MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Julian Assange’

Another Handschu Scam?? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 24, 2021

So now we come to Gretchen Whitmer. Apparently there were 18 folks involved in the alleged plot. How many do you suppose were government agents or “informants?” Twelve. Guess which ones were in charge – – –

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/07/l-reichard-white/another-handschu-scam/

By L. Reichard White

What’s a “Handschu Scam” and what, if anything, does it have to do with the alleged terrorist plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, the latest fiasco in the U.S. “Justice” Department’s Julian Assange farce, and the January 6, 2021 D.C. riot, mega-hyped into an “insurrection” to satisfy the gullible?

When government agents infiltrate lawful political organizations, they’re under pressure to come back with information. And what government hearings have revealed time and time again is that they come back initially with no information, with information about lawful activities and then they’re under pressure to generate some business. And they try to entrap people and foment illegal activity. …and the people behind the plot to blow up anything [in the Handschu case] were all government agents. –ACLU’s Donna Lieberman

So how far will that “pressure to generate some business” make them go? Here’s a clue – – –

A 22-year-old Bangladeshi man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City with a fake bomb as part of an elaborate FBI sting. Quazi Nafis pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in February. His case drew claims of government entrapment after the FBI supplied the inert explosives, the van used to carry them, the detonator and even the storage facility where an agent helped Nafis assemble the fake bomb. Man Sentenced to 30 Years for Bid to Attack Federal Reserve with Fake Bomb

As revealed in the Handschu case mentioned by Ms. Lieberman, this government entrapment scam is one of the U.S. law-and-order-industry‘s dirty little secrets.

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L. Reichard White [send him mail] taught physics, designed and built a house, ran for Nevada State Senate, served two terms on the Libertarian National Committee, managed a theater company, etc. For the next few decades, he supported his writing habit by beating casinos at their own games. His hobby, though, is explaining things he wishes someone had explained to him. You can find a few of his other explanations listed here.

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JOHN KIRIAKOU: DOJ Promises Ring Hollow – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on July 12, 2021

While working as a volunteer for WikiLeaks, Thordarson contacted the U.S. embassy in Reykjavik in 2011 to offer himself as an informant, receiving immunity as part of the deal. He then took part in a sting operation against Assange that led then Icelandic Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson to kick the FBI out of the country.

The Icelandic media report said Thordarson had been diagnosed as a clinical sociopath, that he is a convicted serial pedophile, and that he had embezzled more than $50,000 from Wikileaks.

When I received my FOIA documents, I was struck by one in particular. It was a memo from the warden to all prison staff, entitled “Incoming Inmate John Kiriakou.” It opened with huge block letters: CAUTION: INMATE HAS ACCESS TO THE MEDIA!! I was a nobody and the Justice Department was restricting my access to the outside world. What were they so afraid of? What did they think I was going to say?

https://consortiumnews.com/2021/07/10/john-kiriakou-doj-promises-ring-hollow/

By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News

The U.S. government hates Julian Assange. Can we trust the Justice Department to not put him in a SAM unit or to keep him out of an ADX super max prison?

Many of my friends here at Consortium News and elsewhere have written recently about the UK High Court’s decision to allow the U.S. Department of Justice’s appeal of a lower court’s decision against extraditing Julian Assange to go forward.

The Higher Court’s decision is narrow in nature—the court will allow the DOJ to appeal the lower court’s finding that U.S. prisons are dangerous and oppressive—but will not allow the U.S. to appeal any factual findings on Julian’s condition or mental health. Assange faces 175 years in prison in the United States if he is extradited and found guilty of national security crimes related to Chelsea Manning’s revelations to Wikileaks more than a decade ago.

By way of background, the mainstream media in the United States barely touched on the UK ruling. It was a one-day story, and a small one at that, and the editorial line was that the DOJ is working hard to get its man. The ruling, though, wasn’t the real news.

The more important news, which broke just a few days before the court decision, was that the DOJ’s top witness against Julian had granted an interview with an Icelandic newspaper in which he recanted everything he said about Assange.

He admitted he’d lied to the FBI about being instructed by Assange to conduct hacking operations. Everything that Sigudrur “Siggi” Thordarson told the FBI was a lie, and the FBI’s case appears to be falling apart. Indeed, Ed Snowden opined soon after that the case against Assange was “dead.”

While working as a volunteer for WikiLeaks, Thordarson contacted the U.S. embassy in Reykjavik in 2011 to offer himself as an informant, receiving immunity as part of the deal. He then took part in a sting operation against Assange that led then Icelandic Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson to kick the FBI out of the country.

The Icelandic media report said Thordarson had been diagnosed as a clinical sociopath, that he is a convicted serial pedophile, and that he had embezzled more than $50,000 from Wikileaks. Journalists say it’s unclear why Thordarson would have told a reporter about his lies, especially when the FBI had already chosen either to believe him or to pretend that he was telling the truth. It could be that, as a sociopath, he craved the publicity, even if he harbored no regret or remorse about being called out as a liar.

What Justice?

Artist’s view of an ADX Florence cell design. (RicHard-59, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Still, the case against Assange goes on, a mockery of what “justice” is supposed to be. And what is the “justice” that the Justice Department is promising the UK courts? It’s that Assange won’t be subject to incarceration as part of Special Administrative Measures (SAM) or sent to the notorious “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado (ADX), “unless he were to do something subsequent to the offering of these assurances that meets the tests for imposition of SAMs or designation to ADX.”

In other words, if Julian were to speak to a journalist, if he were to look at a guard cockeyed, if he were to speak disrespectfully to an administrator, or if he were even to say something controversial in a private telephone call (which would be monitored, of course) that would be enough to send him to a SAM unit or even to ADX. The Justice Department’s promises ring hollow.

I spent 23 months in a “modified SAM unit” after blowing the whistle on the CIA’s torture program. Six months or so into my sentence, I decided to file a Freedom of Information Act request on myself just to see what it was that the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) had on me. I couldn’t understand why my contact with the outside world was restricted, especially after my sentencing judge ordered that I be sent to a minimum-security work camp. (The BOP arbitrarily sent me to a higher-security prison with no explanation.)

