Are Twitter, Facebook and/or Google monitoring Wikileaks?

Posted: 08 Jan 2011 03:51 AM PST

We are entering an age where the complicity of internet companies in censorship is becoming clear to many. We have allowed them to become too powerful and now they can act like this. By the way, so much for the Obama administration being any different to the Bushies over human rights, secrets and intimidation:

WikiLeaks said on Saturday the Twitter accounts of four supporters have been subpoenaed in connection with an espionage investigation into the whistleblowing website led by a secret US grand jury.

“Today, the existence of a secret US government grand jury espionage investigation into Wikileaks was confirmed for the first time as a subpoena was brought into the public domain,” WikiLeaks said in a statement.

WikiLeaks said legal action taken by micro-blogging website Twitter “revealed that the US State Department has requested the private messages, contact information, IP addresses, and personal details of Julian Assange and three other individuals associated with Wikileaks, in addition to Wikileaks? own account, which has 634,071 followers.”

It did not name the three other people, but Icelandic lawmaker Birgitta Jonsdottir tweeted overnight: “just got this: Twitter has received legal process requesting information regarding your Twitter account in (relation to wikileaks)”.

She later posted “usa government wants to know about all my tweets and more since november 1st 2009. do they realize I am a member of parliament in iceland?”

In another message she said “just got the request via twitter from a court in the usa”.

WikiLeaks said it also had “reason to believe Facebook and Google, among other organisations, have received similar court orders, and calls on them to unseal any subpoenas they have received”.

“WikiLeaks is opposing the subpoena order and is currently taking action to instruct US lawyers,” it said, urging Twitter to protect its users’ private information.


Calling all young human rights reporters

Posted: 08 Jan 2011 03:38 AM PST

Good idea:

“She wakes, as eight men in dark uniforms barge through her front door. The men search the house. Abruptly they are both frogmarched to the back of a van. They don’t know where they are going or how long they will remain in this dark, enclosed space. This is not Nazi Germany, this is September 2009 in Leeds.”

This is the chilling first paragraph of Florence Potkins’s winning entry to the Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year competition 2010.

Florence, now 12, says she was motivated to write about a child kept in Yarl’s Wood detention centre after reading Anne Frank’s diary and about the treatment of Jews by the Nazis.

“When I heard about detention centres I thought they sounded like modern day concentration camps – obviously not as bad, but too similar for me. So I decided to research this on the internet and try to write about the experience of someone roughly my age.” She found out about Bethlehem Abate, a girl who was detained in Yarl’s Wood with her mother in 2008, and wrote about her story.

Today, Amnesty International and learnnewsdesk (the Guardian’s online news service for schools) launch this year’s Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year competition for 2011.

We’re asking children aged seven to 14 to write 200-250 words on their interpretation of a human rights story, or tell their own personal human rights story.

Florence’s advice to students entering is: “Do stuff that’s relevant and that you really care about. I was really interested in detention centres. Research is really important – don’t just write it down in 10 minutes. I did lots of preparation. It took me about two weeks to write the article. I did research for a week. Writing it up, perfecting it and checking it took another week.”


A necessary art break

Posted: 08 Jan 2011 03:27 AM PST


oops from Chris Beckman on Vimeo.


The new frontier; private firms making money in apartheid West Bank

Posted: 07 Jan 2011 07:52 PM PST


The Danish-British security firm G4S recently confirmed in a letter its involvement in the Israeli occupation and violations of international law — reported on last month by The Electronic Intifada.


After the publication of The Electronic Intifada’s report on 15 December 2010, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre asked G4S to respond to the investigation as well as a 28 November 2010 article published by Press TV ( “‘Firm sold torture instruments‘”).


Within a week G4S replied, confirming that it had withdrawn from contracts providing security officers to residential settlements in the West Bank in 2002. “However, we continue to serve major commercial customers, for instance supermarket chains, whose operations include the West Bank,” the company stated ( the letter can be downloaded from the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre’s website).


