Thousands are joining online #HugsForChelsea campaign, posting photos with arms outstretched calling for President Obama to grant commutation request
Following reports that Chelsea Manning is on President Obama’s “short list” for a possible commutation, the Internet has exploded with support for the imprisoned transgender transparency advocate. Over the weekend, thousands of people started taking part in a spontaneous #HugsForChelsea campaign, posting photos of themselves with their arms outstretched as if waiting to give Chelsea Manning a hug, calling for President Obama to grant her clemency. Some prominent individuals including Michael Stipe of REM have joined the effort.
“Chelsea has so much love and support coming from people across the political spectrum,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, who posted the first #HugsForChelsea photo, “She has suffered enough. People are coming out of the woodwork to speak out. President Obama needs to do the right thing and free her now. After getting to know her as one of her supporters over the last year, I personally can’t wait to give her a hug.”
“As President Obama’s days in office wind down, people from all walks of life are standing in solidarity with Chelsea and urging the President to save her before it is too late,” said Chase Strangio, Chelsea’s ACLU attorney. “After years of suffering in prison under horrific conditions including long stretches of solitary confinement, the denial of health care for gender dysphoria and arbitrary punishments including for attempting suicide, Chelsea needs to be set free before this treatment results in her death.”
More than 100,000 people signed an official Whitehouse.gov petition, meeting the threshold to require a response from the President.
Hundreds of thousands have signed previous petitions organized by Fight for the Future and other groups decrying Chelsea’s treatment while in prison
The ACLU and more than a dozen prominent LGBT organizations sent a letter to President Obama calling for Chelsea’s commutation
Human Rights Watch sent a letter to President Obama supporting clemency
Dozens of other human rights, free speech, government transparency, and civil liberties organizations have called for Chelsea’s release
A wide range of notable people have publicly supported Chelsea including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris C. Davis, journalist Glenn Greenwald, Sean Ono Lennon, REM lead singer Michael Stipe, comedian Margaret Cho, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine,, and many others.
The Boston Police Department announced yesterday that – for now – they will not be moving ahead with their plan to spend $1.4 million on social media monitoring software. The announcement comes amid growing public outcry about the plan, which would have given local police Orwellian capabilities to constantly scan and analyze online speech in the area.
“This is a huge victory and offers a glimmer of hope for our basic rights at a time when it is in short supply,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, a group that led efforts to oppose the BPD’s surveillance aspirations, “Mass surveillance programs like the one the Boston Police intended to launch don’t actually make us safer, but they have a profoundly chilling effect on freedom of speech and our basic civil rights.”
Last month, digital rights group Fight for the Future and a dozen other civil liberties organizations sent a letter to the mayor and city council calling for them to halt the plan. In coordination with the Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU, they also collected thousands of signatures on a petition from Bostonians opposed to the deal.
When the Boston Globe issued a misguided endorsement of the BPD plan, Greer wrote a rebuttal, which was widely shared. BPD drew even more criticism on the plan when it was revealed that they had bent the rules in the Boston Trust Act in order to hand over at least 9 people to federal immigration officials for deportation, violating a city policy preventing cops from getting involved in immigration enforcement.
“City governments and law enforcement agencies around the country should take note of what happened here in Boston. The public will not allow them to waste our tax dollars on dangerous tools that won’t make us safer but will enable mass discrimination and violations of our rights,” Greer added.
Fight for the Future is a digital rights nonprofit best known for organizing the largest online protests in history against SOPA, for net neutrality, and against government surveillance. Learn more at FightForTheFuture.org or follow us on Twitter at @fightfortheftr
Hundreds of thousands of petition signers, dozens of LGBTQ and human rights organizations have condemned U.S. government’s treatment of Chelsea, called for her release
NBC News is reporting that Chelsea Manning, who has served 7 years of a 35 year sentence, is on President Obama’s “short list” for commutation.
Chelsea Manning’s attorney at the ACLU, Chase Strangio, said:
“The Obama administration has done many commendable things to protect the rights of LGBTQ people, but in the case of Chelsea Manning they have systematically mistreated her and denied her access to medically recommended gender-related health care. Chelsea won’t survive another 5 years in prison, much less another 30. President Obama has 9 days to do the right thing and commute her sentence. The world is watching, and we hope that he stands on the side of justice, and that his legacy will be one of standing up for trans people’s rights, not having extinguished one of our community’s brightest lights.”
