Guardian

China Rivaling British in Crackdown on Critical Journalism

The American press is (rightly) outraged by the news that Chinese officials showed up unannounced to “inspect” Bloomberg’s Chinese bureaus.

In what appears to be a conspicuous show of displeasure, Chinese authorities conducted unannounced “inspections” at Bloomberg News bureaus in Beijing and Shanghai in the final days of November, Fortune has learned. The visits followed media reports that Bloomberg cancelled a year-long investigation on financial ties between a Chinese billionaire and government officials.

[snip]

Details of the inspections, conducted on the same day at the news bureaus in Beijing and Shanghai, are sketchy. It’s unclear how many officials were present or what government agency they represented. Different sources say, variously, that the visits were characterized as “security inspections” or “safety inspections.” But journalists inside Bloomberg view the appearance by civil government officials (they weren’t police) as an act of intimidation—precisely the reaction Bloomberg was eager to avoid.

And David Cameron told his Chinese hosts he was unhappy that Bloomberg reporter Robert Hutton was excluded from a joint press conference with him and Li Keqiang.

Downing Street has protested to the Chinese authorities about a “completely inappropriate” decision to bar a British journalist from a press conference in Beijing with David Cameron and his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang.

No 10 raised “deep concerns” on two occasions with Chinese officials after the foreign ministry excluded Robert Hutton, a political journalist with the US wire service Bloomberg, from the event at the Great Hall of the People on Monday.

Really, though, Cameron might have instead offered the Chinese tips about how satisfying it is to force a transnational journalistic outlet to destroy its hard drives with a power drill when shadowy figures show up in the name of “security.” For all the outrage directed at China, after all, the UK is not above aggressive censorship of damning information about its own government.

While the home of the Magna Carta chooses to use such persecution when a newspaper threatens to expose that it is really a surveillance state, the “Communist” leaders in China need to squelch stories of their own enrichment and corruption. But both are engaged in a similar paranoid suppression of news stories that goes to the heart of the fictions mobilized to rationalize their rule.

Which makes it rather telling that the Chinese example is getting so much more attention.

Zero Dark 30 “Heroine” Outed and Scarred By European Torture Judgment

[SEE CRITICAL UPDATE BELOW]

Although many people have been long familiar with her name and career, there seems to be new buzz about the [possible] identity of the female CIA operative lionized in the bin Laden killing and talk of the town movie “Zero Dark Thirty“.

The Twitters are abuzz this morning, but this article from John Cook at Gawker last September tells the tale:

Her name is Alfreda Frances Bikowsky and, according to independent reporters Ray Nowosielski and John Duffy, she is a CIA analyst who is partially responsible for intelligence lapses that led to 9/11. The two reporters recently released a “documentary podcast” called “Who Is Richard Blee?” about the chief of the agency’s bin Laden unit in the immediate run-up to the 9/11 attacks and featuring interviews with former counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, former CIA agent Bob Baer, Looming Tower author Lawrence Wright, 9/11 Commission co-chairman Tom Keane, and others. In it, Nowosielski and Duffy make the case that Bikowsky and another CIA agent named Michael Anne Casey deliberately declined to tell the White House and the FBI that Khalid al-Mihdhar, an Al Qaida affiliate they were tracking, had obtained a visa to enter the U.S. in the summer of 2001. Al-Mihdhar was one of the hijackers on American Airlines Flight 77. The CIA lost track of him after he entered the U.S.

Bikowsky was also, according to Nowosielski and Duffy, instrumentally involved in one of the CIA’s most notorious fuck-ups—the kidnapping, drugging, sodomizing, and torture of Khalid El-Masri in 2003 (El-Masri turned out to be the wrong guy, and had nothing to do with terrorism). As the Associated Press’ Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo reported earlier this year, an analyst they described only by her middle name—”Frances”—pressed for El-Masri to be abducted even though some in the agency weren’t convinced he was the terrorist that Frances suspected he was. Instead of being punished or fired for the error, “Frances” was eventually promoted to running the Global Jihad Unit by then-CIA director Michael Hayden. According to Goldman and Apuzzo’s story, “Hayden told colleagues that he gave Frances a pass because he didn’t want to deter initiative within the counterterrorism ranks.”

