Tag Archives: NSA

‘Stand With Reality’ Awareness Campaign to Fund Legal Defense for Alleged Whistleblower Reality Winner

‘Stand With Reality’ Awareness Campaign to Fund Legal Defense for Alleged Whistleblower Reality Winner

Stand With Reality, a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of concerned individuals, is launching a campaign today to defend N.S.A. contractor Ms. Reality Leigh Winner against an overzealous prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice.

 

Winner has been charged under the Espionage Act, a 100-year-old statute originally designed for spies and saboteurs, for allegedly giving a document vital to the public’s understanding of potential Russian interference in U.S. election systems to a news organization.

 

Stand With Reality believes the charge against Winner is grossly disproportionate to her alleged offense, and is designed to create a chilling effect on investigative journalism by dissuading sources from sharing information that is critical to the public interest. The group is dedicated to raising public awareness of Winner’s case, as well as the U.S. government’s persistent abuse of the Espionage Act to silence its critics and stifle journalism.

 

“The document Winner is alleged to have given The Intercept is vital for understanding how U.S. election systems are seriously vulnerable to hacking. It is absurd that the government is charging her under the draconian Espionage Act rather than helping states fix our country’s election security,” said Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist project director and co-founder of Stand With Reality.

 

The organization aims to fully fund Winner’s legal defense team headed by attorney Titus Nichols, of the Augusta, Georgia law firm of Bell & Brigham. Stand with Reality launched a crowdfunding campaign today to cover both legal fees and public awareness efforts. “It is refreshing to know that so many people that Ms. Winner has never known have come together to offer their support and prayers for her,” notes Nichols. “Your pledge of additional support, for fees related to her case, is commendable,” he adds.

 

“The new Stand with Reality group means the world to me. Not only are they going to be raising money for my daughter’s legal defense, they’ll also be raising awareness. Reality won’t be forgotten, and she’ll have a whole organization behind her,” said Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, of Kingsville, Texas. The Winner Family will be closing their GoFundMe effort and directing supporters to the new Reality Winner Defense Fund hosted by Courage to Resist in collaboration with Stand with Reality. Meanwhile, the UK-based Courage Foundation is undertaking fundraising and support efforts on behalf of Winner throughout Europe.

 

First Look Media’s Press Freedom Defense Fund provided a grant of $50,000 which will act as a matching fund for the first $50,000 raised for this campaign between now and August 30th. First Look is the publisher of The Intercept, which published its story based on a document allegedly provided by Winner after receiving it anonymously. The Fund is committed to supporting legal fights where key principles of press freedom are at stake, including the defense of journalistic sources like Winner facing this Espionage Act charge.

 

Winner, 25, is an Air Force veteran and recipient of the Air Force Commendation Medal for those who have “distinguished themselves by meritorious achievement and service.” She is universally described by friends and family as a “patriot”.

 

She is currently being denied bail on the basis that she is a flight risk, despite assurances from her family, and their offer of their 20-acre Southern Texas ranch as collateral.

 

“We believe the prosecution is trying to demoralize Reality and her family by denying her bail,” said Rainey Reitman, open Internet advocate and co-founder of Stand with Reality. “They’re punishing her with months in jail, and denying her the opportunity to fully participate in her defense preparations, all before a jury hears the merits of the government’s case.”

 

Stand with Reality was founded by three individuals dedicated to open government, free expression, civil liberties, and the rule of law:


  • Jeff Paterson, a Marine veteran and web developer, has spent the last 11 years as the project director of Courage to Resist, which provides legal and advocacy assistance to military war resisters.

  • Trevor Timm, a lawyer and free speech advocate, is the co-founder and executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which helps defend the rights of journalists and whistleblowers worldwide.

  • Rainey Reitman, a writer and privacy advocate, leads the advocacy team for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization, and works as a nonprofit consultant.

     

For complete campaign information visit: https://StandWithReality.org
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.

FBI Releases New Documents Detailing Extensive Spying on Nelson Mandela in Response to MIT Student’s FOIA Lawsuit

FBI Releases New Documents Detailing Extensive Spying on Nelson Mandela in Response to MIT Student’s FOIA Lawsuit

[CAMBRIDGE, MA] As revealed in an exclusive report by Jason Leopold for Al Jazeera America, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate Ryan Shapiro has received a second batch of documents from the FBI as part of Shapiro’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records on Nelson Mandela.  In the wake of recent NSA and FBI spying revelations, the documents obtained by Shapiro shed light on decades of politically motivated FBI surveillance, including the monitoring of Mandela’s post-prison meeting with a Yugoslavian President and the surveillance of Mandela’s meetings with activists in the USA.

