Is Edward Snowden a Chinese agent? – Maura Moynihan

Maura Moynihan“The bigger story then is the scope of Chinese espionage in the US. Veteran China analyst Gordon Chang observes: ‘It seems clear that Snowden, if he did not actually work for the Chinese, at least did their bidding. The Chinese did their best to make sure that American officials did not get the opportunity to interrogate Snowden. The last thing they wanted was for the US to have the opportunity to learn the extent of China’s penetration of the NSA and the FBI in Hawaii.'” – Maura Moynihan

Edward Snowden: Patriot or traitor?The Edward Snowden affair continues to reverberate since June 9, 2012, when the 30-year-old high school dropout exposed US cyber surveillance in an interview with The Guardian from Hong Kong.

Snowden has been stuck in Moscow for many weeks, and the media has dropped the thread of his links to China, since Snowden claimed that if he were a Chinese spy he’d “be petting phoenixes in Beijing.” However, there are many elements of this story that point to a Beijing connection.

Snowden chose Hong Kong as his first port of refuge, citing its “rule of law”, a puzzling contention since the former British colony has for 16 years been controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Towards the end of Snowden’s videotaped interview with The Guardian, he praised the Chinese government, and the following day he released detailed information about US operations in Asia to the South China Morning Post. Snowden’s revelations succeeded in shifting the debate about cyber espionage onto the US, allowing China to play the victim and putting the Obama administration on the defensive. No wonder that Chinese government websites hail Snowden as a hero.

Many other disturbing questions have been raised, such as the dangers of privatising intelligence, which allowed a character like Snowden to get a security clearance and cart off top-secret information to Hong Kong in the first place. One theory is that Snowden was used as a “drop box” for agents higher up in the National Security Agency who fed him information — Snowden only worked at the security firm Booz Allen Hamilton for three months. What’s missing from media coverage in the West is that whatever the NSA is doing, the Chinese Communist Party does it bigger and better. US citizens can talk openly about NSA surveillance; in China, journalists and human rights activists can get thrown into jail for typing the words “Dalai Lama” or “Tiananmen Square Massacre” on a computer.

Chinese Communist Party Leaders 2012The bigger story then is the scope of Chinese espionage in the US. Veteran China analyst Gordon Chang observes: “It seems clear that Snowden, if he did not actually work for the Chinese, at least did their bidding. The Chinese did their best to make sure that American officials did not get the opportunity to interrogate Snowden. The last thing they wanted was for the US to have the opportunity to learn the extent of China’s penetration of the NSA and the FBI in Hawaii.”

Chinese hackersThe Chinese Communist Party has aggressively recruited US informants for decades, and has planted agents at every level of the US government and institutions of finance, technology and higher education. A cursory Internet search of Chinese espionage in the US yields enough material for the next James Bond franchise. The Chinese government deploys the “Thousand Grains of Sand Policy”, collecting human and cyber intelligence in every conceivable manner by encouraging every Chinese citizen who travels abroad in any capacity, from tourists to students, to gather information for the Motherland. A former senate aide in Washington told me, “Basically that’s how China got all of its high-tech weapons and industrial programs. And now they’ve got cyber spies hacking into our banks and intelligence and we don’t know how this is going to end.”

So why does the US Department of State give preferential treatment to Communist China over democratic India? In 2011, approximately 700,000 US visa applications were processed by US consular officials in India. China gets a lot more than that. On January 19, 2012, US ambassador to China, Gary Locke, said, “President Obama signed an executive order to significantly increase legitimate travel and tourism to the US, with the goal of increasing visa-processing capacity in China by up to 40 per cent in 2012. In 2011, we processed more than 1 million visa applications in China, an increase of 34 per cent over the previous year, and already in the first few months of fiscal year 2012, we have processed 48 per cent more visas in China compared to the same period in 2011.”

Has the US state department decided to selectively ignore the questionnaire that every visitor to the US must fill out upon arrival, which includes the Cold War relic: “Have you ever been or are you now affiliated with the Communist Party?” Clearly, this has been waived for the innumerable Chinese communist officials who are granted wide access to everything American.

Shahrukh KhanShah Rukh Khan, India’s beloved movie star, has been detained and interrogated at US airports, not once but twice, most recently in 2010 when he flew to the US on a private plane with the Ambanis, on his way to Yale to receive the prestigious Chubb Fellowship. You don’t read about Indians stealing US military or industrial secrets. You don’t read about Indian cyber thieves penetrating US companies and universities. But China still gets more visas and more access.

The majority of top-level Chinese spies who have been prosecuted by the US’ department of justice entered the US on student or work visas, but Chinese communist officials are still granted all manner of access, with smiles. Chinese mainland money has bought both US real estate and opinion; Xinhua has a huge media tower in Times Square, and it recently opened a multi-million dollar complex in Washington, DC. Chinese money is visible in every think tank in Washington, which are packed with books and programs proclaiming that the 21st century belongs to China, not America.

We still don’t know who arranged for Edward Snowden to go to Hong Kong. But we do know that if your name is Khan, and you’re from India, you are treated with suspicion, even if you are the most famous person on the planet with a huge fan base in the US. One has to ask then, what is going on inside the state department? How can they not recognise Shah Rukh Khan? And how many Edward Snowdens are at work, alongside how many Chinese agents? – The Asian Age, 28 July 2013

» Maura Moynihan is an author and Tibet expert who has worked with Tibetan refugees in India for many years.

