US diplomatic cables reveals Saudi oil reserves overstated by 40% – expect price rise

US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks warn Washington the Saudi “kingdom’s crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels – nearly 40%”.
A senior Saudi government oil executive has convinced a member of the US state department we may have reached ‘peak oil’.

The revelation comes as the oil price has soared in recent weeks to more than $100 a barrel on global demand and tensions in the Middle East. Many analysts expect that the Saudis and their Opec cartel partners would pump more oil if rising prices threatened to choke off demand.

However, Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, met the US consul general in Riyadh in November 2007 and told the US diplomat that Aramco’s 12.5m barrel-a-day capacity needed to keep a lid on prices could not be reached.

According to the cables, which date between 2007-09, Husseini said Saudi Arabia might reach an output of 12m barrels a day in 10 years but before then – possibly as early as 2012 – global oil production would have hit its highest point. This crunch point is known as “peak oil”.

Husseini said that at that point Aramco would not be able to stop the rise of global oil prices because the Saudi energy industry had overstated its recoverable reserves to spur foreign investment. He argued that Aramco had badly underestimated the time needed to bring new oil on tap.

This should be a good signal to Washington move toward alternative energy sources and stop risking the environment on offshore and arctic oil drilling




Bradley Manning confirmed as dual citizen-will the UK govt demand due process?

Bradley Manning, born in the US of a Welsh born mother and American father holds dual citizenship. Consequently, Manning is entitled to all the protections to UK citizens imprisoned in foreign countries. Manning has been subjected to solitary confinement for several months causing a deterioration in his mental condition and impairing his ability to fully participate in his own defense.

Amnesty International tonight called on the government to intervene on Manning’s behalf and demand that the conditions of his detention, which the organisation calls “harsh and punitive”, are in line with international standards.

Amnesty’s UK director, Kate Allen, said: “His Welsh parentage means the UK government should demand his ‘maximum custody’ status does not impair his ability to defend himself, and we would also like to see Foreign Office officials visiting him just as they would any other British person detained overseas and potentially facing trial on very serious charges.”

Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve, which provides legal assistance to those facing capital punishment and secret imprisonment, likened the conditions under which Manning is held to those in Guantánamo Bay.

Manning’s treatment is considered inhumane and unnecessary, particularly as he hasn’t been convicted of any crime.




DoD admits all detainees at Quantico treated ‘inhumanely’, not just Manning UPDATED

In one of the ugliest news conferences I have ever witnessed, “Defense Department Spokesman Geoff Morrell dismissed allegations that Private First Class Bradley Manning has been improperly detained for his alleged role in the release of classified documents by WikiLeaks”. Morrell then proclaims that ALL prisoners are enduring the same conditions that Amnesty International has declared ‘inhumane’ as Bradley Manning.

Read the transcript here.

So assertions by liberal bloggers, or network reporters or others that he is being mistreated, or somehow treated differently than others, in isolation, are just not accurate. And I’m glad you asked the question, so I had the opportunity, hopefully, to clear that matter up once and for all.

Yes.

Q: Could I just follow up on that? I mean, all of that being said, he still does spend 23 out of every 24 hours in that cell by himself. He’s not allowed to exercise in the cell. He’s not allowed to arbitrarily just write letters. He has to specifically ask for anything more than, say, one book at a time. Are — is there any concern that — because from what we’ve heard, even the forensic psychologist who spoke with him and examined him recommended that he not be on this protective order. I think that there’s a — there’s a question out there as to exactly how the brig commander — what criteria is being used to keep him under this order for such a long period of time, considering he’s still in a pre-trial status.

MR. MORRELL: Just as though he is not being treated any worse than any other detainee, he is not being treated any better than any other detainee. He is not going to receive special privileges, which is essentially what you are asking him to receive. He is being treated exactly like everyone else in the brig is being treated. That’s what’s appropriate. We treat them all equally. And I don’t understand why there would be a need for an exception to those rules to be made for Private Manning — or anyone else, for that matter.

Q: Well, are there other prisoners who have been under this protective order for the length of time that Private Manning has?

MR. MORRELL: That’s probably a question that’s best addressed to my colleagues at Quantico, in terms of the population at the brig there, how long some have been there versus others. I don’t believe that this is an unusually long period of time. A case is being built to prosecute him on the charges that were — again, to correct another mis-report yesterday that — you know, there were cable news reports yesterday that somehow Private Manning was being held without charge — not just that he was being held in conditions that the media thought were inappropriate, but that he was being held without charge — and how un-American that is.

