May 22, 2015
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Day Sixteen: Free speech on trial in Thailand
APPEAL AGAINST THE GUILTY VERDICT OF
PRACHATAI WEBMASTER CHIRANUCH PREMCHAIPORN
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8th, 9:30 AM
I would like to update you about my case. After the verdict came out in the First Instance Court. Both prosecutor and I did the appeal and tomorrow, 9.30 am (Friday, 8 November) the appeal verdict will be read at the Criminal Court, room no. 711.
You can read case detail and background from the following link. http://freedom.ilaw.or.th/en/case/112
I have to apologize for shortly notice.
Chiranuch’s appeal against her guilty verdict will be heard on Friday, February 8th, at Bangkok’s Criminal Court (San Aya), on Ratchadapisek Road opposite Soi 38, Lat Phrao MTR station. Chiranuch’s trial is in Courtroom 711.
WE URGE ALL READERS TO ATTEND COURT TO SUPPORT JIEW AND TO STAND UP FOR FREE SPEECH.
WE LOVE JIEW! WE LOVE PRACHATAI!
The Nation: July 6, 2012
The country’s first Network of Family Members and People Affected by the Lese Majeste Law was launched yesterday with 10 members who are either family of detainees charged with lese majeste or former prisoners convicted of lese majeste.
Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk, wife of detainee Somyos and a co-coordinator of the group, told a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club that the network was formed to fight for the rights of those in custody and in jail.
It will seek bail for those charged under the lese majeste law, for the quick and unconditional release of prisoners and for a guarantee and protection of prisoners’ fundamental rights, including access to medical care and the right to be free from torture.
The network will also strive to heal the trauma suffered by some detainees and their relatives.
Keechiang Thaweewarodomkul, father of Tantawut, known as “Nor Por Chor USA”, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison, said some family members who share the same family name with Tantawut are also under severe social pressure.
Having the same family name with a lese majeste detainee is “worse” than sharing a family name with convicted murderers.
“It was as if my son was a hardened criminal,” Keechiang said.
Sukanya urged some who were accused of lese majeste and had fled overseas to become active members of the network and fight for other prisoners’ rights.
The network aims to make society aware and recognise the problem of the lese majeste law and the detainees under the law but is primarily intended as a “self-help” group, she said.
Pranee Danwattananusorn, the other network co-coordinator and wife of prisoner Surachai “Surachai Sae Darn”, said that in the case of another detainee, Darunee “Da Torpedo” Charnchoengsil-pakul, whenever visitors wished to see her, Darunee would be asked by prison guards to guess the name of the visitor and if she was wrong, she would not be allowed to see the visitor.
Prisoners also cannot buy postage stamps because they are not available and writing paper for sale in prison only contain 15 lines per sheet, Pranee said.
The network will host a symposium to introduce itself to the public tomorrow afternoon at the October 14 Memorial Foundation.
Pentagon tries to tamp down Manning detention outcry with media tour
Agence France-Presse: April 29, 2011
Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of leaking cables to WikiLeaks, faces far less restrictive conditions after being relocated to a new prison, according to the Pentagon.
Reporters taken on a tour of the new military detention facility in Kansas were not allowed to see Manning’s eight by two-meter (26 by six-foot) cell.
However officials said that he would be entitled to outdoor recreation, unlimited pay phone use and five visits a day.
Manning, accused of passing classified documents to the whistleblowing website, was transferred here from a US Marine base in Quantico, Virginia on April 20 after what his supporters described as unnecessarily harsh conditions.
But military officials insisted during a tour for journalists on Thursday that he will interact with other prisoners and enjoy a range of services in the freshly-painted facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Manning, who had spent most of his incarceration in isolation, will be placed in “medium custody” with other inmates, officials said.
His cell contains a simple bed, a metal toilet welded to the wall, a table and a stool, a picture handed to journalists showed.
“He’ll be able to congregate and commune with the other pre-trial prisoners in the housing unit and he will have recreation during the afternoon,” Lieutenant Colonel Dawn Hilton told members of the media.
“He will be able to eat inside the dining facility with others prisoners.”
Reporters were then led on a tour of the facility, where they saw a new gym, an outdoor football pitch and two basketball courts.
