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    LAPD Held Down Keenan Anderson, Repeatedly Tased Him — Then Suggested His Death Was His Own Fault

    news.movim.eu / TheIntercept · Tuesday, 17 January - 21:13 · 4 minutes

People mourn Keenan Anderson in Santa Monica, CA on Jan. 14, 2022. A protester takes to the streets demanding justice for Keenan Anderson who died while in LAPD custody on Jan 3, 2023. (Photo by Jacob Lee Green/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

People mourn Keenan Anderson in Santa Monica, Calif., on Jan. 14, 2022.

Photo: Jacob Lee Green/Sipa via AP

The Los Angeles Police Department is pushing the narrative that Keenan Anderson — a 31-year-old Black teacher, who LAPD cops held down and repeatedly tased as he begged for his life — is responsible for his own death.

Preliminary toxicology tests, performed on Anderson’s body by the police department itself, found traces of cannabinoids and cocaine metabolite in his system – results that in no way mitigate the extreme violence inflicted on Anderson by the police ahead of his January 3 death.

The drug tests were not released as part of an official autopsy; the Los Angeles County coroner’s office is still investigating Anderson’s death and has not yet ruled on its exact medical cause. Instead, the LAPD conducted its own drug tests and announced the results in an unambiguous effort to denigrate and blame its victim, the third man of color killed by the department in the few short weeks of 2023 alone.

There’s nothing surprising about this sort of police practice. The idea that drug possession or use by Black people creates grounds enough to warrant police violence, even deadly violence, has undergirded half a century of U.S. policing. Cops from the department that murdered George Floyd attempted to blame his death on the fentanyl found present in his system, too, but thankfully without success.

If Anderson’s official autopsy undermines police claims that drugs played a role in his death, it would be a relief, but not a victory. Instead, the very willingness of the LAPD to release its toxicology report speaks to a much broader problem: the certain confidence in the public’s willingness to demonize and blame Black victims. If such racist narratives around drugs weren’t readily available, the police department wouldn’t have bothered releasing the toxicology results at all.

That the LAPD is confidently deploying this public relations tactic nearly three years after Floyd’s death is a grim reflection of how little has changed.

This should come as no surprise, either: The uprisings that followed Floyd’s murder were met with harsh state repression in the streets, aided by disavowals and dismissals across the media and political mainstream. The Democratic lawmakers who knelt ludicrously in kente cloth to signal their anti-racist credentials are the same leaders who have rejected every serious attempt to reckon with the racist violence that defines U.S. policing.

The reality of U.S. policing persists as a continuous, unrepentant, and reform-resistant threat to Black lives.

Calls to defund the police were deemed electorally radioactive, demands to abolish the police derided as delusional, police budgets further swelled, and impunity has continued to reign.

Police killed 1,176 people in 2022 — more killings than in any of the last 10 years. And while racial justice organizers and abolitionists continue to fight, the mass rebellions of 2020 were aggressively drained of political potency by an array of counterinsurgent forces, from mass arrests, media demonization, and, crucially, the complete and cowardly abandonment by liberal politicians on the city , state , and federal levels.

I don’t doubt pollsters’ findings, that voters in 2020 were turned off by the term “defund,” but I’m not interested in relitigating debates around electoral slogans. What matters is that the reality of U.S. policing persists as a continuous, unrepentant, and reform-resistant threat to Black lives.

It should go without saying that the presence of drug traces in Anderson’s blood should in no way shift culpability for his death away from the police. Anderson died following a brutal interaction with police officers he had flagged down to ask for assistance after a traffic collision. Friends and relatives said Anderson was undergoing a mental health crisis — a tragically common circumstance of deaths in police custody.

As released body cam footage showed, Anderson was chased and pinned down in the middle of the street. Two LAPD officers held him down, one with an elbow on his neck, then a knee dug into his back while he was handcuffed, and another cop stood over him with a Taser gun, shooting him with its electric charge — directly in the back — again and again, for a total of over 90 seconds. Anderson was then taken to hospital, where he died around four hours later.

The presence of drugs in Anderson’s system doesn’t even mean that he was high at the time of his interaction with police. Cocaine metabolite can stay in a person’s system for days. More to the point, Anderson certainly didn’t die of a cocaine overdose: These almost exclusively happen while taking the drug, not after hours in a hospital following physical violence and extensive electrocution suffered at the hands of police.

Even as city residents are terrorized, police consume enormous amounts of these communities’ resources. The LAPD received $1.8 billion in city funding last year, 29 times higher than the city’s housing budget, amid a perilous homelessness crisis. Bloated police budgets have not diminished crime but simply expanded the potential for police interactions in which a civilian can be treated as criminal and face violence. Racist police logics maintain a stranglehold over U.S. political norms. Otherwise, it would be — as it should be — beyond doubt that the police are wholly responsible for Keenan Anderson’s death.

The post LAPD Held Down Keenan Anderson, Repeatedly Tased Him — Then Suggested His Death Was His Own Fault appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Com Bolsonaro, Ministério do Meio Ambiente abriu mão de área na Amazônia onde madeireiros derrubaram 45 mil caminhões de árvores

    news.movim.eu / TheIntercept · Tuesday, 17 January - 15:01 · 13 minutes

P ara quem olha do alto, a impressão é de uma serpente se embrenhando na mata. Mas basta se aproximar para visualizar a estrada aberta pelos tratores, ampla o suficiente para a passagem de um caminhão. É a partir dela que os operadores de motosserra entram na floresta para derrubar as espécies mais valiosas, como o ipê e o jatobá, cujos metros cúbicos são vendidos a 3 mil e a 1,5 mil dólares no mercado internacional, respectivamente. Abatidas, as árvores são trazidas até os caminhões pelo skidder, uma máquina com um grande gancho na ponta — perfeito para pinçar e arrastar as enormes toras.

Como cupins abrindo trilhos floresta adentro, os madeireiros saquearam 45 mil caminhões carregados de toras de uma área da União localizada no município de Lábrea, no sul do Amazonas — uma região que se tornou o epicentro do desmatamento da maior floresta tropical do mundo. Colocados um atrás do outro, os veículos formariam uma fila de 450 quilômetros, o equivalente à distância entre São Paulo e Curitiba. Um saque que não aconteceu à revelia das autoridades ambientais, mas sim entre a bênção e o desinteresse de órgãos que deveriam zelar pelo meio ambiente.

O volume retirado da área pública equivale a cinco operações Handroanthus, na qual a Polícia Federal, a PF, fez a maior apreensão de madeira ilegal da história . Em 2020, ano em que a maior quantidade de madeira foi retirada da gleba (200 mil metros cúbicos, 30% do total explorado), o órgão ambiental do Amazonas, o Ipaam, já havia sido alertado das irregularidades nos planos de manejo florestal sustentável da região, os PMFS – documento que detalha quantas e quais espécies de árvores podem ser derrubadas em uma determinada propriedade. A informação estava em uma recomendação do Ministério Público Federal , o MPF, de 2018. Enquanto o Ipaam ignorava as medidas propostas pelo órgão para estancar a sangria, os madeireiros aumentavam a ferida na floresta.

“Nesse meio tempo praticamente se esgotou todo o volume que tinha para ser explorado nos planos de manejo fraudulentos e essa madeira, que é ilegal, entrou no circuito de madeira como se fosse um produto legal“, afirmou Nilo D’Avila, pesquisador sênior do Greenpeace.

Do tamanho de duas cidades de São Paulo, a João Bento é uma área não-destinada, ou gleba — como são chamadas as terras públicas que não foram convertidas em áreas indígenas e quilombolas, unidades de conservação, assentamentos, concessões florestais ou propriedades privadas — e que se tornaram o alvo número um dos grileiros, como mostramos na primeira reportagem da série Ladrões de Floresta .

A estimativa da extração na gleba federal foi feita a partir das cicatrizes deixadas na mata pelos madeireiros, visíveis nas imagens de satélite, e abrange um período de nove anos, de 2013 a 2021. O levantamento foi feito com exclusividade para o Intercept pelo Center for Climate Crime Analysis , o CCCA — uma ONG que atua para responsabilizar judicialmente empresas que colaboram para o aquecimento global — e se baseou em taxas de exploração de madeira por hectare utilizadas em planos de manejo florestal da região. Na prática, o prejuízo pode ser bem maior, já que na extração ilegal o volume explorado pode ser até duas vezes superior àquele autorizado pelos órgãos ambientais.

Análise do CCCA da exploração florestal na gleba João Bento. Em amarelo, área de floresta que foi alvo de extração madeireira. Em vermelho, área que foi alvo de extração madeireira e depois totalmente derrubada.

Análise do CCCA da exploração florestal na gleba João Bento. Em amarelo, área de floresta que foi alvo de extração madeireira. Em vermelho, área que foi alvo de extração madeireira e depois totalmente derrubada.

Mapa: Júlia Coelho/The Intercept Brasil

De mãos dadas com a grilagem de terras, a ação dos madeireiros alimentou uma máquina de desmatamento que já colocou abaixo quase metade dos 295 mil hectares da gleba, que é a última barreira antes de um vasto bloco de áreas protegidas, onde há inclusive registros de indígenas isolados — o mais recente foi descoberto em 2021 na Reserva Extrativista do Médio Purus .

“Esta região abriga os últimos grandes maciços de floresta que temos na Amazônia, porque o resto já está muito fragmentado”, afirmou Antonio Oviedo, pesquisador do Instituto Socioambiental, o ISA.

