AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN PILGER: “ASSANGE IS THE COURAGEOUS EMBODIMENT OF A STRUGGLE AGAINST THE MOST OPPRESSIVE FORCES IN OUR WORLD”

JULY 27TH, 2022

Source

Oscar Grenfell

In an interview with the World Socialist Web Site, renowned Australian investigative journalist John Pilger has warned that the “US is close to getting its hands on” the courageous WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.

Last month, British Home Secretary Priti Patel approved Assange’s extradition to the US, where he faces 175 years imprisonment under the Espionage Act for publishing true information exposing American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. As Pilger explains, Patel’s order will be the subject of a further appeal, but the British judiciary that will adjudicate has facilitated Assange’s persecution every step of the way. This underscores the urgency of a political fight to free Assange, based on the powerful struggles of the working class that are emerging all around the world.

Pilger began his media career in the late 1950s. His first documentary, The Quiet Mutiny, exposed aspects of the US war in Vietnam in 1970. Since then, Pilger has produced more than 50 documentaries, many of them feature-length and centering on revealing the crimes of the major imperialist powers.

In a 2012 Rolling Stone interview, Assange was asked: “Who has been your most critical public supporter?” He replied: “John Pilger, the Australian journalist, has been the most impressive.”

Pilger has been unwavering in his defence of the WikiLeaks publisher. In 2018 and 2019, he addressed Socialist Equality Party rallies, demanding that the Australian government use its diplomatic and legal powers to free Assange.

Because of his principled defence of Assange and opposition to war, Pilger is hardly ever referenced in Australia’s official media, despite being one of the country’s most well-known and respected journalists.

WSWS: After Patel’s announcement allowing extradition, where is the Assange case up to? Are the dangers he confronts of a greater urgency than previously?

John Pilger: It is a dangerous, unpredictable time. Since the Home Secretary signed the extradition order, a provisional appeal has been filed by Julian’s lawyers. ‘Provisional’ is part of the tortuous process of appeal. The lawyers must submit what are known as ‘perfected grounds of appeal’ in the next few weeks, then the US and the Home Secretary file their responses. Only after that does it go to a judge (not sitting in a court) to decide whether or not he will accept it. It may sound meticulous but, having observed it, it looks to me like a finely spun blanket of obfuscation over a profoundly biased system.

Until the High Court hearing last year, I believed the country’s senior judges would reject the US appeal and reclaim something of the mythologised notion of British justice if only for the system’s survival, which partly depends on “face” within the arcane reaches of the British establishment. This show of “independence” in support of justice has happened in the past. In Julian’s case, the facts are surely too outrageous—no properly constituted court would even consider it—yet I was wrong. The decision by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales last October that the US in effect had the right to fabricate and belatedly introduce “assurances” that had not even been part of previous due process was quite shocking. There was no justice, no process; the guile and ruthlessness of US power was on show. Might is right.

Today, the US knows it is close to getting its hands on Julian. Unlike previous parliaments at Westminster, there is not a single voice speaking up for him. In spite of a tenacious campaign emphasising the threat Julian’s extradition poses to a “free press,” he is barely acknowledged in the media, which remains intensely hostile to him. Journalists have never been as compliant as they are today, and Julian’s case is a reminder—to some—of what they ought to be. He shames them.

WSWS: You have consistently defended Julian for more than ten years. Over that period have you been shocked by the intensity with which he has been pursued?

JP: Perhaps not shocked; as a journalist, I have had my own taste of state ruthlessness. Remember the pursuit of Julian is a measure of his achievements. He informed millions about the deceptions of governments too many trusted; he respected their right to know. It was a remarkable public service.

WSWS: Do you think this is bound up with a broader assault on democratic rights?

JP: Yes, it’s the latest stage of the abandonment of what used to be called “social democracy.” The “rollback” of rights in the US and UK is in reaction to the uprising, in the 1960s an 1970s, of people and their conscientiousness and of ideas of equity. This was an historical “moment” when society was becoming more enlightened; minority and gender rights were gaining acceptance; workers were fighting back. At the same time, the so-called “information age” was launched. It was only partly about information; it was a media age, with the media establishing a ubiquitous, controlling place in people’s lives. One of the most influential books of the time was The Greening of America. On the cover were the words: “There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual.” The message of its author, a young Yale academic, Charles Reich, was that truth-telling and political action had failed and only “culture” and introspection could change the world.

Within a few years, driven by new opportunities of profit, the cult of “me-ism” had subverted people’s sense of acting together, their sense and language of social justice and internationalism. Class, gender and race were separated; class as a way of explaining society became heresy. The personal was the political, and the media was the message. The propaganda was that something called globalism was good for you. Corporatism, its specious language and its authoritarianism, appropriated much about the way we lived, ensuring what the economist Ted Wheelwright called a “Two Thirds Society”—with the bottom third beholden to debt and poverty while an unrecognised class war uprooted and destroyed the power of labour.  In 2008, the election of the first black president in the land of slavery and the fabrication of a new cold war completed the political disorientation of those who, 20 years earlier, would have formed a critical opposition and an anti-war movement.

WSWS: Is there a relationship with the escalation of war, including the US-led confrontations with China and Russia?

JP: Events today are the direct result of plans laid in the 1992 Defence Planning Guidance, a document that laid out how the US would maintain its empire and see off any challenges, real and imagined. The aim was US dominance at any cost, literally. Written by Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney, who would play key roles in the administration of George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq, it might have been written by Lord Curzon in the 19th century. They formed “The Project for a New American Century.” America, it boasted, “would oversee a new frontier.” The role of other states would be as vassals or supplicants, or they would be crushed. It planned the conquest of Europe, and Russia, with all the zeal and thoroughness of Hitler’s imperialists. The roots of NATO’s current war on Russia and provocations of China are here.

WSWS: What do you think of the role being played by the Albanese Labor government? Can you comment on the Declassified Australia report, with internal briefings for Attorney-General Dreyfus, which indicated that the only focus of the Labor government is a hypothetical prison transfer, after Assange has been extradited to the US and convicted of Espionage Act charges there?

JP: The Albanese Labor government is as right-wing and compliant as any Australian Labor government—only the Whitlam government in 1972–75 broke the mould, and it was got rid of. It was the Labor government of Julia Gillard that initiated Australia’s collusion with the US to silence Assange. The “prison transfer” idea may be seen as a weasel way of satisfying support for Julian in his homeland. Whatever happens, the US will decide and the Albanese government will do as it’s told.

WSWS: We are raising the need for workers and young people to come to Assange’s defence, as the spearhead of the fight against war and authoritarianism. Why do you think ordinary people should take up the struggle to free Assange?

JP: Julian Assange is the courageous embodiment of a struggle against the darkest, most oppressive forces in our world; and people of principle, young and old, should oppose it as best they can; or one day it may touch their lives, and worse.

Letter from Faina Savenkova: The more you grow up, the more you realise that the world is unfair

July 01, 2022

Faina Savenkova, 13, Lugansk

The more you grow up, the more you realise that the world is unfair. When the war in Donbass began eight years ago, few could have imagined that instead of the peaceful country of Ukraine, its authorities would make it miserable and torn apart, with a fierce hatred of the inhabitants towards each other. But it happened. That Ukraine – with Russian literature, great achievements and normal attitude towards each other – will never be the same again. Just as there will not be the West, which is the stuff of legends: with history, freedom and people to believe in and strive to be like them. Musicians, actors, presenters, politicians… they are all the same. The world itself is changing. Television replaces your walks in the rain and the Internet replaces your books. Why read when you can watch a movie? Why be literate at all? Just know how to count to 100 and put an X. It’s been done before. And it’s probably a very comfortable world for some. But not for those who remember what IT is like to ask the right questions. Because asking them can destroy the cardboard world that we are encouraged to think is real. Such was the case with Julian Assange, who has become an example to many. He is one of those who has not been afraid to openly declare that people have a right to know the truth, shattering the known and so familiar illusion. He broke through the breach in this painstakingly built-up cardboard wall at the cost of his “normal” life. Let it not be in vain and others who wish to live in truth push that breach from horizon to horizon. And I will keep trying to push that breach to my horizon in Donbass…

Good afternoon Mr. Assange!

I have been thinking for a long time how to start this letter… I have written many letters over the years to presidents, politicians and artists in Europe and the USA. Even to the Pope. I was ignored and dismissed, except for the clerks and small officials who answered with formal replies. But I kept writing and begging. It was all about one thing: to help stop the war in Donbass and to influence Ukraine not to kill children in Donetsk and Lugansk, Makeyevka and Pervomaisk. Many people said I was doing it for nothing. Just wasting my time. But listening to them, I remembered you because you were and are an example to me. You could have said nothing to the world about what America was doing and simply remained silent and lived quietly, as many journalists did. But the truth is necessary. And the easiest and the most difficult thing at the same time is to tell it to people.

You have become an example for many, including me. Thank you for your honesty, for your strength of will and for not breaking under the blows of fate. Thank you for the fact that you were able to give strength to fight injustice. May God bless you and your family.


Those that are not familiar with Faina’s work, please do a search on the right hand bar for Faina Sevankova

The Swap Of The Century: Russia Should Offer To Trade Western Mercenaries For Assange

22 JUNE 2022

All told, the swap of the century is a win-win for Russia in all respects. It could indeed be such for the US and UK too if their governments are mindful enough of global perceptions and especially domestic ones to seriously consider this pragmatic proposal, but their ideologically driven hatred of everything that Assange represents might blind them to this reality.

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange is in deteriorating health and will almost certainly die in prison upon his “extradition” from the UK to the US where he’s facing 175 years behind bars on trumped-up charges after exposing American war crimes through his platform. This global icon of free speech and independent journalism engenders sympathy across the world from all but the most radical unipolar liberal-globalists, which is why it’s incumbent to free him at all costs. While it’s a long-shot, the only realistic chance of this happening might be for Russia to offer the swap of the century whereby it publicly proposes trading detained Western mercenaries from the US and UK for Assange.

Two Brits were already just sentenced to death while it can’t be ruled out that the two Americans who were just captured will face the same fate following their upcoming trials. These four figures in and of themselves aren’t anyone anywhere near as important as Assange is, but the fact that they might all face the firing squad has generated global attention and prompted a lot of controversy in their home countries. The Anglo-American Axis is known for its ruthlessness, especially in terms of how it exploits its citizens as pawns only to discard them once their strategic utility has expired like those four foreign fighters’ already has. Nevertheless, many of their compatriots passionately detest this cold approach.

By publicly proposing the swap of the century – these four detained Western mercenaries in exchange for Assange – Russia would simultaneously accomplish several strategic objectives. First, it would make the most realistic attempt yet to free this global icon of free speech and independent journalism. Second, this would powerfully counteract the false claims from the US-led Western Mainstream Media (MSM) that Russia is a so-called “dictatorship” that doesn’t sincerely support everything that Assange represents. Third, it could inspire peaceful protests organized in accordance with American and British laws in support of this proposal, which could put grassroots pressure upon them to agree to this.

Fourth, those two governments’ likely refusal to comply with the terms of Russia’s swap of the century would expose their fiery hatred of the two things that Assange represents, free speech and independent journalism. And fifth, the US and UK would basically be admitting to their own citizens that they’d rather that they be put to death by firing squad in Donbass than save their lives by trading them for Assange. That final outcome would be the last nail in the coffin of their reputation in the public eye since people would now know that their authorities can’t be counted upon to save their lives if they get captured and sentenced to death for fighting in the same proxy war that the US and UK are waging against Russia.