G4S claims in its letter that the commercial clients in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank serve the general public. The company wrote that contracts include the provision of security officers to protect the premises of “commercial clients who serve the general public” in the occupied West Bank. However, G4S fails to address that Israeli settlements serve an exclusively Jewish population and are built illegally on occupied Palestinian land.

By providing security services to illegal settlement businesses, G4S facilitates Israel’s violations of international law. In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) reaffirmed the illegality of the construction of the wall and settlement colonies in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. According to the ICJ, construction activities should stop immediately and the wall and settlements be dismantled.

G4S tries to downplay its involvement by stating that the number of security officers deployed in the West Bank is “generally less than twenty and currently stands at eight.” However, violation of international law remains a violation, no matter the size.


A company closely associated with the security firm once known as Blackwater has won a new State Department contract worth more than $84 million over five years.

The contract was won by International Developments Solutions, a joint venture that includes U.S. Training Center, a company until recently owned by Xe Services, which changed its name from Blackwater following a cascade of legal problems over several years.

The consortium will provide protective security in the Israel-occupied West Bank, “services that are based from the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

The initial contract, awarded Jan. 3, is for one year, “with the possibility of four, one-year renewable options” with a total value of roughly $84.3 million, Toner said.

International Development Solutions (IDS) is a joint venture between majority partner Kaseman, a McLean, Va., firm whose board is stocked with top former State Department and CIA officials, and U.S. Training Center (USTC), a onetime Blackwater affiliate that former officials say still employs many of its operatives.


Department of Justice selective outrage over Wikileaks

Posted: 07 Jan 2011 07:39 PM PST

Here’s the hypocrisy. If Iran demanded Twitter release direct messages of a user, the US government would be outraged. But of course double-standards are the name of the game here:

A member of parliament in Iceland who is also a former WikiLeaks volunteer says the US justice department has ordered Twitter to hand over her private messages.

Birgitta Jonsdottir, an MP for the Movement in Iceland, said last night on Twitter that the “USA government wants to know about all my tweets and more since november 1st 2009. Do they realize I am a member of parliament in Iceland?”

She said she was starting a legal fight to stop the US getting hold of her messages, after being told by Twitter that a subpoena had been issued. She wrote: “department of justice are requesting twitter to provide the info – I got 10 days to stop it via legal process before twitter hands it over.”

She said the justice department was “just sending a message and of course they are asking for a lot more than just my tweets.”

Jonsdottir said she was demanding a meeting with the US ambassador to Iceland. “The justice department has gone completely over the top.” She added that the US authorities had requested personal information from Twitter as well as her private messages and that she was now assessing her legal position.

“It’s not just about my information. It’s a warning for anyone who had anything to do with WikiLeaks. It is completely unacceptable for the US justice department to flex its muscles like this. I am lucky, I’m a representative in parliament. But what of other people? It’s my duty to do whatever I can to stop this abuse.”

Twitter would not comment on the case. In a statement, the company said: “We’re not going to comment on specific requests, but, to help users protect their rights, it’s our policy to notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so.”

Most of Twitter’s messages are public, but users can also send private messages on the service.

Marc Rotenberg, president of the online watchdog the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) in Washington, said it appeared the US justice department was looking at building a case against WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, over its publication of secret US documents.


Washington doesn’t care too much about certain leaks

Posted: 07 Jan 2011 04:29 PM PST

So I presume Donald Rumsfeld will be prosecuted for releasing classified documents?

Details of Donald Rumsfeld‘s forthcoming book tour are out, as the former defense secretary plans to sit for a series of interviews with ABC News in early February, the network announced Thursday.

Rumsfeld — who served as defense secretary in two administrations — will make his first TV appearance since his November 2006 resignation on “World News with Diane Sawyer” on Feb. 7. “Good Morning America” anchorGeorge Stephanopoulos will conduct a live chat with him Feb. 8, ABC said.

Rumsfeld’s book, “ Known and Unknown,” is set for release the same week. It is set to draw upon hundreds of never-before-seen government documents, guaranteeing that the 832-page tome will make news. He reportedly bypassed traditional FOIA channels to secure access to many of the documents.

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