When I received my FOIA documents, I was struck by one in particular. It was a memo from the warden to all prison staff, entitled “Incoming Inmate John Kiriakou.” It opened with huge block letters: CAUTION: INMATE HAS ACCESS TO THE MEDIA!! I was a nobody and the Justice Department was restricting my access to the outside world. What were they so afraid of? What did they think I was going to say?

Now imagine Julian Assange in the same position. He’s known around the world. People want to hear what he has to say. He has millions of supporters. Journalists seek out his advice. His case is political. The U.S. government hates him. Can we trust the Justice Department to not put him in a SAM unit or to keep him out of an ADX?

Not a chance. The fight’s not over, but it’s possible that the end—a win for Assange—is in sight. It’s up to us to keep up the pressure on the White House, the Justice Department, and the mainstream media. We can’t let up.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act—a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

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The Assange Case Isn’t About National Security, It’s About Narrative Control – by Caitlin Johnstone – Caitlin’s Newsletter

Posted by M. C. on July 9, 2021

Leaving aside the fact that the Pentagon already admitted years ago that it could not find a single instance of lives being lost due to the publications for which Assange is currently being prosecuted, this case is not and has never been about national security. This case has always been about narrative control.

https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/the-assange-case-isnt-about-national

Caitlin Johnstone

Julian Assange once said, “The overwhelming majority of information is classified to protect political security, not national security.”

As someone whose life’s work before his imprisonment was combing through documents of an often classified nature, he’d have been in a prime position to know. He’d have seen time and time again how a nation’s citizenry are not under the slightest threat from the secret information in the documents that had been leaked to him from around the world, but that it could damage the reputation of a politician or a government or its military.

As the persecution of the WikiLeaks founder continues to trudge on with the UK government’s granting the Biden administration permission to appeal a declined extradition request, claiming that it can safely imprison Assange without subjecting him to the draconian aspects of America’s prison system which caused the initial dismissal, it’s good to keep in mind that this is being done entirely for the purpose of controlling public access to information that is inconvenient for the powerful.Consortium News @ConsortiumnewsDesperate to Get Assange, US Promises No SAMS & Prison Time in Australia consortiumnews.com/2021/07/07/des…Image

July 8th 202138 Retweets58 Likes

The prosecution of Julian Assange under the Espionage Act is being touted by the US government as a matter of national security; you can’t simply allow journalists to publish classified information about the things its military forces are doing in the nations they occupy, because that could endanger American lives. 

Leaving aside the fact that the Pentagon already admitted years ago that it could not find a single instance of lives being lost due to the publications for which Assange is currently being prosecuted, this case is not and has never been about national security. This case has always been about narrative control.

The US government is not afraid that unauthorized publication of government secrets will lead to Americans being killed, it’s afraid it will lead to their knowing the truth. The powerful understand that narrative control is everything, and that an entire globe-spanning empire depends on keeping the masses from having a lucid perception of what’s really going on in the world. There is an unfathomable amount of power riding on their ability to continue doing this.

Assange isn’t in Belmarsh Prison for doing something wrong, but for doing something right. For trying to give the public information which will help them form a truth-based worldview so that they can make intelligent informed decisions about where they want to collectively steer society together. Because the oligarchic empire depends on the ability to manipulate the way people think, act and vote to benefit the powerful, this was like handing someone who’s being groomed by a sexual predator a guidebook of all of the psychological tactics that are being used.

This good deed could not go unpunished.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/9lZQAyK_86A?rel=0&autoplay=0&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=0

Nothing WikiLeaks published endangered the American people, it endangered a globe-spanning empire’s ability to control our understanding of what’s happening in the world. This was a most egregious offense as far as our rulers are concerned, and it could not be allowed to stand. 

So an example is being made. In less polite times Assange would have been tortured and drawn and quartered in the town square while the king looked on sipping from a goblet of mead. In the days of polite liberal democracy our rulers must remain hidden, and they must publicly torture dissidents to death in the name of national security concerns.

Beneath all the spin and excuses, this is all being done to show everyone what happens to you if you reveal embarrassing truths about the most powerful people on earth. If you compromise their political security. It’s telling the world, “If you ever try to interfere in our control over the dominant narratives, this is what we will do to you.” 

And, whether we fully understand what’s really happening or not, that’s the message that is being ingested here. Journalists who find themselves in a position to publish such things going forward will find themselves thinking thoughts about what happened to Julian Assange.Don’t Extradite Assange @DEAcampaignBREAKING: Julian Assange’s fiancée @StellaMoris1 gives powerful statement outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. “This case is the most vicious attack on global press freedom in history.” #AssangeCase #FreeAssange July 7th 20211,278 Retweets2,442 Likes

This is why it’s so important that they don’t win this case. We cannot allow ourselves to be cowed away from the truth in this way, or else we’re flying blind. We’re unable to obtain information which will help us steer society in a truth-based direction.

The Assange case receives so much attention not because of interest in one man’s fate, but because of interest in everyone’s fate. If humanity is ever to turn away from its self-destructive patterns and create a healthy world, it will necessarily need to do so guided by the light of truth and transparency. As long as the powerful are able to keep us confused and deluded using propaganda and government secrecy, such a world will never come into being.

___________________________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here

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The Horrifying Rise Of Total Mass Media Blackouts On Inconvenient News Stories – by Caitlin Johnstone – Caitlin’s Newsletter

Posted by M. C. on July 5, 2021

What’s being communicated to whistleblowers and journalists in these blackouts is, don’t bother. It won’t make any difference, because no one will ever see what you reveal.

In late 2019 the leak outlet Assange founded was publishing multiple documents from whistleblowers in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) revealing that the organisation’s leadership actively tampered in the investigation into an alleged chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria in 2018 to support the US government narrative on the allegation, yet the mass media wouldn’t touch it. A Newsweek reporter resigned from his position during this scandalous blackout and published the emails of his editors forbidding him from covering the story on the grounds that no other major outlet had reported on it.

https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/the-horrifying-rise-of-total-mass

Caitlin Johnstone

Two different media watchdog outlets, Media Lens and Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), have published articles on the complete blackout in mainstream news institutions on the revelation by Icelandic newspaper Stundin that a US superseding indictment in the case against Julian Assange was based on false testimony from diagnosed sociopath and convicted child molester Sigurdur Thordarson.

