Posts Tagged ‘Julian Assange’

The 16 Words, WikiLeaks, And Rank Hypocrisy

The last few weeks concerning WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, the London arrest, the interpol red alerts for arrest, and the 250,000 pages of the diplomatic document dump have been interesting to say the least. Adding to the intrique has been Prosecutor Ny’s changing proclamations, no official charges but yet an arrest by appointment with no bail (until recently), cyber attacks on WikiLeak’s enemies by Anonymous, and the flight of one of Assange’s sex crimes accusers, Anna Ardin, to the Palestinian territories along with some reports she may be linked to the CIA. Could the most creative of screen writers come up with more twists for a plot line for a movie than this? Its so convoluted that it has led some to suggest it may be a psy ops operation to shut down or control information available on the internet. But what is not intriguing is the onerous and dangerous suggestions from Obama’s DOJ and elected officials in Washington of invoking some of the darkness of America’s past abuses of power such as the 1917 Espionage Act in going after Julian Assange.

Senators Lieberman and Feinstein have voiced such an approach of using the 1917 Espionage Act to go after and/or prosecute Julian Assange. While such a call might fly with a propaganized mind with no comprehension of the past, this is very much a direct assault on freedom and a free press. In a piece by author Naomi Wolf at the Huffington Post, she explains this dubious historical abuse of power which is titled, “Espionage Act: How the Government Can Engage in Serious Agression Against the People of the United States“. It was a period whereby even prominent Americans such as E.E. Cummings served jail time and many Americans were rounded up. It was used to treat journalism that told the truth and also to frame dissent both as treasonous. This runs counter to a free society. And Senator Lieberman has also added that the New York Times should be investigated. Eric Holder and the Obama Department of Justice have also weighed in quite dubiously by saying “significant” actions are being taken in the “criminal investigation” of WikiLeaks though what crimes WikiLeaks has committed seem to be uncertain under the constitution, domestic law, and international law. WikiLeaks is supposed to be a news organization, and Assange is neither a spy or leaker, engaged in espionage, or even an American citizen. In fact, the leaker of much of this, Pfc. Bradley Manning is in jail. And concerning The Espionage Act, Holder said,

That is not the only tool we have to use in the investigation of this matter. People would be misimpressioned if they think the only thing we are looking at is the Espionage Act

And then Holder added,

“National security of the United States has been put at risk. The lives of people who work for the American people have been put at risk. The American people themselves have been put at risk by these actions that I believe are arrogant, misguided and ultimately not helpful in any way. We are doing everything that we can.”

One would say hypocrite is thy name, Eric Holder. Along with interpol’s red alert arrest warrant for Assange also came one for former Vice President Dick Cheney relating to bribery charges in Nigeria (of which Halliburton is currently negotiating a $250 million settlement). Where was the quick arrest and extradition in that? And isn’t that the same Dick Cheney who’s office was involved in leaking classified information to the press? Did that not put the “national security of the United States at risk”? Also in quoting you, “the lives of people who work for the American people have been put at risk”, wasn’t the leaking of a covert agent in the employ of the C.I.A. thus putting all operations past and present she was involved in and the lives of all operatives and contacts in those operations put at risk? Were “significant” actions undertaken in the criminal investigation of that? Was the 1917 Espionage Act called upon to investigate the New York Times or Bob Novak? How about the Office of Vice President? Or did the Department of Justice under the administration that leaked the information engage in a much narrower defined investigation under a prosecutor? And if the Office of the Vice President had the authority to declassify her name, did it also declassify those C.I.A. operations or the identities of those involved when our nation’s enemies began their own investigations concerning her contacts in their countries? And all for what? Because former Ambassador Joe Wilson felt compelled to tell the truth in a newspaper op-ed that he did not find evidence that Iraq had sought a deal for yellow cake uranium in Niger? To cover the 16 words in the Bush state of the union address Bush knew came from a forged document? The Obama DOJ finds no threat to US security in that lie, nor the lies from the Office of Special Plans created solely to lie a nation into an illegal war of aggression? No call for the Obama DOJ to reopen the AIPAC spy scandal and invoke the Espionage Act, a real case of espionage? No, but Eric Holder, the administration, members of Congress want to invoke the Espionage Act on journalists for publishing these cables. Yale Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science Bruce Ackerman claims prosecuting Assange under this act would be unconstitutional. So just how “secret” are these cables and what matters of national security do they reveal? Are they really revealing secrets or just embarrassing information the administration doesn’t want the American people to know? Let’s take a look.

