The Google Archipelago

The Google Archipelago

November 20, 2020

By Jimmie Moglia for the Saker Blog

During the cold war the West called dissenters those Russians in the USSR who voiced their complaints against the system. A definition – ‘dissenter’ – which, processed through the lexical grinding machine of the CIA and associates, was actually stripped of its original meaning to become a weapon of trivial instrumental imperialist propaganda. Said it another way, it was the dissenters who gave the pigs of the animal farm the tools for the pigs’ full spectrum propaganda.

But none can halt the inaudible and noiseless foot of time. And with the fall of the Berlin Wall it has come to pass that Western propaganda itself has created the dissenters. Meaning people who have been persecuted or even tortured, as is the case of Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning. Plus a hefty list of others – uncomfortable men, daring an escape from the Twilight Zone, thus dangerous by definition, and therefore marginalized or branded as traitors, maladapted or plainly mad, for to define true madness what is it but to be nothing else but mad.

However, increasingly, such criminalizing or demonizing measures appear inadequate – notably in the current phase of the ‘great reset’, meaning a global theft of freedom in exchange of a pseudo-security or pseudo-salvation from system-fostered terrors, dangers and apocalyptic ills.

And yet it is not enough. Unlike with dictatorships, Western pseudo-democracies have established a soft and practically invisible censorship consisting of the concentration in a few power groups of all main sources of communication and information, so as to drown any dissenting voice into the bottomless ocean of silence.

It may help that our Zionist “elder brothers in the Abrahamic faith” (that’s how the current Vatican calls them, reversing 1000 years of Catholic theology and practice), own and control 90% or thereabouts of all communication media, printed, Hollywood, academia, radio-TV and Internet.

Still, he who does not submit is jailed, or simply marginalized, rendered irrelevant in the Google archipelago, a wondering atom among the million molecules of deplorables.

Yet the strategy is increasingly proving inadequate, while freedom is hijacked in exchange for a pseudo-security that is fake, proclaimed and accompanied by threats. Nevertheless it is a pseudo-security made inevitable, following the train of provoked and questionable epidemic threats, possibly set up by the very security-providing system. 9/11 may serve as the master key or copy.

Therefore sundry ‘free’ countries have passed or are passing legislation involving punishment for the crime of opinion. This is inevitable for the greater the enforcement of the official ministerial truth, the more likely are desertions of the ministry by the unbelievers. So far, desertions are limited and rendered noiseless by a thousand-eyed censorship. And yet they risk to garnish attention and rip the curtain cloth that shelters fiction from fact.

For example, Germany has pending laws to prevent the questioning of vaccine(s), a remarkable instance of a new medical theology. And with the spirit of rebellion growing at large, so grows the violence of repression, even though the ‘elder-brothers’ owned media waters down the reports to dampen or hide their impact.

Much as, in another continent and settings, the same media all but ignored Trump’s mass rallies, while extolling Biden’s, often attended by eight people and a dog.

Massive censorship is justified on the ground that social media companies are private, therefore entitled to establish what is and isn’t true. What more evidence is needed to demonstrate the ethical and intellectual rotting decline of the West.

Clearly the escalation of threats and repressions is a sign of weakness among the globalist masters. For to establish their own truth they need to cast off the mask of liberty. Though given the flow and development of pandemic-related events even that mask may be redundant.

The legitimation of what is but an influenza wave, branded as a bubonic plague, falsified in the numbers and yet lethal for the cure of other illnesses. The imposed obedience clearly inconsistent, contradictory, ridicule in scope and medieval in appearance, should open the eyes of those who like to use them.

That may not be the case. Hence the path is open for the cashiering of constitutions and the introduction of freedom-killing legislation.

It is questionable whether generations educated to passiveness and in love with the ephemeral, may attempt a defense. They have but a rudimental notion of liberty, mainly associated with the liberty to purchase and consume. It is equally questionable whether their defense may trespass the borders of disillusionment. And even disillusionment is uncertain, as for many belonging to the herd can overcome the fear of being led to slaughter.

Therefore it is not with a large mass of inert followers of the mainstream media from hell that the West can defend its position of some kind of leadership.

In my archive, there is a video snippet where the ‘spokesman’ for a band of Pakistani migrant hooligans in the North of England says, “In 20 years we will take over f—ing England.”

I know I am but one of many living in the Google archipelago, where the godfathers of globalism reign supreme.

It seems we cannot bring light to darkness or call forth the mutinous winds of rebellion. As rhetorical as it may sound, we may as well dispel the illusion of redemption, bury it in the earth and, deeper than did ever plummet sound, drown the book that extols the values and worth of European civilization.

PS. For this article I relied on material provided by an anonymous European writer whom I would gladly cite if only I knew his name.

As His Extradition Trial Drags on, Media and Rights Groups Are Still Ignoring Julian Assange

By Alan Macleod

Source

Many mainstream rights groups and media organizations have a mixed history when it comes to opposing Washington’s agenda. The case of Julian Assange has been no exception.

The extradition case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange continues in London. The U.S. government is indicting the Australian living on the other side of the world under its own Espionage Act, with the case widely seen as setting an important precedent for freedom of speech and of the media worldwide.

Yet as the case reaches its pinnacle, a number of press freedom groups have gone silent on the matter. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has not mentioned Assange in months, on either its website or its Twitter account. London-based PEN International has only one article this year on the Australian and appears to have gone quiet since July. The CPJ has also refused to include him among its list of jailed journalists, arguing that Wikileaks’ role is more that of a publisher. While this could be debatable, the omission of by far the most famous and influential of the world’s 248 imprisoned media figures could be seen as a politically calculated decision.

Big media outlets seem just as uninterested in the U.S. government’s attempts to capture the man who released hundreds of thousands of documents detailing American war crimes, including the deliberate killing of two Reuters journalists. The New York Times, for instance, has published only two articles on the subject, and nothing in eleven days. But the Times’ coverage is better than most outlets, with nothing whatsoever in CNN, and MSNBC’s entire coverage amounting to one sentence, which discussed the DNC hacks, but not the hearing.

To be fair to the media, the conditions the U.K. government has set for the case make it absurdly difficult for journalists to follow. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that public access is highly restricted, while only a small handful of journalists are allowed into the courtroom every day. Journalists wishing to watch live proceedings must register as journalists and log in between exactly 9:30 and 9:40 a.m. If they miss the time, they cannot access the session, and if they disconnect at any time, even because of a momentary lapse in wifi, they are shut out of the system. Journalists have complained throughout Assange’s cases of poor connections and an inability to hear anything during proceedings. That has not stopped the committed, however, with smaller organizations continuing to report the proceedings live.

In recent days the argument between the prosecution and the defense has revolved around Assange’s mental state. A psychiatrist on the U.S.’ government’s side told the Old Bailey yesterday that he believes Assange to be a “resilient” character with only “mild clinical depression” and would therefore be able to “resist any suicidal impulse” were he to be sent to the U.S. Assange is facing up to 175 years in a Colorado supermax jail, sometimes described as one of the few blacksites on American soil. Inmates at the center are regularly force fed and are barred from sharing their stories.

On the other hand, a doctor who treated him while he was forced to live in the Ecuadorian embassy in London stressed her dismay at his deterioration while being held in Belmarsh Prison. “I think Mr. Assange is at very high risk of completing a suicide if he were to be extradited,” she told the judge.

FILE – In this Sunday, June 16, 2013 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, left, appears with Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)

The Assange case has enormous ramifications for the future of press freedom. The government has included a great many standard journalistic procedures — such as protecting sources’ names, using encrypted files, and encouraging sources to leak more to them — among its reasons for indictment. This, many have argued, would essentially criminalize investigative journalism. Trevor Timm, a co-founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, told the courtroom that if Assange is prosecuted, then every journalist who has possessed a secret or leaked file — the lifeblood of the industry — could be charged.

Speaking to German filmmakers, ex-CIA Director Leon Panetta was remarkably blunt about the U.S.’ goal: “All you can do is hope you can ultimately take action against those that were involved in revealing that information so you can send a message to others not to do the same thing,” he said, strongly implying that the indictment is politically motivated and a warning to others who might challenge the empire.The Cost of ResistanceWhere will Julian Assange end up if his extradition is successful and Roger Hallam and the end of the revolutionary initiative.

Unfortunately, many of the mainstream rights groups that the world relies on to lead on matters of importance have a mixed history when it comes to directly opposing Washington’s agenda. Human Rights Watch (HRW), for instance, carried water for the U.S.-backed coup in Bolivia last year, its director, Kenneth Roth, describing it as a “transitional moment” and an “uprising,” rather than the manifestly more appropriate word, “coup.” HRW also described the new military government’s law giving all security forces complete immunity from prosecution merely a “problematic decree,” rather than a license to massacre, which is exactly what they did immediately.

HRW has not discussed Assange for nearly 18 months, the most recent result on its website dated May 2019 (although this was a clear defense of his rights). Amnesty International, on the other hand, has forcefully condemned the U.S. attempt and has been repeatedly blocked in its attempts to have its fair trial monitors enter the courtroom. “This hearing is the latest worrying salvo in a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression,” said Amnesty’s Europe Director, Nils Muižnieks.

Julian Assange trial: the mask of Empire has fallen

Julian Assange trial: the mask of Empire has fallen

Source

September 18, 2020

By Pepe Escobar with permission from the author and first posted at Asia Times

The concept of “History in the making” has been pushed to extremes when it comes to the extraordinary public service being performed by historian, former UK diplomat and human rights activist Craig Murray.

Murray – literally, and on a global level – is now positioned as our man in the public gallery, as he painstakingly documents in vivid detail what could be defined as the trial of the century as far as the practice of journalism is concerned: the kangaroo court judging Julian Assange in Old Bailey, London.

Let’s focus on three of Murray’s reports this week – with an emphasis on two intertwined themes: what the US is really prosecuting, and how Western corporate media is ignoring the court proceedings.

Here, Murray reports the exact moment when the mask of Empire fell, not with a bang, but a whimper:

“The gloves were off on Tuesday as the US Government explicitly argued that all journalists are liable to prosecution under the Espionage Act (1917) for publishing classified information.” (italics mine).

“All journalists” means every legitimate journalist, from every nationality, operating in any jurisdiction.

Interpreting the argument, Murray added, “the US government is now saying, completely explicitly, in court, those reporters could and should have gone to jail and that is how we will act in future. The Washington Post, the New York Times, and all the “great liberal media” of the US are not in court to hear it and do not report it (italics mine), because of their active complicity in the “othering” of Julian Assange as something sub-human whose fate can be ignored. Are they really so stupid as not to understand that they are next?

Err, yes.”

The point is not that self-described paladins of “great liberal media” are stupid. They are not covering the charade in Old Bailey because they are cowards. They must keep their fabled “access” to the bowels of Empire – the kind of “access” that allowed Judith Miller to “sell” the illegal war on Iraq in countless front pages, and allows CIA asset and uber-opportunist Bob Woodward to write his “insider” books.

Nothing to see here

Previously, Murray had already detailed how “the mainstream media are turning a blind eye. There were three reporters in the press gallery, one of them an intern and one representing the NUJ. Public access continues to be restricted and major NGOs, including Amnesty, PEN and Reporters Without Borders, continue to be excluded both physically and from watching online.”

Murray also detailed how “the six of us allowed in the public gallery, incidentally, have to climb 132 steps to get there, several times a day. As you know, I have a very dodgy ticker; I am with Julian’s dad John who is 78; and another of us has a pacemaker.”

So why is he “the man in the public gallery”? “I do not in the least discount the gallant efforts of others when I explain that I feel obliged to write this up, and in this detail, because otherwise the vital basic facts of the most important trial this century, and how it is being conducted, would pass almost completely unknown to the public. If it were a genuine process, they would want people to see it, not completely minimize attendance both physically and online.”

Unless people around the world are reading Murray’s reports – and very few others with much less detail – they will ignore immensely important aspects plus the overall appalling context of what’s really happening in the heart of London. The main fact, as far as journalism is concerned, is that Western corporate media is completely ignoring it.

Let’s check the UK coverage on Day 9, for instance.

There was no article in The Guardian – which cannot possibly cover the trial because the paper, for years, was deep into no holds barred smearing and total demonization of Julian Assange.

There was nothing on The Telegraph – very close to MI6 – and only a brief AP story on the Daily Mail.

There was a brief article in The Independent only because one of the witnesses, Eric Lewis, is one of the directors of the Independent Digital News and Media Ltd which publishes the paper.

For years, the process of degrading Julian Assange to sub-human level was based on repeating a bunch of lies so often they become truth. Now, the conspiracy of silence about the trial does wonders to expose the true face of Western liberal “values” and liberal “democracy”.

Daniel Ellsberg speaks

Murray provided absolutely essential context for what Daniel “Pentagon Papers” Ellsberg made it very clear in the witness stand.

The Afghan War logs published by WikiLeaks were quite similar to low-level reports Ellsberg himself had written about Vietnam. The geopolitical framework is the same: invasion and occupation, against the interests of the absolute majority of the invaded and occupied.

Murray, illustrating Ellsberg, writes that “the war logs had exposed a pattern of war crimes: torture, assassination and death squads. The one thing that had changed since Vietnam was that these things were now so normalized they were classified below Top Secret.”

This is a very important point. All the Pentagon Papers were in fact Top Secret. But crucially, the WikiLeaks papers were not Top Secret: in fact they were below Top Secret, not subject to restricted distribution. So they were not really sensitive – as the United States government now alleges.

On the by now legendary Collateral Murder video, Murray details Ellsberg’s argument: “Ellsberg stated that it definitely showed murder, including the deliberate machine gunning of a wounded and unarmed civilian. That it was murder was undoubted. The dubious word was “collateral”, which implies accidental. What was truly shocking about it was the Pentagon reaction that these war crimes were within the Rules of Engagement. Which permitted murder.”

The prosecution cannot explain why Julian Assange withheld no less than 15,000 files; how he took a lot of time to redact the ones that were published; and why both the Pentagon and the State Dept. refused to collaborate with WikiLeaks. Murray: “Ten years later, the US Government has still not been able to name one single individual who was actually harmed by the WikiLeaks releases.”

Prometheus Bound 2.0

President Trump has made two notorious references to WikiLeaks on the record: “I love WikiLeaks” and “I know nothing about WikiLeaks”. That may reveal nothing on how a hypothetical Trump 2.0 administration would act if Julian Assange was extradited to the US. What we do now is that the most powerful Deep State factions want him “neutralized”. Forever.

I felt compelled to portray Julian Assange’s plight as Prometheus Bound 2.0. In this poignant post-modern tragedy, the key subplot centers on a deadly blow to true journalism, in the sense of speaking truth to power.

Julian Assange continues to be treated as an extremely dangerous criminal, as his partner Stella Moris describes it in a tweet.

Craig Murray will arguably enter History as the central character in a very small chorus warning us all about the tragedy’s ramifications.