FAIR’s Alan MacLeod writes that “as of Friday, July 2, there has been literally zero coverage of it in corporate media; not one word in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC News, Fox News or NPR.”

“A search online for either ‘Assange’ or ‘Thordarson’ will elicit zero relevant articles from establishment sources, either US or elsewhere in the Anglosphere, even in tech-focused platforms like the Verge, Wired or Gizmodo,” MacLeod adds.FAIR @FAIRmediawatchKey Assange Witness Recants—With Zero Corporate Media Coverage Key Assange Witness Recants—With Zero Corporate Media Coverage – FAIRA key witness against Julian Assange has recanted his testimony, but this blow to the US case has received zero media coverage.fair.org

July 2nd 2021239 Retweets339 Likes

“We have not found a single report by any ‘serious’ UK broadcaster or newspaper,” says the report by Media Lens. “But in a sane world, Stundin’s revelations about a key Assange witness – that Thordarson lied in exchange for immunity from prosecution – would have been headline news everywhere, with extensive media coverage on BBC News at Six and Ten, ITV News, Channel 4 News, front-page stories in the Times, Telegraph, the Guardian and more.”

“For those who still believe the media provides news, please read this,” tweeted Australian journalist John Pilger regarding the Media Lens report. “Having led the persecution of Julian Assange, the ‘free press’ is uniformly silent on sensational news that the case against Assange has collapsed. Shame on my fellow journalists.”

As we discussed the other day, this weird, creepy media blackout has parallels with another total blackout on a different major news story which also involved WikiLeaks. In late 2019 the leak outlet Assange founded was publishing multiple documents from whistleblowers in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) revealing that the organisation’s leadership actively tampered in the investigation into an alleged chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria in 2018 to support the US government narrative on the allegation, yet the mass media wouldn’t touch it. A Newsweek reporter resigned from his position during this scandalous blackout and published the emails of his editors forbidding him from covering the story on the grounds that no other major outlet had reported on it.

Make no mistake, this is most certainly a new phenomenon. If you don’t believe me, contrast the blackout on these stories with the mass media coverage on WikiLeaks revelations a few short years earlier. The press eagerly lapped up the 2016 publications of Democratic Party emails and actively collaborated with WikiLeaks in the publication of the Chelsea Manning leaks in 2010. Even the more recent Vault 7 leaks published in 2017 received plenty of media coverage.

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The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here

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Key Witness in US Case Against Assange Changes His Story – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on June 28, 2021

https://consortiumnews.com/2021/06/27/key-witness-in-us-case-against-assange-changes-his-story/

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

An FBI informant upon whose information the United States based aspects of an indictment against imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has now admitted that he fabricated the evidence. 

Sigudur “Sigi” Ingi Thordarson has told an Icelandic publication in an article that appeared on Saturday that he made up the allegation that Assange asked him to hack a government computer. That testimony played a key part in the indictment against Assange for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. 

Thordarson, 28, is referred to as “Teenager” in the part of the indictment that focuses on events in Iceland, where Assange was working in 2010.  The indictment alleges that, “In early 2010, ASSANGE asked Teenager to commit computer intrusions and steal additional information, including audio recordings of phone conversations between high-ranking officials of the government of NATO Country-I, [Iceland] including members of the Parliament of NATO Country-I.” 

Thordarson has now told the publication Stundin that this is a lie. The publication reported:

“In fact, Thordarson now admits to Stundin that Assange never asked him to hack or access phone recordings of MPs. His new claim is that he had in fact received some files from a third party who claimed to have recorded MPs and had offered to share them with Assange without having any idea what they actually contained. He claims he never checked the contents of the files or even if they contained audio recordings as his third party source suggested. He further admits the claim, that Assange had instructed or asked him to access computers in order to find any such recordings, is false.”

Thordarson’s testimony is contained in a superseding indictment filed by the U.S. Justice Department, which aimed to bolster the conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge against Assange, carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The indictment also charges Assange under the Espionage Act for unauthorized possession and dissemination of defense information, which could add an additional 170 years in prison. 

More ‘Teenager’ Fabrications

The indictment against Assange alleges that “ASSANGE and Teenager failed in their joint attempt to decrypt a file stolen from a NATO Country-1 bank.”  Stundin reports:

“Thordarson admits to Stundin that this actually refers to a well publicised event in which an encrypted file was leaked from an Icelandic bank and assumed to contain information about defaulted loans provided by the Icelandic Landsbanki. The bank went under in the fall of 2008, along with almost all other financial institutions in Iceland, and plunged the country into a severe economic crisis. The file was at this time, in summer of 2010, shared by many online who attempted to decrypt it for the public interest purpose of revealing what precipitated the financial crisis. Nothing supports the claim that this file was even ‘stolen’ per se, as it was assumed to have been distributed by whistleblowers from inside the failed bank.”

The indictment alleges that, “In early 2010; a source provided ASSANGE with credentials to gain unauthorized access into a website that was used by the government of NATO Country-I to track the location of police and first responder vehicles, and agreed that ASSANGE should use those credentials to gain unauthorized access to the website.” 

But Thordarson told Stundin “he had been given this access as a matter of routine due to his work as a first responder while volunteering for a search and rescue team. He also says Assange never asked for any such access.”

See the rest here

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He began his professional career as a stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe .

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Taking UMBRAGE – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on June 19, 2021

According to Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange,

“The [CIA] technology is designed to be unaccountable, it’s designed to be untraceable, it’s designed to hide itself. It’s designed to throw off people looking to see where there are fingerprints that might demonstrate who authored that technology,” Assange explained…. –Malware expert says ‘fingerprint’ switch shows past attacks blamed on Russia, China are work of CIA

But can we believe Mr. Assange? Afterall, sort of like Daniel Ellsberg with the Pentagon Papers, he published seriously embarrassing classified U.S. war department material.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/06/l-reichard-white/taking-umbrage/

By L. Reichard White

It’s about all those ransomware hacks. You know, the Colonial Pipeline, the attack on Martha’s Vineyard ferry, on Meat Packing Giant JBS, etc.

