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Posts Tagged ‘Wikileaks’

British Court Trusts US to Protect Assange Even Though CIA Plotted to Kill Him

Posted by M. C. on December 17, 2021

Meanwhile, Assange’s mental and physical health continue to deteriorate. He suffered a stroke in late October as the extradition hearing began. United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer was not surprised. Melzer wrote in a Twitter post that the “U.K. is literally torturing him to death,” adding, “As we warned after examining him, unless relieved of the constant pressure of isolation, arbitrariness & persecution, his health would enter a downward spiral endangering his life.”

https://truthout.org/articles/british-court-trusts-us-to-protect-assange-even-though-cia-plotted-to-kill-him/

By Marjorie Cohn, Truthout

Part of the Series

Human Rights and Global Wrongs

In a patently political decision, the U.K. High Court reversed the British lower court’s denial of extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States on a narrow ground, despite the recent revelations of a CIA plot to kidnap and assassinate him.

Assange was charged by the Trump administration with violation of the Espionage Act for revealing evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. He could be sentenced to 175 years in prison if he is tried and convicted in the United States. But instead of dismissing Trump’s indictment, the Biden administration continues to pursue the case against Assange, notwithstanding the grave threats his prosecution poses to investigative and national security journalism.

The High Court judges did not question U.K. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s conclusion that it would be “oppressive” to extradite Assange due to his mental health. Michael Kopelman, emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at King’s College London, testified that Assange “suffers from a recurrent depressive disorder … sometimes accompanied by psychotic features, often with ruminative suicidal ideas.” He added that the “imminence of extradition or extradition itself would trigger a suicide attempt, but it was Mr. Assange’s mental disorder that would lead to an inability to control his wish to commit suicide.” Although the Biden administration challenged Kopelman’s credibility, the High Court affirmed Baraitser’s reliance on his testimony, which was corroborated by an experienced developmental psychiatrist, Quinton Deeley, who said Assange’s Asperger’s diagnosis means he is at heightened risk of suicide if extradited to the United States.

See the rest here

Marjorie Cohn sits on the national advisory board of AssangeDefense. She is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and a member of the bureau of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

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As Fascism Casts Off Its Disguises – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on December 13, 2021

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2021/12/10/as-fascism-casts-off-its-disguises/

author: Caitlin Johnstone

The US government has won its appeal against a lower British court’s rejection of its extradition request to prosecute Julian Assange for journalistic activity under the Espionage Act. Rather than going free, the WikiLeaks founder will continue to languish in Belmarsh Prison where he has already spent over two and a half years despite having been convicted of no crime.

“As a result, that extradition request will now be sent to British Home Secretary Prita Patel, who technically must approve all extradition requests but, given the U.K. Government’s long-time subservience to the U.S. security state, is all but certain to rubber-stamp it,” writes Glenn Greenwald. “Assange’s representatives, including his fiancee Stella Morris, have vowed to appeal the ruling, but today’s victory for the U.S. means that Assange’s freedom, if it ever comes, is further away than ever: not months but years even under the best of circumstances.”

“Mark this day as fascism casts off its disguises,” tweeted journalist John Pilger of the ruling.

Media freedom plays an indispensable role in informing the public, holding governments accountable, and telling stories that otherwise would not be told. The U.S. will continue to stand up for the brave and necessary work of journalists around the world. #SummitForDemocracy pic.twitter.com/ilitbdzSd1

— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) December 8, 2021

This ruling which allows the US to continue working to extradite a journalist for exposing US war crimes comes on the final day of Washington’s so-called “Summit for Democracy“, where the US Secretary of State made a grandiose show about how press freedom “plays an indispensable role in informing the public, holding governments accountable, and telling stories that otherwise would not be told” and said “The U.S. will continue to stand up for the brave and necessary work of journalists around the world.”

This ruling also comes on UN Human Rights Day.

This ruling comes on the same day as two journalists formally received the Nobel Peace Prizes they’d been rewarded and demanded protections for journalists in their acceptance speech.

This ruling comes as the US government pledges hundreds of millions of dollars in support for “independent media” around the world in coordination with British state media.

This ruling comes after it was revealed that the CIA drew up plans to kidnap and assassinate Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy after the 2017 Vault 7 releases embarrassed the agency.

This ruling comes after it was revealed that CIA proxies spied on Assange and his lawyers at the Ecuadorian embassy, thereby making a fair trial in the United States impossible.

This ruling comes after it was revealed that the US prosecution relied on false testimony from a diagnosed sociopath and convicted child molester.

This ruling comes after recent investigative reports on civilian-slaughtering US airstrikes reminded us why it’s so important for the press to be able to conduct critical natsec journalism on the most powerful military force ever assembled.

The High Court has ruled that Julian #Assange can be extradited to the US. “How can it be fair, how can it be right, how can it be possible, to extradite Julian to the very country which plotted to kill him?” said Stella Moris. Mark this day as fascism casts off its disguises.

— John Pilger (@johnpilger) December 10, 2021

The facts are in and the case is closed: the US and its allies do not care about press freedoms beyond the extent that they can be used to conduct propaganda. The way journalists who offend the powerful are dealt with by the US government and the way they are dealt with by the Saudi monarchy differ only in terms of speed and messiness.