End the Snowden circus now – Richard Falk

Edward Snowden Wanted Poster

Prof. Richard Falk“It should be a ‘no brainer’ that Snowden’s alleged crimes were quintessentially ‘political’ in nature, making a grant of extradition unlawful and regressive. Not only this, but by far the most serious ‘crimes’ exposed were really focused upon the wrongdoing of the US Government and its private contractors, such as Snowden’s employer, Booz, Allen, & Hamilton. As the world knows, the controversial surveillance targets were not only the totality of Americans, but, as well, included foreign governments and their most confidential activities.” – Prof. Richard Falk

Edward Snowden: Patriot or traitor?I find the discourse surrounding the Snowden Affair bewildering. The latest reports suggest that the United States is using maximum political leverage, including coercive diplomacy, to discourage small Latin American countries from granting asylum to Edward Snowden. It is also complaining that Russia is giving Snowden ‘a propaganda platform’ and expressing its ‘disappointment’ with China/Hong Kong for its earlier refusal to expel Snowden back to the United States to face charges once his passport was cancelled.

This anger is surely misdirected. Taking the overall situation into account, whatever anger is generated, should rather be directed at the United States for employing such arrogant language and crude methods in its hopefully vain effort to gain custody over Snowden. From almost every angle of relevant law, morality, and politics the case for protecting Snowden against the long arm of American criminal law is overwhelming. Anyone who commits nonviolent ‘political crimes’ should be entitled to be protected, and should certainly not be compelled to hole up in an airport transit lounge for weeks of anguishing suspense.

This contrary official US approach was concisely explained by an American embassy official in Moscow to a Human Rights Watch representative who then was apparently asked to repeat it to Snowden at his airport press conference held a few days ago: “US authorities do not consider him to be a human rights defender or a whistleblower [see Whistleblower protection in the US]. He broke the law and he has to be held accountable.”

It has become increasingly evident even to American public opinion that a twisted logic has gripped Washington, and has been tacitly accepted by many governments throughout the world who should know better. International law allows a government to refuse a request for extradition in the event that the accusation involves a political crime, although the definition is unsettled, and does not extend by state practice and expert opinion to violent and heinous behaviour involved in genocide, crimes against humanity, terrorism, and maybe hate speech.

It should be a ‘no brainer’ that Snowden’s alleged crimes were quintessentially ‘political’ in nature, making a grant of extradition unlawful and regressive. Not only this, but by far the most serious ‘crimes’ exposed were really focused upon the wrongdoing of the US Government and its private contractors, such as Snowden’s employer, Booz, Allen, & Hamilton. As the world knows, the controversial surveillance targets were not only the totality of Americans, but, as well, included foreign governments and their most confidential activities. Under these circumstances, it seems surprising that Washington did not decide to downplay rather than highlight Snowden’s supposed crimes.

Snowden in the media minefield!Media misdirection

To date, with the mainstream media dutifully tagging along, the American strategy has managed to keep public attention focused on Snowden rather than on what his disclosures revealed. It is one more negative example of ‘American exceptionalism.’ It is hard to imagine that the political leadership in Moscow or Beijing, or even London or Paris, would be lecturing Washington in a similar fashion if the shoe were on the other foot. Such a government would probably and sensibly shut up, and hope that the whole mess would quietly slip from view. Why the United States decides to act differently is worth a separate investigation.

We need to realise that extradition is a technique to foster maximum international collaboration in the enhanced enforcement of national criminal law. If extradition is unavailable, as here, or even if it had been available, it would be inapplicable, there exists no respectable legal basis for the American international pursuit of Snowden? The approach adopted by Washington is quite absurd if examined objectively. What the United States has been arguing is that since it is empowered to cancel Snowden’s passport (which itself may not be ‘legal’ since the right to travel is constitutionally protected unless there has been a prior formal judicial proceeding), he has no legal right to be resident in a foreign country, and hence the politically appropriate act by a foreign government is to expel him forthwith to his country of nationality. In effect, such an approach if generally adopted would make extradition completely superfluous, and in fact, because of its limitations, far less effective than the passport cancellation/expulsion ‘remedy’ that seems to have been invented just to catch Snowden under circumstances where more conventional techniques would not work.

Lawyers, of course, earn their living by finding ways to produce counter-arguments that sometimes override not only common sense, but public reason. In this vein, can it not be plausibly argued that the crimes charged against Snowden involve espionage laws and theft of government property, and as such, extradition could be granted because this behaviour does not deserve to be treated as a political crime? Some commentators have pointed to the volunteer Israeli spy, Jonathan Pollard, who has languished in American jails for years to strengthen their argument that the US is entitled to gain control over Snowden.

Even the slightest reflection would be convincing that such an analogy is monumentally unconvincing. Pollard was unlawfully giving highly classified information to a foreign government and apprehended in the territory where the crime was committed, which makes the political nature of the crime irrelevant. If Snowden remained in the United States his political motivations could be argued in a court, but would not exempt him from prosecution. His crimes might then be defended as extra-legal instances of civil disobedience. Snowden’s conduct might also be defended as legal by stressing his benign intentions and the ‘necessity’ to reveal the realities about the truly frightening scope and depth surveillance [PRISM] to avoid the greater harm to public interests. These were more or less the arguments that Daniel Ellsberg so persuasively relied upon in the Pentagon Papers case 40 years ago.

NSA HQ at Fort Meade, MarylandBait and switch

What has happened here, it seems, is a classic instance of bait-and-switch. Since extradition could not get the results Washington so desperately wanted, only diplomatic leverage could do the job. Here international law is less help to Snowden, although I would hope that international morality would come to his rescue. The debate now swirls around the appropriateness of a grant of asylum by some foreign government. Surely, a foreign government that acceded to American demands and handed Snowden over for prosecution would bear the responsibility of knowing that Snowden’s imprisonment would follow as certainly as night follows day. So far no government has been so craven as to adopt such a course of action, although none has really mounted a principled challenge to what the United States has done.

States possess wide discretion with respect to asylum, although it is conferred as a human right in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is supposed to be granted whenever there exists well-founded grounds for fearing persecution if the person in question is expelled to the country of nationality. The granting and withholding of asylum has always been surrounded by ideological considerations. During the Cold War the United States, although not formally granting asylum, never deported someone seek sanctuary from Castro’s Cuba or other Communist countries and rarely allowed sanctuary for claimants from anti-Communist countries even if fears about their well-being if returned were well established.