Mapa: Júlia Coelho/The Intercept Brasil

As árvores saqueadas da gleba abasteceram dezenas de serrarias instaladas ao longo da BR-364, no trecho da rodovia que liga Porto Velho a Rio Branco. A região, conhecida como Ponta do Abunã, já foi alvo de diversas operações do MPF e da PF, que revelaram desde a existência de uma associação de madeireiros ilegais , em 2011 — com direito a CNPJ, estatuto social e pedágio para controlar o acesso à área pública —, até uma vaquinha da propina, em que os madeireiros juntavam dinheiro para subornar fiscais ambientais , em 2019.

No mesmo ano, também foi preso Chaules Pozzebon, dono de mais de 120 madeireiras na região norte e condenado a 99 anos de prisão pelos crimes de organização criminosa e extorsão. Em novembro deste ano, uma nova operação da PF e do Ministério Público de Rondônia desbaratou uma quadrilha que se utilizava de milícia privada para manter as atividades dos grileiros na Ponta do Abunã.

Vista aerea de estradas de retirada ilegal de madeira  nas proximidades da Aldeia Buriti na Terra Indigena Kaxarari, localizada proximo ao distrito de Vista Alegre do Abunã, dritrito de Porto Velho, Rondonia. 09 de agosto de 2022. Foto: Bruno Kelly

Caminho aberto por madeireiros no meio da floresta no sul do Amazonas.

Foto: Bruno Kelly para o Intercept Brasil

Benção de um, desinteresse do outro

A s análises do CCCA mostram que parte dessa madeira saiu da gleba de forma totalmente clandestina. Outra parcela, no entanto, foi extraída com a autorização do Ipaam, em uma fraude cuja origem está na grilagem de terras.

Provar a propriedade do imóvel é um dos pré-requisitos para a  aprovação do PMFS. “Se a terra não é sua, você não pode fazer manejo florestal nem nenhuma outra atividade”, esclareceu Alexandre Saraiva, delegado da PF que coordenou a Operação Arquimedes, a maior investigação já realizada no Brasil contra o comércio ilegal de madeira. “Por isso, a grilagem de terras é o primeiro passo”.

Em teoria, nenhuma licença poderia ser emitida na gleba João Bento, área da União situada na faixa de fronteira com o norte da Bolívia, e onde os processos de regularização fundiária não foram concluídos, segundo o Incra . Mesmo assim, o Ipaam emitiu licenças no Amazonas com base em documentos auto declaratórios que não têm validade como registro de terra, como é o caso do Certificado de Cadastro do Imóvel Rural , o CCIR.

Além de emitir licenças em terras griladas, o Ipaam o fez em uma área federal, extrapolando sua competência de órgão ambiental do estado. E esse problema está longe de ser exclusivo da gleba João Bento. Em 2018, uma análise do MPF concluiu que mais da metade dos 11.423 PMFS registrados no Amazonas estavam em áreas de interesse federal: 4.479 estavam sobrepostos a glebas federais; 1.130 sobre assentamentos do Incra; 420 sobre unidades de conservação federais; 116 sobre terras indígenas e 21 sobre áreas quilombolas. “A conduta do Ipaam trouxe nulidades insanáveis aos processos, porque as licenças foram emitidas sobre uma terra que foi roubada. É terra da União”, disse Saraiva.

A constatação das irregularidades levou o MPF a recomendar , ainda em 2018, que o Ipaam tomasse medidas administrativas em relação a todos os planos de manejo em sobreposição a áreas de interesse federal. Mas o órgão só foi agir dois anos depois, no final de 2020, quando a segunda fase da Operação Arquimedes revelou um esquema de pagamento de propina a servidores do Ipaam em troca da liberação dos planos de manejo .

Nesse meio tempo, a exploração explodiu na gleba João Bento, dentro e fora dos planos de manejo aprovados pelo Ipaam. Segundo o Greenpeace , parte dessa madeira foi vendida para a Madeireira Atalaia, de Vista Alegre do Abunã, em Rondônia, e depois exportada para Portugal, Bélgica e França.

“Se o órgão gestor ambiental não dá um recado dizendo que a partir de agora a regra do jogo mudou, o sujeito vai derrubar ainda mais”, lamentou Herbert Dittmar, perito criminal federal da PF.

Caminhao sem placa e sem identificação é flagrado transitando com toras de madeira na rodovia BR364, proximo a Vista Alegre do Abunã, distrito de Porto Velho (RO). 08 de agosto de 2022. Foto: Bruno Kelly.

Madeira retirada da gleba João Bento é levada pela BR 364 até as serrarias da Ponta do Abunã.

Foto: Bruno Kelly para o Intercept Brasil

Com a ajuda do Greenpeace, o Intercept identificou oito PMFS sobrepostos à gleba João Bento, dos quais pelo menos três acabaram suspensos pelo Ipaam entre o final de 2020 e o início de 2021. Procurado, o Ipaam não esclareceu quantas licenças foram suspensas por recomendação do MPF do Amazonas, nem por que demorou tanto tempo para fazê-lo.

Em nota enviada ao Intercept, o MPF afirmou que o Ipaam não cumpriu na íntegra a recomendação de adotar medidas contra as licenças sobrepostas a áreas federais, levando-o a abrir uma ação civil pública contra o órgão ambiental do Amazonas, que segue em tramitação.

Enquanto o órgão ambiental estadual autorizava a retirada ilegal de madeira da gleba João Bento, o órgão federal, responsável por proteger a área, deixava o desmatamento correr solto para depois abrir mão do poder de garantir proteção efetiva ao território. Em 2020, o Ministério do Meio Ambiente desistiu da prerrogativa de destinar a área para uma unidade de conservação em uma reunião da Câmara Técnica de Destinação e Regularização Fundiária de Terras Públicas Federais Rurais, cujo objetivo é justamente destinar essas áreas.

A decisão contraria as orientações do próprio ministério, cujos estudos concluíram que parte da gleba João Bento está em uma área de prioridade extremamente alta para a conservação da Amazônia e onde deveria ser criada uma unidade de conservação de proteção integral — por decreto , o mapa das áreas prioritárias de conservação deveria orientar as decisões do órgão sobre a criação de novas áreas protegidas. Questionado por email, ainda na gestão de Jair Bolsonaro, o ministério não respondeu ao Intercept.

Para trás, os madeireiros deixam uma floresta em pé, mas mutilada pelo corte de espécies inteiras. O corte seletivo, como é chamado, é um crime menos aparente e costuma ser ignorado pela sociedade — apesar de o Brasil já ter capacidade de detectar esse tipo de exploração.

“O que a gente vê na TV normalmente é o corte raso, que é quando está tudo derrubado e queimado. Só que o corte seletivo também é gravíssimo e a população não está enxergando”, alertou Dittmar. “O tamanho da área degradada anualmente na Amazônia brasileira é igual ou maior que o tamanho da área desmatada. E essa floresta vai perdendo biodiversidade e a capacidade de prover serviços ecossistêmicos, como a absorção de carbono e a regulação dos ciclos hídricos”, completou Clarissa Gandour, coordenadora de avaliação de políticas públicas de conservação do Climate Policy Initiative , o CPI, uma organização ligada à PUC-Rio que produz dados para orientar políticas ambientais.

Ramal da Anta, localizado na divisa dos estados de Rondonia e Amazonas, no municipio de Labrea (AM) e em Vista Alegre do Abunã, distrito de Porto Velho (RO). 08 de agosto de 2022. Foto: Bruno Kelly.

Madeireiros continuam atuando na gleba João Bento.

Foto: Bruno Kelly para o Intercept Brasil

Pressa para faturar

C om menos de seis quilômetros quadrados de área urbana e pouco mais de quatro mil habitantes (segundo o último censo, de 2010), Vista Alegre do Abunã concentra cerca de 15 serrarias. Basta observar imagens feitas por um drone para enxergar os pátios com diversas pilhas de toras, que do alto parecem palitos de fósforos, e os montinhos de fumaça saindo das estufas onde a madeira passa pelo processo de secagem.

Aproximar-se destes estabelecimentos, no entanto, pode criar problemas, como o enfrentado por nossa equipe quando fazíamos imagens da entrada de uma das serrarias. Sem se identificar, uma funcionária começou a gravar a placa do nosso carro com o celular, nos obrigando a deixar a localidade às pressas — possivelmente, em pouco tempo, aquele vídeo estaria no Whatsapp de todos os madeireiros da região.

É neste distrito de Porto Velho, um dos quatro da Ponta do Abunã, que começa o ramal Jequitibá, como é conhecida uma das estradas de terra mais utilizadas pelos madeireiros para acessar a gleba João Bento — em 2011, os empresários chegaram a instalar ali um pedágio para controlar o acesso à área .

O avanço pela via se mostrou um passeio didático e progressivo por diferentes estágios de expropriação do patrimônio público. Próximo à BR-364, onde começa o ramal, já há algumas áreas de cultivo de soja, na borda da gleba federal. Em seguida, vêm vastas fazendas ocupadas por rebanhos bovinos e, depois, imensas áreas recém-desmatadas — algumas com o chão ainda quente da queimada mais recente. Adentrando ainda mais a área da União, já nas proximidades do bloco de unidades de conservação, observamos os túneis típicos da exploração madeireira abertos na mata.

“Esse é o processo clássico do desmatamento na Amazônia”, explicou Heron Martins, coordenador do Laboratório de Análises Geoespaciais do CCCA. “Começa com a exploração madeireira e a degradação florestal, depois o corte raso para a criação de gado e, em regiões com contexto favorável, o cultivo de soja, que empurra as atividades anteriores cada vez mais para dentro da floresta”.