The masks are crumbling. Even when he is silenced, immobilized, locked up and hidden from public view, Julian Assange continues to shine a light on the abusive mechanisms of power. He is arguably exposing them more now than ever before.

As fascism casts off its disguises, it becomes more and more important to highlight the hypocrisy, fraudulence and depravity of the people who rule our world.

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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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Erie Times E-Edition Article-US: Assange could serve time in Australia

Posted by M. C. on October 28, 2021

Assange, who is being held at London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, had been expected to attend the twoday hearing by video link, but Fitzgerald said Assange had been put on a high dose of medication and “doesn’t feel able to attend.”

Australia-The country where police beat people in the streets for not wearing a mask.

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=33fd0bc35_1345f78

Jill Lawless

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONDON – U.S. authorities launched a new battle on Wednesday to make Julian Assange face American justice, telling British judges that if they agree to extradite the WikiLeaks founder on espionage charges, he could serve any U.S. prison sentence he receives in his native Australia.

In January, a lower U.K. court refused a U.S. request to extradite Assange over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret American military documents a decade ago. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that Assange, who has spent years in hiding and in British prisons as he fights extradition, was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions.

Appealing against the January decision, an attorney for the U.S. government on Wednesday denied that Assange’s mental health was too fragile to withstand the U.S. judicial system. Lawyer James Lewis said Assange “has no history of serious and enduring mental illness” and does not meet the threshold of being so ill that he cannot resist harming himself.

U.S. prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over Wiki-Leaks’ publication of thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison, but Lewis said that “the longest sentence ever imposed for this offense is 63 months.”

Lewis said American authorities had promised that Assange would not be held before trial in a top-security “Supermax” prison or subjected to strict isolation conditions and, if convicted, would be allowed to serve his sentence in Australia. Lewis said the assurances “are binding on the United States.”

“Once there is an assurance of appropriate medical care, once it is clear he will be repatriated to Australia to serve any sentence, then we can safely say the district judge would not have decided the relevant question in the way that she did,” he said.

The U.S. also says a key defense witness, neuropsychiatrist Michael Kopelman, misled the previous judge by omitting to mention that Stella Moris, a member of WikiLeaks’ legal team, was also Assange’s partner and had two children with him. Lewis said that information was “a highly relevant factor to the question of likelihood to suicide.” Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, accused U.S. lawyers of seeking to “minimize the severity of Mr. Assange’s mental disorder and suicide risk.”

Fitzgerald said in a written submission that Australia has not yet agreed to take Assange if he is convicted. Even if Australia did agree, Fitzgerald said the U.S. legal process could take a decade, “during which Mr. Assange will remain detained in extreme isolation in a U.S. prison.”

Assange, who is being held at London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, had been expected to attend the twoday hearing by video link, but Fitzgerald said Assange had been put on a high dose of medication and “doesn’t feel able to attend.”

Assange later appeared on the video link at times, seated at a table in a prison room wearing a black face mask.

The U.S. requested to extradite Julian Assange over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret American military documents a decade ago. MATT DUNHAM/AP FILE

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Netflix To Launch WikiLeaks Smear Job Three Days Before Assange Court Date – by Caitlin Johnstone – Caitlin’s Newsletter

Posted by M. C. on October 15, 2021

So they’re not exactly looking out for the little guy, which from a company worth an estimated $229 billion should come as no surprise.

Still, such open facilitation of the world’s most powerful government in its campaign to imprison a journalist for inconvenient journalistic activity is a special kind of reprehensible.

https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/netflix-to-launch-wikileaks-smear

Caitlin Johnstone

Netflix will begin streaming a brazen hatchet job on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for its American subscribers on October 24th, just three days prior to a significant court date in Assange’s fight against extradition from the UK to the United States on October 27th.

“You can stream We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks on Netflix starting Sunday, October 24, 2021, at 12 AM PT / 3 AM ET,” Netflix Schedule reports.

We Steal Secrets was a “documentary” that is now so outdated beyond its 2013 release that one of its central characters, Chelsea Manning, is referred to by a dead name throughout its entirety. Why choose this specific moment to release it? 

Well it doesn’t make much sense at all, if the timing wasn’t deliberately geared toward damaging Assange’s reputation in the nation whose government is trying to extradite him for exposing its war crimes. Assange’s October court date was set way back in August and Netflix didn’t announce it had scheduled to begin streaming this film until two weeks agoJonathan Cook @Jonathan_K_CookThree days before a crucial court hearing – as Julian Assange fights against extradition to a US super-max prison – Netflix is showing Alex Gibney’s execrable propaganda film We Steal Secrets. I wrote a post detailing its smears at the time of its release jonathan-cook.net/2013-07-29/the…

NetflixFilm @NetflixFilmWE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS (On Netflix in the US on October 24) https://t.co/KzGjiFepYLOctober 13th 202180 Retweets128 Likes

After all, We Steal Secrets was so egregious in its spin that not only did WikiLeaks supporters like World Socialist Website and journalist Jonathan Cook pan it as a smear at the time, but WikiLeaks itself went to the trouble of publishing a line-by-line refutation of the mountains of propaganda distortion heaped on the narrative by filmmaker Alex Gibney.

