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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Julian Assange should be thanked – not smeared – for Wikileaks’ service to journalism | Middle East Eye

Posted by M. C. Fox on October 29, 2018

https://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/britain-punishing-assange-revelations-about-uk-policy-middle-east-273676961

Mark Curtis

Twelve years ago this month, WikiLeaks began publishing government secrets that the world public might otherwise never have known. What it has revealed about state duplicity, human rights abuses and corruption goes beyond anything published in the world’s “mainstream” media.

After over six months of being cut off from outside world, on 14 October Ecuador has partly restored Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s communications with the outside world from its London embassy where the founder has been living for over six years.

The treatment – real and threatened – meted out to Assange by the US and UK governments contrasts sharply with the service Wikileaks has done their publics in revealing the nature of elite power, as shown in the following snapshot of Wikileaks’ revelations about British foreign policy in the Middle East.

Conniving with the Saudis

Whitehall’s special relationship with Riyadh is exposed in an extraordinary cable from 2013highlighting how Britain conducted secret vote-trading deals with Saudi Arabia to ensure both states were elected to the UN human rights council. Britain initiated the secret negotiations by asking Saudi Arabia for its support.

The Wikileaks releases also shed details on Whitehall’s fawning relationship with Washington. A 2008 cable, for example, shows then shadow foreign secretary William Hague telling the US embassy that the British “want a pro-American regime. We need it. The world needs it.”

A cable the following year shows the lengths to which Whitehall goes to defend the special relationship from public scrutiny. Just as the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War was beginning in 2009, Whitehall promised Washington that it had “put measures in place to protect your interests”…

Also in 2009, then prime minister Gordon Brown raised the prospect of reducing the number of British nuclear-armed Trident submarines from four to three, a policy opposed in Washington. However, Julian Miller, an official in the UK’s Cabinet Office, privately assured US officials that his government “would consult with the US regarding future developments concerning the Trident deterrent to assure there would be ‘no daylight’ between the US and UK”. The idea that British decision-making on Trident is truly independent of the US is undermined by this cable…

Deception over Diego Garcia

Another case of British duplicity concerns Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean, which is now a major US base for intervention in the Middle East. The UK has long fought to prevent Chagos islanders from returning to their homeland after forcibly removing them in the 1960s.

A secret 2009 cable shows that a particular ruse concocted by Whitehall to promote this was the establishment of a “marine reserve” around the islands. A senior Foreign Office official told the US that the “former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos Archipelago were a marine reserve”.

A week before the “marine reserve” proposal was made to the US in May 2009, then UK foreign secretary David Miliband was also conniving with the US, apparently to deceive the public. A cable revealsMiliband helping the US to sidestep a ban on cluster bombs and keep the weapons at US bases on UK soil, despite Britain signing the international treaty banning the weapons the previous year.

Miliband approved a loophole created by diplomats to allow US cluster bombs to remain on UK soil and was part of discussions on how the loophole would help avert a debate in parliament that could have “complicated or muddied” the issue. Critically, the same cable also revealed that the US was storing cluster munitions on ships based at Diego Garcia.

Spying on the UK

Cables show the US spying on the Foreign Office, collecting information on British ministers. Soon after the appointment of Ivan Lewis as a junior foreign minister in 2009, US officials were briefing the office of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about rumours that he was depressed and had a reputation as a bully, and on “the state of his marriage”.

Washington was also shown to have been spying on the UK mission to the UN, along with other members of the Security Council and the UN Secretary General…

Many journalists and activists who are perfectly aware of the fake news in some Western media outlets, and of the smear campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, are ignoring or even colluding in the more vicious smearing of Assange.

More journalists need to champion the service Wikileaks performs and argue for what is at stake for a free media in the right to expose state secrets.

Be seeing you

truth-goes-to-die

 

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