Hilton said the facility includes a library, a dental clinic, a barber shop, daily visits and unlimited pay phone use, calling it all “a huge benefit, not only for good care but for security.”
“Anything we had to do on the outside, we can do it here,” she said.
Pentagon spokesman Thomas Collins said it was “highly unusual” to allow members of the press inside the facility, but that “it is important that the public understand the condition of confinement here.”
The newly-built facility houses some 150 prisoners serving terms of five years or less, including 10 who, like Manning, are awaiting trial.
Manning, a 23-year-old Welsh-born army intelligence officer, allegedly provided WikiLeaks with a trove of hundreds of thousands of sensitive US military and diplomatic documents.
His detention at Quantico, which included not only solitary confinement but also being forced to sleep naked, drew criticism from Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union and the British government.
Manning had been imprisoned at Quantico since last July.
Collins said that is not unusual for prisoners to be relocated from Quantico after brief period of internment.
“Quantico is a facility designed for much shorter terms,” he said, adding that detention at the Virginia military base runs on average “about, two, two-and-half months.”
Officials said Manning has passed a battery of psychological and physical tests inmates undergo when admitted to Leavenworth.
He will rise at 5:00 am and sleep at 10:00 pm, his day organized around meals in the naturally-lit cafeteria, housekeeping activities, visits, recreation and time in the library — without Internet access.
Bad behavior, however, would see his khaki uniform replaced with a bright orange one and reduced access to showers and recreational activities.
Prisoners can receive up to five visitors a day, provided they are not “victims or witnesses,” Hilton said, adding: “No journalists allowed.”
September 21, 2010
How Many Lives Will WikiLeaks Save?
As long as there’s been war, American officials have fought against transparency. Could organizations like WikiLeaks finally turn the tables?
AlterNet: August 19, 2010
If independent-minded Web sites, like WikiLeaks or, say, Consortiumnews.com, existed 43 years ago, I might have risen to the occasion and helped save the lives of some 25,000 U.S. soldiers, and a million Vietnamese, by exposing the lies contained in just one SECRET/EYES ONLY cable from Saigon.
I need to speak out now because I have been sickened watching the herculean effort by Official Washington and our Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) to divert attention from the violence and deceit in Afghanistan, reflected in thousands of U.S. Army documents, by shooting the messenger(s) — WikiLeaks and Pvt. Bradley Manning.
After all the indiscriminate death and destruction from nearly nine years of war, the hypocrisy is all too transparent when WikiLeaks and suspected leaker Manning are accused of risking lives by exposing too much truth.
Besides, I still have a guilty conscience for what I chose NOT to do in exposing facts about the Vietnam War that might have saved lives. The sad-but-true story recounted below is offered in the hope that those in similar circumstances today might show more courage than I was able to muster in 1967, and take full advantage of the incredible advancements in technology since then.
Many of my Junior Officer Trainee Program colleagues at CIA came to Washington in the early Sixties inspired by President John Kennedy’s Inaugural speech in which he asked us to ask ourselves what we might do for our country. (Sounds corny nowadays, I suppose; I guess I’ll just have to ask you to take it on faith. It may not have been Camelot exactly, but the spirit and ambience were fresh — and good.)
Among those who found Kennedy’s summons compelling was Sam Adams, a young former naval officer out of Harvard College. After the Navy, Sam tried Harvard Law School, but found it boring. Instead, he decided to go to Washington, join the CIA as an officer trainee, and do something more adventurous. He got more than his share of adventure.
Sam was one of the brightest and most dedicated among us. Quite early in his career, he acquired a very lively and important account — that of assessing Vietnamese Communist strength early in the war. He took to the task with uncommon resourcefulness and quickly proved himself the consummate analyst.
Relying largely on captured documents, buttressed by reporting from all manner of other sources, Adams concluded in 1967 that there were twice as many Communists (about 600,000) under arms in South Vietnam as the U.S. military there would admit.
Dissembling in Saigon
Visiting Saigon during 1967, Adams learned from Army analysts that their commanding general, William Westmoreland, had placed an artificial cap on the official Army count rather than risk questions regarding “progress” in the war (sound familiar?). It was a clash of cultures; with Army intelligence analysts saluting generals following politically dictated orders, and Sam Adams aghast at the dishonesty — consequential dishonesty.