The first batch of documents, received by Shapiro last month, exposed FBI spying on Mandela during his historic 1990 visit to the U.S. shortly after his release from 27 years in prison for anti-apartheid activities.

The newly released second batch of documents provides additional evidence of FBI monitoring and surveillance of Mandela’s activities, both prior to and following his release from prison. This included FBI monitoring of Mandela’s meetings with world leaders.

Further, the newly released documents also reveal FBI investigation of the South African and U.S. anti-apartheid movements as being Communist threats to American domestic security. Notably, these FBI “Communist” threat investigations of the anti-apartheid movement continued even after U.S. imposition of trade sanctions against apartheid South Africa, after Mandela’s release from prison, and after the fall of the Berlin wall.

Shapiro, a FOIA specialist, is an historian of the political functioning of national security and the policing of dissent. His pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is also suing the NSA, CIA, and DIA over those agencies’ failure to comply with his FOIA requests for records on Mandela. Shapiro is represented by FOIA specialist attorney Jeffrey Light.

Six key takeaways from the FBI’s latest release of documents to Shapiro:

1. The FBI monitored Mandela’s meetings with a foreign world leader and spied on his meetings with domestic U.S. dissidents.

In the first release of documents to Shapiro, we learned that although the FBI assisted in protecting Mandela on his 1990 U.S. visit, the Bureau also took that opportunity to spy upon the newly freed iconic anti-apartheid leader. Those documents revealed the FBI developed a confidential informant within or closely affiliated with Mandela’s U.S. entourage, and this informant provided the FBI not only with logistical information about Mandela, but also political information about Mandela and his associates.

The newly released second set of documents reveal further politically-motivated FBI monitoring and surveillance of Mandela upon his release from prison, including the monitoring of a meeting between Nelson Mandela and a foreign world leader. For example, in a newly released March 1990 document that is still largely classified “Secret,” the FBI is shown to have monitored[.pdf ] a meeting in Namibia between Mandela and Janez Drnovsek, then president of Yugoslavia and leader of the Non-Aligned Countries. The Non-Aligned Countries Movement was deeply supportive of Mandela and his anti-apartheid political party, the African National Congress (ANC).

Another newly released document, this one a heavily redacted June 1990 internal FBI communication, shows the FBI authorized a Philadelphia FBI agent or a Philadelphia FBI confidential informant to travel to New York City to surveil [.pdf ] a potential meeting between Nelson Mandela and members of the Puerto Rican nationalist movement. After concluding there was “at least a possibility of a personal meeting with Mandela” and the Puerto Rican activists, both the New York City and Philadelphia FBI field offices considered surveillance of this potential meeting to be a “necessity[.]”

2. The FBI monitored Mandela even before his release from prison.

Several of the newly released documents reveal FBI monitoring [.pdf ] of foreign and U.S. newspapers for information on Mandela while Mandela was still incarcerated. For example, two formerly classified “Secret” July 1989 documents show FBI language specialists clipped, and when necessary, translated press articles discussing a possible early release from prison for Mandela. The FBI’s language specialists then forwarded this information to FBI Counterintelligence supervisors. (For more on FBI Counterintelligence programs, see #3 below.)

3. The FBI investigated the South African and U.S. movements to end apartheid and free Nelson Mandela as Communist plots.

The newly released documents reveal that, just as it did in the 1950s and 1960s with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, the FBI aggressively investigated the U.S. and South African anti-apartheid movements as Communist plots. In one newly released still partially classified “Secret” July 1984 FBI internal teletype, the FBI highlighted [.pdf ] the purported communist associations of some supporters of African American U.S. Congressman George Crockett’s (D-MI) then-pending House resolution calling for “Freedom for Nelson and Winnie Mandela.” Another document, a newly released formerly classified “Secret” January 1985 record, shows the FBI viewed a newspaper petition [.pdf ] calling upon President Reagan to condemn Mandela’s continued incarceration as evidence of Communist Party USA (CPUSA) subversive activities. And a newly released August 1990 formerly classified “Secret” FBI internal communication reveals the FBI’s insistence [.pdf ] that support for a joint 1990 House resolution calling for establishment of a “Nelson Mandela/ANC Day” was Communist-inspired. In the document, the FBI is further shown to have insisted that the congressman who introduced the joint resolution, civil rights icon Charles Hayes (D-IL), was himself “a former member of CPUSA.”