All told, the swap of the century is a win-win for Russia in all respects. It could indeed be such for the US and UK too if their governments are mindful enough of global perceptions and especially domestic ones to seriously consider this pragmatic proposal, but their ideologically driven hatred of everything that Assange represents might blind them to this reality. Be that as it may, there’s no harm in trying, which is why Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova should consider floating this proposal during one of her upcoming press conferences. It would irreversibly shape global perceptions about her country and those two, not to mention possibly even saving the lives of five people, one of whom is indisputably innocent.

Let’s Not Obsess Over Julian Assange’s Job Title, but Consider What Is the Real Story About His Extradition

June 23, 2022

By Martin Jay

Source

Assange will battle on now with an appeal against the UK decision to extradite him to the U.S. It’s time now for his own team to play the same dirty game which they have fallen victim to and forget about the foibles of journalists and the media

Is Julian Assange a journalist or a publisher? It’s a divisive question which usually draws the wrath of an entire legion of on-line haters, mainly in Australia, who assume the author is attacking the founder of Wikileaks and so rationale is lost to nationalistic vitriol and score settling. The so-called supporters usually fail to see how if that energy was put into campaigning rather than just letting off steam on Twitter against total strangers, then Assange might have a chance of attaining something akin to justice.

A gripping interview recently between George Galloway and the former UK ambassador Craig Murray, who I seem to recall on Twitter once used to call himself a journalist based simply on writing blog posts, is worth a watch. Murray points out like an erudite hack he yearns to be, a number of pertinent issues which might have escaped the attention of media who are apparently incapable in the UK of reporting on the Assange affair diligently – namely that the U.S. spied on Assange while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy and then, amazingly, stole all of his evidence which he was keeping with him, the moment the UK police went in and arrested him. This alone he argues, would be enough for any court in the free world to throw the case out. He also argues that in the past decade or so the relationship between the British press and the establishment – read intelligence community – has never been so partisan which is another reason why Assange’s case is not being treated correctly. Yet Murray refers to Assange as a “publisher and a journalist” which is interesting as the case against Assange, if he is to be deemed a journalist, will have wide ranging implications to regular journalists if won by the U.S. – i. e that the Americans win their legal battle in the UK to extradite him on what they believe are essentially spying charges. If Assange is to be called a journalist by his supporters, then does it follow that the legal basis against him will be one of a journalist who has brought the profession into disrepute? Shouldn’t the journalists on the Guardian who published the polemic material that Assange and Wikileaks gave them, also be facing U.S. extradition for being partisan to publishing material, which in a third world country, would no doubt be deemed “likely to threaten the stability of the state”.

But the U.S., although a young country, is not a poor one and we are led to believe a great democracy. The case against Assange, no matter how vile it is, we should not forget is about his role in obtaining and disseminating state secrets. Journalists will no doubt follow the case with eagerness as many will wonder if they will face the same treatment if they handle a document which is protected by the UK’s official secrets act, which is why so many are part of the hue and cry about it being a dark day for journalism. They will reflect on how they will be arrested and extradited if they handle such ‘documents’ even if they are British subjects living in the UK.

Yet the case against Assange is surely about more than merely publishing the incendiary cables which exposed America’s dirty wars but in the role that he played in assisting Chelsea Manning in obtaining them. It is also about point scoring with Russia as the U.S. believes that Assange also leaked the Clinton emails, which played a decisive role in Trump winning the U.S. presidential race in 2016 against the odious former First Lady and Secretary of State.

The problem that Assange – or his supporters have – with the ‘journalist’ argument which points out the harm the case will do towards the fourth estate is flawed twofold. Firstly, the fear has already been installed by the UK and U.S. governments towards journalists who handle contentious documents which reveal state secrets about conflict, for example. And secondly, the respect and reverence that people placed on the profession of journalism is so little that it is hardly surprising the shameful role that the UK press has played recently in failing to rally behind Assange.

Assange’s people almost put the final boot in, when it comes to destroying the credibility of the press by calling him a journalist (out of respect) when even his own wife calls him a publisher. The distinct ubiquitous lack of respect towards bona fide journalists and their work, which is more often than not tedious, repetitive and pretty mundane, perhaps is linked to a more modern idea that anyone with a laptop who writes a blog can call themselves a journalist – and underlines the lack of credibility that media has in general, which we can see when its workers come under fire.

Of course the arrest of Assange in the first place is wrong on so many levels. As one of his many journalism awards he won by media institutions points out though he is not a journalist but more an enfant terrible of the media bubble who delivers the explosive brown envelope with the grainy photographed photocopies of documents which can easily bring down a government or even the neo-liberal new world order. It is more about the thief who breaks into the house and cracks the safe, rather than the actual items he has taken, in the U.S. mindset.

Institutions which dish out press awards often give them to non-journalists. It’s the fashion. But when you glance at the awards themselves, it’s not hard to see the political ardour behind them. Many of his awards are for “contribution towards journalism”, “activism”, “human rights” or even “defenders of the right to information” etc and only confirm his important role is supplying journalists with the material that they couldn’t lay their hands on themselves. Perhaps this makes him a subject of jealously and vitriol, which might explain how the Guardian stabbed him in the back when he wanted to share his work with the New York Times or when their editors clashed with him when he (Assange) wanted to scan documents to blank out names to protect those whose lives could be threatened once going to press, if we are to believe Murray’s claims (there are equally a great many who claim that Wikileaks compromised lives by not protecting identities with the rush to publish).

We should never forget though that the U.S. and UK government both have an impressive loathing of journalists and so if this narrative of being one and exercising free speech etc is sustained, many will argue that it is a dead end and will only end badly – perhaps this is why his wife referred to him in a BBC interview as a “publisher”. Assange may well be a genius, but he never sat down and wrote a regular article for publication with his own explosive material in front of him. Perhaps he never had the patience for journalism or the time. We should follow his wife Stella Moris’ lead and call him a “publisher” and leave the whole journalism and free speech debate alone as, in reality, hardly anybody these days gives a shit about such notions – except politicians who harp on about them but then turn their back on such lofty ideas the moment a journalist digs up some shit on them. One tends to think of labour leaders like Neil Kinnock in the past. These days however few politicians even jump on this bandwagon as they know that hardly anybody really cares about this subject, although it is interesting that the current Labour leader Keir Starmer has an odd obsession with Assange whose revelations tarnish Tony Blair and his labour party’s time in power.

Perhaps Assange’s team and his supporters should spend more time absorbing themselves with the notion of the politics of his case as surely therein lies the heart of his extradition being annulled. Every time I see an article in the UK press about the implications of the Assange against journalists, I want to cry as this is the conscious reckoning which journalists and politicians effect to kid themselves that they have done something to help Assange, when in reality they are merely helping the Americans with their dirty game to get Assange to a jail in the U.S. where almost certainly he will be assassinated just as Epstein was in his cell. The only way Assange can hope to get a really fair trial with his appeal is if politicians like Boris Johnson and others feel that they will lose their support and the history books will be unkind to them. Politics is a dirty game and no one knows that more than Assange. Such a shame that there aren’t enough supporters who are prepared to play the same dirty game. Or not even one journalist in Fleet Street who is prepared to lose his job and be singled out for putting his weight behind an online campaign from the media itself which would spook the political establishment.

COGNITIVE WARFARE: ISRAEL TARGETS JOURNALISTS WHO THREATEN ITS REALITY-CREATION TACTICS

JUNE 23RD, 2022

Source

TODD PIERCE

They were shooting directly at the journalists: New evidence suggests Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in targeted attack by Israeli forces”. Thus read a CNN headline on May 26, 2022, for an article describing what may have been a “targeted killing,” – that is, assassination – of Al Jazeera journalist Shirleen Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old highly esteemed Palestinian-American journalist who had covered Israeli repression of the Palestinian population for about 25 years before she was killed.

With this killing and its aftermath, one knows that it is all hands on deck for an Israeli government cognitive campaign in the perpetual cognitive war Israel wages against the world, as will be explained below.

According to the CNN article, Abu Akleh was killed by a bullet to the head at around 6:30 a.m. on May 11, while standing with a group of journalists near the entrance of Jenin refugee camp as they covered an Israeli raid. “We stood in front of the Israeli military vehicles for about five to ten minutes before we made moves to ensure they saw us. And this is a habit of ours as journalists; we move as a group and we stand in front of them so they know we are journalists, and then we start moving,” a Palestinian reporter, Shatha Hanaysha, told CNN, describing their cautious approach toward the Israeli army convoy before the gunfire began.

Video recordings of the surrounding area showed the killing shots could have come only from the Israeli soldiers in specially designed “sniper” vehicles that were in direct line-of-fire positions to Abu Akleh that morning. Eyewitnesses told CNN that they “believed Israeli forces on the same street fired deliberately on the reporters in a targeted attack. All of the journalists were wearing protective blue vests that identified them as members of the news media.”

“LAWFUL TARGETS” IN A “COGNITIVE WAR”

The “blue vests” might have been what ensured the journalists would be targeted by Israeli forces, if Israeli forces see journalists as “lawful targets” in the war they continue to wage against the Palestinians, in what is in fact a continuation of the 1967 War. That is, an unrelenting military occupation in violation of international law, which constitutes a continuation of the “war.” And the evidence shows Israeli military/intel forces do see journalists as “lawful targets,” as part of the “Cognitive War” they wage against the Palestinians, but more particularly against the global population in an attempt to legitimize their military oppression of the Palestinians in their ongoing effort of “population expulsion” of the Palestinians from Palestinian territory. As Benjamin Netanyahu’s father, Benzion, proclaimed shortly before he died, this is the objective of Israel Zionists like him.

In fact, while Abu Akleh was the only journalist killed that day by Israeli forces, she wasn’t the only Palestinian journalist shot. A group of four Palestinian reporters was fired upon as well, with one also injured in the gunfire. That was not because Israeli forces had an obstructed view; footage showed a direct line of sight between the reporters and the Israeli convoy. That only one of the four was hit, besides Abu Akleh, is probably taken by military superiors as a sign that their marksmanship must be improved.

A firearms expert told CNN: “The relatively tight grouping of the rounds indicate Shireen was intentionally targeted with aimed shots and not the victim of random or stray fire.”

But an indication of how the Israeli military sees journalists, other than “reliable” Israeli press, was revealed on the day of the shooting by an Israeli military spokesperson, Ran Kochav. Kochav told Army Radio that Abu Akleh had been “filming and working for a media outlet amidst armed Palestinians. They’re armed with cameras, if you’ll permit me to say so.” And if they are “armed,” they are “lawful targets” in “war.”

In fact, the killing of journalists has been openly called for in the “flagship publication” of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, The Journal of International Security Affairs, by retired U.S. Army Officer Ralph Peters. The odious 2009 article – potentially a war crime in itself – stated: “Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts, and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media.”

THE POWER OF “COGNITIVE WARFARE”

The Israeli military said it was conducting an investigation into the killing of Abu Akleh, and added, “assertions regarding the source of the fire that killed Ms. Abu Akleh must be carefully made and backed by hard evidence. This is what the IDF is striving to achieve.” In fact, obfuscating that is what the IDF and its Cognitive Warfare component must be seen as “striving to achieve” – at least if Israeli Cognitive War theorists, one of whom is quoted at length below, are to be believed.

Leaving it to those few journalists who report honestly to provide more facts on this assassination – as Abu Akleh would have, giving motive to Israeli forces to particularly target her with lethal fire – “Cognitive Warfare” should be explained further.

The best source for understanding the concept is Israel’s own doctrinal statements about the “cognitive domain” of warfare. A clue to that was presented when an Israeli lawyer filed a lawsuit alleging that “Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs [is] carrying out a global propaganda campaign on behalf of the Israeli government that violates human rights and is acting without authority to do so… Attorney Schachar Ben Meir’s petition demands that the High Court of Justice order a halt to the activities carried out by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, headed by Gilad Erdan.”

