News Releases

U.S.-China Climate Deal: What the Cheering Overlooks

CNN is reporting: “In a historic climate change deal, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced both countries will curb their greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades. Under the agreement, the United States would cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26-28 percent before the year 2025. China would peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and will also aim to get 20 percent of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources by the same year.”

JANET REDMAN, [in D.C.] Janet at ips-dc.org, @Janet_IPS
Redman is climate policy program director at the Institute for Policy Studies. She said today: “This announcement from the U.S. and China to reduce greenhouse emissions is a signal that the two largest climate polluters are moving on climate change. But comparing their pledges to what science says is needed to avoid climate catastrophe, a global cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by mid-century, these economic powerhouses are not taking that threat seriously enough.

“Both countries can and need to do more. The U.S. must up the ambition of its target, strengthen its Clean Power Plan to phase out of all fossil fuels, and contribute its fair share to the Green Climate Fund. China could peak emissions sooner, move out of coal faster, and abandon wasteful efforts to capture and pump carbon pollution into the ground.

“One test of success of cooperation between the U.S. and China will be whether it builds momentum in global negotiations for a new legally-binding climate deal in Paris at the end of next year that reflects the science and equity in action. Another is whether working together creates common cause for a just transition to a 100 percent renewable energy future that’s good for workers, climate-vulnerable communities, and families on the frontline of dirty energy pollution.

“Without clear pathways and legal commitments, even the most encouraging words ring hollow.”

DAPHNE WYSHAM, daphne.wysham at gmail.com, @daphnewysham
Wysham is climate policy fellow at the Center for Sustainable Economy. She said today: “The deal brokered between China and the U.S. on greenhouse gas emissions is significant but only because our expectations are so low. The three primary flaws in this agreement: 1) It kicks the can down the road to 2030, when climate science tells us China must peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020; 2) The U.S. can continue to export the equivalent of five times the carbon contained in the Keystone XL pipeline annually in new, heavily subsidized coal, oil and gas shipments without taking responsibility for these greenhouse gas emissions; and 3) China’s plan to expand its fleet of nuclear power plants is a dangerous and expensive response to the climate crisis, ignoring the lessons of Fukushima.” See Wysham’s recent appearance on The Real News.

STEVE HORN, steve at desmogblog.com, @Desmogblog
Horn is editor of Desmogblog, which seeks to “clear the PR pollution that clouds climate science.” He said today: “As the saying goes, read the fine print: nuclear energy will be accounted for as ‘zero emission’ and it looks like carbon capture and storage (CCS) will too, aka ‘clean coal,’ or ’21st Century Coal’ as the U.S. has preferred to call it in terms of its wheeling and dealing with China. Plus we have to ask: are the demands in line with the climate science? Perhaps they — climate scientists — should be consulted before declaring the agreement a ‘gamechanger.’ I think I’ll leave my pom-poms in the closet for now.” See: “In Push For Nuclear Power, Climate Change Concerns Overlooked.”

Obama and McConnell: Embracing Trade Deals Both Parties Just Ran Against

A Wall Street Journal headline claims: “GOP Victory Opens Pathway to Trade Bill.” ABC News reports: “At a post-election news conference, McConnell listed trade agreements and corporate tax reform as two potential early areas of compromise with the president. ‘Those are two very significant areas of potential agreement.’ McConnell said.” Meanwhile, President Obama stated: “We can also work together to grow our — grow our exports and open new markets for our manufacturers to sell more American-made goods to the rest of the world. That’s something I’ll be focused on when I travel to Asia next week.” On Sunday , Obama is scheduled to go to Beijing for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting.

LORI WALLACH, lwallach at citizen.org; also via Alisa Simmons, asimmons at citizen.org, @PCGTW
Wallach is director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, which just put out the memo “What the 2014 Election Results Mean for Trade Policy,” which notes: “Both Parties Competed to Highlight Rejection of Unfair Trade in Competitive Races, Heightening Public Awareness and Further Complicating Obama’s Bid for Fast Track: Analysis of the most-watched races of the 2014 elections reveals bipartisan competition to align campaign positions with the American public’s opposition to current U.S. trade policies and the job offshoring they cause. A raft of ads spotlighting the damage caused by status quo trade policies has heightened constituents’ anger about damaging trade deals and the expectation that their newly elected representatives will reject the administration’s attempt to Fast Track more of the same deals.”