Gado e visto em area desmatada e queimada no ramal da Anta, localizado na divisa dos estados de Rondonia e Amazonas, no municipio de Labrea (AM) e Vista Alegre do Abunã, distrito de Porto Velho (RO). 08 de agosto de 2022. Foto: Bruno Kelly.

Área recém queimada na João Bento. Metade da gleba já foi transformada em pastagem.

Foto: Bruno Kelly para o Intercept Brasil

Mas esse passo a passo nem sempre é seguido à risca. Vastas áreas da gleba João Bento foram convertidas diretamente em pasto, sem passar pelo processo da retirada seletiva de madeira. E, assim como em outras partes do bioma, o desmatamento nunca foi tão intenso quanto no governo Bolsonaro: dos 135 mil hectares derrubados na gleba João Bento, 68.911, o que corresponde a 51%, vieram abaixo entre 2019 e 2022. “É impressionante a velocidade de abertura da área”, constatou  Martins. O Ibama, responsável pela proteção das áreas federais, não retornou nossos contatos.

amazonia-madeireiros-ipe-jatoba-avanco-desmatamento

Avanço do desmatamento na gleba João Bento

Imagens: USGS/NASA Landsat/Earthrise

A pressa em desmatar, que leva os grileiros a colocarem fogo na maior parte da madeira, está associada à expectativa de lucrar ainda mais com a venda da terra. Afinal, essa é uma das regiões do Brasil onde o hectare mais valorizou nos últimos anos . “Nesses casos, o que importa é assegurar a posse da área para então especular com a terra”, disse Martins.

Para Dittmar, a aptidão da região para a lavoura acentua ainda mais essa corrida dos grileiros. “Como o relevo é plano, as áreas não inundáveis são um convite ao plantio de soja. Esse é um dos motivos pelos quais Lábrea está sendo grilada e devastada”.

A destruição na gleba federal é apenas uma mostra do que acontece na região conhecida como Amacro, que fica na fronteira entre o sul do Amazonas, o norte de Rondônia e o leste do Acre. Dos 15 municípios da Amazônia Legal com maior incremento de derrubadas entre 2020 e 2021, sete estão nesta área. Lábrea, onde fica a gleba João Bento, foi o quarto município com maior aumento na área desmatada em 2021. “O que aconteceu em Lábrea é um desastre ambiental”, lamentou Saraiva.

Esta reportagem faz parte do projeto Ladrões de Floresta, que investiga a grilagem em terras públicas da Amazônia e conta com o apoio da Rainforest Investigations Network, do Pulitzer Center. Confira a primeira e a segunda reportagem da série.

The post Com Bolsonaro, Ministério do Meio Ambiente abriu mão de área na Amazônia onde madeireiros derrubaram 45 mil caminhões de árvores appeared first on The Intercept .

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    California Police Are Buying Guns From Dealers With Troubling Records

    news.movim.eu / TheIntercept · Tuesday, 17 January - 11:00 · 6 minutes

Law enforcement agencies across California have spent millions in taxpayer funds purchasing weapons from dealers with a history of failing to comply with federal firearms regulations, according to a new analysis by the nonprofit Brady: United Against Gun Violence .

The analysis reveals that at least 90 California law enforcement agencies have spent more than $20 million buying firearms, ammunition, and other gear from at least six federally licensed firearms dealers with a history of violating firearms laws — including failing to report sales involving multiple weapons, a key indicator for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in identifying straw purchasers and potential firearms trafficking.

“Using taxpayer money to buy guns from dealers with a history of noncompliance with gun safety laws is counterproductive, to say the least,” said Erica Rice, program manager for Brady’s Combating Crime Guns Initiative .

The review is part of Brady’s ongoing Gun Store Transparency Project , a collection of thousands of records from the ATF regarding enforcement actions the agency has taken against licensed gun sellers for serious violations of federal law. The nonprofit reviewed six years of law enforcement purchasing records obtained via public records requests made by the American Friends Service Committee as part of a project tracing the militarization of police agencies in California. Brady then cross-checked those records against ATF inspection reports to reveal that dozens of law enforcement agencies have purchased goods from dealers whose practices may be putting public safety at risk.

LC Action Police Supply in San Jose, for example, a “high-volume dealer” whose clientele is predominately law enforcement agencies, state-certified private security officers, and other firearms dealers, according to the ATF, has been cited for 41 violations of federal firearms laws — the majority repeat infractions — during eight inspections since 1995.

During a 2018 inspection, the most recent report available, the ATF cited LC Action for seven violations, including failing to timely report a sale of multiple weapons and failing to record various background check information. The inspection prompted inspectors to recommend a “warning conference” — the most serious action the agency can take short of revoking a dealer’s license. It was the third time since 2009 that LC Action had faced a warning conference; the dealer’s 2005 inspection resulted in a recommendation that its license be revoked, an action the agency ultimately did not take.

Nonetheless, according to the Brady analysis, California law enforcement agencies spent nearly $19 million at LC Action between 2015 and 2021, with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spending the most, at more than $14 million.

Kip Miller, co-owner of LC Action, wrote in an email that a number of the violations were actually the result of errors made by the ATF inspector and not due to LC Action’s noncompliance. The company takes its business “seriously and responsibly,” he said. Miller did not respond to requests from The Intercept for documentation reflecting corrections or acknowledgment of error by the ATF.

Brady also reviewed more than $4 million in purchases from Adamson Police Products by 64 law enforcement agencies. Adamson has its own troubling history with the ATF. In 2016, the agency found that the dealer’s Livermore store violated federal requirements regarding the possession and sale of short-barrel rifles, which are subject to stringent regulation. One of those weapons ultimately went missing, according to ATF records. As a result, Adamson’s owner demoted an employee, the records show. In all, the ATF has cited Adamson for 25 violations of firearms laws (at least 11 of them were repeat violations) during six inspections since 2003, according to records obtained by Brady, resulting in two warning conferences.

Adamson Police Products owner Jim Cunningham did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment.

According to Brady, cities across the U.S. spend more than $5 billion per year on guns alone (ammunition and other supplies account for billions more), with taxpayers footing the bill.

The ATF has recognized that federal firearms licensees are the front line against the diversion of firearms into the illegal market, and there is evidence that dealer business practices can lead to reductions in trafficking and crime. That’s why it’s critical to ensure that dealers comply with gun laws, Brady says, and that government entities purchasing weapons do so only from responsible dealers that adopt model policies like the Gun Dealer Code of Conduct .

California has among the country’s most extensive gun regulations , and yet taxpayer dollars in communities throughout the state — from Orange County to Humboldt County — are still being used to buy firearms from dealers that have racked up serious infractions. The purchasing records reviewed by Brady represent just a fraction of the state’s 531 law enforcement agencies — meaning that many more agencies could be supplied by problematic dealers. And while there were more than 130,000 active federal firearms licensees in 2020, the ATF was able to inspect less than 6,000 of them. In other words, Rice said, what the California data reveals may represent the tip of the iceberg.

“The data we have is a snapshot. It comes from a small percentage of California’s law enforcement agencies and a small percentage of ATF inspection reports,” she said. “California has some of the strongest gun laws in the country. So if taxpayer dollars in California are being spent at gun dealers who have been cited for violating the law, then it is likely happening in other states too.”

It should be a simple ask for government agencies to direct their purchasing power to responsible dealers, said Joshua Scharff, general counsel and director of programs at Brady. “Procurement policies that properly vet dealers and promote responsible firearms sales [are] low-hanging fruit in the fight to prevent gun violence,” he said.

In 2019, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order directing the state’s Division of Purchase and Property to assess whether the firearms dealers it does business with “adhere to public safety principles relating to firearms.” Last spring, Brady released a report on New Jersey’s efforts, which it said were successful in both “promoting gun safety and laying a strong foundation for future action.”

After the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018, officials in Toledo, Ohio, including Police Chief George Kral, announced that the city would only buy weapons from dealers deemed responsible; in 2019, the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution encouraging member cities to take similar action, though it is unclear how many have done so. Still, limiting purchases to dealers who take their responsibility for reducing gun violence seriously is a viable way forward for state and local governments — and perhaps particularly useful for cities and counties in places like Texas, where statewide leadership is hostile to gun regulation.

Rice said it’s important not to lose sight of how the kind of data contained in Brady’s analysis impacts people and communities. “Law enforcement is tasked with protecting and serving communities, so it is critical the public ensures they are not purchasing from the same dealers who may be contributing to rising rates of shootings and homicides,” she said. “The least we should be willing to accept is responsible stewardship of our tax dollars.”

The post California Police Are Buying Guns From Dealers With Troubling Records appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Esses deputados estão fingindo nunca ter apoiado os terroristas após posts comprometedores

    news.movim.eu / TheIntercept · Tuesday, 17 January - 09:02 · 5 minutes

Ao menos quatro deputados federais apagaram das redes sociais mensagens de apoio aos atos de terrorismo praticados por bolsonaristas no dia 8 de janeiro. Depois que as postagens repercutiram mal, André Fernandes, Silvia Waiãpi, Eros Biodini – respectivamente do PL do Ceará, Amapá e Minas Gerais – e Clarissa Tércio, do PP de Pernambuco, bem que tentaram pular do barco golpista e repudiaram a depredação e violência, mas os prints já estavam eternizados.

