SYDNEY, Australia — Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, formally inaugurated a new political party bearing the name of his antisecrecy organization on Thursday and declared his own unorthodox candidacy for a seat in the Australian Senate in national elections to be held later this year.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Assange said he had every confidence in his ability to run a campaign from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. He has been living under asylum there for more than a year to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sexual assault accusations.
“It’s not unlike running the WikiLeaks organization,” he said. “We have people on every continent. We have to deal with over a dozen legal cases at once.”
“However, it’s nice to be politically engaged in my home country,” he added.
Mr. Assange, 42, an Australian computer hacker who rose to prominence as an evangelist for radical government transparency and a critic of United States foreign policy, is a deeply polarizing figure. Many believe that the WikiLeaks Party is simply a vanity project for Mr. Assange, although several polls conducted since plans to establish the party emerged earlier this year suggest that it could fare better than expected.
The Australian Senate has a long history of successful protest candidates, John Wanna, a political-science professor at Australian National University in Canberra, said in an interview. Mr. Assange is probably hoping to trade on his name recognition and follow in the footsteps of other rabble-rousing, single-issue senators, Professor Wanna said.
“He’s basically a nuisance candidate who may attract a bit of attention, because he’s not really about governing and sitting in Parliament,” he said. “He’s not standing to do the work, he’s standing for the nuisance value.”
If elected, Mr. Assange said, his party will work to advance “transparency, justice and accountability.”
“My plans are to essentially parachute in a crack troop of investigative journalists into the Senate and to do what we have done with WikiLeaks, in holding banks and government and intelligence agencies to account,” Mr. Assange said.
Supporters of Mr. Assange laud him as a hero for what they see as his dogged pursuit of government transparency, but prominent critics have described his releasing of classified information as a reckless act.
Mr. Assange is perhaps best known for WikiLeaks’ 2010 release of a huge trove of American diplomatic cables. His supporters maintain that the United States and its allies have fabricated the sexual assault case against him in Sweden to hamper his ability to release further classified materials and to punish him for those already released.
Under Australian law, Mr. Assange would have to take his seat within one year of being elected, although the Senate could technically grant him an extension if he is unable to physically take his seat. The British government has stated its intention to arrest him if he leaves the embassy in London.
Although he is best known for his views on international affairs, Mr. Assange was eager on Thursday to offer WikiLeaks’ position on the most contentious issue in contemporary Australian politics: the record number of people trying to reach Australia each year in rickety boats to claim political asylum.
Mr. Assange assailed a tough policy announced last week by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, under which all asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat are to be sent to refugee-processing centers in Papua New Guinea.
He compared his own situation, and that of Edward J. Snowden — the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked documents about American surveillance programs — with the plight of those trying to reach Australia by boat.
“I am a political asylum seeker, awarded political asylum by the Ecuadorean government, and another state, the United Kingdom, and other states are interfering with that,” he said.
Some comments from the UK
Poor sod….. he must have thought he was doing good for his country (which he was)
and this is the kicking he got
God forbid if you grow up free thinking and with respect for your “true” nation and realise what the government is up to
I just wish this was reported more and more people were outraged
Always hits the target . The images Steve Bell so often produces in one picture , captures the chaotic thoughts of many and remain a recurring image throughout the day and sometimes beyond . One cartoon = a thousand Editorials . Thanks Mr Bell…….few always hit the target every time….you do !
Revolution next year, Manning freed, Snowden brought home a hero, Chomsky as President… bankers tried and their assets seized, mass arrests of Congress and the Senate, the trial of Obama, revolution spreads across the Atlantic… one can dream. :]
Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Blair/Brown convicted of genocide charges,
NSA/CIA/FBI disbanded, and senior leaders imprisoned for life, IRS scrapped, religion outlawed, Supreme Court replaced with socialists, American workers party elected with huge majority in both Houses, income taxes on those earning over $300,000/year increased to 105%, US Military size cut by 80%, all Nuclear Weapons scrapped,
all nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines scuttled by their crews,
Size of US General staff cut by 90%, Communist Asian Woman President elected, Pentagon reconstructed as two dimensional building…..
oh the orgasmic pleasure of it all would be Heaven on Earth
Star Publisher H. Brandt Ayers’ recent ad hominem attack on Bradley Manning and Julian Assange is unworthy of a paper that advertises itself as an advocate for the defenseless. Whether Edward Snowden, Manning and Assange chose to reveal state secrets because they experienced dysfunctional childhoods is irrelevant. Most adults suffer damage in childhood from their imperfect parents. These men understood what the establishment media doesn’t: that secrecy is anathema to freedom.
Assange is not an American citizen but Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, acting as true patriots, were faced with a dilemma: When does duty to a higher law necessitate disobeying lesser laws, the higher law here embodied in fulfilling an oath to serve and protect the Constitution? Perhaps if the mainstream media were truly a free press and the government not dominated by Stasi-like freaks, such actions would be unnecessary.
If only we had more men like these, we might rescue this country from fascism. Perhaps only men and women who experienced dysfunctional childhoods should be allowed in government. The “best of the best” diploma-toting, “normal” apparatchiks who run things now don’t seem very responsible, honest or conscientious. After all, as government hacks and sycophants are wont to say, if you don’t have anything to hide why would you mind if I know everything about you?
Wed June 19th will mark a year since WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London seeking sanctuary
Wed June 19th will mark a year since WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London seeking sanctuary. The Ecuadorian government was immediately threatened in private correspondence from British Foreign Minister Hague with the loss of diplomatic status and a consequent raid. The Ecuadorian government made the private threat public, held their ground and conducted an inquiry into the Assange case. This was the same government that had previously responded to a U.S. request for a U.S. military base in Ecuador with, “if you let us have an Ecuadoran base in Florida?”
Photos & Short vids (thanx to Bradleylibero)
Wed June 19th will mark a year since WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London seeking sanctuary. The Ecuadorian government was immediately threatened in private correspondence from British Foreign Minister Hague with the loss of diplomatic status and a consequent raid. The Ecuadorian government made the private threat public, held their ground and conducted an inquiry into the Assange case. This was the same government that had previously responded to a U.S. request for a U.S. military base in Ecuador with, “if you let us have an Ecuadoran base in Florida?”
During this period of inquiry, the London Met were deployed in large numbers around the embassy with 30 police stationed there 24/7. Anti-War, human rights, Latino, Veterans for Peace, Catholic Worker, Occupy & other activists maintained a solidarity vigil at the embassy. Following the completion of the Ecuadorian inquiry and the formal granting of asylum for Julian Assange in August 2012, the Met bobbies left to be replaced by 10 members of the Diplomatic Protection section of the Met and a police conference van permanently parked. This 24/7 police presence has been maintained for the past year at a cost of 4 million quid. On a significantly smaller budget, a daily vigil of solidarity activists has been sustained (presently 4-6pm).
Sunday June 16th. 2013 was chosen as a time to mobilise as Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino was to visit Julian Assange before his meeting with British Foreign Minister William Hague the following day.