It seems that in a report by France 24 that these cables were not “top secret” so that alone should stop any notion of invoking The Espionage Act. In fact, it indicates that SPIRNet (Secret Internet Protocol Router Network) by which these cables were transmitted is accessed by some 2.5 million Americans in the U.S. government’s employ and that “top secret” cables are transmitted on a more restricted network. And if someone wants to use the diplomatic cables as a guide to determine whether this is true or not, they may find they bear that out. Around the year before the events of September 11th, 2001 through the launch of the Afghan war and the attack and invasion of Iraq and with all the reported “chatter” of terror networks, one would expect quite a bit of activity concerning diplomatic cables. So let’s take a look at the time distribution and nation distribution of what has been released so far, particularly from the years of 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003.

No diplomatic cables.

1 cable Caracas Venezuela, 7 cables Bogota Colombia, 12 cables Kinshara Congo, 307 cables Harare Zimbabwe, 4 cables Pretoria South Africa, 86 cables Hanoi Vietnam.

349 cables Rome Italy, 2 cables Jerusalem, 326 cables Abuja Nigeria, 419 Harare Zimbabwe, 1 Pretoria South Africa, 1 Maputo Mozambique, 102 cables Hanoi Vietnam, 24 cables Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, 4 Jakarta Indonesia.

290 cables Ottawa Ontario, 19 Montreal Quebec, 15 cables State Department, 23 cables Nova Scotia, 243 cables Guatemala City Guatamala, 282 cables Teguigalpa Honduras, 5 Bogota Colombia, 45 Brasilia Brazil, 1 Santiago Chile, 52 Frankfurt Germany, 188 Zagreb Croatia, 1 Sofia Turkey, 80 Istanbul, 1173 Ankara, 747 Amman Jordan, 460 Kuwait, 542 Abu Dhabi, 273 Sanaa Yemen, 344 Abuja Nigeria, 122 Lagos Nigeria, 5 Kinshasa Congo, 504 Harare Zimbabwe, 17 Kabul Afghanistan, 288 Katmandu, 560 Colombo Sri Lanka, 199 Rangoon Myanmar, 183 Hanoi Vietnam, and 73 Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam.

Hardly a treasure trove of secrets that would define the events that have shaped the U.S. since the year 2000 through 2003 when its character changed. No cables to the Taliban government regarding the negotiations over the TAPI pipeline, the breakdown of those negotiations and the demand for Bin Laden before the events of September 11th, 2001. No cables to Pakistan or the involvement of the Pakistani ISI. No cables from Saudi Arabia, home of the 9/11 hijackers, the Bin Laden family and its oil partnership with the U.S. No cables from Downing Street and Bush’s poodle and co-conspirator over Iraq. Not very much in cable traffic from countries deeply involved in deep state matters during this period over the U.S.’s Middle East and Central Asia foreign policy, Israel and Turkey, except 2 from Jerusalem in 2002 and several cities in Turkey, but not until 2003. In the overall release of the 251,287 cables, probably the countries with most concern would be the US (8,017), Turkey (7,918) from US diplomats in Ankara, Iraq, and possibly Japan, but a concern from more of a political nature rather than a direct security threat nature. Instead of releasing these cables directly itself , WikiLeaks decided to release them through the mainstream media sources Le Monde, El Pais, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and The New York Times. They will be researched, analyzed, and vetted by editorial boards and names of people who may be endangered by any revelation protected before publishing. This shows a deeper concern for security and lives than the U.S. government officials showed when they leaked the name of a covert agent. And one of The New York Times point persons in covering the WikiLeaks documents is David E. Sanger who is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group. Could the US government with its neoconservatives and neoliberals have hand picked anyone safer from their point of view? And Julian Assange himself says he does not question the US government accounts surrounding the events of September 11th, 2001 and immediate aftermath which one would suppose includes the 9/11 Commission Report. That was a hand picked commission of neoconservatives and neoliberals that were for the invasion of Iraq and headed by the Bush administration’s point man Thomas Kean, keeper of the flame, and whose report repeated the Bush Administration’s lie that Wilson’s wife sent him to Niger.

