Who Knew There Was Secure Email? Well, Not Anymore

August 12, 2013


Two US companies that promised secure, encrypted, email and other communications for their customers have ceased operations due to NSA snooping.

Lavabit, an email service used by whistleblower Edward Snowden, closed its doors last week after losing a court battle with the NSA, who was demanding the company turn over user names and passwords. As reported by The Guardian, the Texas-based company posted a letter to customers on their web site. Here it is, in full:

My Fellow Users,

I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on–the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.

What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.

This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

Ladar Levison
Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC

Defending the constitution is expensive! Help us by donating to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund here.

Lavabit cannot tell us what exactly happened, because of a gag order.

Following suit, a second US company, Silent Circle, “[saw] the writing on the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now.”

Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, who broke the story on the broad spying methods of the NSA, spoke to the hiding Snowden about Lavabit:

America cannot succeed as a country where individuals like Mr. Levison have to relocate their businesses abroad to be successful. Employees and leaders at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, and the rest of our internet titans must ask themselves why they aren’t fighting for our interests the same way small businesses are. The defense they have offered to this point is that they were compelled by laws they do not agree with, but one day of downtime for the coalition of their services could achieve what a hundred Lavabits could not.

Please see the entire Guardian article here.


Exposing War Crimes Is Not Espionage

August 1, 2013

Bradley Manning

 AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Bradley Manning was cleared of “aiding the enemy,” but found guilty of 20 counts, six under the Espionage Act, for leaking documents and video to WikiLeaks (including video of US military officers killing Reuters journalists in Iraq).

Here’s a statement from the Center for Constitutional Rights:

“While the ‘aiding the enemy’ charges (on which Manning was rightly acquitted) received the most attention from the mainstream media, the Espionage Act itself is a discredited relic of the WWI era, created as a tool to suppress political dissent and antiwar activism, and it is outrageous that the government chose to invoke it in the first place against Manning. Government employees who blow the whistle on war crimes, other abuses and government incompetence should be protected under the First Amendment.

“We now live in a country where someone who exposes war crimes can be sentenced to life even if not found guilty of aiding the enemy, while those responsible for the war crimes remain free. If the government equates being a whistleblower with espionage or aiding the enemy, what is the future of journalism in this country?  What is the future of the First Amendment?

“Manning’s treatment, prosecution, and sentencing have one purpose: to silence potential whistleblowers and the media as well. One of the main targets has been our clients, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, for publishing the leaks. Given the U.S. government’s treatment of Manning, Assange should be granted asylum in his home country of Australia and given the protections all journalists and publishers deserve.

“We stand in solidarity with Bradley Manning and call for the government to take heed and end its assault on the First Amendment.”

Lest we forget, here’s the video of US soldiers killing journalists and civilians in Iraq.

In Court: Bradley Manning Caused No Harm To The U.S.

July 11, 2013

In this nine minute video, an ex-Guantanamo Bay prosecutor describes his testimony in the Bradley Manning Court Marshal trial saying Manning’s leaked documents to WikiLeaks were already available to the public, and therefore caused no damage to U.S. national security.


The Hell Of A Repressive Government: Edward Snowden Flees Hong Kong, Michael Hastings’s Car Explodes

June 25, 2013


Edward Snowden, who leaked documents  showing the US government is indiscriminately spying on millions of Americans through their phone records, emails, and other methods, has escaped from Hong Kong and is now believed to be in Moscow.

According to ABC News, cars with the Ecuadoran flag were there to greet Snowden’s plane, but the Ecuadoran diplomat had no comment.

Ecuador offered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum, but for the past year Assange has been stuck in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.

Authorities in Moscow say that Snowden will not leave the customs area, so does not need a passport or visa. Nor will Moscow stop him if he tries to leave. (The State Department revoked Snowden’s passport on Saturday – from a distance.)

The media, in their same old slimy way, is not questioning whether or not the government should have the authority to arrest anyone who exposes government wrongdoing. Instead, they are wondering why the journalist who broke the story, Glenn Greenwald, isn’t being arrestedSeriously?

Buzz Feed’s Ben Smith said it best: “Snowden’s flight and its surrounding geopolitics are a good story; what he made public is a better one.”

As most media wonders which journalists deserve imprisonment, they have the nerve to criticize other countries’ lack of  freedom of the press.


Michael Hastings, RIP


Most famous for his Rolling Stone article  that got a general recalled from Afghanistan, Michael Hastings died last week when his car blew up at 4:30 am in Los Angeles.

