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.

Silencing Julian Assange: Why bother with a trial when you can just kill him?

October 7, 2021

By Philip Giraldi

Source

It is an issue of the abuses enabled by powerful men who believe that their power is unlimited, Philip Giraldi writes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CIA Plot to Murder Assange Is Open Season on Independent Journalism

September 30, 2021

By Finian Cunningham

Source

If Assange is not freed then the war on truth is going to explode. All independent journalism and basic human rights are under threat.

A report that the CIA was plotting to murder or kidnap Julian Assange is credible and it should not be in the least bit surprising that the agency sometimes known as Murder Inc would stoop to such criminality.

The CIA has for decades since its formation in 1947 involved itself in assassinating foreign political leaders and is implicated in the 1963 killing of its own President John F Kennedy in what amounted to be a coup d’état in the United States. The agency has operated as a rogue shadow government, an unelected permanent bureaucracy or deep state, that is above the law.

However, what is disturbing about the revelations from the Yahoo News investigation based on interviews with 30 former U.S. national security officials is that the “extreme measures” were being touted against an internationally renowned journalist and publisher. It was around 2017 during the Trump administration when Assange was being sheltered in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He fled there after breaching bail in 2012 to escape fabricated extradition to Sweden on behalf of the United States.

President Donald Trump reportedly asked personally about the assassination option (a claim which he has since denied). The then CIA director Mike Pompeo and his deputy Gina Haspel were reportedly more unequivocal about using extreme methods. They both wanted vengeance against Assange over Wikileaks’ publishing of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s disclosures about CIA global hacking techniques known as Vault 7. Those disclosures caused immense embarrassment for U.S. intelligence especially in light of hoary American allegations of Russian and Chinese cyberattacks.

Pompeo went on to become Secretary of State until Trump left the White House in January this year. Haspel was elevated to become CIA director by Trump in 2018, a position she still maintains under President Joe Biden. She gained notoriety for overseeing torture and rendition programs while a CIA station chief in Thailand during the GW Bush administration.

It is a shocking revelation that the extrajudicial murder of a renowned journalist supposedly protected by international laws of asylum and Vienna Conventions respecting consular inviolability could be so breezily discussed by senior CIA figures and top U.S. government officials.

The conceptual trickery giving a pseudo-legal cover to the heinous plot was the U.S. intelligence designation of Assange as a collaborator of a foreign enemy state – Russia. After the 2016 presidential elections, it was asserted that Russian military intelligence had hacked the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and supplied troves of emails to Wikileaks that were damning of Hillary Clinton’s corruption. The damage to Democratic candidate Clinton cost her the presidential election allowing Donald Trump to pull off a remarkable victory against the odds.

Julian Assange categorically stated that his source for the Clinton emails was not the Russian intel services. It is believed that the source was a disgruntled DNC insider who leaked the information to Wikileaks.

But the designation of Assange as a foreign enemy gave the CIA a legalistic license to use offensive counterintelligence techniques that do not require oversight by the president or congress. In short, the agency gave itself a license to kill Assange based on the spurious designation that he was colluding with a foreign adversary – Russia.

This got to the point where the CIA reportedly believed that Russia was going to exfiltrate Assange from London under diplomatic secrecy. The Americans drew up plans to have a shoot-out with Russian agents in London to thwart them, or even blow out the tires of a Russian jet trying to take off with Assange onboard.

The Kremlin has not responded to these reported claims. The hunch is that those racy details are a red-herring in an otherwise credible account of what the CIA was planning to do with Assange. The Russian intrigue facet is simply being used to lend credence to the false premise that Assange was working with the Russians and that the Kremlin hacked the DNC computers with the objective of influencing the 2016 election in favor of Trump over Clinton. Moscow has consistently denied that it interfered in the election or subsequent ones.

The purported scenario of a CIA shoot-out with Russian intelligence on the streets of London is a distraction from the heart of the story which is that the U.S. government and its rogue agency were ready and willing to murder an innocent civilian. Because the journalistic integrity of this civilian – Australian national Julian Assange – led him to publish damning revelations about Washington’s systematic war crimes and crimes of mass surveillance against its own citizens.

Acts of state terrorism by the CIA have always been carried out under cover or with plausible deniability. But in the case of Julian Assange Murder Inc was discussing “termination with extreme prejudice” (the euphemism for murder) as if it were ordering in coffee and donuts.

In the end, for whatever reason, the CIA did not go through with its assassination plot against Assange. But it got the next option: extraordinary rendition. The raiding of the Ecuadorian embassy in April 2019 by British police to snatch Assange was rendition under the guise of British justice. Assange has been in solitary confinement for two and a half years in a British maximum security prison reserved for psychopaths and dangerous terrorist offenders, awaiting an extradition appeal by the United States. In that event, Assange will die inside a U.S. prison. So, while Washington’s powers-that-be didn’t get to murder Assange outside prison, they have succeeded in rendering him to a black site.

That is where we are now at. Journalists telling the truth are openly targeted for murder or burial under concrete as a prisoner of the state.

The public case is clearer than ever after the latest revelations of the CIA plotting to murder or kidnap Assange. He must be freed from such blatant, premeditated persecution. If Assange is not freed then the war on truth is going to explode. All independent journalism and basic human rights are under threat.

‘Forever war’ benefiting Afghans? Follow the money

August 23, 2021

Whoever bought Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and other US defense stocks made a literal killing

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

After 20 years and a staggering US$2.23 trillion spent in a “forever war” persistently spun as promoting democracy and benefiting the “Afghan people,” it’s legitimate to ask what the Empire of Chaos has to show for it.

The numbers are dire. Afghanistan remains the world’s 7th poorest nation: 47% of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the Asian Development Bank. No less than 75% of the – dissolved – Kabul government’s budget was coming from international aid. According to the World Bank, that aid was responsible for the turnover of 43% of the economy – one that was mired in massive government corruption.

According to the terms of the Washington-Taliban agreement signed in Doha in February 2020, the US should continue to fund Afghanistan during and after its withdrawal.

Now, with the Fall of Kabul and the imminent return of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, it’s becoming clear that applying financial soft power tactics may be even more deadly than a mere NATO occupation.

Washington has frozen $9.5 billion in Afghan Central Bank reserves and the International Monetary Fund has canceled its lending to Afghanistan, including $460 million that’s part of a Covid-19 relief program.

These dollars pay for government salaries and imports. Their absence will lead to the “Afghan people” hurting even more, a direct consequence of inevitable currency depreciation, rising food prices and inflation.

A corollary to this economic tragedy is a classic “take the money and run” caper: Former president Ashraf Ghani fled the country after allegedly packing four cars with $169 million in cash, and leaving $5 million on the tarmac of Kabul airport.

That’s according to two witnesses: one of his own bodyguards and the Afghan ambassador in Tajikistan; Ghani has denied the looting allegations.

Ghani’s plane was denied landing in Tajikistan and also Uzbekistan, proceeding to Oman until Ghani was welcomed in the UAE – very close to Dubai, a global Mecca of smuggling, money laundering and racketeering.

The Taliban have already stated that a new government and a new political and economic framework will be announced only after NATO troops are definitively out of the country next month.

The complex negotiations to form an “inclusive” government, as repeatedly promised by Taliban spokesmen, are de facto led on the non-Taliban side by two members of a council of three: former President Hamid Karzai and Ghani’s eternal rival, the leader of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah. The third member, acting in the shadows, is warlord-turned-politician and two-time prime minister Hekmatyar. Gulbuddin

Karzai and Abdullah, both vastly experienced, are regarded by the Americans as “acceptable,” so that may go a long way in terms of facilitating future, official Western recognition of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and restored multilateral institution funding.

Yet there are myriad problems including the very active role of Khalil Haqqani, who leads the Taliban Peace Council Commission while on a “terror watch list” and under UN sanctions. Not only is Haqqani in charge of Kabul’s security; he’s also side by side with Karzai and Abdullah in the discussions to form an inclusive government.

What makes the Taliban run

The Taliban have been operating outside of the Western banking system for two decades now. The bulk of their income comes from transit tax on trade routes (for instance, from Iran) and fuel levies. Profits from opium and heroin exports (domestic consumption not permitted) reportedly account for less than 10% of their income.

In countless villages across the deep Afghan countryside, the economy revolves around petty cash transactions and barter.

I received a copy of a high-level Pakistani academia-intelligence paper examining the challenges facing the new Afghan government.

The paper notes that “the standard route of development to be followed will be very pro-people. Taliban’s Islam is socialist. It has an aversion towards wealth being accumulated in fewer hands” – and, crucially, also an aversion to usury.

On the initial steps towards development projects, the paper expects them to come from Russian, Chinese, Turkish, Iranian and Pakistani companies – as well as a few government sectors. The Islamic Emirate “expects infrastructure development packages” at costs that are “affordable by the country’s existing GDP.”

Afghanistan’s nominal GDP in 2020 was $19.8 billion, according to World Bank figures.

New aid and investment packages are expected to come from Shanghai Cooperation Organization member nations (Russia, China, Pakistan) or SCO observers (Turkey and currently Iran – scheduled to become a full member at the SCO summit next month in Tajikistan). Inbuilt is the notion that Western recognition will be a Sisyphean task.

The paper admits that the Taliban have not had time to evaluate how the economy will be the key vector deciding Afghanistan’s future independence.

But this passage of the paper may hold the key: “In their consultations with the Chinese, they were advised to go slow and not rock the boat of the Western world system by talking too soon about state control of capitalism, interest-free economy, and de-linking from the IMF-based financial system. However, since the West has pulled back all the money from the Afghan exchequer, Afghanistan is likely to apply for short-term aid packages against their resource base.”

IMF-NATO as brothers in arms

I asked Michael Hudson, an economics professor at the University of Missouri Kansas City and Peking University, how he would recommend the new government to act. He answered, “For one thing, embarrass the hell out of the IMF for acting as an arm of NATO.”

Hudson referred to a Wall Street Journal article written by a former IMF advisor now with the Atlantic Council as saying that “now, since recognition is frozen, banks all over the world will hesitate to do business with Kabul. This move provides the US with leverage to negotiate with the Taliban.”

So this may be going the Venezuela way – with the IMF not “recognizing” a new government for months and even years. And on the seizure of Afghan gold by the New York Fed – actually a collection of private banks – we see echoes of the looting of Libya’s and seizure of Venezuela’s gold.