The substance of the claim was that the Israeli government had approved the payment of NIS 128 million ($38 million) to a private organization called Kela-Shlomo to carry out “mass consciousness activities” within the framework of what the Ministry of Strategic Affairs calls “extra-governmental discourse.” That is, publication of government propaganda on social networks and newspapers often carried out through private businesses and non-profit organizations operating in Israel and abroad.

But to determine the correct “messages” to promote or counter requires “surveilling citizens and conducting illegal operations intended to influence and manipulate public opinion.” That is what constitutes “mass consciousness activities” – a fascist type of governmental activity if there ever was one, but “updated” to utilize “private contractors” to conduct operations, in addition to governmental military/intel assets. This explains the proliferation of “private Israeli intelligence/influence” firms.

THE MUSINGS OF A COGNITIVE WARFARE THEORIST

The current Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Nachman Shai, who in the past was a spokesperson for the Israeli military, explained and promoted the higher level to which cognitive warfare has been taken from its origins as mere “propaganda” or “hasbara,” in his book “Hearts and Minds: Israel and the Battle for Public Opinion.”

He explained that, in the expected 21st-century wars of Israel and the United States, the “principal effort will be the battle for consciousness.” He explained further:

[There] are various terms to describe the battle for consciousness. In Britain, it is called the fight for hearts and minds. The U.S. military uses the expressions psychological warfare, perception management, influence management, and information operation. The idea speaks about consciousness: the strategy of limited conflict is to win a decision of consciousness in the society with the help of military means. The battle is for the society’s consciousness and for national resilience.”

Furthermore, according to Shai: “Consciousness is not a natural and inherent concept but rather a structured process, continually shaped by interested parties and by those who wield wealth and power.” How this is done in its current terminology is described in a publication of the Israeli “Institute for National Security Studies” entitled: “The Cognitive Campaign: Strategic and Intelligence Perspectives.” Its Preface states:

It is important to distinguish between cognition and the cognitive campaign. Cognition is the set of insights that an individual or individuals have regarding the surrounding reality and the way they want to shape it, derived from the set of the values and beliefs through which they examine and interpret their environment and work to confront its inherent challenges, and even to change it. In contrast, the cognitive campaign involves the actions and tools that entities that are part of a certain campaign framework use to influence the cognition of target audiences or to prevent influence on them. The purpose of  the cognitive campaign is to cause target audiences to adopt the perception of reality held by the side wielding the effort, so that it can more easily advance the strategic and/or operational objectives that it sees as critical. The cognitive campaign can be negative, that is, prevent the development of undesirable cognitive states, or positive, with an attempt to produce the desired cognition.

That the “cognitive campaign can be negative, that is, prevent the development of undesirable cognitive states,” is why Julian Assange has been imprisoned for years now, with no likelihood he will ever be freed by the U.S. government and why Edward Snowden was forced to take refuge in a foreign country to avoid the same fate. The U.S. must silence them and other dissidents, lest an “undesirable cognitive state” develops in the U.S. population – as one eventually developed over the Vietnam War, and eventually forced the U.S. out of Vietnam.

Thus it is reasonable to believe that is why Israel has targeted so many journalists over the last couple of decades – as has the U.S. It would be foolish and/or naïve not to believe that when retired military officers openly call for “targeted killings” of journalists, that they aren’t already being targeted!

MAKING OUR OWN REALITY

When Karl Rove was alleged to have said how the United States is now “an empire, we make our own reality,” he was not just making a hubristic statement. Rather, it can be seen as an indication that he was aware of how powerful a “cognitive campaign” is. In fact, such campaigns were always how the CIA conducted post-World War II coups, and it can be speculated that “cognitive campaigns” were introduced into U.S. political campaigns by Arthur Finkelstein and his “Six-Party Theory” in the 1972 Nixon campaign, down to the 2016 Trump campaign, based upon cognitive warfare principles drawn from CIA coups and the Israeli military occupation.

The authors of “The Cognitive Campaign: Strategic and Intelligence Perspectives” wrote:

The cognitive campaign is not new, and it is an inseparable aspect of every strategic and military conflict. In recent years, this struggle has played a much more important role than in past conflicts; at times it takes place without a direct military context and is not even led by military bodies. The cognitive campaign is a continuous campaign; thus, its prominence is greater in the period between wars (as a part of the “campaign between wars).”

In fact, as these authors know, there is no such thing as “between wars” in Israel or the United States, with both countries in “Perpetual War” regardless of the level of aggressive kinetic war they are waging at any given moment.

Carl von Clausewitz wrote in “On War” that two different motives make men fight one another: hostile feelings and hostile intentions. Inciting those “feelings” is done by both Israel and the U.S. continuously, by multifarious networks to “condition” their populations with “hostile feelings and hostile intentions.” As has been done in the U.S. to incite hatred of Russia, China, Iran, et al., so that a war with either one, or all, can explode at any moment. Israel does the same against Iran and the Palestinians. Mission Accomplished!

AMLO yet again blows the whistle on Julian Assange, educating his journalists

June 23, 2022

Source

By Amarynth

The President of Mexico has now again offered full asylum to Julian Assange.

“Mexico opens the doors to Assange,” the president declared.

It is good to remember that AMLO spoke to Trump and offered asylum and he is now promising to speak to Biden, to again offer asylum.

AMLO’s briefing to journalists included playing the ‘collateral murder’ clip.

Ben Norton of Multipolarista.com has the detail of AMLO’s briefing, full of fire, as well as the history of shame of those that bleat democracy, protection of human rights, or freedom of expression, without applying these values to themselves, but using them as a stick to beat others.

UK approves Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition to US

June 17, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

In a blow to press freedom around the world, London bows to US pressure and approves the extradition request for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

A dark day for press freedom: UK approves Assange’s extradition to US

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has approved the US government’s request to extradite Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, according to her department.

The interior minister “must sign an extradition order if there are no grounds to prevent the (extradition) order from being made,” and the courts had found none. Assange has 14 days to file an appeal, according to the Home Office. 

A dark day for press freedom

In a tweet, WikiLeaks wrote that his extradition is a “dark day for press freedom and for British democracy The decision will be appealed.”

Russian MFA Statement on Gonzalo Lira

April 22, 2022

Russian Mission – Geneva

International concern forced the Ukrainian Security Service to show that 🇨🇱/🇺🇸 reporter Gonzalo Lira, whom the nationalists detained on April 15, is alive!

However, he doesn’t have access to his cellphone and social media accounts, gagged on what he can say publicly, and not allowed to leave Kharkov.

In a way, he got “lucky”. A number of his fellow journalists, who received “the Ukrainian treatment of the free press”, will never be seen again.

And on https://odysee.com/@theduran:e/gonzalo-lira-whereisgonzalolira:a

(courtesy of “The Duran”).

Commentary on RT


Ed Note: It does not matter what you think of Gonzalo Lira personally.  He may not be perfect as a human being, and are there any of us that are perfect?  The man has become an Icon and a Testimony of what one imperfect man with a phone, computer, and internet connection can do.  The Geneva MFA states that International Concern in this case, and so far, was effective.  All of us should be mindful of what we can do!  Keep up the pressure for his release, and the pressure on the release of Julian Assange.

Big Tech’s ‘Cancel Culture’ Love Affair

April 21, 2022

Source

Cancel culture is inbuilt in the techno-feudalist project: conform to the hegemonic narrative, or else.  Journalism that does not conform must be taken down.

By Pepe Escobar
Special to Consortium News

This month, several of us – Scott Ritter, myself, ASB Military News, among others – were canceled from Twitter. The – unstated – reason: we were debunking the officially approved narrative of the Russia/NATO/Ukraine war.

As with all things Big Tech, that was predictable. I lasted only seven months on Twitter. And that was long enough. Contacts in California had told me I was on their radar because the account grew too fast, and had enormous reach, especially after the start of Operation Z.

I celebrated the cancelation by experiencing an aesthetic illumination in front of the Aegean Sea, at the home of Herodotus, the Father of History. Additionally, it was heart-warming to be recognized by the great George Galloway in his moving tribute to targets of the new McCarthyism.

In parallel, comic relief of the “Mars Attacks” variety was provided by expectations of free speech on Twitter being saved by the benign intervention of Elon Musk.

Techno-feudalism is one of the overarching themes of my latest book, Raging Twenties – published in early 2021 and reviewed here in a very thoughtful and meticulous manner.

Cancel culture is inbuilt in the techno-feudalist project: conform to the hegemonic narrative, or else. In my own case regarding Twitter and Facebook – two of the guardians of the internet, alongside Google — I knew a day of reckoning was inevitable, because like other countless users I had previously been dispatched to those notorious “jails”.

On one Facebook occasion, I sent a sharp message highlighting that I was a columnist/analyst for an established Hong Kong-based media company. Some human, not an algorithm, must have read it, because the account was restored in less than 24 hours.

But then the account was simply disabled – with no warning. I requested the proverbial “review”. The response was a demand for proof of ID. Less than 24 hours later, came the verdict: “Your account has been disabled” because it had not followed those notoriously hazy “community standards.” The decision was “reviewed” and “it can’t be reversed”.

I celebrated with a Buddhist mini-requiem on Instagram.

My hit-by-a-Hellfire missile Facebook page clearly identified for the general public who I was, at the time: “Geopolitical analyst at Asia Times”. The fact of the matter is Facebook algorithms canceled a top columnist from Asia Times – with a proven record and a global profile. The algos would never have had the – digital – guts to do the same with a top columnist from The New York Times or the Financial Times.

Asia Times lawyers in Hong Kong sent a letter to Facebook management. Predictably, there was no response.

Of course becoming a target of cancel culture – twice – does not even remotely compare to the fate of Julian Assange, imprisoned for over three years in Belmarsh under the most appalling circumstances, and about to be dispatched for “judgment” in the American gulag for the crime of committing journalism. Yet the same “logic” applies: journalism that does not conform to the hegemonic narrative must be taken down.

Conform, or Else

At the time, I discussed the matter with several Western analysts. As one of them succinctly put it, “You were ridiculing the U.S. president while pointing out the positives of Russia, China and Iran. That’s a deadly combination”.

Others were simply stunned: “I wonder why you were restricted as you work for a reputable publication.” Or made the obvious connections: “Facebook is a censorship machine. I did not know that they do not give reasons for what they do but then they are part of the Deep State.”

A banking source that usually places my columns on the desks of selected Masters of the Universe put it New York-style: “You severely p****d the Atlantic Council”. No question: the specimen who oversaw the canceling of my account was a former Atlantic Council hack.

Ron Unz in California had the account of his extremely popular website Unz Review purged by Facebook on April 2020. Subsequently, readers who tried to post their articles met with an “error” message describing the content as “abusive”.

When Unz mentioned my case to renowned economist James Galbraith, “he really was quite shocked, and thought it might signal a very negative censorship trend on the Internet.”

The “censorship trend” is a fact – for quite a while now. Take this U.S. State Department 2020 report identifying “pillars of Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem.”

State Dept. Directive

The late Pompeo-era report demonizes “fringe or conspiracy-minded” websites who happen to be extremely critical of U.S. foreign policy. They include Moscow-based Strategic Culture Foundation – where I’m a columnist – and Canada-based Global Research, which republishes most of my columns (but so does Consortium NewsZeroHedge and many other U.S. websites). I’m cited in the report by name, along with quite a few top columnists.

The report’s “research” states that Strategic Culture – which is blocked by Facebook and Twitter – is directed by the SVR, Russian foreign intel. This is ridiculous. I met the previous editors in Moscow – young, energetic, with enquiring minds. They had to quit their jobs because after the report they started to be severely threatened online.