Everyone immediately knows they all come from Russia, probably from Vladimir Putin himself. Afterall, the U.S. auto-responder says so.

This guy knows – – –

Vladimir Putin, as many people in this chamber know well, wakes up every morning and goes to bed every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy.–House Trump Impeachment Manager Jason Crow

The world’s a small place. Who else would do it?

Well, OK, there are interests in the world which need Russia as the Essential Villain so they can have an excuse for iffy things like backing out of nuclear arms limitation treaties and spending one trillion dollars to modernize their nuclear weapons for example. So the nuclear part of the U.S. MilitaryIndustrialCongressionalComplex might have a motive to blame Russia. In fact, the whole Complex does.

And there is the cheap propaganda factor. We Americans have a tendency to confuse the Communist former USSR with capitalist anti-communist modern Russia. That makes it easy for anyone who needs an excuse for something to get one on the cheap. They just demonizize Russia by resurrecting the Cold War.

And, silly as it sounds, there are some conspiracy theorists who claim these ransomware hacks are done just for the money.

But more serious folks like House Manager Jason Crow — and Uncle Joe Biden — know Putin “the Killer” is behind it all — including the DNC hack, Hillary losing the 2016 election, dropping giant chlorine jugs on Syria from helicopters, not to mention the Skripals, Alexei Navalney, and for that matter, my last WINDOWS Blue Screen of Death.

But, in the case of the Blue Screens of Death and other hacks, how do they know it was Putin?

They look for his fingerprints. No, I’m not making that up. You’ve heard of cyber forensics, right?

But there’s a problem: It’s the CIA’s cyber warfare Remote Devices Branch, UMBRAGE group.

The UMBRAGE group collects cyber fingerprints and then other CIA branches use them to disguise their hacks. Stuxnet for example, when they hacked Iran’s nuclear centrifuges.

See the rest here

L. Reichard White [send him mail] taught physics, designed and built a house, ran for Nevada State Senate, served two terms on the Libertarian National Committee, managed a theater company, etc. For the next few decades, he supported his writing habit by beating casinos at their own games. His hobby, though, is explaining things he wishes someone had explained to him. You can find a few of his other explanations listed here.

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The Media Wants You to Trust Washington Again Now That Trump Is Gone | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on May 13, 2021

In 1965, Arthur Sylvester, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, berated a group of war correspondents in Saigon: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? Stupid.”

https://mises.org/wire/media-wants-you-trust-washington-again-now-trump-gone

James Bovard

Former CNN White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski declared on Twitter last week that American journalists would “never expect … Your own govt to lie to you, repeatedly” and “Your own govt to hide information the public has a right to know.” Kosinski denounced “Trump’s unAmerican regime” and declared, “No one should accept this.” Kosinski’s comments epitomize the “Trump-washing” of American history that explains much of the media’s rage, hypocrisy, and follies in the last five years.

Kosinski’s mindset also helps explain why Americans’ trust in the media has collapsed. Kosinski spent years as CNN’s State Department correspondent, but her inside sources apparently never mentioned to her how she was helping them con the world. As history professor Leo Ribuffo observed in 1998, “Presidents have lied so much to us about foreign policy that they’ve established almost a common-law right to do so.” In 1965, Arthur Sylvester, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, berated a group of war correspondents in Saigon: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? Stupid.”

A few weeks before the 9/11 attacks, New York Times columnist Flora Lewis wrote that “there will probably never be a return to the … collusion with which the media used to treat presidents, and it is just as well.” But the toppling of the World Trade Center towers made the media more craven than at any time since Vietnam. The media’s shameless deference was one of the most underreported stories of the Iraq War. Washington Post reporter Karen DeYoung admitted in 2004: “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.” PBS’s Bill Moyers noted that “of the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC and CBS nightly news, from September 2002 until February 2003, almost all the stories could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department.” Jim Lehrer, the host of government-subsidized PBS’s NewsHour, explained his timidity in 2004: “It would have been difficult to have had debates [about invading Iraq] … you’d have had to have gone against the grain.” Lehrer explained why he and other premier journalists seemed clueless on Iraq: “The word ‘occupation,’ keep in mind, was never mentioned in the run-up to the war. It was ‘liberation’…. So as a consequence, those of us in journalism never even looked at the issue of occupation.” The elite journalists looked only where government told them to look. Former president George W. Bush’s lying America into a ruinous war has not deterred liberal media outlets from rehabilitating him as the “good Republican” in contrast to Trump.

Kowtowing is the high road to media stardom. A leak from the White House, like a touch from a saint, can instantly heal a reporter’s lame career. For many journalists, “access” is more important than truth. In DC, there is more cachet in snaring exclusive interviews with policymakers than in exposing official wrongdoing. Being invited into the inner sanctums is “close enough for government work” to learning what the feds are actually doing. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman observed, “The [George W.] Bush administration has made brilliant use of journalistic careerism. Those who wrote puff pieces about Mr. Bush and those around him have been rewarded with career-boosting access.” Knowing when to be sycophantic is as vital to career advancement as recognizing which fork to use at a Georgetown dinner party.

Is the problem that journalists don’t know history or that journalists don’t know how to read—or both? Kosinski’s assertion that American journalists would “never expect their own govt to hide information the public has a right to know” is astounding on both scores. The federal government is creating trillions of pages of new secrets every year. The more documents bureaucrats classify, the more lies politicians can tell. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has become mostly a mirage. (FOIA is never mentioned in Kosinski’s Twitter feed.) After she was appointed secretary of state, Hillary Clinton effectively exempted herself from FOIA, setting up a private server to handle her official email. The State Department ignored seventeen FOIA requests for her emails prior to 2014. Prior to the 2016 election, the State Department claimed it needed seventy-five years to fully answer a FOIA request on Hillary Clinton’s aides’ emails—thereby protecting Hillary from revelations that could have hurt her with voters.