Hudson sees all of the above as “an abuse of the international monetary system – which is supposed to be a public utility – as an arm of NATO run by the US. IMF behavior, especially regarding the new drawing rights, should be presented as a litmus test” for the viability of a Taliban-led Afghanistan.

Hudson is now working on a book about the collapse of antiquity. His research led him to find Cicero, in In Favor of the Manilian Law (Pro Lege Manilia), writing about Pompeus’s military campaign in Asia and its effects on the provinces in a passage that perfectly applies to the “forever war” in Afghanistan:

“Words cannot express, gentlemen, how bitterly hated we are among foreign nations because of the wanton and outrageous conduct of the men whom in recent years we have sent to govern them. For, in those countries, what temple do you suppose had been held sacred by our officers, what state inviolable, what home sufficiently guarded by its closed doors? Why, they look about for rich and flourishing cities that they may find an occasion for a war against them to satisfy their lust for plunder.”

Switching from the classics to a more pedestrian level, WikiLeaks has been replaying a sort of Afghanistan Greatest Hits , reminding public opinion, for instance, that as far back as 2008 there was already “no pre-defined end date” for the “forever war.”

Yet the most concise assessment may have come from Julian Assange himself:

“The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war.”

The “forever war” may have been a disaster for the bombed, invaded and impoverished “Afghan people,” but it was an unmitigated success for what Ray McGovern so memorably defines as the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Counter-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think Tank) complex. Anyone who bought stocks of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and the rest of that crowd made – literally – a killing.

Facts are indeed dire. Barack Obama – who presided over a hefty Afghan “kill list”  throws a birthday party and invites the woke nouveaux riches. Julian Assange suffers psychological torture imprisoned in Belmarsh. And Ashraf Ghani mulls how to spend $169 million in the Dubai rackets, funds some say were duly stolen from the “Afghan people.”

A Day in the Death of British Justice

August 13th, 2021

By John Pilger

Source

(Originally Published on Mintpressnews on August 12, 2021)

“What has not been discussed today is why I feared for my safety and the safety of our children and for Julian’s life.” — Stella Moris, partner of Julian Assange

Isat in Court 4 in the Royal Courts of Justice in London yesterday with Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s partner. I have known Stella for as long as I have known Julian. She, too, is a voice of freedom, coming from a family that fought the fascism of Apartheid. Today, her name was uttered in court by a barrister and a judge, forgettable people were it not for the power of their endowed privilege.

The barrister, Clair Dobbin, is in the pay of the regime in Washington, first Trump’s then Biden’s. She is America’s hired gun, or “silk”, as she would prefer. Her target is Julian Assange, who has committed no crime and has performed an historic public service by exposing the criminal actions and secrets on which governments, especially those claiming to be democracies, base their authority.

For those who may have forgotten, WikiLeaks, of which Assange is founder and publisher, exposed the secrets and lies that led to the invasion of Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the murderous role of the Pentagon in dozens of countries, the blueprint for the 20-year catastrophe in Afghanistan, the attempts by Washington to overthrow elected governments, such as Venezuela’s, the collusion between nominal political opponents (Bush and Obama) to stifle a torture investigation and the CIA’s Vault 7 campaign that turned your mobile phone, even your TV set, into a spy in your midst.

WikiLeaks released almost a million documents from Russia which allowed Russian citizens to stand up for their rights. It revealed the Australian government had colluded with the US against its own citizen, Assange. It named those Australian politicians who have “informed” for the US. It made the connection between the Clinton Foundation and the rise of jihadism in American-armed states in the Gulf.

There is more: WikiLeaks disclosed the US campaign to suppress wages in sweatshop countries like Haiti, India’s campaign of torture in Kashmir, the British government’s secret agreement to shield “US interests” in its official Iraq inquiry and the British Foreign Office’s plan to create a fake “marine protection zone” in the Indian Ocean to cheat the Chagos islanders out of their right of return.

In other words, WikiLeaks has given us real news about those who govern us and take us to war, not the preordained, repetitive spin that fills newspapers and television screens. This is real journalism; and for the crime of real journalism, Assange has spent most of the past decade in one form of incarceration or another, including Belmarsh prison, a horrific place.

Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, he is a gentle, intellectual visionary driven by his belief that a democracy is not a democracy unless it is transparent, and accountable.

Yesterday, the United States sought the approval of Britain’s High Court to extend the terms of its appeal against a decision by a district judge, Vanessa Baraitser, in January to bar Assange’s extradition.  Baraitser accepted the deeply disturbing evidence of a number of experts that Assange would be at great risk if he were incarcerated in the US’s infamous prison system.

Professor Michael Kopelman, a world authority on neuro-psychiatry, had said Assange would find a way to take his own life — the direct result of what Professor Nils Melzer, the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, described as the craven “mobbing” of Assange by governments – and their media echoes.

Those of us who were in the Old Bailey last September to hear Kopelman’s evidence were shocked and moved. I sat with Julian’s father, John Shipton, whose head was in his hands. The court was also told about the discovery of a razor blade in Julian’s Belmarsh cell and that he had made desperate calls to the Samaritans and written notes and much else that filled us with more than sadness.

Watching the lead barrister acting for Washington, James Lewis — a man from a military background who deploys a cringingly theatrical “aha!” formula with defence witnesses — reduce these facts to “malingering” and smearing witnesses, especially Kopelman, we were heartened by Kopelman’s revealing response that Lewis’s abuse was “a bit rich” as Lewis himself had sought to hire Kopelman’s  expertise in another case.

Lewis’s sidekick is Clair Dobbin, and yesterday was her day. Completing the smearing of Professor Kopelman was down to her. An American with some authority sat behind her in court.

Dobbin said Kopelman had “misled” Judge Baraister in September because he had not disclosed that Julian Assange and Stella Moris were partners, and their two young children, Gabriel and Max, were conceived during the period Assange had taken refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Britain Assange
Stella Moris after attending the first hearing in the Assange extradition appeal in London, Aug. 11, 2021. Matt Dunham | AP

The implication was that this somehow lessened Kopelman’s medical diagnosis: that Julian, locked up in solitary in Belmarsh prison and facing extradition to the US on bogus “espionage” charges, had suffered severe psychotic depression and had planned, if he had not already attempted, to take his own life.

For her part, Judge Baraitser saw no contradiction. The full nature of the relationship between Stella and Julian had been explained to her in March 2020, and Professor Kopelman had made full reference to it in his report in August 2020. So the judge and the court knew all about it before the main extradition hearing last September. In her judgement in January, Baraitser said this:

[Professor Kopelman] assessed Mr. Assange during the period May to December 2019 and was best placed to consider at first-hand his symptoms. He has taken great care to provide an informed account of Mr. Assange background and psychiatric history. He has given close attention to the prison medical notes and provided a detailed summary annexed to his December report. He is an experienced clinician and he was well aware of the possibility of exaggeration and malingering. I had no reason to doubt his clinical opinion.

She added that she had “not been misled” by the exclusion in Kopelman’s first report of the Stella-Julian relationship and that she understood that Kopelman was protecting the privacy of Stella and her two young children.

In fact, as I know well, the family’s safety was under constant threat to the point when an embassy security guard confessed he had been told to steal one of the baby’s nappies so that a CIA-contracted company could analyse its DNA. There has been a stream of unpublicised threats against Stella and her children.

For the US and its legal hirelings in London, damaging the credibility of a renowned expert by suggesting he withheld this information was a way, they no doubt reckoned, to rescue their crumbling case against Assange. In June, the Icelandic newspaper Stundin reported that a key prosecution witness against Assange has admitted fabricating his evidence. The one “hacking” charge the Americans hoped to bring against Assange if they could get their hands on him depended on this source and witness, Sigurdur Thordarson, an FBI informant.

Thordarson had worked as a volunteer for WikiLeaks in Iceland between 2010 and 2011. In 2011, as several criminal charges were brought against him, he contacted the FBI and offered to become an informant in return for immunity from all prosecution. It emerged that he was a convicted fraudster who embezzled $55,000 from WikiLeaks, and served two years in prison. In 2015, he was sentenced to three years for sex offenses against teenage boys. The Washington Post described Thordarson’s credibility as the “core” of the case against Assange.

Yesterday, Lord Chief Justice Holroyde made no mention of this witness. His concern was that it was “arguable” that Judge Baraitser had attached too much weight to the evidence of Professor Kopelman, a man revered in his field. He said it was “very unusual” for an appeal court to have to reconsider evidence from an expert accepted by a lower court, but he agreed with Ms. Dobbin it was “misleading” even though he accepted Kopelman’s “understandable human response” to protect the privacy of Stella and the children.

If you can unravel the arcane logic of this, you have a better grasp than I who have sat through this case from the beginning. It is clear Kopelman misled nobody. Judge Baraitser – whose hostility to Assange personally was a presence in her court – said that she was not misled; it was not an issue; it did not matter. So why had Lord Chief Chief Justice Holroyde spun the language with its weasel legalise and sent Julian back to his cell and its nightmares? There, he now waits for the High Court’s final decision in October – for Julian Assange, a life or death decision.And why did Holroyde send Stella from the court trembling with anguish? Why is this case “unusual”? Why did he throw the gang of prosecutor-thugs at the Department of Justice in Washington – — who got their big chance under Trump, having been rejected by Obama – a life raft as their rotting, corrupt case against a principled journalist sunk as surely as Titantic?

This does not necessarily mean that in October the full bench of the High Court will order Julian to be extradited. In the upper reaches of the masonry that is the British judiciary there are, I understand, still those who believe in real law and real justice from which the term “British justice” takes its sanctified reputation in the land of the Magna Carta. It now rests on their ermined shoulders whether that history lives on or dies.

I sat with Stella in the court’s colonnade while she drafted words to say to the crowd of media and well-wishers outside in the sunshine. Clip-clopping along came Clair Dobbin, spruced, ponytail swinging, bearing her carton of files: a figure of certainty: she who said Julian Assange was “not so ill” that he would consider suicide. How does she know?