“The title (‘We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks’) is false,” WikiLeaks writes at the beginning of its response. “It directly implies that WikiLeaks steals secrets. In fact, the statement is made by former CIA/NSA director Michael Hayden in relation to the activities of US government spies, not in relation to WikiLeaks. This an irresponsible libel. Not even critics in the film say that WikiLeaks steals secrets.”

“Gibney’s latest release—We Steal SecretsThe Story of WikiLeaks—is something else again,” World Socialist Website wrote in 2013. “The 130-minute feature is a political hatchet job against Julian Assange and dovetails with the media and US government campaign against the WikiLeaks web site. Whether Gibney has shifted to the right or simply revealed the fatal limitations of his liberal ‘oppositional’ views is a matter for a separate discussion. In any event, his newest work is an effort at disinformation.”

“The job of a good documentarist is to weigh the available material and then present as honest a record of what it reveals as possible. Anything less is at best polemic, if it sides with those who are silenced and weak, and at worst propaganda, if it sides with those who wield power,” critiqued Jonathan Cook at the time.WikiLeaks @wikileaksRELEASE: “We Steal Secrets: Not the Story of WikiLeaks” full annotated transcript justice4assange.com/IMG/html/gibne… @WeStealSecrets @baluebolivarAnnotated Transcript of “We Steal Secrets” by Alex Gibneyjustice4assange.comMay 23rd 201345 Retweets16 Likes

This would not be the first time Netflix has helped circulate narratives that advance the interests of the US empire, or the second, or the third, having already run blatantly propagandistic “documentaries” advancing imperial interests in nations like Ukraine, Russia, Egypt, and multiple ones about Syria. Netflix has also signed deals with the Obamas and with British royalty.

So they’re not exactly looking out for the little guy, which from a company worth an estimated $229 billion should come as no surprise.

Still, such open facilitation of the world’s most powerful government in its campaign to imprison a journalist for inconvenient journalistic activity is a special kind of reprehensible. If there is a healthy humanity in the future, it will look back on the worldwide smear campaign against Assange and WikiLeaks with horror.

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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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Silencing Julian Assange: Why Bother With a Trial When You Can Just Kill Him? — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on October 10, 2021

Or, as Assange’s lawyer put it more to the point, “As an American citizen, I find it absolutely outrageous that our government would be contemplating kidnapping or assassinating somebody without any judicial process simply because he had published truthful information.” Unfortunately, that is not all that the Assange case is about. It is not just a question of truth or fiction and journalistic ethics, but rather an issue of the abuses enabled by powerful men who believe that their power is unlimited.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2021/10/07/silencing-julian-assange-why-bother-with-trial-when-you-can-just-kill-him/

Philip Giraldi

An English friend recently learned about the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plan to either kidnap or kill journalist Julian Assange and quipped “I’ll bet he’s happy to be safe and sound in Belmarsh Prison if he has a chance to read about that!” I replied that his time in Belmarsh has been made as demeaning as possible by an English judge and the British are just as capable of executing a Jeffrey Epstein suicide or “accident” if called upon to do so by their American “cousins.” He agreed, reluctantly. Indeed, the roles of American allies Britain and Australia in what is turning out to be one of the world’s longest-playing judicial dramas has been reprehensible.

For those readers who have missed some of the fun of the Assange saga, a recap is in order. Julian Assange, an Australian citizen who was living in London, was the Editor in Chief and driving force behind Wikileaks, which debuted in 2006 and was one of the alternative news sites that have sprung up over the past twenty years. WikiLeaks was somewhat unique in that it often did not write up its own stories but rather was passed documentary material by sources in government and elsewhere that it then reprinted without any editing.

Assange attracted the ire of the ruling class when he obtained in 2010 a classified video from an unidentified source that showed an unprovoked 2007 shooting incident involving U.S. Army helicopters in Baghdad in which a dozen completely innocent people were killed. The government’s anger at WikiLeaks intensified when, in 2013, Edward Snowden, a National Security Agency contractor, fled to Hong Kong with classified material that demonstrated that the U.S. government was illegally spying on Americans. WikiLeaks also reportedly helped to arrange Snowden’s subsequent escape to Russia from Hong Kong.

The bipartisan animus directed against WikiLeaks intensified still further in the summer of 2016 when the group’s website began to release emails from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The immediate conclusion propagated by Team Hillary but unsupported by facts was that Russian intelligence had hacked the emails and given them to WikiLeaks.

It was perhaps inevitable that Assange’s reporting, which has never been found to be factually inaccurate, was in some circles claimed to be based on information provided to him by Russian hackers. Even though he repeatedly denied that that was the case and there are technical reasons why that was unlikely or even impossible, this led to a sharp Russophobic response from a number of intelligence and law enforcement services close to the United States. Assange was charged in Britain in November 2010 on an international warrant demanding that he be extradited to Sweden over claims that he had committed rape in that country, an accusation which later turned out to be false. He posted bail but lost a legal battle to annul the warrant and then skipped a preliminary hearing in London in June 2012 to accept asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy, which has diplomatic immunity. He stayed in the Embassy for eighty-two months, at which point a new government in Quito made clear that his asylum would be revoked and he would be expelled from the building. He was preparing to leave voluntarily in April 2019 when police arrived and he was arrested on a charge of his failure to appear in court seven years before which was regarded as “bail jumping.” He was sent immediately to Belmarsh high security prison, where Britain’s terrorist prisoners are confined.

