidade e do fisiologismo.Desde que se pendurou na faixa presidencial, cercou-se de políticos que têm feito de tudo para que nada mude – ou mude só a favor deles.
O PMDB, aliás, é um caso à parte. Os caciques resolveram dar uma modernizada no partido, colocar um piercing para pagar de moderninho. Mas o máximo que conseguiram foi derrubar o P inicial da legenda, agora rebatizada de MDB. Que, por sinal, é o mesmo nome que tinham há quatro décadas.
Esse descolamento total de tudo o que é progressista, moderno e eficiente para defender interesses particulares se tornou evidente até para as rodas mais conservadoras do planeta. O Fórum Econômico Mundial – que todo ano se reúne em Davos, na Suíça – divulgou, nesta terça (26), um documento onde constatou-se que os políticos brasileiros são os menos confiáveis do mundo. Ou, ao menos, de 137 países analisados.Os exemplos se multiplicam e seria impossível enumerar todos sem matar o leitor de tédio. Ou de raiva.
A constatação dificilmente causará espanto aos brasileiros, mesmo porque os reflexos disso são sentidos cotidianamente. Num documento intitulado “Um Golpe por Dia”, a organização Alerta Social enumerou 365 direitos que foram cerceados, diminuídos ou simplesmente erradicados pela atual gestão da máquina federal.
Entre os destaques dos retrocessos estão: a formação de um governo sem nenhuma mulher no primeiro escalão e com seis ministros que respondiam a inquéritos no Supremo; a proibição de aumentos para gastos públicos por 20 anos; a nomeação de um coronel para comandar a política antidrogas e de um general para a Funai; o corte de 45% nos recursos para universidades públicas; a possibilidade de fim do seguro-desemprego para demissões sem justa causa; a diminuição em 35% nos recursos de políticas ligadas a negros, mulheres e direitos humanos; o aumento dos gastos militares; o fim do programa Farmácia Popular e o afrouxamento no controle de armas de fogo.
Ufa! Foram listadas apenas 11 medidas. Faltaram 354. E isso só no primeiro ano. As medidas reacionárias, claro, continuaram nos meses mais recentes, com ataques à Amazônia, por meio da tentativa de extinguir a Renca, e às causas indígenas, através da paralisação de demarcação de terras e da adoção do marco temporal, que restringe direito de povos tradicionais às terras que ocupavam em 1988.
Os exemplos se multiplicam e seria impossível enumerar todos sem matar o leitor de tédio. Ou de raiva. Mas é interessante notar que, assim como na mudança do nome, mesmo quando quer parecer moderno, o governo continua impecavelmente reacionário. A reforma trabalhista, por exemplo, é vendida como um avanço, mas tem muito mais a ver com uma volta a um tempo em que os direitos sociais eram mínimos.Desigualdade tende a aumentar
Apesar de estarem em vigor há relativamente pouco tempo, existem indícios de que as medidas calcadas na ideologia reacionária do atual governo já começaram a trazer resultados nocivos ao país. Enquanto palacianos comemoram uma rastejante saída da recessão, estudos mostram que a desigualdade, que vinha caindo nas últimas décadas, tende a aumentar. Segundo o Banco Mundial, o Brasil terá 3,6 milhões de pobres a mais até o fim do ano. Esse possível recrudescimento da desigualdade está presente também em um relatório da ONG Oxfam Brasil, publicado segunda-feira (25). Já na introdução os pesquisadores afirmam:
“As reformas profundas que têm sido propostas nos últimos 16 meses afrontam o que preconiza nossa Constituição, e ameaçam reverter o processo de construção de nosso Estado de bem-estar social, em um período de crise econômica. (…) Existe evidente e acelerada redução do papel do Estado na redistribuição dos recursos em nossa sociedade, o que aponta para um novo ciclo de aumento de desigualdades.”
Uma desigualdade que, não custa ressaltar, já é gigantesca. O relatório traz alguns exemplos bastante claros. Mais de 16 milhões de brasileiros vivem abaixo da linha da pobreza, e 5% da população recebe, por mês, o mesmo que os 95% restantes juntos. Uma pessoa que trabalha por um salário mínimo (como a maioria dos brasileiros) teria de penar 19 anos para receber o mesmo que o 0,1% mais abastado da nação abocanha em um mês.
A disparidade de renda, ainda segundo o estudo, reflete diretamente na saúde das pessoas. Em São Paulo, pode haver uma diferença de até 25 anos na expectativa média de vida conforme a região em que se vive. Em Cidade Tiradentes, na periferia, morre-se, em média, com 54 anos, enquanto que no bairro nobre de Pinheiros, com 79.
No final do documento, a ONG lista uma série de entraves que deveriam ser resolvidos para que a desigualdade chegasse a níveis menos vergonhosos. Entre elas, a exemplo do renomado economista francês Thomas Piketty, aponta para a necessidade de uma tributação maior e mais efetiva na renda dos mais ricos. E de aumento dos gastos sociais. Nada disso parece estar no horizonte de Temer e seus asseclas que, pelo contrário, congelaram as despesas do governo federal pelos próximos 20 anos. O relatório abordou o assunto:
“Limitar gastos sociais significa limitar a redução de desigualdades. A Oxfam Brasil acredita que a Emenda do Teto de Gastos é um dos mais graves retrocessos observados no Brasil desde a Constituição, e um largo passo para trás na garantia de direitos.”Temer volta atrás
Os passos para trás são muitos na era Temer. E curiosamente não se limitam apenas a retrocessos diante de medidas adotadas por outros governantes. Dificilmente o Planalto passa um mês sem mudar de ideia e desfazer alguma medida tomada de forma atabalhoada, sem diálogo com a sociedade. O mais recente exemplo disso, ao menos até o fechamento deste texto, foi o fim do fim da famigerada reserva de cobre na Amazônia.
Mas, apesar de tudo o que se disse acima, tem gente que simplesmente nega esse inédito e agigantado caráter reacionário do atual governo. Quem? Michel Temer, oras! Ele afirmou ter escolhido um novo mote para seu mandato: “Progredir”, nome de um programa de qualificação, emprego e renda, lançado na terça (26). Temer discursou ao lado do ministro do Desenvolvimento Social e Agrário, Osmar Terra.
“Essa cerimônia, na verdade, ela revela, uma vez mais, a prioridade que nosso governo atribui à área social”, disse. “Aliás, viu Osmar, eu acho que eu vou tomar esse dístico Progredir, não apenas para isto, mas como lema do governo”, completou.
Teve gente que levou a fala a sério.
The post Progredir: o novo lema que Temer quer adotar para o governo mais reacionário desde a ditadura appeared first on The Intercept.
This year’s effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is dead, but Senate Republicans are vowing to take another run at it next year.
Even after Senate Republicans scrapped the vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill this week, lead sponsor Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he remains optimistic about the legislation eventually passing because the missing votes were “actually more about process than substance.”
“With more hearings, with regular order, we’re going to get 50 votes,” Graham said during a press conference Tuesday. “We’re going to fulfill our promise.”
Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who has for some reason or another partnered with Graham in this effort, told The Intercept on Tuesday afternoon that he is confident Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a key Republican holdout from Alaska, will come around next year if the bill goes through the normal committee process. “I know having talked to Lisa just a couple hours ago, she thinks it’s a good idea and she thinks the idea will stand up under public scrutiny, and it makes it an easier vote for everybody,” he said.
Graham and his co-conspirators previously said they would demand that tax cuts and health care reform be lumped together if they failed to make headway on health care in September. But on Tuesday, Graham changed course, saying he is now willing to let tax reform go ahead on its own because he had been unaware how complex tying the two together would be. Then, in the spring, Graham said, he will insist on a new budget resolution that allows for another crack at repeal using a 50-vote threshold — what is called budget reconciliation in the Senate.
Before Republicans spend another year plotting an ACA repeal, they may want to reflect on whether they have what it takes to get those 50 votes. Some of the key players are Murkowski, Rand Paul, John McCain, and Susan Collins. But there are a few additional wrinkles: Come November, Alabama’s junior senator will either be Republican Roy Moore or Democrat Doug Jones, and neither is sure to vote with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And in New Jersey, Republicans are eyeing a possible senatorial conviction to potentially flip a seat, which would make the health care vote even more unpredictable.
What about Rand Paul?
Paul is the least likely to stand with the GOP’s repeal effort. The Kentucky senator has dug himself into a firm “no” vote against anything that isn’t a clear opposite of the ACA. He flipped his vote in July, but only after he was promised the bill he was voting for would go to conference before coming back to the Senate, making the vote largely meaningless in a practical sense.
On Monday, The Intercept asked Paul if there was anything anybody could do to get his vote on a repeal-and-replace bill. “I just got off the phone with the president and told him there were some good things in the bill — expanding [health savings accounts], waivers for governors, and entitlement caps,” he said.
Those are the parts of reform he likes. But he won’t vote for anything that doesn’t include major tax cuts and spending cuts — changes that would alienate Murkowski and Collins, and perhaps a few others.
Many Senate watchers also believe that Paul’s rationale for opposition — that the proposed repeal bills haven’t gone far enough — is cover for the fact that Kentucky’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act has been a roaring success, and gutting it would be devastating to the state. If that’s true, Paul will never say so out loud, not that Democrats aren’t asking him to, content to have his vote however they can get it.What about Lisa Murkowski?
