The FCKH8 video of kids swearing you’ll be sharing today.

FireShot Capture - - http___fckh8.myshopify.com_



FCKH8 have produced another video designed to become viral. It features some young kids swearing a lot whilst taking about unequal pay and sexual violence. Like FCKH8’s previous video talking about anti racism (below) , the flow and content of this well scripted,  acerbically delivered deadpan is abruptly end loaded with Tshirts.  In fact this is first and foremost an advertisement. But is it just that?

Is this the “commodification of deeply held values” as suggested by  a post on Jezebel?  It does seem to tick that box.  But does that miss a beat too? Is that too easy? Or is there something else going on?  I felt that was about the Ferguson themed video.  For sure i’d feel easier  about the video if it wasnt flogging t-shirt but at the time of writing I haven’t dug into how transparent the donation to grassroots causes FCKH8 actually are.   But my gut suggests that most people will watch and share this video for what it says rather than to buy the merch. Clearly that itself is part of the selling strategy.  A tiny percentage on a viral advert still can rake in a lot of cash.  On the whole though I like it. What says you?



Greyhounds PR Spin amid Health and Safety Breaches

The privately run waste collection company  Greyhound, has today released a press statement  on their website which completely misrepresents the intentions of people acting in solidarity with workers locked out in an ongoing workplace dispute.

Justice for greyhound workers


In the statement Greyhound accuse people peaceably and effectively blockading waste collection trucks with “harassment and abuse of collection workers”.  Lets put aside the for one minute the hypocrisy displayed by Greyhound here as surely this dispute would not be happening if Greyhound stopped harassing and abusing their workers by seeking to force them to accept shittier wages and working conditions  with all the increased precarity and insecurity in their lives that goes along with that.


Lets also put aside the fact that scab labour drafted in to defeat workers struggles are themselves by not wearing proper Personal Protection Equipment whilst on the job, and as such in danger of personal injury. Photos taken at todays solidarity blockades in Stoneybatter show workers wearing soft trainers, rather than  the required steel toe caps. Regardless of whether this is from personal choice, or because scab labour has  not been issued with proper PPE by Greyhound, this is a clear breech of Health and Safety Regulation and should be investigated by the HSA.

photo 2 (1)

photo 3 (1)

Why has Greyhound not provided proper PPE?

What training has been provided to the labour drafted in to negate the locked out workers struggle?

Who is actually being unsafe here?

More insidiously and somewhat stupidly however is Greyhounds attempts to scare the public by trying to create a picture of people blockading in Stoneybatter today and elsewhere as somehow dangerous and scary by dint of some people be members of political organisations.



Greyhound seem to be saying that somehow there is something sinister about people about politcal organisations per se.  One can only assume Greyhounds owners have never made official donations to any political organisations.  I’m pretty sure Greyhound are very welcoming of the political organisations that pushed through the privatisation of waste collection.  So we can dismiss they have a problem with political organisations per se.


Rather we can rest assure that rather than Greyhound come out and actually say which organisations are involved, they prefer a widely used PR strategy of implied danger through deliberate mystery and myth.  If Greyhound actually named the political organisations, it risks flagging up the groups that are willing and have the resources to assist workers and the trade union movement.  If wont say that those involved are socialists of various stripes, anarchists and republicans, as well as people not affiliated to any organisation because it  owners know that their PR strategy of demonisation will fail if it actually deals with reality on the ground rather than the prepared tactics from its PR company.
Its some what laughable, though pretty interesting,  how Greyhound reference social media in the context of ambiguous political organisations. That’s pure dog whistle tactics there.  What is in fact people using Facebook and Twitter, which pretty much anyone can see, is instead presented as some mysterious technology deployed with aplomb by political deviants and quasi-terrorists out to “harass and abuse”.


Its all patently ridiculous.

It was political organisations that pushed through the privatisation of bin collection, in the full knowledge it would drive down wages for workers. These were political organisations run by men who collected money in brown paper bags.  One wonders if Greyhounds owners did any drop off and collections to those bad boys.  Given they are hiding their accounts in the Isle of Man, its hard to know…….

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Gaza and Love

Gaza Dublin 2

Its really fucking hard to make sense of the incidental and organised hurt in this world sometimes. Be it tonights concerted effort to kill Palestinians by a terrorist state that lays waste to hopes and possibilities of human life, or the more mundane but no less painful losses and messiness of human life we are touched with by mere dent of being human. Its seems all too easy to forget that the only thing really meaningful thing we have is each other. If our organised world is not first and foremost based upon a politics of love, a recognition of our shared humanity, and in an understanding and real empathy of what it is to be human and fragile, to be social, to care and to know we flourish only in and with care, then we are on a hiding to nothing because we will be crushed by all that needs to silence that knowledge. The refusal of a politics of imposed hurt; the refusal of cultures and attitudes that accept the dehumanisation of other humans we share this space and time with; the conscious and public claiming of a love and care as a political orientation that itself refuses to be broken but instead seeks to reproduce itself. This seems to me to be the only sane way we get to remake this world. We are only here the once, but what we do and how we are will be tomorrows echos.