After his arrest, Assange continued to be incarcerated due to a U.S. Justice Department extradition request based on the Espionage Act of 1918, apparently derived from possible interaction with the Chelsea Manning whistleblower case. Assange has now been in Belmarsh for 29 months in spite of increasing international pressure asserting that he is a journalist and should be released. The British have hesitated to extradite him on the basis of the evidence produced by the U.S. government, which included the claim that Assange aided the former U.S. Army analyst Manning break into a classified computer network in order to obtain and eventually publish classified material, but they have likewise failed to release him. The British judge denied extradition in January, suggesting that if he were to be returned forcibly to the U.S. he would likely commit suicide, but she also denied Assange bail as he was considered to be a flight risk. The U.S. appealed that verdict and the next hearing is scheduled for the end of October. It should be noted that no evidence produced by the Justice Department has plausibly linked Assange to the Russian intelligence services.

Which brings us to the Yahoo news revelation regarding the CIA plot to shoot, poison or kidnap Assange while he was sheltering in the Ecuadorian Embassy. It goes something like this: in 2017, Assange’s fifth year in the Embassy, the CIA debated going after him to end the alleged threat posed to government secrets by him and his organization, which was still operating and presumed to be in contact with him. WikiLeaks had at that time been publishing extremely sensitive CIA hacking tools, referred to as “Vault 7,” which constituted “the largest data loss in CIA history.”

In an April 2017 speech, Donald Trump’s new CIA Director Mike Pompeo said “WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service and has encouraged its followers to find jobs at the CIA in order to obtain intelligence. It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” It was a declaration of war. The label “non-state hostile intelligence service” is a legal designation which more-or-less opened the door to non-conventional responses to eliminate the threat. CIA Stations where WikiLeaks associates were known to be present were directed to increase surveillance on them and also attempt to interdict any communications they might seek to have with Assange himself in the embassy. A staff of analysts referred to as the “WikiLeaks Team” worked full time to target the organization and its leaders.

At the top level of the Agency debate over more extreme options prevailed, though there were legitimate concerns about the legality of what was being contemplated. In late 2017, in the midst of the debate over possible kidnapping and/or assassination, the Agency picked up alarming though unsubstantiated reports that Russian intelligence operatives were preparing plans to help Assange escape from the United Kingdom and fly him to Moscow.

CIA responded by preparing to foil Assange’s possible Russian-assisted departure to include potential gun battles with Moscow’s spies on the streets of London or crashing a car into any Russian diplomatic vehicle transporting Assange to seize him. One scenario even included either blocking the runway or shooting out the tires of any Russian plane believed to be carrying Assange before it could take off for Moscow. Pompeo himself reportedly favored what is referred to as a “rendition,” which would consist of breaking into the Ecuadorian Embassy, kidnapping Assange, and flying him clandestinely to the U.S. for trial. Others in the national security team favored killing Assange rather than going through the complexity of kidnapping and removing him. Fortunately, saner views prevailed, particularly when the British refused to cooperate in any way with activity they regarded as clearly illegal.

So Assange is still in prison and what does it all mean? The only possible charge that would convincingly demonstrate that Assange was spy paid by Russia would be related to his possibly helping Chelsea Manning to circumvent security to steal classified material, but there is no real evidence that Assange actually did that or that he is under Russian control. So that makes him a journalist. That he has embarrassed the United States, most often when it misbehaves, is what good journalists do. But beyond that the disgraceful CIA plans to kill or abduct Assange as an option to get rid of him reveal yet again the dark side of what the United States of America has become since 9/11.

More to the point, getting rid of Assange will accomplish nothing. He worked with a number of like-minded colleagues who have been more than able to pick up where he left off. He has been largely incommunicado since he has been languishing in Belmarsh Prison and it is his associates who have continued to solicit information and publish it on their site. Mike Pompeo’s unapologetic response to this assassination or kidnapping story was “They were engaged in active efforts to steal secrets themselves, and pay others to do the same …” Of course, if all that were true Mike and the government lawyers have had an opportunity to demonstrate just that in a British court. They couldn’t do so and instead promoted the easier option of just killing someone for publishing something true. And assassination is a blunt instrument that rarely accomplishes anything. One recalls that in January 2020 Pompeo certainly participated in the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi Militia Leader Muhandis in Baghdad. What did that accomplish apart from turning a nominally friendly Iraq hostile to the U.S. presence?

Or, as Assange’s lawyer put it more to the point, “As an American citizen, I find it absolutely outrageous that our government would be contemplating kidnapping or assassinating somebody without any judicial process simply because he had published truthful information.” Unfortunately, that is not all that the Assange case is about. It is not just a question of truth or fiction and journalistic ethics, but rather an issue of the abuses enabled by powerful men who believe that their power is unlimited. That is the real abyss that the United States has fallen into and the only way out is to finally hold such people, starting with Pompeo, accountable for what they have done.

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How Is The CIA Still A Thing?