Because asylum, unlike extradition, is treated as discretionary at the national level, diplomatic pressure is more common. Asylum is situated at the interface of law and morality, creating much more room for political manoeuvre, and intense geopolitical pressures can be brought to bear as in this case. It is most unseemly to place small Latin American countries under the gun of United States’ threat of retaliatory diplomacy, especially when they seem to be acting empathetically toward someone who has acted so clearly on behalf of freedom and democracy with nothing to gain materially and much to lose. Surely, Russia is better situated than Venezuela to harbour Snowden without having to worry about adverse consequences. In such event, perhaps the White House would express its frustration by issuing an intemperate statement about Russia’s unfriendly move, but likely leave at that. Doing anything more would be incredibly foolish, but of course that is no assurance that it wouldn’t happen.

NSA Data Collection Centre in Utah: All your emails are scanned by this surveillance facility.All along the true challenge to the US Government, the American independent media, and to governments and people throughout the world is to consider whether such a massive regime of secret unregulated surveillance by the US government in the name of national security is legally and politically acceptable. Snowden’s individual fate, although properly a matter of utmost concern, is secondary to the substance of the issues of principle raised for all of us. In an unusual show of global public spiritedness and sensitivity, Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a highly relevant statement: “Snowden’s case has shown the need to protect persons disclosing information on matters that have implications for human rights, as well as the importance of ensuring the rights of privacy…. National systems must ensure that there are adequate avenues for individuals disclosing violations to express their concern without fear of reprisal.”

Despite the hue and cry associated with this rather indecent and extended effort to gain custody of Snowden, it is forgotten that his ‘criminal’ acts have already borne fruit:

  • Opening an overdue national debate in the United States as to the proper balance between surveillance and security;
  • Creating a global awareness of the extent to which the American surveillance regime has a global reach that threatens confidentiality of foreign governmental activity and the privacy of ordinary persons everywhere;
  • Encouraging relevant Congressional committees to consider placing limitations on invasions of privacy;
  • Tightening of the rules and policies relating to Department of Justice interference with journalists via acquisition of phone logs and emails.

We will miss the whole point of Snowden’s ‘crimes’ if we do not devote our attention to these fundamental political challenges directed at human security and democratic ways of life, and stop being distracted any longer by the circus of the chase! – Al Jazeera, 15 July 2013

» Richard Falk is Albert G Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Whistleblowing

Because Edward Snowden is identified by the US government as an absconding criminal, he cannot get the assistance of the US Office of Special Counsel.

Wikipedia’s Shame – Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard“Wikipedia is an incredibly useful project, and it should be applauded for making the details of how its [salad] is made available to all. The construction of truth is always going to be a messy business, whether by the New York Times or Salon or the most decorated historian alive — or a bunch of Wiki editors. But Wikipedia’s openness hardly makes it perfect, or somehow, inherently better than the New York Times. Not when a look inside the machine gives us such clear glimpses of  rage and obsession.” – Andrew Leonard

Wikipedia LogoIs Wikipedia sexist? Or is it merely an unreliable mess of angry, ax-wielding psychos engaged in agenda-driven editing? Or is it something much more complicated than that?

Last Wednesday, novelist Amanda Filipacchi published an Op-Ed in the New York Times recounting her discovery that Wikipedia editors were culling women authors from Wikipedia’s list of “American Novelists” and relegating them into their own subcategory: “American Women Novelists.”

“The intention appears to be to create a list of ‘American Novelists’ on Wikipedia that is made up almost entirely of men,” she wrote, noting that there was no “American Men Novelists” subcategory. (Although, amusingly, just such a category was created shortly after the Op-Ed appeared.)

In the furor that erupted on Wikipedia in response to Filipacchi’s article, it was quickly determined that the bad behavior she noticed appeared to be the work of a single misguided Wikipedia editor. One could argue that, if true, this made the Times’ headline “Wikipedia’s Sexism Toward Female Novelists” unfair and inaccurate. All of Wikipedia was being tarred by the unthinking stupidity of one bad editor.

But then things got a lot worse. In a follow-up Op-Ed published on Sunday, Filipacchi recounted the all-too-predictable reaction from aggrieved Wikipedia editors.

As soon as the Op-Ed article appeared, unhappy Wikipedia editors pounced on my Wikipedia page and started making alterations to it, erasing as much as they possibly could without (I assume) technically breaking the rules. They removed the links to outside sources, like interviews of me and reviews of my novels. Not surprisingly, they also removed the link to the Op-Ed article. At the same time, they put up a banner at the top of my page saying the page needed “additional citations for verifications.” Too bad they’d just taken out the useful sources.

Welcome to the age of “revenge editing.” The edits didn’t stop at Filipacchi’s page. Edits were also made to pages about her novels, stripping content from them on the grounds that they were overly self-promotional (a big Wikipedia no-no.) One editor, as recently as Monday morning, even started editing the pages devoted to Filpacchi’s parents, and slashed huge swaths from a page about the media conglomerate Hachette-Filipacchi, whose chairman emeritus happens to be Filipacchi’s father, Daniel Filipacchi.

As is usually the case with Wikipedia, high-profile “revenge editing” clearly motivated by animus tends to draw a lot of attention. A frequent result: ludicrous “edit wars” in which successive revisions are undone in rapid succession.  Eventually, someone higher up in the chain of hierarchy steps in and freezes a page in which an edit war is occurring, or some measure of consensus is reached after a lot of shouting. Indeed, hardcore Wikipedia advocates argue that no matter how dumb or ugly the original bad edit or mistake might have been, the process, carried out in the open for all to see, generally results, in the long run, in something more closely resembling truth than what we might see in more mainstream approaches to knowledge assembly.