How to get medical aid to Gaza

A Charter for Democracy


Well worth the read: A Charter for Democracy

Originally posted on Guerrilla Translation!:


Movimiento por la Democracia

Whatever happened to the 15-M Movement? Where did Occupy go? Three years after the groundbreaking revolutionary ruptures of 2011, violent repression and media invisibility have relegated these thriving movements to a grey area. The perception seems to shift between mainstream derision and niche-group interest. Occupy’s roots have spread out and sprouted a multitude of initiatives, though perhaps the source inspiration is not always publicly recognized. But in Spain, the popular experience of austerity – the murderous palliative prescribed as a cure for the crisis – and the resulting political movements in reaction have been giving the lie to the mainstream narrative that 15-M is a “has been”.

The movement undeniably lives. Its form has been mutated, re-imagined, distributed, and coalesced into a swarm of activity and hacks to the system. We live here, we see it every day. These initiatives are not as easily seen…

View original 4,832 more words

Turkey’s neoliberal death toll: Soma massacre

Remember this

Turkey’s neoliberal death toll: Soma massacre

This article appeared online earlier today but the site inaccessible since mid afternoon. I’ve copied it here

Soma hat

On Tuesday, May 13, at 15.00, Turkey witnessed one of the greatest workplace murders in its history. More than 700 mine workers were trapped in Soma Coal, a private lignite mine in Soma, in the western province of Manisa. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has tried to minimize the figures, while deploying hundreds of military troops and police forces to the town and the miners’ village of Eynes to head off possible unrest. Ten hours after the explosion, Energy Minister Taner Yılmaz declared the death toll as 166, but the numbers are expected to rise. The Disaster and Emergency Directorate (AFAD) declared on Wednesday, at 2.30 that 265 bodies had been reached at the moment. Calls for immediate action are rising everywhere in the country

At “Soma Coal,” a private lignite mine company operating in Soma in the Aegean province of Manisa, one of the greatest workplace murders in Turkish history occurred on Tuesday, May 13 at 15.15. Mr. Çetin Uygur, a former chairperson of the Underground Mine Workers Trade Union, an affiliate of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), as well as a mining engineer, said in the early hours after the accident that this was the greatest workplace massacre in the history of the Turkish working class. Uygur stated that nearly 700 mine workers were trapped in the mine while adding that the AKP government was sending large numbers of military troops and police forces to the region with an eye to using force in order to suppress widespread reactions.

While hundreds of mine workers were trapped underground, the AKP government tried to minimize the death toll figures for a number of hours by declaring that only five were killed in the explosion. However, toward midnight, a widespread news blockage by the mainstream media broke down, and Mr. Uygur’s statement regrettably proved to be real.

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, who initially said the “death toll figures are not important,” was forced to declare the number of killed mine workers first as 151, then as 166 following Manisa Mayor Cengiz Ergün’s statement that the death toll had already reached 157. Minister Yıldız continued to dismiss the non-official statements, by saying: “Even though the previous information given by the unauthorized persons about the death roll correspond to our present data, this does not make them right.”

Minister Yıldız’s statement was not a coincidence. Soma Holding, the parent company of Soma Coal, has close ties with the AKP government. Melike Doğru, the wife of the general director of Soma Holding Mine Enterprises, is a councilor from the government party. Soma Coal also provided the infamous charity coal bags which were distributed by the AKP during the previous local elections. Charity distribution is one of the most important political tools of the government party in recruiting support from the country’s poor.

Soma Holding has profited greatly from its relations with the AKP government. The holding, which entered the underground mining sector during the privatization drive of the 1990s, was strengthened by the decision of the AKP government to legalize the “royalty” system which is based on renting in return for a coal share in 2005.

According to the previous statements of the president of Soma Holding, Alp Gürkan, thanks to the royalty system, the company has been able to reduce the cost of coal from 130-140 dollars per ton to 23.80 dollars per ton, including the royalty share. The subcontracting of unskilled mining labour was one of the main factors in reducing the costs, as the average monthly wage of nearly 5,000 mine workers is only 500 dollars.

The company also entered into the field of urban pillage in 2006 by buying the Tilage construction firm and beginning to transfer its profits obtained in the sub-contracted lignite mining sector to investments in the high-profit real estate/construction sector in İstanbul. The company has two important construction investments in İstanbul, one the Maslak Spine Tower in Sarıyer and the other a shopping mall in the Anatolian-side district of Kartal.