It appears what we have going on is a case of the emperor having no clothes. Let’s not end freedom of the press and freedom of speech by invoking The Espionage Act because some want to put those clothes back on.


Julian Assange In Custody. An Update Includes Denial of Bail.

December 7, 2010 2 comments
The Subtle Roar of Online Whistle-blowing: Jul...

Image by New Media Days via Flickr

CBS News reported he has been arrested in London on a Swedish warrant seeking his detention for questioning in a sex-crimes investigation. According to an agreement made by his lawyer, he surrendered to police for questioning Tuesday. He was due to appear at Westminster Magistrate’s Court later in the day. According to Sky News in the UK, police contacted Assange’s lawyer after having received a “fresh” new warrant from Sweden. Assange’s solicitor (lawyer) called the latest warrant a “political stunt” and that his client wants to clear his name. He said any attempt to extradite Assange will be resisted “mainly on grounds that he may be turned over to the Americans” but according to Sky News, that determination would be determined by the magistrate. Sky News’s Tim Marshall said that he hasn’t been charged with anything. He also said,

Mr Assange had sex with the two women on August the 15th and 17th but two days later they went to a police station and claimed rape and sexual molestation.

“Mr Assange admits he had consensual sex with the women but he absolutely denies the charges.

“One of the women involved in the claims is a radical feminist in Sweden who is known to have a theory that men dominate their social positions through sex and she’s also been known to write a blog called ‘seven steps to legal revenge’.”

There seems to have been shifting claims concerning the warrants in Sweden. First, the charge or claim was “sex by surprise” and was changed to “rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion”. as reported at Gizmodo . The notice reads as follows:

The matter concerning Mr. Assange
The Matter concerning Julian Assange has been detained in his absence charged with rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. Mr Assange had appealed the detention decision issued by Svea Court of Appeal.

Today the Supreme Court has taken a decision not to grant Julian Assange leave to appeal. If the Supreme Court is to hear an appeal, leave to appeal must first be granted. Leave to appeal is only granted if the case is assessed as being very important to the application of the law or if other extraordinary reasons apply.

The arrest warrant is based on the detention decision that has now been examined by all three legal instances. The additional information requested by the British Police concerns the penalties for the other crimes, in addition to rape, that Julian Assange was arrested for. This information will be supplied immediately. The previous arrest warrant stands.

Since the arrest, the text has been updated to

The matter concerning Mr. Assange Director of Prosecution, Ms. Marianne Ny, will make a statement concerning the proceedings in the Assange matter in the afternoon, Tuesday 7 December.

Further information will follow.

Information from the prosecutor in Sweden can be followed at their website. I will monitor it and report here as well.

UPDATE: Assange denied bail

Bloomberg is reporting Julian Assange has been denied bail. Attorney for the UK government, Gemma Lindfield, cited Assange was a flight risk due to his “nomadic” lifestyle. This despite the arrest by “appointment”.

Updated Statement From The Swedish Prosecutor
Statement from Director of Prosecution, Ms. Marianne Ny
Today British Police have arrested Mr. Assange. Director of Prosecution Ms. Marianne Ny has issued the European arrest warrant, due to which the arrest was executed. The arrest warrant is based on an order for arrest and detention by the Svea Court of Appeal.

Marianne Ny states:
– Apart from the arrest, nothing new has happened in the investigation, but the arrest is a prerequisite for continuing the investigation. I cannot give information on the next step, as the matter at the moment is handled by British authorities.

The prosecutor emphasizes that this matter exclusively concerns Mr. Assange as a private person.

– I would like to clarify that there have by no means been any political pressure on my decision making. I act as a prosecutor due to suspicions of sexual crimes in Sweden in August. Swedish prosecutors are completely independent in their decision making, says Ms. Ny.

WikiLeaks Website Back Up And Running After Sustained Attacks.

December 3, 2010 1 comment
Logo used by Wikileaks

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Attorney General Eric Holder Calls For The Arrest of Julian Assange As Interpol Issues A Red Notice For The Arrest of Dick Cheney.

The website of the whistle blowing WikiLeaks is back up after removal of its domain name and sustained hacking attacks by the U.S. and other governments. Attacks on WikiLeaks has stepped up in recent days after WikiLeaks let it be known they were planning to release information concerning activities of a large bank after it released 250,000 pages of diplomat disclosures.

