We Must Resist “This Gross Inversion of Democracy”… A Recap of the 11/29 Press Conference in Support of Jeremy Hammond

[New York, NY] On November 29th, 2012, activists, journalists and attorneys gathered for a press conference outside of New York’s Federal Courthouse in support of jailed activist Jeremy Hammond. In a November 20th, 2012 hearing U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska denied bail to the 27-year-old Chicago activist accused of hacking into the private intelligence firm Stratfor and releasing information to Wikileaks, and notified him that, if convicted, he could face 37 years-to-life in prison (transcript).

A November 22nd, 2012 communique from hackers revealed that Judge Preska, herself, had connections to a law firm the government considers “victims” in the Hammond case. The independently verified communique revealed that Preska’s husband, Thomas J Kaveler is an employee of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, a current Stratfor client and associate, and moreover was himself a victim of the alleged hack (Kaveler’s Stratfor issued user ID is 234103). Court reporters have confirmed to The Sparrow Project that, Judge Preska was made aware of the published connection between her husband & Stratfor and that her husband’s Stratfor-related information was published by Wikileaks, they went on to indicate that Preska was aware of the connection long before the November 22nd communique. Moreover, Preska indicated that this personal connection to the Hammond case “would not effect her ability to be impartial.”

At the November 29th press conference, John Knefel, a journalist and cohost of Radio Dispatch highlighted Preska’s distinct conflict of interest and went on to reveal to the press in attendance that Preska, herself, was in fact formerly an associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP. While Preska’s personal information was not unearthed by the hack or released by Wikileaks, this prior professional association with government-named victims in the Hammond case underscores her inability to preside over the Hammond case in the impartial manner awarded to him by the constitution.

Activists are calling on Preska to recuse herself before formal motions are filed by Hammond’s attorneys on Monday, December 3, 2012. On Monday, attorneys for Hammond will file an official motion for Preska’s recusal as well as a motion for a new bail hearing.

The Sparrow Project will be collecting statements of support for Jeremy Hammond and posting them for free use below. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Chris Hedges, as well as other prominent activists and journalists have joined the call for a fair trial for Jeremy Hammond. Statements of support can be emailed to info@sparrowmedia.net

3 SIMPLE WAYS TO HELP JEREMY HAMMOND

 

1.) WRITE JEREMY!
Send Jeremy a letter, postcard, or even a book (needs to be mailed directly from publisher or seller like Amazon) to help brighten his day while incarcerated. Letters & books can be mailed to…

Jeremy Hammond 18729-424
Metropolitan Correctional Center
150 Park Row
New York, New York, 10007

2.) DONATE TO JEREMY’S LEGAL DEFENSE!
You can make a credit card donation to Jeremy’s legal defense fund (controlled by his family) via wepay.com at THIS LINK

 

3.) DONATE A TWEET OR FACEBOOK POST!
With this simple online tool you can donate one tweet (or Facebook post) a day to our efforts. The Sparrow Project will publish statements of support for Jeremy (like the ones below) from influential figures. Your donated posts will help us widen the audience that is exposed to this important story. Simply visit THIS LINK and click donate!

 

STATEMENT FROM CHRIS HEDGES
Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist
The security and surveillance state is creating a hermetically closed system of power. It is doing this by rewriting laws to subvert the Constitution and grant itself the ability to criminalize all forms of dissent. The FISA Amendment Act, the Authorization to Use Military Force Act, the enhanced terrorism laws, the misuse of the Espionage Act to silence whistle blowers, and the National Defense Authorization Act, section 1021, which empowers the government to use the military to seize and detain U.S. citizens, strip citizens of due process and hold them in indefinite detention, are chilling examples of a new America, an America where liberty and freedom have become a hollow cliché.

Nearly all of the government’s actions and decisions, many of which violate our most cherished civil liberties and defy the Constitutional call for a separation of powers, are now effectively hidden from the public. These decisions are beyond the scrutiny of the press or the judiciary. At the same time, we as citizens have no privacy left. The government has handed to itself the capacity to carry out the warrantless wiretapping, monitoring and eves dropping of tens of millions of citizens. Our personal data, correspondent, histories, employment records, private activities, phone logs, emails exchanges, travel and political views are stored in perpetuity in government supercomputers. We are the most monitored, spied on, photographed, listened to and watched population in human history. Our security and surveillance state now dwarfs the cruder forms of internal control of past totalitarian states, from Nazi Germany to the Stasi state in East Germany to Stalin’s Soviet Union. Anyone, including whistle blowers at the National Security Agency or the CIA, who attempts to bring to light government crimes, as we have seen with the Obama administration’s use of the Espionage Act six times to silence dissidents within the system, is hounded, persecuted and faces the possibility of long prison terms.

