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  1. #1

    Default On Assange's Arrest - First they came for the.......

    The glimpse of Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorean embassy in London is an emblem of the times. Might against right. Muscle against the law. Indecency against courage. Six policemen manhandled a sick journalist, his eyes wincing against his first natural light in almost seven years.

    That this outrage happened in the heart of London, in the land of Magna Carta, ought to shame and anger all who fear for "democratic" societies. Assange is a political refugee protected by international law, the recipient of asylum under a strict covenant to which Britain is a signatory. The United Nations made this clear in the legal ruling of its Working Party on Arbitrary Detention.

    But to hell with that. Let the thugs go in. Directed by the quasi fascists in Trump's Washington, in league with Ecuador's Lenin Moreno, a Latin American Judas and liar seeking to disguise his rancid regime, the British elite abandoned its last imperial myth: that of fairness and justice.

    Imagine Tony Blair dragged from his multi-million pound Georgian home in Connaught Square, London, in handcuffs, for onward dispatch to the dock in The Hague. By the standard of Nuremberg, Blair's "paramount crime" is the deaths of a million Iraqis. Assange's crime is journalism: holding the rapacious to account, exposing their lies and empowering people all over the world with truth.

    The shocking arrest of Assange carries a warning for all who, as Oscar Wilde wrote, "sow the seeds of discontent [without which] there would be no advance towards civilisation". The warning is explicit towards journalists. What happened to the founder and editor of WikiLeaks can happen to you on a newspaper, you in a TV studio, you on radio, you running a podcast.

    Assange's principal media tormentor, the Guardian, a collaborator with the secret state, displayed its nervousness this week with an editorial that scaled new weasel heights. The Guardian has exploited the work of Assange and WikiLeaks in what its previous editor called "the greatest scoop of the last 30 years". The paper creamed off WikiLeaks' revelations and claimed the accolades and riches that came with them.

    With not a penny going to Julian Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book's authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, turned on their source, abused him and disclosed the secret password Assange had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing leaked US embassy cables.

    With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding joined the police outside and gloated on his blog that "Scotland Yard may get the last laugh". The Guardian has since published a series of falsehoods about Assange, not least a discredited claim that a group of Russians and Trump's man, Paul Manafort, had visited Assange in the embassy. The meetings never happened; it was fake.

    But the tone has now changed. "The Assange case is a morally tangled web," the paper opined. "He (Assange) believes in publishing things that should not be published.... But he has always shone a light on things that should never have been hidden."

    These "things" are the truth about the homicidal way America conducts its colonial wars, the lies of the British Foreign Office in its denial of rights to vulnerable people, such as the Chagos Islanders, the expose of Hillary Clinton as a backer and beneficiary of jihadism in the Middle East, the detailed description of American ambassadors of how the governments in Syria and Venezuela might be overthrown, and much more. It all available on the WikiLeaks site.

    The Guardian is understandably nervous. Secret policemen have already visited the newspaper and demanded and got the ritual destruction of a hard drive. On this, the paper has form. In 1983, a Foreign Office clerk, Sarah Tisdall, leaked British Government documents showing when American cruise nuclear weapons would arrive in Europe. The Guardian was showered with praise.

    When a court order demanded to know the source, instead of the editor going to prison on a fundamental principle of protecting a source, Tisdall was betrayed, prosecuted and served six months.

    If Assange is extradited to America for publishing what the Guardian calls truthful "things", what is to stop the current editor, Katherine Viner, following him, or the previous editor, Alan Rusbridger, or the prolific propagandist Luke Harding?

    What is to stop the editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post, who also published morsels of the truth that originated with WikiLeaks, and the editor of El Pais in Spain, and Der Spiegel in Germany and the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia. The list is long.

    David McCraw, lead lawyer of the New York Times, wrote: "I think the prosecution [of Assange] would be a very, very bad precedent for publishers... from everything I know, he's sort of in a classic publisher's position and the law would have a very hard time distinguishing between the New York Times and WilLeaks."

    Even if journalists who published WikiLeaks' leaks are not summoned by an American grand jury, the intimidation of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning will be enough. Real journalism is being criminalised by thugs in plain sight. Dissent has become an indulgence.

    In Australia, the current America-besotted government is prosecuting two whistle-blowers who revealed that Canberra's spooks bugged the cabinet meetings of the new government of East Timor for the express purpose of cheating the tiny, impoverished nation out of its proper share of the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea. Their trial will be held in secret. The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, is infamous for his part in setting up concentration camps for refugees on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus, where children self harm and suicide. In 2014, Morrison proposed mass detention camps for 30,000 people.