The first sight that greeted activists on exiting the Knighstbridge tube station http://tinyurl.com/lydl5ap was Sue & Roland’s motor home transformed into the “Free Tea, Free Assange” takeaway. The caboose was parked next to an exclusive Gran Cafe facing Harrods, serving folks throughout the afternoon. We started setting up banners and were soon joined by the Ecuadorian community. Support grew to about 130+ by about 4pm. Word came through that the foreign minister had been delayed with an ETA of 6.30pm. We were blessed with fine weather and settled in for the duration. Fortunately, John McClean had brought his guitar! Songs alternated between an Aussie Kiwi combo http://tinyurl.com/ktm9j7m and the Ecuadorian community http://tinyurl.com/mztg4v8 .
In breaks between songs, media interviews were conducted and the Ecuadorian folks led us in chanting. At 6.30 the Ecuadorian foreign minister arrived waving to the crowd and entered the embassy. Singing resumed and after a while curtains were drawn back and Ricardo Patino and Julian Assange appeared at the window of the embassy. Between us and them were the London Metropolitan Police, mainstream media and a sealed U.S. Grand Jury indictment for the WikiLeaks founder.
In other places, Jeremy Hammond & Bradley Manning are already in chains, Edward Snowden is hotly pursued by the same powers. The courage of these people, the WikiLeaks crew and the Ecuadorian people inspires us all. Hopefully such courageous and solidarity is contagious. The world literally depends on its transmission. If that sunny afternoon on a sidewalk in Knightsbride/ London with the the Ecuadorian community and friends is anything to go by, it’s worth the effort.
WikiLeaks released an enormous treasure-trove of classified US government documents in 2010. It included US military logs from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 250,000 diplomatic cables, and Collateral Murder, a video depicting the killing of 12 civilians by a US helicopter gunship in Iraq.
The source of the leaks, US Private Bradley Manning, acted on his conscience. He believed that people have a right to see the information he had been privy to as an army intelligence analyst. He was prepared to risk his life and liberty to reveal that information.
Through his exposure to thousands of classified documents, Manning became aware of the disparity between his government’s rhetoric and its actions. In Iraq, he witnessed his superiors turning a blind eye to torture, and was appalled by the “seemingly delightful bloodlust” of the US aerial weapons team in the Collateral Murder video.
Manning said he hoped the leaked documents would “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general”. His courage will likely cost him a lifetime in prison, while his government is seeking to subject WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange to a similar fate.
When an empire is built on lies, truth is the enemy. Western governments do not want to be held accountable for their secret corruption and war crimes. Transparency poses a great danger to them.
Ruling elites depend on a democratic facade to conceal the inequalities and injustices inherent in our stratified societies. Information published by WikiLeaks can help us understand how the power exercised by our governments, in our name, ends up serving the interests of a powerful few.
With that understanding, people can demand the political and economic change that is needed to form more just and democratic societies. Transparency promotes criminal justice when it reveals individual wrongdoing, but it also promotes social justice: the sort of justice that comes from a shift in the balance of power from the 1% to a better-informed 99%.
The powerful cannot tolerate this threat to power and privilege. The US government is determined to make an example of Manning and Assange. They must be vilified, marginalised and punished severely, so those inclined to follow their path can see what will become of them if they do.
Manning has been held in pre-trial detention for three years, with nine months of that time spent in solitary confinement in a windowless cell where he was often forced to be naked.
Last year, the UN special rapporteur on torture ruled that Manning’s conditions constituted “at a minimum cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”, and were a “violation of [Manning’s] right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence”.
For enduring this unlawful pre-trial punishment, Manning was granted a meagre 112 day reduction off his eventual sentence.
Manning’s trial by a military court begins on June 3. He has been prevented from defending himself on the grounds that he was acting for the public good, since a pre-trial judge ruled that he cannot submit evidence as to his motives for leaking information. He will likely be convicted of most of the 22 charges against him.
Assange and WikiLeaks have been the subject of a US criminal investigation since 2010. The investigation has been described in cables from the Australian embassy in Washington as “unprecedented in both its scale and nature”.
As of June last year, the FBI file on WikiLeaks was reported to comprise 42,135 pages, excluding grand jury testimony.
In September last year, a Pentagon spokesperson said that the very existence of WikiLeaks is regarded as an ongoing crime. This suggests the US government is not about to let up its pursuit of Assange any time soon. It is possible that a secret sealed grand jury indictment of Assange on charges of espionage or conspiracy already exists.
The US government and its allies seek to reassert their authority through the persecution of Manning and Assange, but their actions only serve to further undermine their legitimacy.
Reassuring notions of “human rights” and “civil liberties” appear to underpin our democracies, until we see how quickly they can be dispensed with to punish those who challenge the authority of the state.
US writer and activist Chris Hedges said in an interview with Democracy Now! that the attacks on Manning and Assange were part of a troubling pattern of increasing repression.
The Barack Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined. It introduced the 2011 National Defence Authorisation Act, which allows for the indefinite military detention of anyone the government claims is offering “substantial support” to terrorists or “associated forces”.
The administration has refused to rule out the possibility that journalists could be subject to this provision.
It was revealed in May that the Obama administration had secretly appropriated the work, home and mobile phone records of 100 reporters and editors at the Associated Press (AP). The government has refused to explain why it carried out the raid, but it is believed to have been part of an investigation into the identity of the source of an AP story about a CIA operation in Yemen.
Hedges said these measures are “symptomatic of a reconfiguration of our society into a totalitarian security and surveillance state, one where anyone who challenges the official narrative, who digs out cases of torture, war crimes — which is, of course, what Manning and Assange presented to the American public — is going to be ruthlessly silenced”.
Australians should be no less concerned about these developments than citizens of the United States. Where the US government goes, the Australian government tends to follow, and the US is increasingly applying its laws extra-territorially.
The Australian government’s treatment of Assange demonstrates how quickly it will sacrifice the welfare of an Australian citizen, and violate its international obligations to protect journalists, in deference to a powerful ally.
Australia generally offers poor legal protections to journalists, who are increasingly finding themselves in court for refusing to reveal their sources.
In an extraordinary attack on personal privacy, the Australian government wants to force internet service providers to retain our personal data for two years, making it available to the police and the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).
Laws proposed last year would also give ASIO the power to demand online passwords to access users’ personal data, and the power to remotely control computers and modify the content.
If we do not fight these measures, and if we fail to stand up for Manning and Assange, we will simply be inviting more of the same. We need to set an example to those in power: we will not stand by while they strip us of our rights and freedoms, and punish anyone who dares to challenge their authority.
Crucially, though, if we hope to build enduring just and democratic societies, we need to set an example to ourselves.
In a recent interview with US philosopher and activist Cornel West, Assange revealed that he understands very well that the limits we place on ourselves are as powerful as any external constraints.
Assange told West that in his early 20s, he was asked by the Australian police to inform on friends within the Australian activist community. Assange said that he refused, not because he was worried about what others would think of him, but because he did not want to “set a precedent to himself of succumbing”.
Assange said, “there is no other way to live, but to live your own life, and to try and manifest your principles in the world”.
We might think of ourselves as freedom, justice, and peace-loving people, but it’s our actions that shape our character. To act in accordance with our deepest values in the face of great personal cost, is empowering. As Assange put it, “to be courageous emancipates our own character”.