Posted by M. C. on September 27, 2021

These plans were reportedly made in coordination with the Trump White House as then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo and then-Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel raged over WikiLeaks’ 2017 Vault 7 release which revealed that the CIA had lost control of an enormous digital arsenal of hacking tools. These included tools which enabled the surveillance of smartphones, smart TVs and web browsers, the hacking of computerized vehicle control systems, and the ability to frame foreign governments for cyber attacks by inserting the digital “fingerprints” of the hacking methods they employ for investigators to find. It was the single largest data leak in CIA history.

https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/how-is-the-cia-still-a-thing

Caitlin Johnstone

Citing “conversations with more than 30 former U.S. officials,” a new report by Yahoo News has confirmed earlier allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency not only spied on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his associates, but also drew up plans for kidnapping, renditioning, and assassinating him.

These plans were reportedly made in coordination with the Trump White House as then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo and then-Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel raged over WikiLeaks’ 2017 Vault 7 release which revealed that the CIA had lost control of an enormous digital arsenal of hacking tools. These included tools which enabled the surveillance of smartphones, smart TVs and web browsers, the hacking of computerized vehicle control systems, and the ability to frame foreign governments for cyber attacks by inserting the digital “fingerprints” of the hacking methods they employ for investigators to find. It was the single largest data leak in CIA history.

Normally we have to wait decades for confirmation that the CIA did something nefarious, and then people absurdly assume that such things no longer occur because it was so long ago, and because changing your worldview is uncomfortable. But here we are with an extensively sourced report that the agency plotted to kidnap, rendition and assassinate a journalist for publishing authentic documents in the public interest, just four years after the fact.Kevin Gosztola @kgosztolaJournalists for Yahoo! News finally confirmed a narrative around Mike Pompeo and the CIA’s war on WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, which I outlined back in October 2019. It’s an important report. Thread. Kidnapping, assassination and a London shoot-out: Inside the CIA’s secret war plans against WikiLeaksIn 2017, as Julian Assange began his fifth year holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London, the CIA plotted to kidnap the WikiLeaks founder, spurring heated…news.yahoo.comSeptember 26th 20211,643 Retweets3,548 Likes

Which is about as spectacular a violation of virtually every value that western society claims to uphold. Particularly the assassination bit.

The authors of the story (who for the record insert their own flimsy spin insinuating ties between Russia and WikiLeaks) say it’s not known just how serious the assassination plans were taken at Langley. But they make it abundantly clear that such plans were made:

“[A]gency executives requested and received ‘sketches’ of plans for killing Assange and other Europe-based WikiLeaks members who had access to Vault 7 materials, said a former intelligence official. There were discussions ‘on whether killing Assange was possible and whether it was legal,’ the former official said.”

And that, right there, just by itself, should be reason enough to completely abolish the Central Intelligence Agency. Just the fact that this is an institution where such conversations even happen and such plans even get made, to say nothing of the obvious implication that they wouldn’t have such conversations and make such plans if they did not act on them from time to time.

I just can’t get over how this claim was openly confirmed by a mainstream journalism investigation and the public response has been “Oh wow what an alarming news story,” instead of, “Okay well the CIA doesn’t get to exist then.” 

I mean, is it not out-of-this-world bizarre that we just found out the CIA recently drew up plans to assassinate a journalist for journalistic activity, and yet we’re not all unanimously demanding that the CIA be completely dismantled and flushed down the toilet forever?Nick is a Fred Hampton Leftist 🥋 @SocialistMMAI’m seriously confused at the people who are opposed to abolishing the CIA? Is the argument that they are doing good work? How can anyone hear about the history of the CIA and what they do and be like, “I approve”September 27th 2021293 Retweets1,542 Likes

This would after all be the same lyingdrug-runningwarmongeringpropagandizingpsychological terrorizing Central Intelligence Agency that has been viciously smashing the world into compliance with its agendas for generations. It is surely one of the most depraved institutions ever to have existed, comparable in terms of sheer psychopathy to the worst of the worst in history.

So why does it exist? Why is there still an institution whose extensive use of torture has reportedly included “Rape, gang rape, rape using eels, snakes, or hard objects, and rape followed by murder; electric shock (‘the Bell Telephone Hour’) rendered by attaching wires to the genitals or other sensitive parts of the body, like the tongue; the ‘water treatment’; the ‘airplane’ in which the prisoner’s arms were tied behind the back, and the rope looped over a hook on the ceiling, suspending the prisoner in midair, after which he or she was beaten; beatings with rubber hoses and whips; the use of police dogs to maul prisoners”?

I am of course being rhetorical. We all know why the CIA still exists. An agency which exerts control over the news media with ever-increasing brazenness is not about to start helping the public become more well-informed about its unbroken track record of horrific abuses, and if anyone in power ever even thinks about crossing them they have “six ways from Sunday of getting back at you.”https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/6OYyXv2l4-I?rel=0&autoplay=0&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=0

The date of the absolute last time the CIA ever did anything evil keeps getting moved forward. The CIA just casually had plans drawn up for the assassination of Julian Assange in case they decided that was something they wanted to do, but you’re a crazy conspiracy theorist if you think they might be doing other bad things right now.

The reason the latest Assange story isn’t getting more traction and causing more people to think critically about the CIA is because the US government making plans to kidnap, rendition and assassinate a journalist for telling the truth is so incomprehensibly evil that it causes too much cognitive dissonance for people to really take in. Our minds are wired to reject information which disrupts our worldview, and people who’ve spent their lives marinating in the belief that they live in a free democracy will have worldviews that are resistant to information which shows we are actually ruled by secretive power structures who laugh at our votes.