Perhaps Kosinski is unaware that the Trump-era secrecy she denounced flourished mightily thanks to the beloved Obama administration. In 2011, Obama’s Justice Department formally proposed to permit federal agencies to falsely claim that documents that Americans requested via FOIA did not exist. The Obama White House crippled FOIA responses by adding a new requirement for all federal agencies to permit the White House to review and potentially veto releases of requested FOIA documents that had “White House equities”—i.e., anything that might make the Obama administration look bad. A 2016 congressional report noted that many journalists had abandoned “the FOIA request as a tool because delays and redactions made the request process wholly useless for reporting.” My own experience, stretching back thirty years, is that federal agencies routinely presume that anyone who has publicly criticized their programs forfeits his rights under FOIA.

Kosinski never tweeted about the role of the “state secrets” doctrine in permitting the Justice Department to shroud torture, war crimes, and illegal surveillance. The state secrets doctrine presumes “government knows best, and no one else is entitled to know.” The George W. Bush administration routinely invoked “state secrets” to seek “blanket dismissal of every case challenging the constitutionality of specific, ongoing government programs,” according to a study by the Constitution Project. A federal appeals court slammed the Obama administration’s use of “state secrets” for presuming that “the judiciary should effectively cordon off all secret government actions from judicial scrutiny, immunizing the CIA and its partners from the demands and the limits of the law.” Last month, the Biden administration joined the torture secrecy hall of shame by urging a court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by an American citizen who claimed he had been tortured in Egypt, because the alleged torturer had diplomatic immunity because he works for the International Monetary Fund. (I thought the IMF was only entitled to torture economies.) As the legal fate of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and John Kiriakou illustrates, telling the truth is the only war crime now recognized by the US government.

Kosinski’s assertions exemplify the new media storyline that Americans should respect Washington again now that Biden is president. But Leviathan doesn’t turn over a new leaf merely because a different hand swears an oath of office on the Bible. Lies are political weapons of mass destruction, obliterating all limits on government power. The more powerful government becomes, the more atrocities it commits and the more lies it must tell. But we can’t trust the press corps to expose any abuses that might imperil invitations to fancy receptions.

As I warned in a 2018 op-ed in The Hill, “Perhaps the biggest whopper in Washington nowadays is the assumption that the government and the political class will automatically be trustworthy once the Trump era ends…. There will still be a thousand precedents for federal coverups and duplicity. And neither political party nor the bureaucracy has shown any itch to cease deceiving the American people.” But I doubt that Kosinski read that piece or anything else that some government official didn’t hand her on a silver platter. Author:

James Bovard

James Bovard is the author of ten books, including 2012’s Public Policy Hooligan, and 2006’s Attention Deficit Democracy. He has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Playboy, Washington Post, and many other publications.

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Rough Ridin’ with Biden | Kunstler

Posted by M. C. on January 23, 2021

The threatened impeachment trial will be a marvel of casuistry — a procedure for removing someone from office who is no longer in office — and also for the transparently flimsy charge of “inciting the insurrection” at the capitol. As if to underscore the absurdity of that, Antifa squads rioted in Portland and Seattle on inauguration night. Their banners expressed less-than-jubilant sentiment for the new regime.

https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/rough-ridin-with-biden/

James Howard Kunstler

Speaking of the inauguration, I don’t know what was more peculiar: Lady Gaga sweeping out onto the capitol dais in Hunger Games drag —and I mean but exactly, down to the golden mockingjay pinned above her left breast — or Garth Brooks’s post-hymn dash to the exit as though he just heard the repo man was coming for his Gulfstream jet parked across the Potomac at Reagan National Airport.

The immense ranked American flags deployed silently down the mall in place of annoying US citizens lent a funereal vibe to the proceedings (as in the death of your country), while the thousands of massed national guard troops signaled the paranoia crackling under the surface as Ol’ White Joe Biden stepped forward to commence his party’s punishments against the unWoke (disguised as a call for “unity”). He was surrounded by a virtual wax museum of Deep Staters salivating for the upcoming blood-feast: The Obamas, Hillary and Bill (nodding off), Nancy, Chuck, Mitch… but just who was the Asian chap sitting behind the man-of-the-hour? Secret Service? Or his new minder (courtesy of Uncle Xi)?

As for Mr. Trump, he departed as he had arrived in 2016: stridently contemptuous toward the parasitical oligarchy that finally expelled him like a bladder-stone. The threatened impeachment trial will be a marvel of casuistry — a procedure for removing someone from office who is no longer in office — and also for the transparently flimsy charge of “inciting the insurrection” at the capitol. As if to underscore the absurdity of that, Antifa squads rioted in Portland and Seattle on inauguration night. Their banners expressed less-than-jubilant sentiment for the new regime. The Portland outfit broke windows and spray-painted the city’s Democratic headquarters, faking-out pols who had warned against an uprising of “white supremacists.” Of course, all those arrested would be promptly released without charges — demonstrating just how serious the Wokester officials running those cities really are about criminal anarchy. The grannies swept into the capitol rotunda by Antifa incursionists January 6th won’t be so lucky.

Neither did a much chattered-about military takeover happen during the tension-filled transition hours, though kibitzers on the web insist days later that it remains secretly underway. On his way out, Mr. Trump failed to pardon either Julian Assange or Edward Snowden, a disturbing failure, while he commuted the sentences of a couple of two-bit rap-stars, based on their contributions to advancing human dignity. And whatever Mr. Trump finally rooted out in the way of declassified FBI documents has already disappeared into the DC quicksand.

Much adored as he is for valiantly opposing everything swampish, it might be best now for Mr. Trump to just retire from the political scene and leave the battle to others. He made his point, colorfully and often bravely, considering the astounding bad faith of his adversaries, though he certainly could have articulated the stakes better and with more decorum. He leaves not merely a vacuum but a sucking chest wound of leadership opposing hysterical and tyrannical Wokery. Who will step forward in his absence? Probably someone we haven’t heard from yet. That’s how these things work.

The narrative instructs us that the election is resolved — so shut up about it already. But the election is not resolved. Enterprising gumshoes will be sifting through the evidence, interviewing witnesses, and combing through the thickets of fraud for a long time to come. Crime will be outed, if not prosecuted. Mr. Biden moves under a cloud of illegitimacy. Beyond the lingering election dispute lies all that evidence about the Biden family’s money-grubbing operations in foreign lands, clear down to the money-laundering records. Think that won’t bite eventually?

