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Posts Tagged ‘Mike Pompeo’

‘The War on Assange is a War on Truth’ – Ron Paul’s 21 September Column

Posted by M. C. on September 22, 2020

Why would they do such a thing? Partisan politics. Journalists – with a few important exceptions like Greenwald himself – are no longer interested in digging and reporting the truth. These days they believe they have a “higher calling.”

We cannot have a self-governing society as was intended for our Republic if the government, with the complicity of the mainstream media, decides that there are things we are not allowed to know about it. President Trump should end the US government’s war on Assange…and on all whistleblowers and their publishers.

https://mailchi.mp/ronpaulinstitute/assangetrial?e=4e0de347c8

Sept 21 – It is dangerous to reveal the truth about the illegal and immoral things our government does with our money and in our name, and the war on journalists who dare reveal such truths is very much a bipartisan affair. Just ask Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was relentlessly pursued first by the Obama Administration and now by the Trump Administration for the “crime” of reporting on the crimes perpetrated by the United States government.

Assange is now literally fighting for his life, as he tries to avoid being extradited to the United States where he faces 175 years in prison for violating the “Espionage Act.” While it makes no sense to be prosecuted as a traitor to a country of which you are not a citizen, the idea that journalists who do their job and expose criminality in high places are treated like traitors is deeply dangerous in a free society.

To get around the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press, Assange’s tormentors simply claim that he is not a journalist. Then-CIA director Mike Pompeo declared that Wikileaks was a “hostile intelligence service” aided by Russia. Ironically, that’s pretty much what the Democrats say about Assange.

Earlier this month, a US Federal appeals court judge ruled that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records was illegal. That bulk collection program, born out of the anti-American PATRIOT Act, was first revealed to us by whistleblower Edward Snowden just over seven years ago.

That is why whistleblowers and those who publish their information are so important. Were it not for Snowden and Assange, we would never know about this government criminality. And if we never know about government malfeasance it can neve be found to be criminal in the first place. That is convenient for governments, but it is also a recipe for tyranny.



While we might expect the US media to aggressively come to the aid of a fellow journalist being persecuted by the government for doing his job, the opposite is happening. As journalist Glen Greenwald wrote last week, the US mainstream media is completely ignoring the Assange extradition trial.

Why would they do such a thing? Partisan politics. Journalists – with a few important exceptions like Greenwald himself – are no longer interested in digging and reporting the truth. These days they believe they have a “higher calling.”

As Greenwald puts it, “If you start from the premise that Trump is a fascist dictator who has brought Nazi tyranny to the US, then it isn’t that irrational to believe that anyone who helped empower Trump (which is how they see Assange) deserves to be imprisoned, hence the lack of concern about it.”

That may seem like a good idea to these journalists in the short term, but for journalism itself to become an extension of government power rather than a check on that power would be deeply harmful.

We cannot have a self-governing society as was intended for our Republic if the government, with the complicity of the mainstream media, decides that there are things we are not allowed to know about it. President Trump should end the US government’s war on Assange…and on all whistleblowers and their publishers.

Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

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‘Trump Must Back Iraq Withdrawal Promise With Action’ – Ron Paul’s 31 August Column

Posted by M. C. on September 1, 2020

Unfortunately there is a pattern in this Administration where President Trump announces the withdrawal of troops from one of the seemingly endless conflicts we are involved in and an Administration official – often Pompeo – “clarifies” the president’s statement to mean the opposite of what the president has just said.

https://mailchi.mp/ronpaulinstitute/fauciout-114989?e=4e0de347c8

Aug 31 – Earlier this month, while meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister, President Trump reaffirmed his intent to remove all US troops from Iraq. “We were there and now we’re getting out. We’ll be leaving shortly,” the president told reporters at the time.

Although President Obama should never have sent US troops back into Iraq in 2016, it is definitely well past time to remove them as quickly as possible.

Over the weekend, the Administration announced it would be drawing down troops currently in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,500. That’s a good start.

One big roadblock to finally leaving Iraq alone is President Trump’s de facto Secretary of War, Mike Pompeo. Although he’s supposed to be the top US diplomat, Pompeo is a bull in a china shop. He seems determined to start a war with Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela, and probably a few more countries.

Unfortunately there is a pattern in this Administration where President Trump announces the withdrawal of troops from one of the seemingly endless conflicts we are involved in and an Administration official – often Pompeo – “clarifies” the president’s statement to mean the opposite of what the president has just said.

When the president was questioned over the weekend about a timetable for the US withdrawal from Iraq, he turned to Pompeo for an answer. Pompeo’s response did not inspire much hope. “As soon as we can complete the mission,” said Pompeo. What is the mission? Does anyone know? Aside from “regime change” for Iran, that is.

At his speech accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for re-election last week, Trump declared, “unlike previous administrations, I have kept America OUT of new wars — and our troops are coming home.” That sounds good, but how can he achieve that goal if the people he hires to carry out that policy not only disagree with him but seem to be working against him?