So the directive comes straight from the State Department – and that has not changed under Biden-Harris: any analysis of U.S. foreign policy that deviates from the norm is a “conspiracy theory” – a terminology that was invented and perfected by the C.I.A.

Couple it with the partnership between Facebook and the Atlantic Council – which is a de facto NATO think tank – and now we have a real powerful ecosystem.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Every silicon fragment in the valley connects Facebook as a direct extension of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s LifeLog project, a Pentagon attempt to “build a database tracking a person’s entire existence.” Facebook launched its website exactly on the same day – Feb. 4, 2004 – that DARLA and the Pentagon shuttered LifeLog.

No explanation by DARPA was ever provided. The MIT’s David Karger, at the time, remarked, “I am sure that such research will continue to be funded under some other title. I can’t imagine DARPA ‘dropping out’ of such a key research area.”

Of course a smokin’ gun directly connecting Facebook to DARPA will never be allowed to surface. But occasionally some key players speak out, such as Douglas Gage, none other than LifeLog’s conceptualizer: “Facebook is the real face of pseudo-LifeLog at this point (…) We have ended up providing the same kind of detailed personal information to advertisers and data brokers and without arousing the kind of opposition that LifeLog provoked.”

So Facebook has absolutely nothing to do with journalism. Not to mention pontificating over a journalist’s work, or assuming it’s entitled to cancel him or her. Facebook is an “ecosystem” built to sell private data at a huge profit, offering a public service as a private enterprise, but most of all sharing the accumulated data of its billions of users with the U.S. national security state.

The resulting algorithmic stupidity, also shared by Twitter – incapable of recognizing nuance, metaphor, irony, critical thinking – is perfectly integrated into what former C.I.A. analyst Ray McGovern brilliantly coined as the MICIMATT (military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academia-think tank complex).

In the U.S., at least the odd expert on monopoly power identified this neo-Orwellian push as accelerating “the collapse of journalism and democracy.”

Facebook “fact-checking professional journalists” does not even qualify as pathetic. Otherwise Facebook – and not analysts like McGovern – would have debunked Russiagate. It would not routinely cancel Palestinian journalists and analysts. It would not disable the account of University of Tehran professor Mohammad Marandi – who was actually born in the U.S.

I received quite a few messages stating that being canceled by Facebook – and now by Twitter – is a badge of honor. Well, everything is impermanent (Buddhism) and everything flows (Daoism). So being deleted – twice – by an algorithm qualifies at best as a cosmic joke.

Pepe Escobar’s latest book is Raging Twenties. He remains un-cancelled on VKTelegram and Instagram.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Sitrep: Julian Assange

April 20, 2022

Posted by Amarynth

The Westminster Magistrate’s Court has issued an order to extradite journalist and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States.

The order was sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel who has to sign off on extraditions. Assange’s defense has until May 18 to make submissions to Patel against extradition.

Meanwhile Assange will remain in custody. He can only appeal once Patel has made a decision.

https://richardmedhurst.substack.com/p/uk-court-issues-order-to-extradite?s=w

CHRIS HEDGES: THE LIE OF AMERICAN INNOCENCE

MARCH 22ND, 2022

Source

By Chris Hedges

PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY (Scheerpost) — The branding of Vladimir Putin as a war criminal by Joe Biden, who lobbied for the Iraq war and staunchly supported the 20 years of carnage in the Middle East, is one more example of the hypocritical moral posturing sweeping across the United States. It is unclear how anyone would try Putin for war crimes since Russia, like the United States, does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. But justice is not the point. Politicians like Biden, who do not accept responsibility for our well-documented war crimes, bolster their moral credentials by demonizing their adversaries. They know the chance of Putin facing justice is zero. And they know their chance of facing justice is the same.

We know who our most recent war criminals are, among others: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, General Ricardo Sanchez, former CIA Director George Tenet, former Asst. Atty. Gen. Jay Bybee, former Dep. Asst. Atty. Gen. John Yoo, who set up the legal framework to authorize torture; the helicopter pilots who gunned down civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in the “Collateral Murder” video released by WikiLeaks. We have evidence of the crimes they committed.

But, like Putin’s Russia, those who expose these crimes are silenced and persecuted. Julian Assange, even though he is not a US citizen and his WikiLeaks site is not a US-based publication, is charged under the US Espionage Act for making public numerous US war crimes. Assange, currently housed in a high security prison in London, is fighting a losing battle in the British courts to block his extradition to the United States, where he faces 175 years in prison. One set of rules for Russia, another set of rules for the United States. Weeping crocodile tears for the Russian media, which is being heavily censored by Putin, while ignoring the plight of the most important publisher of our generation speaks volumes about how much the ruling class cares about press freedom and truth.

If we demand justice for Ukrainians, as we should, we must also demand justice for the one million people killed — 400,000 of whom were noncombatants — by our invasions, occupations and aerial assaults in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan. We must demand justice for those who were wounded, became sick or died because we destroyed hospitals and infrastructure. We must demand justice for the thousands of soldiers and marines who were killed, and many more who were wounded and are living with lifelong disabilities, in wars launched and sustained on lies. We must demand justice for the 38 million people who have been displaced or become refugees in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria, a number that exceeds the total of all those displaced in all wars since 1900, apart from World War II, according to the Watson Institute for International & Public Affairs at Brown University. Tens of millions of people, who had no connection with the attacks of 9/11, were killed, wounded, lost their homes, and saw their lives and their families destroyed because of our war crimes. Who will cry out for them?

Every effort to hold our war criminals accountable has been rebuffed by Congress, by the courts, by the media and by the two ruling political parties. The Center for Constitutional Rights, blocked from bringing cases in US courts against the architects of these preemptive wars, which are defined by post-Nuremberg laws as “criminal wars of aggression,” filed motions in German courts to hold US leaders to account for gross violations of the Geneva Convention, including the sanctioning of torture in black sites such as Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib.

Those who have the power to enforce the rule of law, to hold our war criminals to account, to atone for our war crimes, direct their moral outrage exclusively at Putin’s Russia. “Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, condemning Russia for attacking civilian sites, including a hospital, three schools and a boarding school for visually impaired children in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. “These incidents join a long list of attacks on civilian, not military locations, across Ukraine,” he said. Beth Van Schaack, an ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice, will direct the effort at the State Department, Blinken said, to “help international efforts to investigate war crimes and hold those responsible accountable.”

This collective hypocrisy, based on the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves, is accompanied by massive arms shipments to Ukraine. Fueling proxy wars was a specialty of the Cold War. We have returned to the script. If Ukrainians are heroic resistance fighters, what about Iraqis and Afghans, who fought as valiantly and as doggedly against a foreign power that was every bit as savage as Russia? Why weren’t they lionized? Why weren’t sanctions imposed on the United States? Why weren’t those who defended their countries from foreign invasion in the Middle East, including Palestinians under Israeli occupation, also provided with thousands of anti-tank weapons, anti-armor weapons, anti-aircraft weapons, helicopters, Switchblade or “Kamikaze” drones, hundreds of Stinger anti-aircraft systems, Javelin anti-tank missiles, machine guns and millions of rounds of ammunition? Why didn’t Congress rush through a $13.6 billion package to provide military and humanitarian assistance, on top of the $1.2 billion already provided to the Ukrainian military, for them?

Well, we know why. Our war crimes don’t count, and neither do the victims of our war crimes. And this hypocrisy makes a rules-based world, one that abides by international law, impossible.

This hypocrisy is not new. There is no moral difference between the saturation bombing the US carried out on civilian populations since World War II, including in Vietnam and Iraq, and the targeting of urban centers by Russia in Ukraine or the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Mass death and fireballs on a city skyline are the calling cards we have left across the globe for decades. Our adversaries do the same.

The deliberate targeting of civilians, whether in Baghdad, Kyiv, Gaza, or New York City, are all war crimes. The killing of at least 112 Ukrainian children, as of March 19, is an atrocity, but so is the killing of 551 Palestinian children during Israel’s 2014 military assault on Gaza. So is the killing of 230,000 people over the past seven years in Yemen from Saudi bombing campaigns and blockades that have resulted in mass starvation and cholera epidemics. Where were the calls for a no-fly zone over Gaza and Yemen? Imagine how many lives could have been saved.

War crimes demand the same moral judgment and accountability. But they don’t get them. And they don’t get them because we have one set of standards for white Europeans, and another for non-white people around the globe. The western media has turned European and American volunteers flocking to fight in Ukraine into heroes, while Muslims in the west who join resistance groups battling foreign occupiers in the Middle East are criminalized as terrorists. Putin has been ruthless with the press. But so has our ally the de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman, who ordered the murder and dismemberment of my friend and colleague Jamal Khashoggi, and who this month oversaw a mass execution of 81 people convicted of criminal offenses. The coverage of Ukraine, especially after spending seven years reporting on Israel’s murderous assaults against the Palestinians, is another example of the racist divide that defines most of the western media.

World War II began with an understanding, at least by the allies, that employing industrial weapons against civilian populations was a war crime. But within 18 months of the start of the war, the Germans, Americans and British were relentlessly bombing cities. By the end of the war, one-fifth of German homes had been destroyed. One million German civilians were killed or wounded in bombing raids. Seven-and-a-half million Germans were made homeless. The tactic of saturation bombing, or area bombing, which included the firebombing of Dresden, Hamburg and Tokyo, which killed more than 90,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo and left a million people homeless, and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took the lives of between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilianshad the sole purpose of breaking the morale of the population through mass death and terror. Cities such as Leningrad, Stalingrad, Warsaw, Coventry, Royan, Nanjing and Rotterdam were obliterated.

It turned the architects of modern war, all of them, into war criminals.

Civilians in every war since have been considered legitimate targets. In the summer of 1965, then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara called the bombing raids north of Saigon that left hundreds of thousands of dead an effective means of communication with the government in Hanoi. McNamara, six years before he died, unlike most war criminals, had the capacity for self-reflection. Interviewed in the documentary, “The Fog of War,” he was repentant, not only about targeting Vietnamese civilians but about the aerial targeting of civilians in Japan in World War II, overseen by Air Force General Curtis LeMay.

“LeMay said if we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals,” McNamara said in the film. “And I think he’s right…LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose, and not immoral if you win?”

LeMay, later head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, would go on to drop tons of napalm and firebombs on civilian targets in Korea which, by his own estimate, killed 20 percent of the population over a three-year period.

Industrial killing defines modern warfare. It is impersonal mass slaughter. It is administered by vast bureaucratic structures that perpetuate the killing over months and years. It is sustained by heavy industry that produces a steady flow of weapons, munitions, tanks, planes, helicopters, battleships, submarines, missiles, and mass-produced supplies, along with mechanized transports that ferry troops and armaments by rail, ship, cargo planes and trucks to the battlefield. It mobilizes industrial, governmental and organization structures for total war. It centralizes systems of information and internal control. It is rationalized for the public by specialists and experts, drawn from the military establishment, along with pliant academics and the media.

Industrial war destroys existing value systems that protect and nurture life, replacing them with fear, hatred, and a dehumanization of those who we are made to believe deserve to be exterminated. It is driven by emotions, not truth or fact. It obliterates nuance, replacing it with an infantile binary universe of us and them. It drives competing narratives, ideas and values underground and vilifies all who do not speak in the national cant that replaces civil discourse and debate. It is touted as an example of the inevitable march of human progress, when in fact it brings us closer and closer to mass obliteration in a nuclear holocaust. It mocks the concept of individual heroism, despite the feverish efforts of the military and the mass media to sell this myth to naïve young recruits and a gullible public. It is the Frankenstein of industrialized societies. War, as Alfred Kazin warned, is “the ultimate purpose of technological society.” Our real enemy is within.