Has Ms. Dobbin worked her way through the medieval maze at Belmarsh to sit with Julian in his yellow arm band, as Professors Koppelman and Melzer have done, and Stella has done, and I have done? Never mind. The Americans have now “promised” not to put him in a hellhole, just as they “promised” not to torture Chelsea Manning, just as they promised ……

Britain Assange
A WikiLeaks supporter gives leaflets to passing drivers, during the first Assange extradition appeal hearing in London, Aug. 11, 2021. Matt Dunham | AP

nd has she read the WikiLeaks’ leak of a Pentagon document dated 15 March, 2009? This foretold the current war on journalism. US intelligence, it said, intended to destroy WikiLeaks’ and Julian Assange’s “centre of gravity” with threats and “criminal prosecution”. Read all 32 pages and you are left in no doubt that silencing and criminalising independent journalism was the aim, smear the method.

I tried to catch Ms. Dobbin’s gaze, but she was on her way: job done.

Outside, Stella struggled to contain her emotion. This is one brave woman, as indeed her man is an exemplar of courage. “What has not been discussed today,” said Stella, “is why I feared for my safety and the safety of our children and for Julian’s life. The constant threats and intimidation we endured for years, which has been terrorising us and has been terrorising Julian for 10 years. We have a right to live, we have a right to exist and we have a right for this nightmare to come to an end once and for all.”

Chris Hedges: Julian Assange and the Collapse of the Rule of Law

June 11th, 2021

Julian Assange Feature photo

By Chris Hedges

Source

Chris Hedges gave this talk at a rally Thursday night in New York City in support of Julian Assange. John and Gabriel Shipton, Julian’s father and brother, also spoke at the event, which was held at The People’s Forum.

PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY (Scheerpost A society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth extinguishes the capacity to live in justice.

This why we are here tonight.  Yes, all of us who know and admire Julian decry his prolonged suffering and the suffering of his family.  Yes, we demand that the many wrongs and injustices that have been visited upon him be ended.  Yes, we honor him up for his courage and his integrity. But the battle for Julian’s liberty has always been much more than the persecution of a publisher.  It is the most important battle for press freedom of our era.  And if we lose this battle, it will be devastating, not only for Julian and his family, but for us.

Tyrannies invert the rule of law.  They turn the law into an instrument of injustice.  They cloak their crimes in a faux legality.  They use the decorum of the courts and trials, to mask their criminality.  Those, such as Julian, who expose that criminality to the public are dangerous, for without the pretext of legitimacy the tyranny loses credibility and has nothing left in its arsenal but fear, coercion and violence.

The long campaign against Julian and WikiLeaks is a window into the collapse of the rule of law, the rise of what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of inverted totalitarianism, a form of totalitarianism that maintains the fictions of the old capitalist democracy, including its institutions, iconography, patriotic symbols and rhetoric, but internally has surrendered total control to the dictates of global corporations.

I was in the London courtroom when Julian was being tried by Judge Vanessa Baraitser, an updated version of the Queen of Hearts in Alice-in Wonderland demanding the sentence before pronouncing the verdict. It was judicial farce. There was no legal basis to hold Julian in prison.  There was no legal basis to try him, an Australian citizen, under the U.S. Espionage Act. The CIA spied on Julian in the embassy through a Spanish company, UC Global, contracted to provide embassy security. This spying included recording the privileged conversations between Julian and his lawyers as they discussed his defense. This fact alone invalidated the trial. Julian is being held in a high security prison so the state can, as Nils Melzer, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, has testified, continue the degrading abuse and torture it hopes will lead to his psychological if not physical disintegration.

The U.S. government directed, as Craig Murray so eloquently documented, the London prosecutor James Lewis.  Lewis presented these directives to Baraitser.  Baraitser adopted them as her legal decision.  It was judicial pantomime. Lewis and the judge insisted they were not attempting to criminalize journalists and muzzle the press while they busily set up the legal framework to criminalize journalists and muzzle the press. And that is why the court worked so hard to mask the proceedings from the public, limiting access to the courtroom to a handful of observers and making it hard and at times impossible to access the trial online.  It was a tawdry show trial, not an example of the best of English jurisprudence but the Lubyanka.

Now, I know many of us here tonight would like to think of ourselves as radicals, maybe even revolutionaries.  But what we are demanding on the political spectrum is in fact conservative, it is the restoration of the rule of law.  It is simple and basic. It should not, in a functioning democracy, be incendiary.  But living in truth in a despotic system is the supreme act of defiance.  This truth terrifies those in power.

The architects of imperialism, the masters of war, the corporate-controlled legislative, judicial and executive branches of government and their obsequious courtiers in the media, are illegitimate.  Say this simple truth and you are banished, as many of us have been, to the margins of the media landscape.  Prove this truth, as Julian, Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond and Edward Snowden have by allowing us to peer into the inner workings of power, and you are hunted down and persecuted.

Shortly after WikiLeaks released the Iraq War Logs in October 2010, which documented numerous US war crimes—including video images of the gunning down of two Reuters journalists and 10 other unarmed civilians in the Collateral Murder video, the routine torture of Iraqi prisoners, the covering up of thousands of civilian deaths and the killing of nearly 700 civilians that had approached too closely to U.S. checkpoints—the towering civil rights attorneys Len Weinglass and my good friend Michael Ratner, who I would later accompany to meet Julian in the Ecuadoran Embassy, met with Julian in a studio apartment in Central London.  Julian’s personal bank cards had been blocked. Three encrypted laptops with documents detailing US war crimes had disappeared from his luggage in route to London. Swedish police were fabricating a case against him in a move, Ratner warned, that was about extraditing Julian to the United States.

“WikiLeaks and you personally are facing a battle that is both legal and political,” Weinglass told Assange. “As we learned in the Pentagon Papers case, the US government doesn’t like the truth coming out. And it doesn’t like to be humiliated. No matter if it’s Nixon or Bush or Obama, Republican or Democrat in the White House. The US government will try to stop you from publishing its ugly secrets. And if they have to destroy you and the First Amendment and the rights of publishers with you, they are willing to do it. We believe they are going to come after WikiLeaks and you, Julian, as the publisher.”

“Come after me for what?” asked Julian.

“Espionage,” Weinglass continued. “They’re going to charge Bradley Manning with treason under the Espionage Act of 1917. We don’t think it applies to him because he’s a whistleblower, not a spy. And we don’t think it applies to you either because you are a publisher. But they are going to try to force Manning into implicating you as his collaborator.”

“Come after me for what?

That is the question.

They came after Julian not for his vices, but his virtues.

They came after Julian because he exposed the more than 15,000 unreported deaths of Iraqi civilians; because he exposed the torture and abuse of some 800 men and boys, aged between 14 and 89, at Guantánamo; because he exposed that Hillary Clinton in 2009 ordered US diplomats to spy on U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and other U.N. representatives from China, France, Russia, and the UK, spying that included obtaining DNA, iris scans, fingerprints, and personal passwords, part of the long pattern of illegal surveillance that included the eavesdropping on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the weeks before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003; because he exposed that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the CIA orchestrated the June 2009 military coup in Honduras that overthrew the democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya, replacing it with a murderous and corrupt military regime; because he exposed that George W. Bush, Barack Obama and General David Petraeus prosecuted a war in Iraq that under post-Nuremberg laws is defined as a criminal war of aggression, a war crime, that they authorized hundreds of targeted assassinations, including those of U.S. citizens in Yemen, and that they secretly launched missile, bomb, and drone attacks on Yemen, killing scores of civilians; because he exposed that Goldman Sachs paid Hillary Clinton $657,000 to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe, and that she privately assured corporate leaders she would do their bidding while promising the public financial regulation and reform; because he exposed the internal campaign to discredit and destroy British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by members of his own party; because he exposed how the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency permits the wholesale government surveillance of our televisions, computers, smartphones and anti-virus software, allowing the government to record and store our conversations, images and private text messages, even from encrypted apps.

Julian exposed the truth.  He exposed it over and over and over until there was no question of the endemic illegality, corruption and mendacity that defines the global ruling elite.  And for these truths they came after Julian, as they have come after all who dared rip back the veil on power.  “Red Rosa now has vanished too. …” Bertolt Brecht wrote after the German socialist Rosa Luxemburg was murdered. “She told the poor what life is about, And so the rich have rubbed her out.”

We have undergone a corporate coup, where the poor and working men and women are reduced to joblessness and hunger, where war, financial speculation and internal surveillance are the only real business of the state, where even habeas corpus no longer exists, where we, as citizens, are nothing more than commodities to corporate systems of power, ones to be used, fleeced and discarded. To refuse to fight back, to reach out and help the weak, the oppressed and the suffering, to save the planet from ecocide, to decry the domestic and international crimes of the ruling class, to demand justice, to live in truth, is to bear the mark of Cain. Those in power must feel our wrath, and this means constant acts of mass civil disobedience, it means constant acts of social and political disruption, for this organized power from below is the only power that will save us and the only power that will free Julian.  Politics is a game of fear.  It is our moral and civic duty to make those in power very, very afraid.

The criminal ruling class has all of us locked in its death grip.  It cannot be reformed.  It has abolished the rule of law.  It obscures and falsifies the truth. It seeks the consolidation of its obscene wealth and power. And so, to quote the Queen of Hearts, metaphorically of course, I say, “Off with their heads.”

Biden’s Journey: Change Is Imperceptible

Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

Philip Giraldi

February 25, 2021

Biden has been a major disappointment for those who hoped that he’d change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts.

The new White House Team has been in place for more than a month and it is perhaps time to consider where it is going with America’s fractured foreign policy. To be sure, when a new administration brings in a bunch of “old hands” who made their bones by attacking Syria and Libya while also assassinating American citizens by drone one might hope that those mistakes might have served as valuable “lessons learned.” Or maybe not, since no one in the Democratic Party ever mentions the Libya fiasco and President Joe Biden has already made it clear that Syria will continue to be targeted with sanctions as well as with American soldiers based on its soil. And no one will be leaving Afghanistan any time soon. The Biden team will only let up when Afghanistan is “secure” and there is regime change in Damascus.

A big part of the problem is that the personnel moves mean that the poison from the Barack Obama years has now been reintroduced into the tottering edifice that Donald Trump left behind. Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice once made the case for attacking the Libyans by explaining how Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi provided his soldiers with Viagra so they could more readily engage in mass rapes of presumably innocent civilians. Unfortunately, Sue is back with the new administration as the Director of the Domestic Policy Council where she will no doubt again wreak havoc in her own inimitable fashion. She is joined at the top level of the administration by Tony Blinken as Secretary of State, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, Samantha Power as head of USAID and retired General Lloyd J. Austin as Secretary of Defense. All of the appointees are regarded as “hawks” and have personal history working with Biden when he was in Congress and as Vice President, while most of them also served in the Obama administration.