    Real journalism is the enemy of these disgraces. A decade ago, the Ministry of Defence in London produced a secret document which described the "principal threats" to public order as threefold: terrorists, Russian spies and investigative journalists. The latter was designated the major threat.

    The document was duly leaked to WikiLeaks, which published it. "We had no choice," Assange told me. "It's very simple. People have a right to know and a right to question and challenge power. That's true democracy."

    What if Assange and Manning and others in their wake - if there are others - are silenced and "the right to know and question and challenge" is taken away?

    In the 1970s, I met Leni Reifenstahl, close friend of Adolf Hitler, whose films helped cast the Nazi spell over Germany.

    She told me that the message in her films, the propaganda, was dependent not on "orders from above" but on what she called the "submissive void" of the public.

    "Did this submissive void include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?" I asked her.

    "Of course," she said, "especially the intelligentsia.... When people no longer ask serious questions, they are submissive and malleable. Anything can happen."

    And did.

    The rest, she might have added, is history.
    JOHN PILGER, 13 APRIL 2019
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  2. #2

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    APR 11, 2019The Martyrdom of Julian Assange - Chris Hedges


    Matt Dunham / A
    P

    The arrest Thursday of Julian Assange eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities, embraced by the Ecuadorian, British and U.S. governments, in the seizure of Assange are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by corporate states and the global ruling elite will be masked from the public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power will be hunted down, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms in solitary confinement. They presage an Orwellian dystopia where news is replaced with propaganda, trivia and entertainment. The arrest of Assange, I fear, marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives.
    Under what law did Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno capriciously terminate Julian Assange’s rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy—diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory—to arrest a naturalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Prime Minister Theresa May order the British police to grab Assange, who has never committed a crime? Under what law did President Donald Trump demand the extradition of Assange, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States?
    I am sure government attorneys are skillfully doing what has become de rigueur for the corporate state, using specious legal arguments to eviscerate enshrined rights by judicial fiat. This is how we have the right to privacy with no privacy. This is how we have “free” elections funded by corporate money, covered by a compliant corporate media and under iron corporate control. This is how we have a legislative process in which corporate lobbyists write the legislation and corporate-indentured politicians vote it into law. This is how we have the right to due process with no due process. This is how we have a government—whose fundamental responsibility is to protect citizens—that orders and carries out the assassination of its own citizens such as the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son. This is how we have a press legally permitted to publish classified information and a publisher sitting in jail in Britain awaiting extradition to the United States and a whistleblower, Chelsea Manning, in a jail cell in the United States.
    Britain will use as its legal cover for the arrest the extradition request from Washington based on conspiracy charges. This legal argument, in a functioning judiciary, would be thrown out of court. Unfortunately, we no longer have a functioning judiciary. We will soon know if Britain as well lacks one.