So to recap, the CIA made plans to kidnap and rendition Julian Assange and to assassinate him and his associates. The CIA also spied on Assange and his legal team, and a notoriously untrustworthy key witness for the prosecution in his case has admitted to fabricating evidence. And yet the CIA is not being burnt to the ground and its ashes scattered to the Langley winds, and the UK is still somehow proceeding right along with the US appeal to extradite Assange.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: as much light as WikiLeaks has shone on the dark inner workings of the powerful over the years, the persecution of Julian Assange by those very same power structures has revealed far, far more. The more they seek to persecute him the brighter that light shines on them, making it easier and easier for us to see who they are, what they do, and how they do it.

____________________________

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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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.

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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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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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THE REVELATIONS OF WIKILEAKS: No. 9—Opening the CIA’s Vault – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on October 28, 2020

https://consortiumnews.com/2020/10/26/the-revelations-of-wikileaks-no-9-opening-the-cias-vault/

By Patrick LawrenceSpecial to Consortium News

On Feb. 6, 2017, WikiLeaks released documents detailing the Central Intelligence Agency’s espionage program in the months leading up to and following France’s presidential election in 2012. 

The agency used spies and cyberweapons to infiltrate and hack into the major political parties with competing candidates — the Socialists, the National Front and the Union for a Popular Movement. Their candidates — respectively François Hollande, Marine Le Pen and incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy — were also spied upon individually, as were many other prominent political figures.

The objectives of the program included ascertaining the contending parties’ political strategies and platforms, their views of the U.S., and their relations with the European Union, with other European nations (Germany, Britain) as well as Israel, Palestine, Libya, Syria, and others. The CIA’s French operation lasted 10 months, beginning in November 2011 and enduring until September 2012, several months after Hollande won the election and formed a Socialist government.

WikiLeaks’ disclosure of the agency’s project bears a special irony: It was just as WikiLeaks published this material in 2017 that the CIA helped propagate unsubstantiated (and later discounted) “intelligence” that Russian hackers and propagandists were interfering with France’s presidential election that year. Similar allegations (similarly lacking in evidence) were floated as the European Union held parliamentary elections in May 2019.

As WikiLeaks reported at the time of the releases on the CIA’s covert activities in France, those revelations were to serve “as context for its forthcoming CIA Vault 7 series.” WikiLeaks’ apparent intent was to display a CIA’s hacking operation in action.

Vault 7, the subject of this latest report on the history of WikiLeaks disclosures, stands as the most extensive publication on record of classified and confidential CIA documents. Never before and not since have the agency’s innumerable programs and capabilities been so thoroughly exposed to public scrutiny.

Biggest Since Snowden

Rally in Germany in support of Edward Snowden, Aug. 30, 2014. (Markus Winkler, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder and publisher, described the Vault 7 publications as the most significant since Edward Snowden, the former CIA data analyst, released an unprecedented trove of National Security Agency documents in the summer of 2013. 

The Vault 7 series concerns the extraordinarily sophisticated inventory of cyber weapons the CIA has developed to spy on or hack into the communications of any person or entity it targets. Apart from the espionage function, certain of the programs in Vault 7 — this designation is WikiLeaks’, not the CIA’s — can also plant documents and data without being detected as the source — when, for example, the agency wishes to compromise an adversary via a false-flag operation.

The program wherein this capability was developed, called Marble, may have been crucial to creating the orthodox “narrative” that Russia was responsible for the theft of Democratic Party email in 2016 — the cornerstone allegation in the construct we now call Russiagate.

The Vault 7 releases expose the CIA’s hacking activities from 2013 to 2016. The series began on March 7, 2017, with the publication of “Year Zero,” an introductory survey and analysis of the agency’s globally deployed hacking programs. The Vault 7 series ran for six months, concluding on Sept. 7, 2017.

Complete as of that date, the series is comprised of 23 publications, each of which focuses on an individual hacking or cyber-espionage program. Marble is one of these. 

The CIA’s development of its hacking capabilities began as a joint effort with the National Security Agency. But the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, begun in 2001 and 2003 respectively, proved a turning point for the agency. It was during this time that the CIA, as WikiLeaks puts it in its introduction to the Vault 7 series, “gained political and budgetary preeminence over the NSA.”

According to former U.S. intelligence sources, the CIA has invested some $175 billion in its vast variety of cyber programs in the post–2001 years. “The agency’s hacking division, WikiLeaks notes, “freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA’s hacking capacities.”

A Near Deal to Free Assange

Assange in 2014, while in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. (Cancillería del Ecuador, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

WikiLeaks launched the Vault 7 series at a delicate moment for Assange, who was at the time taking asylum at the Ecuadoran embassy in London.

Shortly after Donald Trump took office in January 2017, Assange’s attorneys approached a lawyer named Adam Waldman, who was noted for his Washington connections.

Assange’s team proposed negotiations that would commit the U.S. to granting Assange limited immunity and safe passage from the Ecuadoran embassy in exchange for his agreement to limit publication of classified CIA documents. The agency knew by this time that WikiLeaks had an extensive inventory of CIA documents it was prepared to publish. These included what WikiLeaks soon named Vault 7.

