June 30, 2012

Updates on Assange & Manning

This is not just an infowar; it's a p.r. war. And most of the p.r. machinery is owned by t.p.t.b.

Neither Assange nor Wikileaks has been charged with any violation of any law in any country on the planet, though not for lack of strenuous effort by the authorities. The allegations against Assange fall far short of anything considered illegal in the US or most other countries, and the women who made them did not want him prosecuted.

He offered to be questioned while in Sweden before departing for the UK – he lingered there for over a month for that purpose – and he repeatedly offered to be questioned while in the UK. But although Swedish police and prosecutors recently travelled to Serbia to question a suspect in another case, they refused to interview Assange in the UK. They don't want to question him; they want him in their possession.

Gary McKinnon, wanted in the US since 2002 for allegedly committing the biggest hack of US military computers of all time, walks free in the UK. Shawn Sullivan, a convicted pedophile wanted in the US since 1994 for alleged sexual violations of three underage girls, walks free in the UK.

On May 26, 2012, the Swedish Foreign Minister announced a visit by US Sec. of State Hillary Clinton; she arrived in Sweden on June 2. This was the first visit to Sweden by a US Sec. of State since Henry Kissinger spent one day there in 1976. Clinton remained in Sweden for a week.

It should be noted that Sweden is known to have cooperated with the US's rendition program, and that at least one innocent individual in its custody, Muhammad al-Zery, though never actually charged, was sent to Eqypt for torture and held for two years in jail without ever seeing a judge.

Without Assange and Wikileaks, a great many terrible crimes committed by various governments and corporations around the world might never have been revealed. This is what has precipitated the unprecedented efforts to shut Wikileaks down and gain possession of Assange.

Assange's Position in Re- Extradition & Asylum

The excerpts below are from a statement found on WL Central and made yesterday in front of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and they accurately summarize some of the matters that have been the subjects of misrepresentation most recently.

Yesterday Mr. Assange was served with a letter from the Metropolitan police service requesting that he surrender himself to the Belgravia police station at 11.30 this morning.

Mr Assange has been advised that he should decline to comply with the police request. This should not be considered any sign of disrespect. Under both international and domestic UK law asylum assessments take priority over extradition claims.

The issues faced by Mr. Assange are serious. His life and liberty and the life and liberty of his organization and those associated with it are at stake.

The United States Government has instigated a grand jury investigation against Julian Assange and other “founders or managers” of Wikileaks. Australian diplomats have described this investigation as being of “unprecedented scale and nature." There is irrefutable evidence in the public record of subpoenas being issued and witnesses being compelled to testify against Mr. Assange. WikiLeaks, the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups have been fighting these subpeonas and other issues arising from the investigation in multiple US courts. US officials have said in open court that the FBI file about the investigation has now reached 42,135 pages. The US department of justice admitted yesterday that its investigation into WikiLeaks proceeds. It is only a matter of time before US authorities begin extradition proceedings against Julian and other leading members of WikiLeaks on various charges including conspiracy to commit espionage. There are credible reports that a sealed indictment has already been made against Mr. Assange. Under US law a sealed indictment can only be made public once Mr. Assange is in custody. For a US official to otherwise acknowledge the existence of a sealed indictment is a criminal offense. The Independent newspaper’s diplomatic correspondent reported that informal talks between the US and Sweden have been conducted.

It should be made clear what would happen if Julian was extradited to the USA. The United Nations special rapporteur for torture, Juan Mendez has formally found that the United States has subjected Julian Assange’s alleged source in this matter, the young soldier Bradley Manning, to conditions amounting to torture. The UN found that the United States subjected Bradley Manning to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. Mr. Manning has been charged by the US government with the capital offense of “aiding the enemy” in relation to his alleged interaction with Mr. Assange. Bradley Manning has been detained without trial for two years and was placed into solitary confinement for 9 months in his cell for 23 hours a day, stripped naked and woken every 5 minutes. His lawyer and support team say these harsh measures were to coerce him into implicating Julian Assange.

So it is clear that there is a legal process in place which will result in taking Julian to the US, which if allowed to succeed would violate his basic rights.

It is accepted by the UK Supreme Court that Julian Assange has not been charged with any criminal offence in Sweden. It is also accepted that he was by told by Swedish authorities that he was free to leave Sweden. And it is also accepted that he has continuously offered to be interviewed by the Swedish authorities here in the UK, should they wish to do so. Although it is normal procedure, Swedish authorities have refused, without reason, to make the 3 hour trip to London and to interview Julian, causing him to be trapped in the UK under virtual house arrest for 561 days and an additional 10 days in solitary confinement – all without charge. Instead they have issued an INTERPOL Red notice and extradition requests.

Julian and his legal team have previously sought assurances from both the UK government and the Swedish government that they will guarantee safe passage after the completion of legal interviews with Mr Assange and both have [refused]. The Swedish executive publicly announced on June 14 that it would detain Mr. Assange in prison without charge.

Once in Sweden under such grave restrictions it would be impossible for Mr. Assange to exercise his asylum rights.

Mr. Assange did not feel safe from US extradition in the UK. We are all too aware of the abuses of the US-UK extradition treaty. Although Mr. Assange has been trapped in the UK, under dangerous circumstances, he at least has had the freedom to apply for political asylum.

It is in this context that Julian has made the difficult decision to seek refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy to ask for asylum.