    Assange was granted asylum in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sexual offense allegations that were eventually dropped. Assange and his lawyers always argued that if he was put in Swedish custody he would be extradited to the United States. Once he was granted asylum and Ecuadorian citizenship the British government refused to grant Assange safe passage to the London airport, trapping him in the embassy for seven years as his health steadily deteriorated.
    The Trump administration will seek to try Assange on charges that he conspired with Manning in 2010 to steal the Iraq and Afghanistan war logsobtained by WikiLeaks. The half a million internal documents leaked by Manning 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, provided copious evidence of the hypocrisy, indiscriminate violence, and routine use of torture, lies, bribery and crude tactics of intimidation by the U.S. government in its foreign relations and wars in the Middle East. Assange and WikiLeaks allowed us to see the inner workings of empire—the most important role of a press—and for this they became empire’s prey.
    U.S. government lawyers will attempt to separate WikiLeaks and Assange from The New York Times and the British newspaper The Guardian, both of which also published the leaked material from Manning, by implicating Assange in the theft of the documents. Manning was repeatedly and often brutally pressured during her detention and trial to implicate Assange in the seizure of the material, something she steadfastly refused to do. She is currently in jail because of her refusal to testify, without her lawyer, in front of the grand jury assembled for the Assange case. President Barack Obama granted Manning, who was given a 35-year sentence, clemency after she served seven years in a military prison.
    Once the documents and videos provided by Manning to Assange and WikiLeaks were published and disseminated by news organizations such as The New York Times and The Guardian, the press callously, and foolishly, turned on Assange. News organizations that had run WikiLeaks material over several days soon served as conduits in a black propaganda campaign to discredit Assange and WikiLeaks. This coordinated smear campaign was detailed in a leaked Pentagon document prepared by the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch and dated March 8, 2008. The document called on the U.S. to eradicate the “feeling of trust” that is WikiLeaks’ “center of gravity” and destroy Assange’s reputation.
    Assange, who with the Manning leaks had exposed the war crimes, lies and criminal manipulations of the George W. Bush administration, soon earned the ire of the Democratic Party establishment by publishing 70,000 hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and senior Democratic officials. The emails were copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. The Podesta emails exposed the donation of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the major funders of Islamic State, to the Clinton Foundation. It exposed the $657,000 that Goldman Sachs paid to Hillary Clinton to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe. It exposed Clinton’s repeated mendacity. She was caught in the emails, for example, telling the financial elites that she wanted “open trade and open borders” and believed Wall Street executives were best positioned to manage the economy, a statement that contradicted her campaign statements. It exposed the Clinton campaign’s efforts to influence the Republican primaries to ensure that Trump was the Republican nominee. It exposed Clinton’s advance knowledge of questions in a primary debate. It exposed Clinton as the primary architect of the war in Libya, a war she believed would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate. Journalists can argue that this information, like the war logs, should have remained hidden, but they can’t then call themselves journalists.
    The Democratic leadership, intent on blaming Russia for its election loss, charges that the Podesta emails were obtained by Russian government hackers, although James Comey, the former FBI director, has conceded that the emails were probably delivered to WikiLeaks by an intermediary. Assange has said the emails were not provided by “state actors.”
    WikiLeaks has done more to expose the abuses of power and crimes of the American Empire than any other news organization. In addition to the war logs and the Podesta emails, it made public the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency and their interference in foreign elections, including in the French elections. It disclosed the internal conspiracy against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by Labour members of Parliament. It intervened to save Edward Snowden, who made public the wholesale surveillance of the American public by our intelligence agencies, from extradition to the United States by helping him flee from Hong Kong to Moscow. The Snowden leaks also revealed that Assange was on a U.S. “manhunt target list.”
    A haggard-looking Assange, as he was dragged out of the embassy by British police, shook his finger and shouted: “The U.K. must resist this attempt by the Trump administration. … The U.K. must resist!”
    We all must resist. We must, in every way possible, put pressure on the British government to halt the judicial lynching of Assange. If Assange is extradited and tried, it will create a legal precedent that will terminate the ability of the press, which Trump repeatedly has called “the enemy of the people,” to hold power accountable. The crimes of war and finance, the persecution of dissidents, minorities and immigrants, the pillaging by corporations of the nation and the ecosystem and the ruthless impoverishment of working men and women to swell the bank accounts of the rich and consolidate the global oligarchs’ total grip on power will not only expand, but will no longer be part of public debate. First Assange. Then us.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  3. #3

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    Related thread [but there are others] https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums...-in-His-Favour
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  4. #4

    Default Assange

    Is there any truth to the theory that Assange is just a phony outlet for planted intelligence agency "information" (disinformation)?

    That was the role of Lyndon LaRouche from the 1970's to the 1980's. It just seems improbable that Assange could have been living the exotic, one-of-a-kind, never-before-seen extreme lifestyle just based entirely on his own personal initiative.

    All of this Assange "circus" IMHO smacks of a stage-managed operation which had to have been employing resources beyond the means of this ostensibly penniless, homeless pathetic individual.

    In other words, have we been looking at, not Assange, but Assange, Incorporated?

    James Lateer
    Last edited by James Lateer; 04-22-2019 at 11:00 PM.

  5. #5

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    Chris Hedges: Welcome to “On Contact.” Today we discuss the arrest of Julian Assange with the historian Vijay Prashad.
    Vijay Prashad: You know if Chelsea Manning hadn’t decided to download that material, if Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks organization hadn’t decided to put that material out there, you and I who know these things to be true because we’ve seen them, would never have been able to talk about these things in such an open way. And yet that’s not the conversation. The conversation became about Assange’s personality, about what he’d done in Sweden and so on.
    CH: The arrest of Julian Assange eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities embraced by the Ecuadorian, British and U.S. governments, in the seizure of Assange, are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by the corporate states and the global ruling elite, will be masked from the public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power will be hunted down, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms in solitary confinement. They presage an Orwellian dystopia where news is replaced with propaganda, trivia and entertainment. The arrest of Assange, I fear, marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives. Under what law did Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno capriciously terminate Julian Assange’s rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy—diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory—to arrest a nationalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Prime Minister Theresa May order the British police to grab Assange, who has never committed a crime? Under what law did Donald Trump demand the extradition of Assange, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States? Joining me to discuss the arrest and pending extradition of Assange is the historian Vijay Prashad. What have we just seen?