From time to time I would have lunch with Sam and learn of the formidable opposition he encountered in trying to get out the truth.
Commiserating with Sam over lunch one day in late August 1967, I asked what could possibly be Gen. Westmoreland’s incentive to make enemy strength appear to be half what it actually was. Sam gave me the answer he had from the horse’s mouth in Saigon.
Adams told me that in a cable dated Aug. 20, 1967, Westmoreland’s deputy, Gen. Creighton Abrams, set forth the rationale for the deception.
Abrams wrote that the new, higher numbers (reflecting Sam’s count, which was supported by all intelligence agencies except Army intelligence, which reflected the “command position”) “were in sharp contrast to the current overall strength figure of about 299,000 given to the press.”
Abrams emphasized, “We have been projecting an image of success over recent months” and cautioned that if the higher figures became public, “all available caveats and explanations will not prevent the press from drawing an erroneous and gloomy conclusion.”
No further proof was needed that the most senior U.S. Army commanders were lying, so that they could continue to feign “progress” in the war. Equally unfortunate, the crassness and callousness of Abrams’s cable notwithstanding, it had become increasingly clear that rather than stand up for Sam, his superiors would probably acquiesce in the Army’s bogus figures. Sadly, that’s what they did.
CIA Director Richard Helms, who saw his primary duty quite narrowly as “protecting” the agency, set the tone. He told subordinates that he could not discharge that duty if he let the agency get involved in a heated argument with the U.S. Army on such a key issue in wartime.
This cut across the grain of what we had been led to believe was the prime duty of CIA analysts — to speak truth to power without fear or favor. And our experience thus far had shown both of us that this ethos amounted to much more than just slogans. We had, so far, been able to “tell it like it is.”
After lunch with Sam, for the first time ever I had no appetite for dessert. Sam and I had not come to Washington to “protect the agency.” And, having served in Vietnam, Sam knew first hand that thousands upon thousands were being killed in a feckless war.
What to Do?
I have an all-too-distinct memory of a long silence over coffee, as each of us ruminated on what might be done. I recall thinking to myself; someone should take the Abrams cable down to the New York Times (at the time an independent-minded newspaper).
Clearly, the only reason for the cable’s SECRET/EYES ONLY classification was to hide deliberate deception by our most senior generals regarding “progress” in the war and deprive the American people of the chance to know the truth.
Going to the press was, of course, antithetical to the culture of secrecy in which we had been trained. Besides, you would likely be caught at your next polygraph examination. Better not to stick your neck out.
I pondered all this in the days after that lunch with Adams. And I succeeded in coming up with a slew of reasons why I ought to keep silent: a mortgage; a plum overseas assignment for which I was in the final stages of language training; and, not least, the analytic work — important, exciting work on which Sam and I thrived.
Better to keep quiet for now, grow in gravitas, and live on to slay other dragons. Right?
One can, I suppose, always find excuses for not sticking one’s neck out. The neck, after all, is a convenient connection between head and torso, albeit the “neck” that was the focus of my concern was a figurative one, suggesting possible loss of career, money and status – not the literal “necks” of both Americans and Vietnamese that were on the line daily in the war.
But if there is nothing for which you would risk your career “neck” – like, say, saving the lives of soldiers and civilians in a war zone – your “neck” has become your idol, and your career is not worthy of that. I now regret giving such worship to my own neck.
Not only did I fail the neck test. I had not thought things through very rigorously from a moral point of view.
Promises to Keep?
As a condition of employment, I had signed a promise not to divulge classified information so as not to endanger sources, methods or national security. Promises are important, and one should not lightly violate them. Plus, there are legitimate reasons for protecting some secrets. But were any of those legitimate concerns the real reasons why Abrams’s cable was stamped SECRET/EYES ONLY? I think not.
It is not good to operate in a moral vacuum, oblivious to the reality that there exists a hierarchy of values and that circumstances often determine the morality of a course of action.
How does a written promise to keep secret everything with a classified stamp on it square with one’s moral responsibility to stop a war based on lies? Does stopping a misbegotten war not supersede a secrecy promise? Ethicists use the words “supervening value” for this; the concept makes sense to me.