In her statement released after the bill was officially yanked from the floor, Murkowski did indeed express openness to the framework Graham and co-sponsor Sen. Bill Cassidy had constructed. “I recognize the status quo with health care in this country is unacceptable. Giving control back to the states and flexibility are ideas I can get behind,” she said. “But substance matters and the ability to validate data matters.”
It is conceivable, then, that if a future bill went through a regular process and was heavily generous to Alaska, she could get behind it. “Coming from the state that has the highest health care costs and the lowest population density, the numbers really do matter. I have been working for weeks to get true, accurate data about what this proposal would mean for Alaska,” Murkowski said.What about John McCain?
This is where it gets macabre. McCain, a key “no” vote, is living with a brain cancer diagnosis that is nearly always fatal. The same cancer took the life of his good friend, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and almost upended the push to pass the Affordable Care Act, after Scott Brown filled his seat. Were McCain to lose his battle with cancer, Arizona’s GOP governor would appoint a Republican rubber stamp. Depending on the circumstances, some Republicans, such as McCain’s best friend Graham, may oppose rushing forward with repeal on pure human decency grounds.What about Bob Menendez?
A 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision makes it awfully difficult to convict a politician of corruption, but New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez may have managed to cross even that lowered bar. He’s on trial now for gifts he took from his wealthy friend Salomon Melgen, who needed the senator’s help with with a variety of unsavory schemes. Menendez denies very little of it, but instead argues that because Melgen is his friend, there was nothing illegal about the gifts.
If a jury disagrees and convicts Menendez before Republican Gov. Chris Christie leaves office, it’ll create a political crisis. Menendez is likely to try to hold on to his seat long enough for a Democrat to be elected and seated to replace Christie. Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Phil Murphy is likely to win the November election by a wide margin, and if he takes office in January, he will be able to appoint another Democrat to take Mendendez’s seat — another “no” vote on health care repeal. But if Menendez is convicted and forced out with Christie still in office, the governor could appoint his successor instead, and the GOP would have another vote.What about Roy Moore or Doug Jones?
McConnell suffered a lot of losses on Tuesday. He pulled the repeal vote, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announce his retirement, and McConnell’s chosen candidate in Alabama’s Senate race, Luther Strange, lost the primary. McConnell spent millions of dollars trying to beat Moore; now, his best-case scenario is welcoming a Republican who got elected by slamming McConnell. The Kentucky senator’s worst-case scenario is Democrat Doug Jones upsetting Moore, which will mean a definite “no” vote on repeal. If Moore is elected, there’s no telling whether he’ll vote with the party to repeal or play more of a wildcard, Rand Paul-style role.
— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) September 21, 2017What about Susan Collins?
The Maine senator’s health care vote is unpredictable because she has her eye on her state’s 2018 gubernatorial race. She can take a few different paths to the governor’s mansion. If she chooses to run as a Republican, she’ll have a hard time getting the support of the tea party, the pro-Trump wing of the GOP, and could lose in the primary. She could also make a bid as an independent, a not-uncommon move in Maine. The state’s other senator, former Gov. Angus King, is an independent who caucuses with Democrats.
What path Collins takes, or whether she takes one at all, could influence her vote on health care reform. But as of now, she is firmly committed to her stance that the ACA repeal needs to be done deliberately and in a bipartisan fashion. Here’s what she said to reporters on Tuesday:
Our focus should be on repairing the many flaws that are in the ACA. At this point, the ACA is interwoven in our health care system, in a way that it is very difficult to repeal it outright unless you have a very thoughtful, thorough analysis of the replacement.
And part of the problem that we have had has been a lack of hearings, debates, and careful consideration and vetting of the health care replacement bills, and in that regard I agree strongly with Senator McCain’s comments about the normal order.
Just think, in the Senate Health Committee we held four substantive hearings on relatively small issues to make sure that we got them right.
When you’re talking about reforming our health care system — which affects millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of Americans and also one-sixth of our economy — it’s very important that you get it right.
I’ve been leaning against the bill for some time, but this has been a challenge because the bill had been changing, including last night, a whole new bill came out, which to me epitomizes the problem. So it has been a challenge to constantly analyze each of the bills, of which there have been four separate versions including one that was put together just over the weekend.
I’ve done a lot of work. I’ve consulted with health care experts, with think tanks, with [the Congressional Research Service], and I wanted to wait until [the Congressional Budget Office] released its analysis today on the coverage piece even though it’s on the previous bill. But frankly, that’s going to be a problem on this bill as well.
I have been strongly leaning no, but I wanted to have the estimate of the coverage problem confirmed by CBO before reaching a final decision. It’s been very difficult because it’s been a moving target.
The Intercept asked Collins if, given all of her objections, there was ever a chance she could have voted for Graham-Cassidy.
“It would’ve been very difficult, because this is so complex and you pull one thread in the tapestry, and it has an effect on a whole ‘nother section in the painting that you have,” she said, pausing to criticize her own mixed metaphor. “In other words, our health care system is so complex that it is very difficult to change one part and not see a ripple effect.”
The post The GOP’s Unpredictable Path to Health Care Repeal in 2018 appeared first on The Intercept.
Uma das propostas em tramitação na Câmara dos Deputados escancara a maliciosa estratégia por trás do avanço de pautas de caráter conservador: um Projeto de Emenda Constitucional que deveria falar apenas sobre licença-maternidade está sendo deturpado para criminalizar o aborto. O autor da trapaça é Jorge Mudalen (DEM-SP), membro da bancada evangélica, campeão no ranking de viagens internacionais bancadas pela Câmara, um dos defensores da Reforma Trabalhista e da redução da maioridade penal.
Neste vídeo, publicado em sua conta de Instagram, ele deixa claro que seu objetivo foi, de fato, reunir duas pautas desconexas para aprovar uma de suas bandeiras pessoais:
“Irei ampliar, para a mãe que tem o nenê prematuro, de quatro para oito meses o tempo que ela pode ficar ao lado de seu filho. E, neste relatório, nós também estamos protegendo a vida desde a sua concepção. É importante nós aprovarmos porque estamos garantindo também, além da licença maternidade, o direito à vida.”
A mudança no texto da PEC não passou despercebida. A pressão da oposição adiou a votação em comissão especial do dia 20 de setembro para o dia 4 de outubro. Caso passe na Comissão, a medida ainda terá de ser aprovada no plenário da Câmara e voltar a ser analisada pelo Senado, de onde saiu o projeto original.
A grita não era sem motivo. Mudalen quer, simplesmente, mudar o artigo primeiro da Constituição. Ali, estão listados os cinco fundamentos do Estado Democrático de Direito, entre eles “a dignidade da pessoa humana”. Neste trecho, o deputado paulista que incluir as palavras “desde a concepção”.
Clique aqui para ler na íntegra as propostas de mudança na Constituição e suas justificativas.Servo fiel de R. R. Soares
Quem visitar os perfis de Mudalen no Twitter ou no Instagram, pode sair confuso. A primeira impressão é a de que se trata de um assessor do pastor R. R. Soares.livro sobre a importância do pagamento do dízimo e que comprou este ano um avião por US$ 5 milhões. Seus dois filhos — Marcos e André — são deputados do DEM, partido ao qual Mudalen se filiou em 2005, após anos transitando entre PMDB e PP.
Convenientemente, em sua atuação como parlamentar, o paulistano relatou, nos últimos quatro, anos 20 projetos que se tornaram concessões de rádio e três que se tornaram concessões para canais de televisão. E, apesar de ser eleito por São Paulo, relatou projetos de concessão locais para Goiás, Rio Grande do Norte, Mato Grosso, Piauí, Rio Grande do Sul e Minas Gerais. Ele também é o relator da pauta que isenta “templos de qualquer culto do Imposto sobre a Propriedade Predial e Territorial Urbana (IPTU)”, de autoria do ex-senador e atual prefeito do Rio, Marcelo Crivella.Viajante, cheio de contradições e de ironias
Em um levantamento feito no fim de 2016 pela Folha de S. Paulo, Mudalen ficou em primeiro lugar entre os deputados que mais viajaram com tudo pago pela Câmara. Foram 28 missões internacionais em seis anos, passando por 11 países.
Naquele mesmo ano, o paulista subiu ao púlpito para defender o afastamento da ex-presidente Dilma Rousseff usando como argumentos “pela minha família” e “pelo meu neto que está chegando agora”. O mesmo rigor, no entanto, não esteve presente ao votar sim, também, pelo arquivamento da denúncia de corrupção que pesa contra o presidente Michel Temer.
Outra contradição do deputado é se dizer em defesa das gestantes, mas votar a favor da reforma trabalhista. Segundo o texto final da reforma, gestantes passam a poder trabalhar em ambientes insalubres. Mudalen disse sim mais uma vez.
Em mais um de seus posts defendendo a PEC, Mudalen ignora o fato de que a mudança na Constituição proposta por ele faz a Carta Magna entrar em conflito com leis secundárias:
“Nós mantemos, inclusive o que diz o Código Penal, onde preserva-se o direito da mulher quando ela tem o estupro, quando ela corre o risco de vida e também no bebê anencéfalo. Nós não mexemos nisso. Nós só estamos valorizando a mulher, valorizando a vida a partir do momento em que o óvulo é fecundado e ali, sim, gera vida.”