    VP: You know it’s a very interesting situation we’re in. You and I have been [in] and reported directly from very ugly situations, and over the course of our careers we’ve tried to tell stories about atrocities, we’ve tried to tell stories about what are tantamount to war crimes—editors don’t believe you. Editors don’t want to publish those stories, the ownership of newspapers and of course televisions don’t want to run those stories, because they say ‘You don’t have the smoking gun,’ ‘You don’t have the evidence.’ And what both Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange and the entire team at WikiLeaks did when they provided the raw materials of war crimes, was they allowed us to tell the stories that we had seen with our own eyes. And I think that rather than have the conversation about the war crimes, rather than for the Reuters organization for instance, to concentrate on the fact that an employee of Reuters was killed, you know, in cold blood by the United States—
    CH: Two—two of them—
    VP: Two of them, one of them on contract, yes exactly. Two of them were killed by the United States military in cold blood. There was no reason. And the people in those helicopters in the video that was released as “Collateral Murder were almost relishing the murder of ordinary people. If Chelsea Manning hadn’t decided to download that material, if Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks organization hadn’t decided to put that material out there, you and I—who know these things to be true because we’ve seen them—would never have been able to talk about these things in such an open way. And yet that’s not the conversation. The conversation became about Assange’s personality, about what he had done in Sweden and so on. We know very well, Chris, that the arrest, the violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty on display in London, we know that that has nothing to do with what Julian Assange is purported to have done in Sweden. This is entirely to put the genie of American war crimes back inside the bottle.
    CH: And yet the press has—and I read every article on Assange, including the editorial and Michelle Goldberg’s horrible column—has just bought into this narrative without seeing that this is an assault on the ability of a press to shine a light into the inner workings of power and in particular, empire. That they, they are going after Assange. They’ve found a kind of legal trick. They’ll charge [Assange with] attempting to assist Manning to change a password, which even they admit he wasn’t able to do. But that’s not why they’re lynching him. They’re lynching him because he embarrassed them. He exposed their crimes. It was a bipartisan effort because later we got the Podesta emails that showed the mendacity of the Clinton campaign on many levels: her $650,000 to speak in front of Goldman Sachs, a sum so large that it can only be considered a bribe; the millions of dollars that Saudi Arabia and Qatar—the chief supporters of the Islamic State—gave to the Clinton Foundation; the fact that the Clinton campaign worked to ensure Trump was the nominee; the kinds of statements she would make to the financial elites about how they were the best people to run the economy, which contradicted everything she was saying in the campaign; how she got the debate questions leaked to her in advance. And you [anyone] can argue, I suppose, that the public doesn’t have a right to know this or to know about the crimes of empire, but I don’t know how you can then call yourself a journalist.
    VP: Well, let’s be frank. We know what has happened to the journalist profession. I prefer to call many of my colleagues stenographers of the state, people [who] take press releases from the government or they accept what an official says. You just need to read the story, what is the sourcing of the story? An official said, another official said, a third official said, a fourth official said. Have you tried to verify the information? What is your moral standard? The moral standard of what appears in corporate media is largely the morality of the state and of the national security system—they take that as ipso facto the truth. That’s a problem for me. I understand the profession, the tribe of journalists to be people who are constantly asking questions, not accepting a press release as the finished project. But what we see is so many times people rewrite the press release. They rewrite the statement made by the president, some national security official, and they put that out as the news. I want to say something very important. Julian Assange was already in the Ecuadorian Embassy when the Podesta emails were leaked.
    CH: Right.
    VP: What they are really going after him for was the leaks that came through Chelsea Manning. Because what Chelsea Manning—who is in fact an international hero and should not be right now in prison—what Chelsea Manning showed us was, of course as I said, the “Collateral Murder” video, but much more than that; she deeply embarrassed the United States government for the way its diplomatic corps was operating during, for instance, the Arab Spring where they were colluding with Mubarak in Egypt to try to maintain his power, despite the fact that there were huge numbers of people not only in Tahrir Square but across Egypt. It also showed you—and this is very important—for a keen reader of the State Department cables, it showed you how the ambassadors were no longer actually running policy. So, you saw the ambassadors in Yemen, the ambassadors in Egypt, write letters back to Washington, D.C., saying that the Defense Department officials are coming here, national security officials [are coming here] and they are just sidelining us. And what’s interesting is the ambassador in Egypt is a woman and she says in one of the cables essentially “I’m becoming like a secretary; I’m taking notes in these meetings. These are MY meetings.” That’s not only embarrassing; for an American citizen that should be very chilling. Diplomacy, as we see from these cables, is no longer being run in a political way by the State Department. Diplomacy is being run by the Defense Department and even more dangerously, by the anonymous national security state. That’s something that the U.S. government doesn’t want out there in the public. It’s OK for you and me to make those allegations, but to have the evidence for that is, I think, very significant.
    CH: That’s an important point. You have ambassadors who admit that they don’t know what the CIA station chief is up to or doing, who they’re contacting and what they’re orchestrating. They’re not even informed.