And is there yet another value? As an Army officer, I had taken a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. It was also drummed into us that officers do not lie. (Pardon, if that has come to seem quaint or obsolete.)
How did the lying by the Army command in Saigon square with all that? Were/are generals exempt? Should we not call them out when we learn of deliberate deception that subverts the democratic process? Can the American people make good, informed decisions if they are lied to?
Would I have helped stop unnecessary killing by giving the New York Times the not-really-secret, SECRET/EYES ONLY cable from Gen. Abrams? We’ll never know, will we? And I live with that. I could not take the easy way out, saying Let Sam Do It. Because I knew he wouldn’t. Sam chose to go through the established grievance channels and got the royal run-around, even after the Communist countrywide offensive at Tet in January-February 1968 proved beyond any doubt that his count of Communist forces was correct.
When the Tet offensive began, as a way of keeping his sanity, Adams drafted a caustic cable to Saigon saying, “It is something of an anomaly to be taking so much punishment from Communist soldiers whose existence is not officially acknowledged.” But he did not think the situation at all funny.
Dan Ellsberg Steps In
Sam kept playing by the rules, but it happened that – unbeknown to Sam – Dan Ellsberg gave Sam’s figures on enemy strength to the New York Times, which published them on March 19, 1968. Dan had learned that President Lyndon Johnson was about to bow to Pentagon pressure to widen the war into Cambodia, Laos and up to the Chinese border – perhaps even beyond.
Later, it became clear that his timely leak – together with another unauthorized disclosure to the Times that the Pentagon had requested 206,000 more troops – prevented a wider war. On March 25, Johnson complained to a small gathering, “The leaks to the New York Times hurt us. … We have no support for the war. … I would have given Westy the 206,000 men.”
Ellsberg later copied the Pentagon Papers – the 7,000-page top-secret history of U.S. decision-making on Vietnam from 1945 to 1967 – and, in 1971, he gave copies to the New York Times, Washington Post and other news organizations. In the years since, Ellsberg has had difficulty shaking off the thought that, had he released the Pentagon Papers sooner, the war might have ended years earlier with untold lives saved. Ellsberg has put it this way:
“Like so many others, I put personal loyalty to the president above all else – above loyalty to the Constitution and above obligation to the law, to truth, to Americans, and to humankind. I was wrong.”
And so was I wrong in not asking Sam for a copy of that cable from Gen. Abrams. Sam, too, eventually had strong too-late regrets. He doggedly pursued the matter, but within CIA, until he learned that Dan Ellsberg was on trial in 1973 for releasing the Pentagon Papers and was being accused of endangering national security by revealing figures on enemy strength.
Which figures? The same old faked numbers from 1967! “Imagine,” said Adams, “hanging a man for leaking faked numbers,” as he hustled off to testify on Dan’s behalf. (The case against Ellsberg was ultimately thrown out of court because of abuses by the Nixon administration.)
After the war drew down, Adams was tormented by the thought that, had he not let himself be diddled by the system, the entire left half of the Vietnam Memorial wall would not be there. There would have been no new names to chisel into such a wall.
Sam Adams died prematurely at age 55 with nagging remorse that he had not done enough.
In a letter appearing in the (then independent-minded) New York Times on Oct. 18, 1975, John T. Moore, a CIA analyst who worked in Saigon and the Pentagon from 1965 to 1970, confirmed Adams’s story after Sam told it in detail in the May 1975 issue of Harper’s magazine. Moore wrote:
“My only regret is that I did not have Sam’s courage. … The record is clear. It speaks of misfeasance, nonfeasance and malfeasance, of outright dishonesty and professional cowardice. “It reflects an intelligence community captured by an aging bureaucracy, which too often placed institutional self-interest or personal advancement before the national interest. It is a page of shame in the history of American intelligence.”
Tanks But No Thanks, Abrams
What about Gen. Creighton Abrams? Not every general gets the Army’s main battle tank named after him. The honor, though, came not from his service in Vietnam, but rather from his courage in the early days of his military career, leading his tanks through German lines to relieve Bastogne during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge. Gen. George Patton praised Abrams as the only tank commander he considered his equal.