Each time we “succumb” to injustice and oppression, we are training ourselves to succumb when we find ourselves in similar circumstances. Our capacity for courage is diminished.
If we fail to stand up for what we believe in as individuals, we cannot expect others to, and we cannot expect to live in a society which reflects our values.
Assange told West: “We must all fight to set precedents to ourselves about how our character will act in certain circumstances …
“Perhaps, for every person, their primary task is to strengthen and emancipate their own character, because how can they emancipate other people?”
If we do not act to defend Assange and Manning, we will be succumbing to a system which locks up those who expose war crimes, and lets war criminals walk free.
If we do not attempt to fulfill the potential for change which Manning and WikiLeaks have offered us, we will be succumbing to a world of inequality, injustice and permanent war.
[Linda Pearson is an activist with Sydney Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details of the SSAWC’s June 1 action for Bradley Manning.]
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cited unclassified messages exchanged inside a UK intelligence agency to back his refusal to be extradited to Sweden. One of the messages calls sex-related allegations against Assange “a fit-up”.
The Australian, who has been stranded at Ecuadorian embassy in London for almost 12 months, cited instant messages he received from Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British signal intelligence body.
One message from September 2012, which Assange read out in a Sunday night interview with Spanish TV program Salvados, says: “They are trying to arrest him on suspicion of XYZ … It is definitely a fit-up… Their timings are too convenient right after Cablegate.”
Another conversation he cited goes: “He reckons he will stay in the Ecuadorian embassy for six to 12 months when the charges against him will be dropped, but that is not really how it works now is it? He’s a fool… Yeah… A highly optimistic fool.”
Assange did not explain who the people exchanging the messages were, but said he managed to obtain them because they were not classified.
“[GCHQ] won’t hand over any of the classified information,” he said. “But, much to its surprise, it has some unclassified information on us.”
GCHQ confirmed to RT that it released the info to Assange under the Data Protection Act. It can be used by individuals to obtain personal information that UK bodies have about them. The agency is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, the usual mechanism for getting information of interest released by officials.
It stressed that the comments Assange received do not reflect GCHQ’s official stance in any way.
“As was made clear to Mr. Assange when the information was disclosed to him, the comments that he refers to in his recent interview were a small number of casual observations on a current affairs issue made by a handful of staff on GCHQ’s internal informal communication channels. The comments were entirely unrelated to the individuals’ official duties,” a spokesman for the agency said in an email.
A British court ordered that Assange be extradited to Sweden, where authorities want to question him on sex-related allegations. He refuses to go to there unless it guarantees that it won’t extradite him to the US, where he faces espionage charges over data released by WikiLeaks.
Ecuador has given Assange asylum and houses him in a small basement room in its London embassy. UK law enforcement keeps a close eye on the embassy, ready to arrest Assange should he leave the diplomatically-protected building.
The cost of the surveillance, which is believed to involve two police vehicles and eight officers on duty at all times, is now over $16,500 a day, Scotland Yard recently reported. The operation cost British taxpayers over $5 million since Assange got his refuge on June 19, 2012. By the time the anniversary falls, the sum is expected to have gone over $6.3 million.
I fear for Julian Assange. I fear for Bradley Manning. I fear for us all.
LONDON—A tiny tip of the vast subterranean network of governmental and intelligence agencies from around the world dedicated to destroying WikiLeaks and arresting its founder, Julian Assange, appears outside the red-brick building on Hans Crescent Street that houses the Ecuadorean Embassy. Assange, the world’s best-known political refugee, has been in the embassy since he was offered sanctuary there last June. British police in black Kevlar vests are perched night and day on the steps leading up to the building, and others wait in the lobby directly in front of the embassy door. An officer stands on the corner of a side street facing the iconic department store Harrods, half a block away on Brompton Road. Another officer peers out the window of a neighboring building a few feet from Assange’s bedroom at the back of the embassy. Police sit round-the-clock in a communications van topped with an array of antennas that presumably captures all electronic forms of communication from Assange’s ground-floor suite.
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), or Scotland Yard, said the estimated cost of surrounding the Ecuadorean Embassy from June 19, 2012, when Assange entered the building, until Jan. 31, 2013, is the equivalent of $4.5 million.
Britain has rejected an Ecuadorean request that Assange be granted safe passage to an airport. He is in limbo. It is, he said, like living in a “space station.”
“The status quo, for them, is a loss,” Assange said of the U.S.-led campaign against him as we sat in his small workroom, cluttered with cables and computer equipment. He had a full head of gray hair and gray stubble on his face and was wearing a traditional white embroidered Ecuadorean shirt. “The Pentagon threatened WikiLeaks and me personally, threatened us before the whole world, demanded that we destroy everything we had published, demanded we cease ‘soliciting’ new information from U.S. government whistle-blowers, demanded, in other words, the total annihilation of a publisher. It stated that if we did not self-destruct in this way that we would be ‘compelled’ to do so.”
“But they have failed,” he went on. “They set the rules about what a win was. They lost in every battle they defined. Their loss is total. We’ve won the big stuff. The loss of face is hard to overstate. The Pentagon reissued its threats on Sept. 28 last year. This time we laughed. Threats inflate quickly. Now the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department intend to show the world what vindictive losers they are through the persecution of Bradley Manning, myself and the organization more generally.”
Assange, Manning and WikiLeaks, by making public in 2010 half a million internal documents from the Pentagon and the State Department, along with the 2007 video of U.S. helicopter pilots nonchalantly gunning down Iraqi civilians, including children, and two Reuters journalists, effectively exposed the empire’s hypocrisy, indiscriminate violence and its use of torture, lies, bribery and crude tactics of intimidation. WikiLeaks shone a spotlight into the inner workings of empire—the most important role of a press—and for this it has become empire’s prey. Those around the globe with the computer skills to search out the secrets of empire are now those whom empire fears most. If we lose this battle, if these rebels are defeated, it means the dark night of corporate totalitarianism. If we win, if the corporate state is unmasked, it can be destroyed.
U.S. government officials quoted in Australian diplomatic cables obtained by The Saturday Age described the campaign against Assange and WikiLeaks as “unprecedented both in its scale and nature.” The scope of the operation has also been gleaned from statements made during Manning’s pretrial hearing. The U.S. Department of Justice will apparently pay the contractor ManTech of Fairfax, Va., more than $2 million this year alone for a computer system that, from the tender, appears designed to handle the prosecution documents. The government line item refers only to “WikiLeaks Software and Hardware Maintenance.”
The lead government prosecutor in the Manning case, Maj. Ashden Fein, has told the court that the FBI file that deals with the leak of government documents through WikiLeaks has “42,135 pages or 3,475 documents.” This does not include a huge volume of material accumulated by a grand jury investigation. Manning, Fein has said, represents only 8,741 pages or 636 different documents in that classified FBI file.