The group gives several examples of such ads — including McConnell’s U.S. Senate race in Kentucky: “Trade loomed large in this headline-grabbing race between McConnell and his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. The Senate Majority PAC launched an ad that showed video footage of McConnell expressing support for NAFTA, and stated, ‘Mitch McConnell’s been tragically wrong about foreign trade deals. They’ve cost America over half a million jobs.’ Another Senate Majority PAC ad criticized McConnell for ‘pushing foreign trade deals that send Kentucky jobs to new homes far away.’ As his numbers plummeted in the early fall, McConnell’s campaign ultimately was forced to respond by adopting the same frame used against him, claiming in an ad that McConnell ‘fought against unfair foreign trade,’ despite having cast 20 out of 20 votes in favor of unfair trade since 1991. McConnell beat Grimes after running against his own voting record.”

The group also states: “The GOP takeover of the U.S. Senate probably reduces the chances that President Barack Obama gets Fast Track at all before his presidency is over or that a deal is completed on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). There has been a major corporate PR campaign to push the opposite narrative. However, a close look at the interplay of the actual politics and policy on Fast Track and the TPP show that the GOP election sweep may, counterintuitively, actually not promote the corporate trade agenda.”

On Fast Track: “The issue is not who is Senate Majority leader. The fight over trade authority is always won or lost in the U.S. House of Representatives. Recall that second-term Democratic President Bill Clinton lost a bid for Fast Track in 1998 in the GOP-controlled House with 171 Democrats and 71 GOP members voting ‘no.’ (Clinton had Fast Track for only two of his eight years. Indeed, in the past two decades, the only president to obtain Fast Track was President George W. Bush, and winning that five-year grant required a two-year effort at the start of Bush’s first term and a lot of political capital, after which Fast Track passed by one vote in a GOP-controlled House in 2002.) …

“The election results may also complicate Obama’s goal of signing a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal. …”

Minimum Wage: Four for Four…in “Red States”

PETER DAVIS, pdavis at timeforaraise.org
Ralph Nader and Davis just co-wrote a letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi which states: “Buried underneath the coverage of the Democrats’ second midterm ‘shalackin’ in a row is a stark public sentiment that provides a path forward for your caucuses during the upcoming lame duck session. Despite the Republican wave, a minimum wage raise passed in every state in which it was on the ballot. These were not coastal blue states: the four 2014 minimum wage ballot initiatives ­­– for Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota — ­­passed in Republican-dominated states which all elected Republican senators alongside the initiative. If your caucuses were to uniformly and exuberantly push for a minimum wage raise in the upcoming Congressional work session, it would transition the national media narrative away from Republican momentum in the never-­ending horse race and towards whether the new Congressional leadership will be responsive to the public sentiment and needs of American workers.” See the full letter. Davis is a campaign activist for Time for a Raise campaign, a project of Ralph Nader’s Center for the Study of Responsive Law.

In August, Nader wrote the piece “Democrats Are Doomed (Unless They Make the Minimum Wage the #1 November Election Issue).”

Nader’s latest book is Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. Earlier this year, Nader’s office hosted a conference on left-right alliance. See video of the conference here.

HOLLY SKLAR, FRANK KNAPP, Jr., via Bob Keener, bob at businessforafairminimumwage.org
Sklar, CEO of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, said today: “These minimum wage wins will send a clear message: Americans across the political spectrum want to raise the minimum wage. There is growing public awareness about the business benefits of increasing minimum wage such as boosting consumer demand, reducing worker turnover and increasing productivity. Nationally, 61 percent of small business owners want to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 and adjust it for the cost of living in future years. It’s time for Congress to follow the public’s lead and vote to give America a raise.”