Historically, those who are prosecuted for war crimes, whether the Nazi hierarchy at Nuremberg or the leaders of Liberia, Chad, Serbia, and Bosnia, are prosecuted because they lost the war and because they are adversaries of the United States.

There will be no prosecution of Saudi Arabian rulers for the war crimes committed in Yemen or for the US military and political leadership for the war crimes they carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, or a generation earlier in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. The atrocities we commit, such as My Lai, where 500 unarmed Vietnamese civilians were gunned down by US soldiers, which are made public, are dealt with by finding a scapegoat, usually a low-ranking officer who is given a symbolic sentence. Lt. William Calley served three years under house arrest for the killings at My Lai. Eleven US soldiers, none of whom were officers, were convicted of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. But the architects and overlords of our industrial slaughter, including Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Gen. Curtis LeMay, Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Lyndon Johnson, Gen. William Westmoreland, George W. Bush, Gen. David Petraeus, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are never held to account. They leave power to become venerated elder statesmen.

The mass slaughter of industrial warfare, the failure to hold ourselves to account, to see our own face in the war criminals we condemn, will have ominous consequences. Author and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi understood that the annihilation of the humanity of others is prerequisite for their physical annihilation. We have become captives to our machines of industrial death. Politicians and generals wield their destructive fury as if they were toys. Those who decry the madness, who demand the rule of law, are attacked and condemned. These industrial weapons systems are our modern idols. We worship their deadly prowess. But all idols, the Bible tells us, begin by demanding the sacrifice of others and end in apocalyptic self-sacrifice.

Roger Waters interview for RT (Assange and Russia!)

March 04, 2022

The Mother of All Talkshows with George Galloway – Episode 132

December 29 2021

Chris Hedges: PEN America and the Betrayal of Julian Assange

December 27th, 2021

By Chris Hedges

Source

Careerists and Democratic Party apparatchiks successfully leverage corporate money and backing to seize and deform historic rights organizations into appendages of the ruling class.

PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY (Scheerpost) — Nils Melzer, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, is one of the very few establishment figures to denounce the judicial lynching of Julian Assange. Melzer’s integrity and courage, for which he has been mercilessly attacked, stand in stark contrast to the widespread complicity of many human rights and press organizations, including PEN America, which has become a de facto subsidiary of the Democratic National Committee.

Those in power, as Noam Chomsky points out, divide the world into “worthy” and “unworthy” victims. They weep crocodile tears over the plight of Uyghur Muslims persecuted in China while demonizing and slaughtering Muslims in the Middle East. They decry press censorship in hostile states and collude with the press censorship and algorithms emanating from Silicon Valley in the United States. It is an old and insidious game, one practiced not to promote human rights or press freedom but to envelop these courtiers to power in a sanctimonious and cloying self-righteousness. PEN America can’t say the words “Belarus,” “Myanmar” or the Chinese tennis star “Peng Shuai” fast enough, while all but ignoring the most egregious assault on press freedom in our lifetime. PEN America only stopped accepting funding from the Israeli government, which routinely censors and jails Palestinian journalists and writers in Israel and the occupied West Bank, for the literary group’s annual World Voices festival in New York in 2017 when more than 250 writers, poets and publishers, many members of PEN, signed an appeal calling on the CEO of PEN America, Suzanne Nossel, to end PEN America’s partnership with the Israeli government. The signatories included Wallace ShawnAlice WalkerEileen Myles, Louis Erdrich, Russel Banks, Cornel WestJunot Díaz and Viet Thanh Nguyen. To stand up for Assange comes with a cost, as all moral imperatives do. And this is a cost the careerists and Democratic Party apparatchiks, who leverage corporate money and corporate backing to seize and deform these organizations into appendages of the ruling class, do not intend to pay.

PEN America is typical of the establishment hijacking of an organization that was founded and once run by writers, some of whom, including Susan Sontag and Norman Mailer, I knew. Nossel is a former corporate lawyer, listed as a “contributor” to The Federalist Society, who worked for McKinsey & Company and as Vice President of US Business Development for Bertelsmann.  Nossel, who has had herself elevated to the position of the CEO of PEN America, also worked under Hillary Clinton in the State Department, including on the task force assigned to respond to the WikiLeaks revelations. I withdrew from a scheduled speaking event at the 2013 World Voices Festival in New York City and resigned from the organization, which that same year had given me its First Amendment Award, to protest Nossel’s appointment. PEN Canada offered me membership which I accepted.

Nossel and PEN America have stated that the prosecution of Assange raises “grave concerns” about press freedom and lauded the decision by a British court in January 2012 not to extradite Assange. Should Nossel and PEN America have not taken this stance on Assange it would have left them in opposition to most PEN organizations around the world. PEN Centre Germany, for example, made Assange an honorary member. PEN International has called for all charges to be dropped against Assange.

But Nossel, at the same time, repeats every slanderous trope and lie used to discredit the WikiLeaks publisher facing extradition to the United States to potentially serve a 175-year sentence under the Espionage Act. She refuses to acknowledge that Assange is being persecuted because he carried out the most basic and important role of any publisher, making public documents that expose the multitudinous crimes and lies of empire. And I have not seen any direct appeals to the Biden administration on Assange’s behalf from PEN America. “Whether Assange is a journalist or WikiLeaks qualifies as a press outlet is immaterial to the counts set out here,” Nossel said. But, as a lawyer who was a member of the State Department task force that responded to the WikiLeaks revelations, she understands it is not immaterial. The core argument behind the U.S. effort to extradite Assange revolves around denying him the status of a publisher or a journalist and denying WikiLeaks the status of a press publication. Nossel parrots the litany of false charges leveled against Assange including that he endangered lives by not redacting documents, hacked into a government computer and meddled in the 2016 elections, all key points in the government’s case against Assange. PEN America under her direction has sent out news briefs with headlines such as: “Security Reports Reveal How Assange Turned an Embassy into a Command Post for Election Meddling.” The end result is that PEN America is helping to uncoil the rope to string up the WikiLeaks publisher, a gross betrayal of the core mission of PEN.

“There are some things Assange did in this case, or is alleged to have done, that go beyond what a mainstream news outlet would do, in particular the first indictment that was brought about five weeks ago focused specifically on this charge of computer hacking, hacking into a password to get beyond the government national security infrastructure and penetrate and allow Chelsea Manning to pass through all of these documents. That, I think you can say, is not what a mainstream news outlet or a journalist would do,” Nossel said on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC on May 28, 2019.

But Nossel did not stop there, going on to defend the legitimacy of the US campaign to extradite Assange, although Assange is not a US citizen and WikiLeaks is not a US based publication. Most importantly, left unmentioned by Nossel, is that Assange has not committed any crimes.

“The reason that this indictment is coming down now is because Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for years trying to escape his extradition request,” she said on the program. “He faces an extradition request to Sweden where he has been charged with sexual assault and now this huge indictment here in the US and that proceeding will play out over a long period. He will make all sorts of arguments about why he faces a form of legal jeopardy that should immunize him from being extradited, but there are extradition treaties. There are legal assistance treaties where countries are able to prosecute nationals of other countries and bring them back to face charges when they have committed a crime. This is happening pursuant to that. There are US nationals who are charged and convicted in foreign courts.”

WikiLeaks released U.S. military war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq, a cache of 250,000 diplomatic cables and 800 Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment briefs along with the 2007 “Collateral Murder” video, in which U.S. helicopter pilots banter as they gun down civilians, including children and two Reuters journalists, in a Baghdad street. The material was given to WikiLeaks in 2010 by Chelsea Manning, then private first class Pfc. Bradley Manning. Assange has been accused by an enraged U.S. intelligence community of causing “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.” Mike Pompeo, who headed the CIA under Donald Trump, called WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service” aided by Russia, rhetoric embraced by Democratic Party leaders.

Assange also published 70,000 hacked emails copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, and earned the eternal hatred of the Democratic Party establishment. The Podesta emails exposed the sleezy and corrupt world of the Clintons, including the donation of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and identified both nations as major funders of Islamic State [ISIL/ISIS]. They exposed the $657,000 that Goldman Sachs paid to Hillary Clinton to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe. They exposed Clinton’s repeated dishonesty. She was caught telling the financial elites that she wanted “open trade and open borders” and believed Wall Street executives were best positioned to manage the economy while publicly promising financial regulation and reform. The cache showed that the Clinton campaign interfered in the Republican primaries to ensure that Donald Trump was the Republican nominee, assuming he would be the easiest candidate to defeat. They exposed Clinton’s advance knowledge of questions in a primary debate and her role as the principal architect of the war in Libya, a war she believed would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate.

The Democratic Party, which blames Russian interference for its election loss to Trump, charges that the Podesta emails were obtained by Russian government hackers. Hillary Clinton calls WikiLeaks a Russian front. James Comey, the former FBI director, however, conceded that the emails were probably delivered to WikiLeaks by an intermediary, and Assange has said the emails were not provided by “state actors.”

“A zealous prosecutor is going to look at someone like Assange and recognize that he’s a very unpopular figure for a hundred different reasons, whether it’s his meddling in the 2016 elections, his political motivations for that, or the blunderbuss nature of these disclosures,” Nossel said on Leher’s program. “This is not a leak that was designed to expose one particular policy or effectuate a specific change in how the US government was going about its business. It was massive and indiscriminate, while in the beginning they worked with journalists to be careful about redacting names of individuals. I was actually working at the State Department during the WikiLeaks disclosure period, and I was briefly on a task force to respond to the WikiLeaks disclosures and there was really a sense of alarm about individuals whose lives would be in danger, people who had worked with the US, provided information, human rights defenders who had spoken to embassy personnel on a confidential basis. There is a problem of over classification, but there is also good reason to classify a lot of this stuff and they made no distinction between that [which] was legitimately classified and not.”

Any group of artists or writers overseen by a CEO from corporate America inevitably become members of an updated version of the Union of Soviet Writers where the human rights violations by our enemies are heinous crimes and our own violations and those of our allies are ignored or whitewashed. As Julian Benda reminded us in “The Treason of the Intellectuals,” we can serve privilege and power or we can serve justice and truth. Those, Benda warns, who become apologists for those with privilege and power destroy their capacity to defend justice and truth.

Where is the outrage from an organization founded by writers to protect writers about the prolonged abuse, stress and repeated death threats, including from Nossel’s former boss, Hillary Clinton, who allegedly quipped at a staff meeting, “Can’t we just drone this guy?” (and didn’t deny it later) or from the CIA which discussed kidnapping and assassinating Assange?  Where is the demand that the trial of Assange be thrown out because the CIA through UC Global, the security firm at the embassy, secretly taped the meetings, and all other encounters, between Assange and his lawyers, obliterating attorney-client privilege? Where is the public denunciation of the extreme isolation that has left Assange, who suffered a stroke during court video proceedings on October 27, in precarious physical and psychological health? Where is the outcry over his descent into hallucinations and deep depression, leaving him dependent on antidepressant medication and the antipsychotic quetiapine? Where are the thunderous condemnations about the ten years he has been detained, seven in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and nearly three in the high-security Belmarsh prison, where he has had to live without access to sunlight, exercise and proper medical care? “His eyes were out of sync, his right eyelid would not close, his memory was blurry,” his fiancé Stella Morris said of the stroke. Where are the demands for intervention and humane treatment, including an end to his isolation, once it was revealed Assange was pacing his cell until he collapsed, punching himself in the face and banging his head against the wall? Where is the fear for his life, especially after “half of a razor blade” was discovered under his socks and it was revealed that he called the suicide hotline run by the Samaritans because he thought about killing himself “hundreds of times a day”? Where is the call to prosecute those who committed the war crimes, carried out the torture and engaged in the corruption WikiLeaks exposed? Not from PEN America.