Na noite anterior ao ato, o deputado cearense tuitou que estaria lá. Depois, em um vídeo no qual acusa o PT e o Psol de o denunciarem injustamente ao Supremo Tribunal Federal por “estimularem o golpismo e o terrorismo nas redes sociais”, Fernandes disse que pensava que seria apenas uma manifestação contra o presidente Lula, “algo comum em toda democracia” – exceto quando se trata de um protesto cujo objetivo é depor um presidente eleito por maioria dos votos por meio de uma intervenção inconstitucional.

No vídeo em que tenta limpar a própria barra, o deputado usou a estratégia bolsonarista de comparar manifestações legítimas da esquerda com os atos terroristas recentes, mas deixou de mencionar que comemorou quando os golpistas arrancaram a porta do gabinete do ministro do Supremo Alexandre de Moraes. No tuíte que apagou logo em seguida, ele postou a imagem e escreveu “quem rir vai preso”.

Já a deputada Clarissa Tércio apagou o vídeo em que exaltava a invasão aos prédios dos Três Poderes e, em seguida, postou o print de um tuíte do ex-presidente Jair Bolsonaro, também comparando manifestações legítimas da esquerda com os atos golpistas e se dizendo contra “qualquer ato de violência, vandalismo ou de destruição do patrimônio público, que venha ameaçar a nossa democracia”. Quando saiu a notícia da inclusão do seu nome no pedido de inquérito da Procuradoria-Geral da República, Tércio se defendeu, alegando que apenas postou um vídeo “pedindo oração” pelo país. O que as imagens mostram, porém, são os golpistas invadindo os prédios públicos.

Quem também apagou postagens foi a deputada Sílvia Waiãpi, assim como o colega Eros Biondini. Ela apagou três stories no Instagram em que comemorava a invasão dos golpistas. Em um deles, escreveu que os atos terroristas eram “o povo tomando o poder”. Embora tenha excluído as postagens, a deputada até agora não se manifestou contra os atos.

Já Biondini apagou do Facebook uma foto que mostrava os terroristas em Brasília com a legenda “a casa do povo”. Depois, postou que “os que invadem e destroem patrimônio público são criminosos e precisam ser identificados e punidos exemplarmente”, mas já era tarde demais.

A estratégia do deputado Evair de Melo, do PL do Espírito Santo, foi um pouco diferente. Em vez de apagar a postagem em que reproduzia a mentira da morte de uma idosa na quadra da Polícia Federal após a prisão de centenas de golpistas, ele apenas editou a legenda e disse que averiguaria depois a veracidade da informação. Embora a Polícia Federal já tivesse informado a verdade no dia anterior e o deputado tenha ido ao local onde estavam os detidos, ele não desmentiu a história no vídeo que publicou por volta das 16h do dia 10.

Repúdio tardio

Para o deputado federal Carlos Sampaio, do PSDB paulista, a ficha parece ter caído aos poucos. Na manhã do dia 9, ele escreveu no Twitter que entendia e compartilhava a “indignação de milhões de brasileiros que consideram a eleição de Lula como um retrocesso absoluto”. Somente quatro horas depois, por volta do meio-dia, ele voltou ao Twitter para se contrapor ao absurdo dos acontecimentos de forma mais enfática e escreveu que “violência e depredação de patrimônio público não são aceitáveis”.

Já o deputado Joaquim Passarinho, do PL do Pará, aparentemente demorou para entender o que claramente estava acontecendo – atos terroristas contra um governo eleito democraticamente. Pouco antes da invasão começar, ele tuitou que “o povo na rua é democracia em essência” . Somente perto das 17h, o deputado repudiou a “invasão de prédios públicos e depredação”, lamentando que os golpistas estivessem “produzindo provas contra eles mesmos” .

O Coronel Chrisóstomo e o Gerenal Girão, respectivamente do PL de Rondônia e do Rio Grande do Norte, só fizeram um pronunciamento enfático contra o terrorismo após a reportagem do Intercept , que apontou os 46 deputados federais que apoiaram ou minimizaram os atos golpistas . Os nomes deles constam no levantamento.

O coronel postou um vídeo cerca de três horas depois que a reportagem foi publicada, dizendo que não apoia nem concorda com vandalismo. Até então, ele tinha apenas comparado os atos terroristas com manifestações da esquerda e dito: “a direita do Brasil sempre terá meu apoio total. Contem comigo”.

General Girão defendeu ‘aplicação rígida da lei’ contra vândalos, mas só depois de criticar a existência de medidas de segurança no dia 8.

Na tarde do dia 8, pouco antes de ter início a depredação, o General Girão não parecia tão contrário às manifestações golpistas, pois criticou as medidas de segurança que eram adotadas naquela ocasião e escreveu no Twitter que estavam “transformando a proximidade da Praça dos Três Poderes/Brasília numa fortaleza medieval. E tudo porque precisam afastar o povo, o verdadeiro soberano do Brasil”. As imagens que todos acompanharam mostram que a segurança, na verdade, foi insuficiente.

Após a publicação da reportagem do Intercept, o discurso do general mudou e ele até defendeu a “aplicação rígida da lei contra quem vandalizou e depredou os Três Poderes”, mas continuou passando pano para quem estava “há 70 dias acampadas pacificamente nos quartéis” – outro ato golpista.

O levantamento do Intercept ainda mobilizou seis parlamentares citados a se manifestarem publicamente. A deputada Bia Kicis, do PL do Distrito Federal, o Coronel Meira, do PL de Pernambuco, e o Tenente Coronel Zucco, do Republicanos do Rio Grande do Sul, repudiaram a inclusão de seus nomes entre os defensores ou simpatizantes disfarçados e alegaram que nunca defenderam depredação e atos de vandalismo. A classificação, porém, foi feita com base em manifestações públicas dos próprios parlamentares.

Todos os citados da reportagem defenderam, incentivaram ou ao menos tentaram justificar de alguma forma os atos terroristas – com ou sem violência e depredação, ainda se tratava de uma manifestação antidemocrática, pois pretendia invalidar uma eleição legítima.

The post Esses deputados estão fingindo nunca ter apoiado os terroristas após posts comprometedores appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Covid-19 Drugmakers Pressured Twitter to Censor Activists Pushing for Generic Vaccine

    news.movim.eu / TheIntercept · Monday, 16 January - 15:30 · 8 minutes

In mid-December 2020, Nina Morschhaeuser, a lobbyist for Twitter in Europe, emailed colleagues with a dire warning. The drugmaker BioNTech, along with the German government, had contacted her with news of an imminent “campaign targeting the pharmaceutical companies developing the COVID-19 vaccine,” she wrote.

“The authorities are warning about ‘serious consequences’ of the action, i.e. posts and a flood of comments ‘that may violate TOS’ as well as the ‘takeover of user accounts’ are to be expected,” wrote Morschhaeuser. “Especially the personal accounts of the management of the vaccine manufacturers are said to be targeted. Accordingly, fake accounts could also be set up.”

The campaign they were concerned about was the launch of an international push to force the drug industry to share the intellectual property and patents associated with coronavirus vaccine development. Making the patents available, in turn, would allow countries across the world to swiftly manufacture generic vaccines and other low-cost therapeutics to deal with the ongoing pandemic.

Morschhaeuser, while alerting several site integrity and safety teams at Twitter, forwarded on an email from BioNTech spokesperson Jasmina Alatovic, who asked Twitter to “hide” activist tweets targeting her company’s account over a period of two days.

Morschhaeuser flagged the corporate accounts of Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca for her colleagues to monitor and shield from activists. Morschhaeuser also asked colleagues to monitor the hashtags #PeoplesVaccine and #JoinCTAP, a reference to the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool, a program promoted by developing countries to accelerate the development of vaccines through the equitable sharing of research and manufacturing capacity. She noted that the group Global Justice Now was spearheading the action with an online sign-up form .

It is not clear to what extent Twitter took any action on BioNTech’s request. In response to Morschhaeuser’s inquiry, several Twitter officials chimed in, debating what action could or could not be taken. Su Fern Teo, a member of the company’s safety team, noted that a quick scan of the activist campaign showed nothing that violated the company’s terms of service, and asked for more examples to “get a better sense of the content that may violate our policies.”

But it shows the extent to which pharmaceutical giants engaged in a global lobbying blitz to ensure corporate dominance over the medical products that became central to combatting the pandemic. Ultimately, the campaign to share Covid vaccine recipes around the world failed.

The Intercept accessed Twitter’s emails after the company’s billionaire owner, Elon Musk, granted access to several reporters in December. This is the second story I have reported through access to these files. The first centered on the Pentagon’s network of fake Twitter accounts used to spread U.S. narratives in the Middle East.

In reporting this story, as with the last, Twitter did not provide unfettered access to company information; rather, they allowed me to make requests without restriction that were then fulfilled on my behalf by an attorney, meaning that the search results may not have been exhaustive. I did not agree to any conditions governing the use of the documents, and I made efforts to authenticate and contextualize the documents through further reporting. The redactions in the embedded documents in this story were done by The Intercept to protect privacy, not Twitter.

Twitter and the German Federal Office for Information Security, the cybersecurity agency that Morschhaeuser said contacted Twitter on behalf of BioNTech, did not respond to a request for comment. BioNTech’s Alatovic, in response to a request for comment, stressed that the firm “takes its societal responsibility seriously and is investing in solutions to improve the health of people regardless of their income.”

In November, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism published a lengthy report showing that pharmaceutical companies went to great lengths to stifle efforts to share pandemic-related patents and IP, including threats to the leadership of Belgium, Colombia, and Indonesia. The Intercept has also detailed the domestic lobbying push to block support for a special World Trade Organization waiver necessary for the rapid creation of generic pandemic medicine. German media has similarly reported on the aggressive effort by BioNTech to build support from the German government in opposing the waiver at the WTO.