There are no divisions among government departments or the two major political parties over what should be Assange’s fate. “I think we should be clear here. WikiLeaks and people that disseminate information to people like this are criminals, first and foremost,” then-press secretary Robert Gibbs, speaking for the Obama administration, said during a 2010 press briefing.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, and then-Sen. Christopher S. Bond, a Republican, said in a joint letter to the U.S. attorney general calling for Assange’s prosecution: “If Mr. Assange and his possible accomplices cannot be charged under the Espionage Act (or any other applicable statute), please know that we stand ready and willing to support your efforts to ‘close those gaps’ in the law, as you also mentioned. …”
Republican Candice S. Miller, a U.S. representative from Michigan, said in the House: “It is time that the Obama administration treats WikiLeaks for what it is—a terrorist organization, whose continued operation threatens our security. Shut it down. Shut it down. It is time to shut down this terrorist, this terrorist Web site, WikiLeaks. Shut it down, Attorney General [Eric] Holder.”
At least a dozen American governmental agencies, including the Pentagon, the FBI, the Army’s Criminal Investigative Department, the Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Diplomatic Security Service, are assigned to the WikiLeaks case, while the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are assigned to track down WikiLeaks’ supposed breaches of security. The global assault—which saw Australia threaten to revoke Assange’s passport—is part of the terrifying metamorphosis of the “war on terror” into a wider war on civil liberties. It has become a hunt not for actual terrorists but a hunt for all those with the ability to expose the mounting crimes of the power elite.
The dragnet has swept up any person or organization that fits the profile of those with the technical skills and inclination to burrow into the archives of power and disseminate it to the public. It no longer matters if they have committed a crime. The group Anonymous, which has mounted cyberattacks on government agencies at the local and federal levels, saw Barrett Brown—a journalist associated with Anonymous and who specializes in military and intelligence contractors—arrested along with Jeremy Hammond, a political activist alleged to have provided WikiLeaks with 5.5 million emails between the security firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) and its clients. Brown and Hammond were apparently seized because of allegations made by an informant named Hector Xavier Monsegur—known as Sabu—who appears to have attempted to entrap WikiLeaks while under FBI supervision.
To entrap and spy on activists, Washington has used an array of informants, including Adrian Lamo, who sold Bradley Manning out to the U.S. government.
WikiLeaks collaborators or supporters are routinely stopped—often at international airports—and attempts are made to recruit them as informants. Jérémie Zimmerman, Smári McCarthy, Jacob Appelbaum, David House and one of Assange’s lawyers, Jennifer Robinson, all have been approached or interrogated. The tactics are often heavy-handed. McCarthy, an Icelander and WikiLeaks activist, was detained and extensively questioned when he entered the United States. Soon afterward, three men who identified themselves as being from the FBI approached McCarthy in Washington. The men attempted to recruit him as an informant and gave him instructions on how to spy on WikiLeaks.
On Aug. 24, 2011, six FBI agents and two prosecutors landed in Iceland on a private jet. The team told the Icelandic government that it had discovered a plan by Anonymous to hack into Icelandic government computers. But it was soon clear the team had come with a very different agenda. The Americans spent the next few days, in flagrant violation of Icelandic sovereignty, interrogating Sigurdur Thordarson, a young WikiLeaks activist, in various Reykjavik hotel rooms. Thordarson, after the U.S. team was discovered by the Icelandic Ministry of the Interior and expelled from the country, was taken to Washington, D.C., for four days of further interrogation. Thordarson appears to have decided to cooperate with the FBI. It was reported in the Icelandic press that he went to Denmark in 2012 and sold the FBI stolen WikiLeaks computer hard drives for about $5,000.
There have been secret search orders for information from Internet service providers, including Twitter, Google and Sonic, as well as seizure of information about Assange and WikiLeaks from the company Dynadot, a domain name registrar and Web host.
Assange’s suitcase and computer were stolen on a flight from Sweden to Germany on Sept. 27, 2010. His bankcards were blocked. WikiLeaks’ Moneybookers primary donation account was shut down after being placed on a blacklist in Australia and a “watch list” in the United States. Financial service companies including Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Bank of America, Western Union and American Express, following denunciations of WikiLeaks by the U.S. government, blacklisted the organization. Last month the Supreme Court of Iceland found the blacklisting to be unlawful and ordered it lifted in Iceland by May 8. There have been frequent massive denial-of-service attacks on WikiLeak’s infrastructure.
And there is a well-orchestrated campaign of character assassination against Assange, including mischaracterizations of the sexual misconduct case brought against him by Swedish police. Assange has not formally been charged with a crime. The two women involved have not accused him of rape.
Bradley Manning’s heroism extends to his steadfast refusal, despite what appears to be tremendous pressure, to implicate Assange in espionage. If Manning alleges that Assange had instructed him on how to ferret out classified documents, the U.S. might try to charge Assange with espionage.
Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy after exhausting his fight to avoid extradition from the United Kingdom to Sweden. He and his lawyers say that an extradition to Sweden would mean an extradition to the U.S. If Sweden refused to comply with U.S demands for Assange, kidnapping, or “extraordinary rendition,” would remain an option for Washington.
Kidnapping was given legal cover by a 1989 memorandum issued by the Justice Department stating that “the FBI may use its statutory authority to investigate and arrest individuals for violating United States law, even if the FBI’s actions contravene customary international law” and that an “arrest that is inconsistent with international or foreign law does not violate the Fourth Amendment.” This is a stunning example of the security and surveillance state’s Orwellian doublespeak. The persecution of Assange and WikiLeaks and the practice of extraordinary rendition embody the shredding of the Fourth Amendment, which was designed to protect us from unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.
Two Swedes and a Briton were seized by the United States last August somewhere in Africa—it is assumed to have been in Somalia—and held in one of our black sites. They suddenly reappeared—with the Briton stripped of his citizenship—in a Brooklyn courtroom in December facing terrorism charges. Sweden, rather than object to the extradition of its two citizens, dropped the Swedish charges against the prisoners to permit the rendition to occur. The prisoners, The Washington Post reported, were secretly indicted by a federal grand jury two months after being taken.
The persistence of WikiLeaks, despite the onslaught, has been remarkable. In 2012 it released some of the 5.5 million documents sent from or to the private security firm Stratfor. The documents, known as “the Global Intelligence Files,” included an email dated Jan. 26, 2011, from Fred Burton, a Stratfor vice president, who wrote: “Text Not for Pub. We [the U.S. government] have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.”
WikiLeaks’ most recent foray into full disclosure includes the Kissinger files, or the WikiLeaks Public Library of U.S. Diplomacy. The files, which have built into them a remarkable search engine, provide access to 1.7 million diplomatic communications, once confidential but now in the public record, that were sent between 1973 and 1976. Henry Kissinger, secretary of state from September 1973 to January 1977, authored many of the 205,901 cables that deal with his activities.
In the files it appears that the late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi may have been hired by the Swedish group Saab-Scania to help sell its Viggen fighter jet to India while his mother, Indira Gandhi, was prime minister.
In 1975 Kissinger during a conversation with the U.S. ambassador to Turkey and two Turkish and Cypriot diplomats assured his hosts that he could work around an official arms embargo then in effect. He is quoted in the documents as saying: “Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, ‘The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.’ [laughter] But since the Freedom of Information Act, I’m afraid to say things like that.”