Melzer in his book “The Trial of Julian Assange,” the most methodical and detailed recounting of the long persecution by the United States and the British government of Assange, blasts those like Nossel who blithely peddle the lies used to tar Assange and cater to the powerful.

When Assange was first charged, he was not charged with espionage by the United States. Rather, he was charged with a single count of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.” This charge alleged that he conspired with Manning to decrypt a password hash for the US Department of Defense computer system. But as Melzer points out, “Manning already had full ‘top secret’ access privileges to the system and all the documents she leaked to Assange. So, even according to the US government, the point of the alleged attempt to decode the password hash was not to gain unauthorized access to classified information (‘hacking’), but to help Manning to cover her tracks inside the system by logging in with a different identity (‘source protection’). In any case, the alleged attempt undisputedly remained unsuccessful and did not result in any harm whatsoever.”

Nossel’s repetition of the lie that Assange endangered lives by not redacting documents was obliterated during the trial of Manning, several sessions of which I attended at Fort Meade in Maryland with Cornel West. During the court proceedings in July 2013 Brigadier General Robert Carr, a senior counterintelligence officer who headed the Information Review Task Force that investigated the impact of WikiLeaks disclosures on behalf of the US Department of Defense, told the court that the task force did not uncover a single case of someone who lost their lives due to the publication of the classified documents by WikiLeaks. As for Nossel’s claim that “in the beginning they worked with journalists to be careful about redacting names of individuals” she should be aware that the decryption key to the unredacted State Department documents was not released by Assange, but Luke Harding and David Leigh from The Guardian in their book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy.

When the ruling class peddles lies there is no cost for parroting them back to the public. The cost is paid by those who tell the truth.

On November 27, 2019, Melzer gave a talk at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to dedicate a sculpture by the Italian artist Davide Dormino. Figures of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, cast in bronze, stood on three chairs. A fourth chair, empty, was next to them inviting others to take a stand with them. The sculpture is called “Anything to Say?” Melzer stepped up onto the fourth chair, the hulking edifice of the US Embassy off to his right. He uttered the words that should have come from organizations like PEN America:

For decades, political dissidents have been welcomed by the West with open arms, because in their fight for human rights they were persecuted by dictatorial regimes.

Today, however, Western dissidents themselves are forced to seek asylum elsewhere,  such as Edward Snowden in Russia or, until recently, Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian  embassy in London.

For the West itself has begun to persecute its own dissidents, to subject them to draconian punishments in political show trials, and to imprison them as dangerous terrorists in high-security prisons under conditions that can only be described as inhuman and degrading.

Our governments feel threatened by Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian  Assange, because they are whistleblowers, journalists, and human rights activists who have provided solid evidence for the abuse, corruption, and war crimes of the powerful, for which they are now being systematically defamed and persecuted.

They are the political dissidents of the West, and their persecution is today’s witch-hunt, because they threaten the privileges of unsupervised state power that has gone out of control.

The cases of Manning, Snowden, Assange and others are the most important test of our time for the credibility of Western rule of law and democracy and our commitment to human rights.

In all these cases, it is not about the person, the character or possible misconduct of these dissidents, but about how our governments deal with revelations about of their own misconduct.

How many soldiers have been held accountable for the massacre of civilians shown in the video “Collateral Murder”? How many agents for the systematic torture of terror suspects? How many politicians and CEOs for the corrupt and inhumane machinations  that have been brought to light by our dissidents?

That’s what this is about. It is about the integrity of the rule of law, the credibility of our  democracies and, ultimately, about our own human dignity and the future of our children.

Let us never forget that!

Nils Melzer, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture

The tenuous return to power of the Democratic Party under Joe Biden, and the specter of a Republican rout of the Democrats in the midterm elections next year, along with the very real possibility of the election in 2024 of Donald Trump, or a Trump-like figure to the presidency, has blinded human rights and press groups to the danger of the egregious assaults on freedom of expression perpetrated by the Biden administration. The steady march towards heavy handed state censorship was accelerated by the Obama administration that charged ten government employees and contractors, eight under the Espionage Act, for disclosing classified information to the press. The Obama administration in 2013 also seized the phone records of 20 Associated Press reporters to uncover who leaked the information about a foiled al-Qaida terrorist plot. This ongoing assault by the Democratic Party has been accompanied by the disappearing on social media platforms of several luminaries on the far right, including Donald Trump and Alex Jones, who were removed from Facebook, Apple, YouTube. Content that is true but damaging to the Democratic Party, including the revelations from Hunter Biden’s laptop, have been blocked by digital platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Algorithms have since at least 2017 marginalized left-wing content, including my own.  The legal precedent set in this atmosphere by the sentencing of Assange means that anyone who possesses classified material, or anyone who leaks it, will be guilty of a criminal offense. The sentencing of Assange will signal the end of all investigative inquiries into the inner workings of power. The pandering by press and human rights organizations, tasked with being sentinels of freedom, to the Democratic Party, only contributes to the steady tightening of the vice of press censorship. There is no lesser evil in this fight. It is all evil. Left unchecked, it will result in an American species of China’s totalitarianism capitalism.

A Mass Murdering Regime Dares to Lecture the World on Human Rights

December 24, 2021

Source

Washington is a criminal regime as its illegal wars and deliberate mass murder demonstrate beyond any doubt.

An important report published this week reveals in extensive detail the shocking scale of war crimes committed by the United States in the Middle East. Thousands of civilian deaths, including children, are documented as a result of aerial bombardments conducted by the U.S. military.

It is crucial to remark that the published survey – while voluminous involving thousands of pages and documents – represents only a fraction of the full scale of mass murder. The research focuses on Syria and Iraq over a three-year period between late 2014 and early 2018. Considering that U.S. forces have been occupying those two countries alone for over a decade and considering American military operations contemporaneously in other nations, one can safely assume that the full scale of murder perpetrated is orders of magnitude greater.

The report known as the Civilian Casualty Files was commissioned by the New York Times. It took five years to compile and tortuous legal wrangling to obtain secret Pentagon files. The survey also involved the authors visiting hundreds of locations in Syria and Iraq to record witness testimonies. A good summary is provided here.

Separately, it has been previously estimated that the U.S. decade-long war in Iraq from 2003 onwards caused over one million deaths. What this latest report provides is granular detail of the countless incidents of violence from airstrikes and drone assassinations. Times, dates, villages, hamlets, towns, families, mothers, fathers and children are named in the atrocities that were carried out. But as noted, while the reported information is huge, it is still only a tiny fraction of the full extent of mass murder.

What is disturbingly clear too is the cold and barbaric logic of the Pentagon chiefs and senior figures in both the Obama and Trump administrations. Sitting president Joe Biden was vice-president in the Obama administrations (2008-2016). Civilian deaths were deemed acceptable as “collateral damage” in the pursuit of military-political objectives. Whole families were knowingly obliterated in a haphazard and vague effort to kill suspected terrorists or simply to extend the writ of U.S. imperial power.

What’s more, the Pentagon and the U.S. government covered up the extent of their psychopathic operations. Not one member of the American military or White House administration has ever been disciplined – even internally – for the rampant criminality.

A more recent incident outside of the published study period cited above would fall into the typical mold. That was the killing of a family of 10, including children, in Kabul during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of August. Recall how the Pentagon investigated itself and concluded that no one was to blame for that drone carnage. That case garnered some publicity because the circumstances of a historic U.S. retreat were in the news. Now just imagine how easy it was for the Pentagon to bury other mass murders of civilians that occurred in remote areas of Syria and Iraq.

The published Civilian Casualty Files is substantive evidence for prosecuting U.S. political and military leaders for war crimes. Realistically, this will not happen in the near future, but nevertheless, it is an important archive for future prosecutions and the historical record.

The information is also a devastating exposition of the moral bankruptcy pervading Washington. Thus, a mass-murdering regime in Washington has no authority to lecture, as it arrogantly presumes to do all the time, the rest of the world on human rights and rule of law.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden convened a so-called “Summit for Democracy” for invited world leaders. Biden pointedly excluded Russia and China from the online videoconference, as well as other nations deemed to be “authoritarian” or “undemocratic” by Washington.

It truly is revolting that Washington has such hubris and shamelessness. U.S. governments have systematically waged illegal wars all around the planet involving the destruction of nations and millions of innocent lives. And yet the president of the U.S. has the audacity to pontificate to the whole world about the presumed virtues of democracy, human rights and upholding international law.

This grotesque duplicity and delusion of American leaders is why the U.S. is on a collision course with Russia and China. Washington relentlessly accuses Moscow and Beijing of alleged violations. The tensions being stoked by the United States over Ukraine and Taiwan are pushing the world to the brink of war.

Just this week, President Biden signed into law a ban on imports from China’s western province of Xinjiang. The U.S. accuses China of “genocide” against the minority Uighur Muslim population. Beijing categorically rejects the claims, pointing out that the Uighur population has actually grown over recent years. Beijing says that it takes security measures against radical Uighurs who have been weaponized as part of the U.S. 20-year war in neighboring Afghanistan. In any case, Washington does not provide credible evidence to substantiate its claims. The notable thing is that such lecturing by the United States towards China serves to aggravate tensions which exacerbate other issues over Taiwan and the Olympic Games that Washington is boycotting.

Washington has zero moral authority. It is a criminal regime as its illegal wars and deliberate mass murder demonstrate beyond any doubt.

It should be observed that the Western media largely remained silent this week over the shocking Civilian Casualty Files. The New York Times deserves some credit for publishing the information conducted by outside authors. However, the monstrous scale of criminality has been met with stunning relative silence. That illustrates how the Western media is actually a propaganda system that cannot compute or comment on information that is incongruous with its day-to-day coverage.

The injustice against imprisoned whistleblower Julian Assange should also be highlighted. The mass-murder programs uncovered by the Civilian Casualty Files vindicate Assange and Wikileaks’ earlier publications exposing U.S. war crimes. It is an abomination that Assange is being persecuted and awaiting extradition to the United States where he could be jailed for the rest of his life on fabricated charges of “hacking and espionage”.

The criminality and duplicity of U.S. governments is something to behold in a perverse sort of way. It is astounding that the world is being driven further towards dangerous tensions and possible confrontation by a regime whose record is so nefarious and hypocritical. How is such a gross deception enabled? That is partly due to the function of a Goebbels-like mass media that pretends to publish news instead of propaganda.

Julian Assange Saker man of the year (+ a few minor replies)

December 17, 2021

Okay,

By a big margin you, the readers, have chosen Julian Assange as the Saker Man of the Year.  I totally agree.  In fact, I feel rather ashamed that I did not write about his plight at all this year, so the least I can do is to fix this mistake and declare my total support for him and for what he stands for.  So,

Julian Assange is the 2021 Saker Man of the Year:

Since the topic of what is being done by the “democratic and civilized West” to Julian Assange is appalling, disgusting, revolting and otherwise tragically serious, I have decided to not add any other names, let alone tongue-in-cheek ones.

Next, a few minor points.

I will do a recorded Q&A after the New Year, and I will try my best to produce a written transcript as several readers have pointed out that they would prefer, or even need, a written text.

Next, while the War Party is escalating its rhetoric totally dismissing Russia while at the same time accusing her of any and all imaginable evil intentions, Russia has just submitted a number of “security proposal” which make sense on paper, but which are beyond the most abonimable crimethink for the War Party.  Why exactly Russia just did this knowing full well what the reaction in the West will be will probably be my next analysis which I will write over the week-end or, at the latest, Monday.

I wish you all a great and relaxing week-end!

Kind regards

Andrei

They’re Killing Him: Assange’s Stroke Reveals The Western Version Of The Saudi Bone Saw

December 12, 2021

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source

Listen to a reading of this article:

Julian Assange suffered a mini-stroke in October during the hearing for the US appeal of a UK court’s ruling on his extradition case.

