Back on the outside for the first time in 4 years, Barrett enjoys an Egg McMuffin.
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Today, Tuesday 29 November 2016, WikiLeaks publishes in searchable format more than 60 thousand emails from private intelligence firm HBGary. The publication today marks the early release of US political prisoner Barrett Brown, who was detained in 2012 and sentenced to 63 months in prison in connection with his journalism on Stratfor and HBGary. Coinciding with Mr Brown’s release from prison WikiLeaks is publishing a searchable index of the HBGary emails. WikiLeaks published the Stratfor emails in 2012.
The HBGary emails are from four email accounts of key people from HBGary and HBGary Federal. HBGary was founded in 2003 by Greg Hoglund to provide cyber security-related services to corporate clients. A separate entity, HBGary Federal, was managed by Aaron Barr to do similar work for government agencies and so had staff with security clearances and worked with companies such as Booz Allen Hamilton (one of the contractors Edward Snowden worked for).
In February 2011 Aaron Barr did an interview with the UK’s Finanical Times that stated he had been investigating the internet activist group Anonymous and claimed to have uncovered the real identities of some of what he described as the leaders of the organisation. In retaliation Anonymous penetrated Barr’s organisation and took emails from the accounts of four key people from HBGary and HBGary Federal: Aaron Barr and Greg Hoglund, but also Ted Vera (then Chief Operating Officer at HBGary Federal) and Phil Wallisch, a former Principal Technical Consultant.
These emails and revelations from them started to be published on the internet, predominantly through the work of Barrett Brown and a crowd-sourced investigative journalism project he ran: Project PM. As a result, later that month Barr was forced to step down, HBGary Federal closed and HBGary, Inc. was sold to ManTech International. This would have been little consolation to Mr Brown, who a month later on 6 March 2012 had both his and his mother’s houses raided by the FBI, seeking “Records relating to HBGary, Infragard, Endgame Systems, Anonymous, LulzSec, IRC chats, Twitter, wiki.echelon2.org, and pastebin.com.” Agents seized his laptops.
Barrett Brown’s work through Project PM was one of the first collaborative investigations into the US corporate surveillance industry. Looking into coporate firms that work hand-in-hand with the government to surveil on citizens, Mr Brown was one of the first to shed light on this unaccountable industry.
The HBGary revelations that came out through the work of Barret Brown and others showed that HBGary and related companies were involved in plans to spread disinformation and to attack watchdog organisations, including WikiLeaks and US Chamber Watch. For example, the emails revealed a plan to form a group called Team Themis with a number of companies from the industry to “ruin” WikiLeaks by submitting false documents in the hope they would be published, as well as discrediting WikiLeaks staff and supporters (including the journalist Glenn Greenwald). HBGary was also bidding to fulfil a tender from the US Air Force to assist it in manipulating social media to spread propaganda about the Air Force.
The emails also reveal that HBGary tried to discredit the watchdog group US Chamber Watch, a critic of the US Chamber of Commerce, again through disinformation. The plan was to make a “fake insider persona” within US Chamber Watch to lead them to publicise false information in an attempt to “prove that US Chamber Watch cannot be trusted with information and/or tell the truth.”
Barrett Brown was indicted on felony counts due to his journalistic work on the HBGary emails and other related corporations. He has been in prison ever since, often being put into solitary confinement and having his communications restricted. The HBGary emails largely disappeared from the internet. Today the HBGary emails are safe for all to search in honour of Mr Brown’s work and in celebration of his release.
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Deal, Jodi. “Local student soaking up Korean life and culture” (10 Dec 2013) Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Mack
Sarah Mack of Mechanicsville has been studying in Seoul, South Korea, as an exchange student.
It’s been a whale of a year for Sarah Mack.
The 16-year-old native of Bowling Green moved to Mechanicsville in February, just two weeks before boarding a plane to head to Seoul, South Korea, to spend a year as an exchange student. Her parents are Greg and Chrissie Mack.
Sarah’s big move and journey came after her scrambling to complete high school in Caroline County a year and a half early. It was either finish early or graduate a year late, due to logistical differences in her Korean and American schools, so Sarah opted to pile on the classes and receive her diploma at just 15 years old.
The idea for her year abroad grew out of interaction with some Korean interns at her Taekwondo studio, Sarah said. What started with a few Korean phrases to help her interact with the interns grew into a deepening fascination with their language and their culture.
“I learn loving languages,” Sarah said. “That’s my biggest passion.”
