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National Security Apparatus: The law is for you to obey, not for us to obey

Posted by Charles II on May 28, 2015

From Democracy Now:

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, ICWatch is a database of more than 27,000 profiles of people associated with the U.S. intelligence community or intelligence industry, so that includes people who work for government and people who work for private industry. It was created by a little journalism startup … called Transparency Toolkit. … This information was all originally … from LinkedIn, so these are CVs of people involved in various intelligence activities. By searching LinkedIn for key wor[d]s… say, Joint Priority Effects List, the assassination program in Afghanistan, these were scraped out and then linked together so you can easily see, for example, who claims that they had worked at the National Security Agency at some stage or on various code-worded projects that the National Security Agency uses.

JULIAN ASSANGE: [They faced death threats for] Indexing what was already public. An example of one of those death threats, from Washington, D.C., from a counterintelligence operative, who was also a former marine, saying that he would hunt them down and kill them no matter where they were in the world, and there’s no place in the world that they can hide.

JULIAN ASSANGE: … Now, I think this—it actually perfectly explains why the U.S. intelligence community must itself be scrutinized. What do we have in that statement? Murderous criminal arrogance…—and I should add one further point: and deeply incompetent […for a] a counterintelligence person […to] they themselves put that information on LinkedIn. They themselves are irritated about their own incompetence, to the degree where they get threatening to kill people involved with a journalism project.

That’s right: breach security by posting your claim to be a code-word program professional assassin onto LinkedIn and then get angry because someone notices. Please don’t give these people actual guns. They might hurt themselves.

And (ibid) in addition, a larger institutional hypocrisy, which could amount to a crime:

JULIAN ASSANGE:…So, the U.S. has kind of made a bit of a legal—the Pentagon has made a bit of a legal ruse in terms of how it describes these assassination lists. They always say it’s a kill/capture list. And this is to create some kind of ambiguity, which is you go in to capture them, but they resist, and then they’re killed. But, in fact…there’s no actual attempt to capture. And here we have evidence, confessions even… bragging on their CV about how they were involved in these programs to assassinate people.

So, when it comes down to the USG, they don’t have to obey the law. And this is nowhere more evident than in the persecution of Assange:

JULIAN ASSANGE:…There are some 500 information requests from the media and us, that have been blocked by the U.S. government, into what has been happening with WikiLeaks. And they’ve been blocked under the excuse that to release such information would be to help us resist the prosecution, and that they want to use that in the prosecution, and therefore they can’t release it to anyone. Now, the FBI has admitted that they have more than 42,135 pages just in the FBI file. There’s the DOJ file. There’s the grand jury file. And they’re not going to release a single sentence, not a single paragraph.

EPIC lost that case to get those documents, because the court accepted that to release any information about the WikiLeaks prosecution would affect the WikiLeaks prosecution, that we could use this to defend ourselves. And the argument used is quite incredible…. It is that …the court doesn’t have a right to, itself, make this determination [about what should be released and what restricted]

the government argues, “The court does not have a right to make this assessment. This is a question of a national security fact. Either it is a fact that the information held by the DOJ and held by the FBI would—about WikiLeaks, would affect national security or not. And it is the government that is best placed to determine this fact, not the court.” And so, in the judgment, the judge states that it is necessary to show, quote, “appropriate deference to the executive on matters of national security,” and therefore she is simply going to defer to the government’s claim without looking at the material at all.

If the Tea Party gave an actual d–n about overweening Executive actions, the Wikileaks case would be a central rallying point. The excuse of national security is being used to gut the power of the judiciary to oversee the Executive’s administration of the laws, pushing us quite close–since Congress is so ineffectual–to being a totalitarian state.

But just in case we didn’t get the point that our government is not just completely above the law, but totally incompetent,

the U.S. picked up a statement, a supportive statement made in Moscow by President Evo Morales, and appears to have picked up our codeword for the actual operation [to smuggle Edward Snowden to Latin America], and put two and two together and made 22, and then pressured France—successfully pressured France, Portugal and Spain to close their airspace to President Evo Morales’s jet in its flight from Moscow to the Canary Islands for refueling and then back to Bolivia. And as a result, it was forced to land in Vienna. And then, once in Vienna, there was pressure to search the plane.

So, it’s really a quite extraordinary situation that reveals the true nature of the relationship between Western Europe and the United States and what it claims are its values of human rights and asylum and the rights to asylum and so, and respecting the rule of law, the Vienna Convention. Just a phone call from U.S. intelligence was enough to close the airspace to a booked presidential flight, which has immunity. And they got it wrong.

The United States is a very powerful country. It does not have to get its way in everything, or suppress every bit of adverse publicity, or force every world leader to heel. By trying to do so, it–by which I mean the cabal inside the national security apparatus that is committing these abuses– shows how dangerous the government–by which I mean that cabal– itself has become.