O deputado parece ignorar o fato de que todas as leis devem respeitar a Constituição. Portanto, modificá-la desta forma abre uma brecha não apenas para que juízes passem a interpretar a Constituição como peso maior do que o Código Penal, mas também para futuras ações de inconstitucionalidade contra os recentes avanços feitos pelo Supremo Tribunal Federal sobre os direitos reprodutivos das mulheres. Em novembro do ano passado, o STF descriminalizou abortos feitos até o terceiro mês.
E se hoje ele defende que a União deve regular sobre os direitos do óvulo recém-fecundado, quando tratou do patrimônio genético, defendeu que “não sendo o patrimônio genético bem da União”, “não faz sentido ter a União como parte”. Parece que isso vale para todas as incontáveis espécies de vida do planeta, menos para a humana.
Neste vídeo compartilhado em sua conta de Instagram, onde defende a vida a partir da fecundação do óvulo, Mudalen nos brinda com a última das ironias. O trecho inicial é uma versão acelerada e rebobinada do curta “Danielle”, por Anthony Cerniello
Se conhecesse o autor do filme, talvez pensasse novamente sobre a escolha. Cerniello é produtor de vários videoclipes premiados, onde inclui sua defesa aos direitos LGBTQ. Entre eles, este aqui, em que vários casais de diferentes orientações sexuais ouvem juntos a mesma música. E este outro, da dupla Scissor Sisters, cujo nome é uma gíria em inglês usada para denominar uma posição sexual.
Que o trabalho de Cerniello continue rendendo prêmios e audiência, apesar de nem todos demonstrarem compreender a fundo sua arte.
The post As ironias e contradições do deputado que quer mudar a Constituição para criminalizar o aborto appeared first on The Intercept.
Last Friday, most major media outlets touted a major story about Russian attempts to hack into U.S. voting systems, based exclusively on claims made by the Department of Homeland Security. “Russians attempted to hack elections systems in 21 states in the run-up to last year’s presidential election, officials said Friday,” began the USA Today story, similar to how most other outlets presented this extraordinary claim.
This official story was explosive for obvious reasons, and predictably triggered instant decrees – that of course went viral – declaring that the legitimacy of the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election is now in doubt.
Virginia’s Democratic Congressman Don Beyer, referring to the 21 targeted states, announced that this shows “Russia tried to hack their election”:
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) September 22, 2017
MSNBC’s Paul Revere for all matters relating to the Kremlin take-over, Rachel Maddow, was indignant that this wasn’t told to us earlier and that we still aren’t getting all the details. “What we have now figured out,” Maddow gravely intoned as she showed the multi-colored maps she made, is that “Homeland Security knew at least by June that 21 states had been targeted by Russian hackers during the election. . .targeting their election infrastructure.”
DHS didn't bother to tell the 21 states Russia tried to hack during the election until this afternoon. https://t.co/48CNZL8MBp
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) September 23, 2017
They were one small step away from demanding that the election results be nullified, indulging the sentiment expressed by #Resistance icon Carl Reiner the other day: “Is there anything more exciting that the possibility of Trump’s election being invalidated & Hillary rightfully installed as our President?”
So what was wrong with this story? Just one small thing: it was false. The story began to fall apart yesterday when Associated Press reported that Wisconsin – one of the states included in the original report that, for obvious reasons, caused the most excitement – did not, in fact, have its election systems targeted by Russian hackers:
The spokesman for Homeland Security then tried to walk back that reversal, insisting that there was still evidence that some computer networks had been targeted, but could not say that they had anything to do with elections or voting. And, as AP noted: “Wisconsin’s chief elections administrator, Michael Haas, had repeatedly said that Homeland Security assured the state it had not been targeted.”
Then the story collapsed completely last night. The Secretary of State for another one of the named states, California, issued a scathing statement repudiating the claimed report:
Sometimes stories end up debunked. There’s nothing particularly shocking about that. If this were an isolated incident, one could chalk it up to basic human error that has no broader meaning.
But this is no isolated incident. Quite the contrary: this has happened over and over and over again. Inflammatory claims about Russia get mindlessly hyped by media outlets, almost always based on nothing more than evidence-free claims from government officials, only to collapse under the slightest scrutiny, because they are entirely lacking in evidence.
The examples of such debacles when it comes to claims about Russia are too numerous to comprehensively chronicle. I wrote about this phenomenon many times and listed many of the examples, the last time in June when 3 CNN journalists “resigned” over a completely false story linking Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci to investigations into a Russian investment fund which the network was forced to retract: Remember that time the Washington Post claimed that Russia had hacked the U.S. electricity grid, causing politicians to denounce Putin for trying to deny heat to Americans, only to have to issue multiple retractions because none of that ever happened? Or the time that the Post had to publish a massive editor’s note after its reporters made claims about Russian infiltration of the internet and spreading of “Fake News” based on an anonymous group’s McCarthyite blacklist that counted sites like the Drudge Report and various left-wing outlets as Kremlin agents?
Or that time when Slate claimed that Trump had created a secret server with a Russian bank, all based on evidence that every other media outlet which looked at it were too embarrassed to get near? Or the time the Guardian was forced to retract its report by Ben Jacobs – which went viral – that casually asserted that WikiLeaks has a long relationship with the Kremlin? Or the time that Fortune retracted suggestions that RT had hacked into and taken over C-SPAN’s network? And then there’s the huge market that was created – led by leading Democrats – that blindly ingested every conspiratorial, unhinged claim about Russia churned out by an army of unhinged conspiracists such as Louise Mensch and Claude “TrueFactsStated” Taylor?
And now we have the Russia-hacked-the-voting-systems-of-21-states to add to this trash heap. Each time the stories go viral; each time they further shape the narrative; each time those who spread them say little to nothing when it is debunked.
None of this means that every Russia claim is false, nor does it disprove the accusation that Putin ordered the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta’s email inboxes (a claim for which, just by the way, still no evidence has been presented by the U.S. government). Perhaps there were some states that were targeted, even though the key claims of this story, that attracted the most attention, have now been repudiated.
But what it does demonstrate is that an incredibly reckless, anything-goes climate prevails when it comes to claims about Russia. Media outlets will publish literally any official assertion as Truth without regard the slightest regard for evidentiary standards.
Seeing Putin lurking behind and masterminding every western problem is now religious dogma – it explains otherwise-confounding developments, provides certainty to a complex world, and alleviates numerous factions of responsibility – so media outlets and their journalists are lavishly rewarded any time they publish accusatory stories about Russia (especially ones involving the U.S. election), even if they end up being debunked.
A highly touted story yesterday from the New York Times – claiming that Russians used Twitter more widely known than before to manipulate U.S. politics – demonstrates this recklessness. The story is based on the claims of a new group formed just two months ago by a union of neocons and Democratic national security officials, led by long-time liars and propagandists such as Bill Kristol, former acting CIA chief Mike Morell, and Bush Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff. I reported on the founding of this group, calling itself the Alliance for Securing Democracy, when it was unveiled (this is not to be confused with the latest new Russia group unveiled last week by Rob Reiner and David Frum and featuring a different former CIA chief (James Clapper) – calling itself InvestigateRussia.org – featuring a video declaring that the U.S. is now “at war with Russia”).
The Kristol/Morelll/Chertoff group on which the Times based its article has a very simple tactic: they secretly decide which Twitter accounts are “Russia bots,” meaning accounts that disseminate an “anti-American message” and are controlled by the Kremlin. They refuse to tell anyone which Twitter accounts they decided are Kremlin-loyal, nor will they identify their methodology for creating their lists or determining what constitutes “anti-Americanism.”
They do it all in secret, and you’re just supposed to trust them: Bill Kristol, Mike Chertoff and their national security state friends. And the New York Times is apparently fine with this demand, as evidenced by its uncritical acceptance yesterday of the claims of this group – a group formed by the nation’s least trustworthy sources.
But no matter. It’s a claim about nefarious Russian control. So it’s instantly vested with credibility and authority, published by leading news outlets, and then blindly accepted as fact in most elite circles. From now on, it will simply be Fact – based on the New York Times article – that the Kremlin aggressively and effectively weaponized Twitter to manipulate public opinion and sow divisions during the election, even though the evidence for this new story is the secret, unverifiable assertions of a group filled with the most craven neocons and national security state liars.
That’s how the Russia narrative is constantly “reported,” and it’s the reason so many of the biggest stories have embarrassingly collapsed. It’s because the Russia story of 2017 – not unlike the Iraq discourse of 2002 – is now driven by religious-like faith rather than rational faculties.
No questioning of official claims is allowed. The evidentiary threshold which an assertion must overcome before being accepted is so low as to be non-existent. And the penalty for desiring to see evidence for official claims, or questioning the validity and persuasiveness of the evidence that is proffered, are accusations that impugn one’s patriotism and loyalty (simply wanting to see evidence for official claims about Russia is proof, in many quarters, that one is a Kremlin agent or at least adores Putin – just as wanting to see evidence in 2002, or questioning the evidence presented for claims about Saddam, was viewed as proof that one harbored sympathy for the Iraqi dictator).
Regardless of your views on Russia, Trump and the rest, nobody can possibly regard this climate as healthy. Just look at how many major, incredibly inflammatory stories, from major media outlets, have collapsed. Is it not clear that there is something very wrong with how we are discussing and reporting on relations between these two nuclear-armed powers?
The post Yet Another Major Russia Story Falls Apart. Is Skepticism Permissible Yet? appeared first on The Intercept.