A parliamentary proposal of investigation about the working conditions into Soma mine workers and work accidents in the town proposed by opposition parties was refused just two weeks ago, on April 29, by the majority votes of AKP deputies.

Oxygen masks on dead miners’ faces

While Minister Yıldız increased the death toll to 201 in a declaration on Wednesday, May 14 at 5.00, rescue workers, trade unions and other professional organizations in the region are worried that since nearly 700 miners were underground during the shift change, the number may increase dramatically. Rescue workers have said the dead bodies of the mine workers found underground have not yet been taken extracted as there is not enough space to store them in the already-full cold storage and abattoir that is standing in as a makeshift morgue. In several examples, the bodies of the dead workers were taken to hospital with oxygen masks attached to their faces in order to misguide the thousands of miners’ family members waiting for hours in front of the hospitals. In Soma, which has a population of 100,000, each family has now been affected by the accident by either losing a relative or a neighbour. Most of the workers were reportedly killed by carbon monoxide poisoning because the fire started in the ventilation area.

Due to the disinformation of the government and mainstream media, and the difficult conditions around the mine because of the explosion, there is still no exact information about the real reason for the accident. According to expert mining engineers from the professional organizations at the scene, the fire broke out either due to an explosion at an underground transformer or in the command room. However, trade unions and professional organizations from the mining sector have emphasized that privatization and the use of subcontractors has seriously weakened workplace safety at the lignite mines, which were once the recipient of the highest quality investments in the sector. Most of the workers in the region say work accidents are now daily facts of life in the town.

Turkey rising up for mine workers

Various trade unions and Gezi Resistance forums have begun to issue calls for action for Wednesday, although several demonstrations started at midnight around the country.

In Ankara, Eskişehir, Çanakkale, İstanbul and Antalya, university students and residents staged marches and sit-ins in various squares at midnight.

University and secondary school students have also declared boycotts for Wednesday. Various demonstrations will be organized throughout the day in Ankara, İstanbul – including at Soma Holding’s headquarters – İzmir, Antalya, Eskişehir, Adana, Kocaeli, Tarsus and Samsun, as well as at ministries.

Labour Unions DISK & KESK will go on strike tomorrow

Edward Snowden Full Statement to European Parliament.

What You Should Know about US Mass Surveillance……



–Introductory Statement–

I would like to thank the European Parliament for the invitation to provide testimony for your inquiry into the Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens. The suspicionless surveillance programs of the NSA, GCHQ, and so many others that we learned about over the last year endanger a number of basic rights which, in aggregate, constitute the foundation of liberal societies.

The first principle any inquiry must take into account is that despite extraordinary political pressure to do so, no western government has been able to present evidence showing that such programs are necessary. In the United States, the heads of our spying services once claimed that 54 terrorist attacks had been stopped by mass surveillance, but two independent White House reviews with access to the classified evidence on which this claim was founded concluded it was untrue, as did a Federal Court.

Looking at the US government’s reports here is valuable. The most recent of these investigations, performed by the White House’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, determined that the mass surveillance program investigated was not only ineffective — they found it had never stopped even a single imminent terrorist attack — but that it had no basis in law. In less diplomatic language, they discovered the United States was operating an unlawful mass surveillance program, and the greatest success the program had ever produced was discovering a taxi driver in the United States transferring $8,500 dollars to Somalia in 2007.

After noting that even this unimpressive success – uncovering evidence of a single unlawful bank transfer — would have been achieved without bulk collection, the Board recommended that the unlawful mass surveillance program be ended. Unfortunately, we know from press reports that this program is still operating today.

I believe that suspicionless surveillance not only fails to make us safe, but it actually makes us less safe. By squandering precious, limited resources on “collecting it all,” we end up with more analysts trying to make sense of harmless political dissent and fewer investigators running down real leads. I believe investing in mass surveillance at the expense of traditional, proven methods can cost lives, and history has shown my concerns are justified.

Despite the extraordinary intrusions of the NSA and EU national governments into private communications world-wide, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “Underwear Bomber,” was allowed to board an airplane traveling from Europe to the United States in 2009. The 290 persons on board were not saved by mass surveillance, but by his own incompetence, when he failed to detonate the device. While even Mutallab’s own father warned the US government he was dangerous in November 2009, our resources were tied up monitoring online games and tapping German ministers. That extraordinary tip-off didn’t get Mutallab a dedicated US investigator. All we gave him was a US visa.

Nor did the US government’s comprehensive monitoring of Americans at home stop the Boston Bombers. Despite the Russians specifically warning us about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the FBI couldn’t do more than a cursory investigation — although they did plenty of worthless computer-based searching – and failed to discover the plot. 264 people were injured, and 3 died. The resources that could have paid for a real investigation had been spent on monitoring the call records of everyone in America.

