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Monday, April 8, 2013

U.S. government, government-sanctioned corporations shadow, surveil, threaten global citizens

Icelandic leader speaks for freedom 
Re-reporting, editing end comment by
Carolyn Bennett

Birgitta Jónsdóttir

She is a Member of Iceland’s Parliament as well as a poet, writer, artist, editor, publisher and activist. Birgitta Jónsdóttir organized “Art against war” where a number of Icelandic artists and poets came out to protest the war in Iraq. 

She set up the first Icelandic online art gallery in 1996 for the Apple Shop in Iceland and has participated in several international projects related to writing and activism including “Poets against the War”, “Dialogue among Nations through Poetry”, and “Poets for Human Rights”. She also edited and published the international books The World Healing Book and The Book of Hope. She is founder of Beyond Borders Press and Radical Creations and part of the International Network of Parliamentarians for Tibet (INPaT)

irgitta Jónsdóttir was an active volunteer for WikiLeaks and had an important role in the making and
Member of  Icelandic Parliament
Birgitta Jónsdóttir
production of the “Collateral Murder” (a U.S. airstrike in Iraq) video. She is the chief sponsor of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative and has advocated making her homeland a haven for press freedom.

On January 7, 2011, she announced on her Twitter page that she had been notified by Twitter that it had been served with a subpoena by the U. S. Department of Justice demanding information about all her tweets and more since November 1, 2009. [Greenwald, Salon]

In the Icelandic Parliament Birgitta Jónsdóttir is Member of the Parliamentary Review Committee on the SIC [Report of the Special Investigation Commission (SIC): The Special Investigation Commission (SIC) delivered to Althingi on April 12, 2010 had been established by Act No. 142/2008 by Althingi, the Icelandic Parliament, in December 2008, “to investigate and analyze the processes leading to the collapse of the three main banks in Iceland.”] report since 2009; Member of the Committee on the Environment since 2009; Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs since 2009; Member of the Icelandic delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly since 2009.

She was elected to the Icelandic parliament in April 2009, her district Reykjavík South Constituency, to serve on behalf of a movement aiming for democratic reform beyond left and right party politics. Formerly representing the Citizens’ Movement and The Movement, Birgitta Jónsdóttir now represents the Pirate Party. She calls herself an “activist inside and outside the system” and is quoted saying, 
Being political is having opinions. 
Every person has the opportunity to change the world.

oday on Democracy Now, she said, before the Iraq War started, she had participated in antiwar demonstrations “with millions of people from around the world in an attempt to stop the war from happening. I knew that this would happen.”

Video “Collateral Murder”

“To have it actually in my living room in front of my eyes, the true horror of war and all these war crimes that I had heard of but I’d never seen felt to me as important enough to take a little bit of a risk,” Birgitta Jónsdóttir said; “so I did a lot of the background investigation. I organized the Icelandic volunteer team. I pulled out the photos that we put on the website. And I was the coordinator for the YouTube account.”

Wikipedia note: Baghdad airstrikes of July 12, 2007, were a series of air-to-ground attacks conducted by a team of two United States Army AH-64 Apache helicopters in Al-Amin al-Thaniyah (the district of New Baghdad in Baghdad) during the Iraqi insurgency and U.S. military occupation of Iraq. The attacks received worldwide coverage in 2010 following the release of 39 minutes [13 minutes were onboard footage from one of the two AH-64 Apache helicopters involved in the incident] of classified cockpit gunsight footage. 

Reuters had unsuccessfully requested the footage of the airstrikes under the Freedom of Information Act in 2007. 

The footage was acquired from an undisclosed source in 2009 by the Internet leak website WikiLeaks, which released the footage on April 5, 2010, under the name “Collateral Murder.” Recorded from the gunsight Target Acquisition and Designation System of one of the attacking helicopters, the video shows three incidents and the radio chatter between the aircrews and ground units involved. An anonymous U.S. military official confirmed the authenticity of the footage.
Long train of abuses
U.S. threat to freedom of expression

“I think it is time,” she said, “to stop the witch hunt on people who are involved with journalism and whistle blowing. It is of deep concern to me considering that this country, the United States of America, had one of the most significant trials in the world in relation to freedom of expression and speech when [American publisher, poet, painter, liberal activist] Lawrence Ferlinghetti went on trial a long time ago to defend just these values.”