In May 2021, the Biden administration reversed its earlier position and that of the Trump administration and voiced support for the WTO waiver, making the U.S. one of the largest wealthy countries to support the idea, backed by a coalition led by India and South Africa. But infighting at the international trade body, along with staunch opposition from other wealthy countries, prevented any effective progress on the issue.

The largely successful assault against the creation of generic vaccines resulted in an unprecedented explosion in profit for a few select biopharmaceutical drug interests. Pfizer and BioNTech generated a staggering $37 billion in revenue from its shared mRNA vaccine in 2021 alone, making it one of the most lucrative drug products of all time.

Moderna, which made $17.7 billion from vaccine sales in 2021, recently announced its plan to hike the price of its Covid shot by about 400 percent.

The high cost of vaccines and concentrated ownership meant supplies in 2021 were hoarded in the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Japan, and other wealthy countries, while much of the developing world was forced to wait for excess vaccines the following year.

“To try and stifle digital dissent during a pandemic, when tweets and emails are some of the only forms of protest available to those locked in their homes, is deeply sinister.”

“For more than two years, a global movement has been speaking out against pharmaceutical greed and demanding that everyone, everywhere has the tools to combat pandemics,” said Maaza Seyoum, a campaigner for the People’s Vaccine Alliance.

“Whatever nasty tricks companies and governments pull,” she added, “we cannot and will not be silenced.”

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, noted that at the time of BioNTech’s censorship request, much of the world was under various lockdown orders, making digital forms of protest all the more vital for influencing public policy.

“To try and stifle digital dissent during a pandemic, when tweets and emails are some of the only forms of protest available to those locked in their homes, is deeply sinister,” he said.

The headquarter of biopharmaceutical company BioNTech, September 18, 2020 in Mainz, Germany.

The headquarter of biopharmaceutical company BioNTech, September 18, 2020 in Mainz, Germany.

Photo: Yann Schreiber/Getty Images


The BioNTech request was not the only channel through which vaccine-makers sought to shape content moderation actions at Twitter.

Stronger, a campaign run by Public Good Projects, a public health nonprofit specializing in large-scale media monitoring programs, regularly communicated with Twitter on regulating content related to the pandemic. The firm worked closely with the San Francisco social media giant to help develop bots to censor vaccine misinformation and, at times, sent direct requests to Twitter with lists of accounts to censor and verify.

Internal Twitter emails show regular correspondence between an account manager at Public Good Projects, and various Twitter officials, including Todd O’Boyle, lobbyist with the company who served as a point of contact with the Biden administration. The content moderation requests were sent throughout 2021 and early 2022.

The entire campaign, newly available tax documents and other disclosures show, was entirely funded by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a vaccine industry lobbying group. BIO, which is financed by companies such as Moderna and Pfizer, provided Stronger with $1,275,000 in funding for the effort, which included tools for the public to flag content on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for moderation.

Many of the tweets flagged by Stronger contained absolute falsehoods, including claims that vaccines contained microchips and were designed to intentionally kill people. But others hinged on a gray area of vaccine policy through which there is reasonable debate, such as requests to label or take down content critical of vaccine passports and government mandates to require vaccination.

One tweet flagged by the BIO-backed moderation effort read, “if a vaccinated person and an unvaccinated person have roughly the same capacity to carry, shed and transmit the virus, particularly in its Delta form, what difference does implementing a vaccination passport actually make to the spread of the virus?”

Public health experts and civil libertarians strongly debated the constitutionality of such passports , an idea that was eventually discarded by U.S. policymakers.

Joe Smyser, the chief executive of Public Good Projects in charge of the Stronger campaign, said his organization’s work was a good-faith effort to battle disinformation. “BIO contributed money and said, ‘You guys are planning on running a pro-vaccine, anti-vaccine misinformation effort and we will give you $500,000 [per year] no questions asked,’” said Smyser.

Many pharmaceutical lobby groups made exaggerated claims about the danger of sharing vaccine technology. PhRMA, another drug industry lobby group, falsely claimed on Twitter that any effort to allow the creation of a generic Covid vaccine would result in placing all 4.4 million jobs supported by the entire American drug industry at risk.

I asked Smyser whether his group ever flagged any content distributed by the pharmaceutical lobby as “misinformation.”

Smyser agreed that policy debate was important, and if misinformation was spread by pharmaceutical companies, any global citizen “should be aware of it,” but that his organization never flagged or focused on any drug industry content.

“I understand why someone would be skeptical, because as a researcher, it matters where your money comes from,” Smyser said. But, he argued, “my job is, how do people figure out where to go get vaccinated? And how do I encourage them to get the vaccine? That was it.”

In a December 2020 email thread further discussing how to monitor BioNTech and respond to the vaccine equity campaign engaging in “spammy behavior” potentially in violation of the social media company’s policies, Holger Kersting, a Twitter spokesperson in Germany, offered several links to tweets in potential violation of the policy.

Two of the tweets were from an account owned by Terry Brough, a retired bricklayer in a small town outside of Liverpool. The messages called on the chief executives of Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca to share vaccine technology with “poor countries.”

Reached for comment, Brough reacted with surprise that his messages were being monitored for possible fake content.

“I’m actually 74 and still living,” said Brough with a chuckle. “I was a bricklayer all my life just like my dad. I’m no Che Guevara, but I’ve been an activist, a trade unionist, and a socialist. And all I did was sign a tweet. I wish I could’ve done more, really.”

The post Covid-19 Drugmakers Pressured Twitter to Censor Activists Pushing for Generic Vaccine appeared first on The Intercept .

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    É hora de o Brasil apontar o dedo para as Forças Armadas e desembarcar do cinismo golpista

    news.movim.eu / TheIntercept · Monday, 16 January - 14:06 · 5 minutes

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Ilustração: The Intercept Brasil; Getty Images

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O dia 8 de janeiro expôs ao Brasil a materialidade de um crime que estava em gestação no submundo da política. Houve um intento de golpe de estado transmitido praticamente em tempo real por milhares de apoiadores de Jair Bolsonaro. Desde então, já sabemos que há potencial para novos atentados violentos, que há integrantes golpistas nas Forças Armadas e na Polícia Militar, e até que o ex-ministro da Justiça de Jair Bolsonaro, Anderson Torres, tinha uma minuta pronta para contestar o resultado das eleições de 2022.

Uma janela foi aberta neste domingo para desembarcar do cinismo das argumentações retóricas, como a famigerada “liberdade de expressão” defendida por bolsonaristas, e passarmos a chamar as coisas pelo verdadeiro nome por vias oficiais, saindo da tucanização que a falsa diplomacia brasileira carrega em seu DNA. “Os desprezíveis ataques terroristas à democracia e às instituições republicanas serão responsabilizados, assim como os financiadores, instigadores e os anteriores e atuais agentes públicos coniventes e criminosos, que continuam na ilícita conduta da prática de atos antidemocráticos”, escreveu, no mesmo dia 8, o ministro Alexandre de Moraes em uma inédita decisão de afastar do cargo por 90 dias o governador do Distrito Federal Ibaneis Rocha.

Enquanto o mundo assistia estarrecido às imagens da réplica malfeita da invasão do Capitólio nos Estados Unidos, nasciam novos braços institucionais para blindar a democracia. A Advocacia Geral da União, a AGU, criou o Grupo Especial de Defesa da Democracia, e a Procuradoria Federal de Direitos do Cidadão, a PFDC, formou o Grupo de Apoio à Defesa da Democracia para agilizar a comunicação entre os órgãos públicos.

“Temos notícias da criação de diversos grupos extremistas. Precisamos nos unir para desmobilizá-los e promover a estabilidade necessária ao nosso país”, me disse o procurador Carlos Alberto Vilhena, da PFDC. Até a Procuradoria-Geral da República anunciou, dias depois, um Grupo Estratégico de Combate aos Atos Antidemocráticos para não ficar atrás.

Parte da imprensa parece rever também o seu papel. Ainda soa estranho ouvir os apresentadores do Jornal Nacional anunciarem “vândalos” ou “atos terroristas” de uma massa de pessoas brancas, viúvas da ditadura militar. Faz bem pouco tempo que no Brasil a imprensa se negava a admitir que Bolsonaro era um mandatário de ultradireita.

A nossa geração não tinha ideia do que era a extrema direita em ação. A era bolsonarista e seus atentados nos apresentaram essa realidade. Nos últimos dias, até os mais céticos — excluindo os fanáticos “patriotas” — perceberam o tamanho da encrenca.

Agora, já não há dúvidas de que integrantes das forças de segurança do Planalto abriram as portas para os golpistas invadirem a praça dos Três Poderes, como disse o presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva na semana passada – isso porque a posição dos estilhaços indica que as vidraças foram quebradas de dentro para fora.

Antes do fatídico 8 de janeiro, havia agressões verbais, milícias virtuais e uma negação de que, nessa dinâmica com roupagem de “liberdade de expressão”, havia incitação a crimes. Foi a tese sustentada pelo governo Bolsonaro e os generais em seu entorno, como Hamilton Mourão.

O general Villas Bôas plantou as sementes que colhemos com Bolsonaro presidente e com o terrorismo.

É a mesma hipocrisia da qual são vítimas inúmeras mulheres que denunciam as ameaças de agressão de seus parceiros, mas são ignoradas até que uma tragédia aconteça. A democracia brasileira também viveu sua tentativa de feminicídio no último domingo, desnudando a desfaçatez que permeia as relações de poder no Brasil desde a fundação da República.