    VP: They’re not even informed, which is a question in a liberal democracy about who is in charge of the military? Who is in charge of the shadows? Right after 9/11, Vice President Dick Cheney famously said, “Well now it’s time to work in the shadows.” Who’s in charge of the shadows? Vice President Cheney? In a liberal democracy you assume that the political branch, which includes the State Department, is leading some of these matters and is the one you hold accountable. After all, Chris, you can’t hold the shadows accountable. We don’t know what’s happening in the shadows. If you’re going to permit the shadows to operate—people to operate in the shadows—then the only agency that’s accountable to the citizenry is the State Department. I don’t mean to sound naive here. I don’t mean to sound like “Oh my god, how silly of him,” because what happens is, there’s a kind of patina of cynicism that enters the public. The public says, “Of course it’s going to be like that.” That “of course” is the road to authoritarianism. You have to hold your values very close to you, not just close to your chest but you’ve got to hold those values out there in public because once you start taking a cynical attitude to the institutions and ideology of your society, you’re going to end up giving license for authoritarianism.
    CH: We’ve just watched with the seizure of Assange, the violation of several laws, of international law, the right to political asylum, the violation of sovereignty under the Ecuadorian institution. You can’t—on Ecuadorian soil which is what the embassy is considered—you can’t send foreign police in. The whole imprisonment of Assange, who has never committed a crime or even—certainly within Britain—been charged for a crime. This whole bail thing was resolved. The Swedish charges were dropped. This is a kind of microcosm of how these global elites and this imperial power creates the kind of facade of law, but behind the scenes eviscerate the law. It’s how we in the United States have a right to privacy with no privacy. It’s how we have due process with no due process. It’s how our rights are supposedly protected and the executive authorizes—under Obama—assassinate Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son. Both U.S. citizens. It’s how you have the mirage of free elections that are corporate funded, corporate controlled and reported on by a corporate media. I look at what’s happened to Assange as a window into the breakdown of the rule of law.
    VP: Let’s be frank here. There was a case in Sweden. The statute of limitations runs to August 2020. The Swedish government can run the charges against him. But this arrest inside the Ecuadorian Embassy by, in a sense, an invading British police force, has nothing to do with the statute of limitations in Sweden. OK, Julian, there is a case against you in Sweden, go and face the charges. That’s a perfectly acceptable thing to talk about. I don’t think one should be evasive about it. On the other hand, it’s not about Sweden. This is about the United States. We should be clear about that. Sweden is being used as an alibi to bring him to the United States and face a Guantanamo situation in terms of legality. There is something very off-putting happening not only in the British government, not only with the United States, but with Ecuador. Right after Julian Assange is evicted, essentially, by the Ecuadorian government, in Quito, Ecuador, a young open-source advocate, privacy advocate, Swedish national by the name of Ola Bini, was picked up by Ecuadorian authorities. They began to leak information to the press saying that he’s a friend of Julian Assange. They began to say that he’s working with the previous government to overthrow this government—all ridiculous statements! But coming at an interesting moment, when the government of Lenín Moreno, inside Ecuador, is facing enormous pressure because of leaked documents call the “INA Papers” which show flagrant evidence of corruption.
    CH: There are pictures of him eating lobster in his hotel room and his wife talking about trips to Switzerland. We’ll come back to that. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversation about the arrest of Julian Assange with the historian Vijay Prashad.
    Break
    CH: Welcome back to “On Contact.” We continue our conversation about the arrest of Julian Assange with the historian Vijay Prashad. You were talking about the Ecuadorian government before the break.
    VP: Generally, in the media, outside places like Ecuador, when something happens in the arrest of Julian Assange immediate focus goes to Donald Trump. What is Trump interest? Or the focus goes to Theresa May. What’s her interest? But there is an Ecuadorian story here which is very important. We have a government in Ecuador that is desperate to get a loan from the International Monetary Fund, which has approached the fund, which is trying to mend relations with the United States. I’m not casting aspersions on the government of Ecuador. These are things that are in the public record. They are seeking the loan. They want to improve relations with the United State government. We know in the world of diplomacy, when you talk to ambassadors and so on, that there are quid pro quos. It’s very clear that the quid pro quo was they’re going to say, “off with Assange” and then all things are good with Ecuador. And inside Ecuador they started this very bizarre campaign to say that the INA Papers, which were leaked recently, which showed deep corruption in the Lenín Moreno government and him personally. … These are things people don’t like to have in the public record, about how they live and so on. Nonetheless, this is out there now. They want to suggest that this is a sort of malignant plot by somebody. They’ve said, two Russian hackers and a Swede who has seen Julian Assange 12 times and who travels with former government officials, Ricardo Patiño, a close associate of Rafael Correa and that they are …
    CH: We should say Rafael Correa, the former president who gave Julian Assange political asylum.
    VP: Right, and then worked closely to get him his citizenship—
    CH: And is now living in exile.
    VP: And is now himself living in exile in Europe, exactly. So, they concocted this quite delicious story. The media loves a delicious story. My god, Chris, two Russian hackers! The moment you’ve got a headline “Two Russian Hackers” it’s all done.
    CH: Well, you know, they shut down the electric grid in Vermont …
    VP: This Russian hacker business is going to become something that governments are going to use routinely. It doesn’t matter what the veracity. So, this is their story. They’re trying to deflect attention from a very damaging set of revelations by saying that Julian Assange, plus a Russian hacker, plus a Swedish man who is a world-renowned software designer, intellectual of the internet, they’re all been maligning us. Therefore, we need to basically get rid of them and what they’re saying about us is not true. Innocent people are essentially being put on a sacrificial block in order to clean up the reputation of [these] people. I didn’t make up those stories. I didn’t “photoshop” those pictures. Those are real pictures. Why don’t you address the real story? In the same way the United States government has refused to address the story of war crimes. This is [also] happening in Ecuador.
