All posts by Sparrow

Activists and Journalists Have Sued the Federal Bureau of Investigation for Withholding Donald Trump’s File

Activists and Journalists Have Sued the Federal Bureau of Investigation for Withholding Donald Trump’s File

Washington, DC — The nonprofit transparency organization Property of the People has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seeking the release of Donald J. Trump’s FBI file.  The records requested, which cover a period from June 14, 1946 through June 15, 2015, will shed new light on already known investigations linking Trump to organized crime and will provide new information about Trump’s engagements with the bureau.

The effort is part of Property of the People’s Operation 45, a project dedicated to seeking transparency and accountability from the Trump administration. Ryan Shapiro, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate, and investigative reporter Jason Leopold, are co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

It has been nearly three months since Property of the People first filed their request to the FBI seeking, among other things, as the request states: “[a]ny and all records mentioning or referring to the living person Donald John Trump.”

Though the FBI has previously released multiple documents with Trump’s name on them from the period stated to Shapiro and Leopold, they have improperly withheld records from this most recent request on the grounds that confirming the existence or non-existence of such records would infringe on Trump’s privacy. However, Operation 45 argues that the enormous public interest in obtaining this information clearly outweighs any embarrassment Trump might suffer. Additionally Trump’s own tweets acknowledging the FBI’s investigation of him negate any arguments that such records may not exist.

Moreover, the FBI has improperly withheld records from this request on the grounds that confirming the existence or non-existence of such records would “risk circumvention of Federal law enforcement efforts.”  As stated in the complaint:

“Confirming that the FBI maintains files numbered 137-NY-19967 and 137-22152 would not disclose techniques, procedures, or guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions. Additionally, documents referencing file numbers 137-22152 and 137-NY-19967 in connection with the FBI’s contact with Mr. Trump are already available to the public. The disclosure of the mere existence or nonexistence of responsive records could not reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law. The FBI has not only unreasonably withheld the responsive records, but has unreasonably refused to even confirm the existence of responsive records.”

Plaintiff Shapiro asserts: “Given the profound gravity of the FBI’s past and ongoing investigations involving Donald J. Trump, the public interest in the release of the requested documents is immense. The American public absolutely deserves to know the full truth about the FBI’s historical and current operations involving the President.”

Property of the People vs. Department of Justice, was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  The complaint can be read in it’s entirety HERE.

Property of the People is anew government transparency non-profit. Their project, Operation 45, dedicated to uncovering records relevant to the public interest concerning the current Presidential administration has been described by The Nation as “a ray of hope in these dark political times.” Operation 45 is on twitter @opfortyfive

Ryan Shapiro is the director of Operation 45 and the co-founder of Property of the People. Politico has called Shapiro “a FOIA guru at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” He is a historian of national security, the policing of dissent, and governmental transparency. Shapiro’s pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is on twitter @_rshapiro.

Jason Leopold is an award-winning Senior Investigative Reporter at Buzzfeed News, specializing in counterterrorism and human rights. Leopold has been called a “FOIA Terrorist” by federal employees for his aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act, which includes successfully suing the FBI to force changes to Bureau FOIA practices. Leopold is on twitter @JasonLeopold.

The Plaintiffs are represented by Washington, DC based FOIA specialist, Jeffrey Light.

New Yorkers Show Solidarity for Reality Winner, NSA Contractor Charged Under Espionage Act

New Yorkers Show Solidarity for Reality Winner, NSA Contractor Charged Under Espionage Act

New York, NY — The indictment of NSA contractor Reality Leigh Winner may be the opening salvo in the Trump Administration’s self-described war on leaks. Reality is facing a serious charge under the Espionage Act for allegedly sharing an NSA report on Russian attempts to compromise the 2016 US Presidential election.  Concerned New Yorkers and political activists will show their support for Reality on Wednesday afternoon by gathering on the south steps of New York’s Union Square to declare they #StandWithReality 

When: 2:30pm EST, TODAY, Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Where: Union Square Park (South Steps), 101 East 14th Street, New York, NY 10003 

What: Vigil in support of Reality Leigh Winner, typographic placards will spell out #STANDWITHREALITY 

Who: Concerned New Yorkers in support of Reality Winner hosted by People for Bernie Sanders, Courage Foundation, Democrats.com, and The Sparrow Project

Why: On June 5th, 2017, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the arrest of 25-year-old Reality Leigh Winner, a federal contractor in Augusta, Georgia (USA), on charges of allegedly sharing an NSA report on Russian military intelligence’s hacking efforts during the final days of the  2016 election with a news outlet.  Reality Winner deserves widespread support as she faces an administration that has openly declared war on journalists and their sources.

US Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement is Yet Another Gift to Special Interests at the Expense of People and the Planet

US Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement is Yet Another Gift to Special Interests at the Expense of People and the Planet

Washington, DC — Global Witness has issued the following statement in response to reports that President Donald Trump intends to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement:

“If Donald Trump withdraws the US from the Paris Climate Agreement as reports suggest, he will give yet another gift to special interests at the expense of the public interest and the planet.  Not only will a withdrawal sabotage attempts to prevent catastrophic climate change, making it tantamount to a crime against humanity, it will turn America into a pariah on the world stage.

“Failure to tackle climate change will mean that the poorest people and countries will continue to be hit first and hardest, with increasing severity, while also damaging the American economy and national security.

Climate activists gather at the 2015 COP21 summit in Paris, France | Photo: Courtesy of Ricochet

“It also follows a pattern of the Trump administration pursuing industry-first deregulation at the expense of the national and global public interest that should concern all of us.

“The appointment of Rex Tillerson and other members of the Cabinet with clear links to big oil set a very alarming path for the Trump Administration.  Just days into the new Administration, Congress took us further down this path by voting to void an important anti-corruption rule which requires oil, gas and mining companies to disclose details of the hundreds of billions of dollars they pay to governments across the world in return for rights to natural resources.

“Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement is another flagrant example of the undue influence of fossil fuel companies on government decision making and of how our government institutions are increasingly being abused to further the business interests of a powerful few. The US is backsliding when the rest of the world is moving ahead.”

Indigenous Activists will Confront Imperial Metals at Annual General Meeting

Indigenous Activists will Confront Imperial Metals at Annual General Meeting

Vancouver, BC — Indigenous delegates and tribal allies will be confronting Imperial Metals at their Annual General Meeting at the Executive Plaza Hotel Coquitlam, 405 North Road, Coquitlam, British Columbia at 8 a.m. on Thursday, May 25, 2017.

“It is clear that there are major human rights and Indigenous rights violations happening within Canada and within our unceded Secwepemc Territory,” says Secwepemc land protector, Kanahus Manuel. “This is especially the case with the Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine disaster. The August 2014 tailings pond spill desecrated and destroyed a Sacred area known as Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe in unceded Secwepemc Territory.  The spill has not yet been cleaned up and because of BC’s shoddy mine regulations, the company is now discharging toxic mine wastes directly into Quesnel Lake.”

The Indigenous delegates will warn the Imperial Metals investors they should be aware of the very serious concerns regarding the Mount Polley mine, and the financial risks in investing in poorly run companies like Imperial Metals.

A aerial view shows the damage caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C. Tuesday, August, 5, 2014. The pond which stores toxic waste from the Mount Polley Mine had its dam break spilling its contents into the Hazeltine Creek causing a wide water-use ban in the area. | Photo: Jonathan Hayward

While the company’s shareholders and executives are meeting, the United Nations Working Group for business and human rights is on their first official visit to Canada and will be visiting Williams Lake to investigate Imperial Metals. They will be hearing Indigenous testimonials about the effects of the Mount Polley Mine disaster, and of the continued violations of Human Rights by Canada and Canadian resource extractions companies.

The UN Human Rights Council set up the UN Working Group for business and human rights to address the rights violations often associated with extractive industries. Imperial Metals investors must be made aware of the fact that the whole world is watching them and their actions.

Collective Indigenous consent has never been achieved by Imperial Metals Corporation for any of their operations across British Columbia and there are multiple legal proceedings going on against the company. Imperial Metals has also been met with continued direct actions, disruptions and confrontation from Indigenous Peoples, with mine roads blockaded and their Vancouver headquarters occupied.

The Indigenous land defenders action is being carried out under the legal protection of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which states that Indigenous peoples have the right to block development on their land that was undertaken without their free, prior and informed consent.

Chelsea Manning Releases First Portrait of Herself on Social Media

Chelsea Manning Releases First Portrait of Herself on Social Media

Today, Chelsea Manning released her first full portrait image on social media. The posts on Twitter and Instagram follow her release from military prison yesterday.

Chelsea’s photo can be found here

On Twitterhttps://twitter.com/xychelsea/status/865250670831702016

On Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/p/BUPbwX0htrw/

Okay, so here I am everyone!! 😜 . . #HelloWorld

A post shared by Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea87) on

Caption: okay, so here I am everyone!! =P #helloworld

This photo is also the preferred image to use in stories about Chelsea moving forward for the time being.