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Posts Tagged ‘Chelsea Manning’

Chelsea Manning Is Free From Jail, Faces Exorbitant Fines – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on March 13, 2020

“I am certainly not alone in thinking that the grand jury process, which at one time acted as an independent body of citizens along the lines of a civilian police review board, slowly transitioned into the unbridled arm of the police and prosecution in ways that run contrary to the grand jury’s originally intended purposes.”

She pointed out how grand juries were originally independent of the police and were investigations by citizens without a prosecutor. In fact, grand juries were originally a check on government as Manning wrote, they “nullified unjust laws or their unjust application.” She told the judge that only the US and Liberia continue to use grand juries as many western and developed nations have abandoned the process.

“Each person must make the world we want to live in around us where we stand… I object to the use of grand juries as tools to tear apart vulnerable communities. I object to this grand jury in particular as an effort to frighten journalists and publishers, who serve a crucial public good. I have had these values since I was a child, and I’ve had years of confinement to reflect on them. For much of that time, I depended for survival on my values, my decisions, and my conscience. I will not abandon them now.”

https://original.antiwar.com/kevin-b-zeese/2020/03/12/chelsea-manning-is-free-from-jail-faces-exorbitant-fines/

Alexandria – Yesterday, March 12, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia ended the grand jury of Julian Assange and Wikileaks in which Chelsea Manning refused to testify. As a result, US District Court Judge Anthony Trenga ordered the immediate release of Chelsea Manning.

Manning has been incarcerated since May 2019. Judge Trenga had tried to coerce Manning into testifying by imposing a fine for every day she resisted even though she said repeatedly that she would not violate her principles, which include opposition to the secret grand jury system, and would never testify.

A hearing was scheduled this Friday on a motion for release filed in February 2020 by her attorneys. Manning was arguing that her long time in jail had shown she could not be coerced to testify and that her incarceration was a punishment, which is illegal under US law. On Wednesday, her lawyers and Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne reported she attempted suicide in jail. With the end of the grand jury and Manning’s release, the Friday hearing was canceled.

In May 2019, Manning wrote a letter to Judge Anthony Trenga, the presiding judge regarding her incarceration. The letter examined the history of grand juries and how they no longer serve their original purpose. Manning wrote:

“I am certainly not alone in thinking that the grand jury process, which at one time acted as an independent body of citizens along the lines of a civilian police review board, slowly transitioned into the unbridled arm of the police and prosecution in ways that run contrary to the grand jury’s originally intended purposes.”

She pointed out how grand juries were originally independent of the police and were investigations by citizens without a prosecutor. In fact, grand juries were originally a check on government as Manning wrote, they “nullified unjust laws or their unjust application.” She told the judge that only the US and Liberia continue to use grand juries as many western and developed nations have abandoned the process.

After providing the judge with a “nuanced understanding of my conscientious objection to the grand jury” she wrote:

“Each person must make the world we want to live in around us where we stand… I object to the use of grand juries as tools to tear apart vulnerable communities. I object to this grand jury in particular as an effort to frighten journalists and publishers, who serve a crucial public good. I have had these values since I was a child, and I’ve had years of confinement to reflect on them. For much of that time, I depended for survival on my values, my decisions, and my conscience. I will not abandon them now.”

Manning has once again shown courageous political leadership, standing up to an abusive criminal justice system and exposing the corrupt grand jury process that has often been used for political purposes – from indicting anti-slavery activists to members of the Black Panther Party – and now against the political prisoner, Julian Assange for being an editor and publisher who told the truth about US war crimes, violations of international law and how US foreign policy dominated by corporate interests.

Manning has also shown great bravery in advancing trans rights. While imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, she fought for her right to treatment. She also struggled for her right to be held in the women’s prison in Alexandria. Her openness about being trans has been an inspiration to others. As Lexi McMenamin wrote: “One in six trans Americans – and one in two black trans Americans – have been to prison, according to Lambda Legal. Incarcerated trans people face higher levels of violence, and experience higher rates of rape and sexual assault. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, trans people are ‘ten times as likely to be sexually assaulted by their fellow inmates and five times as likely to be sexually assaulted by staff.’”

The injustice against Manning continues. Manning’s attorneys sought to have the fines imposed by Judge Trenga vacated. Manning is facing more than $256,000 in fines, which have been accumulating at a rate of $1,000 a day. The court left those fines in place.

The incarceration of Manning was a violation of US law as the authority to incarcerate a recalcitrant witness was abused by Judge Trenga. Nils Melzer the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment wrote that Manning’s incarceration violated international law focusing on the prohibition against torture. While we are pleased Manning has been released, she should have not served anytime in jail and the fines against her should be vacated.

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers co-direct Popular Resistance. Kevin Zeese is on the advisory board of the Courage Foundation. This article first appeared as the weekly newsletter of the organization.

