Category Archives: Whistle blowers

The Vatican, Illegality and when the Holy Can’t See

In the public interest. What the holy can’t see won’t hurt them hmmmm. Corruption is revealing unethical and criminal behaviour in an institution that preaches moral virtues and humility. This is the lesson for the Catholic church (and others). The trust of the people is what has been betrayed overtime. One can’t just confess sins it is to face what actions have done to innocent people. So a person would have to go to those personally he or she affected. This is how the crime is seen and felt. Forgiveness is then the next step of one’s greed, lust, indifference. The corruption of character.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-vaticans-dirty-money-problem

The Vatican’s Dirty Money Problem

 
FISHY

A mysterious firing and a new report on the Vatican’s creative bookkeeping begs the question: Why does no one ever get in trouble for laundering money at the Holy See?

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

 

ROME—In 2015, the Council of Europe’s financial-evaluation arm Moneyval laid down the law for the Vatican Bank, telling the rather unholy financiers who had been accused of abetting money laundering for years that it isn’t enough to just smoke out suspicious account holders and freeze assets. Instead they said the Vatican Bank, formally known as the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR, needed to start actually prosecuting criminal cases.

Two years later, thousands of accounts have been closed or frozen, but Moneyval still isn’t happy. According to its 209-page December 2017 progress report, the Vatican gets good marks for not funding terrorism and for flagging potential illegal behavior. But the holy bank fails once again to actually hold anyone accountable for what are clearly crimes such as “fraud, including serious tax evasion, misappropriation and corruption,” according to the report.

More curious still, a week before the highly anticipated report was released, the IOR Deputy Director Giulio Mattietti was fired with no advance warning and escorted from his office out of fear he might remove files from his desk.

Mattietti was hired in 2007 by Paolo Cipriani, the former head of the bank who resigned under pressure a few months after Pope Francis was elected in 2013, after a Vatican accountant nicknamed “Monsignor 500” for his penchant for 500-euro notes, was arrested for trying to smuggle $26 million to Switzerland. Mattietti’s removal followed the sacking of a lower-level IOR employee days earlier. The Vatican gives no official reason for either of the firings beyond “reforms,” but a source close to the bank says the bank employees who were let go may have been whistleblowers who were alerting officials outside the bank about continuing impropriety.

In fact, despite apparently precise record keeping on the part of IOR, Moneyval evaluators still found 69 actions involving 38 customers that were not in accordance with money laundering and fraud standards set forth by the Council of Europe. None of those suspect cases were prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law, and instead Moneyval investigators point to vague records that imply that the cases were closed.

“Eight money-laundering investigations have been closed formally without any charges, while six additional investigations have been concluded without an indictment for any offense and their formal closure has been requested,” the report states.

And that is a problem.

The report specifically points to the recent Vatican tribunal case in which the chairman of the Vatican’s children’s hospital was accused of serious financial crimes using around a half million euros in funds meant for sick children to renovate a penthouse apartment for the former Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The cardinal was never under investigation, but the hospital’s former president and treasurer were tried in a Vatican court for using funds they funneled through the Vatican Bank.

Moneyval is calling foul on the judicial outcome. The chairman was given a suspended sentence and the treasurer was acquitted even though the money clearly was misappropriated. “An immediate custodial sentence was not imposed on the former chairman of the  foundation. He received a one-year suspended prison sentence and was placed on probation for five years,” the report notes, adding the fact that there was “no application for restitution or compensation to the foundation.” That means the half-million that was criminally mishandled will never go to the sick children for whom it originally was intended.

In this case, Moneyval evaluators have advised the Vatican’s “promoter of justice,” or chief prosecutor, to “impose a fine, as foreseen by the law, in addition to the custodial sentence” essentially demanding that the chairman spend his year in prison.

The Moneyval report also outlines a case in which a Vatican Bank customer who was “a foreign citizen” and not a Vatican resident, withdrew more than $3 million from his private IOR account and deposited that money into three separate safety deposit boxes kept in the bank, which was a practice apparently used by Mother Teresa and others who had big sums of money but who lacked the paperwork to move it around legally.