Julian will remain in the Embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government while evidence for his application is being assembled and processed.
See also Glenn Greenwald's summary of the situation and Justice for Assange.

Assange would be a fool to allow himself to fall into the hands of the US or any nation subject to its influence. No doubt t.p.t.b. are too smart to dispose of him in a way that might boost his appeal as a martyr; but once in Swedish or US custody, a lot of things could happen. There could be an unfortunate accident, or he could simply be held incommunicado for a very long time.

Here's a recent BBC piece on the situation:

Below are just some of the revelations made thanks to Wikileaks, as of back in Dec., 2010:

How about the needless gunning down by U.S. military forces of a Reuters cameraman and Iraqi innocents shown in the leaked "Collateral Murder" video? Or, limiting inquiry to the U.S. Embassy cables, what about the revelations that six months before the worldwide economic meltdown, the governor of the Bank of England was secretly proposing a bailout of the world's biggest banks funded by nations such as the U.S.; or that the British government secretly assured the U.S. that it had "put measures in place to protect your interest during the UK inquiry into the causes of the Iraq war"; or that the U.S. dismissed British objections about secret U.S. spy flights taking place from the UK, amid British officials' concerns that the UK would be deemed an accomplice to torture; or that, in response to U.S. pressure, the German government assured the U.S. that it would not follow through on its investigation of the CIA's abduction of a German citizen mistakenly identified as a terrorist, Khaled el-Masri; or that the U.S. threatened the Italian government in order to make sure that no international arrest warrants were issued for CIA agents accused of involvement in the abduction of cleric Abu Omar; or that the U.S. sought assurances from the Ugandan government that it would consult the U.S. before using American intelligence to commit war crimes; or that as of 2009, Shell Oil had infiltrated all the main ministries of the Nigerian government; or that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer paid investigators to unearth corruption links to Nigeria's attorney general so as to pressure him to drop legal action for harm to children from a drug trial; or that government corruption in Afghanistan is rampant (viz. an incident last year when then vice-president Ahmad Zia Massoud was stopped in Dubai while carrying $52m in cash); or that the U.S. seeks to manipulate nations opposed to its approach to global warming; or that the U.S. and China worked together to prevent European nations from reaching an agreement at last year's climate summit; or that the Vatican refused to cooperate with an official Irish inquiry into clerical child abuse; or that BP covered up a giant gas leak in Azerbaijan eighteen months before the Gulf of Mexico disaster? To mention just a few items revealed as of 2010-12-21. (UPDATE: See also Glen Mitchell's "Why Wikileaks Matters" for The Nation; the Electronic Frontier Foundation's "The Best of Cablegate: Where Public Discourse Benefited from the Leaks"; Glenn Greenwald's "What Wikileaks revealed to the world in 2010" at Salon; Wikileaks - A timeline of the top leaks at The Telegraph; and to add just one from 2011 so far, "WikiLeaks points to US meddling . . . to keep the [democratically-elected] Jean-Bertrand Aristide out of Haiti." FURTHER UPDATE: See Greg Mitchell's "32 Major Revelations (and Counting)," including the fact that Wikileaks' publications are widely believed to have helped inspire the uprising in Tunisia against a brutal dictator; OpEd News; Greg Mitchell's top Cablegate picks as of his 100th day of blogging the Wikileaks story, here; and Kevin Gosztola's 100 leaks in 100 tweets, here.
Manning Wins Access to US Damage Assessments

Meanwhile, from AFP:

A US military judge ordered prosecutors Monday to share more documents with WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning after defense lawyers accused them of hiding information that could help their client's case.

For months, Manning's defense team has demanded access to reports by government agencies, including the CIA, that assessed the effect of the leak of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.

Manning is accused of passing on a massive trove of files to WikiLeaks but his lawyers believe the reports will show the alleged disclosures had no major effect on the country's national security.

Judge Denise Lind ruled that government prosecutors must provide "damage assessment" reports from the CIA, the State Department, the FBI, the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (Oncix) and other documents that were relevant for the defense.
I strongly suspect that if the effects of the release were really so damaging to legitimate US interests or to innocents in general, the gov't would by now have managed to identify a few particulars it could afford to make public.

UPDATE: Patrick Cockburn has a fine essay at The Independent:
All governments indulge in a degree of hypocrisy between what they say in public and in private. When democratic openness about general actions and policies is demanded, they pretend they are facing a call for total transparency which would prevent effective government. This deliberate and self-serving inflation of popular demands is usually aimed at the concealment of failure and monopolising power.

* * * * *
Assange and WikeLeaks unmasked not diplomatic reticence in the interests of the smooth functioning of government, but duplicity to justify lost wars in which tens of thousand died. Recent history shows that this official secrecy, frequently aided by "embedding" journalists with armies, works all too well.

In Iraq, in the months before the US presidential election in 2004, foreign embassies in Baghdad all knew and reported that US soldiers were only clinging to islands of territory in a hostile land. But the Bush administration was able to persuade US voters that, on the contrary, it was fighting and winning a battle to establish democracy against the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime and the adherents of Osama bin Laden.

State control of information and the ability to manipulate it makes the right to vote largely meaningless. That is why people like Julian Assange are so essential to democratic choice.
Much more at the link. Another good one by B.J. Sachs at Counterpunch.

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