    I want to say something very specific about the United States government and war crimes. The International Criminal Court has been looking very seriously at the question of U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and so on. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, normally comes and addresses the U.N. Security Council. She gives a report on what the ICC has been doing, the criminal court, what’s in the docket, what are they looking at and so on. But to enter the U.N. in New York she must land in John F. Kennedy International Airport, which is sovereign U.S. territory. Well last week they were informed that the visa that permits her to land in the United States so that she can come to, essentially, U.N. territory, that visa is not guaranteed. What is going on here? You don’t actually want to talk about the real issues, actual textual and visual evidence of war criminal activity in one case, the United States and in the Ecuadorian case you don’t want to talk about actual evidence of corruption, personal corruption plus institutional. You don’t want to talk about that, so you start demonizing people.
    CH: Well, in a functioning judicial system, the people who committed the war crimes that Chelsea Manning exposed, would be put on trial. But of course, Chelsea Manning is in a jail cell because she is refusing to go before the grand jury that is investigating Assange, without her lawyer, and testify. She’s been under tremendous pressure, she spent seven years in a military prison, to implicate Assange in the theft of the documents. She has said repeatedly that it’s untrue and under pressure, especially under solitary confinement, she tried to commit suicide twice in these dark sites. If Assange is extradited, he won’t be flying back on a British Airways flight. He’ll have a hood over himself and be shackled. He will enter the underworld that is so well known to many Muslims around the globe.
    I want to talk about the concerted effort to smear Assange. There was a leaked document that was prepared by the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessment Branch [of the U.S. Defense Department] on March 8, 2008. It called on the U.S. to build a campaign to eradicate “the feeling of trust of WikiLeaks and their center of gravity” and to destroy Assange’s reputation. The press became the echo chamber for this.
    VP: You’ve spent a lot of time at the New York Times. If you and I were sitting there in that beautiful office in New York City, a gorgeous office, and we were somehow in an editorial board meeting, I would imagine that you and I would insist that today’s editorial—that is the day after Julian Assange has been picked up from the Ecuadorian Embassy—today’s editorial must lead with that quotation. We must show, as a media house, that there has been an attempt—a conspiracy even—an attempt to create distrust in an organization that has revealed this important—which we also reported on!
    CH: Right. And they destroyed [WikiLeaks] financially by blocking its Paypal accounts and everything else. WikiLeaks and Assange, at a certain moment, were heroes, even within the mainstream press. We must not forget The New York Times and Washington Post, Der Spiegel, Le Monde—they all published this material.
    VP: That’s very important! They published this material. At the time they understood the value of the material, even though they hedged and they this and that, nonetheless they published the material. They have amnesia about their own sense of trust of that organization. That’s should be something we remind them of. You utilized the material when it was convenient to you. When the United States government said smear their reputation, destroy them you joined the bandwagon.
    CH: Coming out of the New York Times culture, what Assange did was shame them into telling the truth. This is what the alternative media traditionally does to the commercial media. They realized that for WikiLeaks to put this material out and for them to ignore it, would essentially destroy their credibility, although they’ve done a pretty good job of destroying their own credibility as a newspaper organization. I want to close by talking about—and this is from Julian Assange’s book, “Cypherpunks”—where he talks about what he calls “The layers of indirection and obfuscation about what is happening.” He said: “These layers give the deniability to censorship” and he says:
    “You can think about censorship as a pyramid. This pyramid only has its tip sticking out of the sand and that is by intention. The tip is public libel suits, murders of journalists, cameras being snatched by the military and so on, publicly declared censorship. But that is the smallest component. Under the tip, the next layer is all those people who don’t want to be at the tip, who engage in self-censorship, to not end up there.”
    CH: I covered the Middle East. That is almost every reporter who covers, in particular, the Palestinians. Then:
    “The next layer is all the forms of economic inducement or patronage, inducement that are given to people to write about one thing or another. The next layer down is raw economy, what it is economic to write about even if you don’t include the economic factors from higher up on the pyramid. The next layer is the prejudice of readers, who only have a certain amount of education so therefore on one hand they’re easy to manipulate with false information and on the other hand, you can’t tell them something sophisticated that is true. The last layer is distribution; for example some people just don’t have access to information in a particular language. So that is the censorship pyramid—what The Guardian is doing with its Cablegate redactions is the second layer.”
    CH: He’s right. You have all these forces, many of which that are subterranean, that essentially block [the truth]. I used to say that the unofficial motto of The New York Times is do not significantly alienate those on whom we depend on access and money. As a reporter you might be able to alienate them once in a while, but if you consistently alienate them you become a management problem, as I did.
    VP: You become a management problem. You also are portrayed as unhinged. This is a very important. Why are there so many conspiracy theories in the 20th and 21st century? Secrecy breeds that. The secrecy state, or the culture of secrecy of governments, sends people into the sewers looking for explanations. You want people to have a rational, reasonable understanding—tell us what’s happening. When you actually look at what’s happening, it doesn’t look very reasonable and rational. It looks very ugly.
    CH: Thanks, Vijay. That was the historian Vijay Prashad.
    We must now all resist. We must in every way possible put pressure on the British government to halt the judicial lynching of Julian Assange. If Assange is extradited and tried, it will create a legal precedent that will terminate the ability of the press, which Trump repeatedly has called “the enemy of the people,” to hold power accountable. The crimes of war and finance, the persecution of dissidents, minorities and immigrants, the pillaging by corporations of the nation and the ecosystem, and the ruthless impoverishment of working men and women to swell the bank accounts of the rich, and consolidate the global oligarch’s total grip on power, will not only expand, but will no longer be part of public debate. First Assange. Then us.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by James Lateer View Post
    Is there any truth to the theory that Assange is just a phony outlet for planted intelligence agency "information" (disinformation)?