The Moneyval report says that the cash was then subsequently “gradually withdrawn from the safety boxes and transferred to a third country without declarations.” In 2014, the Vatican Bank reported the case and suspended access to the safety boxes, the contents of which, by then, had been depleted. An unnamed foreign country then opened its own investigation into the deposit of the same sum ($3 million) that had apparently come from the Vatican Bank account.

The Vatican tribunal originally levied a sanction of more than $250,000 on the customer, but in a secret hearing in June of this year, the Vatican promoter of justice apparently reduced the fine by more than half. “The appeal against the administrative sanction was heard by the Vatican Tribunal in June 2017, when the fine, was reduced considerably,” according to the Moneyval report. Moneyval then leaned on the Vatican’s promoter of justice to reopen the case and consider reinstituting the original fine for apparent money laundering but found that “So far there has been no indictment in this case.”

The evaluators went further to suggest the promoter of justice is actually complicit in keeping cases out of its courts. “While this review cannot form a view on the quality of the evidence adduced in financial-crime cases that have so far come before the Tribunal, the success rate of the promoter before the tribunal so far is not encouraging,”  the evaluators state. “It is noted that persons have been discharged by the tribunal. That is the tribunal’s prerogative, having heard the evidence in the case. However, if the promoter is dissatisfied with evidential decisions of the tribunal or decisions of the tribunal to convict on lesser charges than those brought by his office, he is encouraged to be proactive in appealing those decisions in appropriate cases.”

The bank once had more than 30,000 account holders, including several religious entities and private citizens who maintained accounts worth millions at the hallowed institution, which is tucked safely within the sovereign state of  Vatican City. The bank has since closed several high-profile accounts, including many held by diplomatic missions and the consulates to Syria, Iran, and Iraq who moved millions of euros around through “vague cash transactions,” but it has never been able to shake its troubled past.

Last June the Vatican’s prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy, Cardinal George Pell was sent back to Australia to face child sex-abuse charges in early 2018, leaving a notable gap in the pope’s efforts to reform the church’s troubled finances, which had been a priority since his election in 2013.

The Vatican had little to say after the recent Moneyval report. “The Holy See is committed to taking the necessary actions in the relevant areas to further strengthen its efforts to combat and prevent financial crimes,” was the only official word from the Vatican press office. Just shortly after he was elected, Pope Francis threatened to close the bank for good after widespread allegations that it was involved in corrupt practices including money laundering. No doubt he has been second-guessing the decision to keep it open ever since.

Is Domestic Surveillance Legal? What do YOU Think?

Surveillance and visibility is in the public interest.

The same discussion applies to Australians under surveillance. The question would be – is Pine Gap (US facility) and other intel operators surveilling Australians?

Snowden, PRISM, and Surveillance: an Aftermath

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaked information about government surveillance activities, Congress passed a law restricting some of the actions of US intelligence agencies. This law, known as the USA Freedom Act, was a valiant attempt to rein in excesses of the National Security Agency (NSA).
As part of Internet Privacy week, Namecheap is exploring different topics relating to online privacy. Below we’ll examine the USA Freedom Act and what it accomplished, as well as what still needs to be done to protect American privacy rights.

What is the USA Freedom Act?

The USA Freedom Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 2, 2015.
It is a modified reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act and was passed in response to the leak of classified documents by Edward Snowden exposing details of various government surveillance programs.

Domestic Surveillance and PRISM

As we explored in the article Why Edward Snowden Matters, we now know a great deal more about US surveillance efforts thanks to the actions of a young NSA contractor.

In 2013, Edward Snowden’s concerns over US surveillance activities led him to release thousands of documents exposing the United States’ and several of its allies’ efforts to spy on their own citizens. In particular, Snowden’s leaks revealed that the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies were monitoring domestic communications using a program known as PRISM.
Isolated monitoring cameras
PRISM enables the NSA to obtain data from multiple private Internet companies, including the content of emails and instant messages, photographs, and videos. Furthermore, the NSA created a system for cataloguing the surveillance data it has collected, ominously known as Boundless Informant, and used data mining procedures to analyze all of the records.
PRISM and Boundless Informant are able to track and record nearly every aspect of people’s online activity without obtaining a warrant. The NSA has reportedly been able to collect contact lists from private email accounts all over the world, search the content of email messages sent into and out of the U.S., and track the location of cell phones anywhere in the world.