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Nullification – It already happens, all the time | We Declare

 

 

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First They Came for Assange… – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on February 27, 2020

As in mid-20th Century Germany, so today, in 2020 America. Only, let me propose a modified version of Niemoller’s quote that’s highly relevant to the mainstream press:

First they came for (that’s right) Antiwar.com WikiLeaks. Then WikiLeaks. Then Max Blumenthal’s The Grayzone…then, well, you know how this ends…

https://original.antiwar.com/Danny_Sjursen/2020/02/26/first-they-came-for-assange/

“WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.”
~
Donald Trump, October 10 2016, Wilkes-Barre, PA

“This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove.”
~ Donald Trump, October 31, 2016 in Warren, MI

Back in the day, not so long ago, The Donald loved him some WikiLeaks. He said so on at least five occasions out on the campaign trail – in Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, and Michigan. That was when WikiLeaks, ostensibly at least, served his purposes by releasing hacked DNC emails that were rather unflattering to his opponent, Hillary Clinton. The MAGA crew must’ve agreed with him regarding the Julian Assange-headed web publication at the time: Trump carried all four battleground states, which propelled him into the White House. He’s had more than three years, now, to acclimate to his new digs and, somewhere along the way, pulled a 180 on Assange, whom his administration now labels “an enemy of the state who must be brought down.” So it is that this week, Assange began the fight – perhaps, quite literally, for his life – in the UK against the Justice Department’s stated intent to extradite and try him in the United States.

A journalist, a publisher, has been labeled by the U.S. Government as an “Enemy of America.” Now that’s dangerous language with scary historical precedent in America and abroad. Recall that the term has been used against “unfriendly” press elements by others: the military junta in Myanmar; Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez; Russia’s Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, President Richard “The press is your enemy” Nixon; and, you know, Cambodia’s Pol Pot, and Soviet Premier Josef Stalin, for starters. In our own history, press suppression, especially in times of war, is as American as apple pie. During World War I, the (still on the books) 1917 Espionage Act was used to wage all-out combat against any and all critical media sources. Sometimes persecution bordered on the Orwellian absurd. For example, in September 1918, even The Nation was banned from the mail for four days by the US Postal Service simply for criticizing the pro-war labor leader Samuel Gompers.

The relatively muted coverage of this press-freedom fight-of-our-times in the mainstream American media is as remarkable as it is disturbing. But it isn’t surprising. Besides a few brief spikes in coverage – often focused as much on her transgender status or that blatantly accused her of treason – the same can be said of Assange’s alleged co-conspirator, former army intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning. Consider Manning, herself a longtime – and still unfree – political prisoner, collateral damage in the ongoing Assange martyrdom saga.

For her role in passing the documents in question to WikiLeaks, the Obama Justice Department slapped her with a 35-year federal prison sentence – one of the most draconian ever handed down for a leaker. She served seven years before receiving an eleventh-hour communtation (but, notably, not a full pardon) from President Obama. Now, Chelsea, in an admirable, high-risk, display of courage, has refused to testify against Assange. That show of integrity landed her back in jail a time or two, where, notably, she remains at the time of writing.

For his “sins,” Assange likely faces even harsher punishment if extradited to and – almost invariably, in this political climate – convicted in a US court. He could serve 75 years if found guilty on the 18 counts – most under the archaic Espionage Act – he’s been charged with. That’s a long bid. It seems the US Government has lost all sense of scale, maybe even sanity. For example, the just nine convicted perpetrators of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq – a global scandal that, empirically, created far more “terrorists, and thus contributed to more American deaths than anything Assange has been accused of – were all enlisted soldiers, none higher ranking than a staff sergeant. The top prison sentence meted out was ten years; the rest ranged from 0-3 years. Sure, a few officers received verbal or written reprimands – slap-on-the-wrist admonishments, these – and one female brigadier general was relieved and reduced one rank. As for Assange, though, 75 years is warranted? Give me a break.

Some of the more remarkable revelations, so far, from this week’s hearing have involved the totally believable (given the agency’s sordid history) Assange-defense-team claims of US Intelligence (read: CIA) threats and shenanigans against the defendant. These include allegations that U.S.-induced Spanish security company employees conducted surveillance on Assange whilst he was in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and, potentially even discussed kidnapping or poisoning him. It all reads like a bad John le Carre spy novel – which is precisely why I wouldn’t rule it out.

The case against Assange, meanwhile is rather weak. It hinges on vague, furtive, and unproven allegations, according to the administration lawyers, that he “knowingly placed lives at risk,” by publishing the leaked files. Specifically, James Lewis, acting for US authorities, told the court that: “The US is aware of sources, whose redacted names and other identifying information was contained in classified documents published by WikiLeaks, who subsequently disappeared.” Sounds ominous, huh? Well, wait for it – Lewis then continued with the stunning admission: “although the US can’t prove at this point that their disappearance was the result of being outed by WikiLeaks.”

Sounds like hearsay. Isn’t that inadmissible in court? And the US government can’t prove that WikiLeaks had these detrimental effects? Call me crazy, but I was under the silly impression that “proof” was the name of the game in the legal system. Bottom line, even after the egregious record of Intelligence community lies peddled during the run-up to the Iraq War and regarding the CIA torture program (for starters), the American people are expected to just blindly trust these clowns. Count me out.

Furthermore, British law states that extradition may not move forward if the requesting nation’s criminal charges are “politically-motivated,” which, the defense team asserts the case against Assange is. Of course, it is patently politically-motivated. However much the administration’s lawyers deny it – “the lady doth protest too much?” – Assange’s real crime, from the perspective of the government, was to embarrass them by exposing widespread US war crimes and concomitant coverups. All information, mind you, that We the People had a right to know.