Knapp, president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 5,000 businesses, said: “This election shows that increasing the minimum wage is not a Red State versus Blue State issue. It’s a common sense, good business issue. Raising the minimum wage improves consumer demand, which is how Main Street businesses grow. We look forward to building on this momentum to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10.”

Election 2014: Money and “Seesaw Politics”

THOMAS FERGUSON, thomas.ferguson at umb.edu
Ferguson is professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, senior fellow of the Roosevelt Institute and the author of Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Politics (University of Chicago Press, 1995).

He commented on the election results: “So after blowing through more money than any off year election in history, 2014 leave us with this: A war of all against all — all of the Republican Congress against all of the Democratic Executive Branch. There’s no single-minded wave like 2010: it is obvious that huge numbers of Americans detest both parties, and that one of the keys to the election’s outcome was the failure of the president’s supporters to turn out like they did in 2012.

“There’s nothing mystifying about their disenchantment: After six years in the White House, President Obama rescued the banks, but not most of the American people, whose incomes and job prospects continue to languish. Add to that what will likely prove to be a substantial Republican advantage in total spending, and the impression the White House conveyed of constantly being surprised by world events, and it is hardly surprising that we witnessed another installment of ‘seesaw politics.’ The interesting question for the future is how much longer this can go on, in a world in which both Europe and China are slowing down, the Fed is tapering, and the Republicans’ answers to what ails the economy comes basically out of the playbook of the George W. Bush administration: deregulation, more tax cuts for the wealthy, and further cuts in civilian spending to reduce an already shrunken deficit.” One of Ferguson’s most recent articles is “How Big Money Keeps Populism at Bay.”

ROBERT WEISSMAN, LISA GILBERT, via Barbara Holzer, bholzer at citizen.org, @Public_Citizen
Weissman is president of Public Citizen; Gilbert is director of the group’s Congress Watch division. The group states: “Dark money, as well large amounts of disclosed money from outside groups, unjustly reshape elections in much the same way that a funhouse mirror distorts your reflection. What you see no more resembles the real you than these elections resemble a genuinely democratic voting process.

“Enabled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, billionaires and corporations have grabbed control of our elections. More money than ever is being spent — an estimated $4 billion for this year’s elections, which is a record for a midterm, though the actual total will surely be higher when the final reports are filed.

“But more significant than the actual amounts are the rising expenditures by outside organizations — super PACs, trade associations and so-called social welfare organizations that do not disclose their donors and are not connected to the candidates. … These organizations concentrate their spending on the close races — often spending far more than the candidates themselves — so their influence is concentrated where it matters most. What’s more, at least 57 outside groups that can accept unlimited contributions have devoted all of their resources to supporting a single congressional candidate this election cycle, as detailed in Public Citizen’s latest analysis on outside spending, ‘SuperConnected 2014.’”

Restrictions at the Polls

Restrictions_after_2010
GREG PALAST, leni at gregpalast.com, @Greg_Palast
Palast’s investigation, “Jim Crow Returns: Millions of Minority Voters Threatened by Electoral Purge,” was recently aired on Al-Jazeera America.

WENDY WEISER, MYRNA PÉREZ, via Erik Opsal, erik.opsal at nyu.edu, @BrennanCenter
Weiser is democracy program director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. She co-wrote the in-depth report “The State of Voting in 2014.” Pérez is deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and leads the group’s Texas voter ID work.

More recent pieces are available on their blog, including “Voter ID Law Turns Away Texans.” The group notes: “This is the first federal election since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, which would have required Texas to get government approval for these changes.” They have pieces that include “stories from actual voters and the difficulties they’ve encountered during early voting. … In many cases, Texas failed these voters twice — first by requiring identification they did not have, and second by not training election officials to help them navigate the rules.”

The Brennan Center adds: “Voters in need of assistance should call 1-866-OUR-VOTE, where trained volunteers are standing by to assist voters and answer any questions they may have.”