When her Spanish teacher suggested an exchange trip, Sarah, who had studied Spanish for three years, started eyeing Korea, despite the fact that she didn’t have much experience with the language. No Korean classes were offered at her high school, so Sarah opted to study Chinese before her trip since about 60 percent of the Korean language is derived from Chinese.
Upon arrival, Sarah still spoke broken Korean, but said she used other aspects of Korean life to help her vocabulary grow by researching Korean history and culture in English, then reading about the same concepts in Korean.
“Learning a new language can change how you think about things, especially when that language is completely unrelated to your mother tongue,” Sarah said.
“People talk about the language barrier,” Sarah said. “But it becomes more like a bridge than a barrier after awhile. Those eureka moments just make your day. It can be really hard, but it’s so worth it.”
Sarah said she hopes to use her love of languages, fascination with other cultures and experience living overseas to pursue a career in international relations. She also hopes to return to Korea one day to work with LINK, or Liberty In North Korea, to help suffering people from the northern portion of the war-divided country escape to and settle in South Korea or China.
“Their policy is to not get involved with politics but with individual people and try to help them form lives,” Sarah said. “North Koreans put their pants on one leg at a time just like we do. They’re not any different from you and me.”
When she returns to Mechanicsville this month, Sarah plans to spend her time until the fall college semester working to save money for school. She’s applying for early decision acceptance to several schools.
In the meantime, she’s learning all she can, following the rigorous school routine that is standard in Korea. Students typically leave for school as early as 7:30 a.m., and, after their normal school day, head to private specialty academies called hagwons until anywhere from 7:30 to 10 p.m. She attends a martial arts academy, where she’s attained the rank of first degree black belt.
“If you’re in high school, school is your whole life, even on Saturdays,” Sarah said.
In her down time, Sarah enjoys living with the family of a friend from school. They take her along on vacations and include her in holiday celebrations. On one recent trip to a cabin in the mountains, she got to spend time with their extended family, enjoying food, horseback riding and celebratory traditions.
“They were so warm and welcoming to me. I started feeling like I was really belonging with this family. It hit me that I’m in Korea and I’m a part of this – they didn’t speak to me like a foreigner observing this cultural experience,” Sarah said. “The best moments I’ve had here are the moments I really felt like I belonged.”
After all, she said, that’s the whole point of the experience: integrating into the culture.
Sarah also has tried to use her experiences to teach others. Along with answering curious Korean friends’ questions about the United States, she has started a video blog to document her experience living abroad for viewers from around the world.
Her YouTube channel, which can be found at www.youtube.com/user/sarahsseoulsearch/videos, has more than 2,000 subscribers.
Her videos, some of which have more than 10,000 views, cover everything from school life and how to prepare to be an exchange student to tours of her host family’s apartment and a Korean McDonald’s.
The experience hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, but Sarah said she sees the bad times as an opportunity to grow.
“There have been a lot of very difficult times, but I’m so glad I came,” Sarah said. “I’ve learned how to deal with it when things aren’t going my way. I can’t just go to my mom and tell her what happened. I have had to learn how to deal with not only the problems in front of me but my own emotions as well.”
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Brull, Michael. “Life, Apartheid And Palestine: Michael Brull Meets John Dugard, South Africa’s ‘Father Of Human Rights’” (23 Nov 2016) New Matilda.
One of the leading opponents to apartheid, and later a prominent critic of Israel, John Dugard spoke with New Matilda’s Michael Brull recently.
When John Dugard came to Sydney, I was excited. I have a lot of respect for him, and was going to not only meet him, but interview him at length. Dugard has a tremendous record of advocating for principles of human rights and anti-racism, first in apartheid South Africa, then in Palestine.
Most people I know haven’t heard of Dugard. It was only in law school that I learned about his record. I conducted some research into law and apartheid in South Africa, reading through back issues of law journals, to see what legal academics had to say at the time. Aside from those praising Dugard, and what Dugard himself wrote, much of the literature came back to Dugard in some way or other.
In legal circles in South Africa, Dugard’s contributions are widely known, and are treated with something approaching reverence. From the early 1970s, Dugard wrote scathing critiques of judges and legal academics in apartheid South Africa. He argued that whilst judges claimed to be merely impartial upholders of the law, in fact they were actively making choices to defend infringements on civil liberties and injustice.
Dugard also acted as lawyer, or legal consultant, in numerous cases challenging apartheid law and practices. In 1978, Dugard was the founding director of the University of Witwatersrand’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies. This innocuous name masked its agenda: it was a human rights centre.
Edwin Cameron – who worked at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies in the ’80s, and later became a Justice of the Constitutional Court – reviewed Dugard’s record in the South African Journal on Human Rights.