Just a few years ago, sending encrypted messages was a challenge. Just to get started, you had to spend hours following along with jargon-filled tutorials, or be lucky enough to find a nerd friend to teach you. The few that survived this process quickly hit a second barrier: They could only encrypt with others who had already jumped through the same hoops. So even after someone finally set up encrypted email, they couldn’t use it with most of the people they wanted to send encrypted emails to.
The situation is much better today. A number of popular apps have come along that make encryption as easy as texting. Among the most secure is Signal, open-source software for iOS and Android that has caught on among activists, journalists, and others who do sensitive work. And probably the most popular is WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned platform with encryption setup derived from Signal. For me, the spread of encrypted chat apps means that, with very few exceptions, all of my text messages — with friends, family, or for work — are end-to-end encrypted, and no one even has to understand what a “public key” is.
But there is a major issue with both Signal and WhatsApp: Your account is tied to your phone number.
This makes these apps really easy to use, since there are no usernames or passwords to deal with. It also makes it easy to discover other app users; if someone is a contact in your phone and has the app installed, you can send them encrypted texts with no further effort.
But it also means that if you want people to be able to send you messages securely, you need to hand out your phone number. This puts people who interact with the public in an awkward bind: Is the ability for strangers to contact you securely worth publishing your private phone number?
In this article I explain how to create a second Signal number that is safe to publish on your Twitter bio and business cards, so strangers have an easy way to contact you securely, while your primary phone number remains private. I explain how to obtain a second phone number, how to register it with the Signal server, and how to configure it to use Signal Desktop — even if you’re already using Signal Desktop with your private phone number. I will focus on Signal rather than WhatsApp for reasons I’ll explain further down (basically, WhatsApp appears to block non-cellular phone numbers that make all this possible with Signal).Why Wouldn’t You Want to Publish Your Phone Number?
When you give out your phone number, you risk opening yourself up to abuse. As freedom of expression activist Jillian York wrote on her personal blog, “As a woman, handing out my phone number to a stranger creates a moderate risk: What if he calls me in the middle of the night? What if he harasses me over SMS? What if I have to change my number to get away from him?”
If you’re a public figure, and especially if you’re a women or person of color, you’re probably used to sexist or racist jerks yelling slurs and threats at you on Twitter, Facebook, and in the comments section under the articles you write. Publishing your private phone number could make this problem worse and could make these people harder to mute.
It could also open up your online accounts to attack. Last year, someone hacked racial justice activist DeRay Mckesson’s Twitter and email accounts by taking over his phone number. The hacker called Verizon and, impersonating Mckesson, asked to change the SIM card associated with his phone number to a new one that they controlled, so they could receive SMS messages sent to his phone number.
By calling @verizon and successfully changing my phone's SIM, the hacker bypassed two-factor verification which I have on all accounts.
— deray mckesson (@deray) June 10, 2016
Having a unique public number just for Signal could mitigate this sort of attack; it’s harder for a hacker to hijack the number that’s tied to your Twitter and email accounts if they don’t know it in the first place.
(If an attacker takes control of your phone number, like they did with Mckesson, they could also take over your Signal account. If someone did this to your friend, you’d see a “safety number changed” warning in Signal — the same message you see when a friend gets a new phone. If you ignore this warning and text them anyway, you’ll actually be texting the attacker. You can verify safety numbers to confirm that your Signal app is encrypting messages to your friend’s phone, and not to some attacker’s phone.)How to Obtain a Second Phone Number
When you open the Signal app for the first time and type in your phone number, here’s what happens:
- The Signal service tries sending an SMS message with a verification code to your phone number. If you can receive that message or the app can receive it directly, and the message contains the correct code, then the app successfully registers the account.
- If you can’t receive the verification message, Signal gives you the option to try a voice call instead. In this case, the Signal service tries calling your phone number. When you answer, a robot voice tells you a verification code, and you can type it into the app. If you type the correct code, the app registers the account.
The initial step of verifying a phone number is the only step in which the phone network is involved. After this, Signal uses the internet for everything. Your phone number is only used as a way to identify your Signal account (basically, it’s your username), and your phone company doesn’t have access to any information about anything that goes on in Signal.
This means that, as long as you have access to a phone number where you can answer voice calls, like a landline or a VoIP number, you can use that phone number with Signal. (This isn’t true for all services. WhatsApp seems to only allow you to register using phone numbers distributed by cellphone carriers — but I’ve heard mixed reports, so it doesn’t hurt to try.)
In order to proceed, you need to obtain a second phone number that you’re OK with publishing. This can be:
- The desk phone at your office.
- A free Google Voice phone number, if you live in the United States (this is what I do).
- Any phone number from any online calling service, like Skype.
- A cheap pre-paid SIM card for a few dollars a month (and temporarily put it on your phone to register your second Signal number).
- Twilio, a cloud service that allows developers to write software that makes and receives phone calls and SMS messages. If following these instructions isn’t too daunting, you can purchase phone numbers for $1/month from Twilio to use for Signal. See this similar guide, written by Martin Shelton, for more thorough instructions on using Twilio for your second phone number.
It’s important to maintain control of this phone number. For example, you could use a disposable SMS service to register with Signal — there are many such services if you search for them — but those phone numbers can be used by anyone. Similarly, you should avoid using a public payphone’s number, or a SIM card on which you do not intend to renew service. If someone else can receive SMS messages or phone calls to this phone number, they can take your Signal account away from you.
If you have tips for other ways to obtain permanent phone numbers, post them in the comments.Picking a Device for Your Second Signal Number
In order to register your second phone number with Signal, you’re going to need a dedicated device for it — or at least a dedicated user account on a device. The device doesn’t need to have any phone service, and it doesn’t even technically need to be a phone. Here are your options.
If you’re an Android user, you’re in luck. You likely have never used this feature, but Android supports multiple user accounts on a single device. Each user account has its own set of apps and app data. You can create a second user account on your device specifically for your second Signal number.
Open the Settings app, select Users, and select “Add user or profile” to add a new user. After creating a new user, log in to it and install the Signal app. Don’t forget to set up screen lock for the new user — otherwise, anyone with physical access to your phone will be able to easily access the Signal messages in your second user, even if your main user account is locked.
To switch between users on your phone, drag the notification bar down and tap on the user icon.
If you’re an iPhone user, and you’re already using Signal with your private phone number, setting up your public Signal account is a bit more complicated. Unfortunately, there’s no way to set up two separate Signal phone numbers on the same iPhone.
The simplest way to proceed is to find a separate iOS or Android device and use that for the second number. This device doesn’t need phone service or a SIM card. It could be an old iPhone or Android phone you don’t use anymore, or an iPad, iPod Touch, or Android tablet.
You can also elect to use your new public phone number only with Signal Desktop. Doing this involves removing your private Signal account from your iPhone, setting up the public account and Signal Desktop, and then restoring the private account, which will generate a warning to your contacts that your safety number has changed. It also significantly limits the ways you can use Signal, as I outline below.
For the truly geeky, it’s also possible to use your computer to register the second Signal number, but only go this route if you’re the type of computer nerd who enjoys troubleshooting tricky problems. You can use a command-line tool called signal-cli to register your phone number with Signal service, or you can install android-x86 inside a virtual machine and use that as a virtual Android device for Signal. If that seems like a bit much, you’re better off tracking down an old smartphone instead.Registering Your New Number With Signal
Now that you have a second phone number and a device picked out, it’s time to register it with Signal. I’m using an Android device in the following photos, but the process in iOS is similar.
On your second Signal device (or the second user of your Android phone), open the Signal app for the first time. Type in the phone number you’ve obtained to use as your public Signal number (don’t type in your private phone number!), and register the phone number.
The Signal service will then send this phone number an SMS message. But, since this device isn’t actually associated with this phone number, it will fail. At least on Android, you must wait the full two minutes for it to fail. (If you’re on iOS and able to receive your verification code over SMS, for example in the Google Voice app, enter the code into Signal, and skip down to the next section, “Setting up Signal Desktop.”)
Now that SMS verification has failed, you have the option to do voice verification. Make sure you’re in a position to answer your second phone number. If this is a landline, go stand next to the phone; if this is a Google Voice number, make sure you have Google Voice open in a browser tab, or the Google Voice correctly configured, etc.
If all goes well, the verification process will succeed, and your new phone number will be registered with the Signal service.
And that’s it! This device can now receive messages to your second Signal phone number. You can tell everyone they can contact you using Signal with this phone number, and the text messages will end up going to this device.
But now you also have to deal with checking two separate devices for your messages (or two separate users on one Android device). To make things a bit more usable, you might want to set up Signal Desktop.Setting up Signal Desktop
The desktop version of Signal is a Google Chrome app, which means that you install it inside of your browser (this will be changing soon, more on that below). You can read more about Signal Desktop here, including some security considerations on whether you should use the desktop version.
If you’d like to use Signal Desktop with just one of your phone numbers, this is simple. For example, maybe you’ll only use Signal on your phone for your personal number, but you’ll use Signal Desktop for your second, public Signal number. In this case, just install Signal Desktop from the Chrome Web Store, and follow the instructions to configure it using the Signal device of your choice.
If you’d like to use Signal Desktop with both phone numbers, you need to set up separate Chrome profiles (or “People”). Most Chrome users only have their default profile — this stores browser history, bookmarks, Chrome apps, and other settings. But it’s possible to create new profiles and easily switch between them. You can set up Signal Desktop in your default profile for your private phone number and create a second Chrome profile specifically for your second Signal number.