As you all know who work in this building, who received the charge sheet back in July, he most certainly has been charged. And he has not only been charged with illegally downloading classified information, but he has been charged with disseminating classified information to people unauthorized to receive it. So those are very serious charges levied against him, related to a very discrete incident involving mostly the downloading of Apache gunship video from Iraq, but also some cables as well were mentioned in the charging sheet back in July. He is, as we mentioned a person of interest in the much larger leak by WikiLeaks of additional classified documents, cables and tactical field reports and so forth. But I think the manner in which he is being held is completely appropriate and completely consistent with how any and all detainees at the brig are treated.

UPDATE: Manning’s lawyer David Coombs issued a response to Geoff Morrell’s claims Manning is treated the same as every other detainee.

Despite the assertion of Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell, PFC Bradley Manning is not being treated like every other detainee at the Quantico brig. Morrell stated during today’s Pentagon briefing that PFC Manning’s “confinement is not in the least different from the manner in which anyone else at the brig is being held.” This statement is patently false.

PFC Manning is being treated differently. He is the only detainee being held in Maximum (MAX) custody and under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch. Every other detainee is being held in Medium Detention In (MDI) and without POI watch restrictions. What is the difference?

Maximum –

(1) Supervision must be immediate and continuous. A DD 509, Inspection Record of Prisoner in Segregation, shall be posted by the cell door and appropriate entries made at least every 15 minutes.
(2) They shall not be assigned to work details outside the cell.
(3) They shall be assigned to the most secure quarters.
(4) Two or more staff members shall be present when MAX prisoners are out of their cells.
(5) MAX prisoners shall wear restraints at all times when outside the maximum-security area and be escorted by at least two escorts (confinement facility staff or certified escorts, per article 7406).

Medium

(1) Supervision shall be continuous within the security perimeter and immediate and continuous when outside the security perimeter.
(2) They shall not be assigned to work outside the security perimeter.
(3) They shall wear restraints outside the security perimeter unless the CO/OIC/CPOIC directs otherwise.
(4) They shall be escorted by at least two confinement facility staff or certified escorts, per article 7406, unless the CO/OIC/CPOIC directs only one escort is required.
(5) They may be assigned dormitory quarters.

Under the above restrictions, every other detainee is allowed outside of their cell for the majority of the day. The facility is not locked down when they are walking in the brig. They do not wear hand and leg restraints outside of their cell. They are not escorted by guards when outside of their cell. Every other detainee is assigned to work details during the day. These work details allow them move freely within the facility and also outside of the facility whenever within the security perimeter.

If Manning is reduced to medium watch then and only then will he be treated like every other detainee in the brig.




Sea Shepherd catches up to factory whaling ship in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary

The Sea Shepherd fleet has caught up with the Japanese whaling vessel, Nisshin Maru, and one of its harpoon ships in the Ross Sea. Unfortunately, a whale was being butchered on deck at the time of the discovery.

After a 26-day pursuit covering over 4,000 miles, the Steve Irwin caught up with the Nisshin Maru at 1800 hours on January 25th, 2011 AEST.

“We finally have this serial killing death ship where we want them, and from here on in, we intend to ride their ass until the end of the whaling season,” said Captain Paul Watson from onboard the Steve Irwin. “This whaling fleet belongs to us now – lock, stock, and smoking harpoon gun.”

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ships the Steve Irwin, Bob Barker, and Gojira originally found the Japanese whaling fleet on December 31st, 2010 before the whalers had an opportunity to kill a single whale. Unfortunately, two of the harpoon vessels blocked the approach to the Nisshin Maru and the factory ship was able to flee with the faster harpoon vessels tailing the two larger Sea Shepherd ships to relay Sea Shepherd movements to the fleeing Nisshin Maru. The Gojira was prevented from immediately pursuing the Nisshin Maru due to risky ice conditions…
…Unfortunately, the Japanese whaling fleet appears to have just begun their illegal whaling operations. There is a whale presently being butchered on the deck. Sea Shepherd’s objective now is to make sure that whale is the last one taken this season.

The whaling fleet has been caught in an ice bay in the Ross Sea and is fleeing eastward into thick ice. The Steve Irwin intends to follow.

There is no doubt that this season will be a financial disaster for the Japanese whaling fleet.

Recently, it was learned via US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks the Japanese government requesting the removal of Sea Shepherd’s tax exempt status.