And, on top of that, see how completely ineffectual it is at actually stopping terrorism, guarding secrets, or persuading other nations to join with us. How ashamed this nation’s Founders would be at what their dream has become.

Posted in abuse of power, NSA eavesdropping, totalitarianism, Wikileaks | 2 Comments »

Real Wikileaks film (Mediastan) Netcast starting 8 7PM Eastern

Posted by Charles II on October 19, 2013

See here for details.

Also available for (pay) download.

TODAY (Thursday 17 October) WikiLeaks and Sixteen Films are proud to announce the US/Canada release of MEDIASTAN – the WikiLeaks road movie.

US and Canadian audiences will be able to watch MEDIASTAN online for free during an exclusive promotion period on Saturday night. Viewers can also rent or buy the download of the film at any other time.

MEDIASTAN is a vivid, captivating and disconcerting portrayal of the constraints – external and self-imposed – that journalists face, all over the world: from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, to Fifth Avenue, New York City.

MEDIASTAN asks a distressing question: What do the crisp-shirted, expensively-tanned media big guns of Manhattan have in common with the beaten-down, dissident hacks of Dushanbe, Tajikistan? Who is braver? Who is freer? And who is closer to the truth?

And what should YOU watch this weekend?

Well over 50,000 people saw nano-budget, indie-flick MEDIASTAN during its first weekend of release in the UK.

Meanwhile, THE FIFTH ESTATE – the spawn of Dreamworks’ huge-bucks publicity machine – has been soundly panned by UK audiences, grossing a paltry sum during its opening weekend: equivalent to less than 50,000 viewers.

In MEDIASTAN, an undercover team of journalists drives across the central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and into US-occupied Afghanistan, before continuing its journey into the west; regrouping in Julian Assange’s kitchen, ambushing the editor of the Guardian, and obtaining candid footage of the New York Times editor and its publisher Arthur Sulzberger wisecracking about Obama and WikiLeaks.

The trail of censorship and media collusion with power eventually leads back to London and New York: to the offices of the New York Times and The Guardian.

Especially striking – and shocking – is footage of a smug New York Times editor Bill Keller boasting about the Times’ daily telephone conversations with the US government, his knowing decision to conceal the NSA’s mass surveillance program; and about what Keller refers to proprietor Sulzberger as the newspaper’s “favorite subject”: WikiLeaks.

In London, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger makes some awkward admissions: that his newspaper censored US cables about rich kletpocrats and western oil companies; and that the US State Department had ‘made approaches’ to the Guardian regarding its Cablegate publishing strategy.

MEDIASTAN was directed by Johannes Wahlström and produced by Julian Assange with Rebecca O’Brien and Lauren Dark at Sixteen Films. It is being distributed by Journeyman Pictures.

Posted in Wikileaks | Comments Off on Real Wikileaks film (Mediastan) Netcast starting 8 7PM Eastern

And then there’s corporate espionage

Posted by Charles II on September 5, 2013

Ryan Gallagher, Slate:

The secretive surveillance technology industry does its best to fly under the radar. But the shadowy companies selling controversial spy tools to governments are being exposed to public scrutiny whether they like it or not, thanks to a new WikiLeaks project.

On Wednesday, the whistleblower organization published a new trove of documents that reveal the surveillance equipment being sold by more than 90 firms to authorities across the world as part of a burgeoning clandestine market in electronic spying. The documents shed light on the growing catalog of surveillance devices being offered to governments, ranging from portable transceivers that can sweep up thousands of phone calls to Trojan spyware designed to help police and intelligence agencies hack into computers and mobile phones to monitor chats and emails.

Dubbed the “SpyFiles” by WikiLeaks, the release builds on a previous surveillance industry exposé by the group in 2011, and comes amid unprecedented international discussion about government spying tactics disclosed in June by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

RT has more.

Posted in abuse of power, Wikileaks, wiretapping | Comments Off on And then there’s corporate espionage

Operation Phoenix Rises Again: Why Bradley Manning and Wikileaks Acted in Support of American Values

Posted by Charles II on March 6, 2013

Operation Phoenix was the US terror operation in Vietnam. Repression in Latin America in the 1980s followed the same playbook. And now, Iraq:

Via Atrios, The Guardian’s Mona Mahmood, Maggie O’Kane, Chavala Madlena and Teresa Smith:

The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq, that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war.

Colonel James Steele, then 58, was a retired special forces veteran nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, according to an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic. After the Pentagon lifted a ban on Shia militias joining the security forces, the membership of the Special police commandos was increasingly drawn from violent Shia groups like the Badr brigades.