This should not have happened. I worked for the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency. The National Security Agency. The Defense Intelligence Agency. I love my country, and I believe that spying serves a vital purpose and must continue. And I have risked my life, my family, and my freedom to tell you the truth.

The NSA granted me the authority to monitor communications world-wide using its mass surveillance systems, including within the United States. I have personally targeted individuals using these systems under both the President of the United States’ Executive Order 12333 and the US Congress’ FAA 702. I know the good and the bad of these systems, and what they can and cannot do, and I am telling you that without getting out of my chair, I could have read the private communications of any member of this committee, as well as any ordinary citizen. I swear under penalty of perjury that this is true.

These are not the capabilities in which free societies invest. Mass surveillance violates our rights, risks our safety, and threatens our way of life.

If even the US government, after determining mass surveillance is unlawful and unnecessary, continues to operate to engage in mass surveillance, we have a problem. I consider the United States Government to be generally responsible, and I hope you will agree with me. Accordingly, this begs the question many legislative bodies implicated in mass surveillance have sought to avoid: if even the US is willing to knowingly violate the rights of billions of innocents — and I say billions without exaggeration — for nothing more substantial than a “potential” intelligence advantage that has never materialized, what are other governments going to do?

Whether we like it or not, the international norms of tomorrow are being constructed today, right now, by the work of bodies like this committee. If liberal states decide that the convenience of spies is more valuable than the rights of their citizens, the inevitable result will be states that are both less liberal and less safe. Thank you.

I will now respond to the submitted questions. Please bear in mind that I will not be disclosing new information about surveillance programs: I will be limiting my testimony to information regarding what responsible media organizations have entered into the public domain. For the record, I also repeat my willingness to provide testimony to the United States Congress, should they decide to consider the issue of unconstitutional mass surveillance.

–Rapporteur Claude Moraes MEP, S&D Group–

Given the focus of this Inquiry is on the impact of mass surveillance on EU citizens, could you elaborate on the extent of cooperation that exists between the NSA and EU Member States in terms of the transfer and collection of bulk data of EU citizens?

- A number of memos from the NSA’s Foreign Affairs Directorate have been published in the press.

One of the foremost activities of the NSA’s FAD, or Foreign Affairs Division, is to pressure or incentivize EU member states to change their laws to enable mass surveillance. Lawyers from the NSA, as well as the UK’s GCHQ, work very hard to search for loopholes in laws and constitutional protections that they can use to justify indiscriminate, dragnet surveillance operations that were at best unwittingly authorized by lawmakers. These efforts to interpret new powers out of vague laws is an intentional strategy to avoid public opposition and lawmakers’ insistence that legal limits be respected, effects the GCHQ internally described in its own documents as “damaging public debate.”

In recent public memory, we have seen these FAD “legal guidance” operations occur in both Sweden and the Netherlands, and also faraway New Zealand. Germany was pressured to modify its G-10 law to appease the NSA, and it eroded the rights of German citizens under their constitution. Each of these countries received instruction from the NSA, sometimes under the guise of the US Department of Defense and other bodies, on how to degrade the legal protections of their countries’ communications. The ultimate result of the NSA’s guidance is that the right of ordinary citizens to be free from unwarranted interference is degraded, and systems of intrusive mass surveillance are being constructed in secret within otherwise liberal states, often without the full awareness of the public.

Once the NSA has successfully subverted or helped repeal legal restrictions against unconstitutional mass surveillance in partner states, it encourages partners to perform “access operations.” Access operations are efforts to gain access to the bulk communications of all major telecommunications providers in their jurisdictions, normally beginning with those that handle the greatest volume of communications. Sometimes the NSA provides consultation, technology, or even the physical hardware itself for partners to “ingest” these massive amounts of data in a manner that allows processing, and it does not take long to access everything. Even in a country the size of the United States, gaining access to the circuits of as few as three companies can provide access to the majority of citizens’ communications. In the UK, Verizon, British Telecommunications, Vodafone, Global Crossing, Level 3, Viatel, and Interoute all cooperate with the GCHQ, to include cooperation beyond what is legally required.

By the time this general process has occurred, it is very difficult for the citizens of a country to protect the privacy of their communications, and it is very easy for the intelligence services of that country to make those communications available to the NSA — even without having explicitly shared them. The nature of the NSA’s “NOFORN,” or NO FOREIGN NATIONALS classification, when combined with the fact that the memorandum agreements between NSA and its foreign partners have a standard disclaimer stating they provide no enforceable rights, provides both the NSA with a means of monitoring its partner’s citizens without informing the partner, and the partner with a means of plausible deniability.