Os militares nunca deixaram de querer se colocar como uma instância superior e heroica. Fomentaram o messianismo de inocentes úteis em nome da pátria. Pessoas idosas, gente simples que ingenuamente se colocou em acampamento, seguindo mensagens religiosas, quiçá para aplacar a solidão de não conseguir acompanhar uma sociedade mais complexa, com o fortalecimento de diversos estratos que antes não tinham voz. Não faz tanto tempo que o general Villas Bôas fez ameaças dissimuladamente golpistas às vésperas do julgamento do habeas corpus de Lula, que poderia liberá-lo da prisão. Foi um tuíte sinuoso que deu aval aos “patriotas”. “Asseguro à Nação que o Exército Brasileiro julga compartilhar o anseio de todos os cidadãos de bem de repúdio à impunidade e de respeito à Constituição, à paz social e à Democracia, bem como se mantém atento às suas missões institucionais”, escreveu ele, em 3 de abril de 2018, arvorando-se uma competência que jamais coube às Forças Armadas.

Villas Bôas, então comandante do Exército, plantava as sementes que colhemos com Jair Bolsonaro presidente e com os atos terroristas de domingo. Maria Aparecida Villas Bôas, esposa do general, inclusive, era uma visitante entusiasta dos “cidadãos de bem” em frente ao quartel-general de Brasília.

“Ficou claro agora que essas pessoas são capazes de cometer crimes, ações materiais muito violentas, com o intuito de iniciar um caos geral que levasse ao colapso das instituições”, me disse o jurista Carlos Ari Sundfeld , presidente da Sociedade Brasileira de Direito Público. “Não é só uma possibilidade. O fato ocorreu, a partir de um caldo de cultura fomentado também por pessoas como as deputadas Carla Zambelli, Bia Kicis, por Bolsonaro”, completou.

Não estamos em 1964. O mundo se move para fortalecer a democracia contra governos autoritários. Não podemos mais baixar a guarda, mesmo que uma boa parte do Brasil ainda esteja cego. Não vai ser em um dia, em um mês ou em um ano que o país vai colocar tudo no eixo. Esses tristes anos de governo Bolsonaro, ao menos, nos ensinaram a resistir e a reconhecer os hipócritas e a perceber como são camaleônicos. Temos de ensinar às próximas gerações a identificar esses falsos democratas.

The post É hora de o Brasil apontar o dedo para as Forças Armadas e desembarcar do cinismo golpista appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Oklahoma Executes Scott Eizember, the First of 11 People It Plans to Kill This Year

    news.movim.eu / TheIntercept · Sunday, 15 January - 13:00 · 13 minutes

The wind chill was unforgiving in McAlester, Oklahoma, when word arrived outside the state penitentiary that Scott Eizember was dead. The announcement came on the morning of January 12, his official time of death 10:15 a.m. By 10:25, cars were exiting the prison parking lot, rolling by police vehicles and the activists who stood vigil in the bitter cold. Inside, local news reporters heard from the family of Eizember’s victims, A.J. and Patsy Cantrell.

“It’s not a good day for everybody, but it was a good day for victims,” said the Cantrells’ 47-year-old grandson, Justin Wyatt. He did not know whether the execution had brought justice or closure. “I do know that I’m glad that our enemy is dead.” Debra Wyatt, his mother, rejected the notion of closure. “I don’t like people to use that word to me. Because the only way that we would ever have closure is if they came back to us — and we know that’s not gonna happen on this earth.” The Cantrells’ nephew Johnny Melton urged society to address the factors that lead to fatal violence, like mental health problems and domestic abuse. He said he prayed for Eizember’s family. “It is our understanding that he has adult children … and we recognize that they are victims today too.”

Families of the people Oklahoma puts to death are not given a platform to speak. While a victim services representative accompanied the Cantrells’ loved ones, 25-year-old Emily Eizember sat in the car with her father’s attorneys. The three witnessed the execution together. From the gurney, Eizember had mouthed “I love you” to his daughter. Afterward, they drove past the protesters to a budget hotel, where Eizember’s 29-year-old son, Allen, was waiting to give his younger sister a hug. He’d wanted to attend the execution but missed the deadline to get on the witness list. Officials would not let him come inside the prison to say goodbye.

Eizember, who turned 62 just before his execution, was mostly estranged from his children in the nearly 18 years he lived on death row. But in December, Emily had traveled to McAlester to visit her father for the first and last time. She decided to attend the execution “to ensure that my dad’s last breaths were taken in peace,” as she wrote in a text message on her way home. She decried the death penalty as inhumane. “I had that opinion before watching my father’s execution this morning,” but it was even clearer to her now. People who commit such crimes should be in prison, “not strapped to a table at the mercy of another man.” Still, she wrote, “it was nice to see my dad one last time, for he is loved and many on death row are!!!”

For many relatives of the condemned, seeing a loved one before their execution can be prohibitively expensive. Emily’s December visit had been coordinated by Death Penalty Action , which supports death row families, as well as Eizember’s spiritual adviser, Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood. Eizember had made clear to Hood that reconciling with his children could bring him measure of solace that would otherwise remain out of reach. He carried a lot of rage, which he sometimes wielded against his own advocates and loved ones. Yet Eizember was also an important part of the death row community, according to Sue Hosch, the Oklahoma coordinator for Death Penalty Action. “When new people come in, he is one of the ones who helps get them kind of settled,” she said.

“I believe that everybody that saw that execution is gonna be traumatized.”

The days preceding the execution might have been a time when Hood could focus on helping Eizember shed some of his anger and prepare to die. Instead, he’d been embroiled in a lawsuit to force the Oklahoma Department of Corrections to allow him to carry out his duty as Eizember’s clergy of record. Under the state’s execution protocol, spiritual advisers are allowed to stand inside the execution chamber to accompany the condemned. But in early January, the department had tried to bar Hood from the space on the grounds that he was a security threat. On the eve of the execution, the department backed down. But the victory was bittersweet. “I feel good about it,” Hood told me. “But then I’m like, ‘OK, great. You get to watch someone die.’”

Around 10:35 a.m., Hood approached a small wooden podium outside the prison. In a long black robe and round tortoiseshell glasses, he was smiling but subdued, his easy Georgia drawl more muted than usual. Media witnesses described him as shaking inside the execution chamber, but now he was composed, searching for words to describe what he had seen. He kept coming back to “bizarre.” It was bizarre to watch somebody go from a “perfectly healthy human being to a dead human being” in a matter of minutes. He’d watched as Eizember’s face turned purple, as his breath became labored, as he appeared to gurgle, an image he wanted to push out of his mind.

“I believe that everybody that saw that execution is gonna be traumatized,” Hood said. “It’s pointless. Scott was not a threat to anybody.” The execution left him grappling with a feeling of complicity. “There was all of this fight to get me in there,” he said. Now he was questioning whether he had become part of the system he wished to dismantle.

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Rev. Jeff Hood speaks to a gathering of protesters on Jan. 12, 2023, in McAlester, Okla.

Photo: Liliana Segura/ The Intercept

The Serial Killer State

Eizember was the first of 11 people scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma this year. The state’s execution spree began in 2021, when officials broke a six-year moratorium that had followed a string of botched executions and the near-killing of Richard Glossip using the wrong drug in 2015. For the next several years, officials at the department of corrections and state attorney general’s office set about to improve the state’s execution protocol.

Yet Oklahoma restarted executions with few reforms in place — even as a federal lawsuit challenging the revised lethal injection protocol was set to go to trial. When the first execution, in October 2021, went awry , officials were undeterred, carrying out three more before the trial began last February. The court upheld the state’s protocol in June, sparking an onslaught of execution dates. As it stands, Oklahoma plans to kill 20 more people by the end of 2024.

Oklahoma plans to kill 20 more people by the end of 2024.

To Eizember’s longtime attorney Randall Coyne, the scheduled executions are a dark period in a state that has never made it easy to practice capital defense. Oklahoma is now “the serial killer state,” he said wryly. “Come for the executions, stay for the casinos.” In addition to Eizember, Coyne represents two other men slated to die.

The 2003 crimes that sent Eizember to death row were notorious in Oklahoma. The Cantrells, both in their 70s, were killed in their home in the small town of Depew, some 40 miles southwest of Tulsa, where Eizember had just gotten out of jail. He broke into the home because the couple lived across the street from the parents of his ex-girlfriend, Kathy Biggs, who had taken out a protective order against him. He planned to confront her. Although he was convicted for killing both of the Cantrells, Eizember always insisted that he and A.J. Cantrell struggled over a shotgun that he’d found in the house — and that in attempting to shoot Eizember, Cantrell accidentally killed his wife instead. Eizember then overpowered Cantrell, beating him to death.

According to Eizember’s clemency petition , the evidence supported his version of events and should have been critical to showing that he was not guilty of premeditated murder. Coyne emphasized that Eizember was unarmed when he arrived at the home. “Comparing Scott Eizember to the worst of the worst for whom the death penalty is supposedly reserved is not even a close case,” he said. But Eizember became despised as much for the couple’s violent deaths as for the out-of-control rampage that followed. He shot and wounded Biggs’s teenage son, beat her mother, and after running from the law for more than a month, terrorized a couple who offered him a ride, forcing them to drive at gunpoint and leaving them on the side of the road.