It’s also quite fitting that the tragedy is also a commentary on a previous era that featured, unlike Blake’s poem, a Marriage of Hell and Hell: GWOT and OCO (Global War on Terror, under George W. Bush, and Overseas Contingency Operations under Barack Obama).

Julian Assange is being condemned for revealing imperial war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet in the end all that post-9/11 sound and fury signified nothing.

It actually metastasized into the worst imperial nightmare: the emergence of a prime, compounded peer competitor, the Russia-China strategic partnership.

“Not here the darkness, in this twittering world” (T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton). An army of future Assanges awaits.

Why The ‘Journalists’ Don’t Like Julian

By Jeremy Salt

Source

Assange secrets 9b5de

Why is it that so many journalists have turned their backs on Julian Assange? Why do so many abuse him instead of defending him?  He is, after all, a world historic figure who will be remembered centuries from now in the same way we remember Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Thomas Paine.  Thanks to technology, Assange has been able to do far more than they could ever imagine in advancing the ‘right to know’ component of human rights.  He has broken more real news than all the journalists who sneer at him put together,  so resentment could be one explanation.   They say Assange is ‘not a journalist’ when what they mean is that he is not a journalist like them.

The keywords here are mediation and control. ‘What lies behind the headlines’ has another meaning beyond what is really going on in politics. ‘What lies behind the headlines’ is also what goes on in newsrooms before you read your morning paper or watch the evening news bulletin.  

News is a product, like anything that comes off the factory floor.  The raw material comes in, is processed,  refined and polished before being placed on the sales shelf called ‘news.’   Millions of pieces of news flow into editorial rooms every day.  What you read or watch is only the tiniest fraction of this flood.  

What you read or see is what someone is choosing for you,  what someone thinks is ‘news’ compared to all the other items that never see the light of day,  what someone thinks you should know as opposed to what you might like to know.    

News in the mainstream is mediated from start to finish.  The reporter produces the raw product.  Whether it is a car crash or civil war, someone else will always see it differently but his or her particular version is the raw material submitted for processing.  Editors at the daily news conference decide if it deserves a place and where it should be placed, on page one, three or five,  at the top of the page or lower done,  under a one column or three column heading,  at the top of the nightly news bulletin or closer to the bottom.  

The editor has the final say.  He or she is the link between the board and the advertisers and has to deal with the pressure that might come from their direction when the story is a sensitive one.  Thus,  depending on the relationship between editor and the board/proprietor, an important story might not be published at all or might be shriveled to the point where it no longer seems important.

The decision made, an editor gets to work,  cutting,  reshaping, honing and polishing the story, maybe moving paragraphs around if he or she thinks they are not in the right order, until the product is ready to attract the attention of the reader/viewer, much as the male jackdaw lines the nest with silver paper to attract the attention of the female. There can be differences of opinion between the reporter and the editor along the way but in essence they are egotistical, not over truth or untruth or the public’s right to know, but over how the story should be written and presented.  

There is no unmediated news in the mainstream media.  It is the news as decided by reporters and editors,  from the choice of story to report in the first place to the end of the production line. There could be thousands of other news items you the reader or viewer might think are worthier of space and time that never see the light of day. 

What is happening around the world, therefore, is only what is reported as happening,  before being processed to meet editorial requirements.  If it is not reported it might as well not have happened,  beyond the impact within the immediate circle of where it did happen. Thus the media can make something happen or unhappen, according to the choices made in editorial rooms.

Control relates to control as exerted vertically,  from the board or proprietor down to the editor and then to the very bottom of the editorial chain.  Apart from the car crash, the rape or the robbery, there is a line that has to be protected when it comes to important political stories or stories that affect advertisers and the particular media outlet’s commercial interests.  There is always some flexibility,  depending on how tightly controlled the editorial line is from the top,  but the general political/social profile of the organization always has to be protected.  

If ‘news’ is to be defined as something we don’t know,  we could spend our entire lives reading books (and might be better off for it).  Much of the ‘news’ that is printed falls into the same category of what we don’t know but whether we really need or want to know it is another question. 

The endless goings-on of the Kardashian family might be a good example.   The definition of news has swung in the direction of ‘celebrity gossip’ and the celebrities have responded by providing editors with all the ‘news’ they might want to print,  but ‘news’ that many of ‘us’ (readers and viewers) would regard as trash. Of course, for the media to remain viable, the product has to sell and amidst all the Kardashian bottoms, that is the bottom line.

So mediation and control are two reasons the journalists abuse Assange.  Given the massive volume of material Wikipedia receives, he or his team have to exert some control and make decisions about how much they can upload within their technical capacity but what they do post is unmediated.  There are no cuts, no editing no polishing: the news comes to you in its raw state and you the reader can decide what to make of it, instead of someone telling you what to make of it. 

Another reason for disliking Assange is jealousy.  He has scooped all of these journalists who abuse him thousand times over,  by releasing sensational material that exposes the dirty secrets they would love to get their hands on.

In recent history only one reporter,  Seymour Hersh, without the technical ability to penetrate government vaults that Wikipedia’s sources have and relying entirely on his human sources,  has come anywhere close to what Assange has achieved.  Hersh is the greatest reporter of this age, or just about any age, a model of courage and the determination to dig for the truth, whatever the obstacles.

His fate is instructive. He broke the My Lai massacre in 1968, he exposed the Abu Ghraib prison torture in 2004  and he broke many other stories in between,  yet when he crossed the government-media line on Syria by exposing the falsity of the claim that the Syrian government was responsible for an alleged chemical weapons attack close to Damascus in 2013 his usual outlet, the New Yorker,  refused to publish. The story was handed to the Washington Post, which also turned it down.   The arguments that it did not meet their standards don’t deserve to be taken seriously.

Eventually, the  London Review of Books took the story on but when Hersh followed up with an account questioning the trans-Atlantic government and media line on the alleged role of the Syrian government in the alleged chemical weapons attack at Khan Sheikhun in April, 2017, the LRB declined to publish even though it had paid for the story. 

Subsequently,  Hersh had to publish in Germany (‘Khan Sheikhun Trump’s Red Line,’ Welt am Sonntag, June 25, 2017) and he now has no place anywhere in the mainstream print media of his own country.

Another reason for journalists disliking Assange is that in one way or another,  they are not free to write what they want.  They belong to institutions, ‘belonging’ defined as owned by them. They depend on them for their salaries and their careers.  Basically they are correct when they say ‘No-one tells me what to write.’  No one has to tell them because they already know what to write if they want to keep their jobs,  wherever they happen to work. 

Self-censorship is central to the practice of journalism in the mainstream.  No-one with an eye on their best interests is going to write something they know editors will throw in their face, not because it is badly written but because it goes against the editorial line.  They might be lucky enough to agree with the editorial line anyway but if they don’t they have to adjust, or look for a future in journalism elsewhere.

Thus, journalists have power,  the power and the money of the institution behind them.  Assange has no institution behind him.  Indeed, the institutions are all against him. A media which used him up has abandoned him.  The government of his own country, Australia, has not lifted a finger in his defense.

What Assange does have behind him is the power of the truth-telling that should be the core of journalism,  not the truth-tailoring and the acceptance of downright lies that characterizes much of mainstream journalism today.   So of course the journalists don’t like him, or should we say ‘journalists’, because who is doing the real work of journalism today,  they or Julian Assange?

Julian Assange, Prometheus Bound

Julian Assange, Prometheus Bound

By Pepe Escobar

Cross-posted with Consortium News

He is being punished not for stealing fire – but for exposing power under the light of truth and provoking the god of Exceptionalism. 

Police ejecting Assange from embassy, April 11, 2019. (YouTube)

Police ejecting Julian Assange from Ecuadorian embassy in London, April 11, 2019. (YouTube)


This is the tale of an Ancient Greek tragedy reenacted in AngloAmerica.

Amid thundering silence and nearly universal indifference, chained, immobile, invisible, a squalid Prometheus was transferred from the gallows for a show trial in a faux Gothic court built on the site of a medieval prison.

Kratos, impersonating Strength, and Bia, impersonating Violence, had duly chained Prometheus, not to a mountain in the Caucasus, but to solitary confinement in a high-security prison, subject to relentless psychological torture. All along the Western watchtowers, no Hephaestus volunteered to forge in his smithy a degree of reluctance or even a sliver of pity.

Prometheus is being punished not for stealing fire – but for exposing power under the light of truth, thus provoking the unbounded ire of  Zeus The Exceptionalist, who’s only able to stage his crimes under multiple veils of secrecy.

Prometheus pierced the myth of secrecy – which envelops Zeus’s ability to control the human spectrum. And that is anathema.

“Prometheus Being Chained by Vulcan,” 1623 oil painting by Dirck van Baburen. (Vulcan Rijksmuseum, Wikimedia Commons)

For years, debased, hack stenographers worked relentlessly to depict Prometheus as a lowly trickster and inconsequential forger.

Abandoned, smeared, demonized, Prometheus was comforted by only a small chorus of Oceanids – Craig Murray, John Pilger, Daniel Ellsberg, Wiki warriors, Consortium writers. Prometheus was denied even the basic tools to organize a defense that might at least rattle Zeus’s cognitive dissonant narrative.

Oceanus, the Titan father of the Oceanids, could not possibly urge Prometheus to appease Zeus.

Fleetingly, Prometheus might have revealed to the chorus that exposing secrecy was not what best suited his heart’s content. His plight might also, in the long run, revive popular attachment to the civilizing arts.

One day, Prometheus was visited by Io, a human maiden. He may have forecasted she would engage in no future travels, and she would bear him two offspring. And he may have foreseen that one of their descendants – an unnamed epigone of Heracles – many generations hence, would release him, figuratively, from his torment.

Zeus and his prosecutorial minions don’t have much of a case against Prometheus, apart from possession and dissemination of classified Exceptional information.

Still it was eventually up to Hermes — the messenger of the Gods, and significantly, the conduit of News — to be sent down by Zeus in uncontrollable anger to demand that Prometheus admits he was guilty of trying to overthrow the rules-based order established by the Supreme Exceptional.

CBC TV covering Assange expulsion. (YouTube)

CBC TV covering Assange expulsion from Ecuadorian embassy in London. (YouTube)

This is what’s being ritualized at the current show trial, which was never about Justice.

Prometheus won’t be tamed. In his mind, he will be relieving Tennyson’s Ulysses: “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

So Zeus may finally strike him with the thunderbolt of Exceptionalism, and Prometheus will be hurled into the abyss.

Prometheus’s theft of the secrecy of power, though, is irreversible. His fate will certainly prompt the late entrance of Pandora and her jar of evils – complete with unforeseen consequences.

Whatever the verdict reached in that 17th century court, it’s far from certain that Prometheus will enter History just as a mere object of blame for human folly.

Because now the heart of the matter is that the mask of Zeus has fallen.

Discussion of Wikileaks or any “Hacked Information” Banned Under New YouTube Rules

Snowden Assange

By Alan Macleod

Source

YouTube’s decision to ban discussion of hacked information on its platform is unlikely to improve election integrity in the US, it will, however, continue to tilt the balance in favor of established corporate-funded outlets like Fox News and CNN.

Social media giant YouTube announced yesterday a host of new measures it says are aimed at preventing any interference in the upcoming presidential elections. Chief among the list it wrote on its blog, is “removing content that contains hacked information, the disclosure of which may interfere with democratic processes, such as elections and censuses.” An example it gives, would be deleting “videos that contain hacked information about a political candidate.”

It also promised to “raise up authoritative voices” when it comes to current events and politics by changing its algorithm to show users more credible channels and “reduce the spread of harmful misinformation and borderline content.” Example channels that produce authoritative content, it tells readers, includes Fox News and CNN. It also noted it would expand information panels underneath videos.

There are a number of reasons this new policy could concern users of its platform. Firstly, the great majority of leaked information — the lifeblood of investigative journalism — is anonymous. Often, like in the cases of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning or Reality Winner, whistleblowers face serious consequences if their names become attached to documents exposing government or corporate malfeasance. But without a name to go with a document, the difference between leaked data and hacked data is impossible to define. Thus, powerful people and organizations could claim data was hacked, rather than leaked, and simply block all discussion of the matter on the platform. Hearing the news, some feared already existing content from investigative journalists would be subject to removal under the new guidelines.

YouTube’s choice of Fox News and CNN as reliable sources might also raise eyebrows in some quarters. According to the latest Reuters Institute Digital News Report, fewer than half of all Americans trust the two networks (Fox at 42 percent and CNN at 47 percent). And a new study from Gallup/Knight Foundation finds that fewer than a third of the country has a favorable view of the media more generally, including only 19 percent of those under thirty (YouTube’s prime demographic). Many go to the platform precisely because it offers alternative and more diverse opinions to corporate-dominated radio, print and television. But YouTube is now funneling them back towards those same sources.

The 2016 presidential election was colored by Wikileaks’ release of the Podesta emails, discussion of which would be banned under YouTube’s new rules. The Hillary Clinton campaign alleges the emails were hacked from Podesta’s computer. The published communications, the authenticity of which is not in doubt, informed the country of the machinations of the Democratic Party, how it tipped the electoral scales in favor of Clinton and against Bernie Sanders in the primary, how Clinton stated to Wall Street that she had a “public” and a “private” position on regulation, insinuating she was lying to the nation, how representatives of Qatar wanted to meet with her husband Bill for “five minutes” to present him with a $1 million check for his birthday, and how her own staff held her in contempt. The emails, Clinton contends, swung the election from her to Trump. If this is the case, the decision to ban all discussion of them would have fundamentally altered the democratic process.

If YouTube’s actions seem drastic, the Australian state of Queensland introduced laws yesterday that made it illegal to publish allegations of corruption against any politician during election season. Those found guilty would be punished with a six-month jail sentence and a fine of nearly U.S.$5,000. After a public outcry, the law was overturned after only 24 hours.

While misinformation online is a problem, there exist other, more serious threats to electoral integrity. President Trump, who said that Republicans would never get into power again if everybody voted, told Fox Business this week that he is actively withholding funds from the U.S. Postal Service in order to undermine the election to his benefit. “They need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” he said. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.” Add decades of gerrymandering and a campaign of voter suppression that has seen over 1,200 polling stations across the South, primarily in black neighborhoods, and Trump might be able to overcome his polling deficit and beat Biden.

YouTube’s decision to ban discussion of hacked information on its platform is unlikely to significantly improve political discourse or election integrity in the United States. It will, however, continue to tilt the balance in favor of established corporate-funded outlets, to the detriment of new, alternative voices.

Doctors “Strongly Condemn” UK Decision to Keep Assange Imprisoned During COVID-19 Pandemic

By Alan Macleod

Source

Doctors4Assange, a group of 195 medical professionals from 30 countries, released a statement today “strongly condemning” a British court decision to keep Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange incarcerated, despite a possible outbreak of COVID-19 at Belmarsh Prison in London where Assange is being held. The group argued that, due to his history of medical neglect, extremely fragile health, and his chronic lung condition, he was at particular risk of both contracting and dying from the virus.