Wikipedia’s saving grace is that all the edit wars — all the ugly evidence of “revenge editing” — is preserved for eternity for anyone curious enough to investigate in the “talk pages” that reveal precisely how Wikipedia’s knowledge is constructed. A review of the talk pages associated with the various Filipacchi-related Wikipedia pages edited after the Op-Ed’s publication reveals the vast majority of the anti-Filipacchi edits to have been made by just one person, a Wikipedia editor who goes by the user-name “Qworty.”

Here are some excerpts from “Qworty’s” talk page postings in the last few days.

From the talk page for Amanda Filipacchi:

Oh, by all means, let’s be intimidated by the Holy New York Times. Because when the New York Times tells you to shut up, you have to shut up. Because that’s the way “freedom” works, and the NYT is all about promoting freedom all over the world, which is why they employed Judith Miller. Meanwhile, there were no fewer than FOUR Filipacchi articles on Wikipedia that were little more than blatant WP:PROMO. And she’s using this scandal in order to promote and revive her writing career, since she hasn’t been able to publish a book in eight years. Mmmmmm-hmmmmm. But you needn’t worry about me, no sirree. I will certainly do as the Holy New York Times says and shut up now. Just as I and millions of others obediently shut up when they were spreading their lies about Saddam having WMD. Because the Holy New York Times never makes mistakes, don’t you know. The fact is that there was never a sexist conspiracy against women writers on WP–it was the misguided categorization work of a SINGLE user, as has now been shown. Would the Holy New York Times care to print TWO retractions? No, of course not. The NYT never lies, is never wrong, and their shit smells and tastes like ice cream, and we must all eat it with a smile.

Talk page associated with the user Qworty:

The bloody p.o.s. New York Times supposedly employs fact checkers, but they have allowed this incompetent woman to libel Wikipedia not once, but two times. They owe Wikipedia two separate retractions. They have no journalistic integrity whatsofuckingever. They are nothing better than a blog, a barrel full of dog feces offered to the world as the “truth.” There is one thing you are wrong about, however. This incident is never going to be forgotten. Not by anyone involved in it. Retribution will be taken five, ten, fifteen, twenty years from now. That’s just the way people seem to be, unfortunately. It is the way these things work, and that’s something about the world which many of us actively dislike, and are working hard to change. The documented fact is that this woman has sent thugs after certain Wikipedia editors. This is no slight affair, I am afraid.

The New York Times has a vested interest in trying to undermine Wikipedia. For one thing, the Times has only 600,000 digital subscribers, which makes it a piece-of-shit website in terms of numbers. On Sundays, its biggest day, the Times adds another 1.4 million readers in its paper edition, for a total of 2 million. Meanwhile, HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE are reading you and me on Wikipedia EVERY DAY. You can see why the Times feels it has a very very short and stubby and ugly little penis compared with us. This is the real reason why they want to run baseless articles slamming us. Because we are the future and they are already the distant past.

Wow! We’ve got Judith “weapons of mass destruction” Miller, penis comparisons, dog feces and accusations that Filipacchi “sent thugs” after Wikipedia editors, all popping up in the context of an apoplectic defense by one Wikipedia editor of actions that other Wikipedia editors labeled “revenge editing.” There’s a lot of anger here (not to mention an unhealthy fixation with excrement!). Call me persnickety, but reading Qworty’s comments did not give me the greatest faith in Wikipedia’s internal process for building an encyclopedia of human knowledge.

As of Monday morning, most of Qworty’s most objectionable edits appear to have been reverted. It’s true, when the world shines a harsh, scrutinizing light on Wikipedia, Wikipedia tends to respond reasonably well. Inch by inch, the project gets upgraded. But one has to wonder what is going on in regions that haven’t attracted the attention of someone with the media pull necessary to land an Op-Ed in the New York Times. How many other passionate agendas are playing out in neighborhoods less traveled? There are a lot of very angry people on the Internet, and some of them are extraordinarily busy. The rest of us do not have the time to examine the talk page give-and-take for every Wikipedia article we want to consult.

Wikipedia is an incredibly useful project, and it should be applauded for making the details of how its [salad] is made available to all. The construction of truth is always going to be a messy business, whether by the New York Times or Salon or the most decorated historian alive — or a bunch of Wiki editors. But Wikipedia’s openness hardly makes it perfect, or somehow, inherently better than the New York Times. Not when a look inside the machine gives us such clear glimpses of  rage and obsession.

What’s Judy Miller got to do with whether Amanda Filipacchi is improperly using Wikipedia for self-promotion? Absolutely nothing. And what place does “revenge editing” have in the context of the quest to create the greatest repository of human knowledge ever put together? Zero. – Salon, 29 April 2013

» Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter @koxinga21.

1962 War: Chaos in Army HQ, no border map, disaster in the field – Claude Arpi

Dr. N.S. RajaramRajaram’s Introduction

No one in India has studied the tangled India-China-Tibet relations more comprehensively than the Auroville-based French-born scholar Claude Arpi. In a series of books beginning with the Fate of Tibet (1999) to his latest 1962 and the McMahon Line, he has laid bare the incompetence of Indian governments, beginning with Nehru and his hunger for international glory culminating in the disaster of 1962. Two chapters in his latest book — Chapter 15 on “Mao’s return to power passes through India” and Chapter 16 entitled “Why the Henderson Brooks report has never been released” — alone justify reading the book. His insight on the dynamics of China’s domestic politics leading Mao to launch the attack as a diversion from his problems is hardly known in India.