Calls for the arrest of Julian Assange of WikiLeaks has come from AG Eric Holder of the U.S. Department of Justice who claims he wants to prosecute Assange though its not sure how under The Espinionage Act really applies since WikiLeaks is a receiver of information that it publishes and is not a leaker itself and Assange is not an American nor conducting espionage. The ACLU says such a prosecution would be a threat to whatever journalism still exists in the United States. Interpol has issued a red notice for Assange’s arrest on rape charges stemming from consensual sex with a condom that broke. Most countries do not recognize consensual sex between adults as rape. That is probably why Holder is not calling for an arrest on those charges. Interpol has also issued a red notice for the arrest of former Vice President Dick Cheney stemming from an indictment on bribery charges concerning a Nigerian pipeline. The Department of Justice under Obama has protected Bush Administration officials from crimes and criminal prosecution despite calls for their arrest under international law (including a crime against US security interests in the leaking of the name of a covert agent). The red alert on Cheney puts Holder and the DOJ in a hypocritical spotlight of it’s own doing. Maybe the Department is in the need for a name change such as the Department of Injustice or the Department of Hypocrisy.

Will The WikiLeaks Saga End The Near 40 Year U.S. Involvement In Afghani Conflict? A Look At The Real Questions Assange Has Brought To The Table.

Is it a signal of the beginning of the end of direct U.S. war in Afghanistan? Is it really a new Pentagon Papers?

On July 31st, 2010, Frank Rich had an interesting op-ed in the New York Times titled, “Kiss This War Goodbye” concerning the recent WikiLeaks release of the Afghanistan war logs. Besides the obvious implications of his title, the reasoning of those implications are linked to the Pentagon Papers and the drawing down to the end of the Vietnam war. In expressing those feelings, he essentially wrote,

The only people that seem to be drawing parallels between Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers and Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks document dump are Ellsberg and Assange. The Pentagon Papers didn’t impact the Vietnam War as much as it did the press and the same scenario is likely concerning the WikiLeaks revelations. But the parallel is spot on in that they are narratives on downward trendlines in both wars.

The public is hardly interested anymore and according to a recent CBS News poll, nearly two-thirds think the war is going badly. Add in a Post-ABC News survey that found support of Obama’s handling of the war is at 45 percent with only 43 percent thinking the war is worth it.

It’s hard to argue with any of the op-ed. The information, despite massive enforced secrecy by the U.S. government and two Presidents, revealed precious little to informed people (Fox and right wing radio propaganda afficionados the exception) or to enemies. In fact, the only thing that sticks out is the narrative of nine years of the Afghanistan conflict. That narrative is, of course, one that the United States was just sitting here, uninvolved in Afghanistan and that Osama Bin Laden ordered an attack by plane hijack, on the United States because radical Muslims hated our “freedoms” and Christians and Jews. Since there are closer targets to Afghanistan, or Hamburg Germany where the largely Saudi Arabian contingent of hijackers left from, than the United States that do not have a military garrisoned in 135 countries across the globe and fit those categories, a logical mind would think that rationale a little weak. In fact, the CIA has a term for terrorism, which is “blowback”. But that can be forgiven given the premise of the op-ed that rings true.

As written previously at American Commentary Blog in December of 2009 titled, “Where The U.S. Military Meets Frankensten’s Monster At The Grave Yard Of Conquerors. Obama’s Afghan Decision.” the history and motives are much more involved and long.

As I wrote in 2008 at the DailyKos and the Democratic Underground in a piece titled, “Colonial Wars In A Postcolonial Era (Benazir Bhutto on Iraq)” the Taliban and the groups that ultimately formed al Queda are our “Frankenstein’s monster” by borrowing Benazir Bhutto’s quote

Post cold war imperial ambitions of the U.S. have pushed the Middle East and Central Asia into intolerable peril for these regions the U.S. desires to control for unmatched hegemony. Benazir Bhutto knowing the true nature of the mujahideen coalition even down to each leader of each group and what they were capable of, warned George H.W. Bush in June of 1989, “Mr. President, I fear we have created a Frankenstein that will come back to haunt us” according to her book. The United States, blinded by the Wolfowitz doctrine, has not seen the warning signs until too late. It did not see bin Laden’s rebellion among its jihad network.

and that we should understand the historical background of where we currently find ourselves

The road to 9/11 and its continued bloody aftermath began in earnest at the tail end of the Carter administration when the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI decided it would be a good idea to train and fund a coalition of groups of mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan to give the Soviet backed government of President Mohammed Najibullah more problems than it could handle. For the Pakistani military, the strategy was to provide itself with more reach and influence. For the United States, it was to create a Vietnam type of quagmire for the Soviet Union and its success began when the USSR invaded Afghanistan on Christmas Day, 1979. Ironically, this Soviet quagmire that ultimately led to the implosion of the USSR now threatens us with the same fate.