Those who have the skills and capacity to electronically enter these closed systems of information terrify the state. They are treated not as criminals but as terrorists. They are denied fair trials. They are imprisoned in conditions that can only be described as torture. They are subject to murky statutes and laws that make a mockery of democracy and have no place in an open society. And the state, when it confronts those who have this capacity, uses everything at its disposal to destroy these opponents.

We are not asking today for very much. We are asking for a fair hearing in a court of law. We are asking that Jeremy Hammond be permitted to present his case before a judge who does not have a personal involvement in his alleged activities, a personal involvement that will clearly prejudice the outcome. Hammond has enough stacked against him already. It at least deserves a chance at justice.

It is a sad commentary on U.S. society that it is we, the dissidents, who call for the rule of law while the power elite and the organs of the state distort and subvert the rule of law. Our society has been turned upside down. We need to resist in every way possible this gross inversion of democracy not only for Hammond but, finally, for ourselves.

Chris Hedges
Princeton, New Jersey
November 29, 2012

 

STATEMENT FROM SAIF ANSARI
Media Relations for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
The Wikileaks are telling in that, despite repeated assertions that it has no outstanding liability for Bhopal, the corporate giant Dow Chemical decided to hire the intelligence and surveillance company Stratfor to spy on and monitor Bhopal activists from 2004 to 2011. In fact, as late as March Dow CEO Andrew Liveris argued that ongoing outrage about Bhopal absolutely did not pose a threat to Dow. But If, as Dow holds, Bhopal is a nonissue and all grievances are settled, why did Dow enlist Stratfor to, e.g. gather information about the current and former staff of the ICJB, document the ICJB’s online activity, as well as that of the UK-based Bhopal Medical Appeal, and report events and programs held by the Yes Men? The global outcry over Dow’s sponsorship of the 2012 Summer Olympics and subsequent public relations fiasco confirmed that, on the contrary, the issue of Bhopal remains more important than ever. If anything the leaks show that however much Dow tries to downplay Bhopal in public, that behind closed doors it is very much concerned about it.

Wikileaks released on February 27th reveal that Dow hired Stratfor, a private US company, to spy on and monitor activists who campaign for justice for the 1984 Bhopal, India gas disaster, from July 2004 to December 2011. They include emails between Dow and Stratfor that document, in the form of regular updates, the identities of current and former staff of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, emails exchanged on the ICJB public listserv, and ICJB conference programs and schedules, as well as tweets, Facebook posts and press releases by the UK Bhopal Medical Appeal. Also recorded are dates and locations of speaking events and film screenings by the Yes Men, who in 2004 as part of a hoax impersonated Dow on TV and accepted responsibility for the disaster.

Dow used Stratfor to monitor coverage of Bhopal in the news as well, both in India and abroad, in connection with the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, of which Dow is a sponsor, actions held around the anniversary of the disaster, such as last year’s “Rail Roko” action in Bhopal, and comparisons between Bhopal and the BP oil spill. Stratfor also monitored developments in ongoing court cases in India and in the US concerning Bhopal. Throughout Strafor meticulously recorded whether Dow’s relation to Bhopal was portrayed in a negative light or not in the media.

Granted, the intelligence rounded up by Stratfor is not secret: it is all public knowledge, available, e.g., on the ICJB website and public listserv, and can be collected in the main by anyone with competence enough to use Facebook, RSS feeds and Google Reader. But for a company that vehemently denies responsibility for the disaster (which in 1984 killed tens of thousands, injured and afflicted with permanent illnesses many times more, and continues to, via the contamination of drinking water in around the disaster site) and argues that all past grievances are settled, Dow sure is concerned. Why contract Stratfor if Bhopal is a nonissue?