He was working on a story about the FBI. Hours before he died, Hastings sent an email to friends that read, in part, that if the FBI came knocking on their door to get a lawyer. Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs, with whom Hastings was embedded in Afghanistan in 2008, said he was very disturbed by the panicked tone of the email, and that it didn’t sound typical of his friend. The full email is here. The crash is still under investigation.

Bradley Manning: His Own Voice, His Own Words

March 16, 2013

bradley-manningSilenced all these years by solitary confinement and secrecy surrounding his preliminary hearing that began in December, Bradley Manning – the Army private who has admitted to leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to Wikileaks, but has pleaded not guilty to “aiding the enemy” – can now be heard.

Someone gave the Freedom of the Press Foundation a covert recording of court proceedings made on February 28th, the day Manning read a 35-page statement to the court explaining why he made classified documents public.

He describes how he felt when he first saw the military video of Americans in a helicopter shooting at unarmed civilians and journalists in Iraq as if they were picking off moving pixels in a video game.

The clip below is Manning’s words in court heard over the army video – which changed him forever. The video revealed what really happened to those Reuters journalists killed by American military men, who then lied about it… until the video came out. They are the guilty ones.

Below the video, is the recording of Bradley Manning’s full statement to the court.

Freedom of the Press Foundation says: “We hope this recording will shed light on one of the most secret court trials in recent history, in which the government is putting on trial a concerned government employee whose only stated goal was to bring attention to what he viewed as serious governmental misconduct and criminal activity.”


If the audio arrow above won’t play, you can go here and listen right from the Freedom of the Press Foundation web site.  The same web site has the written transcripts.

Washington Post Reporter David Finkel Is A Lying Bastard

Manning: “In Mr. Finkel’s book, he writes about the aerial weapons team attack. As I read an online excerpt in Google Books, I followed Mr. Finkel’s account of the event belonging to the video. I quickly realize that Mr. Finkel was quoting, I feel in verbatim, the audio communications of the aerial weapons team crew.

“It is clear to me that Mr. Finkel obtained access and a copy of the video during his tenure as an embedded journalist. I was aghast at Mr. Finkel’s portrayal of the incident. Reading his account, one would believe the engagement was somehow justified as “payback” for an earlier attack that lead to the death of a soldier.”

How can we “payback” David Finkel, who betrayed the public trust as a journalist, for publishing a cover-up as a true account of events? Finkel is an accessory to a crime. Ironically, in October he was recognized by the MacArthur Foundation as a “genius” for his book “The Good Soldiers,” the book that Manning is talking about.

Genius_Grants_04318David Finkel at work… hopefully on fiction, his true calling.

Bradley Manning’s Lawyer Puts the Military On Trial For Turture

December 3, 2012

As WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, says during an interview from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Bradley Manning’s trial is not about Bradley Manning (although it is) – it’s about what has happened to Bradley Manning since his arrest in Baghdad in 2010.

Manning’s lawyers are putting the military on trial for torture.

The seventeen minute segment above is a vivid description of Manning’s conditions during his 2 year imprisonment, mostly in solitary confinement in an 8 foot cell. Military psychiatry experts who evaluated Manning testified that they were frustrated that the military was not taking their advice in his treatment. Namely, that he was not a suicide risk, and that what they were doing to him was torture.

In a brilliant move, Manning’s lawyer drew in chalk the actual dimensions of his cell and had Manning get inside.

During Manning’s testimony, it was clear that the Army Private was not the mentally unstable loose cannon that the military was trying to portray him to be before the trial started.

Each authority in some way connected with Manning’s imprisonment is denying that he or she was in charge of orchestrating and enforcing the torture-like conditions. In other words, everyone was “just following orders,” but the orders were given by the tooth fairy.

Will they get away with it?

(Interestingly, the best sources for news about this trial are the Guardian Newspaper in Britain, and Democracy Now! an alternative news program that started in the US on public radio.)

Bradley Manning May Plead Guilty to Lesser Charges

November 9, 2012

Breaking news from Amy Goodman, and Democracy Now. Goodman writes: “Accused U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning has offered to submit a partial guilty plea on charges of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks in return for the government agreeing to pursue lesser charges. Manning’s attorney David Coombs says he is prepared to plead guilty to some of the charges, but not the entire case as a whole. Manning is reportedly ready to admit to leaking the documents to WikiLeaks but is refusing to plead guilty to the charges of espionage or aiding the enemy. He has been held in military custody since May 2010, following his arrest while serving in Iraq. We are joined by Denver Nicks, author of the book, “Private: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and the Biggest Exposure of Official Secrets in American History.”