In a State Department cable on whaling: request for political engagement the US was willing to concede continuation of whaling at reduced levels in exchange for taking action against Sea Shepherd:

(Excerpted from 09STATE117709 Created 2009-11-14)
– We fully appreciate that, for these negotiations to be concluded successfully, all participants will need to show maximum flexibility. If agreement on some reduction in Japan’s catch levels can be reached, the United States believes that an overall interim agreement would be within reach.

– The United States stands ready to work with Japan and all other IWC members toward such an interim agreement. We understand that there is an important related issue regarding safety at sea of the Japanese research vessels that must also be addressed.

A cable on January 27, 2010 from the US Tokyo embassy of discussions with MOFA State Secretary Fukuyama and Fisheries Agency Deputy Director General Yamashita was about pressing Iceland to lower its proposed quota for whaling in order to facilitate an overall agreement on whaling. The US wanted Japan to talk to and pressure Iceland to reduce the number of fin whales killed as the kill numbers is greater than the demand in Japan. Japan was reluctant to do this. Again Japan raised the issue of pressuring Sea Shepherd :

(Excerpt from 10TOKYO171 Created 2010-01-27)
Turning to harassment of the Japanese whaling fleet by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), Yamashita said the NGO’s actions have kept the fleet from reaching its quota the last few years. Yamashita said the GOJ would come under pressure domestically if SSCS harassment continues to keep Japanese whalers from filling their quota after an agreement on reduced numbers is reached within the IWC. EMIN said the USG is concerned about the safety of life at sea and is looking at the activity of the SSCS.

Happily, Australia was not keen to compromise on the continued slaughter of whales in the sanctuary.

It seems Peter Garrett, the Australian Environment Minister, stood his ground against the compromise deal (10CANBERRA93 created 2010-02-05), although it appears the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were keen on the compromise deal as a way of reforming the IWC (and perhaps earning some brownie points with the US). Environment Department Chief of Staff David Williams gave a small amount of ground when he outlined a negotiating position for the Australian Government that “delivers a much lower level of whaling, but it has to be accompanied by signals of commitment to address other key issues – sustaining the commercial moratorium, keeping whaling out of the southern sanctuary areas and Australian antarctic waters, bringing all whaling under the control of the IWC, and preventing future scientific whaling.” Even this small degree of compromise would be found politically objectionable to many conservation minded Australians.

For more pictures and video click here




Is Quantico base commander retaliating for Article 138 complaint defending Bradley Manning?

In a stellar example of the military behaving badly, Quantico guards harassed Bradley Manning visitors on the approved list denying access to Manning. Manning is being held on suspicion of releasing information to Wikileaks, including the Collateral Murder video and a trove of US diplomatic cables. Inexplicably, Manning an Army specialist is being held at the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia under conditions regarded as torture.

David House, an approved and regular visitor of Manning and blogger Jane Hamsher (normally waits at a McDonald’s for House to finish his visit), was prevented from visiting and Hamsher had her car towed.

The defense asserts that the action of holding PFC Manning in Maximum (MAX) custody, under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch for over five months and recently placing him under suicide risk was an abuse of CWO4 James Averhart’s discretion, and a wrong within the meaning of Article 138, UCMJ. As redress, the defense has requested that Colonel Choike order PFC Manning’s removal from suicide risk and POI watch and that he order the reduction of PFC Manning classification level from MAX to MDI.

On January 18, 2011, over the recommendation of two forensic psychiatrists, the commander of the Quantico Brig, CWO4 Averhart, placed PFC Manning under suicide risk. The suicide risk assignment meant that PFC Manning was required to remain in his cell for 24 hours a day. He was stripped of all clothing with the exception of his underwear. His prescription eyeglasses were taken away from him. He was forced to sit in essential blindness with the exception of the times that he was reading or given limited television privileges. During those times, his glasses were returned to him. Additionally, there was always a guard sitting outside of his cell watching him.

The Army Staff Judge Advocate’s Office was made aware of this situation on January 19, 2011. To its credit, the Army Staff Judge Advocate’s Office worked through the military channels at the request of the defense to ensure that the Quantico Brig conducted a timely review of the necessity for the suicide risk restrictions. Based upon this review, CWO4 Averhart removed the suicide risk restrictions at 3:21 p.m. yesterday and placed PFC Manning back into POI watch.

Conditions are still untenable for Manning with guards waking him every five minutes to make sure he is ‘okay’.