Chelsea’s Appellate Counsels Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward said:
“As Chelsea’s appellate counsel we urge President Obama to act now and commute her sentence to time served. Her appeal will take years. It is past time to start caring for a Soldier who stood up for all of us.”
Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said:
“Chelsea Manning is a compassionate, thoughtful, brilliant human being whose actions have always been motivated by the same thing: her desire to help people and make the world a better place. She has suffered enough. President Obama should act now to right this wrong before it’s too late.”
If the NBC News report is accurate and President Obama moves to commute Manning’s sentence, he will be responding to overwhelming public outcry about Chelsea’s mistreatment while incarcerated.
-More than 100,000 people signed an official Whitehouse.gov petition, meeting the threshold to require a response from the President.
-Hundreds of thousands have signed previous petitions organized by Fight for the Future and other groups decrying Chelsea’s treatment while in prison
-The ACLU and more than a dozen prominent LGBT organizations sent a letter to President Obama calling for Chelsea’s commutation
-Dozens of other human rights, free speech, government transparency, and civil liberties organizations have called for Chelsea’s release
-A wide range of notable people have publicly supported Chelsea including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris C. Davis, journalist Glenn Greenwald, Sean Ono Lennon, REM lead singer Michael Stipe, comedian Margaret Cho, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine,, and many others.
This post was written by Lilia Villa, a former FFTF campaigner who is currently at Standing Rock. Photos by Lilia Villa as well.
We call on all Internet users to educate themselves, get involved, and help spread the word about what is happening in North Dakota at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
Native Americans who are speaking out have been brutally attacked and placed under extreme surveillance by the U.S. government. Most recently a young woman was severely injured and may lose her arm after police fired concussion grenades into a crowd.  We fight to defend the Internet for exactly these moments–when human rights are being trampled and the world needs to pay attention.
The Army Corps of Engineers has issued an eviction notice to the Standing Rock water protectors, claiming they will not have permission to camp there after December 5th. A spokesperson for the Morton County Sheriff’s department has said that if they stay, “they have to live with the consequences of potentially freezing to death.” They have also warned that those delivering supplies could face up to a $1k fine. We can only assume the human rights situation will worsen if the government moves ahead with this plan.
As you read this, Dakota Access Pipeline, LLC, is knowingly plowing through sacred sites, burial grounds, and preparing to drill under the river without a permit – threatening the water supply of nearly 18 million Americans and the nation’s largest aquifer  – all with what appears to be full support from both state and federal authorities.
Water Protectors, as the #NoDAPL movement has asked to be called, continue to be brutalized with excessive militarized force while praying peacefully in opposition. Major news networks have failed to cover the story on television, making social media instrumental in helping indigenous people share the continued oppression and human rights violations as they play out in real time on Facebook Live - feeding the growing resistance in solidarity that’s now become an international movement.
It’s a big deal. Over 300 indigenous tribes from across the US and around the world have converged along with thousands of allies for what many have called “the largest, most diverse tribal action in at least a century, perhaps since Little Bighorn.” 
While technology has helped them tell their story and find support, even more powerful people and institutions are using technology to conduct indiscriminate surveillance and suppression of free speech.
You may have noticed your Facebook timeline erupting with what seemed like friends traveling and “checking in” to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota in the last few weeks. According to a viral post, the flood of check-ins was intended to “overwhelm and confuse” police agencies, saying that the Morton County Sheriff’s Department had been using check-ins to identify and “target” water protectors. 
Law enforcement and private DAPL security have maced, tear gassed, shot rubber bullets, exploded CS (tear gas) grenades, sprayed water cannons in sub-zero temperatures, and released attack dogs on water protectors. They have arrested hundreds so far, targeting indigenous people and leaders, and even caged some in dog kennels – all for praying to defend their land and their drinking water. Both the UN and Amnesty International are now monitoring the human rights abuses happening at Standing Rock as public outrage keeps growing.
With more than 1.5 million check-ins, it was probably the largest counter-surveillance action ever taken.