The documents, along with detailing collaborations with the military dictatorships in Spain and Greece, show that Washington created a torture exemption to allow the military government in Brazil to receive U.S. aid.
The documents were obtained from the National Archives and Record Administration and took a year to be prepared in an accessible digital format. “It is essentially what Aaron Swartz was doing, making available documents that until now were hard to access or only obtainable through an intermediary,” Assange said in the interview.
Swartz was the Internet activist arrested in January 2011 for downloading more than 5 million academic articles from JSTOR, an online clearinghouse for scholarly journals. Swartz was charged by federal prosecutors with two counts of wire fraud and 11 violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The charges carried the threat of $1 million in fines and 35 years in prison. Swartz committed suicide last Jan. 11.
Assange, 41, works through most of the night and sleeps into the late afternoon. Even though he uses an ultraviolet light device, he was pale, not surprising for someone who has not been out in sunlight for nearly a year. He rarely gives interviews. A treadmill was tilted up against a wall of his quarters; he said he sets it up and tries to run three to five miles on it every day. He has visits from a personal trainer, with whom he practices calisthenics and boxing. He is lanky at 6 feet 2 inches tall and exudes a raw, nervous energy. He leaps, sometimes disconcertingly, from topic to topic, idea to idea, his words rushing to keep up with his cascading thoughts. He works with a small staff and has a steady stream of visitors, including celebrities such as Lady Gaga. When the Ecuadorean Ambassador Ana Alban Mora and Bianca Jagger showed up late one afternoon, Assange pulled down glasses and poured everyone whiskey from a stock of liquor he keeps in a cabinet. His visitors chatted at a small round table, seated in leatherette chairs. Jagger wanted to know how to protect her website from hackers. Assange told her to “make a lot of backup copies.”
It is from this room that Assange and his supporters have mounted an election campaign for a seat in Australia’s upper house of Parliament. Public surveys from the state of Victoria, where Assange is a candidate, indicate he has a good chance of winning.
Assange communicates with his global network of associates and supporters up to 17 hours a day through numerous cellphones and a collection of laptop computers. He encrypts his communications and religiously shreds anything put down on paper. The frequent movements of the police cordon outside his window make sleep difficult. And he misses his son, whom he raised as a single father. He may also have a daughter, but he does not speak publicly about his children, refusing to disclose their ages or where they live. His family, he said, has received death threats. He has not seen his children since his legal troubles started. The emotional cost is as heavy as the physical one.
Assange said he sees WikiLeaks’ primary role as giving a voice to the victims of U.S. wars and proxy wars by using leaked documents to tell their stories. The release of the Afghan and Iraq War Logs, he said, disclosed the extent of civilian death and suffering, and the plethora of lies told by the Pentagon and the state to conceal the human toll. The logs, Assange said, also unmasked the bankruptcy of the traditional press and its obsequious service as war propagandists.
“There were 90,000 records in the Afghan War Logs,” Assange said. “We had to look at different angles in the material to add up the number of civilians who have been killed. We studied the records. We ranked events different ways. I wondered if we could find out the largest number of civilians killed in a single event. It turned out that this occurred during Operation Medusa, led by Canadian forces in September 2006. The U.S.-backed local government was quite corrupt. The Taliban was, in effect, the political opposition and had a lot of support. The locals rose up against the government. Most of the young men in the area, from a political perspective, were Taliban. There was a government crackdown that encountered strong resistance. ISAF [the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force] carried out a big sweep. It went house to house. Then an American soldier was killed. They called in an AC-130 gunship. This is a C-130 cargo plane refitted with cannons on the side. It circled overhead and rained down shells. The War Logs say 181 ‘enemy’ were killed. The logs also say there were no wounded or captured. It was a significant massacre. This event, the day when the largest number of people were killed in Afghanistan, has never been properly investigated by the old media.”
Operation Medusa, which occurred 20 miles west of Kandahar, took the lives of four Canadian soldiers and involved some 2,000 NATO and Afghan troops. It was one of the largest military operations by the ISAF in the Kandahar region.
Assange searched for accounts of reporters who were on the scene. What he discovered appalled him. He watched an embedded Canadian reporter, Graeme Smith of the Toronto Globe and Mail, use these words on a Canadian military website to describe his experiences during Operation Medusa:
In September 2006 I had one of the most intense experiences of my life. I was on the front lines of something called Operation Medusa. It was a big Canadian offensive against the Taliban who were massed outside of Kandahar City. The Taliban were digging trenches and intimidating locals, and the Canadians decided to sweep in there in big numbers and force them out. And I was travelling with a platoon that called themselves the “Nomads”. These were guys who had been sent all over, you know, sort of, a 50,000 square kilometer box out to the very edges of Kandahar City, and so they were moving around all the time; they were never sleeping in the same place twice and they’d even made up these little patches for their uniforms that said “Nomads” on them. The Nomads took me in and they sort of made me one of them. I spent what was originally supposed to be just a two or three day embed with them, stretched out into two weeks. I didn’t have a change of underwear. I didn’t have a change of shirt. I remember showering in my clothes, washing first the clothes on my body, then stripping the clothes off and washing my body, and that was just using a bucket as a shower. It was an intense experience. I slept in my flak jacket a lot of nights. We were under fire together, you know, we had RPGs whistling in. One time I was standing around behind a troop carrier and we were just sort of relaxing—we were in a down moment—and I think some guys had coffee out and were standing around and I heard a loud clap beside my right ear. It was like someone had sort of snuck up behind me and sort of played a prank by clapping beside my ear. I turned around to say hey that’s not really funny, that’s kind of loud, and all of the soldiers were lying on the ground because they know what to do when an incoming sniper round comes in, and I didn’t because [laughs] it was my first time under fire. So I threw myself to the ground as well. They had sort of made me one of them and so they gave me a little “Nomads” patch that I attached to my flak jacket and you know as a journalist you try to avoid drinking the Kool-Aid, but I did feel a sense of belonging with those guys.
“The physical demeanor of this man, the way he describes life in the great outdoors, led me to understand that here was someone who had never boxed, been mountain climbing, played rugby, been involved in any of these classically masculine activities,” Assange said. “Now, for the first time, he feels like a man. He has gone to battle. It was one of many examples of the failure by the embedded reporters to report the truth. They were part of the team.”
Assange is correct. The press of a nation at war, in every conflict I covered, is an enthusiastic part of the machine, cheerleaders for slaughter and tireless mythmakers for war and the military. The few renegades within the press who refuse to wave the flag and slavishly lionize the troops, who will not endow them with a host of virtues including heroism, patriotism and courage, find themselves pariahs in newsrooms and viciously attacked—like Assange and Manning—by the state.
As a reporter at The New York Times, I was among those expected to prod sources inside the organs of power to provide information, including top-secret information. The Pentagon Papers, released to the Times in 1971, and the Times’ Pulitzer-winning 2005 exposure of the warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens by the National Security Council used “top secret” documents—a classification more restricted than the lower-level “secret” designation of the documents released by WikiLeaks. But as the traditional press atrophies with dizzying speed—effectively emasculated by Barack Obama’s use of the Espionage Act half a dozen times since 2009 to target whistle-blowers like Thomas Drake—it is left to the renegades, people like Assange and Manning, to break down walls and inform the public.