What is at stake here, absent any hyperbole, is the very existence of a free press. And, in today’s increasingly globalized information sphere, it matters not, really, that Julian Assange happens to be an Australian national. See, in an even aspirational free society, the benefit of the doubt in such cases ought go to the publisher, the journalist, the writer. As Thomas Jefferson wrote the very year the current US Constitution was crafted, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Given such “radical” – especially for the 18th century – sentiment, can there be much doubt where our third president would (at least theoretically) fall on the Assange issue?

These complaints, mind you, aren’t simply a low-hanging-fruit Trump-swipe either. Saint Obama set the precedent and foundations of press censorship that Trump is now running with. Recall that Obama went after more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all other previous presidents (over the course of a century) combined. Furthermore, his wanna-be, aspirational successor, Joe Biden is on the record calling Assange a “high-tech terrorist.” So, if Obama can be said to have set up the pins, Trump is poised to roll a strike. The Donald has, however, taken matters a dangerous step further that could, in the near future, pose an existential threat to the very existence of permissive publication of sensitive information.

This all sets a rather dangerous precedent. Leakers have long been prosecuted and punished by the US Government. Publishers? Not so often. That’s a line few administrations will cross. Even Espionage Act-enthusiast Obama flinched, and decided not to charge Assange. Regarding the Obama Justice Department’s thinking the Washington Post reported, in 2013, that:

Justice officials said they looked hard at Assange but realized that they have what they described as a “New York Times problem.” If the Justice Department indicted Assange, it would also have to prosecute the New York Times and other news organizations and writers who published classified material, including The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

So, mainstream American publishers – of newspapers, online sites, and even cable news producers – really ought to brush up on their Evelyn Beatrice Hall; you know her oft-quoted, but rarely practiced profession: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Ultimately, it matters not whether one likes Assange, shares his worldview, or even approves of his tactics. The name of the civil libertarian game must instead be a press-sovereignty solidarity that transcends the person of Mr. Assange. Love him or hate him; like WikiLeaks or loathe it; the most powerful American press organizations must close ranks with Assange. Almost assuredly, the Washington Post, New York Times, and the rest of their establishment ilk will not. Mark my words: they will rue the day they didn’t.

For when Trump – or whatever potential monster that follows him – pulls out the legal precedent from a past Assange conviction to prosecute, say, the New York Times, when that paper someday publishes something that embarrasses or angers the governing administration, who will be there to speak up for the nation’s “newspaper of record?” Reflecting on Nazi state oppression and his conclusion that common Germans’ complicity made it possible, Martin Niemoller famously wrote about how:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

As in mid-20th Century Germany, so today, in 2020 America. Only, let me propose a modified version of Niemoller’s quote that’s highly relevant to the mainstream press:

First they came for (that’s right) Antiwar.com WikiLeaks. Then WikiLeaks. Then Max Blumenthal’s The Grayzone…then, well, you know how this ends…

Be seeing you

Martin Niemoller quote: There was no one left to speak for me

 

 

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been BLOCKED from seeing key evidence from US authorities who want to extradite him for ‘leaking sensitive military data’, court hears

Posted by M. C. on December 13, 2019

Belmarsh=British Guantanamo? Maybe.

UK = US sock puppet? Definitely.

Julian is dead. We just don’t know it yet.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7788673/WikiLeaks-founder-Julian-Assange-BLOCKED-seeing-key-evidence-authorities.html

By Terri-ann Williams For Mailonline

 

  • Julian Assange faces accusations of leaking United States’ military material
  • The 48-year-old appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court over video-link
  • Currently being held at HMP Belmarsh, one of the UK’s most notorious prisons

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is yet to be shown key evidence in the case brought against him by the American authorities, his extradition hearing was told today.

The 48-year-old, faces accusations of leaking sensitive United States’ military material between January and May 2010.

The Australian national appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court over video-link from HMP Belmarsh white haired and clean shaven with a grey jumper and spoke to confirm his identity.

The Americans want to extradite him to US soil so he can be prosecuted for conspiring with army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning for leaking classified documents…

Be seeing you

Julian Assange pictured as he is led out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in handcuffs following his sensational arrest by British police earlier this year

 

 

 

 

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Advancing Propaganda For Evil Agendas Is The Same As Perpetrating Them Yourself – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on November 23, 2019

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/11/22/advancing-propaganda-for-evil-agendas-is-the-same-as-perpetrating-them-yourself/

The Guardian has published an editorial titled “The Guardian view on extraditing Julian Assange: don’t do it”, subtitled “The US case against the WikiLeaks founder is an assault on press freedom and the public’s right to know”. The publication’s editorial board argues that since the Swedish investigation has once again been dropped, the time is now to oppose US extradition for the WikiLeaks founder.

“Sweden’s decision to drop an investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange has both illuminated the situation of the WikiLeaks founder and made it more pressing,” the editorial board writes.