The result is a European bazaar, where an EU member state like Denmark may give the NSA access to a tapping center on the (unenforceable) condition that NSA doesn’t search it for Danes, and Germany may give the NSA access to another on the condition that it doesn’t search for Germans. Yet the two tapping sites may be two points on the same cable, so the NSA simply captures the communications of the German citizens as they transit Denmark, and the Danish citizens as they transit Germany, all the while considering it entirely in accordance with their agreements. Ultimately, each EU national government’s spy services are independently hawking domestic accesses to the NSA, GCHQ, FRA, and the like without having any awareness of how their individual contribution is enabling the greater patchwork of mass surveillance against ordinary citizens as a whole.

The Parliament should ask the NSA and GCHQ to deny that they monitor the communications of EU citizens, and in the absence of an informative response, I would suggest that the current state of affairs is the inevitable result of subordinating the rights of the voting public to the prerogatives of State Security Bureaus. The surest way for any nation to become subject to unnecessary surveillance is to allow its spies to dictate its policy.

The right to be free unwarranted intrusion into our private effects — our lives and possessions, our thoughts and communications — is a human right. It is not granted by national governments and it cannot be revoked by them out of convenience. Just as we do not allow police officers to enter every home to fish around for evidence of undiscovered crimes, we must not allow spies to rummage through our every communication for indications of disfavored activities.

Could you comment on the activities of EU Member States intelligence agencies in these operations and how advanced their capabilities have become in comparison with the NSA?

- The best testimony I can provide on this matter without pre-empting the work of journalists is to point to the indications that the NSA not only enables and guides, but shares some mass surveillance systems and technologies with the agencies of EU member states. As it pertains to the issue of mass surveillance, the difference between, for example, the NSA and FRA is not one of technology, but rather funding and manpower. Technology is agnostic of nationality, and the flag on the pole outside of the building makes systems of mass surveillance no more or less effective.

In terms of the mass surveillance programmes already revealed through the press, what proportion of the mass surveillance activities do these programmes account for? Are there many other programmes, undisclosed as of yet, that would impact on EU citizens rights?

- There are many other undisclosed programs that would impact EU citizens’ rights, but I will leave the public interest determinations as to which of these may be safely disclosed to responsible journalists in coordination with government stakeholders.

–Shadow Rapporteur Sophie Int’Veld MEP, ALDE Group–

Are there adequate procedures in the NSA for staff to signal wrongdoing?

- Unfortunately not. The culture within the US Intelligence Community is such that reporting serious concerns about the legality or propriety of programs is much more likely to result in your being flagged as a troublemaker than to result in substantive reform. We should remember that many of these programs were well known to be problematic to the legal offices of agencies such as the GCHQ and other oversight officials. According to their own documents, the priority of the overseers is not to assure strict compliance with the law and accountability for violations of law, but rather to avoid, and I quote, “damaging public debate,” to conceal the fact that for-profit companies have gone “well beyond” what is legally required of them, and to avoid legal review of questionable programs by open courts. ( news/2013/oct/25/leaked-memos-gchq-mass-surveillance-secret-snowden) In my personal experience, repeatedly raising concerns about legal and policy matters with my co-workers and superiors resulted in two kinds of responses.

The first were well-meaning but hushed warnings not to “rock the boat,” for fear of the sort of retaliation that befell former NSA whistleblowers like Wiebe, Binney, and Drake. All three men reported their concerns through the official, approved process, and all three men were subject to armed raids by the FBI and threats of criminal sanction. Everyone in the Intelligence Community is aware of what happens to people who report concerns about unlawful but authorized operations.

The second were similarly well-meaning but more pointed suggestions, typically from senior officials, that we should let the issue be someone else’s problem. Even among the most senior individuals to whom I reported my concerns, no one at NSA could ever recall an instance where an official complaint had resulted in an unlawful program being ended, but there was a unanimous desire to avoid being associated with such a complaint in any form.

Do you feel you had exhausted all avenues before taking the decision to go public?

- Yes. I had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than ten distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them. As an employee of a private company rather than a direct employee of the US government, I was not protected by US whistleblower laws, and I would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about lawbreaking in accordance with the recommended process.

It is important to remember that this is legal dilemma did not occur by mistake. US whistleblower reform laws were passed as recently as 2012, with the US Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, but they specifically chose to exclude Intelligence Agencies from being covered by the statute. President Obama also reformed a key executive Whistleblower regulation with his 2012 Presidential Policy Directive 19, but it exempted Intelligence Community contractors such as myself. The result was that individuals like me were left with no proper channels.

Do you think procedures for whistleblowing have been improved now?