The cables that WikiLeaks released, as disturbing as they were, invariably put a pro-unit or pro-U.S. spin on events. The reality in war is usually much worse. Those counted as dead enemy combatants are often civilians. Military units write their own after-action reports and therefore attempt to justify or hide their behavior. Despite the heated rhetoric of the state, no one has provided evidence that anything released by WikiLeaks cost lives. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in a 2010 letter to Sen. Carl Levin conceded this point. He wrote Levin: “The initial assessment in no way discounts the risk to national security. However, the review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by the disclosure.”
The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel giddily printed redacted copies of some of the WikiLeaks files and then promptly threw Assange and Manning to the sharks. It was not only morally repugnant, but also stunningly shortsighted. Do these news organizations believe that if the state shuts down organizations such as WikiLeaks and imprisons Manning and Assange, traditional news outlets will be left alone? Can’t they connect the dots between the prosecutions of government whistle-blowers under the Espionage Act, warrantless wiretapping, monitoring of communications and the persecution of Manning and Assange? Don’t they worry that when the state finishes with Manning, Assange and WikiLeaks, these atrophied news outlets will be next? Haven’t they realized that this is a war by a global corporate elite not against an organization or an individual but against the freedom of the press and democracy?
And yet Assange is surprisingly hopeful—at least for the short and medium term. He believes that the system cannot protect itself completely from those who chip away at its digital walls.
“The national security state can try to reduce our activity,” he said. “It can close the neck a little tighter. But there are three forces working against it. The first is the massive surveillance required to protect its communication, including the nature of its cryptology. In the military everyone now has an ID card with a little chip on it so you know who is logged into what. A system this vast is prone to deterioration and breakdown. Secondly, there is widespread knowledge not only of how to leak, but how to leak and not be caught, how to even avoid suspicion that you are leaking. The military and intelligence systems collect a vast amount of information and move it around quickly. This means you can also get it out quickly. There will always be people within the system that have an agenda to defy authority. Yes, there are general deterrents, such as when the DOJ [Department of Justice] prosecutes and indicts someone. They can discourage people from engaging in this behavior. But the opposite is also true. When that behavior is successful it is an example. It encourages others. This is why they want to eliminate all who provide this encouragement.”
“The medium-term perspective is very good,” he said. “The education of young people takes place on the Internet. You cannot hire anyone who is skilled in any field without them having been educated on the Internet. The military, the CIA, the FBI, all have no choice but to hire from a pool of people that have been educated on the Internet. This means they are hiring our moles in vast numbers. And this means that these organizations will see their capacity to control information diminish as more and more people with our values are hired.”
The long term, however, may not be as sanguine. Assange recently completed a book with three co-authors—Jacob Appelbaum, Andy Müller-Maguhn and Jérémie Zimmermann—called “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet.” It warns that we are “galloping into a new transnational dystopia.” The Internet has become not only a tool to educate, they write, but the mechanism to cement into place a “Postmodern Surveillance Dystopia” that is supranational and dominated by global corporate power. This new system of global control will “merge global humanity into one giant grid of mass surveillance and mass control.” It is only through encryption that we can protect ourselves, they argue, and only by breaking through the digital walls of secrecy erected by the power elite can we blunt state secrecy. “The internet, our greatest tool of emancipation,” Assange writes, “has been transformed into the most dangerous facilitator of totalitarianism we have ever seen.”
The U.S., according to one of Assange’s lawyers, Michael Ratner, appears poised to seize Assange the moment he steps out of the embassy. Washington does not want to become a party in two competing extradition requests to Britain. But Washington, with a sealed grand jury indictment prepared against Assange, can take him once the Swedish imbroglio is resolved, or can take him should Britain make a decision not to extradite. Neil MacBride, who has been mentioned as a potential head of the FBI, is U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Virginia, which led the grand jury investigation, and he appears to have completed his work.
Assange said, “The grand jury was very active in late 2011, pulling in witnesses, forcing them to testify, pulling in documents. It’s been much less active during 2012 and 2013. The DOJ appears ready to proceed with the prosecution proper immediately following the Manning trial.”
Assange spoke repeatedly about Manning, with evident concern. He sees in the young Army private a reflection of his own situation, as well as the draconian consequences of refusing to cooperate with the security and surveillance state.
Manning’s 12-week military trial is scheduled to begin in June. The prosecution is calling 141 witnesses, including an anonymous Navy SEAL who was part of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Assange called the Navy SEAL the “star diva” of the state’s “12-week Broadway musical.” Manning is as bereft of establishment support as Assange.
“The old media attempted to remove his alleged heroic qualities,” Assange said of Manning. “An act of heroism requires that you make a conscious act. It is not an unreasoned expression of madness or sexual frustration. It requires making a choice—a choice that others can follow. If you do something solely because you are a mad homosexual there is no choice. No one can choose to be a mad homosexual. So they stripped him, or attempted to strip him, of all his refinements.”
“His alleged actions are a rare event,” Assange went on. “And why does a rare event happen? What do we know about him? What do we know about Bradley Manning? We know that he won three science fairs. We know the guy is bright. We know that he was interested in politics early on. We know he’s very articulate and outspoken. We know he didn’t like lies. … We know he was skilled at his job of being an intelligence analyst. If the media was looking for an explanation they could point to this combination of his abilities and motivations. They could point to his talents and virtues. They should not point to him being gay, or from a broken home, except perhaps in passing. Ten percent of the U.S. military is gay. Well over 50 percent are from broken homes. Take those two factors together. That gets you down to, say, 5 percent—5 percent on the outside. There are 5 million people with active security clearances, so now you’re down to 250,000 people. You still have to get from 250,000 to one. You can only explain Bradley Manning by his virtues. Virtues others can learn from.”
I walked for a long time down Sloane Street after leaving the embassy. The red double-decker buses and the automobiles inched along the thoroughfare. I passed boutiques with window displays devoted to Prada, Giorgio Armani and Gucci. I was jostled by shoppers with bags stuffed full of high-end purchases. They, these consumers, seemed blissfully unaware of the tragedy unfolding a few blocks away. “In this respect, our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up in themselves; in other words, they were humanists: they disbelieved in pestilences,” Albert Camus wrote in “The Plague.” “A pestilence isn’t a thing made to man’s measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn’t always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they have taken no precautions.”
I stopped in front of the four white columns that led into the brick-turreted Cadogan Hotel. The hotel is where Oscar Wilde was arrested in Room 118 on April 6, 1895, before being charged with “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons.” John Betjeman imagined the shock of that arrest, which ruined Wilde’s life, in his poem “The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel.” Here’s a fragment:
A thump, and a murmur of voices—
(“Oh why must they make such a din?”)
As the door of the bedroom swung open
And TWO PLAIN CLOTHES POLICEMEN came in:
“Mr. Woilde, we ’ave come for tew take yew
Where felons and criminals dwell:
We must ask yew tew leave with us quoietly
For this is the Cadogan Hotel.”