The US invasion of Iraq 17 years ago was correctly described at the time by the late NSA Director Bill Odom as “the greatest strategic disaster in American history.” After a relentless barrage of lies about former US ally Saddam Hussein having “weapons of mass destruction,” the US attack and destruction of Iraq did not bring the peace and prosperity promised by the neocon war promoters.

Instead, the US “liberation” of Iraq killed a million Iraqis, most of whom were civilians. It destroyed Iraq’s relatively prosperous economy. It did not result in a more peaceful or stable Middle East. The US had no idea how to remake Iraqi society and in picking and choosing who could participate in post-invasion Iraq the US helped facilitate the rise of al-Qaeda and ISIS. A secular Iraq had been turned into a sectarian incubator for terrorists and extremists. And the biggest winner in the war was Iran, who the US has demonized as an enemy for over four decades.

Yes, General Odom was right. It was a strategic disaster. Turning the US into a global military empire is also a strategic disaster. Trump’s promise to bring troops home from overseas wars sounds very good. But it’s time to see some real action. That might mean some people who disagree with the president need to be fired.

Copyright © 2020 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

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Exposing Pompeo’s phony UN snapback stunt in two sentences – Responsible Statecraft

Posted by M. C. on August 24, 2020

Of course there are two big problems with this approach, the first of which is that while yes, Iran has violated some of the JCPOA’s terms, it has done so only after Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement and reimposed crushing sanctions. And second, in order to trigger the “snapback” mechanism built into the agreement, you have to be a participant in the agreement, which of course, the U.S. ceased to be when Trump exited it in 2018.

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/08/21/exposing-pompeos-phony-un-snapback-stunt-in-two-sentences/

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo failed miserably in his efforts on Thursday to force the United Nations to reimpose its pre-JCPOA sanctions on Iran.

To briefly summarize, the Trump administration and its allies in Washington have been pushing to pile even more sanctions on Iran, and to do that, it hatched a plan to try to get the U.N. to “snapback” its pre-JCPOA sanctions for purportedly violating the nuclear deal’s terms.

Of course there are two big problems with this approach, the first of which is that while yes, Iran has violated some of the JCPOA’s terms, it has done so only after Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement and reimposed crushing sanctions. And second, in order to trigger the “snapback” mechanism built into the agreement, you have to be a participant in the agreement, which of course, the U.S. ceased to be when Trump exited it in 2018.

So the U.N. Security Council has snuffed out this bad faith effort for what it is, as its permanent members have already said they will reject it. What’s more is that Pompeo himself inadvertently revealed the folly of this whole exercise during a press conference on Thursday after notifying the Security Council of the U.S.’s request for snapback.

After a reporter wondered how the U.S. can snapback U.N. sanctions while no longer being part of the deal, an exasperated Pompeo responded, “This — look, just, it’s important to emphasize this,” he said, adding that the U.N. Security Council Resolution endorsing the JCPOA “gave every one of the participant states the right to execute snapback unconditionally.”

And he’s right. U.N. Resolution 2231 states that “the Security Council, within 30 days of receiving a notification by a JCPOA participant State of an issue that the JCPOA participant State believes constitutes significant non-performance of commitments under the JCPOA, shall vote on a draft resolution to continue in effect the terminations of the provisions of previous Security Council resolutions.”

But of course, the United States is no longer “a JCPOA participant state,” a fact that Pompeo himself said back in May, 2018 (emphasis added):

“Two weeks ago, President Trump terminated the United States participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

Of course none of these bad faith efforts on Iran and shameless lying should be a surprise. But the question now is how the U.N. will ultimately deal with the U.S. snapback request in an official capacity. Indeed, the International Crisis Group has a suggestion for those at the U.N. who want to preserve the JCPOA: “ignore the U.S. drive to restore terminated sanctions on Iran.” And if that’s indeed the path they take, it may mark the first time in history that the U.N. Security Council has ghosted the U.S.

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Did Mike Pompeo Mislead Congress About Syria’s Oil? | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on August 5, 2020

SHOCK HEADLINE: YOUR GOVERNMENT LIED!

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/did-mike-pompeo-mislead-congress-about-syrias-oil-166158

by Matthew Petti

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified to Congress last week that a deal for an American company to develop Syria’s oil fields is in “implementation,” but the Syrian Kurdish-led administration denies that any contract has been signed.

President Donald Trump has long said that he wants to keep U.S. forces in Syria in order to “secure the oil” held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. But the actual development of the oilfields has been mired in legal roadblocks and bitter competition for a contract.

Pompeo and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) hinted at a U.S. agreement to extract the oil during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, stirring up frantic speculation and driving a wedge between the Kurds and the Syrian central government.

Graham claimed that the Syrian Democratic Forces have “signed a deal with an American oil company to modernize the oil fields,” and Pompeo added that the deal “took a little longer…than we had hoped” and is now “in implementation.”