- No. There has not yet been any substantive whistleblower reform in the US, and unfortunately my government has taken a number of disproportionate and persecutory actions against me. US government officials have declared me guilty of crimes in advance of any trial, they’ve called for me to be executed or assassinated in private and openly in the press, they revoked my passport and left me stranded in a foreign transit zone for six weeks, and even used NATO to ground the presidential plane of Evo Morales – the leader of Bolivia – on hearing that I might attempt to seek and enjoy asylum in Latin America.

What is your relationship with the Russian and Chinese authorities, and what are the terms on which you were allowed to stay originally in Hong Kong and now in Russia?

- I have no relationship with either government.

–Shadow Rapporteur Jan Philipp Albrecht MEP, Greens Group–

Could we help you in any way, and do you seek asylum in the EU?

- If you want to help me, help me by helping everyone: declare that the indiscriminate, bulk collection of private data by governments is a violation of our rights and must end. What happens to me as a person is less important than what happens to our common rights.

As for asylum, I do seek EU asylum, but I have yet to receive a positive response to the requests I sent to various EU member states. Parliamentarians in the national governments have told me that the US, and I quote, “will not allow” EU partners to offer political asylum to me, which is why the previous resolution on asylum ran into such mysterious opposition. I would welcome any offer of safe passage or permanent asylum, but I recognize that would require an act of extraordinary political courage.

Can you confirm cyber-attacks by the NSA or other intelligence agencies on EU institutions, telecommunications providers such as Belgacom and SWIFT, or any other EU-based companies?

- Yes. I don’t want to outpace the efforts of journalists, here, but I can confirm that all documents reported thus far are authentic and unmodified, meaning the alleged operations against Belgacom, SWIFT, the EU as an institution, the United Nations, UNICEF, and others based on documents I provided have actually occurred. And I expect similar operations will be revealed in the future that affect many more ordinary citizens.

–Shadow Rapporteur Cornelia Ernst MEP, GUE Group–

In your view, how far can the surveillance measures you revealed be justified by national security and from your experience is the information being used for economic espionage? What could be done to resolve this?

- Surveillance against specific targets, for unquestionable reasons of national security while respecting human rights, is above reproach. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a growth in untargeted, extremely questionable surveillance for reasons entirely unrelated to national security. Most recently, the Prime Minister of Australia, caught red-handed engaging in the most blatant kind of economic espionage, sought to argue that the price of Indonesian shrimp and clove cigarettes was a “security matter.” These are indications of a growing disinterest among governments for ensuring intelligence activities are justified, proportionate, and above all accountable. We should be concerned about the precedent our actions set.

The UK’s GCHQ is the prime example of this, due to what they refer to as a “light oversight regime,” which is a bureaucratic way of saying their spying activities are less restricted than is proper ( Since that light oversight regime was revealed, we have learned that the GCHQ is intercepting and storing unprecedented quantities of ordinary citizens’ communications on a constant basis, both within the EU and without world-communications-nsa). There is no argument that could convince an open court that such activities were necessary and proportionate, and it is for this reason that such activities are shielded from the review of open courts.

In the United States, we use a secret, rubber-stamp Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that only hears arguments from the government. Out of approximately 34,000 government requests over 33 years, the secret court rejected only 11. It should raise serious concerns for this committee, and for society, that the GCHQ’s lawyers consider themselves fortunate to avoid the kind of burdensome oversight regime that rejects 11 out of 34,000 requests. If that’s what heavy oversight looks like, what, pray tell, does the GCHQ’s “light oversight” look like?

Let’s explore it. We learned only days ago that the GCHQ compromised a popular Yahoo service to collect images from web cameras inside citizens’ homes, and around 10% of these images they take from within people’s homes involve nudity or intimate activities (…). In the same report, journalists revealed that this sort of webcam data was searchable via the NSA’s XKEYSCORE system, which means the GCHQ’s “light oversight regime” was used not only to capture bulk data that is clearly of limited intelligence value and most probably violates EU laws, but to then trade that data with foreign services without the knowledge or consent of any country’s voting public.

We also learned last year that some of the partners with which the GCHQ was sharing this information, in this example the NSA, had made efforts to use evidence of religious conservatives’ association with sexually explicit material of the sort GCHQ was collecting as a grounds for destroying their reputations and discrediting them ( The “Release to Five Eyes” classification of this particular report, dated 2012, reveals that the UK government was aware of the NSA’s intent to use sexually explicit material in this manner, indicating a deepening and increasingly aggressive partnership. None of these religious conservatives were suspected of involvement in terrorist plots: they were targeted on the basis of their political beliefs and activism, as part of a class the NSA refers to as “radicalizers.”

I wonder if any members of this committee have ever advocated a position that the NSA, GCHQ, or even the intelligence services of an EU member state might attempt to construe as “radical”? If you were targeted on the basis of your political beliefs, would you know? If they sought to discredit you on the basis of your private communications, could you discover the culprit and prove it was them? What would be your recourse?