4. The FBI understood these anti-Apartheid purported communist plots to be threats to American national security.

Not only did the FBI explicitly investigate the South African and U.S. anti-apartheid movements as communist plots, the FBI viewed these plots as menacing American national security. This is evident in the investigation classification codes utilized by the FBI in the newly released documents. As can be seen again and again in the newly released documents, the two FBI investigation classification codes most commonly associated with the FBI’s “Communist” investigations of the anti-apartheid movement were “100” and “229.”

The 100 classification signifies an FBI “Domestic Security” investigation. Not only do FBI “Domestic Security” investigations definitionally pertain to FBI investigations of perceived security threats, the 100 classification was the primary classification used by the FBI during its notorious and ultimately deemed to be unconstitutional COINTELPRO campaigns (see below) against the U.S. civil rights, free speech, and anti-Vietnam War movements, among others.

The 229 investigation classification signifies an FBI “Foreign Counterintelligence Matters” investigation. Several of the newly released documents also bear the “G-3” security code classification, which also signifies a Foreign Counterintelligence Investigation. Traditionally, counterintelligence entails the prevention of espionage, however the FBI has historically used term to mean spying on and disrupting political dissidents. The most obvious example is the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO, or COunter INTELigence PROgram, in which the FBI unlawfully surveilled, infiltrated, and at times violently disrupted anti-war, civil rights, and other American political dissident movements. COINTELPRO targets included Martin Luther King, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Muhammed Ali, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and the National Lawyers Guild.

5. The FBI’s understanding of the anti-apartheid movement was so warped, one FBI field office felt compelled to internally refute the FBI’s distorted facts and analysis on the subject.

An especially illuminative August 1990 formerly classified “Secret” internal FBI teletype [.pdf ] from the FBI’s Chicago field office takes the Bureau’s official understanding of the ANCand the broader anti-apartheid movement unsparingly to task. In response to an FBI memo earlier that month describing the ANC as a “known Soviet front group,” the FBI’s Chicago field office provided a stunning rebuke, noting the Bureau’s “description of the ANC as a Soviet Front is an over-simplification which fails to recognize the complex and paradoxical nature of that particular organization […] which was, of course, founded before the Russian Revolution.” Over the course of nine pages, the FBI’s Chicago field office continued an unflinching education of the Director of the FBI and numerous FBI field offices on the history, methods, and mission of the ANC. This included information on the ANC’s decades-long commitment to “non-violent activism” prior to the South African government’s banning of the ANC in 1960, the ANC’s consequent adoption of “symbolic” sabotage tactics, the South African government’s consequent “life imprisonment for sabotage” of ANC leaders including Nelson Mandela, and the fact that the ANC “turned to the Soviet Bloc for support only after failing to enlist the support of the U.S. and Western Europe in their struggle against apartheid and its attendant inequities.” The FBI’s Chicago field office further noted the South African apartheid system was characterized by “official racism” and enforced “obvious inequities[.]” Additionally, the Chicago field office admonished the broader Bureau that, “It is, at this point in time, clear that any lasting settlement of South Africa’s future will involve Nelson Mandela and the ANC.”

6. As with the previous release, the FBI has again withheld a huge amount of information, and the NSA, CIA, and DIA have yet to release any documents at all.

Not only did the FBI withhold some pages in their entirety from this release, many of the records the FBI did release are heavily redacted. One such document, a still largely classified “Secret” 1993 NY FBI foreign counterintelligence memo pertaining to Mandela, involved a confidential informant who explicitly provided [the FBI] political information[.] [.pdf ]  Additionally, The FBI justified its redactions and withholdings in this release in part by invoking FOIA exemptions pertaining to national security, the use of confidential informants, and perhaps most bizarrely, ongoing investigations.

Further, while the FBI’s latest document release is definitely problematic, the NSA, CIA, and DIA have yet to release any documents at all regarding Mandela in response to Shapiro’s FOIA requests and lawsuit. And these are the agencies most likely to posses records pertaining to U.S. intelligence community involvement in pro-apartheid South African affairs prior to Mandela’s 1990 release from prison. U.S. involvement in these affairs, including the likely involvement of the CIA in Mandela’s 1962 arrest, and the confirmed provision by the NSA of intelligence to the apartheid regime into the 1980s, are deeply shameful.