Crucially, Assange signaled that he was also willing to reveal technical evidence that would shed light on who was not responsible for the theft of email from the Democratic National Committee in mid–2016. This was key: By this time the “narrative” that Russia had hacked the DNC’s computer servers was well-established; the Democratic Party, the intelligence agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the media were heavily invested in it. Assange, while observing the WikiLeaks principle of not revealing sources, had by this time asserted that Russia had nothing to do with the intrusion.  

The Justice Department and Assange’s attorneys drafted an immunity deal in the course of the negotiations that both sides agreed to pursue. The attorneys’ initial contact, through Waldman, was a DoJ official named Bruce Ohr. The lead DoJ negotiator was named David Laufman. When WikiLeaks released “Year Zero” on March 7, 2017, these negotiations were still in progress; the release had no apparent impact on the talks.

But at this point the contacts between Assange and the U.S. government took a fateful turn. The only full account of the events summarized below was written by John Solomon, who has followed the Russiagate phenomenon from the first, and was published in The Hill on June 25, 2018.

Shortly after negotiations began, Waldman, the go-between, contacted Mark Warner, the Democratic senator from Virginia, to see if the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which Warner was vice-chairman, wished to contact Assange on its own in connection to matters related to Russia. This proved a miscalculation.

Sen. Mark Warner giving keynote address during 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. (Qqqqqq, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Warner, who had vigorously pressed the Russiagate narrative from the first, soon contacted James Comey, then the FBI director. Comey was also an aggressive Russiagate advocate and had a direct interest in sustaining the official account of events: It was while he ran the FBI that the bureau worked with CrowdStrike, the infamous cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC, to build what is now demonstrated to be an entirely false case to support the Democrats’ assertions of Russian responsibility for the mail intrusion.

Any proof that Russia had no role in the DNC mail theft would have discredited the FBI and Comey and very likely destroyed the career of Comey and numerous others. 

Comey, working through Sen. Warner, immediately ordered Waldman to cut off the Assange–DoJ talks. Although negotiations continued a brief while longer, Comey had effectively dealt them a soon-to-be-fatal blow. By this time WikiLeaks had released two other Vault 7 document collections, including what it called the Marble Framework.

The DoJ finally broke off the negotiations on April 7, when WikiLeaks released a fourth set of documents, this one called Grasshopper. Six days later Mike Pompeo, then CIA director, gave a notably aggressive speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Washington think tank, in which he called WikiLeaks “a nonstate hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” https://www.youtube.com/embed/pe3ApagvwNM?enablejsapi=1&autoplay=0&cc_load_policy=0&iv_load_policy=1&loop=0&modestbranding=1&fs=1&playsinline=0&controls=1&color=red&rel=0&autohide=2&theme=dark&

With the CSIS speech, Pompeo effectively opened the Trump administration’s rigorously pressed campaign to have Assange extradited from Britain. The WikiLeaks founder appears never to have had another chance to negotiate an agreement providing for his freedom.

Run Amok

The Vault 7 releases continued at a steady pace, roughly four a month, for the next five months. The documents WikiLeaks made public, along with descriptions of the programs WikiLeaks deemed significant, can be found via its “Vault 7: Projects” report. Taken together they describe an expensively funded U.S. government organization that has run frighteningly amok, operates with no regard for U.S. or international law, and stands entirely beyond civilian control. Many of the projects exposed in the Vault 7 releases, and very likely most or all, violate Fourth Amendment rights to privacy and the CIA’s charter, which bars the agency from activity on U.S. soil.

Former CIA Director Allen Dulles. (CIA)

The history of the CIA, reaching back to Allen Dulles’ tenure as director (1953 to 1961), indicates that from its earliest days it entertained a diabolic desire to accumulate the power to operate with no reference to constraints of any kind, including those imposed by ordinary standards of decency. In this way it was effectively the id of America’s exceptionalist consciousness. What we see in the Vault 7 series is the perversely logical outcome of this culture of limitless impunity and immunity.

By the end of 2016, the hacking division of the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence had more than 1,000 hacking, malware, virus-implanting, remote-control and Trojan-horse programs in its inventory. These comprised more than 700 million lines of computer code.

Former CIA and NSA officials told Consortium News that a line of code costs roughly $25 to produce, putting the cost of the agency’s hacking tools over the years these programs were developed at $175 billion. “The CIA had created its ‘own NSA,’” WikiLeaks noted when it began releasing the Vault 7 publications, “with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.”

What follows are accounts and summaries of the most significant of the 23 Vault 7 releases. We present these chronologically, the earliest first, to give readers a clear idea of how WikiLeaks organized and presented the Vault 7 project. 

Year Zero

March 7, 2017

With the publication of “Year Zero,” it was immediately clear that WikiLeaks had penetrated into or very near the core of the CIA’s cyberoperations. This first Vault 7 release is comprised of 8,761 documents and files obtained from what WikiLeaks describes as “an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia, the agency’s headquarters.

Aerial view of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. (Carol M. Highsmith, Wikimedia Commons)

As WikiLeaks notes, the agency had “lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal” shortly before it published “Year Zero.” There had been a massive leak, to put this point in simple terms. “The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner,” WikiLeaks reported, “one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.” This occurred at some point in 2016.