“The WikiLeaks publisher, 50, who is being held on remand in the maximum-security jail while fighting extradition to America, was left with a drooping right eyelid, memory problems and signs of neurological damage,” The Daily Mail reports. “He believes the mini-stroke was triggered by the stress of the ongoing US court action against him, and an overall decline in his health as he faces his third Christmas behind bars.”

“Assange was examined by a doctor, who found a delayed pupil response when a light was shone into one eye – a sign of potential nerve damage,” the article reads.

“Julian is struggling and I fear this mini-stroke could be the precursor to a more major attack. It compounds our fears about his ability to survive the longer this long legal battle goes on,” Assange’s fiance Stella Moris told the Daily Mail.

“Assange’s stroke is no surprise,” tweeted UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer in response to the news. “As we warned after examining him, unless relieved of the constant pressure of isolation, arbitrariness and persecution, his health would enter a downward spiral endangering his life.”

Melzer examined Assange with medical experts in 2019 and published a report with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights saying that “Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.”

The following year Melzer put it even more bluntly, writing that “Julian Assange displays the typical symptoms of psychological torture. If he doesn’t receive protection soon, a rapid deterioration of his health is likely, and death could be one outcome.”

In October of this year Melzer put it blunter still, saying, “If he should die in prison he has effectively been tortured to death. That’s the reality of it. And I’m not exaggerating. I’ve been working in areas of war. I have a long history of visiting prisoners. I visited Julian Assange, and I had two specialized forensic doctors with me and a psychiatrist evaluating him for four hours, and we all independently from each other came to those conclusions. At that time his life was in danger. And sure enough, a few days after we left the prison he entered a downward spiral.”

They are killing Julian Assange. Experts agree that they are killing him. Assange’s stroke is just another item on the mountain of evidence we already had for this.

The US-centralized power alliance is murdering a journalist, as surely as the Saudi regime murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The only difference is that Khashoggi was killed quickly by live dismemberment via bone saw while Assange is being killed slowly by lawfare.

The Assange extradition case is just the western version of the bone saw treatment. It’s no less barbaric, cruel, vicious and tyrannical; it’s just more media-friendly and better-suited for the Nice Guy Fascism of the western branches of the globe-spanning empire which rules our world. The US, UK and Australian governments are not hacking Assange to pieces in their coordinated campaign toward his destruction, but they may as well be.

The world recoiled in horror when it learned of Khashoggi’s grizzly end, and it won’t be long before the world begins recoiling in the same way to what has been done to Assange as well. Our society is becoming rapidly more conscious; we’re already ashamed of things we thought were fine just a few years ago. We realize now that men like Harvey Weinstein are predators and the Hollywood starlets people used to criticize for “sleeping their way to the top” were actually victims of assault. We realize now it was wrong to crack jokes about the intern Bill Clinton sexually abused. We realize that the “Leave Britney alone” kid everyone made fun of in 2007 was actually on to something. We realize now that it’s wrong to make people feel bad about their sexual orientation or sexual identity. Many movies made even ten or fifteen years ago are uncomfortable to watch now because of how unconscious they were of power dynamics we all see much more clearly now.

And, whether Assange survives this slow-motion assassination attempt or not, it won’t be long before society fully understands that their government and its allies actively conspired to murder a journalist for telling the truth.

Australia urged to support Assange

Dec 11, 21

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen Net

Australian Prime Minister is under criticism for not calling for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after the US overturned a block on his extradition from the UK.

Assange’s lawyers said they will appeal the ruling in the UK’s supreme court.

Australian politicians are urging the government to take a stance and demand the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

On Friday, the US government overturned a block on the extradition of Assange from Britain to face trial for publishing top-secret documents exposing war crimes perpetrated by the US and its allies across the globe, although options to appeal remain open to his legal team.

Washington presented the challenge after a lower court judge in London ruled in January that the 50-year-old journalist would be at a real and oppressive risk of suicide in the US justice system.

Assange’s lawyers said they will appeal the ruling in the UK’s supreme court.

The Australian federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to demand the release of Assange and “end this lunacy.”

“Mr Assange should be looking forward to spending Christmas with his two young boys and his fiancee, but instead he’s facing a 175-year jail sentence and the very real possibility of living out his final days behind bars,” Wilkie said.

The independent MP accused the UK of being “a lackey of the United States and that Australia is delighted to go along for the ride.”

Similarly, the Greens senator Janet Rice said “foreign Minister Marise Payne must urgently speak to the US and tell them to drop these absurd charges and end Assange’s torture.”

For his part, UN’s special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer described the ruling as a “politically motivated verdict,” and criticized it.

Melzer told the DPA news agency that “This is a shortcoming for the British judiciary,.” stressing that Assange “is not in a condition to be extradited.”

The decision by a London court to allow Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, to be extradited to the United States is “shameful,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.

Assange has been in custody since 2019, despite the fact that he had served a previous sentence over breaching bail conditions in a separate case.

He had also spent seven years at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid his extradition to Sweden.

“A Lot of Mistakes”: The Guardian and Julian Assange 

November 27th, 2021

By John McEvoy and Pablo Navarrete

Source

Three years on from the explosive Julian Assange/Paul Manafort story, we question whether the Guardian has honored its stated commitment to the truth.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND — In 1921, the Manchester Guardian’s editor, Charles Prestwich Scott, marked the newspaper’s centenary with an essay entitled “A Hundred Years.” In it, Scott declared that a newspaper’s “primary office is the gathering of news. …Comment is free, but facts are sacred.”

One hundred years on from Scott’s famous essay, and on the three-year anniversary of the Guardian’s Julian Assange/Paul Manafort story, we question whether the Guardian’s coverage of Julian Assange has honored the newspaper’s stated commitment to the truth.

Based on private communications between a Guardian correspondent and their source inside a security company at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, as well as two exclusive interviews, we trace the events behind two of the Guardian’s most explosive stories this decade.

“Russia’s secret plan to help Julian Assange escape from UK”

On September 21, 2018, the Guardian published a bombshell report entitled “Revealed: Russia’s secret plan to help Julian Assange escape from UK.” The story detailed an alleged conspiracy between Russian diplomats and WikiLeaks to illicitly smuggle Assange out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

During the months before publication, Guardian correspondent Stephanie Kirchgaessner seemed eager to connect Assange to a Russian plot to escape the embassy.

On July 12, 2018, Kirchgaessner wrote to a source at UC Global, the private security company hired by the Ecuadorian government to protect Assange and its embassy in London: “We heard that the Russians wanted to help Assange and maybe get him a diplomatic visa. This was last year. But then the plan was rejected. By the Russians or by Assange? Why? Can you help? Do you know?”

On August 30, 2018, three weeks before publication, Kirchgaessner wrote again: “Hello. I am trying you again. I want to write a story about the discussions last year to get JA out of the embassy. The talks that happened with the Russians. Can I send you some questions?”

When the article was eventually published, the authors — Kirchgaessner, Dan Collyns, and Luke Harding — claimed that “Russian diplomats held secret talks in London … with people close to Julian Assange to assess whether they could help him flee the UK” in late 2017.

Though it was acknowledged that “details of the Assange escape plan are sketchy,” the authors used two unnamed sources to assert that Fidel Narváez, the former consul at the Ecuadorian Embassy, “served as a point of contact with Moscow.”

The story appeared to add weight to the “Russiagate” narrative – the belief that the Donald Trump campaign colluded with Russia to subvert the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with help from WikiLeaks. The authors noted that the alleged escape plan “raises new questions about Assange’s ties to the Kremlin.”

The Guardian pulled out all the stops in its September 2018 report attempting to link Assange to Russia

Two individuals with first-hand knowledge of events reject the Guardian’s story, however, and provide details about what really happened in late 2017 when Assange tried to leave the embassy.

In an exclusive interview, Aitor Martinez, a lawyer who oversaw Ecuador’s effort to grant Assange diplomatic protection, explained that plans were drawn up to appoint Assange as an Ecuadorian diplomat and transport him to a third country. That way, Assange could legally leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he was subject to arbitrary detention and where his health was declining.

Martinez drew up a list of countries that Ecuador should approach: China, Serbia, Greece, Bolivia, Venezuela or Cuba, noting:

Of course, they were the countries that don’t have good relations with the U.S. and could accept the appointment. Russia was never, ever on that list. There was a huge conspiracy theory in the U.S. with Russiagate; it didn’t make sense. So those were the countries.”

Martinez continued:

It took two or three weeks and we didn’t get any answer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And suddenly the Ministry said that they had appointed him to Russia.”

Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa’s cousin worked at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Moscow and, through this cousin, she concocted a plan to appoint Assange to the one country that was the subject of mass-media hysteria.

“Julian and all of us at the legal team refused this appointment,” Martinez explained. “We said, ‘that’s crazy, what are you talking about?’ We refused.”

After Assange’s legal team refused, a second passport was issued to replace the diplomatic passport appointed to Russia, and Martinez personally brought the second passport to Assange at the embassy.

On December 21, Rommy Vallejo — the head of the Ecuadorian intelligence agency, Senain — visited Assange at the embassy to discuss the logistics for his transfer to a third country. Martinez said:

As soon as Vallejo arrived, he left his mobile phone at the entrance. And UC Global opened the mobile and took the IMEI code and also the sim card, as usual. Take into account that Senain was the entity that hired UC Global and this was the chief of Senain, and they spied on him.”

Martinez continued, referring to open court documents:

According to the UC Global chat, they were listening through the door and everything. They knew everything about the operation and we didn’t know they were spying on us, and reporting everything to the Americans, according to the witness declarations before the Spanish court.”

Martinez can reveal how, over the following days, the U.S. learned of Assange’s plans to leave the embassy. The Minister of Foreign Affairs called Martinez and asked:

What the hell happened? This is crazy, this operation plan was secret, was handled just by five or six people, and suddenly the U.S. ambassador in Quito came to my office and told me: ‘We know that Julian Assange is about to leave the embassy using a diplomatic passport, and we will never allow it.’”

Martinez explained that, at the time, Assange’s legal team couldn’t figure out how the Americans learned about this operation. “Now we can assume that it was because UC Global sent information about the plan. So, she [the foreign minister] said we have to stop everything because the Americans know,” he said.

At this time, the U.S. intelligence agencies were pressuring UC Global to link Assange with Russia. Martinez said:

UC Global drafted exaggerated and faked reports for the Americans. The protected [UC Global] witness claimed before a court that they had drafted exaggerated reports just to feed the Americans with information and to show that UC Global is very important for them at the embassy. If you check UC Global reports, it’s very funny; they make up everything.”

A recent Yahoo! News article suggests that these reports were taken seriously.

As well as listening through the wall, UC Global staff secretly recorded video and audio footage of Assange and Vallejo’s meeting. “They even created a Dropbox link to send it – they took the data, cut the conversation and sent it to Morales,” said Martinez. This footage was then presumably sent to Morales’s handlers in the U.S.

Assange Surveillance
Surveillance footage shows Assange meeting with a confidant at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Screenshot | El Pais

On November 12, 2018, Kirchgaessner contacted a source within UC Global requesting access to the transcript of Assange’s meeting with Vallejo.

Kirchgaessner wrote: “Hola. The transcript?”

Her source responded: “In this moment its [sic] difficult I think tomorrow I can”

Kirchgaessner was thankful: “Really? That would be amazing. You know which one I mean?”The next day, Kirchgaessner messaged again: “Hello. I mean the one with Rommy Vallejo.”

Kirchgaessner never received the transcript. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that the Guardian knew that a security company hired to protect Assange was in fact compiling transcripts on his private meetings long before this became public knowledge, and this wasn’t treated as the story. The Guardian instead promoted a narrative that Assange’s team was conspiring with Russia to illicitly flee the embassy.