Sadly, as things turned out, 23 years later Abrams became a poster child for old soldiers who, as Gen. Douglas McArthur suggested, should “just fade away,” rather than hang on too long after their genuinely distinguished accomplishments. In May 1967, Abrams was picked to be Westmoreland’s deputy in Vietnam and succeeded him a year later. But Abrams could not succeed in the war, no matter how effective “an image of success” his subordinates projected for the media.
The “erroneous and gloomy conclusions of the press” that Abrams had tried so hard to head off proved all too accurate.
Ironically, when reality hit home, it fell to Abrams to cut back U.S. forces in Vietnam from a peak of 543,000 in early 1969 to 49,000 in June 1972 — almost five years after Abrams’s progress-defending cable from Saigon. By 1972, some 58,000 U.S. troops, not to mention two to three million Vietnamese, had been killed.
Both Westmoreland and Abrams had reasonably good reputations when they started out—but, when they finished, not so much.
Comparisons can be invidious, but Gen. David Petraeus is another Army commander who has wowed Congress with his ribbons, medals and merit badges. A pity he was not born early enough to have served in Vietnam where he might have learned some real-life hard lessons about the limitations of counterinsurgency theories.
Moreover, it appears that no one took the trouble to tell him that in the early Sixties we young infantry officers already had plenty of counterinsurgency manuals to study at Fort Bragg and Fort Benning. There are many things one cannot learn from reading or writing manuals — as many of my Army colleagues learned too late in the jungles and mountains of South Vietnam.
Unless one is to believe, contrary to all indications, that Petraeus is not all that bright, one has to assume he knows that the Afghanistan expedition is a folly beyond repair. Thus, it is not encouraging that he regaled a Washington Post reporter yesterday (Sunday) in Kabul with stories about “incipient signs of [you guessed it!] progress in parts of the volatile south” and “nascent steps” to reintegrate low-level insurgents.
According to the Post, Petraeus has been “burrowing into operations here [Afghanistan] and traveling to the far reaches of this country,” and “has concluded that the U.S. strategy to win the nearly nine-year-old war is ‘fundamentally sound.’” Does this not sound very much like the approach taken by Gen. Abrams in his August 1967 cable from Saigon?
It is rubbish, and it is hard to believe Petraeus does not recognize it as such. Moreover, it is virtually impossible to believe that Ambassador Karl Eikenberry (see below) shares that rosy view. This, of course, is precisely why the ground-truth of the documents released by WikiLeaks is so important. We need, among other things, to hear more from Eikenberry, and we will not get anything useful from some public speech.
And it’s not just the WikiLeaks documents that have caused consternation inside the U.S. government. Investigators reportedly are rigorously searching for the source that provided the New York Times with the texts of two cables (of 6 and 9 November 2009) from Ambassador Eikenberry in Kabul. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Obama Ignores Key Afghan Warning.”] To its credit, even today’s far-less independent New York Times published a major story based on the information in those cables, while President Barack Obama was still trying to figure out what to do about Afghanistan. Later the Times posted the entire texts of the cables, which were classified TOP SECRET and NODIS (meaning “no dissemination” to anyone but the most senior officials to whom the documents were addressed).
The cables conveyed Eikenberry’s experienced, cogent views on the foolishness of the policy in place and, implicitly, of any eventual decision to double down on the Afghan War. (That, of course, is pretty much what the President ended up doing.) Eikenberry provided chapter and verse to explain why, as he put it, “I cannot support [the Defense Department’s] recommendation for an immediate Presidential decision to deploy another 40,000 here.”
Such frank disclosures are anathema to self-serving bureaucrats and ideologues who would much prefer depriving the American people of information that might lead them to question the government’s benighted policy—in this case toward Afghanistan.
As the New York Times/Eikenberry cables show, even today’s FCM may sometimes display the old spunk of American journalism and refuse to hide or fudge the truth, even if the facts might cause the people to draw “an erroneous and gloomy conclusion,” to borrow Gen. Abrams’s words of 43 years ago.