A second special adviser, retired Colonel James H Coffman (now 59) worked alongside Steele in detention centres that were set up with millions of dollars of US funding. Coffman reported directly to General David Petraeus, sent to Iraq in June 2004 to organise and train the new Iraqi security forces. Steele, who was in Iraq between 2003 – 2005, and kept returning to the country through 2006, reported directly to Rumsfeld.

“Every single detention centre would have its own interrogation committee,” claimed al-Samari , who has for the first time talked in detail about the US role in the brutal interrogation units. “Each one was made up of an intelligence officer and eight interrogators. This committee will use all means of torture to make the detainee confess like using electricity or hanging him upside down, pulling out their nails, and beating them on sensitive parts.”

The Guardian/BBC Arabic investigation was sparked by the release of classified US military logs on WikiLeaks that detailed hundreds of incidents where US soldiers came across tortured detainees in a network of detention centres run by the police commandos across Iraq. Private Bradley Manning, 25, is facing a prison sentence of up to 20 years after he pleaded guilty to leaking the documents.


The pattern in Iraq provides an eerie parallel to the well-documented human rights abuses committed by US-advised and funded paramilitary squads in Central America in the 1980s.

Are electric shocks to the genitals and pulling out fingernails what this country stands for, what it means when it talks about “freedom?” Bradley Manning’s defense is that he acted to release the documents he did because he believed that to do otherwise would be to follow unlawful orders. If we do not accept torture as an American value, why is Bradley Manning in prison?

The answer is pretty clear: our government does regards torture as perfectly acceptable.

Posted in Iraq war, torture, Wikileaks | Comments Off on Operation Phoenix Rises Again: Why Bradley Manning and Wikileaks Acted in Support of American Values

UK is officially nuts

Posted by Charles II on August 24, 2012

Kevin Rawlinson, The London Independent:

Police have been ordered to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange “under all circumstances” if he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy, where he has been holed-up for more than two months while claiming asylum.

A briefing note handed to officers orders them to make the arrest if he attempts to leave in a diplomatic bag or vehicle.

The sanctity of the diplomatic bag is arguable. But, Treaty of Vienna:

22: 3.The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

Car: wheelchair: airplane. All can constitute transport such that the feet of Julian Assange need not touch British soil, which is looking pretty mucky anyway.

Posted in Wikileaks | 7 Comments »

Assange on RT

Posted by Charles II on April 17, 2012

His first show is up here. For some reason, RT isn’t listing him on the schedule yet. He’s a better interviewer than a lot of the cable news heads, and he doesn’t let the guy off the hook. He could give better context and considering that Hezbollah is a paramilitary/political group deeply enmeshed in the cycle of violence in the Middle East, the questions could be sharper. But it’s a voice you are unlikely to hear anywhere else. Not even al Jazeerah, and probably not Mosaic. (al Jazeera’s tone toward Nasrallah is represented by this opinion piece)

As I keep saying, if we had a competitive media, someone, somewhere would have been broadcasting this guy all along. The whole point of the First Amendment is to ensure that people are making up their minds based on full access to information, not on one-sided presentations. It’s pretty easy to see why Nasrallah is popular. He’s a far more genuine person than, say, Mitt Romney. When Americans greenlight wars hither and yon, do they understand that the people in those countries may like their leaders more than we like ours, and are therefore willing to sacrifice more to resist us than we are to coerce them?

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, media, Wikileaks | Comments Off on Assange on RT

Wikileak head Assange to appear on RT

Posted by Charles II on April 14, 2012

More evidence that RT is actually shaking things up in the news business. From CNN:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange plans to debut a talk show, “The World Tomorrow,” on Russia’s state-funded television network next week.

Assange and RT, an English-language international satellite news channel, would not release the guest lineup in advance, but hinted that the first interview would be controversial.

The WikiLeaks website for “The World Tomorrow” said Friday there would be 12 shows in total, each featuring a 26-minute edited interview.

I have no idea whether Assange will be good, bad, or indifferent as a talk host. I do think that if there were a competitive media, someone would have had him (and a lot of other people) at least finding out whether people were interested. Instead, people who are well-liked but controversial, like Donahue and Olbermann, are banned, while people like Tweety and Spitzer talk to that small hard core cadre of people who have fallen asleep in their La-Z-Boys. This is pretty clear evidence that decisions about who gets on the air are not being based on simple financial considerations. When we have to thank Vladimir Putin for making American capitalism competitive, something is seriously wrong.

Posted in media, Wikileaks | 1 Comment »

WikiLeaks Still Alive, Publishing Stratfor E-Mails

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 27, 2012

Remember how, when Daniel Domscheit-Berg left the WikiLeaks group a little over a year ago, it was allegedly permanently crippled and unable to do any more work once Dumbshit — erm, Domscheit-Berg — defected and took WikiLeaks’ coding platform and data archive with him? (Being that, according to him, he was the real coder in the group and nobody left in WikiLeaks was much more than a script kiddie.)