Despite acknowledging he was at increased risk, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser denied him bail because she considered him a flight risk. “There are substantial grounds to believe if I released him today he would not return to face his extradition hearing,” Baraitser said. Assange previously sought refuge in the embassy of Ecuador in London.

The Australian publisher’s hearing played out in bizarre circumstances on Wednesday. The court, like the rest of the United Kingdom, was on lockdown, meaning only 15 people were in attendance. One of his lawyers, Edward Fitzgerald QC, wore a large facemask, while the other, Mark Summers QC, participated remotely via audio, as did the American government attorneys seeking his extradition. Not only was Assange not physically present, but his video connection was also terminated early meaning he was not even able to follow proceedings, let alone participate in them. He was also unable to communicate with his legal team.

Mrs Christine Assange@MrsC_Assange

ASSANGE DEATH RISK RISES in US/UK political persecution

*2 UK prisoners now dead from

*19 inmates/4 prison officers/3 staff test positive

*100 staff/ Belmarsh Prison in isolation

My ill son detained w/out charge in Belmarsh

Doctors warn he’ll die https://twitter.com/DEAcampaign/status/1242844608289099776 

Don’t Extradite Assange@DEAcampaign

@wikileaks editor-in-chief @khrafnsson condemns the decision not to release Julian #Assange on bail in light of the #Coronavirus crisis. More than 100 staff from Belmarsh are off sick.

Embedded video

Baraitser also claimed that Belmarsh Prison was a safe place for Assange to be kept, as no one had yet tested positive for COVID-19. But testing kits are notoriously hard to come by in the United Kingdom, with only 113,777 people tested across the entire country by Friday (less than 0.2 percent of the population). Worse still, over 100 Belmarsh employees are currently off work after self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms or coming into contact with a confirmed case. Two British prisoners have already died from the virus, with 19 more testing positive.

Thus, Doctors4Assange argues, it is more a question of when, rather than if, Belmarsh is infected. “Julian Assange is just such an unsentenced prisoner with significant health vulnerability. He is being held on remand, with no custodial sentence or UK charge in place, let alone conviction,” they wrote, pointing to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s pronouncement on prison clemency.

“With outbreaks of the disease, and an increasing number of deaths, already reported in prisons and other institutions in an expanding number of countries, authorities should act now to prevent further loss of life among detainees and staff,” UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said. “Now, more than ever, governments should release every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners and others detained simply for expressing critical or dissenting views,” she added.

All prisons in England are now indefinitely closed to visitors. Iran, in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus, has released tens of thousands of prisoners from its jails. Poland is expected to follow suit and send up 12,000 prisoners home early. Yet the United Kingdom has yet to follow suit, despite the pleas, even from its own prison governors. Andrea Albutt, the head of the Prison Governors Association, warned of an “unprecedented risk” to the overcrowded prison system, recommending the immediate release of many inmates. Meanwhile, in the U.S., there is growing concern that “a storm is coming” – that prisons will be hotbeds of contagion. Disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein has already contracted COVID–19 while in Rikers Island jail.

Assange’s extradition trial began in late February. He faces 18 U.S. charges of hacking and breaches of the Espionage Act, specifically for the publication of evidence leaked by Pvt. Chelsea Manning that detailed evidence of American war crimes in the Middle East. If found guilty, he faces up to 175 years in prison. He had been granted asylum by the progressive Ecuadorian administration of Rafael Correa. However, after Correa was replaced by the pro-American administration of Lenin Moreno in 2017, his welcome in the Ecuadorian embassy in London waned.  ince his removal from the building in 2019 he has been held at Belmarsh Prison, a high-security penitentiary, often in solitary confinement. His treatment was so poor that convicted murderers and other high-security inmates staged a mass protest, managing to secure his transfer to the hospital wing.

Current Wikileaks boss Kristinn Hrafnsson also “condemned in the strongest possible terms” Judge Baraitser’s decision. “COVID-19 is bringing forth the best in people and the worst in people. Today’s decision by the judge was an example of the latter,” he said.

INTERNATIONAL COURT APPROVES PROBE OF US WAR CRIMES IN AFGHANISTAN

INTERNATIONAL COURT APPROVES PROBE OF US WAR CRIMES IN AFGHANISTAN

An appellate panel of the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled Thursday that an investigation leading to the potential prosecution of US officials for war crimes during Washington’s nearly two-decade-old war in Afghanistan can move forward.

Fatou Bensouda, the court’s Gambian-born chief prosecutor, whose US visa was revoked for her pursuit of the probe, praised Thursday’s ruling, stating, “Today is an important day for the cause of justice in Afghanistan.”

The ruling overturned a decision by ICC pretrial judges last year that a case involving crimes by the US and its puppet regime in Afghanistan “would not serve the interests of justice” because of the abject refusal of Washington and Kabul to cooperate. This decision was taken in the context of US threats of retaliation against the court, including economic sanctions and even the arrest of its members if the investigation was allowed to move forward.

The appeals judges ruled that last year’s decision was in contradiction to the ICC’s own statutes, holding that “It is for the prosecutor to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation.” The appeals judges said that the pretrial panel had no business deciding whether the case served the “interests of justice,” but only whether there were grounds to believe that crimes had been committed and that they fell under the court’s jurisdiction.

The investigation is one of the first to be launched against a major imperialist power by the ICC, whose prosecutions have largely been limited to crimes committed by regimes and leaders in impoverished African countries. A preliminary investigation has also been launched into war crimes carried out by British forces in the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. Unlike the US, the UK is a signatory to the agreement establishing the international court.

The ICC’s prosecutors first opened a preliminary probe into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Afghanistan nearly 14 years ago.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to Thursday’s ruling with the bellicose threats that have been the trademark of Washington toward the ICC since its founding by a decision of the United Nations in 2002. Describing the investigation as a “political vendetta” by an “unaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body,” the secretary of state vowed that Washington would “take all necessary measures to protect our citizens from this renegade, unlawful so-called court.”

He characterized the ICC appeals judges’ ruling as “reckless” because it was issued after Washington had signed a so-called “peace deal” with the Taliban five days earlier. That agreement has already begun to unravel, with the US military carrying out air strikes against the Taliban after the Islamist movement launched multiple attacks on forces of Afghanistan’s US-backed puppet regime. The unstated assumption in Pompeo’s remarks is that “peace” in Afghanistan can be achieved only based on a cover-up of Washington’s crimes.

Asked whether the Trump administration would retaliate against the court, the secretary of state said that measures would be announced within “a couple of weeks about the path that we’re going to take to ensure that we protect American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, our intelligence warriors, the diplomats that have worked for the State Department over the years to ensure that the ICC doesn’t impose… pressure on them in a way that doesn’t reflect the noble nature of the undertakings of every one of those Americans.”

The concern in Washington is not for the troops, but rather that the real authors of the crimes in Afghanistan will someday be held to account: the presidents and their cabinets along with the top generals, the leading politicians of both major parties, the big business interests that supported the war and the media pundits who promoted it.

Pompeo went on to insist, “We have a solid system here in the United States. When there’s wrongdoing by an American, we have a process by which that is redressed.” The character of this “solid system” was made clear last year with Trump’s pardon of convicted war criminals, including two US Army officers convicted and jailed for illegal killings in Afghanistan.

The ICC prosecutor Bensouda requested the investigation of war crimes in 2017, saying there was evidence that US military and intelligence agencies had “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence” against detainees in Afghanistan.

In its ruling Thursday, the ICC Appeals Chamber declared it “appropriate to amend the appealed decision to the effect that the prosecutor is authorized to commence an investigation into alleged crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan since May 1, 2003, as well as other alleged crimes that have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan.”

The prosecutor has already indicated that this extension of the investigation involves the “nexus” between the torture centers set up at Bagram Air Base and other US installations in Afghanistan to so-called “black sites” run by the CIA in countries like Poland, Lithuania and Romania. It could as well link to the infamous Abu Ghraib detention and torture facility in Iraq, where US military interrogators were sent after torturing prisoners in Afghanistan. It could also potentially encompass the drone assassinations and massacres of thousands carried out by successive US administrations in neighboring Pakistan.

The war crimes carried out by US imperialism since it invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 are innumerable. They began at the outset with massacres of unarmed detainees, including hundreds, if not thousands, of prisoners of war who were asphyxiated and shot to death in sealed metal shipping containers after the siege of Kunduz.

Among the most infamous crimes were those exposed in an investigation into a so-called “Kill Team” formed by a unit of the US Army’s 5th Stryker Brigade sent into Kandahar Province as part of the Obama administration’s 2009–2010 “surge,” which brought the number of troops in Afghanistan to roughly 100,000. As members of the team themselves acknowledged—and documented in grisly photographs—they set out to systematically murder civilians and mutilate their bodies, taking fingers and pieces of skulls as trophies.

They lured one of their victims, a 15-year-old boy named Gul Mudin, toward them before throwing a grenade at him and repeatedly shooting him at close range. After bringing his father to identify the body, they took turns posing and playing with the corpse, before cutting off one of the boy’s fingers. Members of the team also described throwing candy from their Stryker armored vehicle while driving through villages and then shooting children who ran to pick it up.

While the Pentagon sought to pass off these atrocities as the work of a few “bad apples,” the killings were known to their commanders and other units that participated in similar acts. They were the product of a criminal colonial occupation in which troops were taught to regard the entire civilian population as potential enemies and less than human.

The number of Afghans killed in the conflict is estimated at over 175,000, with many more indirect victims of the war’s destruction. Nearly 2,400 US troops have been killed, along with tens of thousands more wounded. US crimes include indiscriminate air strikes that wiped out wedding parties, village meetings and hospital patients and staff.

Among the most extensive exposures of US war crimes were those contained in the so-called “Afghan War Diaries,” some 91,000 documents given by the courageous US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to WikiLeaks in 2010. In retaliation, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is now imprisoned in the UK facing extradition to the US on Espionage Act charges that carry a 175-year prison sentence, or worse. For her part, Manning is being held in indefinite detention in a US federal detention center in Virginia for refusing to testify against Assange.

Washington’s virulent hostility to any international investigation into its crimes was clear as soon as the ICC was founded in 2002. The Bush administration repudiated it from the outset, and the US Congress followed suit through its passage by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of a law protecting all US personnel from “criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not a party.” The same year, Bush issued a memorandum declaring that the US would not be bound by the Geneva Conventions in its war in Afghanistan.

US officials have sardonically referred to the anti-ICC law passed by Congress as the “Hague Invasion Authorization Act,” as it provides for the use of military force to free any US citizens facing charges before the ICC, which sits in The Hague, Netherlands.

The US reaction to the ICC’s Afghanistan investigation is an explicit repudiation of international law and the abandonment of any pretense that Washington is guided by anything other than the predatory interests of US imperialism. On this, the Trump administration and its ostensible opponents in the Democratic Party are agreed. Their unconditional defense of the war crimes carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere is a warning to the working class that far greater crimes are being prepared as US imperialism prepares for “great power” conflicts.


By Bill Van Auken
Source: World Socialist Web Site

Tucker Carlson interviews Roger Waters about Julian Assange

Roger Waters explains Julian Assange to Tucker Carlson and they AGREE!!!

Highlights from the Assange Trial Thus Far

Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

February 26, 2020

Here are the most informative excerpts that I have noted from the best news-reporting from journalists who have been attending at the trial:

CRAIG MURRAY, “Day 2”:

For the defence, Mark Summers QC stated that the USA charges were entirely dependent on three factual accusations of Assange behviour:

1) Assange helped Manning to decode a hash key to access classified material.

Summers stated this was a provably false allegation from the evidence of the Manning court-martial.

2) Assange solicited the material from Manning

Summers stated this was provably wrong from information available to the public

3) Assange knowingly put lives at risk

Summers stated this was provably wrong both from publicly available information and from specific involvement of the US government.

In summary, Summers stated the US government knew that the allegations being made were false as to fact, and they were demonstrably made in bad faith. This was therefore an abuse of process which should lead to dismissal of the extradition request. …

This comprehensive account took some four hours and I shall not attempt to capture it here. I will rather give highlights. …

On 1) Summers at great length demonstrated conclusively that Manning had access to each material a) b) c) d) provided to Wikileaks without needing any code from Assange, and had that access before ever contacting Assange. …

After a brief break, Baraitser [the judge] came back with a real zinger. She told Summers that he had presented the findings of the US court martial of Chelsea Manning as fact. But she did not agree that her court had to treat evidence at a US court martial, even agreed or uncontested evidence or prosecution evidence, as fact. …

The bulk of Summers’ argument went to refuting behaviour 3), putting lives at risk. … Summers described at great length the efforts of Wikileaks with media partners over more than a year to set up a massive redaction campaign on the cables. He explained that the unredacted cables only became available after Luke Harding and David Leigh of the Guardian published the password to the cache as the heading to Chapter XI of their book, Wikileaks, published in February 2011. …

Summers read from the transcripts of telephone conversations as Assange and Harrison [both of Wikileaks] had attempted to convince US officials of the urgency of enabling source protection procedures – and expressed their bafflement as officials stonewalled them. This evidence utterly undermined the US government’s case and proved bad faith in omitting extremely relevant fact. It was a very striking moment.

CNN, Day 2:

Julian Assange tried to warn the US government that sensitive documents were to be leaked “imminently,” but was told to call back in a few hours, according to his lawyers during the second day of the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition hearing in London.

Assange personally warned the State Department that an encrypted database of 250,000 unredacted US diplomatic cables was about to be leaked in 2011, his lawyer Mark Summers told Woolwich Crown Court on Tuesday.

The cables included the identities of people — some deemed high risk — who had been in communication with the US.

Assange contacted officials after it became known that German newspaper Der Freitag had discovered the password to a database containing the unredacted files, Summers said.

The 48-year-old Australian, along with WikiLeaks editor Sarah Harrison, telephoned then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s emergency line to sound the alarm about the unredacted material, the court heard.

Assange personally warned: “I don’t understand why you’re not seeing the urgency in this… people’s lives are at risk,” according to Summers.

But he was told to call back in a few hours, said the lawyer.

CNN reached out to the State Department for a response, but had not received one at time of publishing.

BBC, Day 2:

Mark Summers QC, representing Mr Assange, told the hearing in London that Wikileaks had begun redacting a tranche of 250,000 leaked cables in November 2010, working with media partners around the world as well as the US government.

He said that in February 2011 the Guardian published a book about Wikileaks which contained a password to the unredacted documents.

He said it wasn’t until months later that it was discovered the password could be used to access the unredacted database, which was revealed by German news outlet Der Freitag on 25 August 2011.

On that day, Mr Assange called the White House and asked to speak to then secretary of state Hillary Clinton “as a matter of urgency” over fears the documents were about to be dumped online by third parties who had gained access, Mr Summers told the court. He was told to ring back in a few hours.