The NSA Bulk Collection Program

These surveillance programs were created to collect information on people outside the United States, but the Snowden leaks also revealed that many of the NSA’s activities are directed at U.S citizens. For example, a “bulk collection program” by the NSA involved the collection of massive amounts of telecommunication metadata for telephone calls within the U.S.
This metadata does not include the actual content of a call, like a wiretap might provide. Instead, it includes information like phone numbers and the time and duration of calls.
Even without the substance of the call, the sheer volume of information collected by the NSA through this program gives it an unprecedented ability to track people’s interactions and movements.

Is Domestic Surveillance Legal?

Yes and no.

icons relating to surveillance
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The NSA claimed the authority to collect telecommunication metadata in bulk through Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the sweeping national security law passed by Congress shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. This clause gave the federal government broad authority to obtain a wide range of information, including “books, records, papers, documents, and other items,” with very little oversight.
However, the law states that the law may not be used against U.S. citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights. This led to numerous critics arguing that the NSA routinely exceeded its authority, such as by:
  • Collecting records of nearly every telephone call made within the United States during periods lasting weeks or longer; and
  • Using the PRISM program to obtain massive amounts of information about email, text, and other communications from internet and telecommunications companies, all without search warrants

What Does the USA Freedom Act Do?

The success of the USA Freedom Act gave privacy advocates reason to cheer, but they remain wary.
While the law effectively eliminated the statutory provision used by the NSA to justify its bulk metadata collection program, ending one type of domestic surveillance, there are other laws that still allow for domestic surveillance.

woman on smartphone
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For example, the Reagan-era Executive Order 12333 authorizes the collection of telephone and electronic communications in other countries by U.S. intelligence agencies. Domestic surveillance was never the intent of this order. Still, it reportedly allows the NSA to capture information about communications that take place within the U.S., once again without a warrant, if the communication is stored on servers in other countries.
In a recent positive development, a federal court sided with Microsoft in its refusal to comply with an FBI subpoena for communications records stored on servers in Ireland.
Several other federal laws could still allow the NSA to resume surveillance on American citizens. For example, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) potentially allows mass surveillance of domestic communications. FISA is up for reauthorization in 2017.

Protect Your Privacy

Despite efforts across the globe, Internet privacy remains elusive. Because so much of the NSA’s activities happen outside of public (or even Congressional) scrutiny, Americans and people all around the world must continue to push for transparency and fairness, and to demand a balance between privacy and security.
It requires, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, “eternal vigilance.”

Remain Vigilant

Join Namecheap in the call to strengthen laws and policy dealing with Internet privacy.  
With Internet Privacy Week (Oct. 18-24), we will offer more information about government surveillance as well as how private companies track your data.
By signing our Internet Privacy Bill of Rights we encourage you to take a stand for Internet privacy for all.
Follow Namecheap on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for our newsletter (in the sidebar) to learn more about Internet Privacy Week and how you help hold companies accountable for privacy.


David C. Wells is an Austin, Texas-based writer and blogger. He was a lawyer for nine years, and while he no longer practices law, the experience helped make him a better writer. Also, he still sometimes gets to play a lawyer on the Internet. David is also a dog caretaker, an improviser and actor, an avid comic book reader, and a proud husband.

Four Corners: The United States vs Julian Assange

In the public interest.

The irony is that Julian Assange is considered a criminal for publishing large swarths of information in the public interest.  Yet the 5 Eyes intelligence networks all gather large swarths of information on the public (without their knowledge) and keep these activities secret.

This is the real story.

As a citizen I want to know if I am surveilled and my data gathered. I do not want facial recognition, or electronic finger printing, iris prints.  I do not give consent. 

Why?  I no longer trust the authorities given their treatment of whistle-blowers and those working in the public interest. Moreover, when you look around the world and see how civilians are being murdered with impunity and no war crimes hearings raises issues of pathological leadership. I feel that is the real issue in the story.  We can be bogged down on emails and Russians but ultimately it is about indifference to the harm caused in activities done in so-called the national interest.  Many of the characters involved in these activities are unsavoury and ruthless.