The world has been turned upside down. The pestilence of corporate totalitarianism is spreading rapidly over the earth. The criminals have seized power. It is not, in the end, simply Assange or Manning they want. It is all who dare to defy the official narrative, to expose the big lie of the global corporate state. The persecution of Assange and Manning is the harbinger of what is to come, the rise of a bitter world where criminals in Brooks Brothers suits and gangsters in beribboned military uniforms—propped up by a vast internal and external security apparatus, a compliant press and a morally bankrupt political elite—monitor and crush those who dissent. Writers, artists, actors, journalists, scientists, intellectuals and workers will be forced to obey or thrown into bondage. I fear for Julian Assange. I fear for Bradley Manning. I fear for us all.
With Julian Assange holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London and whistleblower Bradley Manning facing a full-blown military prosecution, it is tempting to regard the WikiLeaks saga as in its final chapter.
It’s not just the “incredible act of institutional vengeance” upon WikiLeaks source Manning, who faces charges including aiding the enemy and “could, theoretically receive a death sentence”.
There’s also “the horrific case of Aaron Swartz, a genius who helped create the technology behind Reddit at the age of 14, who earlier this year hanged himself after the government threatened him with 35 years in jail for downloading a bunch of academic documents from an MIT server”.
Taibbi notes a number of other examples of “fervent, desperate prosecutions” by US authorities in the cause of secret-keeping.
These prosecutions reflected an obvious institutional terror of letting the public see the sausage-factory locked behind the closed doors not only of the state, but of banks and universities and other such institutional pillars of society.
The WikiLeaks episode, therefore, “was just an early preview of the inevitable confrontation between the citizens of the industrialised world and the giant, increasingly secretive bureaucracies that support them”.
And, writes Taibbi, “the secret-keepers got lucky with WikiLeaks”, with the story playing out as “one about Assange and his personal failings”.
The main event, he reckons, is to come.
Sooner or later, there’s going to be a pitched battle, one where the state won’t be able to peel off one lone Julian Assange or Bradley Manning and batter him into nothingness. Next time around, it’ll be a Pentagon Papers-style constitutional crisis, where the public’s legitimate right to know will be pitted head-to-head with presidents, generals and CEOs.
Taibbi’s piece was prompted by seeing a preview of Alex Gibney’s new documentary film We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks. He loved it (“brilliant … beautiful and profound”) but many of Assange’s supporters have been ferociously attacking the film, as Greg Mitchell notes in his Nation column. Even before going on release, the documentary has become “a media sensation”.
In America truth is offensive. If you tell the truth, you are offensive.
“Look for example at Bradley Manning, held for two years in prison without bail and without a trial in violation of the US Constitution, tortured for one year of his illegal confinement in violation of US and international law, and now put on trial by corrupt prosecutors for aiding “enemies of the US” by revealing the truth, as required of him by the US military code. US soldiers are required to report war crimes”.
I am offensive. Michael Hudson is offensive. Gerald Celente is offensive. Herman Daly is offensive. Nomi Prins is offensive. Pam Martens is offensive. Chris Hedges is offensive. Chris Floyd is offensive. John Pilger is offensive. Norm Chomsky is offensive. Harvey Silverglate is offensive. Naomi Wolf is offensive. Stephen Lendman is offensive. David Ray Griffin is offensive. Ellen Brown is offensive.
Fortunately, many others are offensive. But how long before being offensive becomes being “an enemy of the state”?
Throughout history truth tellers have suffered and court historians have prospered. It is the same today. Gerald Celente illustrates this brilliantly in the next issue of the Trends Journal.
Over the past 35 years I have learned this lesson as a columnist. If you tell readers what is really going on, they want to know why you can’t be positive. Why are you telling us that there are bad happenings that can’t be remedied? Don’t you know that God gave Americans the power to fix all wrongs? What are you? Some kind of idiot, an anti-American, a pinko-liberal-commie? If you hate America so much, why don’t you move to Cuba, Iran or China (or to wherever the current bogyman is located)?
The ancient Greeks understood this well. In Greek mythology, Cassandra was the prophetess who no one believed despite her 100 percent record of being right. Telling the truth to Americans or to Europeans is just as expensive as telling the truth to the Greeks in ancient mythology.
In America and everywhere in the Western world or the entire world, telling the truth is unpopular. Indeed, in the USA telling the truth has been criminalized. Look for example at Bradley Manning, held for two years in prison without bail and without a trial in violation of the US Constitution, tortured for one year of his illegal confinement in violation of US and international law, and now put on trial by corrupt prosecutors for aiding “enemies of the US” by revealing the truth, as required of him by the US military code. US soldiers are required to report war crimes. When Bradley Manning’s superiors showed themselves to be indifferent to war crimes, Manning reported the crimes via WikiLeaks. What else does a soldier with a sense of duty and a moral conscience do when the chain of command is corrupt?
Julian Assange is another example. WikiLeaks has taken up the reporting function that the Western media has abandoned. Remember, the New York Times did publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which undermined the lies Washington had told both to the public and to Congress to justify the costly Vietnam War. But today no newspaper or TV channel any longer accepts the responsibility to truthfully inform the public. Julian Assange stepped into the vacuum and was immediately demonized, not merely by Washington but also by left-wing and right-wing media, including Internet. It was a combination of jealousy, ignorance, and doing Washington’s bidding.
Without WikiLeaks and Assange, the world would know essentially nothing. Spin from Washington, the presstitute media, and the puppet state medias would prevail. So the word went out to destroy Julian Assange.
It is amazing how many people and Internet sites obeyed Washington’s command. Assange has been so demonized that even though he has been granted political asylum by Ecuador, the British government, obeying its Washington master, refuses to allow him safe passage out of the London Ecuador Embassy. Is Assange destined to live out his life inside the Ecuador Embassy in London?
Will Assange be a replay of Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty who on November 4, 1956, sought asylum in the US embassy in Budapest as Soviet tanks poured into Hungary to put down the anti-communist revolution? Cardinal Mindszenty lived for 15 years in the US embassy. Today it is “freedom and democracy” amerika that is copying Soviet practices during the cold war.
In contrast with “freedom and democracy” US and UK, the “authoritarian,” “communist,” “oppressive” Chinese government when confronted with Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng’s defection to the US embassy in Beijing, let him go.
It is an upside-down world when America and the British refuse to obey international law, but the Chinese communists uphold international law.
Insouciant americans are undisturbed that alleged terrorists are tortured, held indefinitely in prison without due process, and executed on the whim of some executive branch official without due process of law.
Most americans go along with unaccountable murder, torture, and detention without evidence, which proclaims their gullibility to the entire world. There has never in history been a population as unaware as americans. The world is amazed that an insouciant people became, if only for a short time, a superpower.
The world needs intelligence and leadership in order to avoid catastrophe, but america can provide neither intelligence nor leadership. America is a lost land where nuclear weapons are in the hands of those who are concerned only with their own power. Washington is the enemy of the entire world and encompasses the largest concentration of evil on the planet.
Where is the good to rise up against the evil?