Putting aside the effectiveness of it, the Facebook users that checked in at Standing Rock water protector camps believed they were creating cover for activists who were actually there, and whose social media presence was being monitored by law enforcement. That means over 1.5 million people worked together to protect indigenous people, and to evade the ubiquitous surveillance of our social networks by law enforcement. That is huge.
But law enforcement has been doing more than just following social media posts. Signs of illegal IMSI catcher intrusion, or “stingrays,” and other surveillance tactics have been reported on the ground. Cell phone communications and video live feeds have been disrupted, often at critical times when law enforcement attacks on the water protectors are most intense.
“People have reported having their phones misbehaving in odd ways. Batteries dying without warning are the most common reports. But there are creepier incidence, like FaceTime turning on by itself, voice recorders activating, apps malfunctioning, browsers seizing, messages disappearing, and strange noises during calls. My iPhone reset itself as if brand new from the box in my first week at Standing Rock.“ 
On October 20, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the ACLU submitted FOIA and Open Records Requests to investigate the possible use of unconstitutional surveillance at Standing Rock.  In the press release, they noted that “Water Protectors and allies have been continuously surveilled by low-flying planes, helicopters, and drones, and have had local cell phone communications jammed and possibly recorded.”
What is happening at Standing Rock is an unprecedented crisis, and we are all witness to it. It is inexcusable to have, on American soil, a racist policy being enforced with police brutality, censorship, human rights abuses, and to have silence from our elected officials in response. Also, climate change is real, it threatens all of us, and actions to slow and stop fossil fuel infrastructure—while the world transitions to solar energy—are the front lines of the fight.
We stand in solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock and ask anyone who wants to support their efforts to visit the websites for Oceti Sakowin Camp, Sacred Stone Camp, and the Standing Rock Medic + Healer Council to get involved in their efforts. You can help by going there to join them – and if you can’t – by getting loud in your communities and donating.
Beginning at midnight on Thursday, December 1, 2016, anyone who uses a VPN, Tor browser, or other privacy protection tools can more easily get hacked by the government.
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are scheduled to get expanded powers to remotely access and search computers, phones, and storage devices in cases where people suspected of being “related” to a crime use technological means to conceal their location.
That is, unless Congress takes action to stop these hacking powers from taking effect.
Under current criminal procedure rules, if the FBI or any other agency wants to hack into your computer, they need to get a warrant from a federal judge located within your federal judicial district. Under a new amendment to the rule that takes effect on Thursday, if you use encryption, disable location tracking, or have been a botnet victim, the FBI can get a warrant to hack you from any of the more than 500 federal magistrate judges around the country.
So, if the FBI wants to hack you but they don’t have evidence that passes muster with your local federal judge, they will be able to take their case to a more lenient (or more naïve) judge located anywhere in the country.
Another clause in the rule change would let any federal judge authorize hacking operations for multiple devices in cases involving the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. That means if you are a victim of a botnet or had your computer infected by some malware, the government could remotely hack you under a mass hacking warrant issued by any federal judge.
The rule change was never voted on—or even debated—by Congress. It comes from the Judicial Conference, the national policy-making body for the federal courts, which earlier in the year agreed to a FBI proposal to amend Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (FRCrmP) so they could get warrants to hack multiple computers in different districts. The Judicial Conference has authority to make technical changes to the rules governing criminal proceedings, but this proposal goes way beyond mere technicalities and should be subject to public and legislative debate.
A bipartisan group of senators and representatives is pushing legislation to block the Judicial Conference’s amendment or at least delay it for a few months so Congress can hold a debate. They will be bringing their bills to the floor for unanimous consent consideration on Tuesday and Wednesday. If no senators object, the bills could pass.
According to strategists on the Hill, the best approach at this late stage is to get the Senate to pass the bill first and then use that as pressure to urge the House to follow suit – ideally before the rule change takes effect on Thursday, but they could also pass it at a later date and have the rule change repealed.
After you call your senators, make an extra call to Majority Leader McConnell and urge him to agree to unanimous consent on delaying the Rule 41 change. You can reach him at (202) 224-2541.
Here’s what you should say when you call your senators:
“I am a constituent from [town or city] and I am calling to urge the Senator to agree to unanimous consent on legislation to delay the Rule 41 changes on warrant requirements for government hacking of people’s computers. This rule change could have a big impact on the privacy of all Americans and it should be debated by Congress before going into effect.”