Of equally important background information is this from The Nation and it’s online blog from 2008 titled, “The Afghan Pipeline You Don’t Know About

Just as Americans were getting used to Big Oil and Iraq, they were hit with revelations on Afghanistan. Did anyone remember in 1999 Unocal providing an all expense paid trip for Taliban officials to the United States (including a trip to Mt. Rushmore) while negotiating a $1.9 billion pipeline bringing Turkmeni natural gas through Afghanistan to Pakistan? What about who was a special consultant to Unocal or the Karzai connection? How about George W. Bush’s neocon ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad being rumored as a future “Afghan” presidential candidate?

The pipeline negotiations broke down for good in August, 2001, one month before “well, you know”. Toronto’s Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin put it, “Washington was furious, leading to speculation it might take out the Taliban. After 9/11, the Taliban, with good reason, were removed — and pipeline planning continued with the Karzai government. U.S. forces installed bases near Kandahar, where the pipeline was to run. A key motivation for the pipeline was to block a competing bid involving Iran, a charter member of the ‘axis of evil.'”

Turns out in April (2008), Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (TAPI) signed a Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement to build a US supported $7.6 billion pipeline. It would by-pass Iran and energy giant Russia carrying Turkmeni natural gas to Pakistan and India. Construction would begin in 2010 and go through Kandahar right through the heart of Taliban country (think of the additional troop request)

and this news item from the BBC in 2002 titled, “Afghan pipeline given go-ahead” . Also, the blog at The Nation online magazine went on to state Americans would not know these things unless they regularly scan news items from foreign press sources. The question is, is this still about al Queda and the right war (since the US’s own assessments are that there are maybe only about 100 persons connected to the al Queda groups left in Afghanistan) or is this just a continuation of the strategic game of the empire project concerning Central Asian oil and gas trade?

Recently, there has been some press about Pakistan’s ISI being involved with the Taliban and current insurgency. This has been well known by people in the know, especially given that the United States, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia created most of these groups and funded and trained many of them to drive out the Soviet Union. In fact, many sources had connected Pakistan’s ISI officials and the flow of money to 9/11 hijacker Atta. The religious radicalization of many of the groups and their recruits through those years was funded by U.S. taxpayers as revealed in a 2002 report titled “From U.S., the ABC’s of Jihad” in the Washington Post including the textbooks for the religious schools. This was, of course, what the military industrial complex had decided to do in order to control the resources and the flow of oil and natural gas for multi-national corporations since the fall of the Soviet Union leaving many former soviet states in the region to U.S. hegemonic exploitation. There was not going to be a peace dividend following the cold war for the American people if the profiteers were to have their say and they had both political parties on board.

A warning and a choice

A dire warning to the U.S., which is now following the footsteps of the now defunct U.S.S.R., came from former Soviet General Igor Rodionov in an article from 2009 titled “Veterans of Soviet war see same errors by US” by Charles Clover of the Financial Times where he said “they would come, the insurgency would leave, then we would leave, and they would return and it just went around in circles for 10 years”. He said “sending more troops is just going to mean more deaths.” Indeed, Afghanistan throughout history, has shed its would be conquerors. These lessons come amid the recent collapse of the U.S. economy under deregulation and the Bush tax cuts which have deprived the government of billions and if preserved will cost the budget $700 billion in the next decade while state budget cuts have further contracted economic activity. With current budget cuts including shutting down schools to shutting off street lights at night across America or breaking up roads to gravel to avoid the cost of repaving as revealed in pieces by Glenn Greenwald titled “What collapsing empire looks like” and Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman’s column called “America Goes Dark“, isn’t it time to shift away from tax cuts at the top and the massive spending on the American Security State and imperial priorities of this neocon empire to our millions of unemployed people in dire straits? Isn’t it time to put our priorities back on our people and their welfare before we suffer a fate like that of the Soviet collapse?