Weiser also co-wrote “We Already Know Who Won the 2014 Election” about the Supreme Court. The piece states: “When the Court dismantled our laws regulating money in politics and gutted core voting rights protections, we knew those decisions would have consequences. But only now are we seeing the full scope of their impact: a return to pre-Watergate, pre-Civil Rights era practices. Cash from unknown sources is flooding the most important races, while state politicians have instituted new barriers to the ballot box for millions of Americans. Regardless of who wins, the integrity of our elections has been undermined.”

* Exploding Rocket * Climate Change

virgin-galactic-spaceship-two-crashKARL GROSSMAN, kgrossman at hamptons.com
Professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, Grossman is author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. He just wrote the piece “Privatizing Space Travel When Spaceships Explode,” which states: “Much of the U.S. space program has become privatized in recent years and now instead of a sometimes bumbling bureaucracy doing dumb things like launching the Challenger shuttle in frigid weather when its O-rings holding in its fuel weren’t flexible, there are corporations seeking to make big bucks.

“The explosions last week of an Antares rocket on Tuesday and the Virgin Galactic SpaceShip2 on Friday were disasters and, considering the death of a SpaceShip2 pilot and serious injury to the other pilot, tragedies. …”

AP reports: “Climate change is happening, it’s almost entirely man’s fault and limiting its impacts may require reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero this century, the U.N.’s panel on climate science said Sunday.” See: “The Time to Act is Now: IPCC Issues ‘Final Word’ on Climate Change.”

DAPHNE WYSHAM, daphne at ips-dc.org, @daphnewysham
Wysham is climate policy fellow at the Center for Sustainable Economy and associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Her most recent pieces include “Fossil Fuels: The Tide is Turning” and “Is the Democrats’ Talkathon on Climate Change Just Talk?”

KIM FRACZEK, kim at saneenergyproject.org
Fraczek is with the group Sane Energy Project, one of a number of grassroots groups this week protesting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under the banner “Beyond Extreme Energy.”

KEVIN ZEESE, kzeese at earthlink.net
Zeese is with Popular Resistance, another group involved in protests in Washington, D.C. this week. The group has recently put out “Open Letter: Democratic Party Failing On The Climate Crisis.”

Former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern Arrested While Trying to Attend David Petraeus Event

FireDogLake reports: “Former CIA analyst and activist Ray McGovern was arrested as he attempted to attend an event in New York City featuring former CIA director and retired military general, David Petraeus. He was charged with resisting arrest, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

“At 92nd Street Y, which describes itself as a ‘world-class cultural and community center,’ Petraeus was to appear with John Nagl, who recently wrote a book, Knife Fights about being an army tank commander in the Gulf War of 1991. Neoconservative commentator Max Boot was to join them as well.

The piece, by Kevin Gosztola, continues: “Activists from World Can’t Wait, the Granny Peace Brigade, Brooklyn for Peace and a chapter of Veterans for Peace called on people to protest. Some tickets, which cost $45 each, were bought so people could attend the event and potentially participate in a question and answer portion of the event.

“World Can’t Wait activist Stephanie Rugoff said a guard stopped McGovern. ‘Ray, you’re not going in,’ the guard said.

“McGovern, who is 74 years old, told the guards something to the effect that the Bill of Rights gave him the right to go into the event. McGovern had a ticket too. But the guards would not let him pass and soon New York police officers surrounded him.

“Richard Marini, also an activist with World Can’t Wait, approached the entrance to the 92nd Street Y Center and saw McGovern…being apprehended.

“According to Marini, his arms were twisted tightly behind his back and he was in immense pain while they were dragging him to the police car. He was squeezed into the back of a patrol car and taken to the 67th Street station.

“Rugoff heard him screaming. He was shouting about how they were hurting his shoulder. He asked the officers to stop twisting it so they did not aggravate his shoulder and possibly re-injure it.

“‘I had a ticket as well,’ Marini explained. ‘They recognized me as well and called me by my name, my first name. They seemed to know who people were.’”

RAY McGOVERN, rrmcgovern at gmail.com, @raymcgovern
McGovern is a former CIA analyst whose responsibilities included chairing National Intelligence Estimates. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He was released from custody today.

DEBRA SWEET, debrasweet at worldcantwait.net, @DSweetWCW
Sweet is director of World Can’t Wait and organized the protest outside the Petraeus event.