Oh okay, now the issue is illuminated and pressing. Not two months ago, when Assange’s ridiculous bail sentence ended and he was still kept in prison explicitly and exclusively because of the US extradition request. Not six months ago, when the US government slammed Assange with 17 charges under the Espionage Act for publishing the Chelsea Manning leaks. Not seven months ago, when Assange was forcibly pried from the Ecuadorian embassy and slapped with the US extradition request. Not any time between his April arrest and his taking political asylum seven years ago, which the Ecuadorian government explicitly granted him because it believed there was a credible threat of US extradition. Not nine years ago when WikiLeaks was warning that the US government was scheming to extradite Assange and prosecute him under the Espionage Act.

Nope, no, any of those times would have been far too early for The Guardian to begin opposing US extradition for Assange with any degree of lucidity. They had to wait until Assange was already locked up in Belmarsh Prison and limping into extradition hearings supervised by looming US government officials. They had to wait until years and years of virulent mass media smear campaigns had killed off public support for Assange so he could be extradited with little or no grassroots backlash. And they had to wait until they themselves had finished participating in those smear campaigns.

This is after all the same Guardian which published the transparently ridiculous and completely invalidated report that Trump lackey Paul Manafort had met secretly with Assange at the embassy, not once but multiple times. Not one shred of evidence has ever been produced to substantiate this claim despite the embassy being one of the most heavily surveilled buildings on the planet at the time, and the Robert Mueller investigation, whose expansive scope would obviously have included such meetings, reported absolutely nothing to corroborate it. It was a bogus story which all accused parties have forcefully denied.

This is the same Guardian which ran an article last year titled “The only barrier to Julian Assange leaving Ecuador’s embassy is pride”, arguing that Assange looked ridiculous for remaining in the embassy because “The WikiLeaks founder is unlikely to face prosecution in the US”. The article was authored by the odious James Ball, who deleted a tweet not long ago complaining about the existence of UN special rapporteurs after one of them concluded that Assange is a victim of psychological torture. Ball’s article begins, “According to Debrett’s, the arbiters of etiquette since 1769: ‘Visitors, like fish, stink in three days.’ Given this, it’s difficult to imagine what Ecuador’s London embassy smells like, more than five-and-a-half years after Julian Assange moved himself into the confines of the small flat in Knightsbridge, just across the road from Harrods.”

This is the same Guardian which published an article titled “Definition of paranoia: supporters of Julian Assange”, arguing that Assange defenders are crazy conspiracy theorists for believing the US would try to extradite Assange because “Britain has a notoriously lax extradition treaty with the United States”, because “why would they bother to imprison him when he is making such a good job of discrediting himself?”, and “because there is no extradition request.”

This is the same Guardian which published a ludicrous report about Assange potentially receiving documents as part of a strange Nigel Farage/Donald Trump/Russia conspiracy, a claim based primarily on vague analysis by a single anonymous source described as a “highly placed contact with links to US intelligence”. The same Guardian which just flushed standard journalistic protocol down the toilet by reporting on Assange’s “ties to the Kremlin” (not a thing) without even bothering to use the word “alleged”, not once, but twice. The same Guardian which has been advancing many more virulent smears as documented in this article by The Canary titled “Guilty by innuendo: the Guardian campaign against Julian Assange that breaks all the rules”.

You can see, then, how ridiculous it is for an outlet like The Guardian to now attempt to wash its hands of Assange’s plight with a self-righteous denunciation of the Trump administration’s extradition request from its editorial board. This outlet has actively and forcefully paved the road to the situation in which Assange now finds himself by manufacturing consent for an agenda which the public would otherwise have found appalling and ferociously objectionable. Guardian editors don’t get to pretend that they are in some way separate from what’s being done to Assange. They created what’s being done to Assange.

You see this dynamic at play all too often from outlets, organizations and individuals who portray themselves as liberal, progressive, or in some way oppositional to authoritarianism. They happily advance propaganda narratives against governments and individuals targeted by establishment power structures, whether that’s Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, Assad, Maduro, Morales, Assange or whomever, but when it comes time for that establishment to actually implement the evil agenda it’s been pushing for, they wash their hands of it and decry what’s being done as though they’ve always opposed it.

But they haven’t opposed it. They’ve actively facilitated it. If you help promote smears and propaganda against a target of the empire, then you’re just as culpable for what happens to that target as the empire itself. Because you actively participated in making it happen.

The deployment of a bomb or missile doesn’t begin when a pilot pushes a button, it begins when propaganda narratives used to promote those operations start circulating in public attention. If you help circulate war propaganda, you’re as complicit as the one who pushes the button. The imprisonment of a journalist for exposing US war crimes doesn’t begin when the Trump administration extradites him to America, it begins when propagandistic smear campaigns begin circulating to kill public opposition to his imprisonment. If you helped promote that smear campaign, you’re just as responsible for what happens to him as the goon squad in Trump’s Department of Justice.

Before they launch missiles, they launch narratives. Before they drop bombs, they drop ideas. Before they invade, they propagandize. Before the killing, there is manipulation. Narrative control is the front line of all imperialist agendas, and it is therefore the front line of all anti-imperialist efforts. When you forcefully oppose these agendas, that matters, because you’re keeping the public from being propagandized into consenting to them. When you forcefully facilitate those agendas, that matters, because you’re actively paving the way for them.

Claiming you oppose an imperialist agenda while helping to advance its propaganda and smear campaigns in any way is a nonsensical and contradictory position. You cannot facilitate imperialism and simultaneously claim to oppose it.