Be that as it may, Joe Biden and whoever is pulling his strings have assembled a group of establishment warmongers and aspirant social justice engineers that is second to none. Those who expected something different than the usual Democratic Party template have definitely been disappointed. Hostility towards China continues with warships being sent to the South China Sea and the president is seeking to create a new Trans-Atlantic alliance directed against both Beijing and Moscow. The Europeans are reportedly not enthusiastic about remaining under Washington’s thumb and would like some breathing room.

In a phone conversation where it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall, Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States would no longer ignore his bad behavior. The official White House account of the call included the following pithy summary: “President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ firm support for Ukraine’s sovereignty. He also raised other matters of concern, including the SolarWinds hack, reports of Russia placing bounties on United States soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 United States election, and the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny.”

And to be sure, there have already been a number of issues that Biden might have dealt with by executive order, like lifting the illegal and unjustified blockade of Cuba, that could have inspired some hope that the new administration would not be just another bit of old wine in new bottles. Alas, that has not taken place but for a series of moves to unleash another wave of illegal immigration and to “protect LGBTQ rights globally.” Biden has also retained a heavy military presence in Washington itself, possibly as part of a Constitution-wrecking plan to tackle what he is referring to as “domestic terrorism.” The domestic terrorists being targeted appear to largely consist of people who are white working and middle class and voted for Trump.

In some ways, foreign policy might have been the easiest fix if the new administration were really seeking to correct the misadventures of the past twenty years. Quite the contrary, Biden and his associates have actually reversed the sensible and long overdue policies initiated by Donald Trump to reduce troop strength in Germany and bring the soldiers home from Syria and Afghanistan. Biden has already committed to an indefinite stay in Afghanistan, America’s longest “lost” war, and has covertly sent more soldiers into Syria as well as Iraq.

As regards Latin America, the U.S. clearly is prepared to double down on regime change in Venezuela, continuing its Quixotic support of Juan Guaido as president. Meanwhile, the new Secretary of State Tony Blinken has clearly indicated that there will be no end to deference to Israeli interests in the Middle East. Under questioning by Congress, he has insisted that Israel will be “consulted” on U.S. policy to include arms sales in the region, which has been interpreted to mean that Jerusalem will have a veto, and has confirmed that his view on Iran is identical to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both are apparently promoting the view that Iran will have enough enriched uranium to construct a weapon within a few weeks, though they have not addressed other technical aspects of what would actually be required to build one. Netanyahu has been making the claim about the Iranian threat since the 1980s and now it is also an element of U.S. policy.

Biden and Blinken have also moved forward slowly on a campaign commitment to attempt renegotiation of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran that President Trump withdrew from in 2017. As a condition to re-start discussions, the Iranian leadership has demanded a return to the status quo ante, meaning that the punitive sanctions initiated by Trump would have to be canceled and Iran would in return cease all enrichment activities. Biden and Blinken, which admittedly sounds a bit like a vaudeville comedy duo, have reportedly agreed to withdraw the Trump sanctions but have also suggested that Iran will have to make other concessions, to include ending its ballistic missile development program and ceasing its “meddling” in the Middle East. Iran will refuse to agree to that, which means that the bid to renegotiate could turn out to be nothing more than a bit of theater involving multilateral “discussions” hosted by the European Union and the pointless hostility between Washington and Tehran will continue.

And speaking again of Israel, there have been concerns expressed by the usual suspects because Biden had not called telephoned Netanyahu immediately after the inauguration. It may be true that the president was sending a somewhat less than subtle message signaling that he was in charge, but the call has now taken place and everything is hunky-dory. As a separate issue, the Jewish state has, of course, the world’s only secret nuclear arsenal, estimated to consist of at least 200 bombs, and it also has several systems available to deliver them on target. For no reasons that make any sense, the United States since the time of President Richard Nixon has never publicly confirmed the existence of the weapons, preferring to maintain “nuclear ambiguity” that allows Israel to have the weapons without any demands for inspections or constraints on their use. The most recent four presidents have, in fact, signed secret agreements with Israel not to expose the nuclear arsenal. Biden has apparently not done so yet, but appeals by international figures, including most recently South African Desmond Tutu, had produced some expectations that the new administration might break with precedent.

Giving aid to Israel is, in fact, illegal due to the Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, which bans U.S. economic and military assistance to nuclear proliferators and countries that seek to acquire nuclear weapons. But Biden has already indicated that he would not under any circumstances cut aid to Israel, so the matter would appear to be closed. In any event the Symington Amendment includes an exemption clause that would allow the funding to continue as long as the president certifies to Congress that continued aid to the proliferator would be a vital U.S. interest. Given Israel’s power in both Congress and the White House it is not imaginable that its aid would be affected no matter what Netanyahu and his band of criminals choose to do.

So, it would seem that Biden is unprepared to either pressure or pursue any distancing from Israel and its policies, not a good sign for those of us who have encouraged some disengagement from the Middle East quagmire. And one final issue where some of us have hoped to see some movement from Biden has also been a disappointment. That is Julian Assange, who is fighting against efforts to have him extradited from England to face trial and imprisonment in the U.S. under the Espionage Act. Many observers believe that Assange is a legitimate journalist who is being set up for a show trial with only one possible outcome. The entire process is to a large extent being driven by a desire for revenge coming largely from the Democratic Party since Assange was responsible for publishing the Hillary Clinton emails as well as other party documents. Biden has already indicated that the process of extraditing Assange will continue.

So, Biden has been a major disappointment for those who expected that he might change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts while also having the good sense and courage to make relations with countries like Iran and Israel responsive to actual U.S. interests. Finally, it would be a good sign if Assange were to be released from the threat of trial and prison, if only to recognize that free speech and a free press benefit everyone, but that is perhaps a bridge too far as the United States moves inexorably towards a totalitarian state intolerant of dissent.

What to Expect in 2021: Madness, Mayhem, Manipulation and More Tyranny

John Whitehead
ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD. Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

Global Research,

January 06, 2021

By John W. Whitehead

“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”―George Orwell, Animal Farm

What should we expect in 2021?

So far, it looks like this year is going to be plagued by more of the same brand of madness, mayhem, manipulation and tyranny that dominated 2020.

Frankly, I’m sick of it: the hypocrisy, the double standards, the delusional belief by Americans at every point along the political spectrum that politics and politicians are the answer to what ails the country, when for most of our nation’s history, politics and politicians have been the cause of our woes.

Consider: for years now, Americans, with sheeplike placidity, have tolerated all manner of injustices and abuses meted out upon them by the government (police shootings of unarmed individuals, brutality, corruption, graft, outright theft, occupations and invasions of their homes by militarized police, roadside strip searches, profit-driven incarcerations, profit-driven wars, egregious surveillance, taxation without any real representation, a nanny state that dictates every aspect of their lives, lockdowns, overcriminalization, etc.) without ever saying “enough is enough.”

Only now do Americans seem righteously indignant enough to mobilize and get active, and for what purpose? Politics. They’re ready to go to the mat over which corporate puppet will get the honor to serve as the smiling face on the pig for the next four years.

Talk about delusion.

It’s so ludicrous as to be Kafkaesque.

A perfect example of how farcical, topsy-turvy, and downright perverse life has become in the America: while President Trump doles out medals of commendation and presidential pardons to political cronies who have done little to nothing to advance the cause of freedom, Julian Assange rots in prison for daring to blow the whistle on the U.S. government’s war crimes

You’d think that Americans would be outraged over such abject pandering to the very swamp that Trump pledged to drain, but that’s not what has the Right and the Left so worked up. No, they’re still arguing over whether dead men voted in the last presidential election.

Either way, no matter which candidate lost to the other, it was always going to be the Deep State that won.

And so you have it: reduced to technicalities, distracted by magician’s con games, and caught up in the manufactured, highly scripted contest over which beauty contestant wears the crown, we have failed to do anything about the world falling apart around us.

Literally.

Our economy—at least as it impacts the vast majority of Americans as opposed to the economic elite—is in a shambles. Our infrastructure is falling apart. Our government has been overtaken by power-hungry predators and parasites. And our ability—and fundamental right—to govern our own lives is being usurped by greedy government operatives who care nothing for our lives or our freedoms.

Our ship of state is being transformed into a ship of fools.

We stand utterly defenseless in the face of a technological revolution brought about by artificial intelligence and wall-to-wall surveillance that is re-orienting the world as we know it. Despite the mounting high-tech encroachments on our rights, we have been afforded a paltry amount of legislative and judicial protections. Indeed, Corporate America has more rights than we do.

We stand utterly powerless in the face of government bureaucrats and elected officials who dance to the tune of corporate overlords and do what they want, when they want, with whomever they want at taxpayer expense, with no thought or concern for the plight of those they are supposed to represent. To this power elite, “we the people” are good for only two things: our tax dollars and our votes. In other words, they just want our money.

We stand utterly helpless in the face of government violence that is meted out, both at home and abroad. Indeed, the systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government—inflicted on unarmed individuals by battlefield-trained SWAT teams, militarized police, and bureaucratic government agents trained to shoot first and ask questions later—has done more collective harm to the American people and their liberties than any single act of terror or mass shooting.

We stand utterly silenced in the face of government and corporate censors and a cancel culture that, in their quest to not offend certain viewpoints, are all too willing to eradicate views that do not conform. In this way, political correctness has given way to a more insidious form of group think and mob rule.

We stand utterly locked down in the face of COVID-19 mandates, restrictions, travel bans and penalties that are acclimating the populace to unquestioningly accede to the government’s dictates, whatever they might be (as long as they are issued in the name of national security), no matter how extreme or unreasonable.

We stand utterly intimidated in the face of red flag laws, terrorism watch lists, contact tracing programs, zero tolerance policies, and all other manner of police state tactics that aim to keep us fearful and compliant.

We stand utterly indoctrinated in the collective belief that the government—despite its longstanding pattern and practice of corruption, collusion, dysfunction, immorality and incompetence—somehow represents “we the people.”

Despite all of this, despite how evident it is that we are mere tools to be used and abused and manipulated for the power elite’s own diabolical purposes, we somehow fail to see their machinations for what they truly are: thinly veiled attempts to overthrow our republic and enslave the citizenry in order to expand their power and wealth.