For more on today’s events check Firedoglake




US DOJ moves on Wikileaks amidst movement to decentralize the web via ‘unhosted’

Twitter appears to have behaved responsibly toward its users when it was served with a subpoena last month demanding the release of information for Jacob Appelbaum (a.k.a. ioerror), Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Rop Gonggrijp. Claiming “the COURT finds that the applicant has offered specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the records and other infomation sought are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation”.

The subpoena was unsealed January 5, presumably at the request of Twitter, enabling them to inform their users they have ten days to file a motion to quash. Both Wikileaks and Gonggrijp suspect other providers, Google, Facebook, etc… have been served as well and may have quietly turned whatever they had over without informing their users or making any effort to protect them.

Wikileaks has put out a statement demanding Facebook and Google release the contents of any subpoenas they may have received. “Today, the existence of a secret US government grand jury espionage investigation into WikiLeaks was confirmed for the first time as a subpoena was brought into the public domain”.

The court issuing the subpoena said it had “reasonable grounds” to believe Twitter held information “relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation”.

It ordered Twitter not to notify the targets of the subpoena – an order the company successfully challenged.

The court order crucially demands that Twitter hand over details of source and destination internet protocol addresses used to access the accounts, which would help investigators identify how the named individuals communicated with each other, as well as email addresses used.

Twitter, came under criticism when it was accused of preventing Wikileaks from becoming a trending topic. Twitter denied this but it has more than redeemed itself by sticking up for its users. Can the same be said of other services? Can we trust the online services we use to protect our rights anymore than cell phone companies?

Many online groups say, no. There is a movement afoot to decentralize the web. Personally, my ears always prick up when I hear the word ‘decentralize’ and I advocate for decentralizing power production and banks and even democracy on this blog all the time. Centralized systems concentrate the power into the hands of a very few, often at the expense of the many. The more we rely upon centralized servers like Google and Facebook and Twitter the more vulnerable we become to unwanted and unwarranted surveillance and privacy invasion.

Enter ‘unhosted‘, an open source attempt to put some ‘grease’ between hosted applications like a website and the limited number of big centralized websites, that we all connect to. Normally, a hosted website provides two processing and storage. An unhosted website would theoretically only host source code and the processing would take place in the users browser. “These unhosted storage nodes can be provided by whoever provides your email hosting: your employer, ISP, university, mobile operator, public library, a hobbyist friend who runs a server at home, a hosting company, etc. They become just like mailservers, BGP switches, fibre links and other commodity infrastructure: independent of which application you run on top of them. And they only get to see encrypted data.”

Free/libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) frees us from having to install proprietary software on our terminals. But installable software is losing ground to hosted software (websites). The server software is often open source (e.g. LAMP), but the website itself as a software product is almost always proprietary. There is an obvious reason for this: Even if an Affero license allows us to download the website’s source code, only a commercial company can finance the thousands of servers needed to host a successful website. To make things worse, hosted software has more power over its users than installable software, because it forces you to put your user data on servers owned by the same company that publishes the software. If you want to use Google Docs, you have to reveal your work to a Google-owned server (what Richard Stallman calls “careless computing”)…

We needed to break the one-to-one link between the software publisher who writes a website (e.g. “Google, Inc”) and the “hostage provider” who hosts that website (e.g. also “Google, Inc”). Unhosted creates a simple grease layer in the form of an open web standard (UJ/0.1) between the hosted software and the servers that host it, so this is decoupled.

The unhosted manifesto admits it may not be possible to decentralize everything on the web …”Websearch will be the most challenging one because of its inherent centralization”.




US Dept of Justice asks Twitter private messages from member of Iceland parliament

A member of the Iceland Parliament and a former Wikileaks volunteer has been notified by Twitter that a subpoena from the US Department of Justice is asking them to turn over all her tweets and private messages.

Birgitta Jonsdottir, an MP for the Movement in Iceland, said last night on Twitter that the “USA government wants to know about all my tweets and more since november 1st 2009. Do they realize I am a member of parliament in Iceland?”

She said she was starting a legal fight to stop the US getting hold of her messages, after being told by Twitter that a subpoena had been issued. She wrote: “department of justice are requesting twitter to provide the info – I got 10 days to stop it via legal process before twitter hands it over.”

She said the justice department was “just sending a message and of course they are asking for a lot more than just my tweets.”

Jonsdottir said she was demanding a meeting with the US ambassador to Iceland. “The justice department has gone completely over the top.” She added that the US authorities had requested personal information from Twitter as well as her private messages and that she was now assessing her legal position.