Nehru & Zhou EnlaiWhat is clear from Arpi’s monumental effort is that while the armed forces learnt their lessons, the Army today is much stronger than before, the politicians apparently have not. The India-China boundary was not demarcated then and it still is not. In the 1950s China was anxious for a boundary settlement but Nehru arrogantly dismissed Zhou Enlai’s repeated overtures. Since there is no official boundary India is in no position to say that the Chinese violated the boundary and is therefore the aggressor! This simple fact seems to escape the thinking of Indian politicians. I recently heard a senior politician thunder: “We are going to take back OUR territory in Aksai Chin!” How do we know what is OUR territory when WE have not demarcated any boundary? Pray how are we going to retake it? By sending kar sevaks but without maps? That is pretty much what Nehru asked the Army to do in 1962.

Nehru & Mao: Hindi-Chini bhai-bhaiAn official report observes: “Across the board, the biggest failure in 1962 war was the inability of our political leadership to visualise Chinese aims in both the Eastern and Western Sectors. Both the government and military hierarchy thought that the Chinese hordes will come down and cross Brahmaputra in the East and capture Leh in the Western Sector giving little thought to where the Chinese claim lines were. In the event the Chinese did not cross their claim line both in the East as well as in the West and withdrew unilaterally….”

In short, the Chinese had a clear idea of where their claim lines were while the Indians did not. Apparently they still do not. – Dr. N.S. Rajaram

Claude ApriTen truths about the 1962 War – Claude Apri

Here are some truths about the 1962 China’s War which are not often mentioned in history books or reports from the Government. Of course, this list is not exhaustive.

1. No precise location of the border: In the Army HQ in Delhi as well as locally in the NEFA, nobody was really sure where exactly the border (the famous McMahon Line) was. It is the reason why the famous Henderson Brooks report has been kept out of the eyes of the Indian public for fifty years. Till the fateful day of October 20, 1962, the Army bosses in Delhi were unable to tell the local commanders where the border in Tawang sector precisely was? [Sic: Releasing the report would expose Nehru’s incompetence in not having a boundary demarcated despite repeated efforts by China. – NSR]

2. There was no map: Lt. Gen. Niranjan Prasad, GOC 4 Infantry Division wrote in his memoirs (The Fall of Tawang): “It is hard to understand how any purposeful negotiation could have been conducted with Communist China [in 1960] when even such elementary details as accurate maps were not produced; or, if they were in existence, they were certainly not made available to the Army, who had been given the responsibility for ensuring the security of the border.”

When Lt. Gen. Kaul was evacuated from the Namkha Chu on October 8, having fallen sick due to the altitude, he was carried pick-a-back by ‘local’ porters. It was later discovered that one of them was a Chinese interpreter in a PoW camp in Tibet. The secrets were out!

McMahon Line is still disputed.The Army had no map: There is the story of Capt. H.S. Talwar of the elite 17 Parachute Field Regiment who was asked to reinforce Tsangle, an advance post, north of the Namkha Chu on October 16. Without map, he and his men roamed around for 2 days in the snow; they finally landed a few kilometers east at a 2 Rajputs camp (and were eventually taken PoWs to Tibet along with Brig. John Dalvi on October 21).

3. Some troops fought extremely well: Take the example of the 2 Rajputs under the command of Lt. Col. Maha Singh Rikh who moved to the banks of the Namka Chu river by October 10 as part of 7 Infantry Brigade. The brigade was stretched out along nearly 20 kilometers front beside the river. It was a five-day march to walk from an end to the other (the confluence with the Namjiang Chu). Not a single man from the Rajputs was awarded any gallantry medal, because there was no one left to write the citations; all the officers or JCOs who were not killed or seriously wounded were taken POWs. Out of 513 all ranks on the banks of the river, the 2 Rajput lost 282 men, 81 were wounded and captured, while 90 others were taken prisoners. Only 60 other ranks, mostly from the administrative units got back.

Major B.K. Pant of 2 Rajput displayed exemplary heroism while wounded in the stomach and legs. Though his company suffered heavy casualties, he continued to lead and inspire his men, exhorting them to fight till the last man. When the Chinese finally managed to kill him, his last words were: “Men of the Rajput Regiment, you were born to die for your country. God has selected this small river for which you must die. Stand up and fight like true Rajputs.” Ditto for 4 Rajputs under Lt. Col. B. Avasthi in the Sela-Bomdila sector

The Indian troops fought pitched battles in the Walong sector of the NEFA and Chushul in Ladakh inflicting heavy losses on the Chinese. [Sic: The credit for this should go to the superior leadership in the Western sector compared to what was given in the east. (See below.) – NSR]

Gen. B.M. Kaul4. A complete intelligence failure: The flamboyant new Corps Commander, Lt. Gen. B.M. Kaul planned Operation Leghorn to ‘evict’ the Chinese by October 10. Kaul took over Corps IV, a Corps especially created ‘to throw the Chinese out’. On his arrival in Tezpur, Kaul addressed the senior officers: “The Prime Minister himself had ordered these posts [near the Thagla ridge] to be set up and he had based his decision on the highest Intelligence advice.” The ‘highest intelligence’ inputs from Mullick turned out to be a sad joke on the 7 Infantry Brigade.

[Sic: It was the same B.M. Kaul who had himself admitted to a New Delhi hospital on the verge of the Chinese attack due to altitude sickness. A good organizer and staff officer, Kaul had no field experience and should not have been placed in command of a Corps (Corps IV) at such a strategically important theater. But Kaul was related to Prime Minister Nehru and his appointment as Corps Commander was seen as a stepping stone towards his eventual elevation to the post of Army Chief. He was made Commander of Corps IV replacing his senior General Umrao Singh and superseding half a dozen better qualified officers. The Chinese attack and the disintegration of the Corps IV under his ineffective leadership put an end to Kaul’s meteoric career. I (NSR) write this with mixed feelings, even a twinge of regret, for Kaul was a very nice man and a staunch patriot who took his downfall with exemplary grace. Only he was unfit for command. – NSR]

Until the last fateful minute, the arrogant IB Chief, B.N. Mullick said the Chinese would not attack, they don’t have the capacity. Such a blunder! The Prime Minister himself, at Palam airport on his way to Colombo told the waiting journalists that he had ordered the Indian Army “to throw the Chinese out”. He generously left the time to the discretion of the Army. This was on October 12, 1962, just 8 days before the fateful day. He had received intelligence inputs from Mullik.