    That was the role of Lyndon LaRouche from the 1970's to the 1980's. It just seems improbable that Assange could have been living the exotic, one-of-a-kind, never-before-seen extreme lifestyle just based entirely on his own personal initiative.

    All of this Assange "circus" IMHO smacks of a stage-managed operation which had to have been employing resources beyond the means of this ostensibly penniless, homeless pathetic individual.

    In other words, have we been looking at, not Assange, but Assange, Incorporated?

    James Lateer
    I see no evidence that J. Assange has led an 'extreme' lifestyle. It has not been the norm, but many hacker types and others live less-than-humdrum lives. Wikileaks was never a one man operation and I personally know a few persons who were at one time associated with it - and I suspect them not at all of anything other than the desire to expose government and corporate and uber-rich wrongdoing if it was provided to them via the Wikileaks model. The sexual investigations in Sweden were a set up I know about, but too complex to detail here. It was a first attempt by US intelligence to 'get Assange', so it is hard for me to believe they are both giving him info or disinfo and then trying to take him down [as they are now]. All that said, Assange may have been used without his knowledge by one or more entities or intelligence agencies. I'm not sure, but there are some indications of this. However, given his model for Wikileaks, he was not soliciting, but accepting and then distributing [usually along with normal media channels] what came their way. I can see countries and political systems his 'leaks' went heavily against; and other countries and political systems that were hardly or not mentioned - some because they are not large or important; others that are large and important and noticably [suspiciously?] absent? I think his seeking refuge in the embassy of Ecuador was out of real fear of the USA - and he was clearly betrayed by the new US-friendly right-wing President. The full story of Assange and Wikileaks, I think, will not come out for a long time - but I don't have the suspicions mentioned above, unless he was used against his own wishes. I'm sure he has his own political views and I can even see what some of them are - but I don't see him as an 'agent' - only as a renegade journalist who will be lucky to not spend the rest of his life in prison...... Read his book or the few books about him and Wikileaks.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  7. #7

    Default Johnstone On the Assange Arrest

    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/04...wikileaks-did/

    Consortium News has launched a new series titled “The Revelations of WikiLeaks”, geared toward helping readers come to a full appreciation of just how much useful information the outlet has made available to the world with its publications. Which is good, because there’s a whole lot of it. Understanding everything that WikiLeaks has done to shine light in areas that powerful people wish to keep dark makes it abundantly clear why powerful people would want to dedicate immense amounts of energy toward sabotaging it.