But the deal may not be as close to completion as Pompeo and Graham insinuated.

The Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria told the National Interest that no company has a signed contract yet.

“[M]any other companies such as Russian and American wanted to work in the region but [none] of them so far signed any contract with the Administration,” an official affiliated with the administration, who asked not to be quoted by name, wrote in a text message.

Ahed Al Hendi, a Syrian-American analyst who has worked closely with the Syrian Kurdish-led administration, confirmed that several issues related to any prospective deal have not been resolved yet.

Administration co-chair Abed Hamed Al-Mehbash told a similar story to North Press Agency.

“We are intending to study requests by many Russian and American companies to operate in north and east Syria,” Al-Mehbash said.

A Syrian Kurdish diplomat had confirmed to Al Monitor last week that a company called Delta Crescent LLC had an agreement with the administration, without offering any more details.

But the northeast Syrian official explained to the National Interest that Delta Crescent LLC only had a “license from the US,” not a signed contract, and was “still discussing it” with the administration.

U.S. citizens who want to deal with Syrian oil require a special license from the U.S. Treasury, due to economic sanctions on Syria.

Delta Crescent LLC. a newly-registered company with no public-facing website, could not be reached for comment. Several of its executives are known quantities in the energy and security industries, one of whom worked in Syria before the current civil war.

“The decision to allow an American company to operate is a good thing, but it is not finished yet,” Al Hendi wrote in Arabic. “Senator Graham and Pompeo rushed in their announcement, especially because the deal will not be complete without settling all the logistical issues in a legal manner.”

He confirmed that the company has a Treasury license, but explained to the National Interest that it is still unclear whether neighboring Iraq will allow the Kurdish-led administration to legally ship oil to the outside world.

The Treasury Department declined to comment on any specific license, citing concerns under the Privacy Act and Trade Secrets Act.

It was unclear why Pompeo and Graham announced an unfinished deal in such a high-profile way. The Kurds are currently in delicate negotiations with the Syrian central government, which has been sensitive about the status of natural resources outside its control.

Indeed, the Syrian foreign ministry called the rumored U.S.-Kurdish agreement “null and void,” “aggravated theft,” “an assault against Syria’s sovereignty,” and “a continuation of the U.S. hostile approach towards Syria,” according to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency.

Al-Mehbash rejected these accusations, insisting that the northeast Syrian administration would only accept investment for the benefit of all Syrians.

Syria’s daily oil production plummeted from a prewar high of 385,000 barrels to only a few thousand barrels over the past few years.

Graham’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The State Department responded after this article was published, through a spokesperson who asked not to be named.

“​We are not involved in the commercial decisions of our local partners. However, as a general matter, we work to ensure that our sanctions are in line with our foreign policy interests and target the Assad’s regime [sic] continued violence against the Syrian people,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

“The populations in areas liberated from ISIS make their own decisions on local governance,” the spokesperson continued. “Syrian oil is for the Syrian people and we remain committed to the unity and territorial integrity of Syria. The United States government does not own, control, or manage the oil resources in Syria.”

Matthew Petti is a national security reporter at the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter: @matthew_petti.

This article has been updated with a statement from the State Department.

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Presumptuous Pompeo Pushes Preposterous ‘Peking’ Policy – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on July 30, 2020

As a first-hand witness to much of this history, Freeman provided highly interesting and not so well-known detail mostly from the Chinese side. I chipped in with observations from my experience as CIA’s principal analyst for Sino-Soviet and broader Soviet foreign policy issues during the 1960s and early 1970s.

https://consortiumnews.com/2020/07/28/presumptuous-pompeo-pushes-preposterous-peking-policy/

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

Quick. Somebody tell Mike Pompeo. The secretary of state is not supposed to play the role of court jester — the laughing stock to the world. There was no sign that any of those listening to his “major China policy statement” last Thursday at the Nixon Library turned to their neighbor and said, “He’s kidding, right? Richard Nixon meant well but failed miserably to change China’s behavior? And now Pompeo is going to put them in their place?”

Yes, that was Pompeo’s message. The torch has now fallen to him and the free world. Here’s a sample of his rhetoric:

“Changing the behavior of the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] cannot be the mission of the Chinese people alone. Free nations have to work to defend freedom. …

“Beijing is more dependent on us than we are on them (sic). Look, I reject the notion … that CCP supremacy is the future … the free world is still winning. … It’s time for free nations to act … Every nation must protect its ideals from the tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party. … If we bend the knee now, our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party, whose actions are the primary challenge today in the free world. …

“We have the tools. I know we can do it. Now we need the will. To quote scripture, I ask is ‘our spirit willing but our flesh weak?’ … Securing our freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party is the mission of our time, and America is perfectly positioned to lead it because … our nation was founded on the premise that all human beings possess certain rights that are unalienable. And it’s our government’s job to secure those rights. It’s a simple and powerful truth. It’s made us a beacon of freedom for people all around the world, including people inside of China.