DAVID SWANSON, davidcnswanson at gmail.com, @davidcnswanson
Author of When the World Outlawed War, War Is A Lie and Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, Swanson said today: “Like sex for virginity, war for freedom turns out to have a fatal flaw. With each new war for freedom, we see more of our freedoms stripped away in the name of the war — above all our right to assemble and speak nonviolently against war and to petition those in power for a redress of grievances. As the weaponry makes its way to the local police and school boards, the abuses first imposed on foreigners make their way to the population supposedly being defended. When Ray McGovern was assaulted last time, by Hillary Clinton’s guards, he wasn’t even speaking but just silently turning his back.”

See: “Clinton Talks Freedom as Dissident Bloodied and Dragged Off.”

Veterans Day “Concert for Valor”

RORY FANNING, walkforpat at gmail.com, @RTFanning
Fanning is a former Army Ranger and author of the book Worth Fighting For, which will be released on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. In his most recent article “ Thank You for Your Valor, Thank You for Your Service, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You… ,” he states: “Last week, in a quiet indie bookstore on the north side of Chicago, I saw the latest issue of Rolling Stone resting on a chrome-colored plastic table a few feet from a barista brewing a vanilla latte. A cold October rain fell outside. A friend of mine grabbed the issue and began flipping through it. Knowing that I was a veteran, he said, ‘Hey, did you see this?’ pointing to a news story that seemed more like an ad. It read in part:

“This Veterans Day, Bruce Springsteen, Eminem, Rihanna, Dave Grohl, and Metallica will be among numerous artists who will head to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on November 11th for ‘The Concert For Valor,’ an all-star event that will pay tribute to armed services.

“‘Concert For Valor? That sounds like something the North Korean government would organize,’ I said as I typed Concertforvalor.com into my MacBook Pro looking for more information… As I read, my heart sank, my shoulders slumped.

“Special guests at the Concert for Valor were to include: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Steven Spielberg. The mission of the concert, according to a press release, was to ‘raise awareness’ of veterans issues and ‘provide a national stage for ensuring that veterans and their families know that their fellow Americans’ gratitude is genuine.’

“Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Michael Mullen were to serve in an advisory capacity, and Starbucks, HBO, and JP Morgan Chase were to pay for it all. ‘We are honored to play a small role to help raise awareness and support for our service men and women,’ said HBO chairman Richard Plepler.

“Will the ‘Concert for Valor’ mention the trillions of dollars rung up terrorizing Muslim countries for oil, the ratcheting up of the police and surveillance state in this country since 9/11, the hundreds of thousands of lives lost thanks to the wars of George W. Bush and Barack Obama? Is anyone going to dedicate a song to Chelsea Manning, or John Kiriakou, or Edward Snowden — two of them languishing in prison and one in exile — for their service to the American people? Will the Concert for Valor raise anyone’s awareness when it comes to the fact that, to this day, veterans lack proper medical attention, particularly for mental health issues, or that there is a veteran suicide every 80 minutes in this country? Let’s hope they find time in between drum solos, but myself, I’m not counting on it.”

Exploding Rocket: Underlines “Folly of Using Nuclear Power in Space”

AP is reporting: “The company behind the dramatic launch explosion of a space station supply mission promises to find the cause of the failure and is warning residents to avoid any potentially hazardous wreckage.

“Orbital Sciences Corp.’s unmanned Antares rocket blew up just moments after liftoff Tuesday evening from the Virginia coast.”

KARL GROSSMAN, kgrossman at hamptons.com
A veteran investigative reporter, Grossman has been a recipient of the George Polk Award and other honors for his journalism. He is a professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury.

He said today: “This event underlines again the folly of using nuclear power in space — something the United States and Russia are again actively planning. An explosion on launch is not unusual — indeed, one out of 100 rockets fail on launch. But, consider if radioactive materials were on board — as will be the situation for the proposed U.S. and Russian nuclear space shots (this rocket was equipped with a Russian engine).” Grossman is author of The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet and for the last nearly 30 years, has been challenging the use of nuclear power in space. He he broke the story in The Nation magazine about how the next mission of the ill-fated Challenger shuttle involved it lofting a space probe with a plutonium-powered electrical generating system on board. Among Grossman’s articles is, from CounterPunch: “Obama and the Nuclear Rocket.” His documentaries include “Nukes in Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens.”