Chinese hackers5. Chinese spies: Just as today Beijing can hack into any computer system, in Mao’s days, the Chinese intelligence knew everything about Kaul’s and his acolytes’ plans.

The Chinese had infiltrated the area using different methods. In his memoirs, Prasad recalled: “From our own Signals channels I had received reports of a pirate radio operating somewhere in our area, but when we referred this to higher authorities the matter was dismissed: we were curtly told that there was no pirate radio transmitter on our side of the border. Subsequently it was confirmed that the Chinese had indeed sneaked in a pirate transmitter to Chacko (on the road to Bomdila) in the Tibetan labour camp. The aerial [antenna] of their transmitter was concealed as a tall prayer-flagstaff so common in the Buddhist belt of the Himalayas.”

This is probably how Mao became aware of Operation Leghorn.

Some war veterans recall that on the way to Bomdila, there was a dhaba manned by two beautiful ‘local’ girls. All officers and jawans would stop there, have a chai and chat with the girls. It turned out later that they were from the other side.

An informant told me that when Lt. Gen. Kaul was evacuated from the Namkha Chu on October 8, having fallen sick due to the altitude, he was carried pick-a-back by ‘local’ porters. It was later discovered that one of them was a Chinese interpreter in a PoW camp in Tibet. The secrets were out!

Indian Army on the NEFA border in 19626. Gallantry Awards: The entire operation theater was plunged in deep chaos due to contradictory orders from the Army HQ (Lt. Gen. B.M. Kaul, the Corps Commander was directing the Operation from his sick-bed in Delhi). Ad-hocism was the rule before, during and after the Operations. [Sic: According to those who were with him at the time Kaul had a nervous breakdown when he heard the Chinese attacked or even earlier. His Corps IV virtually disappeared and the retreat became a rout with each man having to fend for himself. The consequences were far more serious than a few misinformed gallantry awards. (See below.) – NSR]

To cite an example, the GOC, 4 Division was not informed that Subedar Joginder Singh was awarded the Param Vir Chakra for some actions in Bumla (he later died of a gangrenous foot in a PoW camp in Tibet). An officer who had run away was given the Maha Vir Chakra, the second highest gallantry award. The Government had distributed these lollipops to each regiment to show that everyone fought well. The awards were decided by Delhi without consulting the local commanders. [Sic: There were few local commanders left to consult. The topmost, Corps Commander Kaul had left the scene and was trying to direct operations from a hospital bed in New Delhi, while others on the scene, without a leader were either killed or captured by the Chinese. – NSR]

7. The role of some Monpas: A senior war veteran, Maj. Gen. Tewari who spent nearly 7 months as a PoW in Tibet wrote: “In Kameng Frontier Division (Tawang) itself, they had many local people on their pay roll. They had detailed maps and knowledge of the area, how otherwise can you explain that they were able to build 30 km of road between Bumla and Tawang in less than 2 weeks?”

Arunachal Pradesh locals fleeing the Chinese in 1962According to local Monpas only a few villages sided with the Chinese under duress (after all they were ‘chinky’ like us, said the Chinese). Tewari recalled: “I was in for a still bigger shock when it was discovered that almost all the secondary batteries had arrived without any acid. I presume that what had happened is that the porters must have found it lighter without liquid and they probably decided to lighten their loads by emptying out the acid from all the batteries.”  It was an indirect collaboration with China, though the majority of the Monpas were quite patriotic.

8. Pensions and pay: About 500 Indian jawans and officers were taken prisoner in the Tawang sector alone. As Brig. A.J.S. Behl says in his interview: “My family got two telegrams: ‘2nd Lt Behl missing, believed dead’.”  Till the Chinese authorities sent the names of the prisoners to the Indian Red Cross, all those killed and taken prisoners were considered as ‘missing-in-action’ and their salaries were cut. For no fault of theirs, their wives and families had to manage on their own.

9. Mao’s return to power: In early 1962, Mao was out of power due to the utter failure of his Great Leap Forward. Some 45 million Chinese had died after a 3-year man-made famine. Mao Zedong managed to come back on the political scene in September 1962. If he had not managed to return at that time, the war with India would have probably not taken place. Of course, with ‘if’ many sections of world history could be rewritten, but it is a fact that once Mao’s ideological hard-line prevailed in Beijing, it was difficult to avoid a clash. [Sic: This is new insight offered by the author— Mao launched the attack for domestic reasons, to divert attention from his failures. Interestingly, Chinese history books barely mention the 1962 war and 90 percent of the Chinese are totally unaware of what happened! Where mentioned at all the Chinese claim that India attacked and they fought in self-defence. – NSR]

B.R. Nehru & John Kennedy10. America’s dubious role: Averill Harriman, the US Assistant Secretary of State and Duncan Sandys, the British Secretary for Commonwealth Relations visited India on November 22, 1962. This was the day China declared a unilateral ceasefire in the war with India. The visit was supposedly to assess India’s needs to resist Communist China; but both envoys “made clear their governments’ willingness to provide military assistance to India but pointed out the related need for negotiations to resolve the Kashmir dispute.”

A clear signal was given to India who had hardly recovered from the blackest month of her history: she had to compromise on Kashmir. Consequently six rounds of talks between India and Pakistan were held to find a solution for the vexed issue, but to no avail. However, Ayub Khan, the Pakistani President, must have taken the Western intervention as an encouragement for his claim. The Kennedy and later the Johnson Administrations thought of ‘re-balancing’ the assistance to Pakistan, with the condition that India should accept to ‘settle’ the Kashmir issue.