They work so hard to manufacture our consent because they need that consent. If they operate without the consent of the governed, the public will quickly lose trust in their institutions, and at that point it’s not long before revolution begins to simmer. So don’t give them your consent. And for God’s sake don’t do anything that helps manufacture it in others.

Words matter. Work with them responsibly.

_________________________________________

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The Rutherford Institute :: A New Kind of Tyranny: The Global State’s War on Those Who Speak Truth to Power | By John W. Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on November 6, 2019

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/a_new_kind_of_tyranny_the_global_states_war_on_those_who_speak_truth_to_power

By John W. Whitehead

“What happens to Julian Assange and to Chelsea Manning is meant to intimidate us, to frighten us into silence. By defending Julian Assange, we defend our most sacred rights. Speak up now or wake up one morning to the silence of a new kind of tyranny. The choice is ours.”—John Pilger, investigative journalist

All of us are in danger.

In an age of prosecutions for thought crimes, pre-crime deterrence programs, and government agencies that operate like organized crime syndicates, there is a new kind of tyranny being imposed on those who dare to expose the crimes of the Deep State, whose reach has gone global.

The Deep State has embarked on a ruthless, take-no-prisoners, all-out assault on truth-tellers.

Activists, journalists and whistleblowers alike are being terrorized, traumatized, tortured and subjected to the fear-inducing, mind-altering, soul-destroying, smash-your-face-in tactics employed by the superpowers-that-be.

Take Julian Assange, for example.

Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks—a website that published secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources—was arrested on April 11, 2019, on charges of helping U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning access and leak more than 700,000 classified military documents that portray the U.S. government and its military as reckless, irresponsible and responsible for thousands of civilian deaths.

Included among the leaked Manning material were the Collateral Murder video (April 2010), the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), the Iraq war logs (October 2010), a quarter of a million diplomatic cables (November 2010), and the Guantánamo files (April 2011).

The Collateral Murder leak included gunsight video footage from two U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters engaged in a series of air-to-ground attacks while air crew laughed at some of the casualties. Among the casualties were two Reuters correspondents who were gunned down after their cameras were mistaken for weapons and a driver who stopped to help one of the journalists. The driver’s two children, who happened to be in the van at the time it was fired upon by U.S. forces, suffered serious injuries.

This is morally wrong.

It shouldn’t matter which nation is responsible for these atrocities: there is no defense for such evil perpetrated in the name of profit margins and war profiteering.

In true Orwellian fashion, however, the government would have us believe that it is Assange and Manning who are the real criminals for daring to expose the war machine’s seedy underbelly…

Federal judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia also fined Manning $500 for every day she remained in custody after 30 days, and $1,000 for every day she remains in custody after 60 days, a chilling—and financially crippling—example of the government’s heavy-handed efforts to weaponize fines and jail terms as a means of forcing dissidents to fall in line.

This is how the police state deals with those who challenge its chokehold on power.

Make no mistake: the government is waging war on journalists and whistleblowers for disclosing information relating to government misconduct that is within the public’s right to know…

Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has not merely continued the Obama Administration’s attack on whistleblowers. It has injected this war on truth-tellers and truth-seekers with steroids and let it loose on the First Amendment.

In May 2019, Trump’s Justice Department issued a sweeping new “superseding” secret indictment of Assange—hinged on the Espionage Act—that empowers the government to determine what counts as legitimate journalism and criminalize the rest, not to mention giving “the government license to criminally punish journalists it does not like, based on antipathy, vague standards, and subjective judgments.”

Noting that the indictment signaled grave dangers for freedom of the press in general, media lawyer Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., warned, “The indictment would criminalize the encouragement of leaks of newsworthy classified information, criminalize the acceptance of such information, and criminalize publication of it.”

Boutrous continues:

[I]t doesn’t matter whether you think Assange is a journalist, or whether WikiLeaks is a news organization. The theory that animates the indictment targets the very essence of journalistic activity: the gathering and dissemination of information that the government wants to keep secret. You don’t have to like Assange or endorse what he and WikiLeaks have done over the years to recognize that this indictment sets an ominous precedent and threatens basic First Amendment values…. With only modest tweaking, the very same theory could be invoked to prosecute journalists for the very same crimes being alleged against Assange, simply for doing their jobs of scrutinizing the government and reporting the news to the American people.

We desperately need greater scrutiny and transparency, not less…

Once again, we find ourselves reliving George Orwell’s 1984, which portrayed in chilling detail how totalitarian governments employ the power of language to manipulate the masses.

In Orwell’s dystopian vision of the future, Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish “thoughtcrimes.”

Much like today’s social media censors and pre-crime police departments, Orwell’s Thought Police serve as the eyes and ears of Big Brother, while the other government agencies peddle in economic affairs (rationing and starvation), law and order (torture and brainwashing), and news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda).

Orwell’s Big Brother relies on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary.

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is “safe” and “accepted” by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry—mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all—our backs are to the walls.

From this point on, we have only two options: go down fighting, or capitulate and betray our loved ones, our friends and ourselves by insisting that, as a brainwashed Winston Smith does at the end of Orwell’s 1984, yes, 2+2 does equal 5.