Grossman added: “Meanwhile, enormous advances have been made in the use of safe solar power to generate electricity on spacecraft. Even way out in space, the European Space Agency’s solar-powered Rosetta spacecraft recently successfully rendezvoused with a comet and NASA’s Juno’s solar-powered space probe is now on its way to Jupiter.”

Amazon-CIA $600 Million Deal Facing Scrutiny: “What’s the CIA Doing on Amazon’s Cloud?”

CIA Amazon ImageA billboard challenging Amazon to fully disclose the terms of its $600 million contract to provide cloud computing services for the Central Intelligence Agency has been unveiled at a busy intersection near Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.

The billboard’s launch — asking “the $600 million question: What’s the CIA Doing on Amazon’s Cloud?” — marks the escalation of a campaign by the online activist organizations RootsAction.org and ExposeFacts.org. The groups are calling for accountability from Amazon in an effort to inform the public of serious privacy implications of the Amazon-CIA collaboration. (ExposeFacts.org is a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy.)

The positioning of the 48-foot-wide billboard on Amazon’s doorstep at Fairview Avenue and Valley Street in Seattle follows a RootsAction petition calling for Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos to make a legally binding commitment to Amazon’s commercial customers that it will not provide customer data to the CIA.

Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer. “The same company that stores vast quantities of customer records and even provides cloud storage services also stores the CIA’s surveillance data — yet the actual terms of the Amazon-CIA agreement are secret,” said Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

To see the billboard, click here.

“Amazon now averages 162 million unique visitors to its sites every month,” Solomon said. “The firm’s business model depends on accumulating and analyzing huge quantities of personal data. Meanwhile, the CIA depends on gathering and analyzing data to assist with surveillance as well as U.S. military interventions overseas. The circumstances are ominous.”

In hosting a huge computing cloud for the CIA’s secrets, Amazon now has “a digital place where data for mass surveillance and perpetual war are converging,” he added. The CIA is responsible for numerous war-related programs including drone strikes.

Marcy Wheeler — who writes widely on the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties including her “Right to Know” column for ExposeFacts.org — said Wednesday that Amazon should answer a number of key questions before its customers and the general public can be assured that personal information from the company’s commercial operations is not finding its way into the CIA’s hands.

For instance, she said, Bezos and Amazon should answer the question: “Will there be any overlap between the physical hardware serving Amazon’s commercial cloud service and what is provided to the CIA?”

Referring to the CIA’s machinations over the still-unreleased Senate torture report, she added that Bezos should also be asked: “The CIA has admitted accessing documents made available to the Senate Intelligence Committee on shared space — what provisions have you made to prevent similar spying on Amazon’s commercial customers?”

Wheeler also noted that according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Amazon is “one of the only major cloud providers that doesn’t provide a transparency report of government requests.” In light of Amazon’s CIA contract, Bezos should be asked: “Do you believe your cloud customers should have some visibility of how you respond to government requests?”

Amazon’s current “Privacy Notice” to customers reads: “We release account and other personal information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law; enforce or apply our Conditions of Use and other agreements; or protect the rights, property, or safety of Amazon.com, our users, or others.”

Solomon said this notice “has loopholes big enough to fly a drone through.”

After Amazon Web Services was awarded the $600 million cloud contract last year, Amazon declared: “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA.” Industry experts have said this contract will likely open the door for Amazon to get more cloud contracts from other government spy and military agencies — hardly a reassuring prospect for the privacy of Amazon’s customers.

MARCY WHEELER, emptywheel at gmail.com, @emptywheel
Wheeler writes widely about the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties. She blogs at emptywheel.net and writes the “Right to Know” column for ExposeFacts.org.

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com, @normansolomon
Solomon is the author of many books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

Background: Government Executive: “Daring Deal

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