For his own part, Eizember maintained that he belonged in prison but that executing him would be nothing more than vengeance. In a series of phone calls with Hood, which he allowed him to release as a podcast, Eizember shared his life story, including his earliest memories. In Eizember’s appeal for clemency, his lawyers wrote that he had been profoundly impacted by childhood trauma, starting with his mother’s suicide (“I still have questions about that,” he told Hood; he suspected that she had actually been murdered) and continuing with emotional and physical abuse by his father, whom he would later discover was actually his stepdad.

Coyne’s contribution to the clemency petition was deeply personal. Although his upbringing was “substantially less dysfunctional” than his client’s, Coyne wrote, “Scott and I both were raised by alcoholic parents. We exchanged personal accounts of seeking the love and approval of parents whose addictions to alcohol rendered them at best remote and insensate, and at worst cruel and physically abusive.” Like Eizember, Coyne had developed a drinking problem and “wreaked havoc on my family.” While the toll of Eizember’s upbringing was obvious, “our friendship made me wonder what price I had paid,” Coyne wrote. “I still search for the answer, but with an acute awareness that but for the grace of God I could be confined to the cell adjacent to his.”

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A.J. and Patsy Cantrell.

Photo: Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office

A Win and a Loss

Among the death penalty’s many hidden traumas is the rush of litigation that immediately precedes an execution. Although it can lead a court to spare a person’s life, last-minute stays are often granted only to be lifted shortly thereafter, yanking the condemned and their families through a cycle of terror, hope, and despair. On several occasions, people have laid on the gurney for hours while litigation is resolved, a particular kind of torture that scares people on death row almost as much as a botched execution.

With no remaining legal claims before state or federal courts, Eizember had appeared poised to avoid such chaos. But a week before his execution, a prison chaplain informed him that his request for Hood to accompany him inside the chamber had been denied on security grounds. Hood was on the phone with Eizember at the time and overheard the whole thing. “He said, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’” Hood recalled. Agitated, Hood called veteran capital defense attorney Gregory Gardner.

Gardner has litigated religious liberty claims on behalf of other people on death row. To him, it seemed immediately clear that Oklahoma was violating both Hood’s and Eizember’s constitutional rights. The state had altered its execution guidelines after the U.S. Supreme Court sided with a condemned man in Alabama who requested the company of his spiritual adviser in the execution chamber in 2021. The next year, in Ramirez v. Collier, the justices ruled 8-1 that a spiritual adviser should be allowed to “lay hands” on a person being executed.

Gardner spoke to Coyne, who found the whole thing absurd. Hood had been visiting Eizember for months. “And suddenly, he becomes a dangerous security risk inside an execution chamber that’s filled with guards,” Coyne said. The real problem was that Hood was a vocal anti-death penalty activist. “Our concern was that they were they were banning him because of First Amendment stuff that he had done outside the prison,” Gardner said.

At 5 feet, 7 inches tall, Hood is not what most people would consider menacing. The self-described pacifist and radical preacher had been arrested a handful of times for acts of civil disobedience. One arrest, in 2016, was for stepping forward with his hands up to breach the yellow caution tape that keeps protesters in Texas at a distance from the execution chamber. But Hood said he was loath to get arrested these days — let alone for disrupting an execution, which would involve serious criminal charges and be harmful to his wife and five kids.

Gardner filed a lawsui t against the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, accusing prison officials of violating the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. In response, department spokesperson Josh Ward accused Hood of disrespecting Eizember’s victims and the solemnity of the execution. “Out of respect for the families of victims, ODOC will not allow the outbursts of activists to interfere, regardless of that activist’s declared role in the process.”

Yet the department had not bothered to check with the Cantrells’ loved ones before invoking them. The family was unaware of the controversy until they were contacted by a reporter. “I don’t think we would have any heartburn over his spiritual adviser sitting in, but that’s really not our call,” said Melton, the Cantrells’ nephew.

“I think I will forever feel like an accomplice to a murder.”

After a series of negotiations between Gardner and Oklahoma’s solicitor general, the lawsuit was settled. Although the ODOC initially offered Hood access to the chamber if he would agree to post a $100,000 bond, officials soon agreed to a more rational compromise. In a six-page document, Hood vowed to keep his prayers to “a quiet volume” and not to touch Eizember or “disrupt, delay, or impede the execution.” If he violated the agreement, he would be banned from Oklahoma prisons forever.

Legally it was a victory, Gardner said, although he struggled to label it that way. If they had pushed forward with the lawsuit, “maybe we would have gotten an injunction. Maybe he would have lived another year.” But in the end, his clients were satisfied with the outcome. “You’ve got to see it as a win in that sense, but it’s difficult.”

On the day after Eizember was killed, Hood called sounding a little bit more like himself. He had arrived home to Arkansas in time to see his kids and get a good night’s sleep. Now he was driving to Goodwill to buy books, which he liked to do to take his mind off things.

Perhaps the best thing about the lawsuit, aside from reiterating the rights of all those facing execution in Oklahoma, was that it had shifted the narrative about Eizember. Twenty years of news stories repeating the details of his crimes had given way to articles about his desire to be accompanied in his hour of death. “That’s a very human need,” Hood said.

Still, he remained haunted by a sense of complicity. “I think I will forever feel like an accomplice to a murder,” he said. After all, he had stood quietly at Eizember’s feet while he was killed by the state, doing nothing to stop it. “I think I will forever feel like somehow I was a part of the machine.” People told him not to think of it that way, but he could not help it. “And I don’t know that that’s a bad thing. I think we should probably all feel like that.”

The post Oklahoma Executes Scott Eizember, the First of 11 People It Plans to Kill This Year appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Guccifer, the Hacker Who Launched Clinton Email Flap, Speaks Out After Nearly a Decade Behind Bars

    news.movim.eu / TheIntercept · Sunday, 15 January - 11:00 · 13 minutes

M arcel Lehel Lazar walked out of Federal Correctional Institute Schuylkill, a Pennsylvania prison, in August 2021. The 51-year-old formerly known only as Guccifer had spent over four years incarcerated for an email hacking spree against America’s elite. Though these inbox disclosures arguably changed the course of the nation’s recent history, Lazar himself remains an obscure figure. This month, in a series of phone interviews with The Intercept, Lazar opened up for the first time about his new life and strange legacy.

Lazar is not a household name by unauthorized access standards — no Edward Snowden nor Chelsea Manning — but people will be familiar with his work. Throughout 2013, Lazar stole the private correspondence of everyone from a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to “Sex and the City” author Candace Bushnell.

There’s an irony to his present obscurity: Guccifer’s prolific career often seemed motivated as much by an appetite for global media fame than any ideology or principle. He acted as an agent of chaos, not a whistleblower, and his exploits provided as much entertainment as anything else. It’s thanks to Guccifer’s infiltration of Dorothy Bush Koch’s AOL account that the world knows that her brother — George W. Bush — is fond of fine bathroom self-portraiture .

“Right now, having this time on my hands, I’m just trying to understand what this other me was making 10 years ago.”

“I knew all the time what these guys are talking about,” Lazar told me with a degree of satisfaction. “I used to know more than they knew about each other.”

Ten years after his email rampage, Lazar said that, back then, he’d hoped not for celebrity but to find some hidden explanation for America’s 21st century slump — a skeleton key buried within the emails of the rich and famous, something that might expose those causing our national rot and reverse it. Instead, he might have inadvertently put Donald Trump in the White House.

When Guccifer — a portmanteau of Lucifer and Gucci, pronounced with the Italian word’s “tch” sound — breached longtime Clinton family confidant Sidney Blumenthal’s email account, it changed the world almost by accident. Buried among the thousands of messages in Blumenthal’s AOL account he stole and leaked in 2013 were emails to HDR22@clintonemail.com, Hillary Clinton’s previously unknown private address . The account’s existence, and later revelations that she had improperly used it to conduct official government business and transmit sensitive intelligence data, led to something like a national panic attack: nonstop political acrimony, federal investigations, and depending on who you ask, Trump’s 2016 victory.

In the end, the way Guccifer might be best remembered was in the cooptation of his wildly catchy name for a Russian hacker persona: Guccifer 2.0 . The latter Guccifer would hack troves of information from Democratic National Committee servers, a plunder released on WikiLeaks.

Eventually, a federal indictment accused a cadre of Russian intelligence operatives of using the persona Guccifer 2.0 to conduct a political propaganda campaign and cover for Russian involvement. As the Guccifer 2.0 version grew in infamy, becoming a central figure in Americans’ wrangling over Russian interference in the 2016 election, the namesake hacker’s exploits faded from memory.

When I reached Lazar by phone, he was at home in Romania. He had returned to a family that had grown up and apart from him since he was arrested by Romanian police in 2014.

“I am still trying to connect back with my family, with my daughter, my wife,” Lazar said. “I’ve been away more than eight years, so this is a big gap, which I’m trying to fill with everything that takes.”

He spends most of his time alone at home, reading about American politics and working on a memoir. His wife supports the family as a low-paid worker at a nearby factory. Revisiting his past life for the book has been an odd undertaking, Lazar told me.

“It’s like an out-of-body experience, like this Guccifer guy is another guy,” he said. “Right now, having this time on my hands, I’m just trying to understand what this other me was making 10 years ago.”

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Lazar, known as Guccifer, opened up to The Intercept for the first time about his new life and strange legacy.

Photo: Nemanja Knežević for The Intercept

L azar has little to say of the two American prisons where he was sentenced to do time after extradition from Romania. Both were in Pennsylvania — a minimum-security facility and then a stint at the medium-security Schuylkill, which he described simply and solemnly as “a bad place.” He claimed he was routinely denied medical care, and says he lost many of his teeth during his four-year term.