“Year Zero” serves as an overview of “the scope and direction of the CIA’s global hacking program” and an introduction to material included in the Vault 7 releases to follow. The agency’s inventory of tools was the purview — and we can assume continues to be so — of the Engineering Development Group (EDG), a technology department under the authority of the Center for Cyber Intelligence.

The EDG also tests and operates its products once they are perfected and added to the agency’s arsenal. The engineering group, Wikileaks reported, has developed some 500 projects, each with its own malware and hacking tools. The EDG’s focus is on penetration, implanting, control and exfiltration. “Year Zero” analyzes the most important of these. 

High among the objectives of Vault 7 programs was to achieve the capability of penetrating the manufacturers of cellular telephones and other electronic devices for a variety of operations. Among the products targeted for this purpose were Apple’s iPhone and iPad, Google’s Android operating system, Microsoft Windows and Samsung televisions.

Programs included in the Vault 7 collection were designed to hack these and other commonly used devices and systems remotely so they can corrupt the targets and also send the CIA the owner’s geographic location and all audio and text communications. Other programs were capable of turning on a device’s microphone and camera without the owner’s knowledge. Other attack-and-control programs targeted MAC OS X, Solaris and Linux operating systems.

A number of the CIA’s programs revealed in the Vault 7 releases focus exclusively on one or another of these companies, most commonly Microsoft.

Building 92 at Microsoft Corporation headquarters in Redmond, Washington. (Coolcaesar, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

“Grasshopper” (April 7, 2017) is a platform for the development of malware designed for attacks on Windows operating systems. “AfterMidnight” (May 12, 2017) and “Brutal Kangaroo” (June 22, 2017) also target the Microsoft Windows platform, while “Weeping Angels” (April 21, 2017) infiltrated Samsung televisions. “Outlaw Country” (June 30, 2017) is designed for attack on computers that use the Linux OS. 

“Year Zero” also details the CIA’s use of what the agency calls “zero days.” These are commonly occurring software code imperfections and vulnerabilities in electronic devices that the CIA knows and makes use of but does not disclose to manufacturers or the public.

In some respects, zero days are treated as commodities. While the CIA discovered some zero days on its own, it obtained others from the NSA, GCHQ (the NSA’s British counterpart), or the FBI. It also purchased zero days from private cyber-weapons manufacturers much as the Pentagon would buy a weapons system from a defense contractor.

The CIA’s stockpile of zero days enables it to bypass encryption systems installed in such communications applications as WhatsApp, the widely used long-distance telephone and text service. This makes zero days, which can be used either locally or remotely, especially significant in extending the reach of the agency’s hacking operations. The CIA’s practice of keeping zero days secret — effectively hoarding them, as WikiLeaks notes — is especially cynical and dangerous.

As WikiLeaks explains:

“If the CIA can hack these phones then so can everyone else who has obtained or discovered the vulnerability. As long as the CIA keeps these vulnerabilities concealed from Apple and Google (who make the phones) they will not be fixed, and the phones will remain hackable. The same vulnerabilities exist for the population at large, including the U.S. Cabinet, Congress, top CEOs, system administrators, security officers and engineers. By hiding these security flaws from manufacturers like Apple and Google, the CIA ensures that it can hack everyone– at the expense of leaving everyone hackable.”

Most malware developed by the EDG and related units in the CIA’s organizational structure is designed to remain in implanted devices for considerable lengths of time — in some cases years — after it is installed. So long as it is present it communicates regularly and in two-way fashion with the CIA’s Command and Control systems.

While many programs are implanted remotely, some require a physical presence. This typically means an agent infests a targeted device on site. But in some cases, the CIA covertly intervened into supply chains and delivery services, including postal services, by opening, infecting, and on-sending products without the knowledge of either the manufacturer or the purchaser.

As it began its Vault 7 series with “Year Zero,” WikiLeaks took the occasion to note “an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons,’” as Assange put it at the time. He drew a comparison between these weapons and the global arms trade, noting “the inability to contain them, combined with their high market value.”

The source of the Vault 7 trove, who was among the former government hackers and contractors circulating the Vault programs among themselves, shared these and other concerns:

“In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation, and democratic control of cyber-weapons.”

This is Consortium News’s intent in publishing its report on Vault 7.

Mindful of the risks attached to proliferation, and perhaps of past (and unfounded) charges that its publications compromised U.S. national security and American personnel, WikiLeaks notes that it was careful to avoid distributing what it termed “‘armed’ cyber-weapons” as it published the Vault 7 series.

It also said it redacted “tens of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe, and the United States.” In a note in an FAQ section appended to “Year Zero,” WikiLeaks states, “Names, email addresses, and external IP addresses have been redacted in the released pages (70,875 redactions in total) until further analysis is complete.”

Dark Matter
March 23, 2017

Projects developed in the “Dark Matter” program were designed to penetrate Apple Macs and iPhones with what is called firmware — that is, malware that continues to infect the units attacked even if the OS is reinstalled. “Sonic Screwdriver,” a sub-project in this group, allowed attackers to install and activate computer code while users booted up these Apple devices.

See the rest here

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for theInternational Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site.

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