Cameron noted that “Dugard wrote at a time when the norm for academic critics was deference to the courts, sometimes unctuous. By contrast, his writing was candid, honest and outspoken.”
For voicing his critiques, Dugard “faced opprobrium and even prosecution (for quoting Dr Nthatho Motlana, a banned person), but he did not waver.” Cameron concluded that “the clear voice of Dugard’s denunciation of apartheid collusion by lawyers and judges deserves credit as one of the reasons why today we have a law-based constitutional order whose legitimacy is politically unquestioned.”
In the 1980s, there was a famous debate between Raymond Wacks and John Dugard. Wacks argued that the moral judge should resign from the apartheid bench. Dugard thought it was better for them to do their best to make whatever humane rulings they could.
Despite their disagreement, Wacks had nothing but respect for Dugard:
“Few students who have passed through the University of the Witwatersrand School of Law in the last twenty years will have failed to have been deeply inspired by Professor John Dugard. As a teacher, he has encouraged almost a generation of future lawyers to recognize the potential of law as a means of attaining justice and, at the same time, to examine the extent to which the law of South Africa subverts that very objective. His influence on the practice and teaching of law is, I believe, considerable. He has, almost single-handedly, developed an important jurisprudence of the erosion of human rights in this country and, in the process, won international recognition and respect as a tenacious champion of liberty in a society in which it is under relentless siege.”
Ismail Mohamed was appointed by Nelson Mandela as the Chief Justice of South Africa in 1996. In 1998, Mohamed said that one
“clear truth needs vigorously to be recognised: the contribution of John Dugard and the small coterie of young and vigorous academics whom he attracted, in chiselling away at the very foundations of orthodox jurisprudential perspectives in South Africa and in restructuring the moral and jurisprudential values of generations of lawyers who began to permeate the practice and teaching of the law, has been among the most crucial, the most profound and the most decisive even if not the most visible of the influences which have impacted and which will continue to impact on the structure of our legal universe.”
More simply, legal academic Max Du Plessis observed that “Dugard is regarded by many as the father of human rights in South Africa”.
Du Plessis observed that though Dugard was among the final 10 candidates considered for the Constitutional Court by Mandela, he was “not appointed despite his towering stature”. Dugard went on to receive a prestigious Chair in international law at Cambridge University, and served as a judge on the International Court of Justice.
In 2000, Dugard was appointed to a United Nations Commission to investigate human rights violations in Palestine during the outbreak of the Second Intifada. In 2001, he was appointed the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
New Matilda’s Michael Brull pictured with John Dugard in Sydney recently.
I met Dugard in the lobby of his hotel in the Sydney CBD in the early afternoon. I had no idea where a quiet place to talk would be, and so I dragged him to a pub which I hoped would be empty and quiet.
Dugard was friendly, if not particularly warm. His manner was unassuming and modest. Despite his considerable accomplishments and stature, Dugard has none of the self-importance I’ve found to be common among eminent jurists.
Over the course of the interview, he is restrained and measured. He doesn’t use strong language on anything, or exude any particular emotions. When discussing injustice, Dugard rarely rises to the level of indignation. If I were to summarise Dugard in three words, they would be humble, earnest, and humane.
The case for apartheid is so convincing. You cannot dispute it
I asked Dugard if he knew much about the issues when he was appointed to investigate Palestine for the UN. He said that he visited Israel and Palestine in the 1980s, and “already had the sense of déjà vu, seeing what happened in the Palestinian territories, thinking that I’d already seen it all before in South Africa”. I noted that Dugard had seemingly become more critical of Israel, only comparing its practices to apartheid in 2006.
Dugard explained that he was
“aware of the similarities between the South African apartheid system, and the system in Israel, well before 2006. But I deliberately refrained from drawing the comparison, because my reports were already highly controversial, and I felt that to draw the comparison with apartheid would distract from other features of my reports. The Western states in particular were very critical of my reports. I felt quite rightly in retrospect that they would be so annoyed with the fact that I compared the situation in the Palestinian territories to that of apartheid South Africa that they would not take my report seriously. So that’s why I deliberately refrained from drawing the comparison until 2006.”
I asked, “So what changed in 2006?”
“Well it became very obvious what was happening in the Occupied Territories was a form of apartheid, that the settlements continued to grow, that the construction of the wall resulted in the seizure of more and more land, there was more political repression. So, I just felt that it was wrong not to make the comparison.”