On matters of his crime and punishment, Lazar contradicted himself, something he did often during our conversations. He wants to be both the righteous crusader and the steamrolled patsy. He repeatedly brought up what he considers a fundamental injustice: He revealed Clinton’s rule-breaking email setup and then cooperated with the Department of Justice probe, only to wind up in federal prison.

“Hillary Clinton swam away with the ‘reckless negligence’ or whatever Jim Comey called her ,” Lazar said. “I did the time.”

Lazar was quick to rattle off a list of other high-profile officials who either knew about the secret Clinton email account all along or were later revealed to have used their own . “So much hypocrisy, come on man,” he said. “So much hypocrisy.”

And yet he pled guilty to all charges he faced and today fully admits what he did was wrong — sort of.

“To read somebody else’s emails is not OK,” he said. “And I paid for this, you know. People have to have privacy. But, you see, it’s not like I wanted to know what my neighbors are talking about. But I wanted to know what these guys in the United States are speaking about, and this is the reason why. I was sure that, over there, bad stuff is happening. This is the reason why I did it, not some other shady reason. What I did is OK.”

“I was inspired with the name, at least, because my whole Guccifer project was, after all, a failure.”

Though he takes pride in outing Clinton’s private email arrangement, Lazar said he found none of what he thought he’d uncover. The inbox-fishing expedition for the darkest secrets of American power instead mostly revealed their mediocre oil paintings and poorly lit family snapshots. He conceded that Guccifer’s legacy may be that Russian intelligence cribbed his name.

“I was inspired with the name, at least,” Lazar said, “because my whole Guccifer project was, after all, a failure.”

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Lazar shows old photos and his current ID photographs in his wallet while walking around Arad, Romania, on Jan. 8, 2023.

Photo: Nemanja Knežević for The Intercept

I t can be difficult to tell where the Guccifer mythology ends and Lazar’s biography begins. Back in his hometown of Arad, a Transylvanian city roughly the size of Syracuse, New York, Lazar seems ambivalent about the magnitude of his role in American electoral history. “I don’t feel comfortable talking about me,” he told me. When I pressed in a later phone call, Lazar described 2016 as something of an inevitability: “Trump was the bullet in the barrel of the gun. He was already lingering around.”

While Lazar says James Comey’s October surprise memo to Congress — that Clinton’s emailing habits were still under investigation — was what “killed Hillary Clinton,” he didn’t deny his indirect role in that twist.

“Everything started with this mumbo jumbo email server, with this bullshit of email server,” he said. “So, if it was not for me, it was not for [Hillary’s] email server to start an investigation.”

Lazar now claims he very nearly breached the Trump inner circle in October 2013. “I was about to hack the Trump guys, Ivanka and stuff,” he told me. “And my computer just broke.”

How does it feel to have boosted, even accidentally, Donald Trump, a bona fide American elite? Though he described the former president as mentally unstable, a hero of Confederate sympathizers, and deeply selfish, Lazar is unbothered by his indirect role in 2016: “I feel like a regular guy. I don’t feel anything special about myself.”

At times, the retired hacker clearly still relishes his brief global notoriety. I asked him what it felt like to see his hacker persona usurped by Russian intelligence using the “Guccifer 2.0” cutout: Was it a shameless rip-off, or a flattering homage? Lazar said he first learned that Russia had cribbed his persona from inside a detention center outside D.C. He perked up.

“I was feeling good, it was like a recognition,” he said. “It made me feel good, because in all these 10 years, I was all the time alone in this fight.”

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A sculptural sign along a highway announces the city of Arad in Romania on Jan. 8, 2023.

Photo: Nemanja Knežević for The Intercept

L azar described his fight — a term he used repeatedly — as a personal crusade against the corrupt and corrupting American elite, based on his own broad understanding of the idea pieced together from reading about it online. It’s hard to dismiss out of hand.

“Look at the last 20 years of politics of United States,” Lazar explained. “It’s all lies, and it went so low in the mud. You know what I’m saying? It stinks.”

The quest to find and expose some smoking gun that could explain American decline became an obsession, one he said kept him in front of a computer for 16 hours a day, guessing Yahoo Mail passwords, scouring his roughly 100 victims’ contact books, and plotting his next account takeover. He understood that it might seem odd passion for a Romanian ex-cabbie.

“I am Romanian, I am living in this godforsaken place. Why I’m interested in this? Why? This is a good question,” he told me. “For us, for guys from a Communist country, for example Romania which was one of the worst Communist countries, United States was a beacon of light.”

George W. Bush changed all that for him. “In the time after 2000, you come to realize it’s all a humbug,” he said. “It’s all a lie, right? So, you feel the need, which I felt myself, to do something, to put things right, for the American people but for my soul too.”

It’s funny, Lazar told me, that his greatest admirers seemed to have been Russian intelligence, not the American people he now claims to have been working to inform. “We have somehow the same mindset,” Lazar mused. “Romania was a Communist country; they were Communists too.”

Hackers are still playing a game Guccifer mastered.

Since Lazar began this fight, the playbook he popularized — break into an email account, grab as many personal files as you can, dump them on the web, and seed the juiciest bits with eager journalists like myself — has become a go-to tactic around the world. Whether it’s North Korean agents pillaging Sony Pictures’ salacious email exchanges or an alleged Qatari hack of Trump ally Elliott Broidy exposing his foreign entanglements , hackers are still playing a game Guccifer mastered.

Despite having essentially zero technical skills — he gained access to accounts largely by guessing their password security questions — Lazar knew the fundamental truth that people love reading the private thoughts of powerful strangers. Sometimes these are deeply newsworthy, and sometimes it’s just a perverse thrill, though there’s a very fine line between the two. Even the disclosure of an innocuous email can be damaging for a person or organization presumed by the public to be impenetrable. When I brought this up to Lazar, his modesty slipped ever so slightly.

He said, “I am sure, in my humble way, I was a new-roads opener.”

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A portrait of Lazar in Arad, Romania, on Jan. 8, 2023.

Photo: Nemanja Knežević for The Intercept

T he Lazar I’ve met on the phone was very different from the Guccifer of a decade ago. Back then he would send rambling emails to Gawker, my former employer, largely consisting of fragmented screeds against the Illuminati. The word, which he said he’s retired, nods to a conspiracy of global elites that wield unfathomable power.

“I’d like to call them, right now, ‘deep state,’” he said. “But Illuminati was back then a handy word. Of course, it has bad connotations, it’s like a bad B movie from Hollywood.”

Unfortunately for Lazar, the “deep state” — a term of Turkish origin, referring to an unaccountable security state that acts largely in secret — has in the years since his arrest come to connote paranoid delusion nearly as much as the word “Illuminati” does. Whatever one thinks of the deep state, though, the notion is as contentious and popular among internet-dwelling cranks — especially, and ironically for Lazar, Trump followers. Whatever you want to call it, Lazar believed he’d find it in someone else’s inbox.

“My ultimate goal was to find the blueprints of bad behavior,” he said.

Some would argue that, in Blumenthal’s inbox, he did. Still, after a full term of the Trump administration, the idea of bad behavior at the highest levels of power being something kept hidden in secret emails almost feels quaint.

While Lazar’s past comments to the media have included outright fabrications, racist remarks, and a reliance on paranoid tropes, he seemed calmer now. On the phone, he was entirely lucid, and thoughtful more often than not, even on topics that clearly anguish him. Prison may have cost him his teeth, but it seems to have given him a softer edge than he had a decade ago. He is still a conspiratorially minded man, but not necessarily a delusional one. He plans to remain engaged with American politics in his own way.

“I don’t care about myself,” he told me, “but I care about all the stuff I was talking about, you know, politics and stuff.” He said, “I’m gonna keep keeping one eye on American politics and react to this. I’m not gonna let the water just flow. I’m gonna intervene.”

This time, he says he’ll fight the powers that be by writing, not guessing passwords. “I am more subtle than I was before,” he tried to assure me.

“I’m gonna keep keeping one eye on American politics and react to this. I’m not gonna let the water just flow. I’m gonna intervene.”

At one point in our conversations, Lazar rattled off a sample of the 400 books he said he read in prison, sounding as much like a #Resistance Twitter addict as anything else: “James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Michael Hayden , James Clapper, all their biographies, which nobody reads, you know?”

While he still makes references to the deep state and “shadow governments” and malign influence of the Rockefeller family, he’s also quick to reference obscure FBI brass like Peter Strzok and Bill Priestap, paraphrase counterintelligence reports, or cite “Midyear Exam,” the Department of Justice probe into Clinton’s email practices.

It’s difficult to know if this more polished, better-read Lazar has become less conspiratorial, or whether the country that imprisoned him has become so much more so that it’s impossible to tell the difference. Lazar is a conspiracy theorist, it seems, in the same way everyone became after 2016.

Lazar, the free man, alluded to knowing that Guccifer was in over his head. He admitted candidly that he lied in an NBC News interview about having gained access to Clinton’s private email server, a claim he recanted during a later FBI interview, because he naively hoped the lie would grant him leverage to cut a better deal after his extradition. It didn’t, nor did his full cooperation with the FBI’s Clinton email probe.

When I asked Lazar whether he worried about the consequences of stealing the emails of the most famous people he could possibly reach, he said he believed creating celebrity for himself, anathema to most veteran hackers, would protect him from being disappeared by the state. In the end, it did not.

“At some point,” he said, “I lost control.”

The post Guccifer, the Hacker Who Launched Clinton Email Flap, Speaks Out After Nearly a Decade Behind Bars appeared first on The Intercept .