Nothing else is resolved about the national drift toward the Niagara of woe just downstream of here. Mr. Biden couldn’t have asked for trouble more loudly on Day One than by shutting down deportations of foreign nationals here illegally and signaling an open borders policy. The legions of newly unemployed and financially ruined US small business owners and workers may take a dim view of that. Rent and mortgage moratoria are extended as far ahead as June, as if landlords and mortgage-lenders don’t need to be paid to keep the banking system running. The new president has promised further, and even more severe, Covid-19 lockdowns. The Democratic Party apparently wants to utterly destroy what’s left of the real on-the-ground economy. No incoming US president has gotten off to a more feckless and ill-fated start.

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Julian Assange – Google Is Not What It Seems

Posted by M. C. on January 18, 2021

Caught red-handed last year making petabytes of personal data available to the US intelligence community through the PRISM program, Google nevertheless continues to coast on the goodwill generated by its “don’t be evil” doublespeak. 

https://wikileaks.org/google-is-not-what-it-seems/

by Julian Assange

In this extract from his new book When Google Met Wikileaks, WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange describes the special relationship between Google, Hillary Clinton and the State Department — and what that means for the future of the internet. WikiLeaks readers can obtain a 20 percent discount on the cover price when ordering from the OR Books website by using the coupon code “WIKILEAKS”.

* * * Eric Schmidt is an influential figure, even among the parade of powerful characters with whom I have had to cross paths since I founded WikiLeaks. In mid-May 2011 I was under house arrest in rural Norfolk, about three hours’ drive northeast of London. The crackdown against our work was in full swing and every wasted moment seemed like an eternity. It was hard to get my attention. But when my colleague Joseph Farrell told me the executive chairman of Google wanted to make an appointment with me, I was listening.         In some ways the higher echelons of Google seemed more distant and obscure to me than the halls of Washington. We had been locking horns with senior US officials for years by that point. The mystique had worn off. But the power centers growing up in Silicon Valley were still opaque and I was suddenly conscious of an opportunity to understand and influence what was becoming the most influential company on earth. Schmidt had taken over as CEO of Google in 2001 and built it into an empire.1

        I was intrigued that the mountain would come to Muhammad. But it was not until well after Schmidt and his companions had been and gone that I came to understand who had really visited me.

* * *
        The stated reason for the visit was a book. Schmidt was penning a treatise with Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas, an outfit that describes itself as Google’s in-house “think/do tank.” I knew little else about Cohen at the time. In fact, Cohen had moved to Google from the US State Department in 2010. He had been a fast-talking “Generation Y” ideas man at State under two US administrations, a courtier from the world of policy think tanks and institutes, poached in his early twenties. He became a senior advisor for Secretaries of State Rice and Clinton. At State, on the Policy Planning Staff, Cohen was soon christened “Condi’s party-starter,” channeling buzzwords from Silicon Valley into US policy circles and producing delightful rhetorical concoctions such as “Public Diplomacy 2.0.”2 On his Council on Foreign Relations adjunct staff page he listed his expertise as “terrorism; radicalization; impact of connection technologies on 21st century statecraft; Iran.”3 Director of Google Ideas, and “geopolitical visionary” Jared Cohen shares his vision with US Army recruits in a lecture theatre at West Point Military Academy on 26 Feb 2014 (Instagram by Eric Schmidt)         It was Cohen who, while he was still at the Department of State, was said to have emailed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to delay scheduled maintenance in order to assist the aborted 2009 uprising in Iran.4 His documented love affair with Google began the same year, when he befriended Eric Schmidt as they together surveyed the post-occupation wreckage of Baghdad. Just months later, Schmidt re-created Cohen’s natural habitat within Google itself by engineering a “think/do tank” based in New York and appointing Cohen as its head. Google Ideas was born.        Later that year the two co-wrote a policy piece for the Council on Foreign Relations’ journal Foreign Affairs, praising the reformative potential of Silicon Valley technologies as an instrument of US foreign policy.5 Describing what they called “coalitions of the connected,”6 Schmidt and Cohen claimed that Democratic states that have built coalitions of their militaries have the capacity to do the same with their connection technologies. . . . They offer a new way to exercise the duty to protect citizens around the world [emphasis added].7

        In the same piece they argued that “this technology is overwhelmingly provided by the private sector.” Shortly afterwards, Tunisia. then Egypt, and then the rest of the Middle East, erupted in revolution. The echoes of these events on online social media became a spectacle for Western internet users. The professional commentariat, keen to rationalize uprisings against US-backed dictatorships, branded them “Twitter revolutions.” Suddenly everyone wanted to be at the intersection point between US global power and social media, and Schmidt and Cohen had already staked out the territory. With the working title “The Empire of the Mind,” they began expanding their article to book length, and sought audiences with the big names of global tech and global power as part of their research.

        They said they wanted to interview me. I agreed. A date was set for June. Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, at the “Pulse of Today’s Global Economy” panel talk at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, 26 Sept. 2013 in New York. Eric Schmidt first attended the CGI annual meeting at its opening plenary in 2010. (Photo: Mark Lennihan)

        By the time June came around there was already a lot to talk about. That summer WikiLeaks was still grinding through the release of US diplomatic cables, publishing thousands of them every week. When, seven months earlier, we had first started releasing the cables, Hillary Clinton had denounced the publication as “an attack on the international community” that would “tear at the fabric” of government.