“Indeed, Richard Nixon was right when he wrote in 1967 that “the world cannot be safe until China changes.” Now it’s up to us to heed his words. … Today the free world must respond. …”

Trying to Make Sense of It

Over the weekend an informal colloquium-by-email took pace, spurred initially by an op-ed article by Richard Haass critiquing Pompeo’s speech. Haass has the dubious distinction of having been director of policy planning for the State Department from 2001 to 2003, during the lead-up to the attack on Iraq. Four months after the invasion he became president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a position he still holds. Despite that pedigree, the points Haass makes in “What Mike Pompeo doesn’t understand about China, Richard Nixon and U.S. foreign policy” are, for the most part, well taken.

Haass’s views served as a springboard over the weekend to an unusual discussion of Sino-Soviet and Sino-Russian relations I had with Ambassador Chas Freeman, the main interpreter for Nixon during his 1972 visit to China and who then served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989 to 1992.

As a first-hand witness to much of this history, Freeman provided highly interesting and not so well-known detail mostly from the Chinese side. I chipped in with observations from my experience as CIA’s principal analyst for Sino-Soviet and broader Soviet foreign policy issues during the 1960s and early 1970s.

Ambassador Freeman: Read the rest of this entry »

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State Dept-funded Transparency International goes silent on jailed transparency activist Julian Assange | The Grayzone

Posted by M. C. on July 27, 2020

Transparency International has been vocal in defending jailed opposition activists in states like Zimbabwe, Russia, and Venezuela. But when it comes to Assange – far-and-away the world’s most prominent imprisoned transparency activist – the NGO has not said a word since a week after his arrest in April 2019. 

Transparency International happens to be funded by the UK government which is currently jailing Assange, and by the US State Department, which is headed by Mike Pompeo – the former CIA director who presided over a black operations campaign to destroy Wikileaks.

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/07/21/state-dept-transparency-international-silent-jailed-julian-assange/

By Patrick Maynard

BERLIN, GERMANY – On a cool July day, the Berlin neighborhood where Transparency International’s global headquarters is situated feels a thousand miles away from London’s Belmarsh Prison. But it is not just the pleasant setting a few blocks from the Spree River that makes the influential NGO seem so detached from the maximum security penitentiary’s most famous inmate, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Transparency International has been vocal in defending jailed opposition activists in states like Zimbabwe, Russia, and Venezuela. But when it comes to Assange – far-and-away the world’s most prominent imprisoned transparency activist – the NGO has not said a word since a week after his arrest in April 2019.

When Transparency International did mention Assange’s arrest, it came in the form of a mealy-mouthed blog post that referred to the Wikileaks founder as “polarizing” and failed to condemn his persecution.

Transparency International happens to be funded by the UK government which is currently jailing Assange, and by the US State Department, which is headed by Mike Pompeo – the former CIA director who presided over a black operations campaign to destroy Wikileaks.

Much has changed since Transparency International last issued a statement about Assange. A UN special rapporteur found evidence that Assange may have been tortured. The judge on the case was switched after significant conflicts of interest were discovered.

Assange’s bail-jumping penalty of 50 weeks was also exhausted in April, meaning that for many weeks, the British have been holding him purely as a favor for their American allies, without Assange being formally charged with a British crime. And, perhaps most relevant to the case, 36 members of the European Parliament have recently called for Assange to be released from Belmarsh on press freedom and humanitarian grounds.

Unlike Transparency International, several other large NGOs have been vocal about the case within the last year. Those groups include Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Courage Foundation, Reporters Without Borders, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation. A total of 40 rights groups recently signed an open letter urging Assange’s release.

Ignoring the world’s most prominent jailed transparency activist

Julian Assange first became well-known when Wikileaks published a series of document troves that embarrassed the United States and its allies. Several stashes of military information exposed possible war crimes on the part of U.S. soldiers, while a collection of State Department cables from 1966 through 2010 showed American diplomatic officials being manipulated to act on behalf of U.S. companies abroad.

Shortly after those releases, Assange was investigated over a possible sexual assault in Sweden. Assange and his team worried that the investigation might be a pretext to detain and extradite him into U.S. hands, so they offered to have him testify via video link from Britain. Swedish authorities refused. Assange jumped his British bail and took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he lived for nearly seven years. The sexual assault investigation was later dropped.

Following Assange’s arrest in April 2019, a federal grand jury in the U.S. returned an 18-count superseding indictment charging the publisher with computer intrusion and with breaking the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917.

A key part of the U.S. government’s case is the idea that, by publishing leaked information, Wikileaks damaged the safety abroad of people friendly to the American cause. Asked by The Grayzone by email if the Justice Department would be willing to name a single person who had been killed or injured as a result of Wikileaks material, the DOJ declined to comment.

US State Department, UK government support – and corporate influence peddling

There was an initial groundswell of solidarity from abroad after Assange’s arrest, with publications like the New York Times and the Washington Post commenting on how the Espionage Act charges threatened press freedom. A few major international human rights NGOs spoke out as well.