I noted that some, such as Israeli scholar Uri Davis, and Palestinian scholar Saree Makdisi, have argued that Israel doesn’t just practice Apartheid in the Occupied Territories, but also within Israel proper, within the borders of the Green Line. I asked Dugard for his response:
“I think it’s very clear that apartheid is practiced within the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Because you have two racial groups, you have the Jewish settlers, and the Palestinians. The law discriminates very, very clearly against Palestinians. Also you have systematic repression of Palestinians, which resembles the kind of repression that blacks were subjected to in South Africa. And thirdly, you have the territorial fragmentation, which resembles the old Bantustan system. Now these are features which are peculiar largely to the Occupied Palestinian Territories…
Also, if I look at the 1973 Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. It’s very easy to judge the system that applies in the Occupied Territories to be apartheid in terms of that Convention.
But when it comes to Israel itself – the position is more difficult, because Palestinians do have a franchise, they do have representation in the legislature, in the Knesset. They are able to, and do in fact sometimes hold high office. There are discriminatory laws, there is some repression, but it’s not on the same scale as in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. And of course there’s no territorial fragmentation of the kind one finds in Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Also, strategically, I think it’s wiser to focus more on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, because it’s so clear there. Israelis who dispute the analogy always come back to arguing that it doesn’t apply within the Green Line. And it is an arguable case.“
Dugard concluded that when it comes to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, “I think the case for apartheid is… so convincing… You cannot dispute it. It’s just so clear.”
“You can’t underestimate the power of labelling a person as anti-Semitic”
Over the course of the interview, Dugard repeatedly stressed that he faced more vilification for his views on Palestine than for his opposition to apartheid in South Africa. He said
“I faced much more opprobrium for my views on Palestine than I ever did on my views on apartheid in South Africa. In the community in which I moved, which was the predominantly white liberal community, but also liberal black community, my views were shared and admired, and so there was very little opprobrium.”
Dugard said that
“You can’t underestimate the power of labelling a person as anti-Semitic. It’s a very powerful weapon. Politicians can be destroyed overnight by being labelled as anti-Semitic. People are socially ostracised… I do experience, I have felt social ostracism because of my views on Palestine, in a way which I never felt because of my views on apartheid.”
I asked Dugard to elaborate on his experiences of being called anti-Semitic for his criticisms of Israel.
“When I used to go to the United States during the apartheid years, I was always welcomed as some sort of folk hero, involved in the struggle. Now when I go to the United States and I express views critical of Israel, I’m simply rejected, and not taken seriously. And of course, one is inevitably excluded from opportunities. I realise that in the academic world and the professional world I have been excluded to some extent for my views on Palestine. I’m at the stage where it doesn’t really matter much, I’m at the end of my career. But young lawyers, or young scholars have to take account for the fact that if they do express views in favour of Palestine they are likely to suffer.”
“We always felt the academic boycott was unfair”
I asked Dugard about the role of boycotts, divestment and sanctions in the struggle against South African apartheid. Dugard said that he was affected by it.
“Like other South Africans, I had limited access to cultural life and sporting life as a result of those sanctions. I was legal adviser to Bishop Desmond Tutu who advocated sanctions. In theory it was unlawful to advocate sanctions abroad. And every time Tutu went abroad, he did advocate sanctions abroad, and every time he returned, I would meet with him and warn him that ‘you might be prosecuted’ but in fact he was never prosecuted.”
Dugard was particularly affected by the academic boycott.
“We always felt the academic boycott was unfair, because in South Africa there were universities, predominantly Afrikaans language universities that supported apartheid, and English language universities that did not. But we were all subjected to the same academic boycott.
For instance, my university, the University of Witwatersrand institutionally proclaimed its opposition to apartheid every year. We held a university assembly of all staff and students, at which we declared our opposition to apartheid and committed ourselves to ending apartheid and opening the university to all races. So we felt that we were doing all that we could to oppose apartheid and it was therefore unfair that we should be subjected to the academic boycott.
And certainly it was very strict, I was able to travel the United States to speak at American universities, and also English universities, but I was completely excluded from university life in Europe during that period, the Western European states were very, very strong in their opposition to apartheid.”
Dugard on UN reports on Israeli attacks on Gaza
Dugard headed his own mission to investigate war crimes during Israel’s war on Gaza from 2008-2009, and wrote a lengthy report on it. I asked him how he thought his report compared to the one prepared by the Human Rights Council mission, led by his fellow South African jurist, Richard Goldstone. Dugard said he is “great friends” with Goldstone. He said that there “was very little difference between our reports”, describing Goldstone’s report as “excellent”. Dugard thought that it was “a pity that it was discarded”.