        It was into this ferment that Google projected itself that June, touching down in a London airport and making the long drive up into East Anglia to Norfolk and Beccles. Schmidt arrived first, accompanied by his then partner, Lisa Shields. When he introduced her as a vice president of the Council on Foreign Relations—a US foreign-policy think tank with close ties to the State Department—I thought little more of it. Shields herself was straight out of Camelot, having been spotted by John Kennedy Jr.’s side back in the early 1990s. They sat with me and we exchanged pleasantries. They said they had forgotten their dictaphone, so we used mine. We made an agreement that I would forward them the recording and in exchange they would forward me the transcript, to be corrected for accuracy and clarity. We began. Schmidt plunged in at the deep end, straightaway quizzing me on the organizational and technological underpinnings of WikiLeaks.         Some time later Jared Cohen arrived. With him was Scott Malcomson, introduced as the book’s editor. Three months after the meeting Malcomson would enter the State Department as the lead speechwriter and principal advisor to Susan Rice (then US ambassador to the United Nations, now national security advisor). He had previously served as a senior advisor at the United Nations, and is a longtime member of the Council on Foreign Relations. At the time of writing, he is the director of communications at the International Crisis Group.8

        At this point, the delegation was one part Google, three parts US foreign-policy establishment, but I was still none the wiser. Handshakes out of the way, we got down to business. Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt, photographed in a New York elevator, carrying Henry Kissinger’s new book, “World Order”, 25 Sep 2014

        Schmidt was a good foil. A late-fiftysomething, squint-eyed behind owlish spectacles, managerially dressed—Schmidt’s dour appearance concealed a machinelike analyticity. His questions often skipped to the heart of the matter, betraying a powerful nonverbal structural intelligence. It was the same intellect that had abstracted software-engineering principles to scale Google into a megacorp, ensuring that the corporate infrastructure always met the rate of growth. This was a person who understood how to build and maintain systems: systems of information and systems of people. My world was new to him, but it was also a world of unfolding human processes, scale, and information flows.         For a man of systematic intelligence, Schmidt’s politics—such as I could hear from our discussion—were surprisingly conventional, even banal. He grasped structural relationships quickly, but struggled to verbalize many of them, often shoehorning geopolitical subtleties into Silicon Valley marketese or the ossified State Department microlanguage of his companions.9 He was at his best when he was speaking (perhaps without realizing it) as an engineer, breaking down complexities into their orthogonal components.

        I found Cohen a good listener, but a less interesting thinker, possessed of that relentless conviviality that routinely afflicts career generalists and Rhodes scholars. As you would expect from his foreign-policy background, Cohen had a knowledge of international flash points and conflicts and moved rapidly between them, detailing different scenarios to test my assertions. But it sometimes felt as if he was riffing on orthodoxies in a way that was designed to impress his former colleagues in official Washington. Malcomson, older, was more pensive, his input thoughtful and generous. Shields was quiet for much of the conversation, taking notes, humoring the bigger egos around the table while she got on with the real work.

        As the interviewee I was expected to do most of the talking. I sought to guide them into my worldview. To their credit, I consider the interview perhaps the best I have given. I was out of my comfort zone and I liked it. We ate and then took a walk in the grounds, all the while on the record. I asked Eric Schmidt to leak US government information requests to WikiLeaks, and he refused, suddenly nervous, citing the illegality of disclosing Patriot Act requests. And then as the evening came on it was done and they were gone, back to the unreal, remote halls of information empire, and I was left to get back to my work. That was the end of it, or so I thought.

* * *

        Two months later, WikiLeaks’ release of State Department cables was coming to an abrupt end. For three-quarters of a year we had painstakingly managed the publication, pulling in over a hundred global media partners, distributing documents in their regions of influence, and overseeing a worldwide, systematic publication and redaction system, fighting for maximum impact for our sources.         But in an act of gross negligence the Guardian newspaper—our former partner—had published the confidential decryption password to all 251,000 cables in a chapter heading in its book, rushed out hastily in February 2011.10 By mid-August we discovered that a former German employee—whom I had suspended in 2010—was cultivating business relationships with a variety of organizations and individuals by shopping around the location of the encrypted file, paired with the password’s whereabouts in the book. At the rate the information was spreading, we estimated that within two weeks most intelligence agencies, contractors, and middlemen would have all the cables, but the public would not.

I decided it was necessary to bring forward our publication schedule by four months and contact the State Department to get it on record that we had given them advance warning. The situation would then be harder to spin into another legal or political assault. Unable to raise Louis Susman, then US ambassador to the UK, we tried the front door. WikiLeaks investigations editor Sarah Harrison called the State Department front desk and informed the operator that “Julian Assange” wanted to have a conversation with Hillary Clinton. Predictably, this statement was initially greeted with bureaucratic disbelief. We soon found ourselves in a reenactment of that scene in Dr. Strangelove, where Peter Sellers cold-calls the White House to warn of an impending nuclear war and is immediately put on hold. As in the film, we climbed the hierarchy, speaking to incrementally more superior officials until we reached Clinton’s senior legal advisor. He told us he would call us back. We hung up, and waited. Sarah Harrison and Julian Assange call the U.S. State Department in September 2011.

          When the phone rang half an hour later, it was not the State Department on the other end of the line. Instead, it was Joseph Farrell, the WikiLeaks staffer who had set up the meeting with Google. He had just received an email from Lisa Shields seeking to confirm that it was indeed WikiLeaks calling the State Department.         It was at this point that I realized Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, DC, including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton’s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel. While WikiLeaks had been deeply involved in publishing the inner archive of the US State Department, the US State Department had, in effect, snuck into the WikiLeaks command center and hit me up for a free lunch. Two years later, in the wake of his early 2013 visits to China, North Korea, and Burma, it would come to be appreciated that the chairman of Google might be conducting, in one way or another, “back-channel diplomacy” for Washington. But at the time it was a novel thought.11 Eric Schmidt’s Instagram of Hillary Clinton and David Rubinstein, taken at the Holbrooke Forum Gala, 5 Dec 2013. Richard Holbrooke (who died in 2010) was a high-profile US diplomat, managing director of Lehman brothers, a board member of NED, CFR, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg steering group and an advisor to Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Schmidt donated over $100k to the the Holbrooke Forum

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Opinion: – Assange wins. The cost: Press freedom is crushed, and dissent labeled mental illness

Posted by M. C. on January 6, 2021

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/56130.htm

By Jonathan Cook

January 04, 2020 “Information Clearing House” – The unexpected decision by Judge Vanessa Baraitser to deny a US demand to extradite Julian Assange, foiling efforts to send him to a US super-max jail for the rest of his life, is a welcome legal victory, but one swamped by larger lessons that should disturb us deeply.