Mr Summers said Mr Assange had warned: “I don’t understand why you’re not seeing the urgency of this.

“Unless we do something, then people’s lives are put at risk.” …

Prosecutors argued on Monday that Mr Assange knowingly put hundreds of sources around the world at risk of torture and death by publishing the unredacted documents containing names or other identifying details.

But Mr Summers told the court that the US extradition request “boldly and brazenly” misrepresented the facts.

He said the US government, which was involved in the redaction process, knows “what actually occurred” which was “far from being a reckless, unredacted release”.

In response, James Lewis QC, representing the US government, told the court that Mr Assange “didn’t have to publish the unredacted cables”.

“He decided to do so on a widely followed and easily searchable website, knowing that it was dangerous to do so,” he added.

MY CLOSING NOTE:

I hope that subsequently will be revealed whether or not the U.S. Government’s statement that Wikileaks “didn’t have to publish the unredacted cables” is true. After Wikileaks gave the files to the media in the U.S. Government-accepted redacted version, a sequence of events occurred in which, it appears according to the Wilileaks allegations, the Guardian’s Luke Harding (who is a prominent neoconservative journalist) caused “security being compromised when the book was published in February 2011” as the Guardian’s book about Wikileaks was being published. Then Der Freitag took the next step, and used that key to open the lock, and obtain access to the unredacted file. Is the U.S. Government ignoring Assange’s intensive efforts to prohibit such a thing from happening? Is the U.S. Government ignoring Hillary Clinton’s role in this? Is Donald Trump protecting Ms. Clinton? Why would he be protecting her and trying to frame and destroy Assange? Why is the Government of UK, throughout this nearly ten-year-long matter, serving as the U.S. Government’s errand-boy? Is UK a democracy? Is U.S. a democracy?

Craig Murray’s report on the trial’s first day provides shocking evidence that Judge Baraitser is extremely prejudiced against Assange and for the Trump Administration. I strongly recommend his blog, as the best site covering this trial (and as one of the really great one-person blogs on international matters, along with the “Moon of Alabama”).

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

‘It Would be the End of Free Speech’: Protest Against Assange’s Extradition at Belmarsh Prison

Source

Today is the day a London court begins hearing on what looks to become (or at least precede) one of the defining cases of the decade – the extradition trial of Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks founder has found support from human rights advoctes from across the globe, including France’s Yellow Vest movement.

It’s chilly and windy in London, and Belmarsh Prison is definitely not the first place that comes to mind when you think of where to hang out.

But a small crowd of several dozen people, many clad in signature high-vis jackets, have come together at the nearby Woolwich Crown Court to demand freedom for Julian Assange. Some of them have spent a nippy night camped out outside the court; most arrived today.

Protesters are holding up banners reading, “Bent judges are killing Assange”, “Jail the war criminals, free Chelsea Manning”, and “No US extradition”.

The rally is organised by human rights campaigners, notably those from Reporters Without Borders and France’s Yellow Vest movement.

More

John Pilger: Julian Assange Must be Freed, Not Betrayed

By John Pilger

Source

(First Published on February 21, 2020)

On Saturday, there will be a march from Australia House in London to Parliament Square, the centre of British democracy. People will carry pictures of the Australian publisher and journalist Julian Assange who, on 24 February, faces a court that will decide whether or not he is to be extradited to the United States and a living death.

I know Australia House well. As an Australian myself, I used to go there in my early days in London to read the newspapers from home. Opened by King George V over a century ago, its vastness of marble and stone, chandeliers and solemn portraits, imported from Australia when Australian soldiers were dying in the slaughter of the First World War, have ensured its landmark as an imperial pile of monumental servility.

As one of the oldest “diplomatic missions” in the United Kingdom, this relic of empire provides a pleasurable sinecure for Antipodean politicians:  a “mate” rewarded or a troublemaker exiled.

Known as High Commissioner, the equivalent of an ambassador, the current beneficiary is George Brandis, who as Attorney General tried to water down Australia’s Race Discrimination Act and approved raids on whistleblowers who had revealed the truth about Australia’s illegal spying on East Timor during negotiations for the carve-up of that impoverished country’s oil and gas.

This led to the prosecution of whistleblowers Bernard Collaery and “Witness K”,  on bogus charges. Like Julian Assange, they are to be silenced in a Kafkaesque trial and put away.

Australia House is the ideal starting point for Saturday’s march.

“I confess,” wrote Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, in 1898, “that countries are pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world.””

We Australians have been in the service of the Great Game for a very long time. Having devastated our Indigenous people in an invasion and a war of attrition that continues to this day, we have spilt blood for our imperial masters in China, Africa, Russia, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. No imperial adventure against those with whom we have no quarrel has escaped our dedication.

Deception has been a feature. When Prime Minister Robert Menzies sent Australian soldiers to Vietnam in the 1960s, he described them as a training team, requested by a beleaguered government in Saigon. It was a lie. A senior official of the Department of External Affairs wrote secretly that “although we have stressed the fact publicly that our assistance was given in response to an invitation by the government of South Vietnam”, the order came from Washington.”

Two versions. The lie for us, the truth for them. As many as four million people died in the Vietnam war.

When Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, the Australian Ambassador, Richard Woolcott, secretly urged the government in Canberra to “act in a way which would be designed to minimise the public impact in Australia and show private understanding to Indonesia.”  In other words, to lie. He alluded to the beckoning spoils of oil and gas in the Timor Sea which, boasted Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, were worth “zillions”.

In the genocide that followed, at least 200,000 East Timorese died. Australia recognised, almost alone, the legitimacy of the occupation.

When Prime Minister John Howard sent Australian special forces to invade Iraq with America and Britain in 2003, he — like George W. Bush and Tony Blair — lied that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. More than a million people died in Iraq.

WikiLeaks was not the first to call out the pattern of criminal lying in democracies that remain every bit as rapacious as in Lord Curzon’s day. The achievement of the remarkable publishing organisation founded by Julian Assange has been to provide the proof.

WikiLeaks has informed us how illegal wars are fabricated, how governments are overthrown and violence is used in our name, how we are spied upon through our phones and screens. The true lies of presidents, ambassadors, political candidates, generals, proxies, political fraudsters have been exposed. One by one, these would-be emperors have realised they have no clothes.

It has been an unprecedented public service; above all, it is authentic journalism, whose value can be judged by the degree of apoplexy of the corrupt and their apologists.

For example, in 2016, WikiLeaks published the leaked emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, which revealed a direct connection between Clinton, the foundation she shares with her husband and the funding of organised jihadism in the Middle East — terrorism.

One email disclosed that Islamic State (ISIS) was bankrolled by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, from which Clinton accepted huge “donations”. Moreover, as US Secretary of State, she approved the world’s biggest ever arms sale to her Saudi benefactors, worth more than $80 billion. Thanks to her, US arms sales to the world — for use in stricken countries like Yemen — doubled.

Revealed by WikiLeaks and published in The New York Times, the Podesta emails triggered a vituperative campaign against editor-in-chief Julian Assange, bereft of evidence. He was an “agent of Russia working to elect Trump”; the nonsensical “Russiagate” followed. That WikiLeaks had also published more than 800,000 frequently damning documents from Russia was ignored.

On an Australian Broadcasting Corporation programme, Four Corners, in 2017, Clinton was interviewed by Sarah Ferguson, who began: “No one could fail to be moved by the pain on your face at [the moment of Donald Trump’s inauguration] … Do you remember how visceral it was for you?”

Having established Clinton’s visceral suffering, the fawning Ferguson described “Russia’s role” and the “damage done personally to you” by Julian Assange.

Clinton replied, “He [Assange] is very clearly a tool of Russian intelligence. And he has done their bidding.”

Ferguson said to Clinton, “Lots of people, including in Australia, think that Assange is a martyr of free speech and freedom of information. How would you describe him?”

Again, Clinton was allowed to defame Assange — a “nihilist” in the service of “dictators” — while Ferguson assured her interviewee she was “the icon of your generation”.

There was no mention of a leaked document, revealed by WikiLeaks, called Libya Tick Tock, prepared for Hillary Clinton, which described her as the central figure driving the destruction of the Libyan state in 2011. This resulted in 40,000 deaths, the arrival of ISIS in North Africa and the European refugee and migrant crisis.

For me, this episode of Clinton’s interview — and there are many others – vividly illustrates the division between false and true journalism. On 24 February, when Julian Assange steps into Woolwich Crown Court, true journalism will be the only crime on trial.

I am sometimes asked why I have championed Assange. For one thing, I like and I admire him. He is a friend with astonishing courage; and he has a finely honed, wicked sense of humour. He is the diametric opposite of the character invented then assassinated by his enemies.

As a reporter in places of upheaval all over the world, I have learned to compare the evidence I have witnessed with the words and actions of those with power. In this way, it is possible to get a sense of how our world is controlled and divided and manipulated, how language and debate are distorted to produce the propaganda of false consciousness.

When we speak about dictatorships, we call this brainwashing: the conquest of minds. It is a truth we rarely apply to our own societies, regardless of the trail of blood that leads back to us and which never dries.

WikiLeaks has exposed this. That is why Assange is in a maximum security prison in London facing concocted political charges in America, and why he has shamed so many of those paid to keep the record straight. Watch these journalists now look for cover as it dawns on them that the American fascists who have come for Assange may come for them, not least those on the Guardian who collaborated with WikiLeaks and won prizes and secured lucrative book and Hollywood deals based on his work, before turning on him.

In 2011, David Leigh, the Guardian’s  “investigations editor”, told journalism students at City University in London that Assange was “quite deranged”. When a puzzled student asked why, Leigh replied, “Because he doesn’t understand the parameters of conventional journalism”.

But it’s precisely because he did understand that the “parameters” of the media often shielded vested and political interests and had nothing to do with transparency that the idea of WikiLeaks was so appealing to many people, especially the young, rightly cynical about the so-called “mainstream”.

Leigh mocked the very idea that, once extradited, Assange would end up “wearing an orange jumpsuit”. These were things, he said, “that he and his lawyer are saying in order to feed his paranoia”.

The current US charges against Assange centre on the Afghan Logs and Iraq Logs, which the Guardian published and Leigh worked on, and on the Collateral Murder video showing an American helicopter crew gunning down civilians and celebrating the crime. For this journalism, Assange faces 17 charges of “espionage” which carry prison sentences totalling 175 years.

Whether or not his prison uniform will be an “orange jumpsuit”, US court files seen by Assange’s lawyers reveal that, once extradited, Assange will be subject to Special Administrative Measures, known as SAMS.  A 2017 report by Yale University Law School and the Center for Constitutional Rights described SAMS as “the darkest corner of the US federal prison system” combining “the brutality and isolation of maximum security units with additional restrictions that deny individuals almost any connection to the human world … The net effect is to shield this form of torture from any real public scrutiny.”

That Assange has been right all along, and getting him to Sweden was a fraud to cover an American plan to “render” him, is finally becoming clear to many who swallowed the incessant scuttlebutt of character assassination. “I speak fluent Swedish and was able to read all the original documents,” Nils Melzer, the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, said recently, “I could hardly believe my eyes. According to the testimony of the woman in question, a rape had never taken place at all. And not only that: the woman’s testimony was later changed by the Stockholm Police without her involvement in order to somehow make it sound like a possible rape. I have all the documents in my possession, the emails, the text messages.”

Keir Starmer is currently running for election as leader of the Labour Party in Britain. Between 2008 and 2013, he was Director of Public Prosecutions and responsible for the Crown Prosecution Service. According to Freedom of Information searches by the Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, Sweden tried to drop the Assange case in 2011, but a CPS official in London told the Swedish prosecutor not to treat it as “just another extradition”.

In 2012, she received an email from the CPS: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”  Other CPS emails were either deleted or redacted. Why? Keir Starmer needs to say why.

At the forefront of Saturday’s march will be John Shipton, Julian’s father, whose indefatigable support for his son is the antithesis of the collusion and cruelty of the governments of Australia, our homeland.

The roll call of shame begins with  Julia Gillard, the Australian Labor prime minister who, in 2010, wanted to criminalise WikiLeaks, arrest Assange and cancel his passport– until the Australian Federal Police pointed out that no law allowed this and that Assange had committed no crime.

While falsely claiming to give him consular assistance in London, it was the Gillard government’s shocking abandonment of its citizen that led to Ecuador granting political asylum to Assange in its London embassy.

In a subsequent speech before the US Congress, Gillard, a favourite of the US embassy in Canberra, broke records for sycophancy (according to the website Honest History) as she declared, over and again, the fidelity of America’s “mates Down Under”.

Today, while Assange waits in his cell, Gillard travels the world, promoting herself as a feminist concerned about “human rights”, often in tandem with that other right-on feminist Hillary Clinton.

The truth is that Australia could have rescued Julian Assange and can still rescue him.

In 2010, I arranged to meet a prominent Liberal (Conservative) Member of Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull. As a young barrister in the 1980s, Turnbull had successfully fought the British Government’s attempts to prevent the publication of the book, Spycatcher, whose author Peter Wright, a spy, had exposed Britain’s “deep state”.

We talked about his famous victory for free speech and publishing and I described the miscarriage of justice awaiting Assange — the fraud of his arrest in Sweden and its connection with an American indictment that tore up the US Constitution and the rule of international law.

Turnbull appeared to show genuine interest and an aide took extensive notes. I asked him to deliver a letter to the Australian government from Gareth Peirce, the renowned British human rights lawyer who represents Assange.

In the letter, Peirce wrote, “Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions… it is very hard to attempt to preserve for [Julian Assange] any presumption of innocence. Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged.”

Turnbull promised to deliver the letter, follow it through and let me know. I subsequently wrote to him several times, waited and heard nothing.

In 2018, John Shipton wrote a deeply moving letter to the then prime minister of Australia asking him to exercise the diplomatic power at his government’s disposal and bring Julian home. He wrote that he feared that if Julian was not rescued, there would be a tragedy and his son would die in prison. He received no reply. The prime minister was Malcolm Turnbull.

Last year, when the current prime minister, Scott Morrison, a former public relations man, was asked about Assange, he replied in his customary way, “He should face the music!”

When Saturday’s march reaches the Houses of Parliament, said to be “the Mother of Parliaments”, Morrison and Gillard and Turnbull and all those who have betrayed Julian Assange should be called out; history and decency will not forget them or those who remain silent now.

And if there is any sense of justice left in the land of Magna Carta, the travesty that is the case against this heroic Australian must be thrown out. Or beware, all of us.

Julian Assange’s Attorney Speaks Out on the Hopes and Hazards of His Upcoming Trial in London on Feb. 24

By Chris AgeeMax BlumenthalGlen Ford, and Howie Hawkins

Global Research, February 21, 2020

CovertAction Magazine

Assange’s legal advisor Renata Avila joins Gray Zone investigative reporter Max Blumenthal, Black Agenda Report founder Glen Ford, and Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins in Randy Credico’s acclaimed radio series, “Assange: Countdown to Freedom” – hosted by CovertAction Magazine with breaking news updates from Courage Foundation Director Nathan Fuller. Click here to listen or play the button below.