Remember how DDB was going to set up an “ethical whistleblower” organization called “OpenLeaks”, except that a year later it’s not much than a website and Domscheit-Berg’s hot air? In fact, as was pointed out in August of 2011 by Der Spiegel’s Marcel Rosenbach, Domscheit-Berg actually said in the German weekly Der Freitag “I took no documents from WikiLeaks with me”, which is not what he’d told German hacker club spokesman Andy Müller-Maguhn at the time: “He told me last Thursday evening that he had to look at each document before handing them over. It doesn’t match up.”

With all this in mind, it’s not surprising to see that WikiLeaks is alive and functioning and still getting document submissions, like these recent ones:

The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said it would begin publishing more than five million emails on Monday from a US-based global security think tank, apparently obtained by hackers.

In its latest high-profile disclosure, WikiLeaks said in a statement it had acquired access to a vast haul of internal and external correspondence of Strategic Forecasting Inc (Stratfor), based in Austin Texas.

[…]

WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange told Reuters: “Here we have a private intelligence firm, relying on informants from the US government, foreign intelligence agencies with questionable reputations, and journalists.”

“What is of grave concern is that the targets of this scrutiny are, among others, activist organisations fighting for a just cause.”

And since it’s now Monday, the e-mail releases have started:

LONDON—Today, Monday 27 February, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods, for example :

“[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control… This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase” – CEO George Friedman to Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla on 6 December 2011, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on the medical condition of the President of Venezuala, Hugo Chavez.

The material contains privileged information about the US government’s attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor’s own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks. There are more than 4,000 emails mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. The emails also expose the revolving door that operates in private intelligence companies in the United States. Government and diplomatic sources from around the world give Stratfor advance knowledge of global politics and events in exchange for money. The Global Intelligence Files exposes how Stratfor has recruited a global network of informants who are paid via Swiss banks accounts and pre-paid credit cards. Stratfor has a mix of covert and overt informants, which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world.

The material shows how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients. For example, Stratfor monitored and analysed the online activities of Bhopal activists, including the “Yes Men”, for the US chemical giant Dow Chemical. The activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India. The disaster led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.

Go over to WikiLeaks and see for yourself.
_____________
Charles butts in: Kevin Gosztola at FDL is on it. Some interesting points: corporate monitoring of Bhopal victims (Dow) and PETA (Coca Cola). Also, according to the correspondent for L’Expresso, Stratfor had sources inside the anti-Osama operation, which goes to show how dangerous to national security loose cannons like Stratfor can be. And the Spanish correspondent (Publico.es, I think) points out that the government is also paying Stratfor to spy on it. Oh, and Stratfor is investing money based on the intelligence it collects!

Joanne Leon at DK has a series of links, including this link from Beirut’s Al-Akhbar newspaper describing Stratfor’s founders and machers.

MSNBC denies the claim that Stratfor’s boss, George Friedman, has resigned.

Posted in Wikileaks | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Actual reality TV: Assange to host series

Posted by Charles II on January 24, 2012

Josh Halliday, The Guardian:

The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has announced that he is to host his own TV series, interviewing “key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries” from around the world.

In a media release published on the WikiLeaks website on Monday, Assange said the 10-part series would be based on “the world tomorrow” and would feature interviews with “iconoclasts, visionaries and power insiders”.

WikiLeaks said the new TV series would air in mid-March, but did not reveal details of where the series would be broadcast or on which networks.

The statement describes initial licensing commitments as covering more than “600m viewers across cable, satellite and terrestrial broadcast networks”.

Posted in Wikileaks | Comments Off on Actual reality TV: Assange to host series

Assange interview

Posted by Charles II on July 2, 2011

You can now see Amy Goodman interview Julian Assange here.

For those many Americans who have never actually met a member of the real left, you should listen to Slavoj Žižek. Amid all the joking, it’s clear that he regards liberals as worse than conservatives, because they are trying to prevent the collapse of the system. The (completely ahistorical) belief that Utopia can only emerge from the ashes of the established order seems to be a defining characteristic of extremism of either left or right.

By contrast, Julian Assange seems to have discovered and embraced a principle that transcends any ideology, namely that if people genuinely know what is going on, they will do the right thing. While it is not true for those cynical opportunists who do know what is going on yet continue to do wrong, it probably is true for the overwhelming mass of people of all ideologies. It is also a very ancient principle, enunciated two millennia ago: “Know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

Of course, others have used the phrase with less noble motives, or perhaps they understood freedom as the ability to inflict death and suffering on a global scale.

Posted in Wikileaks | Comments Off on Assange interview

 
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