Is it because, contra Dow, both US and Indian courts continue to debate Dow’s liability? That in 2011 the Indian supreme court produced a curative petition, in an effort to secure just compensation for the victims, more than the meager amount allotted to them in 1999? Is it because, against Dow’s hand-waving and nay-saying to the contrary, citizens the world over are outraged that Dow, responsible for not only Bhopal, but for dioxin poisoning in Midland, Michigan, the production of napalm in the Vietnam War, and the second greatest amount of toxic waste production in the US, is a sponsor of the 2012 Summer Olympics, allegedly the greenest yet? Is it because coverage of Bhopal in the news threatens Dow, against Andrew Liveris, who in a recent interview denied that it did? Or is it because, at bottom, Dow refuses to acknowledge responsibility for the worst industrial disaster in history, and is determined to evade justice for as long as it can?

The ICJB welcomes Dow’s interest in Bhopal, however disingenuous. But rather than collect intelligence on activists, Dow should use its time, money and resources to instead carry out justice for Bhopal once and for all, to wit, acceptance of responsibility for the disaster, just compensation the victims, and clean-up of the disaster site. In the meanwhile the ICJB reiterates its commitment to Bhopal, and pledges to campaign for justice, in the face of Dow’s wiles and efforts to evade it.

 

STATEMENT FROM ANDY BICHLBAUM
Cofounder of The Yes Men!
Whoever was responsible for the release of the Stratfor emails, i want to thank him or her from the bottom of my heart. Whoever released these emails performed a function that’s an integral part of democracy, as surely as voting or running for public office.
Whether through civil disobedience or investigative reporting, which this is sort of in-between, exposing evildoing is, indeed, an integral part of democracy, that we utterly depend on.

There are many ways to expose evildoing and fight against it. In Bhopal, a number of folks have been doing it for 28 years, ever since ever since a chemical plant in their city exploded in 1984, killing 3000 in one night and 20,000 more across the years. Their main target is the Dow Chemical company, the company ultimately responsible for the disaster. To try to hold Dow accountable, the activists there have gone on hunger strikes, marches from Bhopal to delhi, and so on. They’ve had a lot of success getting attention for it in India, and have recently gotten the Indian government to reopen long-closed investigations.

Their real target, though, is Dow. And since Dow has no legal recourse against these activists, can’t stop them – they’ve spent large amounts of money to hire Stratfor to spy on their victims in Bhopal, to find out what moves their victims might make next.

No one would have found out about this sick situation if there hadn’t been this leak of millions of emails, of which Jeremy is accused.

Whoever did this leak exposed a lot of other corporate wrongdoing too – Stratfor was also spying on Occupy, PETA, Wikileaks, Anonymous… oh, and the Yes Men.

Yes, us. They were spying on us because in 2004, we joined the Bhopal activists in trying to shame Dow into providing redress for the 1984 disaster. We set up a fake Dow website and got ourselves invited by the BBC to speak on the 20th anniversary of the disaster as Dow. We announced to the world that we, Dow, were going to compensate the victims, clean up the site, and basically do everything that Dow should.

The world loved the announcement – but the market punished Dow by cutting billions off its stock value. There was an enormous amount of press, and millions of people found out about Dow’s responsibility for the world’s biggest industrial disaster.

Publicly, Dow said nothing. Privately, they paid Stratfor lots of money to spy on us.

That’s very sinister – but it’s also very flattering. It means that Dow and other companies see us – and the Bhopal victims, and Occupy – as a threat. A threat that can actually change things. Which it can – maybe not with each action, but cumulatively. Thanks to the activists in Bhopal, and the Occupy movement, and the millions of activists who are fighting in their own ways to bring evildoers to their knees… slowly but surely, inexorably, all these people are bringing democracy to America, just as it’s always happened.

That’s kind of what we Yes Men learned when we connected with the Occupy movement, who Stratfor also spied on, and discovered that all the activism, that sometimes seems pointless, actually does have a great effect: the Occupy movement, for example, itself the product of so much activism before it, profoundly shaped the presidential election, and continues to have even profounder effects.

The bad guys know this. And they should also know that as long companies like Dow fight people, people will fight back. As long as companies like Stratfor fight in extra-legal, unethical ways to keep tabs on those fighting for positive change, they can expect to be brought down again and again and again no matter how hard they try to put the lid on it, no matter who they try to put in jail. (you can read the full text of Andy’s Statement HERE)

 

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