Signal developers are currently switching up how Signal Desktop works. Soon it will be a standalone app, no longer through Chrome. This means that you won’t be able to run two copies at the same time by creating two different Chrome profiles. But, for the time being, the following instructions still work fine.
First, let’s set up Signal Desktop for your personal phone number in your default Chrome profile (if you already use Signal Desktop, skip the next few paragraphs). Open Chrome and go here to install Signal Desktop. After it’s installed, a welcome screen will pop up explaining that you need to install Signal on your phone first, and showing you a QR code to scan from your phone, like this:
Follow the instructions using Signal on your personal cellphone to link it to this Signal Desktop.
You probably also want to make sure that this Signal Desktop is easy to open. If you’re using a Mac, right-click on the dock icon, select Options, and check “Keep in Dock.” If you’re using Windows, right-click on the taskbar icon and select “Pin to taskbar.”
Now it’s time to create a new Chrome profile for your second Signal phone number. Start by opening the Chrome menu (the icon in the top-right of your browser with three dots) and choose Settings. Under People at the top, click “Manage other people.”
In the bottom-right, click “Add person.” Come up with a name and an icon for this Chrome profile. In this screenshot, I’m calling my new person “Signal for strangers” and giving it a ninja avatar.
After clicking the save button, a whole new Chrome window opens with “Signal for strangers” in the top-right corner. (Note that you can click the name of your profile in the top-right to switch to other profiles.)
Like you did with your other profile, go here and install Signal Desktop. Again, a fresh new welcome window will pop up giving you instructions to get started, again with a QR code.
Follow the instructions, but this time, use your device for your second Signal number (or the second Android user, if you’re doing it all on one Android phone). When you’re done, you’ll have successfully linked your second Signal phone number to your second Signal Desktop!
You should make sure that this Signal Desktop is easy to open as well. If you’re using Mac, right-click on the second Signal dock icon, select Options, and check “Keep in Dock.” If you’re using Windows, right-click on the second Signal taskbar icon and select “Pin to taskbar.”
Now you should have two separate Signal Desktop icons, one for your private phone number and the other for the second phone number you just set up. You can also hold the mouse over the different Signal icons to tell them apart.
Finally, here’s a tip for running multiple Signal Desktops on the same computer. Within Signal Desktop, click the three dots menu icon and choose Settings. This allows you to choose between three different themes. Make sure that your two different Signal Desktop windows have different themes to make them easier to tell apart.
(For the few of you who run the Qubes operating system, this process is much simpler. Just install Signal Desktop in separate AppVMs for each phone number. This is what I do.)Using Signal Desktop as Your Main Signal App
Now that your public Signal number is safe to publish, and encrypted texts go straight to your desktop, it might be tempting to only use the desktop app for this phone number. This is fine, but you should be aware of its limitations.
Signal Desktop app has fewer features than the mobile app. You can’t have encrypted voice or video calls in Signal Desktop, and you also can’t create or modify Signal groups — if you need to do these things, you have to do them on the mobile device. And while disappearing messages work fine, there’s no interface to delete individual messages from the desktop app.
Another Signal Desktop limitation is that there’s no way to assign names to Signal contacts from there; Signal relies on your phone’s contacts to translate phone numbers into names. So if you’d like to assign a name to a contact, you have to add them as a contact on the mobile device that you registered this Signal number with first.
Finally, messages that arrive to Signal Desktop, but not to the phone used to set up Signal Desktop, will accumulate on the server. Here’s why: When someone sends you a Signal message, their Signal app encrypts the message and sends it to the server. The server stores this encrypted message until it can be successfully delivered to your devices, and then the server deletes its copy after. But since your Signal account is associated with two devices, the mobile app and the desktop app, the server won’t delete its copy of the encrypted message until it successfully delivers the message to both devices. Therefore, it’s important to periodically power on your mobile device that you configured Signal on, even if you intend to primarily just use the desktop app.Will Signal Ever Make This Simpler?
At the moment, you can only register a Signal account using a phone number, but a future version of Signal could support other identifiers as well, such as email addresses.
Just like with phone numbers, Signal could automatically verify email addresses. And like with phone numbers, people store email addresses in their phone’s contacts, so contact discovery could still be automatic. Unlike private phone numbers though, journalists and activists routinely publish their email addresses for strangers to contact them. And for those who wish to use Signal anonymously, like whistleblowers, it’s much simpler to obtain an anonymous email address than an anonymous phone number.
This feature has been widely requested by users, and the associated issue is still open on GitHub, where you can find Signal’s source code. But will Signal’s developers implement it? I asked, and they told me that they don’t comment on new features until they’ve shipped them.
If you have any feedback about this tutorial, please post it on the comments, or contact me on Signal at (415) 964-1601.
The post How to Use Signal Without Giving Out Your Phone Number appeared first on The Intercept.
Enfrentando uma destruição completa depois de o furacão Maria assolar o país na semana passada, Porto Rico precisa desesperadamente de fundos para reestabelecer a infraestrutura básica, especialmente a cambaleante rede elétrica. A ilha inteira – onde vivem 3,5 milhões de cidadãos americanos, quase o equivalente ao estado de Connecticut – ficou sem energia, e imagens de satélite mostram que a luz ainda não voltou na maior parte do território. Isso afeta não só os serviços de eletricidade e telecomunicação, mas também o acesso à água limpa, já que muitas das estações de bombeamento são ligadas à essa mesma rede.
Um grupo de credores, que detém uma parte da enorme dívida de US$ 72 bilhões, propuseram o que chamaram de alívio – mas em forma de empréstimo. Assim, estão oferecendo a um território atolado em dívidas a chance de contrair mais uma.
O anúncio foi feito depois que o The Intercept procurou 51 credores conhecidos durante dois dias e perguntou se apoiariam a moratória ou o cancelamento do pagamento da dívida por conta da crise humanitária. Antes dessa declaração, 3 dos 51 credores haviam apenas doado recursos de ajuda para caridade ou manifestado sua solidariedade para com os moradores da ilha – todos eles bancos que de fato têm de lidar com consumidores e, portanto, estão mais acostumados com relações públicas. Nenhum credor havia apoiado o alívio da dívida.
Dos 51 credores com os quais o The Intercept entrou em contato, apenas o Citibank, o Goldman Sachs e o Scotiabank prometeram recursos sem contrapartidas para Porto Rico e outras ilhas do Caribe, em forma de doações para organizações de ajuda humanitária no total de US$ 1,25 milhão. O Citi inclusive dispensou alguns cidadãos do pagamento de taxas nas áreas do desastre.
Os outros credores de Porto Rico contatados pelo The Intercept não disseram se as doações foram feitas por suas empresas ou pelos altos executivos, entre os quais constam as pessoas mais ricas do planeta. Os detentores da dívida de Porto Rico incluem John Paulson, que enriqueceu apostando contra o mercado imobiliário durante o colapso financeiro; Jeffrey Gundlach, do DoubleLine Capital, que em 2015 disse que a dívida de Porto Rico era sua “melhor ideia” para os investidores; e Marc Lasry, do Avenue Capital Group e coproprietário do time da NBA Milwaukee Bucks.
A lista de credores foi reunida pelo Center for Investigative Journalism de Porto Rico em 2015 e complementada por relatórios adicionais da mídia. Além disso, o processo federal de falência em Porto Rico forçou os detentores de um tipo de dívida, os chamados títulos “COFINA”, com lastro no imposto sobre as vendas, a vir a público. No fim deste artigo, há uma lista dos credores conhecidos de Porto Rico e suas respostas ao The Intercept.
Especialistas veem a oferta menos como uma doação e mais como uma forma indireta de os credores associados à Autoridade de Energia Elétrica de Porto Rico, a Prepa, aproveitarem o desastre para enriquecer. Oferecer a uma população desesperada a possibilidade de mergulhar em mais dívidas não é lá muito generoso.
O grupo de credores da Prepa ofereceu à empresa de serviço público um empréstimo DIP [debtor-in-possession, mecanismo de financiamento para empresas em recuperação judicial] de US$ 1 bilhão e um swap separado de US$ 1 bilhão em títulos do governo já existentes por mais US$ 850 milhões em dívidas DIP. Esse dinheiro estaria imediatamente disponível para reestabelecer a energia elétrica. Ao todo, o acordo inclui US$ 150 milhões em cancelamento de dívidas e cerca de US$ 9 bilhões em títulos em circulação da Prepa.
Mas para se ter uma noção do “altruísmo” da oferta, essa proposta é ainda pior do que a foi feita pelos credores antes do desastre. O alívio da dívida total é magro; na verdade, é bem menor do que o desconto (haircut) de 15% proposto pelos credores da Prepa em abril. E quando contabilizamos os juros acumulados e os títulos de maior valor, os credores da Prepa provavelmente vão sair ganhando.
A oferta dos credores vem após o presidente Donald Trump dar uma das respostas mais grotescas da história a um desastre natural, salientando a dificuldade de Porto Rico em relação à dívida:
Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
…It's old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
…owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well. #FEMA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
Porto Rico não teria que fazer pagamentos de juros ou de capital dos empréstimos de US$ 1,85 bilhão pelos próximos dois anos. Depois disso, seria pela taxa Libor mais 4,5% (a última venda de títulos da dívida de Porto Rico em 2014 foi pela Libor mais cerca de 8%, de modo que os termos até melhoraram). Além disso, os credores da Prepa dizem que o capital vai permitir que Porto Rico forneça matching funds federais à Agência Federal de Gestão de Emergência (Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA), o que poderia qualificar a ilha para até US$ 9 bilhões a mais em subsídio.