According to Shapiro:

“The newly released documents not only bring to light additional politically motivated FBI spying on Mandela, they also expose something even darker. The documents reveal that, just as it did in the 1950s and 60s with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, the FBI aggressively investigated the U.S. and South African anti-apartheid movements as Communist plots imperiling American security. Worse still, the documents demonstrate the FBI continued its wrong-headed Communist menace investigations of Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement even after U.S. imposition of trade sanctions against apartheid South Africa, after Mandela’s globally-celebrated release from prison, and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Ultimately, what the documents reveal is the FBI’s unflagging conflation of social justice efforts with security threats, and the FBI’s cartoonish obsession with Communist Party subversion in the United States even as the Cold War itself crumbled into obsolescence.”

To arrange an interview with Ryan Shapiro please email or text Andy Stepanian at andy@sparrowmedia.net or 631.291.3010. You can follow Ryan Shapiro on twitter at @_rshapiro

FBI Releases Nelson Mandela Documents in Response to MIT Student’s FOIA Lawsuit: 3 Takeaways From the Redacted Documents

FBI Releases Nelson Mandela Documents in Response to MIT Student’s FOIA Lawsuit: 3 Takeaways From the Redacted Documents

[CAMBRIDGE , MA]   As revealed in an exclusive report by Jason Leopold for Al Jazeera America, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate Ryan Shapiro has received the first batch of documents from the FBI as part of Shapiro’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records on Nelson Mandela. The released records largely deal with Mandela’s historic 1990 visit to the U.S. shortly after his release from 27 years in prison for anti-apartheid activities. Though what’s missing from these documents is often as illuminative as what’s disclosed, there’s still a lot here.

Shapiro, a FOIA specialist, is an historian of the political functioning of national security and the policing of dissent. His pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is also suing the NSA, CIA, and DIA over those agencies’ failure to comply with his FOIA requests for records on Mandela. Shapiro is represented by FOIA specialist attorney Jeffrey Light.

Three key takeaways from the FBI’s release of documents to Shapiro:

1. The FBI spied on Mandela during his first U.S. trip after release from prison.

Although the State Department had primary responsibility for Mandela’s security on his 1990 U.S. visit, the FBI assisted in this task. And in addition to investigating threats made against Mandela, of which there were many (see below), the FBI also took this opportunity to spy upon the newly freed iconic anti-apartheid leader. Shortly before Mandela’s arrival, the FBI developed a confidential informant [pdf] within or closely affiliated with Mandela’s U.S. entourage. This informant provided not only logistical information to the FBI, but also political. This included information regarding a prospective meeting with Louis Farrakhan, as well as the identities and recent travels of African National Congress (Mandela’s political party which was at that time still officially considered a terrorists organization by the U.S. government) leaders in the U.S. Notably, the released documents also show the FBI began clipping press articles about Mandela immediately upon Mandela’s release from prison. The FBI did this as part of a “247” investigation, which pertains to foreign counterintelligence matters. Traditionally, counterintelligence entails the prevention of espionage, however the FBI has historically used term to mean spying on and disrupting political dissidents. The most obvious example is the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO, or COunter INTELigence PROgram, in which the FBI unlawfully surveilled, infiltrated, and at times violently disrupted anti-war, civil rights, and other American political dissident movements. COINTELPRO targets included Martin Luther King, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Muhammed Ali, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and the National Lawyers Guild.

2. Mandela was the target of numerous death threats on his 1990 trip to the U.S.

As the FBI reported, the adoring crowds in attendance at Mandela’s U.S. public appearances frequently “overwhelmed police lines and swarmed the motorcade.” However, it was with good reason that the State Department “classified the threat level for this visit as ‘high[.]’” Mandela was the subject of numerous death threats on his 1990 trip to the U.S. Some of these threats were notable for their bizarre nature, such as the man who claimed the famous disk jockey Casey Kasem instructed him to inform the Chicago Terrorism Task Force of his “’visions’ that Nelson Mandela […] and/or the Rev. Jesse Jackson would be assassinated” later that month. And in Atlanta, a man identifying himself only as “Igor” warned he “heard it on the street” that the Cuban Liberation Front was going to kill Mandela in Miami. More ominous was a threat made by an unidentified caller in Georgia who “stated that he and his two companions had spent their lives trying to stop Mandela [and that] they had various weapons and means with which to accomplish this task and had received military training.” Elsewhere, a group calling itself the “Aryan Knights” issued a bomb threat against Mandela. This threat caused the FBI some degree of consternation when the Bureau realized it could not determine which of the many groups identifying as “Aryan Knights” was responsible. Contenders included the so-called “Aryan Knights of the Great Forrest” and the “Aryan Knights Motorcycle Club” of Providence, Rhode Island. A particularly chilling threat came in the form of a letter [pdf] from an unidentified individual in Houston, Texas. Covered in white power insignias and attached to a recent Houston Chronicle article about a potential upcoming visit by Mandela, the letter read, “Remember John F. Kennedy in Dallas? Bring this black murderer to Houston and we will give him a welcome that the world will not forget!!!”