The lead Swedish prosecutor pursuing sexual assault charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is no longer handling the case, media reports revealed. Her departure comes as a top Swedish judge is set to speak publicly on the ‘Assange affair.’
Recent court documents have revealed that starting Wednesday, high-profile Swedish prosecutor Marianne Nye will no longer be at the helm of the case against Assange, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Nye will be replaced by her far less experienced colleague Ingrid Isgren; the reasons for her departure have not been disclosed.
However, according to a Swedish newspaper report, Nye “has not quit the Assange case formally rather that there is a new ‘investigator,'” WikiLeaks tweeted on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Anna Ardin, one of two women who accused Julian Assange of sex crimes, also moved to fire her controversial lawyer Claes Borgstrom late last month after she lost faith in his ability to represent her.
Ardin charged that Borgstrom was more interested in being in the media spotlight than providing her legal counsel, and has often referred her inquiries to his secretary or assistant. The court has approved Ardin’s new lawyer, Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Borgstrom reportedly supported his former client’s decision, saying that “in cases concerning sexual offenses, it is particularly important that the plaintiff has confidence in the lawyer representing her,” Swedish tabloid Expressen quoted him as saying.
News of the legal shakeup in the Assange case comes less than a week before Swedish Supreme Court judge Stefan Lindskog’s lecture at the University of Adelaide on the “Assange affair, and freedom of speech, from the Swedish perspective.”
Assange blasted Justice Lindskog – who is chair of the Supreme Court of Sweden, the country’s highest court of appeal – for his decision to publicly discuss the case.
“If an Australian High Court judge came out and spoke on a case the court expected or was likely to judge, it would be regarded as absolutely outrageous,” he told Fairfax media.
This development is part of a pattern in which senior Swedish figures including the Swedish Foreign Minister, the Prime Minister and Minister for Justice have all publicly attacked me or WikiLeaks,” Assange added.
Upon announcing Lindskog’s upcoming lecture, Adelaide University said that “as one of Sweden’s most eminent jurists he is uniquely able to provide an authoritative view of the Assange affair.”
WikiLeaks characterized the judge’s lecture as part of the Swedish government campaign against Assange, following Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt’s recent visit to Australia.
“The head of Swedish Supreme Court campaigning on a case they expect to judge with $ from the embassy in the run up to an election,” the group wrote on Twitter.
Assange, who is running in for the Australian Senate in the September 14 federal elections, has previously said that securing a seat in the senate could potentially secure him safe passage out of the UK.
He has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since June, after claiming asylum in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sexual assault allegations. British authorities have vowed to detain him if he sets foot outside of the embassy, in light of the European Arrest Warrant issued against him.
If handed over to Swedish authorities, Assange fears he will be re-extradited to the United States to be questioned over the WikiLeaks release of thousands of US diplomatic cables. Assange believes that a conviction in a US court could result in the death penalty.
Ecuador has offered to allow the Swedish government to conduct an interview on the embassy’s premises, but the Swedish government has so far refused the offer.
An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.
The Age newspaper in Melbourne Australia is reporting that documents obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act from the Pentagon disclose that an investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, a counter-intelligence unit, of a military cyber systems analyst based in Britain who had reportedly expressed support for Wikileaks and had attended a demonstration in support of Assange, refers to the analyst as having been “communicating with the enemy, D-104.” The D-104 classification refers to an article of the US Uniform Military Code of Military Justice which prohibits military personnel from “communicating, corresponding or holding intercourse with the enemy.”
This is pretty dangerous language to have, referring to an Australian citizen who many consider to be no more than a working journalist who has been gather information from whistleblowers and disseminating that information to the public. As David Cole, a civil liberties attorney in the US associated with the Center for Constitutional Rights, notes, “The US military is not at war with Wikileaks or with Julian Assange.”
Certainly if a member of the US military were to go to a news organization like the New York Times — or the Melbourne Age for that matter — and leak some kind of damaging secret information exposing US military war crimes, it is inconceivable that the military would call that “communicating with the enemy.” In any case, the military leaker could easily be charged under the military code with offenses like revealing national security secrets or some other serious charge, which would not involve charging any media organization that received information.
The decision by the Pentagon to instead use the D-104 violation to classify Assange as an “enemy” in this context is dangerous because since 9-11-2001, the US government, with the general consent of the courts, has been treating “enemies” of the state in some very frightening extra-judicial ways. Enemies of the US these days can be summarily arrested and taken away to black-site prisons or to a place like Guantanamo without even a requirement that any notice be given to friends or relatives. They can be locked up indefinitely and denied access to a lawyer. They can even be subjected to what is euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation
For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1365
The public search engine for the US National Archives appears to be blocked for the term “WikiLeaks”. The whistleblower website has already lashed out at the move, saying the Archives has turned into “Orwell’s Ministry of Truth.”
An error message pops up every time a search is performed with the word “WikiLeaks”.
It’s not entirely clear when the US National Archives decided to block these searches.
However, WikiLeaks’ has already called the whole thing a “farce”.
“The US National Archives has literally turned into Orwell’s Ministry of Truth,” a message on the site’s Twitter account reads, adding “The US state is literally eating its own brain by censoring its own collective memories about WikiLeaks.”
The block is likely to be in line with the “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act,” a form of internet censorship the US adopted back in 2010.
It did not become law, but it prompted various US government agencies such as the White House Office of Management and Budget and the US Air Force to advise their employees not to read or access classified documents being made available by sites like WikiLeaks.
The Library of Congress went further by blocking access to WikiLeaks content from its server in 2010.
The American Library Association suggested this violated the First Amendment rights of internet users to receive information.
“The Library of Congress’s decision is a violation of the First Amendment and a violation of the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights. Moreover, it is a violation of the professional ethics of librarians to always provide free access to all information,” their statement said.
WikiLeaks exploded on to the global scene back in 2006, since then releasing hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, including top secret documents from the US Department of Defense, and secret cables from the State Department.
Some of that classified information was seen as damaging the US government’s reputation in a number of incidents.
Recently it was revealed that the US government officially considers WikiLeaks’ and its founder Julian Assange to be enemies of the state.
Declassified US Air Force counter-intelligence documents show that military personnel contacting WikiLeaks could face execution for “communicating with the enemy.”
The fact that WikiLeaks was treated as an enemy of state would have serious implications should Assange be extradited to the US, as he could face military detention.
According to diplomatic cables released over the past months the US Justice Department’s investigation targeting of both Assange and WikiLeaks is real.
Assange himself called the investigation “unprecedented.” His lawyer Jennifer Robinson told RT there are signs that the US has already lodged a sealed indictment to sue Assange, and that his case might outdo the one of Bradley Manning. The corporal is accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks.
At the moment Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London as the UK has forcefully asserted that it will deny him safe passage to Ecuador. Ecuador granted Assange political asylum in August over fears that if extradited to Sweden, Assange could be transferred to the US and once there, face execution.
In Sweden, the whistleblower is wanted for questioning over sexual assault allegations, which he denies, although no charges have yet been filed against him.
Assange believes these charges are a pretext to hand him over to the US, where many officials have talked in favor of trying Assange in a court martial as a terrorist and spy.