[Sic: Kennedy who like many Western leaders had fought in World War II had nothing but contempt for Indian leaders. When the Indian Ambassador (and Prime Minister Nehru’s cousin) B.K. Nehru went to see Kennedy and appealed for help, Kennedy scornfully said: “The British fought the Germans for two years before we went to their help, and you couldn’t fight them for two days?” – NSR]

» Claude Arpi is French-born (1949) author, journalist, historian and tibetologist who lives in Auroville, India.

Section 66A of the IT Act has to go – Ravi V.S. Prasad

Shaheen Dabha's FB post

Ravi V.S. Prasad“In view of the various instances in which Section 66A has been misused by the police to harass citizens who were exercising their right to free speech, there is a strong case for the judiciary striking down Section 66A. The instances of Ms Banerjee jailing a professor for forwarding a cartoon, the arrest of two women for posting their opinion about Bal Thackeray’s funeral disrupting public life, and the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, are all instances which have outraged the nation and indicated to the world that India is not a democracy which values freedom of expression.” – Ravi V.S. Prasad

Freedom of ExpressionThe arrest of two women in Mumbai for posting their views on their Facebook profiles regarding Bal Thackeray’s funeral has drawn attention to the draconian provisions of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Numerous eminent lawyers are of the opinion that this section is in violation of several provisions of the Constitution, especially the right to freedom of speech and expression, and should either be amended suitably by the government or struck down by the judiciary as unconstitutional.

On November 20, the Madurai bench of the Madras high court issued notices to the Central government on a public interest litigation filed by the People’s Union For Human Rights seeking direction to repeal Section 66A on the grounds that it violates freedom of speech guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. Further, an officer of the Indian Police Service filed a writ petition in the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad high court praying for Section 66A to be declared as ultra vires of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression. This will be heard tomorrow (November 23).

Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which was inserted vide the Information Technology Amendment Act of December 2008, states:
“Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device:

(a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or (b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device; or (c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.”

Terms such as “causing annoyance”, “causing inconvenience”, “causing obstruction”, “causing ill will” etc are vague and ambiguous, and can be interpreted in multiple ways by different people.

Markandey KatjuMost insidious is sub-section (c). While sub-section (b) uses the qualifier “persistently”, the phrasing of sub-section (c) implies that the sending of even one single message or piece of information, which may be construed as being sent with the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience, shall be punishable with a jail term. An April Fool joke among friends or a quarrel among family members could be interpreted as causing annoyance or inconvenience, and punishable by a jail term if sent over the electronic medium, whereas these would hardly be punishable in the offline, physical world.

Section 66A has been used by state governments and the police to jail their opponents several times in the last few months. In addition to the arrest of the two Mumbai women, Section 66A was used by the Puducherry police to arrest a man who posted tweets about the son of finance minister P. Chidambaram amassing more wealth than Robert Vadra, and by the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal for arresting a professor who forwarded cartoons about her.

It appears that the intention of the legislature in drafting Section 66A was to prevent cyber stalking and cyber harassment of the kind that thousands of women face everyday through anonymous emails and SMSes. Indeed, two people were arrested under this section for posting obscene comments about the singer Chinmayi Sripada on Twitter.

But there is ambiguity about whether posting on a website or on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is governed by Section 66A. This is because the first sentence of Section 66A begins with “Any person who sends…”, and the term “publish” does not appear anywhere in this section. In contrast, the phrase “publishing or transmitting” is used in several other sections of the Information Technology Act.

Since Section 66A does not use the term “publishes” but only the term “sends”, it appears that the intention of the legislature in using the term “sends” instead of “publishing or transmitting” was to cover harassing email messages between a single sender and a single recipient, rather than publishing on a website or on social networking platforms. Further, since sub-section (c) of Section 66A uses the phrase “…or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages…” it appears that the legislature had a single sender and a single recipient in mind.

Kapil SibalIndeed, during his TV appearance on Monday, information technology minister Kapil Sibal insisted that the entire Section 66A applied only when there was an intent on the part of the sender to deceive or mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages. That may have been the intention of the legislature, but Section 66A uses the word “or” before this phrase. The use of “or” between phrases makes the various clauses stand alone and independent. Thus, as phrased, it appears that Section 66A can be used to punish a single email message which causes annoyance or inconvenience, even when there is no intention to deceive or mislead the recipient about its origin.

There are other inconsistencies as well. The offence, for instance, “of criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication” is punishable under the Indian Penal Code by a jail term of two years, whereas if the same message is sent by electronic means, the punishment may extend up to three years.

With regard to the use of Section 66A by politically powerful persons to harass their opponents, courts in several countries have held that governments and political parties cannot sue for defamation. In the Lingens case in 1986, the European Court of Human Rights held that “…The limits of acceptable criticism are wider as regards a politician than as regards a private individual…When choosing his career, a politician knowingly allows himself as open to close scrutiny, and must therefore tolerate more…” In Goldsmith versus Bhoyrul in 1997, the Queen’s Bench Division in the United Kingdom ruled that governments and political parties could not sue for defamation.

In view of the various instances in which Section 66A has been misused by the police to harass citizens who were exercising their right to free speech, there is a strong case for the judiciary striking down Section 66A. The instances of Ms Banerjee jailing a professor for forwarding a cartoon, the arrest of two women for posting their opinion about Bal Thackeray’s funeral disrupting public life, and the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, are all instances which have outraged the nation and indicated to the world that India is not a democracy which values freedom of expression. – Asian Age, 22 November 2012

» Ravi V.S. Prasad heads a group on C4ISRT (Command, Control, Communications and Computers; Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting) in South Asia.