That support has been uneven over the last 15 months or so, however. After the initial burst of coverage, the hearings faded into the background, with few mainstream American or British media organizations reporting on Judge Emma Arbuthnot’s ties to UK intelligence and defense interests while she presided over pre-extradition hearings.

Asked whether Transparency International had commented on the judge’s seeming conflicts of interest, Transparency spokesman Paul Bell told The Grayzone that the international secretariat “hasn’t made any statements in relation to Lady Emma Arbuthnot.”

The group’s silence over the past year stands in contrast to earlier times when it had been vocal about freedom of speech, and had not been shy about bringing up Assange’s name as a hook for its blog posts on the topic.

Tracking outside influence on Transparency International can be difficult, as it is made up of more than 100 independent chapters around the globe.

But the organization’s USA chapter honored the notoriously war-profiteering oil services giant Bechtel with its  “Corporate Leadership Award” in 2016.

Two years earlier, Transparency USA honored the arms manufacturer Raytheon “for anti-corruption efforts.” Both Bechtel and Raytheon were major donors to the organization at the time.

In 2017, Transparency USA was finally disaccredited for fostering apparent pay-for-play relationships under the guise of anti-corruption efforts. However, Transparency’s Secretariat defended the USA chapter’s honoring of Hillary Clinton with its “Integrity Award” in the face of revelations of influence-peddling by the Clinton Global Initiative.

The Little Sis database, which tracks relationships of organizations by analyzing their donors, board members and leadership, indicates that Transparency has shared adjacencies with organizations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Infraguard – which the FBI describes as a “partnership between the FBI and the private sector” that is “dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the U.S.”

On its website, Transparency International lists funding from the US Department of State, which is currently headed by the former CIA director, Mike Pompeo, who apparently authorized the spying ring that targeted Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy.

It also receives support from the Department of International Development of the UK government, which is currently prosecuting Assange.

In fact, much of the NGO’s funding comes from EU governments.

Bell, the Transparency spokesman, stated in an email to The Grayzone that his organization’s international board has not received pressure regarding the Assange extradition hearings from U.S. or U.K. entities, including governments.

“There is a principle and a precedent at stake … no matter how you feel about Julian Assange”

Assange has made some powerful enemies over the years. He angered Republicans by exposing inconvenient truths behind the military interventions initiated by George W. Bush, and infuriated Democrats by dumping a cache of embarrassing emails from Hillary Clinton’s personal server just before the 2016 election.

Parker Higgins, the advocacy director at Freedom of the Press Foundation, argues that individual feelings about Assange shouldn’t get in the way of a clear-eyed view of the gravity of the extradition case.

“The importance of this case goes far beyond the facts of who Julian Assange is and what he is alleged to have done,” Higgins said in an email to The Grayzone. “There is a principle and a precedent at stake that are important considerations for press freedom, no matter how you feel about Julian Assange himself.”

Higgins asserted that large countries are now attempting to extend their own jurisdiction globally – especially on what he calls “borderless issues” like censorship – and that an Assange extradition would be a deepening of that trend.

China, for example, has recently attempted to assert that non-citizens in foreign countries are subject to its new national security law regarding speech about Hong Kong. That has chilled activism as far away as Canada. In the case of Assange, the United States is attempting to apply its rarely used 1917 Espionage Act to an Australian journalist operating in Europe, activists argue. In doing so, they say, the U.S. government is extending its jurisdiction and setting up a potentially dangerous template for future generations to follow.

Spying, denial of legal access, “torture and neglect”

There are other aspects of the Julian Assange case that trouble many close observers. Assange‘s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said in April that there had been no “direct access” with his client for “more than a month.”

That situation has gotten worse as the COVID-19 outbreak has continued, with a recent hearing featuring Assange literally boxed in inside a glass container, through which it was difficult to hear.

Back when Assange did have regular access to legal counsel – during his time in the Ecuadorian embassy – his interactions with others were secretly recorded by a Spanish contractor with ties to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, as The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal has documented in detail.

In most American court cases, surveillance of attorney-client meetings would result immediately in a mistrial being declared.

Additionally, Assange’s health has been declining. In June, 216 doctors from 33 countries wrote to medical journal the Lancet, protesting what they called “torture and medical neglect of Julian Assange” and stating that, “under the Convention Against Torture, those acting in official capacities can be held complicit and accountable not only for perpetration of torture, but for their silent acquiescence and consent.”

While some reporters have argued that Assange’s extradition would not set a precedent for cases against other journalists, since Assange is accused of helping a source crack a password, Higgins argues that future judges are not necessarily likely to parse that difference.

“There’s no guarantee that the line a journalist draws now is going to be the one that future judges follow,” Higgins stated. “The threat of criminal charges for talking to sources is sure to have a chilling effect.”

Patrick Maynard is a journalist whose work has featured in the Baltimore Sun, Truthout, Vice and The Grayzone.