It is a grim outlook for a new year, but it is not completely hopeless.

If hope is to be found, it will be found with those of us who do not rely on politicians that promise to fix what is wrong but instead do their part, at their local levels, to right the wrongs and fix what is broken. I am referring to the builders, the thinkers, the helpers, the healers, the educators, the creators, the artists, the activists, the technicians, the food gatherers and distributors, and every other person who does their part to build up rather than destroy.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, “we the people” are the hope for a better year. Not Trump. Not Biden. And not the architects and enablers of the American Police State.

Until we can own that truth, until we can forge our own path back to a world in which freedom means something again, we’re going to be stuck in this wormhole of populist anger, petty politics and destruction that is pitting us one against the other.

In that scenario, no one wins.

There’s a meme circulating on social media that goes like this:

If you catch 100 red fire ants as well as 100 large black ants, and put them in a jar, at first, nothing will happen. However, if you violently shake the jar and dump them back on the ground the ants will fight until they eventually kill each other. The thing is, the red ants think the black ants are the enemy and vice versa, when in reality, the real enemy is the person who shook the jar. This is exactly what’s happening in society today. Liberal vs. Conservative. Black vs. White. Pro Mask vs. Anti Mask. The real question we need to be asking ourselves is who’s shaking the jar … and why?

Whether red ants will really fight black ants to the death is a question for the biologists, but it’s an apt analogy of what’s playing out before us on the political scene and a chilling lesson in social engineering. So before you get too caught up in the circus politics and conveniently timed spectacles that keep us distracted from focusing too closely on the government’s power grabs, first ask yourself: who’s really shaking the jar?

WC: 1347

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How the Left is being Manipulated into Colluding in its own Character Assassination

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.  He is a frequent contributor to Global Research

By Jonathan Cook

Global Research, January 09, 2021

There was a fascinating online panel discussion on Wednesday night on the Julian Assange case that I recommend everyone watch. The video is at the bottom of the page.  

But from all the outstanding contributions, I want to highlight a very important point made by Yanis Varoufakis that has significance for understanding current events well beyond the Assange case. 

Varoufakis is an academic who was savaged by the western political and media establishments when he served as Greece’s finance minister. Back in 2015 a popular leftwing Greek government was trying to oppose the imposition of severe loan conditions on Greece by European and international financial institutions that risked tipping the Greek economy into deeper bankruptcy and seemed chiefly intended to upend its socialist programme. The government Varoufakis served was effectively crushed into obedience through a campaign of economic intimidation by these institutions.

 Varoufakis describes here the way that leftwing dissidents who challenge or disrupt western establishment narratives – whether it be himself, Assange or Jeremy Corbyn – end up not only being subjected to character assassination, as was always the case, but nowadays find themselves being manipulated into colluding in their own character assassination.

 Here is a short transcript of Varoufakis’ much fuller comments – about 48 minutes in – highlighting his point about co-option:

 “The establishment, the Deep State, call it whatever you want, the oligarchy, they’ve become much, much better at it [character assassination] than they used to be. Because back in the 1960s and 1970s, you know, they would accuse you of being a Communist. They would accuse me of being a Marxist. Well, I am a Marxist. I’m really not going to suffer that much if you accuse me of being a left-winger. I am a left-winger!

 “Now what they do is something far worse. They accuse you of something that really hurts you. Calling somebody like us a racist, a bigot, an antisemite, a rapist. This is what really hurts because if anybody calls me a rapist today, right, even if it’s complete baloney, I feel as a feminist I have the need to give the woman, implied or involved somehow in this accusation, the opportunity to speak against me. Because that is what we left-wingers do.”

Varoufakis’ point is that when Assange was accused of being a rapist, as he was before the US made clear the real case against him – by trying to extradite him from the UK for exposing its war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan – he could not defend himself without alienating a significant constituency of his natural supporters, those on the left who identify as feminists. Which is exactly what happened.

 Similarly, as Varoufakis notes from earlier conversations he had with Assange, the Wikileaks founder was in no position to properly defend himself against accusations that he colluded with Russia and Donald Trump to help Trump win the 2016 US presidential election against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

 At the time, Assange’s supporters were able to point out that the leaked emails were true and that they were in the public interest because they showed deep corruption in the Democratic party establishment. But those arguments were drowned out by a narrative confected by the US media and security establishments that Wikileaks’ publication of the emails was political interference because the emails had supposedly been hacked by Russia to sway the election result.

 Because Assange was absolutely committed to the principle of non-disclosure of sources, he refused to defend himself in public by confirming that the emails had been leaked to him by a Democratic party insider, not the “Russians”. His silence allowed his vilification to go largely unchallenged. Having already been stripped of support from much of the feminist left, particularly in Europe, Assange now lost the support of a sizeable chunk of the left in the US too.

In these cases, the one who stands accused has to defend themselves with one hand tied behind their back. They cannot hit back without further antagonising a substantial section of their supporters, deepening divisions within the left’s ranks. The victim of this kind of character assassination is caught in the equivalent of reputational quicksand. The more they fight, the deeper they sink.

Which is, of course, exactly what happened to the UK’s former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn when he was accused of being a racist. If he or his supporters tried to challenge the claim that the party had become antisemitic overnight under his leadership – even if only by citing statistics that showed the party hadn’t – they were immediately denounced for supposed “antisemitism denial”, posited as the modern equivalent of Holocaust denial.

Notice Ken Loach, who was also on the panel, nodding in agreement as Varoufakis speaks. Because Loach, the noted leftwing, anti-racist film-maker who came to Corbyn’s defence against the confected media campaign smearing him as an antisemite, soon found himself similarly accused.

Jonathan Freedland, a senior columnist at the liberal Guardian, was among those using precisely the tactic described by Varoufakis. He tried to discredit Loach by accusing him of denying Jews the right to define their own experience of antisemitism.   

Freedland sought to manipulate Loach’s anti-racist credentials against him. Either agree with us that Corbyn is an antisemite, and that most of his supporters are too, or you are a hypocrite, disowning your own anti-racist principles – and solely in the case of antisemitism. And that, QED, would prove you too are motivated by antisemitism.

Loach found himself with a terrible binary choice: either he must collude with Freedland and the corporate media in smearing Corbyn, a long-standing political ally, or else he would be forced to collude in his own smearing as an antisemite.

It’s a deeply ugly, deeply illiberal, deeply manipulative, deeply dishonest tactic. But it is also brilliantly effective. Which is why nowadays rightists and centrists use it at every opportunity. The left, given its principles, rarely resorts to this kind of deceit. Which means it can only bring a peashooter to a gun fight.

https://twitter.com/Jonathan_K_Cook/status/131348440736224870

This is the left’s dilemma. It’s why we struggle to win the argument in a corporate media environment that not only denies us a hearing but also promotes the voices of those like Freedland trying to destroy us from the centre and those supposedly on the left like George Monbiot and Owen Jones who are too often destroying us from within.

As Varoufakis also says, the left needs urgently to go on the offensive.

We need to find ways to turn the tables on the war criminals who have been gaslighting us in demanding that Assange, who exposed their crimes, is the one who needs to be locked up.

We need to make clear that it is those who are so ready to smear anti-racists as antisemites – as Corbyn’s successor, Sir Keir Starmer, has done to swaths of Labour party members – who are the real racists.

And we need to unmask as war hawks those who accuse the anti-war left of serving as apologists for dictators when we try to stop western states conducting more illegal, resource-grab wars with such devastating results for local populations.

We must get much more sophisticated in our thinking and our strategies. There is no time to lose.

This essay first appeared on Jonathan Cook’s blog: https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/ 

For Years, Journalists Cheered Assange’s Abuse. Now They’ve Paved His Path to a US Gulag

Richard Medhurst: “BBC ATTACKS JOURNALISTS CHALLENGING NARRATIVE ON SYRIA AND WHITE HELMETS”

Richard Medhurst 🇸🇾🇵🇸 (@richimedhurst) | Twitter

By Richard Medhurst 

December 4, 2020

The BBC has released a new radio podcast titled Mayday: Investigating The Life And Death Of James LeMesurier. It attempts to tell the story behind former British army and intelligence officer James LeMesurier, co-founder of the “White Helmets” in Syria. While the BBC claims that its new Radio 4 series seeks to “explore the true story” behind the so called “Syria Civil Defence”, its correspondence with journalists critical of the group shows this wasn’t the case.

The BBC contacted Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett and British journalist Vanessa Beeley. In emails provided to me last month, we can see how the BBC in its attempt to reach out to them, prepared a list of smears and allegations. The state funded broadcaster accused them of being conspiracy theorists, called them “tools” of the Syrian and Russian governments and refuted their reporting which implicates the White Helmets and its founder James LeMesurier as working on behalf of Western governments seeking regime change in Syria.

BBC's Chloe Hadjimatheou writes to Eva Bartlett about the White Helmets.

The e-mail sent to Beeley even included a chilling, veiled threat of legal action by the British government.

BBC's veiled threat of legal action towards Vanessa Beeley and her comments on the White Helmets.

Following this correspondence, I interviewed Vanessa Beeley. You can watch the interview here on YouTube. I also spoke with Eva Bartlett via e-mail. You can read her answers to my questions below.

Because their reporting differs so drastically from the official Western narrative– exposing a grim and dark reality about the White Helmets—Bartlett and Beeley have been the targets of various hit pieces, smears and accusations. Both journalists spent time living in Syria, reporting extensively on the group’s activities. Owing to their expertise on the matter, they have also given testimony at the United Nations on several occasions.
Chloe Hadjimatheou, the BBC journalist who contacted Bartlett and Beeley, has never been to Syria.

The White Helmets claim to be an impartial civil defense organization, manned by volunteers who film themselves rescuing victims from the rubble. The group has played a substantial role in shaping the Western media’s narrative on the war in Syria, accusing the Syrian and Russian governments of indiscriminately bombing civilians and hospitals, as well as chemical gas attacks like the one in Douma in 2018 – which was later proven to be staged and part of a cover up by the OPCW.

The White Helmets have received international praise and accolades. The group was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, Netflix produced an Oscar-winning documentary about them and the organization has received millions in funding from Western governments, including the United States and United Kingdom.

While the above makes the organization sound like an accomplished and noble endeavor, the reality on the ground is quite different. The White Helmets have been found to operate in areas controlled by Al Qaeda and other jihadist elements, sharing offices in the same building, and videos implicating its members in executions and war crimes.