Esse subsídio certamente é importante. Mas, para ficar claro, os credores da Prepa “não estão doando US$ 1,85 bilhão”, disse Adam Levitin, especialista em falência e professor de direito da Universidade de Georgetown. “Eles estão concedendo um empréstimo que [Porto Rico] vai ter de pagar. Não é uma doação para a Cruz Vermelha.”
O financiamento DIP, normalmente usado para entidades em recuperação judicial, é considerado de baixo risco, porque põe o credor em uma posição sênior para receber o pagamento total. Convertendo os títulos de dívida da Prepa — que são júniores — em outras formas da dívida porto-riquenha, com empréstimos DIP, os credores se colocariam em uma condição melhor para obter o ressarcimento. São títulos mais valiosos para se ter. “Eles furam a fila, vão lá para o início”, afirmou Levitin.
Além disso, os subsídios adicionais da FEMA impulsionariam a Prepa como um ativo, aumentando o valor dos títulos restantes.
É claro que qualquer financiamento, com ou sem contrapartida, que aumente as possibilidades de Porto Rico sobreviver a dois poderosos furacões inevitavelmente recompensariam os credores, aumentando a chance de pagamento. Qualquer recurso é bem-vindo, embora seja provável que Porto Rico encontre muitos credores dispostos a oferecer empréstimos DIP, de baixo risco, especialmente com a perspectiva dos matching funds da FEMA, assim como a possibilidade de ajuda de emergência no Congresso.
Embora líderes em todo o espectro político tenham destacado a necessidade de ajuda à Porto Rico, é provável que o Congresso atrase o pacote até meados de outubro. A Junta de Controle Fiscal que administra as finanças de Porto Rico, criada pela Lei de Supervisão, Gerência e Estabilidade Econômica (PROMESA), de 2016, permitiu que até agora apenas US$1 bilhão fosse “realocado” de outras partes do orçamento. As medidas de austeridade, como licenças não remuneradas e corte de pensões, ainda não foram formalmente retiradas. E como é improvável que se arrecade receita com impostos por pelo menos um mês, é quase impossível obter fluxo de caixa.
Enquanto isso, as ruas continuam parecendo rios. Uma grande ruptura em uma barragem fez com que as pessoas tivessem que fugir rapidamente. É difícil encontrar comida e medicamentos. Oitenta por cento das plantações foram destruídas. Com as pessoas lutando para sobreviver, os bairros tornaram-se inseguros. “Se alguém estiver ouvindo, ajude”, disse um dos prefeitos da ilha. Autoridades afirmaram que o reestabelecimento completo da energia pode demorar de quatro a seis meses, e a recuperação total provavelmente levará anos, com danos que chegam a US$ 30 bilhões.
Em agosto, um dos credores, o Aurelius Capital Management, entrou na justiça para interromper o processo de falência de Porto Rico, argumentando que ele viola a Constituição. Desde os furacões, o Aurelius, propriedade de Mark Brodsky, protegido de Paul Singer, não abandonou o processo.
O grupo de credores da Prepa inclui os investidores de fundos mútuos Franklin Templeton e Oppenheimer Funds; as seguradoras Assured Guaranty e National Public Finance Guarantee Corp.; e os fundos de hedge Angelo, Gordon & Co., BlueMountain Capital Management, Knighthead Capital Management e Marathon Asset Management.
Em uma declaração, Stephen Spencer, do Houlihan Lokey, assessor financeiro do grupo de credores da Prepa, afirmou: “Nossos pensamentos estão com as pessoas e os habitantes de Porto Rico durante esse momento difícil, e esperamos que esse compromisso de capital forneça um empréstimo-ponte e matching funds como é exigido pela legislação da FEMA, e também em apoio à recuperação da comunidade.”A lista de credores:
Angelo, Gordon & Co. – integrante do grupo de credores da Prepa ofereceu US$ 1,85 bilhão em empréstimos DIP e US$ 150 milhões em alívio da dívida
Appaloosa Management – não respondeu
Archview Investment Group — não respondeu
Ambac — não respondeu
Aristeia Capital — não respondeu
Arrowgrass Capital Partners — não respondeu
Assured Guaranty — integrante do grupo de credores da Prepa ofereceu US$ 1,85 bilhão em empréstimos DIP e US$ 150 milhões em alívio da dívida
Aurelius Capital Management — não respondeu
Avenue Capital Group — não respondeu
BlueMountain Capital Management — integrante do Prepa Bondholders Grou ofereceu US$ 1,85 bilhão em empréstimos DIP e US$ 150 milhões em alívio da dívida
Brigage Capital Management — não respondeu
Candlewood Investment Group — não respondeu
Canyon Capital Partners — não respondeu
Carmel Asset Management — não respondeu
Centerbridge Partners — não respondeu
Cyrus Capital Partners — não respondeu
Citibank — doou US$ 250 mil para a Cruz Vermelha
D.E. Shaw — não respondeu
DoubleLine Capital — não respondeu
Farallon Capital Management — não respondeu
FGIC — não respondeu
Fir Tree Partners — não respondeu
Fortress Investment Group — não respondeu
Franklin Templeton Investment Co. — integrante do grupo de credores da Prepa ofereceu US$ 1,85 bilhão em empréstimos DIP e US$ 150 milhões em alívio da dívida
Fundamental Advisors — não respondeu
Golden Tree Asset Management — não respondeu
Goldman Sachs – deu US$ 500 mil a “organizações que estão prestando assistência em esforços de buscas imediatas, limpeza e recuperação” no Caribe depois do Furacão Irma.
Highbridge Capital Management — não respondeu
Knighthead Capital Management — integrante do grupo de credores da Prepa ofereceu US$ 1,85 bilhão em empréstimos DIP e US$ 150 milhões em alívio da dívida
Mackay Shields – recusou-se a comentar
Maglan Capital — não respondeu
Marathon Asset Management — integrante do Grupo de Credores da Prepa ofereceu US$ 1,85 bilhão em empréstimos DIP e US$ 150 milhões em alívio da dívida
MatlinPatterson Global Advisors — não respondeu
MBIA — não respondeu
Meehan Combs – fundo encerrado
Merced Capital — não respondeu
Monarch Alternative Capital — não respondeu
Och-Ziff Management — não respondeu
Oppenheimer Funds Co. — integrante do grupo de credores da Prepa ofereceu US$ 1,85 bilhão em empréstimos DIP e US$ 150 milhões em alívio da dívida
Paulson & Co. — não respondeu
Perry Capital Management – fundo encerrado
Principal Global — não respondeu
Redwood Capital Management — não respondeu
Scotiabank — deu US$ 500 mil para o alívio do furacão Irma no Caribe.
Sound Point Capital Management — não respondeu
Stone Lion Capital Partners — não respondeu
Syncora — não respondeu
Taconic Capital Partners — não respondeu
Tilden Park Capital Management — não respondeu
Vårde Partners — não respondeu
Whitebox Advisors — “Temos uma política de não discutir sobre Porto Rico nem qualquer outro título no qual estamos envolvidos.”
Tradução: Maria Paula Autran
The post Credores de Porto Rico respondem à tragédia causada por furacão com mais dívida para o país appeared first on The Intercept.
As part of his ongoing crusade targeting black athletes, President Donald Trump shared a tweet Monday morning from one of his supporters. It included an image of Pat Tillman, the former NFL safety-turned-U.S. Army Ranger who was killed in Afghanistan in the spring of 2004. “NFLplayer PatTillman joined U.S. Army in 2002. He was killed in action 2004. He fought 4our country/freedom. #StandForOurAnthem #BoycottNFL,” wrote @jayMAGA45.
The intent of the president’s retweet was clear: Trump was co-signing a suggestion that Tillman was a true patriot, unlike those who have chosen to kneel during the national anthem, and that those protests dishonor his legacy.
Few episodes of the post-9/11 era have called down more disgrace upon the military than its handling of Tillman’s death and its treatment of his family in their search for answers. The most comprehensive documentation of those events can be found in three accounts: two books, “Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman,” written by Tillman’s mother, Mary, and “Where Men Win Glory,” by Jon Krakauer; as well as a 2006 story by Gary Smith for Sports Illustrated. Together, they offer an invaluable corrective to the simplistic depictions of Tillman, revealing a complex person and charting the ways in which officials at the highest levels of U.S. government sought to capitalize off his life and death.
Tillman was 25 years old when he joined the Army, placing him on the older side of military enlistees but on the decidedly younger side of life. His decision was born out of the conclusion that his comfortable existence in the U.S. made little sense in the months after 9/11; he wanted meaning, he wanted to do something that mattered, and he wanted to continue a lifelong project of placing himself in challenging situations. Along with his brother Kevin, Tillman chose to enlist. It was the same decision thousands of other young people of his generation made in the aftermath of 9/11. Both of the Tillman boys were, by all accounts, independent-minded free thinkers who enjoyed good books and good debates — chest-pounding jocks they were not. And, like many others who chose to come to the nation’s defense following 9/11, their worldview would evolve as they saw George W. Bush’s Global War on Terrorism up close.