I do not think these leaders are safe for civilians as they are not working for the public interest and future. I do not feel secrecy makes the public safe, it puts us in harms way as activities are given the green light to profit the few over the many.  I do not feel security in secrecy.  It is not a question of giving up liberties for security.  The giving up of liberties (rights) is why security is undermined as those engaging in corrupt activities have less barriers or scrutiny. Transparency is critical for security.

The Australian Four Corners documentary gives insights into Assange and his focus on Hillary Clinton.  I suspect he focused on her out of great fear given what he found out about the Clintons and their misconduct and criminal allegations about them. The media has published about the Clinton Foundation, Whitewater murders, Burnie Sanders , Tony Podesta criminal allegations, sexual misconduct ‘Lewinsky affair’, Epstein visits and Pedophilia links and drug trafficking to name a few. I believe it was the corruption that drove Julian Assange to pursue Hilary Clinton.

He has concerns about the future.  

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitewater_controversy
Clinton Foundation: https://hangthebankers.com/clinton-corruption-10-facts-clinton-foundation/
https://www.wnd.com/2015/05/here-they-are-hillarys-22-biggest-scandals-ever/
https://www.theepochtimes.com/bill-clinton-visited-jeffrey-epsteins-pedophile-island-unsealed-court-documents_3036883.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_Project Note: “…strip the courts of their jurisdiction to oversee the actions of the executive and legislative branches”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Podesta
Burnie Sanders: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Sanders

I doubt it was about the Russians, but I’d say they were keen to use Julian as a channel for leaks as they are in a political trade war.  The war is about domination of the spectrum to maximise profit that excludes the global public in all quarters.  I know it is about power over ideology as the global elite seek concentration of power without public participation.  

The cold war still plays out as peace is the last thought not the first. When peace becomes the first thought these war games will fade to grey. Julian Assange wouldn’t exist.

I will sit with this for a moment before I conclude. Julian Assange has proven that a small group of people can change the world when truth becomes the light on the Hill exposing what is dark.  Hillary Clinton has proven that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely unless it is held in check by systems of checks and balances. 

When those systems break down external parties enter becoming another front in order to restore balance, this is a natural response to dysfunctional abuse of power which uses language to demonise and target whistle-blowers.  In truth they are the ones who blow the whistle and say time out, reflect, think and awaken to other perspectives outside of controlled narratives.  

What you resist persists what you look at disappears. 

What you put out returns.  Those who know they are making accusations that they have done. There are two faces behind the mask of fear that seeks to silence dissent which reveals truth not secrets.

The declining values of leaders and influences together with a defiant lack of conscience and Justice is what is on trial.

Mass surveillance attracts surveillance of those engaged in secrecy as the mirror.

The truth will set all free is a universal truth. 

Truth in action is activism or active citizenship which is a duty of CARE.

The documentary provides insights.

The United States vs Julian Assange | Four Corners

 

 

Julian Assange Speaks about Edward Snowden

In the public interest. 

The public have the right to know as criminality is occurring at the highest levels and civilians are being murdered. Those in the highest positions are unaccountable as privatisation is expanding control over public assets and removing the right to know.  The public/private nexus is blurred.  The public are very concerned at the lack of accountability, the pedophile rings, the human trafficking, the drug trade and the buying of access to politicans by private interests.  At the highest levels surveillance technologies are being given the ‘green light’ to enable the collection of data to profile people so that they can be targeted if they do not comply.  We live in a democracy and We The People do not want surveillance, corruption or control by unaccountable shadow figures.

Disclosure is essential and will save lives.  It will enable the world to redirect resources into solving the climate challenges and to evolve our civilisation in ways that promote peace.   The corrupt practices have to stop and be held to account by the International Criminal Court.

Whistleblowers are incredibly courageous as the can lose their lives, there is no money involved, it is about the public interest and this gives credibility to their actions.  The public interest is central as all governments are supposed to be acting in respect of what the people want.

Julian Assange is not in good shape, he has been jailed without trial when habeus corpus is a right (to be placed before a judge, and to be informed about charges) and his incarceration in the Embassy through legal means is against international law. He has not been protected by his own government which raises questions of allegiances and foreign interference. 

Unlawful interception of communications is against the law.  Freedom of speech and privacy is the secret war. 