Leaked documents in September reveal how the White Helmets and its contractor ARK, founded by Alistair Harris, a former British diplomat, were part of an elaborate slush fund and propaganda network run by Western governments. Not only were these contractors bankrolled by nations openly seeking regime change in Syria and working closely with mainstream media to paint the Syrian and Russian governments as evil— but also to rebrand the Syrian opposition as more “moderate” and the White Helmets as impartial, humanitarian actors, while whitewashing their close collaboration with ISIS and Al Qaeda groups in opposition-held territory.

White Helmets founder James LeMesurier is himself a former British army and intelligence officer. Through a non-profit that he established called Mayday Rescue, he secured funding for the White Helmets funneling millions from international donors. In 2016, LeMesurier was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) by the Queen. Despite the widespread coverage and portrayal of the White Helmets as a grassroots volunteer group—the fact it was created, run and funded by the same countries bombing Syria and seeking to overthrow its government is rarely reported, if ever, in mainstream media.

In November 2019, LeMesurier was found dead in Istanbul after apparently falling out of a window, which Turkish authorities ruled a suicide. This came just a few days after LeMesurier admitted to donors via email that he had defrauded them and was scared of further audits—after a Dutch auditor was flown in to examine financial records. LeMesurier was paying himself and his wife (also a British diplomat) enormous cash bonuses on top of their monthly salary of €24,000 each. LeMesurier even used money from the organization to pay for his own wedding. Following these revelations and his death, the Guardian and other Western outlets blamed a “war of disinformation” as having contributed to his apparent suicide.

When one realizes how much money and effort has gone towards promoting the White Helmets, it becomes apparent why Western governments, and their media outlets are so protective of their propaganda tool – viciously attacking anyone who counters their narrative or exposes their inner workings.

The BBC’s claims about Beeley and Bartlett are laden with smears, wild accusations and personal attacks. The majority of the questions do not even reference their reporting or make any attempt to verify and scrutinize their coverage. The veiled threat of legal action is of particular concern, especially when the United Kingdom is detaining journalist Julian Assange for publishing documents revealing major war crimes by the United States.


Interview with Eva Bartlett

Richard Medhurst: What’s the first thing that went through your mind when you read this e-mail from the BBC?

Eva Bartlett: Oh how original, British state-owned media want to repeat character assassination smears which other corporate media already did years ago.

It also occurred to me that the BBC has the time/resources to re-hash an old slander theme, but not to cover the Julian Assange hearings, and that this new slander is a new and dangerous attack on press freedom.
The timing of this pending smear coincides with continued backlash against the whistleblower experts of the OPCW who spoke out against the OPCW report on whether a chemical attack occurred in Douma in 2018. I suspect that this is one reason for the new smear on those of us who reported from on the ground in Douma, collecting testimonies from medical professionals and from civilians. These testimonies contradict the claims of the West about a chemical attack being perpetrated by the Syrian government.

RM: Is this the first time Chloe Hadjimatheou contacts you?

EB: Yes.

RM: Did you reply directly to her e-mail or any of the allegations she presented?

EB: Initially I didn’t replay to her email, as experience has taught me these sorts of predetermined character assault email queries don’t intend to fairly air my side of the argument, but are more about being able to say they reached out to me before publishing their smear. In late 2016, I was targeted by a number of Western media and “fact-checking” type sites at a time when I was doing a speaking tour in the US and had very limited access to net. At the same time, my email and messenger inboxes were flooded with around 1000 messages (most of them supportive), including some from Channel 4 News and Snopes, which I didn’t see until some weeks after the fact. However, given the nature of how these corporate entities run their smear campaigns, I believe that even had I seen their messages/emails and replied, they would not have fairly published my replies.

That belief is based on the nature of the smears that ensued, which frequently made use of logical fallacies/strawmen argument to incriminate me in whatever slurs they were making. You can find examples which I pointed out when making a collective rebuttal to Snopes, Channel 4 and Canadian media.
Based on the knowledge that these state-funded entities don’t play fair, I didn’t intend on replying. However, prior to the Monday deadline for Chloe’s story I will send the following:

Chloe,

You asked for a clarification or comment to your hostile email to me, yet you did not make clear whether you would publish in full my reply. Will you? If you do not do this as requested, I will say I attempted to meet your request for replies but you declined to publish in full. Kindly let me know whether you intend to follow professional standards and include my full reply, which I will send depending on your reply.

For the record: my travels to and around Syria, and elsewhere, are at my expense and supported by those who have followed my journalism for years, or even more than a decade. I am not funded by any government (but you are, aren’t you, working for British state-funded media). If you or the BBC publish anything insinuating that I receive funding from any government, I will seek legal counsel.

My writings for RT are mine alone: I pitch opinion articles to them on a per piece basis as an independent freelancer.However, you seem to be unaware that I, as a freelancer, contribute to/have contributed to a number of other platforms, including Mint Press News, Oriental Review, Dissident Voice, Inter Press Services, and a host of others all detailed on my blog.

It is completely disingenuous of you to imply my writing is anything other than my own views, and it is libellous of you.

In the mean time, feel free to peruse my bio, it is quite extensive, with on the ground experience from Palestine to Syria, to eastern Ukraine. And in fact, my journalism has not only won the support of countless readers online, but also merited being awarded by the Mexican Press Club in 2017 and being shortlisted for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism that same year.

By the way, my support has increased exponentially even prior to you/the BBC running a character assassination piece on me, as people became aware of your intentions.

I have my own questions for you: Have you ever entered Syria illegally? If so, how many times? Who did you pay for protection from terrorist factions while in Syria (it is well known, well-admitted, by corporate journalists who have entered Syria illegally that they must pay a protection fee in order to avoid abduction by one of the terrorist factions)?

How can you justify turning a blind eye to the fact that countless White Helmets members have openly expressed support to terrorist groups in Syria, let alone been members of said groups, holding weapons, standing on the bodies of dead Syrians? Can you honestly claim you were unaware of these facts?

How do you explain the presence, throughout Syria, of White Helmets headquarters next to or in close proximity to headquarters of al-Qaeda in Syria, Faylaq al-Rahman, Nour al-Din al-Zenki, and other terrorist groups? How can the White Helmets be deemed as neutral when working side by side these terrorist factions?

P.S. Why does a prominent and published journalist with the BBC feel the need to hide her tweets? What are you afraid of the public seeing? Do you feel this is professional of a journalist to hide their Twitter output, and indeed much of their identity?

Regards,Eva

RM: Do you know of anyone else besides you and Vanessa who were contacted by BBC?

EB: The Working Group on Syria have had a series of exchanges with Chloe/the BBC.

RM: What do you make of this assertion that you and Vanessa are somehow not journalists? What’s the point of that statement?

EB: That is a clear attempt to discredit our work and credibility, which is ironic as it comes from one of the least credible media institutions existing.

My journalism has been crafted by going to the place in question and speaking with the people in question, something I began doing in occupied Palestine in 2007, where I stayed for 8 months (see my bio for more on that), then Gaza for 3 years (and two wars) collectively, from 2008-2013, Syria 14 times since 2014, Venezuela, Donbass, and elsewhere.

If journalist credentials are established by going to journalism school and joining one of the corporate owned institutions, then this speaks volumes as to just why the media these institutions produce is inevitably riddled with lies and war propaganda, or is copy-paste media.

My articles are as often as possible supported with videos, which I myself subtitle.

I don’t need to tell you, a journalist and researcher yourself, the difference between researching a subject intensively on your own (and also gathering information from primary sources on the ground) and the kind of journalism that these corporate hacks do. It’s night and day. I had just left Aleppo in late 2016, having already been there three times prior, at great personal risk and meeting Syrians bombarded and starved by terrorists occupying parts of their city, and returned to North America to see media reporting Aleppo had “fallen” to the “regime”.

The use of such lexicon like “fallen” for a city whose people that had known endless suffering, starvation, executions, imprisonment, and torture precisely due to and by the occupation of parts of the city by terrorist groups shows just how manipulative corporate media has been in their reporting on Syria.

I do not strive to be equated with the “credentials” of Western corporate and state funded media. My credentials lie in the years of on the ground reporting I’ve done from the places I mentioned.

I can give countless examples of how the media reported falsely that something had occurred in Syria, and how I reported honestly on what really transpired. One example is that of Omran Daqneesh, whose face was splashed across the front pages of international media in 2016, said to be the face of human suffering in Syria.

In June 2017, before any Western media reported the truth (not that many other than my colleague Vanessa did), I met Omran and interviewed his father on the allegations that his son had been injured by a Russian or Syrian airstrike. Mr. Daqneesh stated definitively there had been no airstrike and that the media had exploited his son.

A last point: while the BBC and others before them strive to imply Vanessa and myself are not journalists, the bulk of the work we have done over the years is to give voice to Syrians who the same corporate and state-backed Western media has rendered voiceless.

RM: Do you believe this is a targeted smear campaign against you, Vanessa and anyone who challenges the official narrative on the White Helmets? Why now in 2020?

EB: It is definitely a targeted smear. That much is evident from the tone of the questions the BBC hack sent to both Vanessa and myself, questions full of negative and misleading insinuations about our funding, affiliations and intentions.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence has periodically reported in recent years of having intelligence information that terrorist groups in Syria, and the White Helmets, are preparing to stage another fake chemical attack. The MOD did so anew, on October 14.

I believe this new round of smears against not only Vanessa and myself but against prominent and credible voices who have spoken out about the crimes of the White Helmets is intended to discredit us prior to a new staged chemical attack which will then predictably be blamed on the Syrian government.

RM: When the BBC writes that you are “pro-Assad” and “Russia state funded media promotes your conspiracy theories” they’re accusing you of essentially being in the pockets of these governments. Where is the proof for any this? Are you surprised at all that they are attacking you?

EB: I’ll answer that with a question: would the same media write “pro-Obama”, “pro-Clinton” about journalists? Unlikely? Would journalists be lambasted for noting that Obama was the president of the US, as Assad is of Syria? Unlikely, and in fact I’m sure you are aware that prior to 2011, there was positive media reporting on President Assad.

Using terms like “pro-Assad”, “Assadist”, “conspiracy theorist”, etc, are all old means of attempting to blanket discredit the person in question. I feel no need to defend my position which is that after 14 visits, some quite lengthy, to Syria since 2014, and speaking colloquial Arabic, I am confident in stating the president has considerable, if not massive, support.