Click here

This is the seventh and latest episode in Credico’s ongoing radio exploration of the prosecution and persecution of the imprisoned WikiLeaks founder. Keep listening for late-breaking updates on the approaching extradition trial of Julian Assange in London.

You can listen to the prior episodes here:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6

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History: How Britain Assisted the Soviet Union’s Fight Against Hitler

The original source of this article is CovertAction Magazine

Copyright © Chris AgeeMax BlumenthalGlen Ford, and Howie Hawkins, CovertAction Magazine, 2020

117 Physicians From 18 Countries Demand Assange’s ‘Torture’ be Ended ‘Before It’s Too Late’

by Mohamed Elmaazi

Julian Assange has been tortured, according to experts, and has yet to receive the proper medical attention he requires despite his fast approaching extradition hearings. The WikiLeaks publisher faces up to 175 years in prison in the US and there is concern that his condition will prevent him from properly participating in his defence.

The pre-eminent medical journal The Lancet has published a letter from 117 physicians and psychologists from around the world demanding an “end to the psychological torture” of Julian Assange.

“Since doctors first began assessing Mr. Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2015, expert medical opinion and doctors’ urgent recommendations have been consistently ignored,” the letter, organised by a group of medical professionals known as Doctors for Assange and published on 17 February, says.

In May 2019 UN torture expert Nils Melzer, along with two other medical experts who specialise in assessing torture victims, concluded that the WikiLeaks founder exhibited symptoms of “psychological torture”.

​Melzer has made clear that psychological torture “is not torture light” and he is due to submit a report on psychological torture to the UN by the end of February.

Assange’s first set of substantive extradition hearings will begin on 24 February and is expected to be held in Woolwich, South London near Belmarsh maximum security prison where he is being held. Until recently the publisher was kept in solitary confinement in the medical wing of the prison, though lobbying by his lawyers, campaigners and fellow prisoners resulted in him being recently transferred to a populated wing at Belmarsh.

The medical experts “condemn the torture of Assange” and the continued denial “of his fundamental right” to appropriate healthcare.

“This politicisation of foundational medical principles is of grave concern to us, as it carries implications beyond the case of Julian Assange. Abuse by politically motivated medical neglect sets a dangerous precedent, ultimately undermining our profession’s impartiality, commitment to health for all, and obligation to do no harm”, the letter reads.

Marise Payne, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, was also sent a copy of the letter. This coincides with the arrival of Australian MPs Andrew Wilkie and George Robert Christensen and who travelled to the UK to visit Assange, speak to the UN torture expert and UK MPs and lobby for Assange’s release. The covering letter to Minister Payne called on her to “act decisively now” to secure Assange’s release.

“Our appeals are simple”, the authors of the letter published in The Lancet write, “we are calling upon governments to end the torture of Mr. Assange and ensure his access to the best available healthcare, before it is too late”.

They also call out to other medical professionals to join them.

Assange faces up to 175 years in prison in the US on Espionage related charges relating to his role in publishing classified documents. The publications, notably the Iraq and Afghan war logs, revealed war crimes, committed by US-led troops, along with other forms of criminality and corruption.

Pilger, Burchett and Assange: Three Extraordinary Australian Journalists That Spoke Truth to Power

By Rick Sterling

Source

Australia has produced extraordinary journalists across three generations:  Wilfred Burchett (deceased in 1983), John Pilger (80 years old but still active) and Julian Assange (48 years old, currently in London’s Belmarsh prison).

Each of these journalists made unique contributions to our understanding of the world. Although Australia is part of the western world, each of these journalists exposed and criticized Western foreign policy.

Wilfred Burchett

Wilfred Burchett lived from 1911 to 1983. He was a farm boy and his experience in the depression shaped his dislike of oligarchs and preference for the poor.  He went to Europe trying to volunteer for Republicans in the Spanish Civil War but that did not work out.  Instead, he assisted Jews escaping Nazi Germany.

Burchett became a journalist by accident. Having seen the reality in Germany, he started writing many letters to newspaper editors. One of the editors took note of his fluid writing style and intensity. They contacted him to ask if he would like to report for them. Thus began a forty year writing career.

He covered WW2, first stationed with British troops in India then Burma. Then he covered the Pacific campaign stationed with U.S. troops.  He was the first international journalist to report on Hiroshima after the atomic bomb. He evaded US military restrictions to go to Hiroshima and see reality for himself. In his story “The Atomic Plague”, published in the London Daily Express, Burchett said,  “I write this as a warning to the world” and “Doctors fall as they work”.   Immediately the US launched a campaign to smear his reputation and deny the validity of his story. The US military was intent on preventing people from knowing the long term effects of nuclear radiation.

Burchett’s report from Hiroshima was broadcast worldwide and called the “scoop of the century”. It exemplified his career based on first-hand observation and experience.

Over his 40 year career, he reported the other side of the story from the Soviet Union, China, Korea and Vietnam. He wrote thousands of articles and over 35 books.  On China, he wrote “China’s Feet Unbound” in 1952. Two decades later he wrote (with Rewi Alley) “China: The Quality of Life”.

Burchett wrote “Vietnam: The Inside Story of a Guerrilla War” (1965) “My War with the CIA: The Memoirs of Prince Norodom Sihanouk”(1974), “Grasshoppers and Elephants: Why Vietnam Fell” (1977) and then “Catapult to Freedom: The Survival of the Vietnamese People” (1978).

Burchett’s life, experiences and observations are brilliantly recorded in his autobiography “At the Barricades: Forty Years on the Cutting Edge of History” (1980). They reveal the hardscrabble youth and early years, the leftist sympathies, the decades of journalistic work based on first-hand observations.

Burchett was vilified by the establishment political leaders in Australia. His Australian passport was taken, the government refused to issue him a new one and he was barred from entering Australia. Even his children were denied their Australian citizenship. Finally, after 17 years, Wilfred Burchett’s citizenship and passport were restored when Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister in 1972.

With his unassuming and affable manner, Wilfred Burchett became friends with leaders such as Ho Chi Minh, Norodom Sihanouk,  and Chou en Lai.   Bertrand Russell said, “One man, Wilfred Burchett, alerted Western public opinion to the nature of this war and the struggle of the Vietnamese people.”

This interview gives a glimpse into the character and personality of Wilfred Burchett.

John Pilger

John Pilger is another extraordinary Australian journalist.  After starting journalism in the early ’60s,  he became a war correspondent covering Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Biafra. He worked 25 years at London’s Daily Mirror and then had a regular fortnightly column for 23 years at the New Statesman.

His first documentary, “The Quiet Mutiny”, depicted US soldiers in Vietnam resisting their officers and the war. In 1974, when Palestine was often unmentionable, he produced “Palestine is Still the Issue”. Nineteen years later, he wrote the second part and described how  Palestine is still the issue.

John Pilger has written/edited over ten books and made over 50 films. He told the story of atrocities in Pol Pot’s Cambodia with “Year Zero“.  He exposed Indonesia’s stranglehold on East Timor in “Death of a Nation: The Timor Conspiracy”.  In a four year investigation, he showed how working-class victims of the drug thalidomide had been excluded from a settlement with the drug company.

John Pilger exposed uncomfortable truths about his home country and its treatment of aboriginal people. He did this through films including “The Secret Country: First Australians Fight Back” (1985),  “Welcome to Australia” (1999), and “Utopia: An Epic Story of Struggle and Resistance” (2013).  He gives more history and detail in the book “A Secret Country” (1992).

In 2002 Pilger produced and movie and book titled “The New Rulers of the World”  revealing the grotesque inequality in this “globalized” world where a few individuals and corporations have more power and wealth than entire countries.

In 2016 Pilger came out with the urgent and prescient video “The Coming War with China”.

More recently he produced “The Dirty War on the NHS” which documents the stealth campaign to privatize the UK’s National Health System. Many of John Pilger’s films can be seen at his website johnpilger.com .

In the 1960s and ’70s, Pilger’s brave and bold journalism received many awards and he was twice recognized as Journalist of the Year.  But in recent years, there has been less acceptance as media has become more homogenized and controlled.  In 2018 Pilger said“My written journalism is no longer welcome – probably it’s last home was The Guardian, which three years ago got rid of people like me and others in pretty much a purge …”  

Harold Pinter, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, says “John Pilger unearths, with steely attention, the facts, the filthy truth. and tells it like it is.

Julian Assange

The third extraordinary Australian journalist is Julian Assange. He was born on 3 July 1971.  He became a skilled computer programmer and hacker as a teenager. Later he later studied mathematics and physics at Melbourne University. According to one of his math teachers he was an exceptional student but he clearly had other tasks and priorities.

Assange has edited or co-authored at least four books. For three years he worked with Australian journalist and co-author Suelette Dreyfus to write “Underground : Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession in the Electronic Frontier”.  First published in 1997, the Sydney Morning Herald called it “astonishing”. Rolling Stone described it as “An entirely original focus on the bizarre lives and crimes of an extraordinary group of teenage hackers.” 

In 2012, Assange produced the TV series “The World Tomorrow”. Over 12 segments, he interviews Ecuador President Rafael Correa, the current President of Pakistan Imran Khan, the leader of Hezbollah Hasan Nasrallah, leaders in the Occupy movement, Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali and many more.

In 2013, Assange and WikiLeaks produced the movie Mediastan. It shows WikiLeaks’ global travels to meet publishers of the secret documents.  In 2014 OR Books published “When WikiLeaks met Google”. It consists of a discussion between Julian Assange and Google founder Eric Schmidt plus two companions. Assange writes a 51-page introduction which puts the discussion in context: how Google and other internet giants have become part of  US foreign policy establishment.

In 2015 Assange edited “The WikiLeaks files: the world according to the US Empire” and in 2016 the book “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet” was published. Assange and three other computer experts discuss the future of the internet and whether computers will emancipate or enslave us. One reviewer says, “These guys are really getting at the heart of some very big issues that practically no one (outside of Cypherpunk circles) is thinking about.”

But what makes Assange extraordinary is his work as editor in chief and publisher of WikiLeaks.  Following are a few examples of information they have conveyed to the public:

* Corruption by family and associates of  Kenyan leader Daniel Arap Moi.

* Corruption at Kaupthing Bank in the Iceland financial crisis

* Dumping of toxic chemicals in Ivory Coast.

* Killing of  Reuters journalists and over 10 Iraqi civilians by US Apache attack helicopter in “Collateral Murder” video.

* 92,000 documents on the war in Afghanistan (and civilian casualties previously hidden)

* 400,000 documents on the war in Iraq (including reports showing the US military ignoring torture by their Iraqi allies)

* corruption in Tunisia (helping spark the Arab Spring)

* NSA spying on German leader Merkel, Brazilian leader Roussef, French presidents (Sarkozy, Hollande, Chirac) and more.

* secret agreements in the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership

* emails and files from the US Democratic National Committee

* CIA spying and other tools  (“Vault 7”).

Julian Assange has received much recognition: Sam Adams Award, Time’s Person of the Year, Le Monde Person of the Year,  Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal, Serena Shim Award and others.

But Assange has incurred the wrath and enmity of the US government. The “Collateral Damage” video and war logs exposed the brutal reality of US aggression and occupation.  Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the US invasion of Iraq violated international law. But there has been no accountability.

In response to WikiLeaks’ revelations, the United States has ignored the crimes and gone after the messenger who revealed the crimes. Thus Julian Assange was confined to the Ecuador Embassy for 7 years and is now in Belmarsh maximum-security prison.  The US wants him extradited to the US where he has been charged with 18 counts of  “Illegally Obtaining, Receiving and Disclosing Classified Information”.  The extradition hearing is scheduled to begin on 24 February 2020.

Across Three Generations

Australia should be proud of these exceptional native sons. Each one has made huge contributions to educating the public about crucial events.

Wilfred Burchett reported from the “other side” when the West was waging war on Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and China. He was demonized and even called “Public Enemy Number One” during the Cold War.  But those who read his reports and many books found an accurate and objective writer. His many books stand the test of time.

From the 60s to today, John Pilger has told stories that were never or rarely told.  He has exposed facts and drawn conclusions which shame or should shame powerful forces, whether in the U.K., U.S.A. or Australia. He has documented the real heroes who are otherwise ignored.

Julian Assange is from the new generation. He has reported and published secret information about military-political power on “this side”. He has revealed truths that powerful forces do not want the public to know, even when it is being done in their name.

Now Assange is in prison and in danger of being extradited to the United States. If this is allowed to happen, it will mark a crushing setback and perhaps the death of independent investigative journalism.

John Pilger is a major supporter of Julian Assange. So is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer. In a blockbuster interview, he says “I have never seen a comparable case….The Swedish authorities … intentionally left him in limbo. Just imagine being accused of rape for nine-and-a-half years by an entire state apparatus and the media without ever being given the chance to defend yourself because no charges have ever been filed.” He goes to describe reading the original Swedish documents, saying “I could hardly believe my eyes…. a rape had never taken place at all…. the woman’s testimony was later changed by the Stockholm police… I have all the documents in my possession, the emails, the text messages.”  

Melzer describes the refusal of governments to comply with his requests. He sums up what is happening and the significance. “A show trial is to be used to make an example of Julian Assange….. Four democratic countries joined forces – the U.S., Ecuador, Sweden, and the U.K. – to leverage their power to portray one man as a monster so that he could be later burned at the stake without any outcry. The case is a huge scandal and represents the failure of Western rule of law. If Julian Assange is convicted, it will be a death sentence for freedom of the press.”

The three extraordinary Australian journalists were all rebels and all international. They all depended on freedom of the press which is now at stake.

War on Dissent by the US and West Threatens Speech, Media and Academic Freedoms

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Censorship is the new normal in America and the West, wanting the message controlled, targeting what conflicts with it for elimination, notably on major geopolitical issues.

Digital democracy is the last frontier of free and open expression.

It’s threatened by social media, Google, and other tech giants —  complicit in a campaign against content conflicting with the official narrative.

Media scholar Robert McChesney earlier said without digital democracy, “the Internet would look like cable TV…a handful of massive companies (controlling) content” — deciding what’s permitted online and what’s suppressed.

Without free expression rights, all others are threatened — where things are headed in US and other Western societies.

Fundamental rights are eroding, at risk of disappearing altogether on the phony pretext of protecting national security at a time when alleged foreign threats to the West are invented, not real.

Pompeo earlier claimed “Julian Assange has no First Amendment freedoms (sic)…He’s not a US citizen.”

Despite no evidence suggesting it, Pompeo called Assange “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia (sic),” adding:

“We have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us (sic).”

“To give (him and others) space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for (sic). It ends now.”

Pompeo declared war on speech, media, and academic freedoms — supported by Trump, falsely calling Assange an “enemy of the people.”