And you are parliamentarians. Try to imagine the impact of such activities against ordinary citizens without power, privilege, or resources. Are these activities necessary, proportionate, and an unquestionable matter of national security? A few weeks ago we learned the GCHQ has hired scientists to study how to create divisions amongst activists and disfavored political groups, how they attempt to discredit and destroy private businesses, and how they knowingly plant false information to misdirect civil discourse (

To directly answer your question, yes, global surveillance capabilities are being used on a daily basis for the purpose of economic espionage. That a major goal of the US Intelligence Community is to produce economic intelligence is the worst kept secret in Washington.

In September, we learned the NSA had successfully targeted and compromised the world’s major financial transaction facilitators, such as Visa and SWIFT, which released documents describe as providing “rich personal information,” even data that “is not about our targets” (… transactions-a-922276.html). Again, these documents are authentic and unmodified – a fact the NSA itself has never once disputed.

In August, we learned the NSA had targeted Petrobras, an energy company (… brazilian-oil-giant.html). It would be the first of a long list of US energy targets. But we should be clear these activities are not unique to the NSA or GCHQ. Australia’s DSD targeted Sri Mulyani Indrawati, a finance minister and Managing Director of the World Bank (… presidents-phone). Report after report has revealed targeting of G-8 and G-20 summits. Mass surveillance capabilities have even been used against a climate change summit.

Recently, governments have shifted their talking points from claiming they only use mass surveillance for “national security” purposes to the more nebulous “valid foreign intelligence purposes.” I suggest this committee consider that this rhetorical shift is a tacit acknowledgment by governments that they recognize they have crossed beyond the boundaries of justifiable activities. Every country believes its “foreign intelligence purposes” are “valid,” but that does not make it so. If we are prepared to condemn the economic spying of our competitors, we must be prepared to do the same of our allies. Lasting peace is founded upon fundamental fairness.

The international community must agree to common standards of behavior, and jointly invest in the development of new technical standards to defend against mass surveillance. We rely on common systems, and the French will not be safe from mass surveillance until Americans, Argentines, and Chinese are as well.

The good news is that there are solutions. The weakness of mass surveillance is that it can very easily be made much more expensive through changes in technical standards: pervasive, end-to-end encryption can quickly make indiscriminate surveillance impossible on a cost- effective basis. The result is that governments are likely to fall back to traditional, targeted surveillance founded upon an individualized suspicion. Governments cannot risk the discovery of their exploits by simply throwing attacks at every “endpoint,” or computer processor on the end of a network connection, in the world. Mass surveillance, passive surveillance, relies upon unencrypted or weakly encrypted communications at the global network level.

If there had been better independent and public oversight over the intelligence agencies, do you think this could have prevented this kind of mass surveillance? What conditions would need to be fulfilled, both nationally and internationally?

- Yes, better oversight could have prevented the mistakes that brought us to this point, as could an understanding that defense is always more important than offense when it comes to matters of national intelligence. The intentional weakening of the common security standards upon which we all rely is an action taken against the public good.

The oversight of intelligence agencies should always be performed by opposition parties, as under the democratic model, they always have the most to lose under a surveillance state. Additionally, we need better whistleblower protections, and a new commitment to the importance of international asylum. These are important safeguards that protect our collective human rights when the laws of national governments have failed.

European governments, which have traditionally been champions of human rights, should not be intimidated out of standing for the right of asylum against political charges, of which espionage has always been the traditional example. Journalism is not a crime, it is the foundation of free and informed societies, and no nation should look to others to bear the burden of defending its rights. Shadow Rapporteur Axel Voss MEP, EPP Group

Why did you choose to go public with your information?

- Secret laws and secret courts cannot authorize unconstitutional activities by fiat, nor can classification be used to shield an unjustified and embarrassing violation of human rights from democratic accountability. If the mass surveillance of an innocent public is to occur, it should be authorized as the result of an informed debate with the consent of the public, under a framework of laws that the government invites civil society to challenge in open courts.

That our governments are even today unwilling to allow independent review of the secret policies enabling mass surveillance of innocents underlines governments’ lack of faith that these programs are lawful, and this provides stronger testimony in favor of the rightfulness of my actions than any words I might write.

Did you exhaust all possibilities before taking the decision to go public?

- Yes. I had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than ten distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them. As an employee of a private company rather than a direct employee of the US government, I was not protected by US whistleblower laws, and I would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about lawbreaking in accordance with the recommended process.

It is important to remember that this is legal dilemma did not occur by mistake. US whistleblower reform laws were passed as recently as 2012, with the US Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, but they specifically chose to exclude Intelligence Agencies from being covered by the statute. President Obama also reformed a key executive Whistleblower regulation with his 2012 Presidential Policy Directive 19, but it exempted Intelligence Community contractors such as myself. The result was that individuals like me were left with no proper channels.