That said, that recognition has absolutely nothing to do with my writing. My focuses have been on giving voice to Syrians disappeared by corporate media, highlighting the terrorism they endured by groups the West dubs “rebels”, and calling out war propaganda. Very little has focused on the president.

As for “Russian state-funded media”, whereas that is true of RT, it is also true of the BBC. But here’s a major difference: unlike BBC journalists who go to Syria, I pay all of my own expenses; I do not have a state-funded translator or research team at hand; I do my own video editing and subtitling. Vanessa and myself are one-women teams, self-funded.

Journalists of the BBC and other such corporate/state-funded media who bother going to Syria inevitably, in my experience, have a massive support team to do all of which Vanessa and I do ourselves. And yet their reports are factually incorrect and ignore civilians’ voices.

In April 2014, I was in Syria for my first time. Terrorists in eastern Ghouta shelled Damascus, as they did all of the time, for years. One child was killed and over 60 injured. I saw BBC journalist Lyse Doucet in the French Hospital just outside of old Damascus. She was asked whether she would convey the truth. She nodded yes (I filmed this conversation). In an article she later wrote, Doucet wrote, “the government is also accused of launching them into neighborhoods under its control.

As I noted in an article: On a recent social media post, I noted this deceitful journalism, and the BBC could have easily learned about the trajectory of mortars and from where the mortar in question could only have come: the “moderates” east of Damascus.

That’s just one example. If I go through my writings from Homs, Aleppo, Madaya, al-Waer, eastern Ghouta, Idlib…I could almost certainly find a BBC propaganda report stating the opposite of the realities I heard/experienced.

At the bottom of each RT opinion article there is a disclaimer that the opinions don’t represent those of RT. And it works both ways: not every article published on RT reflects my opinions. But RT remains one of the few platforms which will publish my views without censorship. Find me one example of Western corporate media which would do the same.

RM: Isn’t it ironic the BBC accuse you and Vanessa of partiality, refuting your research on the White Helmets, yet they can’t provide any evidence that the things you reported are false?

EB: This is unsurprising. Their mode of operation is clearly character assassinations, strawmen arguments, lexicon to denigrate, and an avoidance of the facts which are easily accessible.

Their interest isn’t in purveying truth, it is in burying it, and burying their own culpability, for they are guilty many time over of war propaganda, meaning they have the blood of Syrian civilians on their hands.

In 2019, I interviewed internally displaced Syrians who had languished in the Rukban camp for years and were being transported to a temporary shelter in Homs. When researching for my article, I came across numerous Western media reports relying on “unnamed activists” for their information on conditions in Rukban. Dig a little deeper and you find those activists had terrorist affiliations or were supportive of terrorists.

This is something I found time and time again. For example, when eastern Ghouta was being liberated, NY Times and other Western media relied on sources clearly supportive of Jaysh al-Islam and al-Nusra.
The BBC have had access to government-controlled areas of Syria, on many occasions. Yet they consistently choose not to report narratives that would counter the war propaganda. Talk about partiality.

RELATED:

On the British State-Funded BBC’s Pending Smear

The Assange saga: Practicing real journalism is criminally insane

The Assange saga: Practicing real journalism is criminally insane

January 07, 2021

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Synchronicity is definitely fond of mirror wonderwalls. The Julian Assange saga seemed to have entered a new chapter as he was, in thesis, on his way to – conditional – freedom this past Monday, only one day after the first anniversary of the start of the Raging Twenties: the assassination of Maj Gen Qassem Soleimani.

The fate of the journalist the Empire seeks to terminate was just juxtaposed to the fate of the warrior/diplomat the empire already terminated.

Two days later, Julian Assange was de facto re-incarcerated exactly as the Empire was hit by an “insurrection” which, whenever instigated in that distant “Third World”, is celebrated in Exceptionalistan as “people power”.

The invaluable Craig Murray, from inside Westminster Magistrates Court No. 1 in London, meticulously presented the full contours  of the insanity this Wednesday.

Read it in conjunction with the positively terrifying judgment delivered on Monday in the United States government case against Julian Assange.

The defining issue, for all those who practice real journalism all across the world, is that the judgment affirms, conclusively, that any journalist can be prosecuted under the US Espionage Act. Since a 1961 amendment, the Espionage Act carries universal jurisdiction.

The great John Pilger memorably describes “judge” Vanessa Baraitser as “that Gothic woman”. She is in fact an obscure public servant, not a jurist. Her judgment walks and talks like it was written by a mediocre rookie hack. Or, better yet, entirely lifted from the US Department of Justice indictment.

Julian Assange was – at the last minute – discharged on theoretically humanitarian grounds. So the case had, in effect, ended. Not really. Two days later, he was sent back to Belmarsh, a squalid maximum security prison rife with Covid-19. So the case is ongoing.

WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnnson correctly noted, “It is unjust and unfair and illogical when you consider her ruling of two days ago about Julian’s health in large part because he is in Belmarsh prison (…) To send him back there doesn’t make any sense.”

It does when one considers the real role of Baraitser – at a loss to juggle between the imperatives of the imperial agenda and the necessity of saving the face of British justice.

Baraitser is a mere, lowly foot soldier punching way above her weight. The real power in the Assange case is Lady Emma Arbuthnot, forced out of a visible role because of very compromising, direct ties she and her husband Lord Arbuthnot maintain with British intelligence and military, first revealed by – who else – WikiLeaks.

It was Arbuthnot who picked up obscure Baraitser – who dutifully follows her road map. In court, as Murray has detailed in a series of searing reports, Baraitser essentially covers her incompetence with glaring vindictiveness.

Baraitser discharged Julian Assange, according to her own reasoning, because she was not convinced the appalling American gulag would prevent him from committing suicide.

But the key issue is that before reaching this conclusion, she agreed and reinforced virtually every point of the US indictment.

So at this point, on Monday, the “Gothic woman” was performing a contortion to save the US from the profound global embarrassment of prosecuting a de facto journalist and publisher for revealing imperial war crimes, not United States government secrets.

Two days later, the full picture became crystal clear. There was nothing “humanitarian” about that judgment. Political dissent was equaled with mental illness. Julian Assange was branded as criminally insane. Once again, practicing journalism was criminalized.

There are reasons to believe though, that a United States government appeal may fail. A British High Court would be reluctant to overturn a judgment where Baraitser actually established findings of fact: a direct correlation between the state of the American gulag, and the extreme danger to Assange’s health if he’s thrown inside this system.

As it stands, it didn’t even matter that Assange’s defense offered a full package to obtain bail, from home arrest to the use of an ankle bracelet. Baraitser’s notion that the British security state would not be able to prevent his “escape” wearing an ankle bracelet in the middle of a total, police state-style lockdown does not even qualify as a joke.

So Julian Assange is back to suffering a perverse, interminable rewrite of Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum.

The US government’s legal strategy before the High Court convenes in April is basically to try to prove its American gulag is competent enough to prevent a suicide – even though the ultimate aim of this post-truth Inquisition seems to be the termination of Julian Assange inside the penal system. That goal doesn’t even require a supermax prison in Colorado. Belmarsh will do.

This week in the US: The ‘model nation’ for no nation anymore

Thursday, 07 January 2021 7:57 AM  [ Last Update: Thursday, 07 January 2021 8:07 AM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump walk on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, the US, on January 5, 2021, one day ahead of a joint session of the US Congress to certify the Electoral College vote that confirmed Joe Biden as the presidential winner. (Photo by AFP)
This week in the US: The ‘model nation’ for no nation anymore
Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US election. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea, and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China,’ which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

By Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with The Saker

As this article is on the verge of publication, the United States Capitol has been occupied by protesters on the day of Electoral College’s presidential vote. It’s very exciting stuff, certainly, but an insatiable craving for excitement seems to have long been a major flaw of Western culture.

Few people are as guilty of greedily loving the short-term sugar high of daily news as I am — being a longtime hack reporter — but whether the immediate outcomes of this historic election week in the United States give you rushes or drops, it’s important to remember that what’s really historic is just how far the US has truly fallen and will keep falling.

We all agree America on January 6, 2020 is certainly not at an apex, but it’s only via constant spin, rationalization, and deflection that one cannot see that the US has so very far to go — this is not the nadir.

No matter what happens, this is not even really over.

In my reporting from here, it turns out the wisest and most pleasant of the “never Trumpers” — normally a very disagreeable lot — were right to say that they are not assuming anything about Joe Biden’s projected victory until after inauguration day, January 20. Maybe the Proud Boys are going to blow up the Washington Monument next week — who really knows what will happen over here?

I have to add a last-minute modification to that hyperbolic exaggeration: Maybe a peaceful “Occupy Capitol Hill” is a real thing?

If you want to read more Trump-obsessed hysteria, you can always go to Politico’s “Trumpology” section, where everything before 2016 never was, but this column is trying to establish exactly where America as a whole really is: What should the globe’s global assessment be of the country which in 1991 seemed poised for a century of global superiority?

There is no doubt that there was a time when the US was really at the forefront of global political thought; when they were successfully enjoining many people to do good and forbidding a lot of bad — I am referring to 1776, the birth year of modern anti-imperialism.

The calendar has just turned to 2021. You would have to be so jacked up on Western Mainstream Media sugar spin to believe that — whatever happens this week — the US is somehow doing well, or looking well, or acting well, or was anything else but a society in decline, dispute, degradation, and maybe even dissolution.

I think the latter goes too far, but I include it to point out: this is not a country like France or Iran or China in that it’s still debatable whether the US has enough years under its belt to really consider that they have a unified sense of nationhood/culture given that this was never really a country but a unity of separate, self-involved, self-serving states inside America (which used to be the term used for the entire Western Hemisphere). This is the United States of America, after all, and Scotland is awfully close to breaking up the United Kingdom — so why couldn’t their over-the-sea brethren go in the same direction?

A short but exciting list of things US media would like you to ignore this week.

Their United Kingdom brethren/clients finally admitted they cannot hand over Julian Assange, the greatest journalist of my generation, not because the US will execute him but because they essentially fear that American prisons are so atrocious that he won’t be killed but that he will be tortured without end.

(Things like this are, of course, why the US and UK are the unquestionable arbiters of what “human rights” and “political prisoners” are.)