Shaheen Dhaba and friend Renu

Julian Assange: Conduct trial in neutral venue – Madhav Nalapat

M.D. Nalapat“It is clear that Julian Assange ought to face his accusers in a neutral venue. Hopefully, either Assange himself or Ecuador will make the suggestion to the international community, to conduct the trial of the Wikileaks hero in a venue that is independent of NATO influence. An alliance that is blind to its own transgressions while constantly hectoring others about (what it considers to be) theirs is hardly the unbiased body that is needed if a trial is to be fair. Julian Assange ought to agree to face a trial, one in which hopefully his name will be cleared, provided that it take place in a neutral venue.” – Prof. Madhav Nalapat

Jawaharlal NehruEspecially during the 1950s, it was India led by Jawaharlal Nehru that incessantly lectured other countries about how they should behave. The then PM of the world’s most populous democracy fancied himself to be expert on global issues, the reason why he retained the External Affairs Ministry till the last day of his life in 1964. Sadly, the glowing testimonials to Nehru by his numerous acolytes cannot disguise the fact that by that year, India had been comprehensively isolated.

With the exception of Bhutan, no country backed Delhi in the 1962 war with Beijing, even Colombo and Kathmandu, which have long been close to India. Even after Nehru imposed a cease-fire in Kashmir and took the dispute to the UN, more countries backed Pakistan than India, a list that included the US. Of course, it needs to be remembered that the administrative elite in the UK could still not bring itself to “forgive” India for the effrontery of believing that freedom was preferable to bondage under the Union Jack. Officials such as Philip Noel-Baker worked tirelessly at the UN to ensure that opinion swung against India, a situation that continued till the dawn of the 21st century, when 9/11 resulted in a sharp decline for backing within the US and the EU to those favouring the breaking away of territories from India.

V.K. Krishna MenonNehru’s constant preachiness ensured that critics of India remained so. In particular, his sharp-tongued favourite,  Vengalil Kumaran Krishna Menon, spewed vitriol on former colonial powers and their new-found champion, the US, while he led the Indian delegation to the UN. In contrast, Pakistan’s delegates acted in a very deferential manner towards representatives of the Great Powers, thereby making certain that Nehru’s gamble (of taking the Kashmir issue to the UN) failed to generate any positive effects for India, although it must be said that the move was greatly appreciated by Edwina and Louis Mountbatten, who suggested the reference to the UN to Nehru in the first place.

Bradley ManningAlthough Indira Gandhi and to a lesser extent son Rajiv sought to continue to preach international morality to countries that not so secretly looked down on India because of the country’s poverty, by the 1990s, this tendency had changed into one of quiet acceptance of geopolitical realities. Since that time, Nehru’s cloak of International Moralist has been worn by the senior members of the NATO bloc, principally the US, France and the UK. These three powers never cease to remind the world of their own presumed morality, and of the low standards of the rest of the international community. When emails purportedly from Asma Assad, the First Lady of Syria, surfaced in NATO media, those who procured them were presumably rewarded. However, when Bradley Manning, an idealistic soldier in the US military, shone daylight on a trove of emails from the State Department, or exposed the heinous murder of innocents by criminals piloting US combat aircraft, he was arrested and is now immured in a windowless cell.

Julian AssangeThe whistle-blower who exposed the targeted killing of unarmed civilians from the skies ought to have been given a reward rather than prison, except that NATO’s commitment to free speech extends only to that which suits its strategic objectives. And while Manning is in prison, the man who gave him a platform to reveal his secrets, Julian Assange, remains in what is effectively a prison, a room at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in daily fear lest British police breach diplomatic protocol and apprehend him. That the sexual charges brought against Assange are serious is without a doubt. Unless the founder of Wikileaks faces a court and convinces it of his innocence, the stain will continue to cast a shadow not simply on him but on the ace whistle-blower that he helped to create, Wikileaks. However, given the fate of Bradley Manning and countless others judged to be less than helpful to the war aims of NATO, it would be foolhardy to expect fair treatment in Sweden, a country closely connected with several NATO member-states, and which fully backs the EU in its efforts at retaining in the 21st century the primacy the continent enjoyed in the 19th century. Clearly, justice will only be assured if the trial of Julian Assange takes place in a country where the long shadow of NATO does not fall. Given that India has become an auxiliary of the alliance since 1998, clearly this country would not be a fit venue.

Wikileaks LogoFar better would be Brazil or Argentina, countries that have demonstrated a feisty independence of power blocs. Just as alleged international human rights violators have been tried in Europe despite coming from Africa, on the (often specious) ground that justice is not possible in Africa, it is clear that Julian Assange ought to face his accusers in a neutral venue. Hopefully, either Assange himself or Ecuador will make the suggestion to the international community, to conduct the trial of the Wikileaks hero in a venue that is independent of NATO influence. An alliance that is blind to its own transgressions while constantly hectoring others about (what it considers to be) theirs is hardly the unbiased body that is needed if a trial is to be fair. Julian Assange ought to agree to face a trial, one in which hopefully his name will be cleared, provided that it take place in a neutral venue. – Pakistan Observer, 24 August 2012

» Prof. Madhav Nalapat is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Karnataka State, India.

Whistleblowing

Hindu Janajagruti Samiti website blocked by government – HJS

HJS website

HJS planning legal action against Government for ban on website

On the HJS website and its Facebook page, true information about Assam and Mumbai riots was published based on news published in different newspapers. Proofs were presented on the website so as to assist Police and Government on how rioting Muslims were indulging in false propaganda and creating unrest in the country; even then, it is possible that the Congress Government could have imposed ban on the website for the politics of votes. It is clear that the website of HJS has been closed for criticizing corruption and double standards used by the Govt. under the name of secularism; but the Congress Govt. should remember that the ban imposed on HJS website is not a blot on its name; rather it is a credit to HJS for undertaking patriotic activities which force the Government to take cognisance of its wrongdoing. Registering protest against this ban, HJS is planning to take legal action and stage agitations.

  • Visit HJS Facebook page. Click here.

  • Visit HJS Blogspot page. Click here.

See also