“It’s not just about my information. It’s a warning for anyone who had anything to do with WikiLeaks. It is completely unacceptable for the US justice department to flex its muscles like this. I am lucky, I’m a representative in parliament. But what of other people? It’s my duty to do whatever I can to stop this abuse.”

Jonsdottir has championed the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative to make Iceland a legal haven for journalists and media outlets. She has ten days to challenge the request or Twitter will have to comply with the subpoena.

Read the subpoena and the Twitter Unsealing Order

The order asks for more than just personal messages

A. The following customer or subscriber account information for each account registered to or associated with Wikileaks; rop…2; ioerror; birgittaj; Julian Assange; Bradley Manning; Rop Gongrijp; Birgitta Jonsdottir for the time period November 1, 2009 to present:
1. subscriber names, user names, screen names, or other identities;
2. mailing addresses, residential addresses, business addresses, e-mail addresses, and other contact information;
3. connection records, or records of session times and durations;
4, length of service (including start date) and types of service. utilized;
5. telephone or instmment number or other subscriber number or identity, including any temporarily assigned network address; and
6. means and source of payment fo! such service (including any credit card or bank account number) and billing records.
B. All records and other information relating to the account(s) and time period in Part A,
including:
1. records of user activity for any connections made. to or from the Account, including the date, time, length, and method of connections, data transfer volume, user name, and source and destination Internet Protocol addressees);
2. non-content information associated with the contents of any communication Or file stored by or for the account(s»)’ such as the source and destination email addresses and IP addresses.
3. correspondence and notes of records related to the account(s).

Glenn Greenwald has a post up now.

The Subpoena was court ordered, signed by a federal Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia, Theresa Buchanan. It states that there is “reasonable ground to believe that the records or other information sought are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.” It was issued on December 14 and ordered sealed — i.e., kept secret from the targets of the Order. On January 5, the same judge ordered the subpoena unsealed at Twitter’s request in order to inform the users of the Subpoena and give them 10 days to object; had Twitter not so requested, it could have turned over this information without the knowledge of its users.




Should Bradley Manning be released for lack of a speedy trial?

Bradley Manning has been accused of unauthorized access to classified material and was charged, July 5, 2010, with eight violations of federal criminal law and transmitting classified information to an unauthorized third party. According to, David E Coombs, Army Court-Martial Defense Specialist, Manning’s right to a speedy trial may have been violated and a motion to dismiss may be upheld by case law because, “R.C.M. 707 provides that charges against an accused must be dismissed if they are not brought to trial within 120 days of the earlier of preferral, pretrial confinement, or recall to active duty under R.C.M. 204”.

The Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial is applied to military jurisprudence through two separate and distinct provisions– Rule for Court-Martial (R.C.M.) 707 and Article 10 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) (10 U.S.C. § 810). While both provisions seek to protect the same constitutional right, and while there is considerable overlap between the two, each provision has separate rules regarding when the protections attach and when they are breached.

Whether stemming from R.C.M. 707 or from Article 10 UCMJ, a motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial must be raised before the court-martial is adjourned, and it is waived by a guilty plea, as provided in R.C.M. 907(b)(2)(A) and 905(e). Once the issue is raised, the burden of persuasion rests with the government. R.C.M. 905(c)(2)(B). Before hearing on the motion, the parties may stipulate as to undisputed facts and dates of relevant pretrial events. The stipulation will provide the court a chronology detailing the processing of the case. R.C.M. 707(c)(2).

So, why hasn’t Manning been tried and where is that motion to dismiss?




Cyber attack on Bank of America still ongoing after almost two hours

Attack began at 9:05 AM PT and is having mixed results and the hive mind is alternately down with members firing LOIC manually.

The hive changes targets and strategies on the fly




Cyber attack planned for Bank of America 12 hrs and counting down

LOIC (Low orbit ion cannons) are loading with a firing time of 5:00 AM December 27 and the target, Bank of America. There appears to be some dissent, however, and talk of waiting for the anticipated ‘megaleak’ of incriminating information obtained from a BofA executive’s hard drive.

The DDoS attacks serve primarily to disrupt the targets operations for a period of time determined by how long the hive can sustain the attack and how many members are active in the hive. If the BofA attack is carried out, the most interesting part of the digital demonstration/protest will be as a test of numbers and duration.

Bank of America recently joined the growing list of companies attempting to choke off funding to Wikileaks and is also being sued for fraudulent loan practices.