 

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The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : Pompeo Lays Out New US Cold War Against China

Posted by M. C. on July 26, 2020

The US government changing a superpower’s behavior. What could possibly go wrong?

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2020/july/25/pompeo-lays-out-new-us-cold-war-against-china/

Written by Jason Ditz

Following near daily screeds against China, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is now laying out US hostility, and the goal of “changing” China as part of what is effectively a new Cold War, likening it to Cold War with the Soviet Union.

Saying that the US had changed Soviet behavior, Pompeo expressed confidence that they could change China as well, saying that the nations of the world have a duty to help the US “defend freedom.” He also warned that “our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Communist party.”

This seems to be harkening back to the language of the historic red scares, and the idea that China is a real threat to dominate the future is likely intended to scare Americans into supporting more hostility, as opposed to a serious policy reality.

Either way, it seems like the era of diplomacy with China, at least so far as the administration is concerned, is over, with Pompeo saying that the US can “never go back to engagement,” declaring China “a Marxist-Leninist regime” and following a “bankrupt totalitarian ideology.”

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Is America Up for a Naval War With China? – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on July 17, 2020

Should we start issuing war guarantees to China’s neighbors? Should we start
putting down red lines China will not be allowed to cross?

Before we plunged into our half dozen Middle East wars, we didn’t think through
where those would end. Have we considered where all our belated bellicosity
toward Beijing must invariably lead, and how this all ends?

https://original.antiwar.com/buchanan/2020/07/16/is-america-up-for-a-naval-war-with-china/

Is the U.S., preoccupied with a pandemic and a depression that medical crisis created, prepared for a collision with China over Beijing’s claims to the rocks, reefs and resources of the South China Sea?

For that is what Mike Pompeo appeared to threaten this week.

“The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire,” thundered the secretary of state.

“America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources … and (we) reject any push to impose ‘might makes right’ in the South China Sea.”

Thus did Pompeo put Beijing on notice that the US does not recognize its claim to 90% of the South China Sea or to any exclusive Chinese right to its fishing grounds or oil and gas resources.

Rather, in a policy shift, the US now recognizes the rival claims of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines.

To signal the seriousness of Pompeo’s stand, the US sent the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz carrier battle groups through the South China Sea. And, this week, the guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson sailed close by the Spratly Islands.

But what do Mike Pompeo’s tough words truly mean?

While we have recognized the claims of the other littoral states of the South China Sea, does Pompeo mean America will use its naval power to defend their claims should China use force against the vessels of those five nations?

Does it mean that if Manila, our lone treaty ally in these disputes, uses force to reclaim what we see as its lawful rights in the South China Sea, the US Navy will fight the Chinese navy to validate Manila’s claims?

Has Pompeo drawn a red line, which Beijing has been told not to cross at risk of war with the United States?

If so, does anyone in Washington think the Chinese are going to give up their claims to the entire South China Sea or retreat from reasserting those claims because the US now rejects them?

Consider what happened to the people of Hong Kong when they thought they had the world’s democracies at their back.

For a year, they marched and protested for greater political freedom with some believing they might win independence.

But when Beijing had had enough, it trashed the Basic Law under which Hong Kong had been ceded back to China and began a crackdown.

The democracies protested and imposed economic sanctions. But the bottom line is that Hong Kong’s people not only failed to enlarge the sphere of freedom they had, but also they are losing much of what they had.

The Americans, seeing Hong Kong being absorbed into China, are now canceling the special economic privileges we had accorded the city, as the British offer millions of visas to Hong Kong’s dissidents who fear what Beijing has in store for them.

In June, Pompeo also charged Beijing with human rights atrocities in Xinjiang: “The world received disturbing reports today that the Chinese Communist Party is using forced sterilization, forced abortion, and coercive family planning against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, as part of a continuing campaign of repression.”

These reports, said Pompeo, “are sadly consistent with decades of CCP practices that demonstrate an utter disregard for the sanctity of human life and basic human dignity.”

China has rejected US protests of its treatment of Uyghurs and Kazakhs and of its handling of Hong Kong as interference in its internal affairs and none of America’s business.

As for the South China Sea, China dismissively replied, the US seems to be “throwing its weight around in every sea of the world.”

These American warnings, and Beijing’s response, call to mind the darker days of the Cold War.

So, again, the question: Is America prepared for a naval clash in the South China Sea if Beijing continues to occupy and fortify islets and reefs she claims as her own? Are we prepared for a Cold War II — with China?

While China lacks the strategic arsenal the USSR had in the latter years of the Cold War, economically, technologically and industrially, China is a far greater power than Soviet Russia ever was. And China’s population is four times as large.

Can we, should we, begin to assemble a system of alliances similar to what we had during the Cold War — with NATO in Europe and Asian security pacts with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand? Should we adopt a policy of containment of Communist China, which, says Pompeo, is an expansionist and “imperialist” power?

Should we start issuing war guarantees to China’s neighbors? Should we start putting down red lines China will not be allowed to cross?