Are you aware that your revelations have the potential to put at risk lives of innocents and hamper efforts in the global fight against terrorism?

- Actually, no specific evidence has ever been offered, by any government, that even a single life has been put at risk by the award-winning journalism this question attempts to implicate.

The ongoing revelations about unlawful and improper surveillance are the product of a partnership between the world’s leading journalistic outfits and national governments, and if you can show one of the governments consulted on these stories chose not to impede demonstrably fatal information from being published, I invite you to do so. The front page of every newspaper in the world stands open to you.

Did the Russian secret service approach you?

- Of course. Even the secret service of Andorra would have approached me, if they had had the chance: that’s their job.

But I didn’t take any documents with me from Hong Kong, and while I’m sure they were disappointed, it doesn’t take long for an intelligence service to realize when they’re out of luck. I was also accompanied at all times by an utterly fearless journalist with one of the biggest megaphones in the world, which is the equivalent of Kryptonite for spies. As a consequence, we spent the next 40 days trapped in an airport instead of sleeping on piles of money while waiting for the next parade. But we walked out with heads held high.

I would also add, for the record, that the United States government has repeatedly acknowledged that there is no evidence at all of any relationship between myself and the Russian intelligence service.

Who is currently financing your life?

- I am.

–Shadow Rapporteur, Timothy Kirkhope MEP, ECR Group–

You have stated previously that you want the intelligence agencies to be more accountable to citizens, however, why do you feel this accountability does not apply to you? Do you therefore, plan to return to the United States or Europe to face criminal charges and answer questions in an official capacity, and pursue the route as an official whistle-blower?

- Respectfully, I remind you that accountability cannot exist without the due process of law, and even Deutsche Welle has written about the well-known gap in US law that deprived me of vital legal protections due to nothing more meaningful than my status as an employee of a private company rather than of the government directly ( no-protection/a-17391500). Surely no one on the committee believes that the measure of one’s political rights should be determined by their employer.

Fortunately, we live in a global, interconnected world where, when national laws fail like this, our international laws provide for another level of accountability, and the asylum process provides a means of due process for individuals who might otherwise be wrongly deprived of it. In the face of the extraordinary campaign of persecution brought against me by my the United States government on account of my political beliefs, which I remind you included the grounding of the President of Bolivia’s plane by EU Member States, an increasing number of national governments have agreed that a grant of political asylum is lawful and appropriate.

Polling of public opinion in Europe indicates I am not alone in hoping to see EU governments agree that blowing the whistle on serious wrongdoing should be a protected act.

Do you still plan to release more files, and have you disclosed or been asked to disclose any information regarding the content of these files to Chinese and Russian authorities or any names contained within them?

As stated previously, there are many other undisclosed programs that would impact EU citizens’ rights, but I will leave the public interest determinations as to which of these may be safely disclosed to responsible journalists in coordination with government stakeholders. I have not disclosed any information to anyone other than those responsible journalists. Thank you.

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An Garda Síochána profiling Traveller family babies on Pulse system

John Wilson - former Garda, turned whistleblower.
John Wilson – former Garda, turned whistleblower.

This morning on RTE radio one, John Mc Guiness  made reference to the profiling of children and babies within the Traveller community by the police force. He spoke of one case of a 16 day old baby being entered into the Pulse system, the national police intelligence and crime database.  This is one case in at least 40 families being targeted in this way.  One wonders what kind of training cops get if they enter the details of a baby on a crime database.  It seems that in the eyes of the police force, or certain officers at least, merely being alive makes you a criminal suspect.

This has been in the public domain following actions by Garda whistleblower John Wilson (pictured above.)  Once on the PULSE system you cant be taken off.  Whilst most of mainstream media seek to push this under the carpet as part of moving on, the statement made on RTE today are likely to provoke anger and action from anti racist, traveller advocacy and human rights organisations over the next few days.   Here’s a letter Wilson wrote over 2 years ago about the practice of recording underage children by the police force on the PULSE system.


Broadsheet reported at the time.

“Mr Wilson alleges that hundreds of Traveller babies – one as young as 16 days old – have had their names put on the PULSE system, with each child getting a criminal intelligence PULSE number.

How this would happen, he claims, is that if a Garda stopped a car driven by a Traveller, and if there were children present in the car, those children’s names would be placed on PULSE.

Mr Wilson says that gardaí were encouraged to do this by senior gardaí.

Mr Wilson says  that gardaí are in the practice of stopping and searching young people in certain, “working-class areas”, under the Misuse of Drugs Act and that gardaí would put these youths’ names on PULSE and record them as having been searched for drugs.”

Its unlikely that this will blow over anytime soon.