Have money, join the duopoly, you will get elected: The Georgia elections were the most expensive congressional seats in history — they spent an estimated 900 million dollars, say the early returns. The only presidential candidate who ever exceeded that in their campaign was brand change golden boy Barack Obama, in a testament to what a huge role the rich, the 1% and corporations play in manipulating American elections.

(You have to have rocks in your head the size of Gibraltar if you are an average American and you give a single greenback to either of the duopoly — just so people Kamala Harris and the Clintons can fund their lavish lifestyles.)

The Electoral College emphatically does not have majority democratic support, as years of polls have shown that 60% of the US wants it abolished. Is it so shocking that as I type this, the voting of this body has been stopped by upset Americans?

Pro-Trump protesters breach US Capitol as Congress holds session to certify Biden victory
Pro-Trump protesters breach US Capitol as Congress holds session to certify Biden victoryProtesters supporting
US President Donald Trump have stormed the US Capitol where the lawmakers were engaged in the process to certify the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

The American intelligentsia is so unpersuasive, so ineffective, so overpaid and so distrusted that even if Democrats do capture both Georgia Senate seats — and thus the Senate — the anti-Trump “Blue Wave” they almost universally rammed down American throats for four years merely goes from a total failure to a major failure: In this decentralized country local states control local matters and conservatives captured the local legislative, executive, and judicial branches. In a redistricting year, no less. The reason it was rejected, of course: the “Blue Wave” was fake-leftism and not real leftism — why would American lower classes get excited about that?

(And how many Congressional Democrats are so right-leaning and so desirous only of winning their own re-election that Republicans won’t be able to swing this very definition of “tenuous majority” by buying Democrat Congressmen off on countless key votes via things like promising to build more B-2 bombers in their home state?)

The (apparent) demise of Trump actually does not totally destroy Trumpism, even though the chattering classes promised that voting him out for president is all it would take to end what they insisted was merely a Russian-orchestrated cult of personality.

(Four years ago, the US chattering classes certainly didn’t have to accept Trumpism, but they could have at least taken Trumpism seriously. By refusing to have that honest and open conversation, the US has wasted four years. The US has not progressed in this sense since 2016’s inauguration day — and now Capitol Hill is occupied by angry citizens who likely feel they have been unfairly ignored and demonized.)

It was just announced that the cops who shockingly shot Jacob Blake in Wisconsin in the back seven times will not even face a trial. Last night, protests in Kenosha were calm, but what about tonight?

(My bosses have a tough decision to make soon, perhaps: Do I cover the political rebellion in Washington or the possible racial rebellions if they break out again?)

A short, healthy conclusion to balance out this sugar high.

That was not a difficult list to compile, nor an exhaustive one. I’m sure everyone wants to read about Capitol Hill but the short-term question (how much violence will they use to clear out this protest?) is not as vital as the long-term questions (how did we get here, how does the US heal from this), nor is it as vital for the world as the global question of America’s longstanding claim to global leadership.

Both sides of America have disgraced themselves in the eyes of the world since 2016, with their only-low-blows cultural civil war, and it’s not as if the world wasn’t already quite, quite appalled at American behavior since 2003.

2020 was indeed a woeful and unfortunate low point, but the consequences of 2020 are so very, very bad that who can say that it is over? Things were so bad a brand change or calendar change can’t fix things.

Who would say that America’s political cultural civil war is over? Who can say the dispute over electoral integrity is over? Who can say that 1%-rewarding, inequality-creating Quantitive Easing/Austerity is over? Who can say the endless foreign wars are over? Who can say the healthcare crisis is over? Or the unemployment crisis, or the famine crisis, or the housing crisis, etc., etc.?

Who is the nation which is modeling themselves on the United States and why on earth are they doing that?

Gerald Ford famously said as Richard Nixon left that, “America’s long national nightmare is over.” Less than a week into 2021 it should be dawning on the world that the American model produces an endless bad dream not only for their colonies and their clients but even for their own people. That makes sense because that is precisely the goal of Western neo-imperialism and neo-liberalism.

Whoever is the accepted winner of the Electoral College — assuming they ever meet again — is not likely to change that trajectory because American problems were not caused, and cannot be fixed, by just one man.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

Yellow, yellow, yellow – Russian English Media – Case in point – Julian Assange

Yellow, yellow, yellow – Russian English Media – Case in point – Julian Assange

January 04, 2021

By Chris Faure for the Saker Blog

Recently on the Saker blog, we had these two articles:

http://thesaker.is/russia-vs-a-biden-administration/http://thesaker.is/not-a-step-back/

Whether you are in agreement with the representations in those articles or not, the fact is that they were better than the Russian English media. Yes, I am talking about RT, Sputnik, and even TASS English.

Russia, you need an English hard news outlet and an English hard news channel because you are not doing this sympathetic westerner any favors. I can see half-arsed half-naked girls and boxers and wrestlers with blood from broken noses, anywhere. Good media does not routinely feature this mishmash front and center on home pages.

I ask you Russian media: Where are the Russian journalists? If I think of good western journalists, I can come up with many names, but as a westerner reading Russian English media, I can come up with one name only. (Of course! We do know the name of the Editor of RT and Sputnik).

We need some Russian ‘propaganda’ done right. The standards of the English media coming out of Russia are yellow and dropping by the week.

Let’s start with RT and we have to say, what is this? They ‘question more’ but cannot decide if they are a magazine, a hard news outlet, or a tabloid in the style that one used to be able to buy at the supermarket checkout with vague pixellated pictures of aliens on the front page. Take your sports section off the middle of your home page. Put the girls somewhere else. Sport is traditionally back page content. Replace the surfeit of western correspondents with good Russian correspondents. And now you’ve changed your headers to be true clickbait with screaming words in capitals in the middle of the headline.

Let’s follow today’s Assange story through RT, Sputnik and TASS, as a case in point.

Today the news broke that Julian Assange will not be extradited to the US. Your headline states: Assange WON’T be extradited to US on spying charges in shock decision at London’s Old Bailey

Is it a shock decision, or is it a welcome decision? Or are the supporters jubilant as stated in your first sentence on this report?  Or can you not figure it out?   Between ‘jubilant’ and ‘shocking’, there is a loose and unfocused article repeating old information.

The 2nd article on RT Breaking News on the topic of the court ruling on Julian Assange is an English columnist as Op-Ed correspondent.

What do the Russians think about this? What is the Russian view? Where is your categorization – for example, ‘All Assange Reporting’? And then, your 3rd article tells us what China Daily says, for heaven’s sake. Have you no Russian view?

Where is your very own Russian George Galloway, RT?

The Iranian media is better than this, as they report about Iran. I find more hard news on Russia in the Chinese media than on Russian English media.

RT, you have good documentaries and this one I found exceptionally good. But it is about Japan. At the beginning of last year, Mr.Putin announced the opening of extensive 2ndWW archives. And so far RT, I have seen nothing; no follow through on this important statement that is clearly one of Mr.Putin’s major objectives and projects. Whose side are you on?

Sputnik oh Sputnik. You seem to be wanting to take off to some ‘Sputnik space’ by repeating tweets. You don’t report, you repeat tweets and fill in fluff between the tweets and tell us what others tweet.

Let’s continue following the Assange story as a case in point. Sputnik had both a timeline of 4 or 5 events and a live stream of Assange supporters outside of the court. Their first report, replete with tweets is by Mohamed Elmaazi

Thank you Mohamed – The first reporter that actually works for Sputnik and was present at the court hearing. But he sure ‘aint Russian and so far, does not represent a Russian view. The report however is thorough, unless you count the speculative and meandering aspects. Does nobody have anything to say from Russia about this travesty of justice? Blind and boring repetitive historical aspects to fill the page with not a smidgen of actual personality, spice, or interest. There is not even a mention of the journalists that followed this case in its smallest detail and know it backward. Even the tweets are from non-entities. Did nobody in Russia follow this in order to quickly and accurately sum up the court proceedings on this morning of January 4th?

Sputnik oh Sputnik! Russia, where is your AMLO?

Let’s take a quick look at TASS English.

So TASS English has taken to summarizing major news in one page with 3 paragraph descriptions. This is what TASS has to say on their summary page: https://tass.com/world/1242191

No, not much; Not one word on journalistic freedoms or the real kernel of the Julian Assange case which is that the trial itself is a political show trial, the fact that this judge, in reality, found Assange guilty, and that the legal precedent set here will haunt every journalist across the world. There is no word that Julian Assange was released by the judge, but after US State stated their intention to appeal the ruling, Assange is again sleeping in jail tonight and his attorneys need to plead for bail this coming Wednesday – Bail for a man that has just been released?.

I guess we have to be somewhat thankful that the rest of this TASS English summary page contains some Russian news in English, all of the ‘3 paragraph’ nature.

Again, Russia, your English media is failing dismally. Are there no journalists there? In repetition, Russia, you need an English hard news outlet and an English hard news channel because you are not doing this sympathetic westerner any favors and the more I read, the more yellow I see.

The Vesti News channel that is now defunct was a good start with a wide line-up of Russian content. Nobody has picked it up again.  The material from the Valdai Club should be widely disseminated.

The treasure trove of WWII information now declassified is an opportunity to make a name for any investigative journalist that is not following the yellow path in journalism. Yet, short snippets of short fluff pieces are the norm, no matter what it is.  It takes the meaning right out of it and there is no context.  They need media figures such as Chris Hedges, Matt Taibbi, even a Pepe Escobar or a Ramin Mazaheri, to continually and in-depth tell the world what is happening in Russia, and mainly, what and who is up against Russia.

Do you know where I get my Russian hard news? I get Russian formal news by scouring the Twitter feeds of the various ambassadors, the Permanent Secretariat to the UN, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the formal Kremlin site. This is because there is no hard Russian news in the English Russian news.

In fact, the Russian Ministry of Foreign affairs are better journalists than anything else in English coming out of Russia. Take a look at this. Mike Pompeo opened his mouth with Russia, Russia, Russia and how tough this US administration is on Russia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia soon responded with Pompeo’s tweet superimposed on a gif of a painting of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. Now this makes a clear statement and is journalistic gold.

There is no shortage of hard news out of Russia. There is a sad shortage of journalists that are doing their jobs, or perhaps that are allowed to do their jobs and build their names. We may say that we know the name of the Editor of RT and Sputnik, but we do not know the journalists. Does this not seem strange to you as well, dear reader?

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