Call government to account

In light of the constant abuse of rights and persecution of reporters and whistle blowers by U.S. government officials and related agents and as she and other global and U.S. citizens have been (are being) threatened by this government and agents, Birgitta Jonsdottir asks, “…Why isn’t the U.S. government itself held accountable for probing into the lives of people …?” It is “very serious,” she says, “that they probed into my life. They … went into my home, through the Internet door, and I’m a Member of Parliament.”

uch actions amount to international incidents. The International Parliamentary Union has put forward a very harsh, unanimously adopted parliamentary proposal in which “parliamentarians are encouraged all the time to work across nations. …” And a Member of Parliament subjected to the U.S. tactic of persecution and probing surveillance means, she says, that “Everybody who writes to me is now on the desk of the FBI.… What is the difference between what [hacker] Jeremy Hammond did and what the U.S. government did? 

Remember truth teller
Anna Polikovskaya
“… I am not the subject of a criminal investigation,” she says, “so what gives them the right to go into my personal stuff?”

“What gives [the global intelligence company] Stratfor the right to go into Julian Assange’s personal stuff or anybody that’s associated with WikiLeaks?” she asks.

nce rights are taken away or by an indifferent people relinquished to an oppressive regime, it is hard to impossible to get them back. Rights taken today are lives taken today for exposing the truth of events about which we have the right to know and on which to act as citizens in a representative democracy. This isn't fashion or celebrity stuff. This is, as MP Birgitta Jonsdottir says, very serious indeed. 

Sources and notes

“Icelandic Lawmaker Birgitta Jónsdóttir on Challenging Gov’t Secrecy from Twitter to Bradley Manning,” April 8, 2013, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/4/8/icelandic_lawmaker_birgitta_jonsdottir_on_challenging

The Official Website of Birgitta Jonsdottir, “Her political views are not expressed on this website since she does not think of politics as something beyond her everyday life,” http://this.is/birgitta/


“Collateral Murder,” http://www.collateralmurder.com/
“Collateral Murder,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collateral_murder#Leaked_video_footage

WikiLeaks obtained the video as well as supporting documents from a number of military whistleblowers. “WikiLeaks goes to great lengths to verify the authenticity of the information it receives. We have analyzed the information about this incident from a variety of source material. We have spoken to witnesses and journalists directly involved in the incident. WikiLeaks wants to ensure that all the leaked information it receives gets the attention it deserves. In this particular case, some of the people killed were journalists that were simply doing their jobs: putting their lives at risk in order to report on war. Iraq is a very dangerous place for journalists: from 2003- 2009, 139 journalists were killed while doing their work.”

Jeremy Hammond and Judge Preska

Jeremy Hammond is a political activist and convicted felon from Chicago charged in a criminal complaint with crimes relating to the December 2011 hack of Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor).

Wikipedia: In November 2012, after being held eight months without trial, Jeremy Hammond was denied bail by Judge Loretta A. Preska (Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York) who warned that Hammond could face life imprisonment for a Stratfor leak. Judge Preska’s husband worked for a client of Stratfor and his emails were among the leaks as well as the password to his email account.



Wikipedia note: Stratfor: ‘The Shadow CIA’ ─ Barron’s once referred to it as ‘The Shadow CIA.’ Strategic Forecasting, Inc or Stratfor is a global intelligence company founded in 1996 in Austin, Texas, that has published a daily intelligence briefing since 1996. Stratfor’s rise occurred with the release of its “Kosovo Crisis Center” during the 1999 NATO airstrikes over Kosovo. Time magazine, Texas Monthly, and other publications promoted it. It enhanced its visibility with the tragedies of September 11, 2011. Its subscriber list was confidential and the company’s publicity list includes Fortune 500 companies and international government agencies. Media outlets CNN, Bloomberg, the Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times and the BBC used the company as an authority on strategic and tactical intelligence issues. Barron’s once referred to it as ‘The Shadow CIA.’

In early 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing over 5 million of the company’s email messages.



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