My, my, the CIA does have problems keeping secrets lately, don’t they? A point saliently noted by Marcy in relation to both Matt Bissonnette and the Mexican “trainers” who were involved in in an ambush. I guess the de rigueur Obama Administration leak prosecution will be along any second.

It is fairly amazing Bikowsky’s name has been kept out of the real limelight surrounding [speculation on] Zero Dark Thirty this long, considering her known involvement in the other issues, especially the one about gleefully horning in on the torture show viewing [which Bikowsky did in regards to KSM]. An attitude that speaks volumes as to Continue reading

Did the US Issue a Prior Restraint Request to the NYT, Too?

Skdadl, who has been tweeting up a storm on the upcoming WikiLeaks dump, noted that the British government has issued D-notices regarding the upcoming dump, which is basically a non-binding request on editors to brief the government before doing a story.

The news came to light in two Tweets from WikiLeaks one of which said, “UK Government has issued a “D-notice” warning to all UK news editors, asking to be briefed on upcoming WikiLeaks stories.” The follow up pointed out that the notices were “Type 1″ which relates to “Military Operations Plans and Capabilities”, and “Type 5″ which relates to “United Kingdom Security and Intelligence Special Services.”

Here’s the content of the D-notice:

Subject: DA Notice Letter of Advice to All UK Editors – Further Wikileaks Disclosures

To All Editors

Impending Further National Security Disclosures by Wikileaks

I understand that Wikileaks will very shortly release a further mass of US official documents onto its internet website. The full scope of the subject matter covered by these documents remains to be seen, but it is possible that some of them may contain information that falls within the UK’s Defence Advisory Notice code. Given the large number of documents thought to be involved, it is unlikely that sensitive UK national security information within these documents would be recognised by a casual browser. However, aspects of national security might be put at risk if a major UK media news outlet brought such information into obvious public prominence through its general publication or broadcast.

Therefore, may I ask you to seek my advice before publishing or broadcasting any information drawn from these latest Wikileaks’ disclosures which might be covered by the five standing DA Notices. In particular, would you carefully consider information that might be judged to fall within the terms of DA Notice 1 (UK Military Operations, Plans and Capabilities) and DA Notice 5 (UK Intelligence Services and Special Forces). May I also ask you to bear in mind the potential consequential effects of disclosing information which would put at risk the safety and security of Britons working or living in volatile regions where such publicity might trigger violent local reactions, for example Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan? [my emphasis]

Of course, there’s something odd about this effort.

The intertoobz don’t have national boundaries.

So even if the Brits are successful at getting the British press not to cover these stories, that doesn’t prevent media outlets outside of the UK from reporting on them, making them available to be read within the UK (or, given that the concern seems to focus on our war zones, Pakistan).

Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz It's amazing that @ESPN can't quite get the feed on the ASU/Huskies game right for squat, but they can always, oh so easily, parrot Goodell.
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bmaz RT @teddysanfran: @bmaz I wonder if she saw it coming? http://t.co/sTrMmqBMB4
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bmaz Say what you will about Obamacare, but internet+media fanboys saying Dems losing ground in both House+Senate is "winning" issue are insane.
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JimWhiteGNV RT @WilliamsJon: CDC: Health Care Workers volunteering to combat #Ebola epidemic in West Africa are heroes. We must treat them with respect…
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bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @emptywheel @ddayen @CitizenCohn Also can't wait for the next time @speechboy71 opportunistically wants to shit on my family
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bmaz Perfect question. My guess is NO! RT @teddysanfran I wonder if she saw it coming? http://t.co/3slVw6xNUO
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bmaz Hey @AdobeFlash you asswipes are terminally hashing on my internet mellow. If you are going to be ubiquitous, try not to be such dickheads
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bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @emptywheel @ddayen @CitizenCohn And, hey, no reason for other fanboys to call @speechboy71 out for inconvenient bullshit.
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bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @emptywheel @ddayen @CitizenCohn Guess when yer a soul patched whiz kid of internet like @speechboy71 you can shit on others
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JimWhiteGNV RT @teddysanfran: I wonder if she saw it coming? http://t.co/sTrMmqBMB4
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bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @emptywheel @ddayen @CitizenCohn I'd have to be senile and willing to lie out of my ass like @speechboy71 but, hey, someday.
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