What set Tillman apart was what he left behind: a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals. The ties between the U.S. military and the NFL run deep, with the Department of Defense giving millions of taxpayer dollars to the NFL in recent years for various campaigns for recruitment and to support the troops. Tillman vowed that he would do no interviews once his enlistment became public, and he stuck to it. That did not stop the public — and the Bush administration — from seizing his story. No matter how much he intended to stay under the radar, Tillman became a living, breathing symbol of honor, sacrifice, and the symbiotic relationship between the military and the NFL.
Tillman enlisted expecting to join the fight against Al Qaeda and the effort to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. Instead, he was sent to Iraq. All available evidence indicates that Tillman loathed the Iraq War. A voracious reader who consumed many of the world’s great religious texts even though he considered himself an atheist, Tillman was a student of history and formed his own opinions. Shortly after arriving in the country, he confided in his brother and their friend Russell Baer that he thought the invasion and occupation were “fucking illegal.” He had loose plans to meet with Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguist and antiwar intellectual Noam Chomsky once he got out of the military. Still, as much as Tillman resented the Bush administration’s war of aggression, he refused to walk away from the military until his commitments were met, even after conversations between the NFL and the Defense Department presented an opportunity to do so.
Early on in their deployment, Tillman and his brother were called upon to join a quick reaction force providing back-up for the rescue of Jessica Lynch. The 19-year-old private’s capture and rescue was one of the most famous and widely reported stories of the early stages of the Iraq War. It was also an egregious exercise in official lies and government propaganda. In an account fed to the Washington Post and regurgitated far and wide, the American public was told that Lynch engaged in a “fight to the death” with Iraqi forces before being overrun and thrown into the darkest depths of Iraqi captivity. While it was true that Iraqi forces ambushed the convoy Lynch was part of, and that 11 American troops lost their lives, many of the events described in the sensational account did not actually transpire. Iraqis on the ground had in fact worked, at great personal risk, to return the young private back to the Americans once she was taken captive. And while she had indeed suffered substantial physical and emotional trauma as a result of the ordeal, Lynch herself blasted the fabrications about her experience in testimony before Congress in 2007. “I’m still confused as to why they chose to lie and try to make me a legend, when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were legendary,” she said.Tillman was right about the larger dynamics surrounding Lynch’s rescue. The pattern would repeat itself the following year — this time with him at the center.
In his journal, Tillman observed that the build-up of forces around the Lynch rescue suggested “a big Public Relations stunt.” He was right about the larger dynamics surrounding Lynch’s rescue, that the truth of what happened on the ground during the ordeal would be distorted to present the American public with a more inspiring story. He had no way of knowing, however, that the pattern would repeat itself the following year — this time with him at the center.
Tillman and his brother landed in Afghanistan on April 8, 2004. They were halfway through their commitment to the Army; the end was in sight. Then, on April 22, Tillman was killed in the province of Khost, along Afghanistan’s eastern border. The NFL player-turned-national hero was awarded the Silver Star two weeks later, and his memorial service was broadcast on national television. The military provided a Navy SEAL whom the Tillman brothers had befriended with a narrative to read to mourners. It described how Tillman charged up a ridgeline, braving enemy fire, and died defending his fellow soldiers — a fittingly heroic end for the man who had become a symbol of honor and sacrifice for a country at war. But it wasn’t quite true.
Tillman had, in fact, charged up a hill in an effort to defend the men he served with, including his brother. He was not, however, killed by the enemy. Within hours, the military knew Tillman was killed by his fellow soldiers, brought down by three bullets to the head let loose during spasms of wildly irresponsible but deliberate shooting. “I’m Pat fucking Tillman!” he had screamed, in a failed effort to stop the incoming fire. Gary Smith, in his account for Sports Illustrated, noted that, for the men on the ground, the gravity of what had happened sunk in quickly: “America’s most renowned soldier was dead, and they had killed him.”
The episode unfolded at a particularly bad moment for the Bush administration. The week before Tillman was killed, the Pentagon’s top officials learned of an upcoming “60 Minutes” story detailing torture at an American-run detention facility in Iraq called Abu Ghraib. Meanwhile, in Fallujah, the military’s campaign to take the Iraqi city from jihadis was falling apart. And, as U.S. casualties in the Iraq War hit a record high, the president’s approval rating tanked. In Tillman’s death, powerful officials saw an opportunity to spin a yarn of heroic sacrifice, rather than an obligation to tell the truth. Brig. Gen. Howard Yellen would later tell investigators that the view among the chain of command was that Tillman’s death was like a “steak dinner,” albeit delivered on a “garbage can cover.”
The military’s initial investigation, filed days after the incident, which described acts of “gross negligence” and called for the Army Criminal Investigation Command to determine whether shots were fired with “criminal intent,” was buried. In an echo of the Lynch episode, the Bush administration and the U.S. military shamelessly ran with the fabricated account of Tillman’s death. In the hours after Tillman was killed, his uniform and personal effects were destroyed, meaning key forensic evidence — of what many men in his platoon knew was a case of fratricide — was lost. Tillman’s fellow soldiers were told to keep quiet, including in their conversations with his brother Kevin, who was on the mission but at a different location when the fatal shots were fired. Right away, the military lied to Tillman’s parents, initially telling the family that an enemy combatant killed their son as he stepped out of a vehicle. The military kept the truth from them through Tillman’s memorial service, allowing the SEAL who cared for Tillman and his brother to unknowingly describe to the entire country a sequence of events with even more embellishment.
Tillman had made it clear that he did not want a military funeral. He was cremated instead. “Pat’s a fucking champion and always will be,” his baby brother Richard said at the service. “Just make no mistake, he’d want me to say this: He’s not with God. He’s fucking dead. He’s not religious. So thanks for your thoughts, but he’s fucking dead.” Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, an Army officer tapped to lead one of the early investigations into the incident, was apparently so profoundly unsettled by the Tillmans’ lack of religion that he, at one point, suggested their absence of faith was the reason they couldn’t come to terms with Pat’s death. “I’m not really sure what they believe or how they can get their head around death,” Kauzlarich told investigators in a follow-up inquiry in 2004. “So, in my personal opinion, sir, that is why I don’t think they’ll ever be satisfied.”
Four weeks after the memorial service, Kevin Tillman’s sergeant pulled him aside at their stateside base and told him his brother had been killed by friendly fire. Their mother, Mary, got the news from a reporter calling her for comment. The military withheld key facts from the Tillman family even as it admitted the broad stokes of his death. It would take four years of digging, led chiefly by Mary; seven official investigations; and two congressional hearings before some semblance of the truth surrounding Tillman’s death was pried from the government. More than 2,000 pages of testimony released to the Associated Press in 2007 revealed that “Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory emails for keeping criminal investigators at bay,” and that the close proximity of the bullet holes in Tillman’s forehead had raised serious questions from medical examiners as to the Army’s version of events. “An alternative narrative had to be constructed,” Kevin Tillman told lawmakers in a hearing that year — the same hearing where Jessica Lynch described how the government twisted her experience for its own benefit. “After the truth of Pat’s death was partially revealed,” Tillman’s brother said before the House committee, “Pat was no longer of use as a sales asset and became strictly the Army’s problem.”Working tirelessly for years in the evenings, Mary Tillman pieced together what happened to her son.
“They were now left with the task of briefing our family and answering our questions,” Kevin went on to say. “With any luck, our family would sink quietly into our grief, and the whole unsavory episode would be swept under the rug. However, they miscalculated our family’s reaction. Through the amazing strength and perseverance of my mother, the most amazing woman on earth, our family has managed to have multiple investigations conducted. However, while each investigation gathered more information, the mountain of evidence was never used to arrive at an honest or even sensible conclusion.” Working tirelessly for years in the evenings, after coming home from her job as a special education teacher, Mary Tillman pieced together what happened to her son, pouring the shocking findings into her book. “They attached themselves to his virtue and then threw him under the bus,” she told Sports Illustrated. “They had no regard for him as a person. He’d hate to be used for a lie. I don’t care if they put a bullet through my head in the middle of the night. I’m not stopping.”
Tillman’s mother laid much of the blame for the cover-up at the feet of Donald Rumsfeld, Bush’s secretary of defense at the time. Rumsfeld had taken an early interest in the compelling story of the young football star who became an Army Ranger. In a 2008 interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, Mary explained that Rumsfeld “had written Pat a letter when he enlisted, thanking him for enlisting, so Pat was in his radar.” Tillman said it was “ludicrous to think” that Rumsfeld, a well-known micromanager with a keen interest in special operations units, wouldn’t have been immediately notified of her son’s fratricide. “Heads would have rolled if they didn’t tell Rumsfeld,” she said.
“I don’t recall when I was told and I don’t recall who told me,” Rumsfeld had said of the episode before Congress in 2007. “I know that I would not engage in a cover-up.”
Rumsfeld wasn’t the only senior Pentagon figure involved in the events following Tillman’s death. At the time, the now-retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal headed the famed Joint Special Operations Command, running the most secretive Pentagon’s efforts in Afghanistan — including Tillman’s Army Rangers platoon. Seven days after Tillman was killed, amid the mounting evidence of fratricide, McChrystal sent a memo up the chain of command as a heads-up to the president and other senior officials who might make speeches about the incident.
“I felt it was essential you receive this information as soon as we detected it,” McChrystal wrote, “in order to preclude any unknowing statements by our country’s leaders which might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Corporal Tillman’s death become public.”
