Glenn Greenwald and Salon.com were the first to obtain copies of the U.S. Department of Justice subpoena for private Twitter data and messages of WikiLeaks and certain high-level volunteers (they are not all still currently active WikiLeaks volunteers).
Glenn's article is well-written, as usual, from his lawyer's-mind and activist perspective.
Last night, Birgitta Jonsdottir — a former WikiLeaks volunteer and current member of the Icelandic Parliament — announced (on Twitter) that she had been notified by Twitter that the DOJ had served a Subpoena demanding information "about all my tweets and more since November 1st 2009." Â Several news outlets, including The Guardian, wrote about Jonsdottir's announcement.
This is a very dangerous thing that the U.S. Department of Justice and court are doing.
Birgitta Jonsdottir is a Member of the Icelandic Parliament and also an international politician. Her private messages and data at Twitter should not be allowed to be rifled through willy-nilly. The court, the judge who authorized the order, could not possibly have been given sufficient grounds to merit this order against Jonsdottir or WikiLeaks. I don't know the others named in the subpoena, but I would be surprised if there are proper mundane legal grounds to force Twitter to turn over the data and posts and messages.
WikiLeaks is a publisher organization that is protected under the U.S. Bill of Rights in the U.S. where the subpoena has been issued and served. Frankly, Twitter should refuse to comply unless and until the U.S. government can convince Twitter that the subpoena is constitutional.
It is not as if Twitter is unaware of who these people are. WikiLeaks is well known the world over, and most people who have had much exposure to WikiLeaks beyond the headlines in the mainstream corporate media know of Birgitta and her work on freedom of the press in Iceland and spreading around the globe.
I'm not suggesting lesser known people should have their rights trampled upon. I am though saying that if Twitter will take the right moral stand here, it will go a long way to protecting the rights of those who are not in the limelight but who may be involved in exposing governmental and corporate corruption, which is what WikiLeaks is all about and what Birgitta Jonsdottir initially saw as valuable in WikiLeaks. She has moved on to working on a more transparent system to WikiLeaks, but she does not support the Department of Justice fishing the WikiLeaks Twitter data, etc., either.
You may find it ironic or paradoxical that people in favor of transparency want or need privacy. It is not either ironic or paradoxical when looked at properly. If there were no corruption in the world, there would be zero need for locks against thieves for instance. There would be no need for secrets, as no one would have anything to hide by virtue of wrongdoing. People require privacy from those who abuse mundane power though and especially if those people for the sake of the general welfare are engaged in ferreting out governmental and big-business corruption. Such is the case with WikiLeaks and Birgitta Jonsdottir, and Glenn Greenwald frankly.
Glenn Greenwald too could easily become the target of a fishing expedition simply because he obtained a copy of the "secret" Subpoena. Perhaps it is a moot point that it was secret and that will protect him, but what with the obvious overly wide latitude the system has given the DoJ, who should count upon that?
Police States are often creeping things. They erode and erode the gains made against them. Just when people think that the worst abuses are history, current abuses come to light. Who would have thought that the abuses that the Frank Church Committee was designed to address would surface again and even worse, which they did in the form of CIA renditions and torture and NSA dragnet sweeps of the whole spectrum of domestic communications? Well, I wrote that that was going on before the news broke corroborating my statements. What's more I'm certain they continue (including the torture). Can I supply current documents to prove that? No. However, if I could go on an unbridled fishing expedition at the CIA and NSA without anyone knowing, I sure believe I would be able to.
Well, Iceland needs to get behind Birgitta Jonsdottir. I've suggested a quick "Sense of Parliament" resolution to that end.
They really ought to house untouchable servers for whistleblowers and leakers of real corruption. From there, they could supply their own Twitter, Facebook, and Google type services. It could be a boon to their economy, as those services can turn profits without being gaudy with ads, not that I'm a capitalist. We have to start somewhere though.
WIKILEAKS SERIES Information
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.
Political Campaign Intervention
Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.
Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
- Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office
Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)