As George Orwell recognized, “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Be seeing you

war-is-peace

 

 

 

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The Ukrainegate ‘Whisteblower’ Isn’t a Real Whistleblower – Rolling Stone

Posted by M. C. on October 8, 2019

Americans who’ve blown the whistle over serious offenses by the federal government either spend the rest of their lives overseas, like Edward Snowden, end up in jail, like Chelsea Manning, get arrested and ruined financially, like former NSA official Thomas Drake, have their homes raided by FBI like disabled NSA vet William Binney, or get charged with espionage like ex-CIA exposer-of-torture John Kiriakou. It’s an insult to all of these people, and the suffering they’ve weathered, to frame the ballcarrier in the Beltway’s latest partisan power contest as a whistleblower.

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/political-commentary/whistleblower-ukraine-trump-impeach-cia-spying-895529/

Start with the initial headline, in the story the Washington Post “broke” on September 18th:

TRUMP’S COMMUNICATIONS WITH FOREIGN LEADER ARE PART OF WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT THAT SPURRED STANDOFF BETWEEN SPY CHIEF AND CONGRESS, FORMER OFFICIALS SAY

The unnamed person at the center of this story sure didn’t sound like a whistleblower. Our intelligence community wouldn’t wipe its ass with a real whistleblower.

Americans who’ve blown the whistle over serious offenses by the federal government either spend the rest of their lives overseas, like Edward Snowden, end up in jail, like Chelsea Manning, get arrested and ruined financially, like former NSA official Thomas Drake, have their homes raided by FBI like disabled NSA vet William Binney, or get charged with espionage like ex-CIA exposer-of-torture John Kiriakou. It’s an insult to all of these people, and the suffering they’ve weathered, to frame the ballcarrier in the Beltway’s latest partisan power contest as a whistleblower.

Drake, who was the first to expose the NSA’s secret surveillance program, seems to have fared better than most. He ended up working in an Apple Store, where he ran into Eric Holder, who was shopping for an iPhone.

I’ve met a lot of whistleblowers, in both the public and private sector. Many end up broke, living in hotels, defamed, (often) divorced, and lucky if they have any kind of job. One I knew got turned down for a waitressing job because her previous employer wouldn’t vouch for her. She had little kids.

The common thread in whistleblower stories is loneliness. Typically the employer has direct control over their ability to pursue another job in their profession. Many end up reviled as traitors, thieves, and liars. They often discover after going public that their loved ones have a limited appetite for sharing the ignominy. In virtually all cases, they end up having to start over, both personally and professionally.

With that in mind, let’s look at what we know about the first “whistleblower” in Ukrainegate:

  • He or she is a “CIA officer detailed to the White House”;
  • The account is at best partially based upon the CIA officer’s own experience, made up substantially by information from “more than a half dozen U.S. officials” and the “private accounts” of “my colleagues”;
  • “He or she” was instantly celebrated as a whistleblower by news networks and major newspapers.

That last detail caught the eye of Kiriakou, a former CIA Counterterrorism official who blew the whistle on the agency’s torture program.

“It took me and my lawyers a full year to get [the media] to stop calling me ‘CIA Leaker John Kirakou,” he says. “That’s how long it took for me to be called a whistleblower.”

Kirakou’s crime was talking to ABC News and the New York Times about the CIA’s torture program. For talking to American journalists about the CIA, our federal government charged Kiriakou with espionage. That absurd count was ultimately dropped, but he still did 23 months at FCI Loretto in Western Pennsylvania.

When Kiriakou first saw the “whistleblower complaint,” his immediate reaction was to wonder what kind of “CIA officer” the person in question was. “If you spend a career in the CIA, you see all kinds of subterfuge and lies and crime,” he says. “This person went through a whole career and this is the thing he objects to?”

It’s fair to wonder if this is a one-person effort. Even former CIA official Robert Baer, no friend of Trump, said as much in an early confab on CNN with Brooke Baldwin:…

That might prove to be true, but if we’re talking about the treatment of whistleblowers, Trump has a long way to go before he approaches the brutal record of the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, as well as the cheerleading Washington political establishment. Forgetting this is likely just the first in what will prove to be many deceptions about a hardcore insider political battle whose subtext is a lot more shadowy and ambiguous than news audiences are being led to believe.

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Boy Blowing Whistle And Calling Time Out Stock Footage ...

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Craig Murray – Historian, Former Ambassador, Human Rights Activist – Julian Assange Bail Violation

Posted by M. C. on September 16, 2019

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

by

We are now just one week away from the end of Julian Assange’s uniquely lengthy imprisonment for bail violation. He will receive parole from the rest of that sentence, but will continue to be imprisoned on remand awaiting his hearing on extradition to the USA – a process which could last several years.

At that point, all the excuses for Assange’s imprisonment which so-called leftists and liberals in the UK have hidden behind will evaporate. There are no charges and no active investigation in Sweden, where the “evidence” disintegrated at the first whiff of critical scrutiny. He is no longer imprisoned for “jumping bail”. The sole reason for his incarceration will be the publishing of the Afghan and Iraq war logs leaked by Chelsea Manning, with their evidence of wrongdoing and multiple war crimes.