Polished Pentagon Spokesman
Remember “Baghdad Bob,” the irrepressible and unreliable Iraqi Information Minister at the time of the U.S.-led invasion? He came to mind as I watched Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell’s chaotic, quixotic press briefing on Aug. 5 regarding the WikiLeaks exposures. The briefing was revealing in several respects. Clear from his prepared statement was what is bothering the Pentagon the most. Here’s Morrell:
“WikiLeaks’s webpage constitutes a brazen solicitation to U.S. government officials, including our military, to break the law. WikiLeaks’s public assertion that submitting confidential material to WikiLeaks is safe, easy and protected by law is materially false and misleading. The Department of Defense therefore also demands that WikiLeaks discontinue any solicitation of this type.”
Rest assured that the Defense Department will do all it can to make it “unsafe” for any government official or contractor to provide WikiLeaks with sensitive material. But it is contending with a clever group of hi-tech experts who have built in precautions to allow information to be submitted anonymously.
That the Pentagon will prevail anytime soon is far from certain.
Also, in a ludicrous attempt to close the barn door after tens of thousands of classified documents had already escaped, Morrell insisted that WikiLeaks give back all the documents and electronic media in its possession. Even the normally docile Pentagon press corps could not suppress a collective laugh, irritating the Pentagon spokesman no end. The impression gained was one of a Pentagon Gulliver tied down by terabytes of Lilliputians.
Morrell’s self-righteous appeal to the leaders of WikiLeaks to “do the right thing” was accompanied by an explicit threat that, otherwise, “We shall have to compel them to do the right thing.” His attempt to assert Pentagon power in this regard fell flat, given the realities.
Morrell also chose the occasion to remind the Pentagon press corps to behave themselves or face rejection when applying to be embedded in units of U.S. armed forces. The correspondents were shown nodding docilely as Morrell reminded them that permission for embedding “is by no means a right. It is a privilege.” The generals giveth and the generals taketh away.
It was a moment of arrogance — and press subservience — that would have sickened Thomas Jefferson or James Madison, not to mention the courageous war correspondents who did their duty in Vietnam.
Morrell and the generals can control the “embeds”; they cannot control the ether. Not yet, anyway.
And that was all too apparent beneath the strutting, preening, and finger waving by the Pentagon’s fancy silk necktie to the world. Actually, the opportunities afforded by WikiLeaks and other Internet Web sites can serve to diminish what few advantages there are to being in bed with the Army.
What Would I Have Done
Would I have had the courage to whisk Gen. Abrams’s cable into the ether in 1967, if WikiLeaks or other Web sites had been available to provide a viable opportunity to expose the deceit of the top Army command in Saigon? I cannot speak with certainty about “then.” What I can say is I am confident I would be able to summon that courage today, having made a serious effort to think through not only the technology aspects but—more important—issues regarding how one properly goes about prioritizing competing values.
The Pentagon can argue that using the Internet this way is not “safe, easy, and protected by law.” We shall have to watch how that argument fares in court. Meanwhile, this way of exposing information needed by people in a democracy will continue to be attractive — and, while perhaps not entirely “safe,” surely a lot easier than running the risk of being seen with someone from the New York Times.
From what I have learned over these past 43 years, supervening moral values can, and should, trump lesser promises. Today, I am confident I would “do the right thing,” were I to have access to an Abrams-like cable from Petraeus in Kabul.
And I believe that Sam Adams, if he were alive today, would enthusiastically agree that this would be not only the morally correct decision, but also the only one with half a chance of exposing the lies.
Footnote: In the Tradition of Sam Adams
Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) is a group of former CIA colleagues and other associates of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power.
Sam did precisely that, and in honoring his memory, SAAII confers an award each year to a lamp lighter exemplifying Sam Adam’s courage, persistence, and devotion to truth — no matter the consequences. The Washington, DC, presentations are held in the fall, usually before a large university audience; Dan Ellsberg, a charter member, is usually with us.
Sam Adams Annual Award recipients:
-Coleen Rowley of the FBI, in Washington, DC
-Katharine Gun of British Intelligence; in Copenhagen, Denmark
-Sibel Edmonds of the FBI; in Washington, DC
-Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan; in NY City
-Sam Provance, former Sgt, US Army, truth teller about Abu Ghraib; in Washington, DC
-Frank Grevil, Maj., Danish Army Intelligence, imprisoned for giving the Danish press documents showing that Denmark’s Prime Minister disregarded warnings that there was no authentic evidence of WMD in Iraq; in Copenhagen, Denmark
-Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret.), former chief of staff to Secretary Colin Powell at the State Department, who has exposed what he called the “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal;” in Washington, DC
In April, the SAAII nominating committee decided unanimously to give this year’s award to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. Stay tuned for information on time and place for the presentation. Or check with Geoff Morrell, who is likely to know as soon as we decide.
Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
June 18, 2010
Bureau of Prevention and Eradication of Computer Crime
Bangkok Pundit: June 17, 2010
The Thai cabinet Tuesday approved the creation of a new cyber crime agency to stamp out online criticism of the revered monarchy.
The government, which has removed tens of thousands of web pages in recent years for insulting the royal family, said the main task of the Bureau of Prevention and Eradication of Computer Crime would be to protect the monarchy.
“The monarchy is crucial for Thai national security because it is an institution that unifies the entire nation,” government spokesman Watchara Kanikar said.
Under the kingdom’s strict lese majeste rules, insulting the monarchy or a member of the royal family can result in jail terms of up to 15 years. Anyone can file a lese majeste complaint, and police are duty-bound to investigate it.
This comes after the change of the ICT Ministry too per the Bangkok Post:
A parliamentary showdown caused a cabinet reshuffle caused the end of the career of the best information and technology minister Thailand has had since 2009; farewell Ranongruk Suwunchwee, who transformed the ministry from a mere communications technology bureaucracy into a true Ministry of Internet Censorship of Thailand (MICT); also looking for work will be Ms Rangongruk’s spouse Pairote, who will presumably lose his unofficial but thriving office at the ICT ministry; it will be difficult for new minister and Democrat Party functionary Juti Krairiksh to live up to the standard of the previous censor, but he insisted he was up to the task; within days of taking office, Juti confirmed that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had personally instructed him that monitoring websites was one of the three most important jobs he would ever perform for the country.
Thai Rath on what Juti said the other day that there were 200 posters of lese majeste information on the internet. Then there is this quote:
“นายกรัฐมนตรีได้กำชับให้เน้นเป็นพิเศษในการดูแลปัญหาเรื่องเว็บไซต์ โดยขอให้เชิญทุกฝ่ายที่เกี่ยวข้องมาทำความเข้าใจและขอความร่วมมือ เพราะที่เป็นปัญหาหลักในการหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ คือ เรื่องเว็บไซต์ เช่น กรณีของเว็บประชาไทที่เจ้าของเขาเก่ง เมื่อสั่งปิด เขาก็ติดต่อกับต่างประเทศ ให้มาถ่ายภาพเขายืนเกาะลูกกรงอยู่ ทำให้ภาพพจน์ประเทศออกไปไม่ดี จึงขอให้หาทางพูดคุยทำความเข้าใจกับเจ้าของเว็บไซต์หรือผู้เกี่ยวข้องเพื่อเสริมสร้างความปรองดองและสมานฉันท์ได้อย่างแท้จริง”
[BP’s own translation: “The PM emphasizes do handle the website problem by inviting to create an understanding and ask for cooperation because the main problem of lese majeste is websites. For example, the case of Prachatai website, the owner is very intelligent. When there is an order to close the website, the owner will make contact with overseas when they are behind the bars to make a bad image for the country. Therefore, I request to talk to create an understanding with the website owner or person involved in order to create real unity and reconciliation”]
BP: Aside from Nirmal and Nick Nostitz, were there any other foreign journalists there? Have only seen one photo of Chiranuch behind bars.
On May 29 in a press briefing an AP reporter asked why prachatai.com continued to be blocked. In response, Abhisit stated he didn’t know about prachatai.com but added that its webboard discussion may have defamatory content. “The whole website should not be shutdown. I thought we lifted [it] for a while. But I will look into the matter again.”
BP: A few days later CRES blocked Prachatai’s latest URL. Prachatai was blocked in early April and its blocking actually received fairly widespread media coverage at the time. So how long will the government continue to block it? How much longer will Abhisit continue to look into it without any resolution? He expressed regret last year over the arrest of Chiranuch. Since his expression of regret, the prosecution is moving forward with the case against Chiranuch and her trial will start next year.