3. The FBI has withheld a huge amount of information from this release, and the NSA, CIA, and DIA have yet to release any documents at all.

In this release, the FBI provided Shapiro with 334 pages of documents on Mandela. However, the FBI withheld in their entirety another 169 pages of responsive records. Further, many of the records the FBI did release are heavily redacted. Some of them, such as this document [pdf], are so heavily redacted as to be ludicrous. The FBI justified these redactions and withholdings in part by invoking FOIA exemptions pertaining to national security and the use of confidential informants. Further, while the FBI’s document release is definitely problematic, the NSA, CIA, and DIA have yet to release any documents at all regarding Mandela in response to Shapiro’s FOIA requests and lawsuit. And these are the agencies most likely to posses records pertaining to U.S. intelligence community involvement in pro-apartheid South African affairs prior to Mandela’s 1990 release from prison. U.S. involvement in these affairs, including the likely involvement of the CIA in Mandela’s 1962 arrest, and the confirmed provision by the NSA of intelligence to the apartheid regime into the 1980s, are deeply shameful.

According to Shapiro:

“It shouldn’t take a lawsuit to obtain records from a FOIA request, and it’s an especially sad day when the notoriously anti-FOIA FBI is the agency coming closest to compliance with the requirements of the statute. The democratic process cannot meaningfully function without an informed citizenry, and such a citizenry is impossible without broad public access to information about the operations of government. It’s time for the U.S. intelligence community to recognize transparency not as a threat, but rather as an essential component of viable democracy.”

To arrange an interview with Ryan Shapiro please email or text Andy Stepanian at andy@sparrowmedia.net or 631.291.3010. You can follow Ryan Shapiro on twitter at @_rshapiro

NSA Invokes “National Defense” and the Espionage Act to Stonewall MIT Student’s FOIA Request on Nelson Mandela

NSA Invokes “National Defense” and the Espionage Act to Stonewall MIT Student’s FOIA Request on Nelson Mandela

[WASHINGTON, DC] Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate Ryan Shapiro filed a lawsuit this morning against the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Defense Intelligence Agency over the spy agencies’ failure to comply with his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for records on anti-apartheid activist and South African President, Nelson Mandela. Shapiro’s requests seek, among other records, documents pertaining to the U.S intelligence community’s role in Mandela’s 1962 arrest and Mandela’s placement on the U.S. terror watch list until 2008. Shapiro is already suing the Central Intelligence Agency over this same failure. Shapiro wants to know why the NSA, FBI, DIA, and CIA viewed Mandela as a threat to American security, and what actions the Agency took to thwart Mandela’s efforts to secure racial justice and democracy in South Africa.

Notably, in addition to invoking the Espionage Act (Title 18 U.S. Code 798), the NSA’s denial of Shapiro’s FOIA request (see embedded document) invokes “national defense” to support the agency’s refusal to even acknowledge the existence of records about Mandela. Asserts the NSA, “the fact of the existence or non-existence of the materials you request is a currently and properly classified matter [….] to be kept secret in the interest of national defense[.]”

A .PDF of Shapiro’s Lawsuit Filed This Morning is Available HERE

Shapiro, a FOIA specialist, is an historian of the political functioning of national security and the policing of dissent. His pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is represented by FOIA specialist attorney Jeffrey Light.

Two Key Features of Shapiro’s Lawsuit & Broader Pro-Transparency Effort:

1) Despite longstanding public knowledge of definite (if undefined) U.S. intelligence assistance to apartheid South Africa in general, and likely involvement in Mandela’s 1962 arrest in particular, much of the U.S. and world press has paid distressingly little attention to these issues. Even in the wake of Mandela’s death, these issues, including the fact that Mandela remained on the U.S. terror watch list until 2008, have for the most part remained ignored or discounted. In addition to beginning to fill these massive holes in public knowledge of U.S. intelligence operations, Shapiro’s FOIA efforts will bring much-needed attention to these vital topics, as well as to the U.S. intelligence community’s continued outrageous aversion to transparency.