The “if” at the end of the general’s statement was particularly concerning to the Tillman family, in part because subsequent investigations revealed that McChrystal was well-aware of the fact that Tillman’s death was a case of fratricide when he sent the memo. Krakauer, in his book, described McChrystal going to “extraordinary lengths to prevent the Tillman family from learning the truth about how Pat died.” Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2009, McChrystal told lawmakers, “We failed the family.” He added, “It was not intentional.”
In the wake of his death, Tillman’s wife and high school sweetheart, Marie, set up a foundation in his name — the Pat Tillman Foundation — to support veterans and their spouses with academic scholarships. On Monday, she issued a statement about the president’s invocation of her late husband’s name. “Pat’s service, along with that of every man and woman’s service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us,” she wrote. “The very action of self-expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for. Even if they didn’t always agree with those views.” Marie’s statement went on: “It is my sincere hope that our leaders both understand and learn from the lessons of Pat’s life and death, and also those of so many other brave Americans.”
There is an irony in suggesting Tillman’s legacy is somehow desecrated by protests that take place during the national anthem because those protests are said to insult the military, when it was that same military, the NFL’s longtime ally, that did so much actual damage to Tillman’s legacy after his death. There has been no shortage of commentary on what Tillman would or would not do in the current moment. During his time as a football player, he both stood outside his teammates’ traditional pre-game prayer circles — a reflection of his deeply held atheism — and also described, in no uncertain terms, his reverence for the symbolism of the flag. Whatever action he would take, there’s every reason to believe that Tillman would follow his heart and his convictions if faced with the protests rippling through the sports world right now. Unfortunately, the public will never know for sure, because Tillman died on a hill in Afghanistan 13 years ago, in war that continues to this day.
He was 27 years old.
The post The NFL, the Military, and the Hijacking of Pat Tillman’s Story appeared first on The Intercept.
“I think that when Americans talk about the Vietnam War … we tend to talk only about ourselves. But if we really want to understand it … or try to answer the fundamental question, ‘What happened?’ You’ve got to triangulate,” says filmmaker Ken Burns of his celebrated PBS documentary series “The Vietnam War.” “You’ve got to know what’s going on. And we have many battles in which you’ve got South Vietnamese soldiers and American advisors or … their counterparts and Vietcong or North Vietnamese. You have to get in there and understand what they’re thinking.”
Burns and his co-director Lynn Novick spent 10 years on “The Vietnam War,” assisted by their producer Sarah Botstein, writer Geoffrey Ward, 24 advisors, and others. They assembled 25,000 photographs, feature close to 80 interviews of Americans and Vietnamese, and spent $30 million on the project. The resulting 18-hour series is a marvel of storytelling, something in which Burns and Novick take obvious pride. “The Vietnam War” provides lots of great vintage film footage, stunning photos, a solid Age of Aquarius soundtrack, and plenty of striking soundbites. Maybe this is what Burns means by triangulation. The series seems expertly crafted to appeal to the widest possible American audience. But as far as telling us “what happened,” I don’t see much evidence of that.
Like Burns and Novick, I also spent a decade working on a Vietnam War epic, though carried out on a far more modest budget, a book titled “Kill Anything That Moves.” Like Burns and Novick, I spoke with military men and women, Americans and Vietnamese. Like Burns and Novick, I thought I could learn “what happened” from them. It took me years to realize that I was dead wrong. That might be why I find “The Vietnam War” and its seemingly endless parade of soldier and guerrilla talking heads so painful to watch.
War is not combat, though combat is a part of war. Combatants are not the main participants in modern war. Modern war affects civilians far more and far longer than combatants. Most American soldiers and Marines spent 12 or 13 months, respectively, serving in Vietnam. Vietnamese from what was once South Vietnam, in provinces like Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, as well as those of the Mekong Delta – rural population centers that were also hotbeds of the revolution — lived the war week after week, month after month, year after year, from one decade into the next. Burns and Novick seem to have mostly missed these people, missed their stories, and, consequently, missed the dark heart of the conflict.
To deprive their Vietnamese enemies of food, recruits, intelligence, and other support, American command policy turned large swathes of those provinces into “free fire zones,” subject to intense bombing and artillery shelling, that was expressly designed to “generate” refugees, driving people from their homes in the name of “pacification.” Houses were set ablaze, whole villages were bulldozed, and people were forced into squalid refugee camps and filthy urban slums short of water, food, and shelter.
I spoke with hundreds of Vietnamese from these rural areas. In hamlet after hamlet, they told me about being rousted from their homes and then being forced to drift back to the ruins, for deeply-held cultural and religious reasons, and often simply to survive. They explained what it was like to live, for years on end, under the threat of bombs and artillery shells and helicopter gunships. They talked about homes burned again and again and again, before they gave up rebuilding and began living a semi-subterranean existence in rough-hewn bomb shelters gouged into the earth. They told me about scrambling inside these bunkers when artillery fire began. And then they told me about the waiting game.
Just how long did you stay in your bunker? Long enough to avoid the shelling, of course, but not so long that you were still inside it when the Americans and their grenades arrived. If you left the shelter’s confines too soon, machine-gun fire from a helicopter might cut you in half. Or you might get caught in crossfire between withdrawing guerrillas and onrushing U.S. troops. But if you waited too long, the Americans might begin rolling grenades into your bomb shelter because, to them, it was a possible enemy fighting position.
They told me about waiting, crouched in the dark, trying to guess the possible reactions of the heavily-armed, often angry and scared, young Americans who had arrived on their doorsteps. Every second mattered immensely. It wasn’t just your life on the line; your whole family might be wiped out. And these calculations went on for years, shaping every decision to leave the confines of that shelter, day or night, to relieve oneself or fetch water or try to gather vegetables for a hungry family. Everyday existence became an endless series of life-or-death risk assessments.
I had to hear versions of this story over and over before I began to get a sense of the trauma and suffering. Then I started to appreciate the numbers of people affected. According to Pentagon figures, in January 1969 alone, air strikes were carried out on or near hamlets where 3.3 million Vietnamese lived. That’s one month of a war that lasted more than a decade. I began to think of all those civilians crouched in fear as the bombs fell. I began to tally the terror and its toll. I began to understand “what happened.”
I started to think about other numbers, too. More than 58,000 U.S. military personnel and 254,000 of their South Vietnamese allies lost their lives in the war. Their opponents, North Vietnamese soldiers and South Vietnamese guerrillas, suffered even more grievous losses.
But civilian casualties absolutely dwarf those numbers. Though no one will ever know the true figure, a 2008 study by researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and a Vietnamese government estimate, suggest there were around two million civilian deaths, the vast majority in South Vietnam. A conservative killed-to-injured ratio yields a figure of 5.3 million civilians wounded. Add to these numbers 11 million civilians driven from their lands and made homeless at one time or another, and as many as 4.8 million sprayed with toxic defoliants like Agent Orange. “The Vietnam War” only weakly gestures at this civilian toll and what it means.
Episode five of “The Vietnam War,” titled “This Is What We Do,” begins with Marine Corps veteran Roger Harris musing about the nature of armed conflict. “You adapt to the atrocities of war. You adapt to killing, dying,” he says. “After a while, it doesn’t bother you. I should say, it doesn’t bother you as much.”
It’s a striking soundbite and is obviously offered to viewers as a window onto the true face of war. It made me think, however, about someone who experienced the war far longer and more intimately than Harris did. Her name was Ho Thi A and in a soft, measured voice she told me about a day in 1970 when U.S. Marines came to her hamlet of Le Bac 2. She recounted for me how, as a young girl, she’d taken cover in a bunker with her grandmother and an elderly neighbor, scrambling out just as a group of Marines arrived — and how one of the Americans had leveled his rifle and shot the two old women dead. (One of the Marines in the hamlet that day told me he saw an older woman “gut-shot” and dying and a couple of small clusters of dead civilians, including women and children, as he walked through.)
Ho Thi A told her story calmly and collectedly. It was only when I moved on to more general questions that she suddenly broke down, sobbing convulsively. She wept for ten minutes. Then it was fifteen. Then twenty. Then more. Despite all her efforts to restrain herself, the flood of tears kept pouring out.
Add together all the suffering of all of South Vietnam’s Ho Thi A’s, all the women and children and elderly men who huddled in those bunkers, those whose hamlets were burned, those made homeless, those who died under the bombs and shelling, and those who buried the unfortunates that did perish, and it’s a staggering, almost unfathomable toll – and, by sheer numbers alone, the very essence of the war.
It’s there for anyone interested in finding it. Just look for the men with napalm-scarred or white phosphorus-melted faces. Look for the grandmothers missing arms and feet, the old women with shrapnel scars and absent eyes. There’s no shortage of them, even if there are fewer every day.
If you really want to get a sense of “what happened” in Vietnam, by all means watch “The Vietnam War.” But as you do, as you sit there admiring the “rarely seen and digitally re-mastered archival footage,” while grooving to “iconic musical recordings from [the] greatest artists of the era,” and also pondering the “haunting original music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross,” just imagine that you’re actually crouched in your basement, that your home above is ablaze, that lethal helicopters are hovering overhead, and that heavily-armed teenagers — foreigners who don’t speak your language — are out there in your yard, screaming commands you don’t understand, rolling grenades into your neighbor’s cellar, and if you run out through the flames, into the chaos, one of them might just shoot you.
Nick Turse is the author of “Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam,” one of the books suggested as “accompaniments to the film” on the PBS website for “The Vietnam War.” He is a frequent contributor to The Intercept.
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