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UN Contract Required AT&T To Say It Would Give Info to US, UN Cuts Off ICP Q

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 19 -- After the new revelations that AT&T gave access to the US government to mass volumes of communications, including from the United Nations, Inner City Press on August 17, 18 and 19 asked the UN if in doing so, AT&T would have violated its contracts with the UN. August 19 Vine here.

  Now on August 19 Inner City Press asked the UN about this rule, which makes it clear AT&T had to tell the UN before sharing any information. From the UN's "General Conditions of Contact" --

"12.3 The Contractor may disclose Information to the extent required by law, provided that, subject to and without any waiver of the privileges and immunities of the United Nations, the Contractor will give the United Nations sufficient prior notice of a request for the disclosure of Information in order to allow the United Nations to have a reasonable opportunity to take protective measures or such other action as may be appropriate before any such disclosure is made."

 First UN Associate Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci told Inner City Press, on camera on August 17, that the UN's contracts with AT&T -- with public money -- are not public and will not be disclosed. Pressed, she would not answer if spying would violate the provisions of the "confidential" UN contracts.

  On August 18, Inner City Press asked again. From the UN's August 18 transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you again about this, you know, reported document that AT&T was providing all communications from the UN to the US.  Yesterday, one of the ambassadors at the Security Council said from now on he's not going to send any e-mail inside the building, just to set the stage.  But, you were quoted as saying and you did say that the UN will be contacting AT&T.  Can you say a little bit…?

Associate Spokesperson:  They did.

Inner City Press: Okay.  Has done so.  And what's the response?

Associate Spokesperson:  They did.  And they're… and I understand there's also going to be a meeting between AT&T and the UN.

Inner City Press: What, OLA [Office of Legal Affairs] or?  I mean, I guess what I want to know is, given that I sent you, you’d asked for an e-mail, so I sent you the contracts.

Associate Spokesperson:  I did see the contracts.  But, I mean, again, you've asked me to share specifically the details of the contracts, and we wouldn't do that.  Anyways, I don't want to get into it.  They've been in contact, and there will be a meeting very soon, and I'll keep you updated....

Inner City Press:  But, you'd think that Member States, that's why I brought up that quote.  You'd think the Member States that own the organization would have some ability or right to know if they're being spied on inside the building by the host country.  Right?  I'm just wondering, is that, does the UN believe that it should tell Member States that all their communications sent inside the building can be spied on by the host country if that's…

Associate Spokesperson:  I don't understand, your question makes it sound like we knew we were spied on and we were wire-tapped so I don’t understand…

Inner City Press:  Now that you have reason to know and you're going to speak to AT&T…?

Associate Spokesperson:  Okay.  I'll come back to you, Matthew.

  On August 19, having seen the General Rules of Contract, Inner City Press asked Maestracci about them, until she cut off the questions by saying, It is not your briefing. Video here, Vine here. We'll have more on this.

  Inner City Press has since put the request in writing, to Maestracci and the lead spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:

  I asked if AT&T providing access to the US government to UN email and communications would violate the terms of its procurements and contracts with the UN and was told the contracts would not be public, and no comment. This is a reiterated request, on deadline, with for your convenience in providing an answer some sample contracts:

AT&T CORP.    United States of America    Telecommunication Equipment & Services    Telecommunications    $122,745.00    PS-21137    13 February 2013    N/A
AT&T CORP.    United States of America    Maintenance & Repair Services    Office, computer and communication equipment maintenance and repair    $48,912.00    PS-21452    03 April 2013    N/A
AT&T CORP.    United States of America    Telecommunication Equipment & Services    Communications    $69,320.00    PS-21518    01 April 2013    N/A
AT&T CORP.    United States of America    Telecommunication Equipment & Services    Telecommunications    $122,735.00    PS-21561

  While Maestracci said, on camera, "You're so not interested in the answers," Inner City Press is quite interested in the answers, so far not given, and in the contracts between the UN and AT&T. Watch this site.

Back on October 23, 2014 when UN human rights rapporteur Ben Emmerson held a press conference on his report on mass surveillance on October 23, Inner City Press asked him to review the Obama administration's and its Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board's response to the spying revelations by Edward Snowden and others, and if any dangers are posed by the “foreign fighters” resolution adopted by the UN Security Council in September. (The latter question was not answered.)

  Emmerson began diplomatically, calling the PCLOB's reports “worth reading,” but then said that the debate and proposal legislation is confined to the “detailed fringes.” He said the key question is whether the right to privacy simply will not apply to the means of communications most in use today, given government's appetite for surveillance.Video here and embedded below.

  He said as long as governments -- like that of the United States -- won't disclose their surveillance programs, the debate is subject to “conceptual censorship.”

  The UN set aside the first question for the old UN Correspondents Association, which asked a softball question leading Emmerson to reply, “read the report.” (It has been online for some time, here.)

 The new Free UN Coalition for Access objects to set-asides, and to UNCA's function as the UN's Censorship Alliance, having tried to order Inner City Press to remove factual articles from the Internet, and then getting Google to block from its search leaked copies of anti-Press complaints filed with the UN, here. We'll have more on this.

First Look's "The Intercept" has revealed that the US National Security Agency and FBI spied on at least five Americans, all Muslims, and used place-holder code names like "Raghead," click here for that.

   Those spied on included a Republican candidate for the Virginia legislature, Faisal Gill; Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor; lawyer Asim Ghafoor; Nihad Awad of CAIR; and "Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights."

 It's shameful, but who can stand up to the United States?

  The United Nations' Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has already said he thinks Snowden "misused" information, as Inner City Press reported here.

  Back on March 14 when the US delegation to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva took the floor, it was a full court press. Of the elephant in the room, NSA spying, the speaker from the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice used a single line: DOJ is "monitoring" a number of private actions. You don't say.

  The head of the US delegation, Mary McLeod, said but did not explain why the US Administration has "no current expectation to become a party to the optional protocol" to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -- which the US says does not apply to its actions outside of its borders.

The session closed with a slew of questions: Walter Kalin asked why the US deports people to Haiti even amid the cholera epidemic -- for which, Inner City Press notes, the US has said the UN should be immune.

  The US repeated that argument on July 7, which Inner City Press has covered here. Watch this site.


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