2) The Freedom of Information Act is broken. The Department of Justice and the CIA continue to prevent the FOIA release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA torture program, despite the Senate Committee’s call for the report’s release. And as the Associated Press reported last week, despite entering office promising to be “the most transparent administration in history,” the Obama administration cites “national security” to censor and deny FOIA releases “more than ever.” The failures of the NSA, FBI, DIA, and CIA to comply with Shapiro’s FOIA requests for records on Nelson Mandela are further glaring examples of this anti-transparency trend. For this reason, Shapiro is not only turning to the courts to force agency compliance with his FOIA requests, he is also turning to the American people to address the ongoing crisis of secrecy more broadly. To this end, Shapiro is urging all persons with access to unreleased records pertaining to illegal, unconstitutional, or immoral government activities to return those records to their rightful owners, the American people. As Shapiro is quoted below, “See something, leak something.”

According to Shapiro:
Regarding the Mandela lawsuit »

“Though the U.S. intelligence community is long believed to have been involved in Mandela’s arrest, little specific public information exists regarding this involvement. Similarly, though the U.S. intelligence community is long known to have routinely provided information to the South African regime regarding the anti-apartheid movement, little specific public information exists about these activities either. Further, despite now being universally hailed as a hero and freedom fighter against gross injustice, Mandela was designated a terrorist by the United States government and remained on the U.S. terror watch list until 2008.

In bringing suit against the NSA, FBI, DIA, and CIA to compel compliance with my Freedom of Information Act requests, I seek access to records that will begin answering the following questions:

What was the extent and purpose of the U.S. intelligence community’s surveillance of Nelson Mandela prior to his arrest? What role did the U.S. intelligence community play in Mandela’s arrest and prosecution? What role did the U.S. intelligence community play in the broader effort to surveil and subvert the South African anti-apartheid movement? To what extent, and for what objectives, did the U.S. intelligence community surveil Mandela following his release from prison? To what extent, if any, did the U.S. intelligence community continue providing information regarding Mandela to the apartheid regime following Mandela’s release from prison? What information did the U.S. intelligence community provide American policymakers regarding Mandela and the South African anti-apartheid movement? To what extent, and to what ends, did the U.S. intelligence community surveil the anti-apartheid movement in the United States? How did the United States government come to designate Nelson Mandela a terrorist threat to this country? How did this designation remain unchanged until 2008? And what was the role of the U.S. intelligence community in this designation and the maintenance thereof?”

Regarding the crisis of secrecy more broadly »

“Democracy cannot meaningfully exist without an informed citizenry, and such a citizenry is impossible without broad public access to information about the operations of government. Secrecy is a cancer on the body of democracy. The Bush administration initiated a disastrous welter of anti-transparency initiatives, yet the Obama administration has been, if anything, worse. Despite entering office promising unprecedented openness, the Obama administration has provided just the opposite, including bringing more Espionage Act prosecutions of whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined, and invoking “national security” to deny FOIA requests “more than ever.” FOIA is broken, and this sad reality is just one component among many of the ongoing crisis of secrecy we now face.

The records of government are the property of the people. Yet, unknown billions of pages are needlessly hidden from the American people behind closed doors and “classified” markings. Undefined “national security” concerns ostensibly legitimize this secrecy. Yet, as wrote Judge Murray Gurfein in his ruling against the Nixon administration’s infamous attempt to prevent the New York Times from publishing the leaked “Pentagon Papers,” “The security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions.”

Building upon the Pentagon Papers ruling, we as a nation need to foster a broader understanding of “national security.” In the interest of preserving the national security borne not of secrecy and state surveillance, but rather of the free exchange of ideas made possible by “our free institutions,” I call upon all persons with access to unreleased records pertaining to illegal, unconstitutional, or immoral government activities to return those records to their rightful owners, the American people.

It’s not surprising those in power wish to keep their actions secret. What’s surprising is how readily we tolerate it. We are all familiar with the security-oriented signage instructing us to “See something, Say something.” In the interest of promoting a fuller conception of national security, I add, “See something, Leak something.” The viability of our democracy may depend upon it.”

To arrange an interview with Ryan Shapiro please email or text Andy Stepanian at andy@sparrowmedia.net or 631.291.3010. A high resolution copy of the photo of Ryan Shapiro above is available royalty-free × photo credit Stephanie Crumley.  You can follow Ryan Shapiro on twitter at @_rshapiro