Those who campaigned so vigorously to keep Assange’s case in the spotlight, even as the US and UK corporate media worked so strenuously to keep it in darkness, are the heroes of the day. They made the price too steep for Baraitser or the British establishment to agree to lock Assange away indefinitely in the US for exposing its war crimes and its crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But we must not downplay the price being demanded of us for this victory. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1346059260539637760&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.jonathan-cook.net%2Fblog%2F2021-01-04%2Fassange-wins-the-cost-press-freedom-is-crushed-and-dissent-labelled-mental-illness%2F&siteScreenName=Jonathan_K_Cook&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=500px

A moment of celebration

We have contributed collectively in our various small ways to win back for Assange some degree of freedom, and hopefully a reprieve from what could be a death sentence as his health continues to deteriorate in an overcrowded Belmarsh high-security prison in London that has become a breeding ground for Covid-19.

For this we should allow ourselves a moment of celebration. But Assange is not out of the woods yet. The US has said it will appeal the decision. And it is not yet clear whether Assange will remain jailed in the UK – possibly in Belmarsh – while many months of further legal argument about his future take place.

The US and British establishments do not care where Assange is imprisoned – be it Sweden, the UK or the US. What has been most important to them is that he continues to be locked out of sight in a cell somewhere, where his physical and mental fortitude can be destroyed and where he is effectively silenced, encouraging others to draw the lesson that there is too high a price to pay for dissent.

The personal battle for Assange won’t be over till he is properly free. And even then he will be lucky if the last decade of various forms of incarceration and torture he has been subjected to do not leave him permanently traumatised, emotionally and mentally damaged, a pale shadow of the unapologetic, vigorous transparency champion he was before his ordeal began.

That alone will be a victory for the British and US establishments who were so embarrassed by, and fearful of, Wikileaks’ revelations of their crimes.

Rejected on a technicality

But aside from what is a potential personal victory for Assange, assuming he doesn’t lose on appeal, we should be deeply worried by the legal arguments Baraitser advanced in denying extradition.

The US demand for extradition was rejected on what was effectively a technicality. The US mass incarceration system is so obviously barbaric and depraved that, it was shown conclusively by experts at the hearings back in September, Assange would be at grave risk of committing suicide should he become another victim of its super-max jails.

One should not also discard another of the British establishment’s likely considerations: that in a few days Donald Trump will be gone from the White House and a new US administration will take his place.

There is no reason to be sentimental about president-elect Joe Biden. He is a big fan of mass incarceration too, and he will be no more of a friend to dissident media, whistleblowers and journalism that challenges the national security state than was his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama. Which is no friend at all.

But Biden probably doesn’t need the Assange case hanging over his head, becoming a rallying cry against him, an uncomfortable residue of the Trump administration’s authoritarian instincts that his own officials would be forced to defend.

It would be nice to imagine that the British legal, judicial and political establishments grew a backbone in ruling against extradition. The far more likely truth is that they sounded out the incoming Biden team and received permission to forgo an immediate ruling in favour of extradition – on a technicality.

Keep an eye on whether the new Biden administration decides to drop the appeal case. More likely his officials will let it rumble on, largely below the media’s radar, for many months more.

Journalism as espionage

Significantly, Judge Baraitser backed all the Trump administration’s main legal arguments for extradition, even though they were comprehensively demolished by Assange’s lawyers.

Baraitser accepted the US government’s dangerous new definition of investigative journalism as “espionage”, and implied that Assange had also broken Britain’s draconian Official Secrets Act in exposing government war crimes.

She agreed that the 2007 Extradition Treaty applies in Assange’s case, ignoring the treaty’s actual words that exempt political cases like his. She has thereby opened the door for other journalists to be seized in their home countries and renditioned to the US for embarrassing Washington.

Baraitser accepted that protecting sources in the digital age – as Assange did for whistleblower Chelsea Manning, an essential obligation on journalists in a free society – now amounts to criminal “hacking”. She trashed free speech and press freedom rights, saying they did not provide “unfettered discretion by Mr Assange to decide what he’s going to publish”.

She appeared to approve of the ample evidence showing that the US spied on Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy, both in violation of international law and his client-lawyer privilege – a breach of his most fundamental legal rights that alone should have halted proceedings.

Baraitser argued that Assange would receive a fair trial in the US, even though it was almost certain to take place in the eastern district of Virginia, where the major US security and intelligence services are headquartered. Any jury there would be dominated by US security personnel and their families, who would have no sympathy for Assange.

So as we celebrate this ruling for Assange, we must also loudly denounce it as an attack on press freedom, as an attack on our hard-won collective freedoms, and as an attack on our efforts to hold the US and UK establishments accountable for riding roughshod over the values, principles and laws they themselves profess to uphold.

Even as we are offered with one hand a small prize in Assange’s current legal victory, the establishment’s other hand seizes much more from us.

Vilification continues

There is a final lesson from the Assange ruling. The last decade has been about discrediting, disgracing and demonising Assange. This ruling should very much be seen as a continuation of that process.

Baraitser has denied extradition only on the grounds of Assange’s mental health and his autism, and the fact that he is a suicide risk. In other words, the principled arguments for freeing Assange have been decisively rejected.

If he regains his freedom, it will be solely because he has been characterised as mentally unsound. That will be used to discredit not just Assange, but the cause for which he fought, the Wikileaks organisation he helped to found, and all wider dissidence from establishment narratives. This idea will settle into popular public discourse unless we challenge such a presentation at every turn.

Assange’s battle to defend our freedoms, to defend those in far-off lands whom we bomb at will in the promotion of the selfish interests of a western elite, was not autistic or evidence of mental illness. His struggle to make our societies fairer, to hold the powerful to account for their actions, was not evidence of dysfunction. It is a duty we all share to make our politics less corrupt, our legal systems more transparent, our media less dishonest.

Unless far more of us fight for these values – for real sanity, not the perverse, unsustainable, suicidal interests of our leaders – we are doomed. Assange showed us how we can free ourselves and our societies. It is incumbent on the rest of us to continue his fight.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net. If you appreciate his articles, please consider making a donation

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