“It’s interesting, Richard Goldstone withdrew one small section of the report. He said that on second thought he had doubts about whether Israel had acted deliberately in targeting civilian targets. That was a small section of the report, but that allowed the international community to discard the report as a whole. I think that it’s very interesting, that Hillary Clinton, in the present election, has secured Jewish funding for her presidential bid, inter alia on the basis of killing the Goldstone report, and she certainly did, when she was Secretary of State, go out of her way to destroy it.”
I commented that Goldstone walked back the report in a famous op ed, though I didn’t think there was any new evidence to justify his claims. Dugard agreed, “Yes I’m not satisfied with his explanations at all.” I asked him if he had any speculation as to why Goldstone had done so.
“I’ve had discussions with him, and this remains a mystery to me. He hasn’t given any satisfactory explanation for his change. But I can understand the kind of pressure to which he was subjected. He was subjected to pressure from the Jewish community in Johannesburg. But I don’t think that was the reason. I think there was pressure from other sources, and I do not know. But I do know [as]someone who had been on the receiving end of hate mail and accusations of anti-Semitism that it’s not a very pleasant situation.”
I asked Dugard what he thought of the Human Rights Council’s report on the war on Gaza in 2014, known as the McGowan Davis Report. He replied that:
“It’s certainly not as good as the Goldstone report. It’s not as comprehensive, and it’s not as insightful, and it’s not as strong in its criticisms. It does make the point that serious crimes were committed, but it lacks the force of the Goldstone report.”
As readers may know, I thought the report was dreadful. I said “I guess I thought that it was very equivocal in that it didn’t necessarily take in all of the evidence, and that when it had the evidence it reached very, very weak conclusions, from the evidence it cited.” Dugard replied,
“Yes I think you’re right. The conclusions were weak, the evidence was there. But I think in the case of the Goldstone report, they took account of the evidence and they drew firm conclusions. The McGowan Davis report was weak on conclusions. So I found it a slightly disappointing report.”
Dugard on Norman Finkelstein: “probably the most serious scholar on the conflict”
I commented to Dugard that the American scholar Norman Finkelstein has argued that the human rights literature on the 2014 war was a lot thinner than the many quality reports on the war in 2008-2009. I asked why Dugard thought that was.
He told me to “read [Finkelstein’s] book on the subject, which is still to appear.” Dugard had “read it in proof… Norman Finkelstein has written an excellent book on the Gaza conflicts, not only on Protective Edge, but also on Operation Cast Lead. And I know he’s having difficulty in finding a publisher, but it’s really an excellent book.”
Prominent commentator on the Israel-Palestine conflict, Norman Finkelstein.
Dugard said that the book is “quite brutal, but it’s good.” He says that Finkelstein is a “very serious scholar, and he’s been unfortunately discredited by people like Dershowitz.”
I asked Dugard what he thought of Finkelstein’s work more generally.
“Well, as I’ve said, he’s a very serious scholar. He has strong views, he has an independent mind. For instance, he’s been critical of certain aspects of BDS. He’s not afraid to speak his mind on all subjects. I really do think that he should be recognised as probably the most serious scholar on the conflict in the Middle East. And it’s unfortunate he has difficulty in finding publishers for much of his work.”
Dugard had a debate with Dershowitz in August 2014 about the war in Gaza. Neither of them were present in person at the debate, but they were both beamed in via Skype. Due to technical difficulties, Dugard’s voice was broadcast, but his face was not. I asked Dugard about the experience. He acknowledged of Dershowitz that “there was a time when he was a very distinguished academic”. However, “today he’s become very much a political figure and he’s a skilled debater, but he also engages in extravagant…” Dugard paused for a moment… “falsehoods. So I didn’t enjoy it.”
Those who believe in a single state solution are being very naïve
I asked Dugard if he supported a two-state solution to the conflict.
“I always have been, and I would like to see a two-state solution materialise, because I do think that’s the best way to secure peace in the region, because I really don’t see a single state being a peaceful state. Because initially there will be a Jewish minority that controls the state, and that will lead to the kind of tension that we had in apartheid South Africa. And later I suspect that when the Palestinian Arab majority becomes the government, they will be discriminating against the Jewish minority.
So I think those who believe that a single state will be a peaceful democratic state in which Jews and Arabs will live peacefully together are being very naïve. I do think that a two state solution offers the best solution for a peaceful resolution of the dispute. But as I’ve indicated, I think that Israel is making a two-state solution virtually impossible, so we have to come to terms with the possibility of a single state.”