Following his latest kangaroo court hearing in London on Thursday, pertaining to the Trump regime’s unjustifiable extradition request, the UK complicit in its war on free expression, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said the following:

“We have now learned from submissions and affidavits presented by the United States to this court that they do not consider foreign nationals to have a First Amendment protection,” adding: 

“Now let that sink in for a second. At the same time that the US government is chasing journalists all over the world, they claim they have extra-territorial reach.” 

“They have decided that all foreign journalists which include many of you here, have no protection under the First Amendment of the United States.” 

“So that goes to show the gravity of this case. This is not about Julian Assange. It’s about press freedom.”

Denying Assange the universal right of free expression endangers all journalists and everyone else. His case is precedent-setting. 

If extradited to the US, convicted of the “crime” of truth-telling journalism and imprisoned, it’ll have far-reaching consequences, all truth-telling journalists potentially threatened the same way.

Fundamental rule of law principles are universal, in place to protect everyone from abuses of power.

Dark forces in the US and other Western societies want views conflicting with official ones silenced.

In the US, earlier Supreme Court rulings upholding First Amendment rights are ignored, notably Justice William Brennan’s majority opinion in Texas v. Johnson (1989), saying:

“(I)f there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable.”

Justice Thurgood Marshall once said: “(A)bove all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.” Nor does anyone else.

Separately he said: “If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch.” 

“Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men’s minds.”

No one on the US Supreme Court today approaches the stature of Brennan and Marshall.

Their support for equal justice under law no longer exists in the US, police state injustice replacing it, including efforts to censor views dark forces consider objectionable.

We’re all Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and others like them. 

Their fate could be ours by challenging powerful interests — wanting free and open expression replaced by controlling the message.

What’s going on is the hallmark of totalitarian rule — enforced with police state harshness.

When truth-telling and dissent are considered existential threats, free and open societies no longer exist — the slippery slope where the US, UK, and other Western states are heading.

A Final Comment

Last year, WikiLeaks said the following:

Assange is “an Australian journalist who founded WikiLeaks in 2006.”

He “was the editor of WikiLeaks until September 2018: six months of his effective incommunicado detention in the Ecuadorian embassy in London then prompted Julian to appoint Kristin Hrafnsson as WikiLeaks editor-in-chief. Julian remains WikiLeaks’ publisher.”

“Wikileaks’ publications have had enormous impact. They have changed many peoples’ views of governments, enabling them to see their secrets.” 

“They have changed journalism as a practice, as debates have raged over the ethics of secrecy, transparency and reporting on stolen documents.” 

“WikiLeaks has gained the admiration of people and organizations all over the world, as evidenced in the numerous awards it has won.”

“For these contributions to public accountability and the historical record, Assange has been arrested in the United Kingdom and indicted in the United States.” 

“The US requests Assange’s extradition and has charged him with 17 counts under the Espionage Act of 1917 for the publication of truthful material in the public interest.” 

“Assange is the first journalist in history the US has charged with Espionage for publishing.” 

“He also faces one count of conspiracy to commit computer crime based on his alleged reporter-source communications with whistleblower Chelsea Manning.” 

“This charge would criminalize basic journalistic activity, as the indictment details alleged attempts to help Manning protect her anonymity as a journalistic source.”

“If extradited, Assange faces the prospect of life imprisonment in the United States” — for the “crime” of truth-telling journalism the way it’s supposed to be, what establishment media long ago was abandoned, operating as press agents for powerful interests.

21st Century Wire YEAR IN REVIEW: 2019 Top Ten (Real) Conspiracies

21st Century Wire

It’s New Year’s Eve again, which means it’s time for our annual wrap-up, looking at some of the most important and unusual, and dare we say conspiratorial events of 2019. This past year was built on the back of a highly polarizing 2018, which saw the post-World War II world order coming apart at the seams, and the 20th century religions of neoliberalism and globalization being relegated to the ideological depths in the face of an evolving nationalist and mercantilist Anglo-American-dominated transatlantic order. Following on from 2018, this year saw the collapse of the seemingly sacrosanct ‘official conspiracy theory’ narratives of improbable ‘chemical attacks’ like Skripal in the UK, and Douma in Syria, both of which had profound geopolitical ramifications at the time. These are just a few stories which helped to shape the zeitgeist this past year. If 2019 taught us anything, it’s that conspiracies are real

There were a number of honorable mentions this past year which would have normally been good enough to break into the top ten in previous years, but not this time…

Honorable Mentioned Highlights – One event which would’ve normally made it into the top ten, but didn’t, was President Trump’s grand decree in October that he would be “pulling US troops out of Syria” – only this was the third time he made such an announcement in the past 24 months, and just like the previous ones, this one was another bait and switch. To compensate for leaving US forces to illegally occupy Syria’s own oil fields, Trump was able to ‘close the file’ on alleged ISIS leader Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi. We’re told that the illusive Caliph was supposedly chased-down, “whimpering and crying,” by a US military German Shepherd in a dead-end underground tunnel in Idlib. Of course, we’ll never know what actually happened because the US military proceeded to level the compound with an airstrike, thus destroying any evidence. Other official conspiracy theories of note included the untimely death of British mercenary entrepreneur, James Le Mesurier, who was founder of the controversial White Helmets ‘search and rescue’ group. After his death, ruled a likely suicide under the influence of medication (falling from his balcony while his wife was sleeping in the adjacent room) by Istanbul police, Le Mesurier’s defenders in mainstream media and intelligence agencies began blaming his death on members of public, journalists and academics who had either questioned or criticized Le Mesurier and the nature of US and UK-backed White Helmets operations alongside listed terrorist organizations in Syria. On a related geopolitical front, Iran featured heavily in what some dubbed as the Tanker Wars in 2019, which included a series of unidentified attacks on western and Gulf flagged oil tankers traveling in the Persian Gulf. Naturally, these were blamed on Iran by the US, and were followed by the British military hijacking and seizing an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar and preventing it from delivering fuel to the sanctions-hit economy of Syria. It seemed the West was testing various mechanisms to trigger a war with Iran, maybe hoping for an irrational response which never came. The US also baited the Iranians by flying in its airspace with their $150 million Globalhawk drone, which Iran shot down with their $12,000 anti-aircraft unit. Tensions remain high. 2018’s “Antisemitism in the Labour Party” canard was ramped-up and weaponized in 2019 to form part of an all-out establishment propaganda effort to reduce electoral support for Britain’s Labour Party in the run-up to the General Election. Sadly, it worked, but the political assassination of Jeremy Corbyn will go down in history as one of the darkest political acts ever, perpetrated by a shrewd coalition that included the Israeli Lobby, the Conservative Party, the Tony Blair wing of the Labour Party, and the mainstream media. Other honorable mentions for 2019 may include Brussels moving ever-closer to finalizing its new “EU Army”, aka EU Defense Union, something which Tories happily avoided talking about before the last election, possibly because they have quietly committed to opt-in to the new defense arrangement – even if there’s a Brexit. In Asia, the western press began ramping-up the human rights rhetoric in order to condemn China for its treatment of Muslim ethnic minority Uyghurs in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang, claiming China has interned millions of Uyghurs in cruel concentration camps. But the US seems to be taking a leaf from China’s authoritarian book, as Silicon Valley’s Kafkaesque political censorship and de-platforming program reach new highs in 2019, and looks set to continue in 2020 with the US elections. Twitter was also exposed as employing Saudi spies to dig up dirt on critics of the regime, as well as British spooks from Brigade 77 information warfare unit embedded at the tech firm too. Late in the year, the US also saw a bizarre mass shooting by a ‘rogue’ Saudi pilot training at the US base there, which was quietly swept under the rug by US officials. Around the same time, we saw yet another alleged ‘ISIS inspired’ terror attack on London Bridge – a quintessential Daily Shooter event if there ever was one, featuring another known wolf, on the radar of intelligence, wearing a tag, and even attending a ‘prisoner reform’ conference next door. Unfortunately the perp won’t be interrogated because he was executed on the city pavement before anyone could get to the bottom of what happened, and more importantly, why. Shades of Jean Charles de Menezes, and so many others by now.

One important thing to consider about 2019 is the slow motion break-down of all the western establishment’s official Russian conspiracy theories, all of which have featured so heavily in American and European politics since 2014. In other words, this worn-out framework has all but collapsed, but that won’t stop the usual media maven and political opportunists from still flogging that old horse.

With that in mind, here are some of the absolute blockbuster top real conspiracies of 2018…


10. Hong Kong’s ‘Democracy’ Protests – Hong Kong ends 2019 with more ‘democracy’ protests, supposedly disrupting normal festivities and shopping in China’s unique financial hub. Both US Democrats and Republicans gushed over protest leader Joshua Wong, flying him to Washington for photo-ops with Nancy Pelosi and Marco Rubio. However, it soon became known that the US government was actually directing and funding this supposed ‘grass roots uprising’ in China’s troubled territory. The US mainstream media then spun a propaganda campaign to try and paint the Chinese police in Hong Kong as ‘brutal’ and ‘repressive’, when in fact they were the opposite. Then evidence began to emerge showing extreme violence being used by the US-backed protest mobs, where Wong’s masked foot soldiers could be seen beating innocent passers-by, and even attacking elderly residents as well. ‘Pro-Democracy’ violence featured one particularly grisly attempted murder of multiple Hong Kong residents, including State Department-backed ‘freedom demonstrators’ who set a man on fire, attempting to burn him alive on the street. This push to demonize China can be viewed as part of the new US focus to disrupt and damage China’s reputation internationally as it attempts to forge ahead with its world-beating Belt and Road Initiative. Of course, the US is not taking China’s ascendancy lying down, but by the same token, fielding street thugs on the streets of Hong Kong may not net any long-term dividends, other than anger China and re-polarize the Pacific Rim. Maybe, that’s the plan.


9. Reconquista: Washington’s Take-down of South America – In 2019, Washington began turning back the clock to CIA’s golden years of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, where democratically Latin American governments were toppled one by one, and replaced by US-installed fascists and military juntas. The year started off with a bang, as the US State Department and its various operatives, over the span of three months, attempted no less than three failed coups in Venezuela. They even wheeled-out Jurassic neocon Elliot Abrams from the basement of Foggy Bottom to see if he had any of his 1980’s dark clandestine magic left in him. But the public support of the government of Nicholas Maduro was much stronger than the policy maven and spooks in Washington had anticipated. Comically, Neocons even went so far as to appoint their own President for Venezuela, a marionette named Juan Guaidó, which half of Venezuela hadn’t even heard of. A year on, the entire escapade has become a joke. Not surprisingly, a humiliated Trump Administration has quietly backed off of Venezuela, opting instead to continue sanctioning its economy, shorting its currency, stealing its foreign assets – all in all, punishing its citizens for rejecting a hostile US takeover. But Washington had better luck in Bolivia where a US-backed ultra rightwing fascist column was used in violent street protests demanding the removal of democratically elected President Evo Morales. To pull off the final move, the US had effectively bought off the country’s military and police forces who were used to depose Evo – in classic 1960’s CIA style. Evo was forced to flee his own country to Mexico, as US-backed mobs ransacked his home, and began hunting down and intimidating his political allies. That’s freedom and democracy, American style.


8. Yemeni Drones & Saudi Aramco – In September, an incredible underdog event took place. After nearly five years of a relentless war being waged against Yemen by its neighbor Saudi Arabia along with accomplices the United States, UK and the UAE – Yemen struck back, with its Houthi Resistance fighters launching a makeshift drone attack hitting two major Saudi Aramco oil installations across the border. Even though the Houthi Rebels immediately claimed responsibility for the assault on Abqaiq, the world’s largest oil processing plant, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately rejected the claim, and instead the US and Saudi invented a new official conspiracy theory which blamed Iran, accusing the regional rival of having “now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.” Saudi put on an legendary TV press performance to show the world the ‘evidence’ it had of drone fragments, supposedly implicating Iran. They hoped this could raise tensions enough to justify military action against Iran. “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” said Pompeo on Twitter. In the end, this intricate conspiracy theory spun by Washington simply fizzled out due to a lack of evidence to support their tenuous claim. As with its embarrassing failure in Venezuela, Washington just backed off quietly, and hoped no one would talk about it any more. What this incident really showed was that under-equipped, under-funded, and fully embargoed Yemen – could deliver a fatal blow inside of Saudi Arabia, and influence world energy markets by doing so. Make no mistake about it: Saudi and the US have been put on notice in Yemen.


7. Mueller and the Collapse of RussiaGate – Remember the official conspiracy theory pushed by the US establishment – that Russia somehow intervened in the 2016 US Presidential Election on behalf of Donald Trump, thus catapulting him into the White House? This past spring, the hysteria and excitement reached such a fever pitch, that Robert Mueller was canonized as the new patron saint of the Resistance movement. But it was a house of cards. Well after three long and torturous years, in an big top circus featuring 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants and staff assigned to investigate, more than 2,800 subpoenas issued by the Special Counsel Mueller’s office, some 500 search warrants executed, more than 230 orders for communication records, 50 authorized orders (lets the government know who someone is communicating with and when, but not what they said), 13 evidence requests to foreign governments, 500 witnesses interviewed, well over $30 million taxpayer costs… the much-anticipated Mueller Report and investigation found no evidence that Trump had conspired with Russia. No collusion, and no election ‘interference’ by Russia. Nothing. RussiaGate R.I.P.

It should go down in history as one of the biggest phony official conspiracy theories of all-time. During his own testimony, the vaunted former FBI director Mueller came off as an incompetent old crank. The entire affair was a disaster for Democrats and their loyal mainstream media networks, all of whom had relentlessly hyped this conspiracy for years. In the end, this epic dud can only help Trump in his 2020 re-election bid. Let that sink in for a minute…


6. UkraineGate and Trump’s Impeachment – Alas, the death of RussiaGate gave way to a brand new gate… UkraineGate, and with it came that impeachment hammer which Democrats had been promising from before Trump was even sworn in office. Suddenly, Trump was facing the most perilous threat to a tenure of POTUS since Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and Andrew Johnson before that – all because of a telephone call on July 25th (the day after Robert Mueller tanked with his disastrous congressional testimony) with Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenksy. According to House Democrats, during the call, Trump threatened Zelensky with withholding a free donation of US weapons to Ukraine unless the Ukrainian president re-opened a corruption investigation into 2016 US election meddling under the previous President Poroshenko, and more importantly the activities former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. According to lead inquisitor Adam Schiff (CA-D), someone told someone about the call, who then told a “whistleblower” (a CIA analyst and friend of Obama and the Bidens) about it, who then then filed a complaint. In the end, Ukraine got its free stash of US missiles as ordered, but Democrats claimed Trump abused his power by asking for a “Quid Pro Quo” that somehow placed the national security of the US in grave danger, and that Trump tried to railroad a political opponent (Joe Biden is supposedly the DNC’s pre-determined selection for presidential nominee) by asking a foreign power to investigate him and his son, all of which they say rises to the level of “high crimes” by Trump. When asked, even Zelensky said there was no quid pro quo. This hardly mattered, as the verdict was already written before the hearings. Another grand official conspiracy theory cooked up by the establishment? Seems so. So shaky are Democrats about their case, that House leader Nancy Pelosi has failed to send her Articles of Impeachment before Christmas to the US Senate for the next step which is an Impeachment trial. This kicks the whole affair into the new year, and with poll numbers steadily rising against Democrat’s impeachment misadventure, it does not look good at all for Democrats heading into the 2020 election.