In imprisoning Assange for bail violation, the UK was in clear defiance of the judgement of the UN Working Group on arbitrary Detention, which stated

Under international law, pre-trial detention must be only imposed in limited instances. Detention during investigations must be even more limited, especially in the absence of any charge. The Swedish investigations have been closed for over 18 months now, and the only ground remaining for Mr. Assange’s continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offense that cannot post facto justify the more than 6 years confinement that he has been subjected to since he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador. Mr. Assange should be able to exercise his right to freedom of movement in an unhindered manner, in accordance with the human rights conventions the UK has ratified,

In repudiating the UNWGAD the UK has undermined an important pillar of international law, and one it had always supported in hundreds of other decisions. The mainstream media has entirely failed to note that the UNWGAD called for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – a source of potentially valuable international pressure on Iran which the UK has made worthless by its own refusal to comply with the UN over the Assange case. Iran simply replies “if you do not respect the UNWGAD then why should we?”

It is in fact a key indication of media/government collusion that the British media, which reports regularly at every pretext on the Zaghari-Ratcliffe case to further its anti-Iranian government agenda, failed to report at all the UNWGAD call for her release – because of the desire to deny the UN body credibility in the case of Julian Assange.

In applying for political asylum, Assange was entering a different and higher legal process which is an internationally recognised right. A very high percentage of dissident political prisoners worldwide are imprisoned on ostensibly unrelated criminal charges with which the authorities fit them up. Many a dissident has been given asylum in these circumstances. Assange did not go into hiding – his whereabouts were extremely well known. The simple characterisation of this as “absconding” by district judge Vanessa Baraitser is a farce of justice – and like the UK’s repudiation of the UNWGAD report, is an attitude that authoritarian regimes will be delighted to repeat towards dissidents worldwide.

Her decision to commit Assange to continuing jail pending his extradition hearing was excessively cruel given the serious health problems he has encountered in Belmarsh…

So now we have a right wing government in the UK with scant concern for democracy, and in particular we have the most far right extremist as Home Secretary of modern times. Assange is now, plainly and without argument, a political prisoner. He is not in jail for bail-jumping. He is not in jail for sexual allegations. He is in jail for publishing official secrets, and for nothing else. The UK now has the world’s most famous political prisoner, and there are no rational grounds to deny that fact. Who will take a stand against authoritarianism and for the freedom to publish?

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Opinion  – Judge’s ruling throws huge spanner into US extradition proceedings against Assange

Posted by M. C. on August 3, 2019

News Flash: Doing what the New York Times and Washington Post do on a regular basis is not a crime.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/52021.htm

By Tom Coburg

August 01, 2019 “Information Clearing House” –  A US judge has ruled that WikiLeaks was fully entitled to publish the Democratic National Congress (DNC) emails, which means no law was broken. The ruling is highly significant as it could impact upon the US extradition proceedings against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as well as the ongoing imprisonment of whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

The ruling

On 30 July, federal judge John G. Koeltl ruled on a case brought against WikiLeaks and other parties in regard to the alleged hacking of DNC emails and concluded that:

If WikiLeaks could be held liable for publishing documents concerning the DNC’s political financial and voter-engagement strategies simply because the DNC labels them ‘secret’ and trade secrets, then so could any newspaper or other media outlet.

In other words, if WikiLeaks is subject to prosecution, then every media outlet in the world would be. The judge argued that:

[T]he First Amendment prevents such liability in the same way it would preclude liability for press outlets that publish materials of public interest despite defects in the way the materials were obtained so long as the disseminator did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place.

Significantly, the judge added that it’s not criminal to solicit or “welcome” stolen documents, and how:

A person is entitled to publish stolen documents that the publisher requested from a source so long as the publisher did not participate in the theft.

Important win

Jen Robinson, a member of Assange’s legal team, described the judge’s ruling as an “important win for free speech”:

And US WikiLeaks lawyer Joshua Dratel said he was:

very gratified with the result, which reaffirms First Amendment principles that apply to journalists across the board, whether they work for large institutions or small independent operations.

Legal precedents

Prior to the ruling, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was party to a briefing to the court.

The ACLU summarised some of the legal precedents listed in the briefing. For example, the First Amendment of the US Constitution is a:

legal principle, articulated most clearly in the 2001 Supreme Court decision Bartnicki v. Vopper, [and] is a bedrock protection for the press. It is particularly important for national security reporters, who often rely on information that was illegally acquired by a source in publishing stories of considerable public concern. Indeed, this principle animated the court’s famous Pentagon Papers decision, protecting the right to publish stories based on a secret government account of official misconduct during the origins of the Vietnam War...

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Assange Indictments Hide the Context of War – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on May 31, 2019

https://original.antiwar.com/robert-koehler/2019/05/30/assange-indictments-hide-the-context-of-war/

The U.S. government protects itself, not democracy. That’s what is most apparent about its 18-count indictment of Julian Assange, not to mention the ongoing imprisonment of Chelsea Manning, for the leaking and release of State Department and military documents and videos a decade ago.

The current reporting on the indictment is mostly about Assange himself: his expulsion from the Ecuadoran embassy in London after he’d been holed up there for seven years; the sexual assault charges against him in Sweden; and, of course, his role as a “tool” of the Russians, along with his flip-flopping appeal to both the political left and right (depending on the nature of the controversy WikiLeaks is stirring up). What a story!