    What’s even more interesting to me right now, though, is that if you think about it, the completely fraudulent arrest and imprisonment of Julian Assange arguably exposes more malfeasance by government and media powers than than what has been revealed in all WikiLeaks publications combined since its inception. And we can use that as a weapon in waking the world up to the dystopian manipulations of the powerful, in the same way we can use WikiLeaks publications.

    Really, think about it. Thanks to WikiLeaks we know about a military cultural environment in the Iraq war that was toxic enough to give rise to US servicemen merrily gunning down civilians, including two Reuters war correspondents, while whooping and exchanging verbal high-fives. We know that the CIA cultivated a massive cyber-arsenal which enables them to spy through smartphones and smart TVs, remotely hijack vehicles, and forge digital fingerprints on cyber-intrusions to make it look to forensic investigators as though hackers from another nation was responsible, and that they lost control of this arsenal. We know about the DNC’s agenda to undermine Bernie Sanders during the primary in violation of its charter, that Hillary Clinton told a group of Goldman Sachs executives that she understood the need to have “a public position and a private position”, and that Obama’s cabinet was basically selected for him by a Citigroup executive. We know that and a whole lot more, information which mainstream and alternative media reports use to this very day when constructing analyses of what’s going on in the world.



    All of these things are of course hugely significant. But are they anywhere near as significant as the earth-shakingly scandalous revelation that the US government and its allies conspired to imprison a journalist for reporting facts about the powerful? That the governments of America, Ecuador, the UK and Australia all worked in concert to arrange a series of bureaucratic technicalities which all aligned perfectly to create a situation that just so happens to look exactly the same as imprisoning a journalist for telling the truth?

    I personally don’t think so. I think the only thing which keeps this scandalous revelation from registering in the minds of the greater public with the magnitude it deserves is the fact that the mass media doesn’t treat it like the scandal that it so clearly is. If, for example, the mass media were treating this open act of tyranny with the same enthusiasm they treated the Democratic Party emails as they were published drop by drop in the lead-up to the presidential election, or the same enthusiasm they regarded the diplomatic cables or the Collateral Murder video, everyone would be up in arms at the fact that their government was acting in a way that is functionally indistinguishable from what’s done to journalists by the most totalitarian dictatorships in the world.

    And that refusal of the mainstream media to run virtually anything but smear pieces is, in and of itself, a part of why this scandal is so breathtaking in its audacity. The legal precedent that they are attempting to set with the extradition, persecution and prosecution of Julian Assange for everyday acts of journalism will affect every journalist on the planet, working or retired, professional or citizen. This literally endangers the lives and freedom of every single person working in every single one of those outlets, and they are all either ignorantly cheering it on, or too scared to care. The CIA and Pentagon have weaponized public opinion by using the most advanced psychological weapons known to man, and although the main barrier to fighting his persecution is simply the social shame of going against the tribe, it’s effectively turned the press upon itself. The free press is gaslighting itself into total and absolute submission.

    And we can see that this is happening. And we can point to it.

    What I’m getting at with all this is that it’s important to keep in mind that the US-centralized empire has given us information that can be used against it in devastating fashion if we’re clever. Even while Assange is locked behind bars, even while whistleblowers are being intimidated away from whistleblowing and journalists are being intimidated away from publishing leaks, we are being given information that we can circulate and attack the propaganda machine that’s keeping humanity docile and enslaved.

    By locking up Assange, they’ve inadvertently exposed themselves for what they are, and we are now able to point at it for everyone to see. They reached too far out into the light and exposed their true face.

    Never stop using this information to attack the promulgators and beneficiaries of disinformation. Never stop referring to the US and UK as “a government which imprisons journalists for publishing inconvenient facts”. Never stop calling out the hypocrisy when westerners criticize other governments for locking up journalists. Never stop reminding people who pretend to care about the free press when Trump makes mean tweets about a CNN reporter that they are willfully ignoring a threat to the free press that is infinitely greater in this administration’s prosecution of Assange. This is what they are. If anyone denies it, engage them in debate and show everyone why they’re wrong.

    We are still very much in this fight. Whenever they reach into the light to silence the truth, the light shines upon their face and burns them. They reach their arms into the light of truth, and their arms turn to dust. Whenever they try to fight truth head-on, they cannot help but show the world what they really are.

    Never, ever stop reminding everyone of what has undeniably been revealed in the imprisonment of Julian Assange.
    "We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --William J. Casey, D.C.I

    "We will lead every revolution against us." --Theodore Herzl

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