Before we plunged into our half dozen Middle East wars, we didn’t think through where those would end. Have we considered where all our belated bellicosity toward Beijing must invariably lead, and how this all ends?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Churchill, Hitler, and “The Unnecessary War”: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

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No Respite for the Wicked, Pompeo Unleashed

Posted by M. C. on March 24, 2020

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/03/23/no-respite-for-the-wicked-pompeo-unleashed/

 Tom Luongo

There are few things in this life that make me more sick to my stomach than watching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talking. He truly is one of the evilest men I’ve ever had the displeasure of covering.

Into the insanity of the over-reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak, Pompeo wasted no time ramping up sanctions on firms doing any business with Iran, one of the countries worse-hit by this virus to date.

It’s a seemingly endless refrain, everyday, more sanctions on Chinese, Swiss and South African firms for having the temerity in these deflating times to buy oil from someone Pompeo and his gang of heartless psychopaths disapprove of.

This goes far beyond just the oil industry. Even though I’m well aware that Russia’s crashing the price of oil was itself a hybrid war attack on U.S. capital markets. One that has had, to date, devastating effect.

While Pompeo mouths the words publicly that humanitarian aid is exempted from sanctions on Iran, the U.S. is pursuing immense pressure on companies to not do so anyway while the State Dept. bureaucracy takes its sweet time processing waiver applications.

Pompeo and his ilk only think in terms of civilizational warfare. They have become so subsumed by their big war for the moral high ground to prove American exceptionalism that they have lost any shred of humanity they may have ever had.

Because for Pompeo in times like these to stick to his talking points and for his office to continue excising Iran from the global economy when we’re supposed to be coming together to fight a global pandemic is the height of soullessness.

And it speaks to the much bigger problem that infects all of our political thinking. There comes a moment when politics and gaining political advantage have to take a back seat to doing the right thing.

I’ve actually seen moments of that impulse from the Democratic leadership in the U.S. Will wonders never cease?!

Thinking only in Manichean terms of good vs. evil and dehumanizing your opponents is actually costlier than reversing course right now. Because honey is always better at attracting flies than vinegar.

But, unfortunately, that is not the character of the Trump administration.

It can only think in terms of direct leverage and opportunity to hold onto what they think they’ve achieved. So, until President Trump is no longer consumed with coordinating efforts to control COVID-19 Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are in charge of foreign policy. They will continue the playbook that has been well established.

Maximum pressure on Iran, hurt China any way they can, hold onto what they have in Syria, stay in Iraq.

To that end Iraqi President Barham Salei nominated Pompeo’s best choice to replace Prime Minister Adil Abdel Mahdi to throw Iraq’s future into complete turmoil. According to Elijah Magnier, Adnan al-Zarfi is a U.S. asset through and through.

And this looks like Pompeo’s Hail Mary to retain U.S. legal presence in Iraq after the Iraqi parliament adopted a measure to demand withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. Airstrikes against U.S. bases in Iraq continue on a near daily basis and there have been reports of U.S. base closures and redeployments at the same time.

This move looks like desperation by Pompeo et.al. to finally separate the Hashd al-Shaabi from Iraq’s official military. So that airstrikes against them can be carried out under the definition of ‘fighting Iranian terrorism.’

As Magnier points out in the article above if al-Zarfi puts a government together the war in Iraq will expand just as the U.S. is losing further control in Syria after Turkish President Erdogan’s disastrous attempt to remake the front in Idlib. That ended with his effective surrender to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The more I watch these moves by Pompeo the more sympathetic I become to the most sinister theories about COVID-19, its origins and its launch around the world. Read Pepe Escobar’s latest to get an idea of how dark and twisted this tale could be.

It is sad that, to me, I see no reason to doubt Pompeo and his ilk in the U.S. government wouldn’t do something like that to spark political and social upheaval in those places most targeted by U.S. hybrid war tactics.

But, at the same time, I can see the other side of it, a vicious strike back by China against its tormentors. And China’s government does itself, in my mind, no favors threatening to withhold drug precursors and having officials run their mouths giving Americans the excuse they need to validate Trump and Pompeo’s divisive rhetoric.

Remaining on the fence about this issue isn’t my normal style. But everyone is dirty here and the reality may well be this is a natural event terrible people on both sides are exploiting.

And I can only go by what people do rather than what they say to assess the situation. Trump tries to buy exclusive right to a potential COVID-19 vaccine from a German firm and his administration slow-walks aid to Iran.

China sends aid to Iran and Italy by the container full. Is that to salve their conscience over its initial suppression of information about the virus? Good question. But no one covers themselves in glory by using the confusion and distraction to attempt further regime change and step up war-footing during a public health crisis, manufactured or otherwise.

While Pompeo unctuously talks the talk of compassion and charity, he cannot bring himself to actually walk the walk. Because he is a despicable, bile-filled man of uncommon depravity. His prosecuting a hybrid war during a public health crisis speaks to no other conclusion about him.