Julian Assange Interview 2013 On Edward Snowden on ‘This Week’: “Asylum is a Right We All Have”

 

Roger Waters from Pink Floyd Sings for the Release of Julian Assange

I am a fan of Pink Floyd who were indeed ahead of their time.  Roger Walters is a talented and insightful artist who was invited to play as part of the calls to release Julian Assange who clearly is operating in the public interest.  He is a prisoner of conscience.  I note John Pilger, an Australian journalist has organised this event. t would be nice to hear of Australian artists doing the same.  He has not received equal consular support given his situation and the alliances that appear to take precedence over sovereignty.  

It is the highest love to stop tyranny.  The United States if it believes in democracy and human rights has an opportunity to demonstrate this. Its leaving of the UN Human Rights Council, along with Israel, is very concerning and sends a message that they are not defenders of human rights which is civilian protections.  I spoke in my video about resurrection, I sense that is how they turn around the war crimes and corruption.  You cannot speak values and not live them, if you do then the world loses respect and you lose face (as the Chinese say). 

I add to the calls for the release of whistleblowers and those who truly represent the people above self interest.  It takes enormous courage to reveal secrets, r crimes and criminality.  It is a duty to reveal corruption. In many respects these whistleblowers are doing the job of the ‘opposition’ who no longer is opposing but compromising in order to gain re-election, this is not in the public interest.

This case should be taken to an international Criminal Court, a precedent started whereby citizens can defend themselves against criminal allegations by foreign governments. He is not a US citizen I would place him in the realm of as a global citizen.  

Videos in this article can be found by pasting the link below.

Link: https://21stcenturywire.com/2019/09/03/roger-waters-serenades-british-home-secretary-calling-for-release-of-julian-assange/

Roger Waters ‘Serenades’ British Home Secretary, Calling for Release of Julian Assange

Roger Waters ‘Serenades’ British Home Secretary, Calling for Release of Julian Assange

Thousands of supporters gathered last night outside the British Home Office demanding to end to the unlawful detention and persecution of Julian Assange, who is currently being held in London’s notorious Belmarsh Prison. 

Crowds cheered as award-winning journalist John Pilger introduced Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters, performing on a small stage whilst serenading the British Home Secretary Priti Patel with an acoustic rendition of “Wish You Were Here.” Watch:

Barnaby Nerberka@barnabynerberka
 
 

VIDEO: Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters performs ‘Wish You Were Here’ outside the UK Home Office in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange @Ruptly

 
 
3,545 people are talking about this
 
 

After crowds chanted “Free, free Julian Assange,” Waters spoke to the crowd saying that he was “ashamed to be an Englishman” after the UK extraordinary rendition of Assange from Ecuadorian sovereign soil.

21WIRE editor Patrick Henningsen was on site reporting on the event and remarked on the crowd dynamics and the lack oj mainstream media presence, saying, “About one hour before the speakers arrived there were only a few hundred people around a small makeshift stage, but that soon turned into a few thousand ten minutes beforehand. This was an incredibly well-organized event, but interestingly, there was almost no mainstream media presence to speak of – no big UK print or broadcast names were in the press pit – which in itself is amazing considering the musical and cultural stature of someone like (Roger) Waters. But those who did attend were party to something really historic.”

SEE ALSO: Julian Assange: Deprivation of Justice and Double Standards in Belmarsh Prison

Watch the full performance by Roger Waters, including the introduction by John Pilger here:

YouTube Video Preview

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Youtube:  https://youtu.be/DwPgIbnyX5s

In addition, Gabriel Shipton, the brother of Julian Assange, also spoke outside UK Home Office protest, describing the cruel conditions of the detention suffered by his brother. Watch:

YouTube Video Preview

YouTube: .https://youtu.be/G9ehKPp-5M0

Assange was apprehended and jailed for violating bail conditions following nearly seven years in residence under political asylum Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Assange is now being lined up for extradition from the UK to the US, supposedly for his role in the 2010 leaks in conjunction with US Army intelligence whistleblower Chelsea Manning who is also currently being held in custody in the US as federal officials attempt to force Manning under duress to help federal prosecutors create new charges to convict Assange with.

READ MORE ASSANGE NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Assange/Wikileaks Files