5. Greta – On paper, it sounded like the stuff of Hollywood: a 15-year-old Swedish student started a school strike for ‘the climate’ outside the Swedish Parliament, and her campaign went viral around the globe, and a new youth climate change movement was born. Incredible. Inspiring. Al Gore and associates were over the moon; their Joan of Arc had finally arrived to help save the planet. Time Magazine even named her “Person of the Year” in 2019. But on closer examination, the rise of Greta Thunberg was anything but grassroots. From the very first day, her campaign was driven by a multi-million dollar public relations machine that includes dozens of NGOs and media outlets, foundations and trusts, as part of an environmental astroturf extravaganza, the likes of which we’ve never seen. The practice is known as greenwashing – and in this case, Wall Street and City hedge funds, as well as a gaggle of foundations and NGOs – all hoping to capitalize on the new green bubble, and all determined to use this young child as their political battering ram to drive home an international ‘climate’ agenda. Greta gained headlines after scolding the public with her angry prose, “How dare you!” scowled the angry Swede at the infamous UN panel. “You have stolen my dreams!” railed the youngster to a room full of jovial stakeholders (while putting on an injured voice, reading off the script provided to her by a team of handlers). Their ‘climate emergency’ narrative is based on the theory that man-made CO2 is heating up the Earth’s atmosphere which will cause seas levels to rise and cause the “sixth mass extinction.” However, real data actually indicates that the Earth is heading into a cooling phase and that any changes in climate have nothing to do with man-made activity, but rather from the sun’s activity. Both sides of the debate do not appear to be budging, but the cooling camp seems to have real data in its favor, while the warmists seem to be relying heavily theory and computer-modeled climate predictions – programmed by scientists eager to show that man-made global warming is a real phenomenon. In the end, this unsuspecting child is being used by a cynical class of millionaires and billionaires, clearly stoking-up a generational culture war, with angry middle class youth demanding that western governments ‘unlock’, or rather rob trillions from existing pension funds in order to finance the bold dream of a ‘Green New Deal’ and the promise of a green utopia – they just need you to give them some $51 trillion to fund various and sundry “green tech,” which activists are convinced can lower the earth’s temperature and stave off the inevitable extinction of the human race by 2030, or maybe 2050, or is it 2100? We’re actually not sure, but we promise it’s totally real. What could possibly go wrong?


4. Epstein – As horrendous as revelations of Jimmy Saville were for western high society, the chronicles of billionaire VIP sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein were more devastating by orders of magnitude. His exploits ensnared US President Bill Clinton, and high-flying lawyer Alan Dershowitz, along with a long list of high-ranking VIPs. The fallout didn’t spare the British Royal Family either, with Prince Andrew being cast out into social oblivion for his own role in the scandal. The more the story marinated, the more seedy it became. His was a story of one locked door after another, concealing the adjoining halls of a castle dark which can only be acquired by navigating the circles of extreme wealth and influence. Many believe this was part of a high level blackmail operation designed to create leverage over top decision makers in politics and industry. There are also indications that Epstein “belonged to intelligence,” although it’s not certain which agencies he may have been supplying information to. For his own part, Epstein’s story ended abruptly after he was reportedly unconscious in a federal jail cell at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on Saturday August 10, 2019. The death was quickly ruled a “suicide by hanging.” Somehow, the CCTV camera footage appears to have gone missing. The guards, we’re told, were not on duty. “It was a horrible series of coincidences,” so says the official conspiracy theory of the highly unlikely death of Jeff Epstein in federal custody. He was awaiting a federal trial for charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking of underage girls dating back to the early 2000s. After his death, the trial was shelved. So it goes without saying that many ‘important’ and powerful people benefited from this outcome. His main accomplice is still at large, Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late media tycoon and Israeli super spy, Robert Maxwell. Many of the female victims are now speaking out publicly. Will there be any justice? Certainly, the mainstream media appear disinterested in pursuing the criminal segues of this story. Or will it become another grand conspiracy for the ages, alongside JFK, RFK and MLK?


3. A Global Uprising? – In 2019, we saw major uprisings and popular mobilzations on the streets in France, in the Spanish province of Catalan, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, India, Lebanon, Iraq, Haiti, Sudan, Hong Kong, as well as protests building in Netherlands, Italy, and Germany. Many of experts are scratching their heads, asking ‘what does it all mean’? Are these event interconnected, or are they being driven by the same underlying social or economic forces? Many of these events appear to be genuine grassroots events. However, others quite clearly were being co-opted and fueled by foreign powers seeking to capitalize on any succession of power that might be occurring, as was the case with protests in Hong Kong, Iraq, Russia and certainly there was evidence of this in Lebanon, although not as blatant as in other locations. Regardless, this trend is real and potentially world-changing and cannot be ignored, as billions of people (many of them younger) around the globe begin to realize that 20th century stalwarts like neoliberal vudoo economics, savage capitalism, US dollar and IMF debt-based control of the developing world, along with US-led neocolonial foreign policy and endless ‘regime change’ wars – are simply no longer going to cut it going forward. It seems that this new generation won’t settle for business as usual any more. Look out…


2. The OPCW Leaks – Never has there been such a profound story which was being categorically denied and ignored by the entire mainstream press. This past year saw a series of leaks coming out of the UN appointed watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which reveal that the alleged ‘chemical attack’ which the West and MSM said took place in Douma, Syria on April 2018 – never actually happened. Which means that the US, UK and France launched a retaliatory strike against Syria on the basis of a well-orchestrated ‘false flag’ hoax. Worst yet, there is proof the OPCW perpetrated an internal cover-up of evidence which would’ve exonerated Damascus. Consider this as Iraq WMD 2.0, because the very same fraudulent practices and heavy-handed US tactics, along with total media acquiescence to the official conspiracy theory narrative – has happened again. Like with the Integrity Initiative leaks which broke in late 2018, the OPCW leaks have been dripping out, some via WikiLeaks, and it’s been death by a thousand cuts for the US, UK and NATO establishment, who’ve been caught not only tampering with an investigation of what was meant to be a neutral international watchdog group, but have summarily closed ranks in an information blackout, even though the scandal is there for the world to see (for those willing to look). The reason for their evasive action is now clear: when the Douma ‘chemical attack’ happened, it was the mainstream media who colluded with western governments, and who relied on US and Saudi-backed terrorists Jayash al-Islam and the White Helmets – all working hand-in-hand to spin-up the West’s official narrative that somehow “Assad had gassed his own people.” And the leaks are still ongoing. Will the media and bamboozled politicians ever address this scandal, or will they play the ostrich until it’s too late? Either way, their credibility is now shot.


1. The Capture of Julian Assange – In April, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested and bundled out of his safe haven in the Ecuadorian embassy after his asylum and citizenship were suddenly revoked by the host country – very clearly part of a coordinated conspiracy waged by the governments of the US, UK, Sweden and Ecuador – to prepare Assange for extradition to the US to face espionage charges by disingenuously re-framing Assange and WikiLeaks, a journalist and a publication – now as a “cyber terrorist” and a “hostile foreign intelligence service.” His removal from the embassy by British police was an act of extraordinary rendition. Despite interventions and rulings by multiple UN representatives, determined British authorities continue to hold Assange without charge in solitary confinement, and heavily sedated (by his own admission), inside of London’s Belmarsh super max prison. The UN’s has ruled that his detention constitutes torture. He is also unable to prepare for his US extradition hearing in February – one of the most important precedent cases, maybe in history, for the future of the freedom of the press. His legal team even requested for more time to submit evidence and postpone of the extradition hearing, but the fix was already in, and the judge flatly refuse to entertain any argument or admit Assange should no longer be held on remand without charge in high security confinement. With his physical and mental health deteriorating rapidly, there is a real risk now that Assange could even die in custody. How long can the supposed guardians of freedom and democracy in the West stand idle while this incredible injustice continues to unfold? Whatever your preferred outcome, the answers to these questions may come soon in the new year. Needless to say, many are hoping that the plutocracy in Washington and London come to their senses, and realize what a historic mistake they are making – and reverse course on this unprecedented judicial disaster.. 

What a wild year. Expect more of the same in 2020.

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

SEE PREVIOUS TOP TEN CONSPIRACIES:

2018 Top Ten Conspiracies

2017 Top Ten Conspiracies

2016 Top Ten Conspiracies

2015 Top Ten Conspiracies

2014 Top Ten Conspiracies

Plea for the Liberation of Julian Assange. Response from the Archbishop of Canterbury

Dear Friends,

The plea which you kindly signed calling on the Archbishop of Canterbury to use his moral influence to bring about liberation of Julian Assange from Belmarsh prison was delivered to Lambeth Palace in London last November 29. On December 12, Lambeth Palace acknowledged reception of the letter in the attached message, which appears to be addressed to all the letter’s signatories.  

Elections held that same day leave scant hope for political intervention on behalf of Julian Assange.  This enforces our belief that this issue must be urgently addressed on purely moral and humanitarian grounds.  As Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has been entrusted by the Church of England with a moral authority which we invite him to exercise.  

On behalf of the Archbishop, the Lambeth Palace Correspondence Officer Dominic Goodall writes that: “For him not to speak out about an issue does not necessarily mean that it is not of concern to him, but the context and opportunity must be right if any intervention is to be effective.”

For our part, with due respect, we believe that the Christmas season provides an eminently appropriate “context” and “opportunity” for the Christian Church of England to demonstrate human kindness by speaking out on behalf of a political prisoner who is being treated more harshly than the worst of criminals. Julian Assange is fervently admired worldwide for his courageous commitment to speaking truth. His life is at stake, and also at stake is any remnant of the United Kingdom’s reputation as land of respect for individual rights and freedoms. The world watches and cares.

Dear signatories, 

If you care to follow up with your own message to Lambeth Palace, please note the addresses on the message below from Lambeth Palace.

Sincerely,

Diana Johnstone, Paris, France, diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

***

Below is the message from Lambeth Palace

From: Lambeth Palace <contact@lambethpalace.org.uk>

Subject: 60053 Your letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Date: 12 December 2019 at 13:21:26 CET

To: “diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr”, “mnm@nachdenkseiten.de”

Dear Ms Johnstone and Mr Müller,

Thank you for your recent letter addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, for and on behalf of your other signatories. Much as he would like to, the Archbishop is unable to respond personally and in detail to all the emails and letters that he receives, so I have been asked to reply to you on his behalf.

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns in this matter, which have been noted. Archbishop Justin is often asked to make statements on a wide range of issues and many people write asking him to intervene in domestic and international matters.

Letters like your own just go to show that people are seeking to respond to the current uncertainties which is a constant encouragement to Archbishop Justin. He is grateful to you for writing and hopes that you will understand that it must be for him to decide when and about what subjects he raises in public. For him not to speak out about an issue does not necessarily mean that it is not of concern to him, but the context and opportunity must be right if any intervention is to be effective.

Nevertheless, thank you again for taking the time to write.

Yours sincerely,

Dominic Goodall

***

Reply to Lambeth Palace, 15 December 2019

Dear Mr Goodall,

Thank you for your reply to our recent letter[1] concerning Julian Assange. From your opening paragraph we assume that Archbishop Welby has read our letter, and we are passing your response on to the signatories of our letter.

Dear Archbishop Justin Welby,

The time to speak out about the treatment of Julian Assange by the British and the US Authorities seems quite urgently to be now. His health is deteriorating, as outlined in a recent open letter by 60 medical Doctors.[2]  On Friday 13 December, there was another technical hearing of the case, where it transpired that Julian Assange has not even been able to read key evidence against him in the case that has been prepared against him by the US for nearly ten years.  His court hearing is in just over two months. Such treatment goes contrary to the tradition of English rights initiated by the Magna Carta over 800 years ago.

Moreover, the result of the recent general election means that there will be a government with a huge majority including numerous Members who have publicly prejudiced Mr. Assange. There is no mercy to be expected from political authorities. This situation increases the urgency of calling on you to act as a higher moral authority. We ask you to share these thoughts with Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II.

It takes a high degree of courage to go against the mood of one’s own milieu.  But those who dare speak out in favour of the victim of a lynch mob gain a place of honour in history.  When the writer Emile Zola spoke out in defence of Captain Dreyfus, he was forced to seek asylum in London, but a century later his example is remembered as a shining beacon in the whole affair. You have shown that you are not shy to speak up on current affairs, when you spoke out on behalf of Britain’s Jews.

We are writing these lines from human beings to human beings on behalf of another human being in dire distress.

Whatever mistakes he may have made, like any human being, Julian Assange is fervently admired worldwide for his courageous commitment to speaking truth. His life is at stake, and also at stake is the United Kingdom’s reputation as land of respect for individual rights and freedoms. The world watches and cares.History will take note of what is done now.

Yours sincerely,

Moritz Müller, Skibbereen, Republic of Ireland. mnm@nachdenkseiten.de

Diana Johnstone, Paris, France. diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

Notes

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88Kzf9ivQSQ&feature=youtu.be

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/nov/25/julian-assanges-health-is-so-bad-he-could-die-in-prison-say-60-doctors

You can read the plea here.

*

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Featured image: Julian Assange court sketch, October 21, 2019, supplied by Julia Quenzler.

Who Spied on Julian Assange? – The Sheldon Adelson Connection

By Philip Giraldi

Source

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The Julian Assange drama drags on. Though he continues to sit in a top security British prison awaiting developments in his expected extradition to the United States, the Spanish High Court has been given permission to interview him. Assange is claiming that the Spanish company contracted with by the Ecuadorean government to do embassy security in London spied on him using both audio and video devices. The recordings apparently included conversations with Assange’s lawyers outlining his defense strategies, which is an illegal activity under Spanish law. The prosecution has also indicted the company director, former military officer David Morales, on associated criminal charges of bribing a government official and money laundering. Morales has said that he is innocent.

Aware that he might be monitored by the British government as well as by other interested parties, Assange would often meet his legal team using a white noise machine or in women’s bathrooms with the water running, but the firm, UC Global, anticipated that and planted devices capable of defeating the countermeasures. It planted microphones in the embassy fire extinguishing system as well as in numerous other places in the building. The recordings were reportedly streamed, undoubtedly encrypted, to another nearby location, referred to in the trade as a listening post. The streamed material was also reportedly transcribed and copied at the UC Global offices in Andalusia, but hard copies of the material were made as well on CDs and DVDs to be turned over directly to the client.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais, which has seen much of the evidence in the case, also mentioned how UC Global fixed the windows in the rooms actually being used by Assange so they would not vibrate, making it possible to use laser microphones from a nearby line of sight building to record what was being said. Presumably the listening post also served as the line-of-sight surveillance point.