To the contrary, Martinez emphasised that Ecuador had tried to help Assange leave the embassy through legal diplomatic channels, before the U.S. caught wind of the plan through a corrupt security firm that was clandestinely spying on Assange.

“A lot of mistakes”

Fidel Narváez, former consul at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, categorically denies holding secret discussions with Russian diplomats. Narváez said:

I challenged the Guardian and I said this is false information – there was no Russian escape plan. To start with there was not an escape plan – escape, which means something clandestine, illicit, something not legal. That, there was not ever. Let alone something devised or orchestrated by a third country.”

Narváez lodged a formal complaint against the Guardian, attesting that “the Guardian has not, and cannot, substantiate with solid evidence its […] false assertions” that “Russian diplomats held secret talks in London last year;” and that “a tentative plan was devised that would have seen the WikiLeaks founder smuggled out of Ecuador’s London Embassy.”

On advice from its internal regulator, the Guardian amended the article to emphasize that “the plan in relation to Mr. Assange’s ability to be able to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy was not devised or instigated by Russia,” and that “there was nothing illicit about the ‘plan’ as described in the Article.

The Guardian’s climbdown from its original assertions suggests a loss of confidence in the information provided by its unnamed sources. Indeed, Kirchgaessner was warned by a source inside UC Global that the Guardian was being fed with false information from questionable sources months before the article was published.

On May 16, 2018, following the Guardian’s reporting on Operation Hotel (Ecuador’s multi-million-dollar operation to support Assange’s embassy stay), Kirchgaessner was told by a UC Global source:

I’ve read part of your article and [Ecuadorian news agency] plan V; there are a lot of mistakes and things that are confused or mixed; there are people who have provided that information so you do not know why they have given that …”

Perhaps more concerningly, Kirchgaessner appeared to know about the relationship between UC Global’s activities at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and the security company’s proximity to Trump megadonor Sheldon Adelson almost a year before it became public knowledge.

UC Global’s loyalties had shifted in 2016, when its CEO David Morales attended a security fair in Las Vegas and won a contract to guard Queen Miri, a multi-million-dollar yacht owned by Adelson. “Given that Adelson already had a substantial security team assigned to guard him and his family at all times,” wrote Max Blumenthal, “the contract between UC Global and Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands was clearly the cover for a devious espionage campaign apparently overseen by the CIA.” Blumenthal continued:

Throughout the black operations campaign, U.S. intelligence appears to have worked through Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands, a company that had previously served as an alleged front for a CIA blackmail operation several years earlier. The operations formally began once Adelson’s hand-picked presidential candidate, Donald Trump, entered the White House in January 2017.

The relationship between Adelson and UC Global’s operations at the Ecuadorian Embassy was first reported in El País in September 2019. Yet on October 12, 2018, Kirchgaessner emailed her source within UC Global: “Also the [Las Vegas] Sands and Sheldon Adelson – did he pay for the embassy to move?”

If Kirchgaessner knew about the relationship between Adelson and UC Global’s activities at the Ecuadorian Embassy, why was it not reported at the time? Indeed, evidence of an elaborate spying operation on Assange, with links to the Republican Party and the Trump administration, would seem to disrupt the narrative of a secret Assange-Trump-Russia plot to subvert American politics – a narrative that the Guardian would not abandon easily.

“Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian Embassy”

On November 27, 2018, while Narváez’s formal complaint to the Guardian about its Assange coverage was still being processed, the newspaper published another blockbuster story claiming that Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign manager and key aide during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, had “held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London” in 2013, 2015, and Spring 2016.

The story was immediately picked up by the world’s largest news outlets, including CNNMSNBC, the Daily Mail, and the Los Angeles Times. “If it’s right,” commented a U.S. national security reporter, “it might be the biggest get this year.”

Indeed, the article appeared to provide additional evidence of “collusion” between WikiLeaks, Trump, and Russia in the lead-up to the 2016 U.S. election, during which time WikiLeaks released thousands of Democratic National Committee emails.

As the article’s authors, Luke Harding and Dan Collyns, claimed, the last alleged meeting between Assange and Manafort in Spring 2016 “is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

The Guardian’s Manafort scoop began to unravel almost as soon as it was published.

The WikiLeaks Twitter account responded: “Remember this day when the Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper’s reputation. @WikiLeaks is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange.” Both Manafort and Assange denied that any of the visits took place.

Indeed, even the Guardian didn’t seem sure.

Though the Guardian’s sources were able to offer precise details about Manafort’s appearance (“casually dressed when he exited the embassy, wearing sandy-coloured chinos, a cardigan and a light-coloured shirt”) as well as the meeting’s duration (it “lasted about 40 minutes”), the authors were unable to establish exactly when Manafort allegedly visited.

Within a request for comment sent to WikiLeaks shortly before the article was published, Harding was not even able to specify during which month Manafort’s 2016 visit supposedly occurred. The meeting “took place,” Harding wrote, “in or around March 2016, around the time Manafort joined Donald Trump’s presidential campaign,” a detail that remained vague within the published article.

In the time since, the Guardian appears to have lost even more confidence in its own report.

Within hours of publication, the Guardian modified its headline to add “sources say” to the original claim that “Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy.” The print edition, issued one day after online publication, added inverted commas: “Manafort ‘held secret talks with Assange’.”

The main body of the report was also modified. Whereas the original claimed that “It is unclear why Manafort wanted to see Assange and what was discussed,” an updated version read that “It is unclear why Manafort would have wanted to see Assange and what was discussed.” [emphasis added]

Harding’s 2020 book, Shadow State: Murder, Mayhem, and Russia’s Remaking of the West, moreover, makes no mention of Manafort’s alleged meetings with Assange, even though the subject matter’s clear focus is malign Russian involvement in Western politics. Mueller did not mention the alleged meeting in his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Despite watering down the article’s key claims, the Guardian has yet to add any correction notes or provide a retraction.

Visitor’s log

In paragraph 14 of the Guardian’s Manafort story, the authors note that: “Visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports. Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged.”

It is curious that the Guardian glided over this crucial point. Narváez, who was in charge of the day-to-day functioning of the embassy, asserted that nobody could enter the building without being logged. Visitors required written approval from the ambassador, before registering their visit with security personnel and leaving a copy of their identification, which would be added to the visitor’s log.

Private UC Global discussions raise even more questions.

On November 22, 2018, five days before the Guardian published its Manafort story, an email was sent from UC Global CEO David Morales, asking: “Do we have a record that Paul Manafort during 2013, 2015, and 2016 visited the embassy?” UC Global staff discussed the matter:

Staff A: Hello… send me the name to search for

Staff B: Paul Manafort

Staff A: Ok, I’ll look and let you know

Any date?

I can’t find anything

Staff B: So there’s nothing?

Staff A: I can only find two Pauls… Stafford and Nigel

It seems that the Guardian’s request for information on visits to the embassy was flushed through Ecuadorian intelligence to UC Global and came back negative. Why did the Guardian glide over crucial evidence that contradicted its key claim, without offering any attempt at explaining why Manafort was not in the visitor’s log?

Indeed, the Guardian had relied on the visitor’s log for a separate story, and had privileged access to it.

On May 6, 2018, Kirchgaessner contacted a source within UC Global, saying:

I am interested in Nigel Farage because he went to see [Assange] once in 2017 and said it was the only time he went to see him. But other people think he went more and I am interested in knowing if that is true. Farage pushed for Brexit and he was also close to the Trump campaign.”

On May 18, 2018, Kirchgaessner emailed once more: “Have you seen what we published this week in the Guardian? We didn’t include the name of the company [UC Global]. […] Could you send me the list of visitors for the first week [sic] of 2016 (January – June 2016)?”

It is also curious that no video or photo evidence of Manafort’s alleged visit was provided, especially given that the Guardian had lines to access the embassy’s CCTV records.

On May 14, 2018, Kirchgaessner emailed a source at UC Global, asking: “Can you bring the video again of him [Assange] outside when you come [to a meeting] tomorrow?” Four days later, Kirchgaessner emailed again: “We are very interested in the video of JA [Julian Assange] outside. Do you think that you could get the film in a few weeks?”

If the Guardian could access CCTV footage at the embassy, why was it not able to provide material evidence of Manafort’s alleged visit? Did the Guardian even ask?

Concealed author

To this day, the online version of the Guardian’s Manafort story presents only two authors: Luke Harding and Dan Collyns.

In early December 2018, however, WikiLeaks wrote that the Guardian had “mysteriously hid[den the] third author of fabricated front page story” – Ecuadorian political activist and journalist Fernando Villavicencio.

In 2014, the Ecuadorian government pointed the finger at Villavicencio for providing the Guardian with allegedly forged documents relating to a secret $1billion “deal with a Chinese bank to drill for oil under the Yasuni national park in the Amazon.”

Even before the Guardian’s Manafort story was published, Villavicencio had promoted doubtful claims about Assange’s visitors at the Ecuadorian Embassy. On May 16, 2018, Villavicencio and Cristina Solórzano correctly wrote in La Fuente that “[Nigel] Farage visited Assange in March of last year, stayed for roughly 40 minutes and when asked about why he visited, responded ‘I don’t remember’.”

However, they added that, according to their source, “Farage returned to the embassy the next month, entering 28 April 2018 at 17:10 and leaving at 19:40.”

The allegation was almost certainly false. In late March 2018, the Ecuadorian authorities had removed Assange’s access to the outside world, including a ban on visitors. These rights were only partially restored in October 2018, meaning Farage had supposedly visited while Assange could not accept visitors.

Questions

A number of crucial questions remain unanswered by the Guardian:

  • What did Kirchgaessner know about the relationship between UC Global, Sheldon Adelson, and the Ecuadorian Embassy security operation in 2018, before this was public knowledge? Why was this not reported on at the time?
  • Why did the Guardian not report on the fact that Assange’s private conversations were being transcribed by a security company that was supposed to be protecting him?
  • Did the Guardian continue to use sources in Ecuador’s intelligence service after it was warned that they were spreading disinformation?
  • Given that the Guardian had lines to access CCTV footage at the Ecuadorian Embassy, did it try to attain material evidence of Manafort’s alleged visit? If not, why?
  • Why has the Guardian not added any correction notes or provided a retraction to its Manafort story?
  • Why is the third author of the Manafort story, Fernando Villavicencio, still not listed on the Guardian’s website? Why was he seen as a reputable journalist to cover Assange?

Until these questions are answered, the newspaper cannot credibly defend itself against the charge that it has committed serious journalistic malpractice in its coverage of Julian Assange.

The Guardian did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Lee Camp: Julian Assange’s Father, John Shipton, on the U.S. Government’s ‘Scandalous’ Plan to ‘Murder’ His Son

October 13th, 2021

By Lee Camp

Source

Britain WikiLeaks Assange

One of the biggest moments in Julian Assange’s trial is slated to happen next month, when the embattled and imprisoned WikiLeaks founder’s final extradition hearing is held in Great Britain. And as host Lee Camp points out before introducing his guest in this clip from “Redacted Tonight,” there have been some stunning developments recently in Assange’s story—namely, the revelation that the U.S. government and a certain three-letter intelligence agency were ginning up possible plans to assassinate Assange.

If ever there were an expert on Julian Assange, it would surely be Camp’s guest, John Shipton—Assange’s father—who calls the assassination plot considered by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other U.S. officials “pretty scandalous,” if not entirely surprising. Shipton also holds forth on the American government’s big quandary if Assange were to be brought onto U.S. soil to face charges, the man who perjured himself to implicate Assange, and why he thinks his son’s work has been a “great success” despite his plight. Have a look at the clip above to watch the whole interview.

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