It’s clear to me that nothing has changed at the top of Trump’s administration. I expect COVID-19 will not be a disaster for Trump and the U.S. It can handle this. But the lack of humanity shown by its diplomatic corps ensures that in the long run the U.S. will be left to fend for itself when the next crisis hits.

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“Iran Must Begin Acting Like A Normal Nation,” Says Totally Normal Nation – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on January 15, 2020

In order to become a normal nation, Iran will need to expand its interests from the region and begin toppling noncompliant governments and invading nations all around the world.

In order to become a normal nation, Iran will need to circle the planet with hundreds of Iranian military bases.

In order to become a normal nation, Iran will need to obtain thousands of nuclear weapons, and actually use a couple of them.

The US doesn’t want Iran to be like America. The US wants Iran to be like the other nations which have allowed themselves to be absorbed into the blob of the US-centralized empire.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/01/13/iran-must-begin-acting-like-a-normal-nation-says-totally-normal-nation/

The government which runs a globe-spanning empire led by a reality TV host keeps talking about the lack of normality in the nation of Iran.

“What we want all countries to join in,” said State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus in a recent Fox News interview, “is to help us not only to de-escalate any tensions with Iran, but to help us bring Iran to a place where they are ready to stop their terrorist and malign behavior, and where they are ready to discuss with the United States, with Europe, with everyone, about how they can change their behavior to act like a normal nation.”

“We want Iran to simply behave like a normal nation,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press statement the other day. “We believe that the sanctions we imposed today further that strategic objective.”

These would be the additional sanctions which have been expanded to include virtually the entire Iranian economy, deliberately targeting Iran’s already sanction-starved populace, with the explicit goal of fomenting a civil war in that nation.

Which is of course a perfectly normal thing to do, from a perfectly normal nation.

This would be the same Iran whose cultural heritage sites were threatened with destruction if it retaliated for the totally normal assassination of its top military official via flying robot. The same Iran whose financial system was just threatened with destruction using the totally normal hegemony of American central banking. Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy.

So what can Iran do to become a “normal nation”? Well, since it’s the United States making this demand, we can safely assume that it’s the model Iran should look to.

In order to become a normal nation, Iran will need to expand its interests from the region and begin toppling noncompliant governments and invading nations all around the world.

In order to become a normal nation, Iran will need to circle the planet with hundreds of Iranian military bases.

In order to become a normal nation, Iran will need to obtain thousands of nuclear weapons, and actually use a couple of them.

In order to become a normal nation, Iran will need to become the most dominant military, economic and cultural force in the world, and then use that dominance to destroy any government, political party, ideology, faction, movement or person who stands in its way.

In order to become a normal nation, Iran will need to arm violent extremist factions all around the world with the goal of eliminating all governments that refuse to bow to its interests.

In order to become a normal nation, Iran will need to become the dominant producer of films, music and TV shows and use this influence to propagandize its power structure’s ideology to every possible cultural sphere.

In order to become a normal nation, Iran will need to begin meddling in scores of democratic elections all around the world and then crying for years at the possibility of any nation returning the favor.

In order to become a normal nation, Iran will need to shore up economic control of the world so that it can crush any sort of disobedience by starving civilians and depriving them of medical care while pretending that it’s a force for peace.

In order to become a normal nation, Iran will need to indefinitely occupy a vast region on the other side of the planet with thousands upon thousands of troops and trillions of dollars in military equipment, to no benefit of a single ordinary Iranian, and against the will of the people who live there.

In order to become a normal nation, Iran will need to create a presidency led by a reality TV star oligarch who is only supported because Iran’s populace is so disgusted with the status quo of their government.

I am kidding, of course. The US government does not want Iran to become like the US. The US government does not want any nation to become like the US. The US likes its abnormality among nations just the way it is, thank you very much. The US is the exception to all its own rules. That’s how American exceptionalism works. This is one of those “do as I say, not as I do” situations.

The US doesn’t want Iran to be like America. The US wants Iran to be like the other nations which have allowed themselves to be absorbed into the blob of the US-centralized empire.

The US would be perfectly happy for Iran to begin acting like Saudi Arabia: arming terrorist factions, beheading heretics, committing war crimes and deliberately creating humanitarian disasters for geostrategic convenience, yet aligning fully with US military, financial, and resource control agendas.

The US would be perfectly happy for Iran to begin acting like Israel: a nuclear-armed military outpost which constantly bombs adjacent nations, interferes in the US and other nations’ politics to shore up support, works toward the slow extermination of its indigenous population and fires upon protesters with live ammunition.

The US would be perfectly happy for Iran to begin acting like Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand or the EU: obedient military/intelligence assets who function as extra American states when it comes to foreign policy and international affairs.

That is what the US means by acting “normal”. Not acting moral. Not acting healthy. Certainly not acting like the US. It means acting obedient, compliant, and enslaved.

Which is precisely what Iran is resisting.

________________________

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