Almost entirely missing is anything about the leaks themselves, except vague references to them, such as this comment by John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security: “This release made our adversaries stronger and more knowledgeable, and the United States less secure.”

These words are remarkable bullshit and have resonance only to the extent that the actual leaked data is missing from the discussion, such as the infamous Apache helicopter video of 11 unarmed men (in US military parlance, “insurgents”) – including a Reuters photographer and his driver – being shot and killed from above on a street in Baghdad, and two children being injured.

The video shows the killings as they occur, with helicopter crewmen talking and laughing between bursts of machine gun fire, as though they’re playing a video game:

“Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards.”

“Nice.”

We see a wounded man crawling for cover, only to be taunted from above: “Come on, buddy. All you gotta do is pick up a weapon.”

A van shows up and some men start picking up the bodies. We listen to the crewmen asking for permission to shoot – “engage” – and finally start firing at the van, in which, it turns out, two children are sitting. When that little detail becomes apparent, a crewman comments: “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids to a battle.”

And when some Bradley tanks arrive at the scene, a crewman comments, laughing: “I think a tank just drove over a body.”…

“While temporary secrecy, or at least privacy, is sometimes necessary in any endeavor, permanent secrecy – secrecy as entitlement – is nothing but dangerous.”

Assange’s indictment is his red badge of courage. We can’t depend on large institutions to stand up for democracy. The larger the institution, the more absorbed it is likely to be in its own preservation and the success of its agenda. Democracy requires people outside the circle of power, both governmental and corporate, to maintain an adversarial relationship with power and endlessly dig for its secrets. This is called journalism.

Demers, justifying the government’s indictment, paid lip service to the sacredness of journalism, explaining: “The department takes seriously the role of journalists in our democracy, and we thank you for it. It is not and never has been the department’s policy to target them for reporting. But Julian Assange is no journalist.”

There you have it. What better proof could you ask for that he is a journalist, and that the secrets he has ripped out of hiding require serious public scrutiny?

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Lee Camp: 18 Ways Julian Assange Changed the World

Posted by M. C. on May 29, 2019

Nothing published on WikiLeaks has ever been proven untrue. Compare that record to CNN, MSNBC, Fox News or any mainstream outlet.

https://www.mintpressnews.com/lee-camp18-ways-julian-assange-wikileaks-changed-the-world/258790/

By Lee Camp

Julian Assange is a dick. It’s important you understand that.

Assange and WikiLeaks revealed the American military’s war crimes, the American government’s corruption and the American corporate media’s pathetic servile flattery to the power elite. So, if you’re a member of our ruling class, you would view those as textbook examples of dickery.

In a moment I’m going to list all the ways Julian Assange changed the world by being a dick.

In an evolved and fully realized society, the oligarchy would see Assange as a dangerous criminal (which they do), and the average working men and women would view him as justice personified (which they don’t). We would celebrate him even as the mass media told us to hope for his downfall—like a Batman or a Robin Hood or an Ozzy Osbourne (the early years, not the cleaning-dog-turds-off-his-carpet years).

But we are not evolved and this is not Gotham City and average Americans don’t root for the truth. Many Americans cheer for Assange’s imprisonment. They believe the corporate plutocratic talking points and yearn for the days when we no longer have to hear about our country’s crimes against humanity or our bankers’ crimes against the economy. Subconsciously they must believe that a life in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains and know all about it thanks to the exhaustive efforts of an eccentric Australian is worse than one in which we’re tirelessly exploited by rich villains yet know nothing about it.

“Ignorance is bliss” is the meditative mantra of the United States of America…

And Chelsea Manning’s most famous leak is arguably also WikiLeaks’ most famous leak, so it’ll top this list:

1) That would be the notorious Collateral Murder video, showing U.S. air crew gunning down unarmed Iraqi civilians with an enthusiasm that couldn’t be matched by an eight year-old winning a five-foot-tall stuffed animal at the county fair. They murdered between 12 and 18 innocent people, two of them Reuters journalists.

Zero people have been arrested for the collateral murders. Yet Julian Assange has been arrested for revealing them.

2) WikiLeaks brought us the Guantanamo Bay “Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures—showing that many of the prisoners held on the U.S. military detention facility were completely innocent, and that some were hidden from Red Cross officials. (Because when you’re torturing innocent people, you kinda want to do that in peace and quiet, away from prying eyes. It’s very easy to get distracted, and then you lose your place and have to start all over again.)

None of the soldiers torturing innocent people at Gitmo have been arrested for it. Yet Julian Assange has been arrested for revealing it.

3) Not content with revealing only war crimes, WikiLeaks in 2008 came out with the secret bibles of Scientology, which showed that aliens, um, run the world or … aliens are inside all of us or … aliens give us indigestion. I can’t really remember.

But no one has ever been arrested for perpetrating that nutbag cult. Yet Julian Assange has for revealing it.

Many people believe WikiLeaks has unveiled only crimes of the American government, but that’s completely false. The U.S. corporate media doesn’t want average Americans to understand that WikiLeaks has upped the level of transparency around the world. Read the rest of this entry »

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