The British government willingness to let the interview take place is apparently due in part to the Spanish judiciary’s claims that it has obtained an overwhelming amount of documentary and other evidence that demonstrates that Assange is basically telling the truth.

And there is inevitably more to the story. David Morales, who managed the project, reportedly returned from a trip to the United States and told colleagues that the UC Global would henceforth be doing some work “for the dark side” at “another league” level. According to the New York Times, which has examined the documents obtained by El Pais and accepted that they are authentic, “In the court filing, the prosecution asserts that Mr. Morales returned from a security fair in Las Vegas in 2015… He signed a contract with Las Vegas Sands, the casino and resort company of Sheldon Adelson, and the prosecution contends that Mr. Morales passed information about Mr. Assange to security officials at the company, saying it acted as a go-between with the C.I.A.”

Sheldon Adelson is, of course, the single largest source of funding for the Republican Party and is also widely regarded to be a confidant of the Israeli government and of Benjamin Netanyahu personally. UC Global subsequently worked for Adelson, including managing the security of his yacht whenever it was in the Mediterranean.

According to employees of UC Global, details of the Ecuadorean Embassy operation were tightly held inside the company. Morales would make secret trips to the United States once or twice every month and it was assumed that he was carrying material relating to the recordings, but UC Global staff were advised never to mention his travels to the Ecuadorean staff in the embassy.

The obvious candidate for spying on Assange would be, as both the Spanish government and the New York Times speculate, the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.), as Washington intends to try Assange prior to locking him away for the rest of his life. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while director of C.I.A., once referred to Assange and WikiLeaks as a “hostile intelligence service,” so one should have no illusions about what will be done to him if he ever arrives in the U.S.

In one instance cited by El Pais, the U.S. Embassy in London clearly knew what was discussed at a private meeting that had taken place in the Ecuadorean Embassy the day before. And if Washington truly wanted inside information it would have made sense from an espionage point of view to employ the very firm doing security for the embassy as one’s mechanism for doing the spying.

But the rest of the story as elaborated on by the New York Times doesn’t make sense. It is equally or possibly even more likely that the Ecuadorean government would want to know what Assange was up to since it was taking considerable heat from Washington and London to terminate his asylum so he could be arrested and extradited. The fact that Morales did not want the Ecuadoreans to know about his travels suggests that they already knew about the surveillance.What they did not know was that Morales was sharing the take with someone else.

And then there are the British themselves as possible initiators of the surveillance through some kind of arrangement with Morales. They would most definitely would like to know what was being planned in Assange’s defense and going through UC Global would be the easiest way to obtain the needed information.

One might point out that there is another obstacle to the C.I.A. “dunnit” speculation, which is that as a general rule Washington does not spy on London and London does not spy on Washington. As the two countries have been for decades major intelligence partners, it is a guideline that is, believe it or not, generally observed. The British would have noticed any attempt to set up an American listening post within line-of-sight of the Ecuadorean Embassy and it would have created a major rift between C.I.A. and MI6, which suggests that the British, Americans and Ecuadoreans might all have been spying on Assange and possibly even sharing the information.

And then there is the Adelson angle, which brings the Israelis into the mix. It appears to be true that Adelson’s casinos in China were venues used for targeting corrupt Chinese officials by the C.I.A. as far back as 2010, but it is not imaginable that today’s Agency would use the Las Vegas billionaire as a conduit for passing information and arranging payments to Morales. As one former Agency field officer commented, “This is not the way the C.I.A. constructs an operation, too many moving parts.”

If he were indeed a C.I.A. asset, Morales could have used a dead drop or passed his material directly to an Agency officer under cover in Spain before being paid directly for his services. The C.I.A. officer would also be able to monitor and direct the operation through the meetings as is usually the case, which would not be possible if the connection were through Las Vegas Sands security.

One might also add that using a trip to Las Vegas as a cut out to conceal espionage activity makes no sense at all, particularly as Morales would have to be crossing international borders carrying on him highly sensitive information that could come to the attention of security concerned about the frequency of his trips. Morales might indeed have believed that he was working for C.I.A. because that is what he was told by Adelson, but that could easily have been a lie.

It is also unimaginable that C.I.A. would use Adelson as he is recognized by the U.S. intelligence services as an Israeli government asset. His loyalty to the U.S. is questionable. He is famous for having said that he regretted serving in the U.S. Army in World War 2 and wishes he had served in the Israeli army instead. He wants his son to grow up to “be a sniper for the Israel Defense Force (IDF).”

That means that anything going through Adelson will wind up in Israel, which suggests that if Adelson is actually involved the whole exercise just might be an Israeli false flag operation pretending to be the C.I.A. Israel does not hate Assange with the fervor of the U.S. government but it certainly would consider him an enemy as he has had a tendency to expose sensitive material that governments would not like to make public. Israel would be particularly vulnerable to having its war crimes exposed, as was the case when WikiLeaks published the material revealing American crimes in Iraq provided by Chelsea Manning.

So, there is a choice when it comes to considering who might have commissioned the spying on Julian Assange, or it might even have been a combination of players. The sad part of the story is that even if David Morales is convicted in a Spanish court, sources in Britain believe the violation of Assange’s rights will have no impact on the move to extradite him to the United States. That will be decided narrowly based on the charge against him, which is exposing classified information, a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917. As the Espionage Act is infinitely elastic and as the preferred U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has a very high conviction rate, there is little doubt that Julian Assange will soon be on his way to the United States where he will undoubtedly be sentenced to life in prison.

Hundreds Attend London Meeting to Demand Freedom for Julian Assange

Global Research, December 02, 2019
World Socialist Web Site 30 November 2019

Hundreds packed the St Pancras New Church in Euston Thursday night for a meeting demanding freedom for imprisoned WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange.

The largest meeting held in London to date reflects growing opposition to plans by the US government to extradite and imprison Assange for exposing war crimes, illegal mass surveillance and state corruption.

Headlined “Free the Truth,” speakers included UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, former UK ambassador Craig Murray and veteran investigative journalist John Pilger.

An accompanying art exhibition featured paintings, drawings and sculpture, while the meeting opened with a piano recital of “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”—a favourite of Assange. The meeting was organised by academics Deepa Driver and Iain Munro, with the support of the Julian Assange Defence Committee.

Rap artist Lowkey began by quoting the words of jailed Chartist leader Ernest Jones:

“Because I tried to extend your liberties, mine were curtailed. Because I tried to rear the temple of freedom for you all, I was thrown into the cell of a felon’s jail… Because I tried to give voice to truth, I was condemned to silence.”

These words, Lowkey explained, were taken from an article by Karl Marx written in 1852 for the New York Herald Tribune. Marx was then a political refugee in London.

“Julian Assange is not being punished for anything he has done wrong. He is being punished for everything he has done right,” Lowkey said to applause. The brutal treatment of Assange was a “slow motion crucifixion… what they are trying to crucify is the truth.”

Condemning the mainstream media’s vilification of Assange, Lowkey said its journalists were just “stenographers.”

“Those who have joined in this demonization of Julian Assange are like turkeys voting for Christmas. How much profit did you generate off of Julian’s three million cables that WikiLeaks revealed?… Today Julian Assange, tomorrow you.”

Fidel Narvaez(image on the right), former Ecuadorian counsel at the Ecuadorian Embassy, said that Assange was “along with Chelsea Manning, the most important political prisoner in the world today.”

The allegations against Assange in Sweden had never been credible and the investigation had been “opened and shut more times than a fridge door.” Assange was being “denied the chance to adequately prepare his defence against the fiercest persecution of a journalist so far this century, which is a powerful reason to demand due process for Julian Assange.”

Narvaez said, “Julian’s case is also a precedent for the institution of political asylum, because he, along with Edward Snowden, was the most important political asylee in the world.” His treatment was an attack on a small country, Ecuador, by some of the most powerful nations in the world.

“Ecuador had every sovereign right to determine whether Julian Assange was being politically persecuted in 2012. In order to protect him from the odious persecution of a Grand Jury…that can open a secret investigation against you and indict you on secret charges that will only be revealed once you are arrested. That is what happened to Julian Assange this April.”

“This Grand Jury wants to sentence a journalist to 175 years in prison for publishing truthful information about war crimes,” he said. For years the world’s media had attacked the warnings made by Assange about the existence of a Grand Jury “as paranoia…an excuse to hide from Swedish justice.”

The United Nations had ruled that Assange was being subject to arbitrary detention and the UK should free him and provide compensation. Lenin Moreno’s government had “committed the crime of delivering a political refugee to those who persecuted him.” This had broken the “sacred principle of asylum.”

Lisa Longstaff (image on the left) from Women Against Rape addressed the meeting.

“The pursuit of Julian Assange is not about rape. It’s the US government weaponising and distorting rape in order to punish him for the WikiLeaks exposés of war crimes, rape and torture.”

“In 2010 and 2012, we pointed to the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange was being pursued. It’s unlike any other rape investigation we’ve seen anywhere… In his case the judicial process was corrupted from the beginning.”

“Evidence emerged that the UK ordered Sweden not to drop the case sooner,” Longstaff explained, “so it’s clearly politically motivated.”

Longstaff said,

“Rape and sexual allegations have been used to pursue a political agenda from the start, intent on actually hiding rape, hiding torture and hiding murder committed by the state. They are the rapists, they are the racists, they are the murderers.”

Professor Nils Melzer(image on the right) was given a prolonged standing ovation. He explained that his mandate as UN Special Rapporteur on Torture was to report to states when their actions contravened international law. He had assumed that signatories to international law would “act in good faith.”

“In my investigation I found that this isn’t about the law…because if it was about the law, then Julian Assange would not be sitting in extradition detention, accused of espionage for having exposed serious misconduct on the part of states, including war crimes.”

Assange, he explained, would not have been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for a bail violation for seeking and receiving political asylum, or had his asylum terminated and his citizenship withdrawn by Ecuador without explanation, or been portrayed as a suspected rapist by Sweden for more than nine years with no charges ever brought.

He would have been granted the right to prepare his defence and would not be detained in a high security prison, “under oppressive conditions of isolation and surveillance” and facing extradition for a political offence in contravention of UK law, “to a country where he will be exposed to a politicised trial, with secret evidence, behind closed doors, facing draconian punishments that is unlawful under US law and the First Amendment and sentencing to a supermax prison for the rest of his life.”

Assange’s persecution, he stressed, “is about setting an example, about scaring other journalists away, of instilling fear, preventing others from following the example of Julian Assange and of WikiLeaks, and to show to the world what happens when you expose the misconduct of the power of a state.”

During his May 9 visit with Assange at Belmarsh Prison, he had “found typical evidence of someone who has been exposed to a prolonged period of psychological torture,” Melzer explained. “Psychological torture is not ‘torture lite.’ Psychological torture aims to wreck and destroy the person’s personality and identity…to make them break.”

“We were able during our medical examination to confirm that this ill treatment had already had neurological consequences. If that is not stopped, it can end up having irreversible consequences on the cardiovascular system and the neurological system. This is extremely serious… Today I am extremely concerned for his life.”

Melzer had written to the UK, Sweden, the US and Ecuador to present his conclusions and ask them to take urgent measures to alleviate the pressure on Julian Assange and protect his human rights. All refused to do so:

“If they no longer engage with the institutions that they have created to report their compliance with human rights, then I only see a very dark future for us and our human rights and for the rights of our children.”

Clinical psychologist Lissa Johnson(image on the left) spoke on behalf of more than 60 medical doctors who have issued an open letter calling for Assange’s urgent transfer from Belmarsh Prison to a tertiary care hospital:

“If the UK government fails to heed their advice there will be very serious consequences, including that Julian Assange may die in prison.”

Johnson cited the findings of medical experts led by Nils Melzer who examined Assange inside Belmarsh on May 9:

“Julian does show signs typical for someone exposed for a prolonged time to psychological torture… the doctors know that is very serious physically for Julian’s life and survival.”

Pointing to the public’s response to worldwide media coverage of the doctors’ open letter, she observed,

“There’s a lot more public support for Julian than the media’s censorship and antagonism toward him suggests.”

“While institutions are failing us, while authorities are failing us, while the courts are failing us, here’s a group of people who took a matter of weeks to get this letter together. I think that’s where the pressure and the change is going to come.”

Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray(image on the right), began his remarks by pointing to the meeting’s magnificent venue. At the rear of the church were monuments erected to honour those families—the Burnleys of Barbados, the Beale family of Canton, the Page family of Bombay—who gave funds to build the church and who were doubtless involved in the slavery and opium trade.

“This building is like the British Establishment itself—on the surface it is beautiful, solid and harmonious, but inside it is rotten and corrupt to the core,” he said.

“We are seeing illegality in the treatment of Julian Assange. The abuses of process by the British justice system throughout the last decade have been absolutely astonishing,” Murray recounted. “There is no legality, there is no justice.”

“It is not only that he is the victim of torture. It’s not only that his life is at stake. It is not only that we need to save him from this dreadful injustice. We also want to save him because the world needs Julian Assange as a symbol of resistance!”

Historian, author and journalistMark Curtis(image on the left) told the audience, “Julian has support all over the world.” He suggested actions that people could take to fight for Assange’s freedom, beginning with information available on the defend.wikileaks.org website. “Obviously there’s no point in relying on the establishment media, not unless you want to brainwash yourself.”

Curtis attacked the “propaganda tropes” employed by the media against Assange—that he is a “rapist,” a “Russian asset,” a “supporter of Trump”—singling out the Guardian’s November 2018 fabrication that Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort had met Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy.

He called for mass pressure on human rights organisations to actively defend Assange, pointing to Amnesty International’s refusal to designate Assange a “prisoner of conscience.” He called on MPs to follow the lead of former Labour MP Chris Williamson who has campaigned publicly in Assange’s defence.

The audience gave a loud ovation for the twice-suspended Labour MP, who was present, and who quit the party this month after it refused to endorse him as candidate for Derby North. Curtis explained that just four MPs had signed an early day motion moved by Williamson in defence of Assange. (Neither Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn nor Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott signed that motion).

“These are the people who are meant to represent us and hold the executive to account. I know I’m confusing the UK with a democracy… In our system, which we clearly see in this case, the law has been stitched-up, the media is a platform for the elite and the political class is an appendage of the executive. That’s why we, as ordinary people, need to take action on these issues.”

He urged the audience to become involved in grassroots organisations such as the Julian Assange Defence Committee and to take part in events being organised in the weeks ahead, “culminating in a global day of protest in February when the extradition hearing will be held.”

The final speaker, Australian journalist John Pilger, told the audience he had visited Assange in Belmarsh Prison earlier that day. He described his visit with Julian and the draconian security regime inside the prison for visitors and inmates. A transcript of Pilger’s report is posted separately.

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