2021-01-04

“Oh my god” sums it up — what relief!

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by Neil Godfrey

I had been following the trial over the past months and got the impression that the judge was scoffing at Assange the whole time. So this has been a very tense day. I was glued to the tweets (from Mary Kostakidis) second by second and have copied them here “as it happened” — they need to be read in reverse order, from the bottom and up to the top. It was a nerve-wracking read in real time, expecting the worst.

 

 

Meanwhile there is a break apparently pending a decision on bail. It’s not over yet, but my god what a wonderful surprise that decision was today!


2020-12-29

Tyrannies and Godfathers

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by Neil Godfrey

China’s Communist Party jails a Chinese citizen journalist for four years for reporting a narrative inconsistent with the one the authorities sought to present:

Her live reports and essays were widely shared on social media platforms in February, grabbing the attention of authorities, who have punished eight virus whistle-blowers so far as they try to stamp out criticism of the government’s response to the outbreak.

UK, Australia and the US have acted even more viciously against Julian Assange:

 

Meanwhile in the US, with the acquiescence of the Republican Party —  Trump’s Pardons Show He’s Just a Mob Boss; His Presidency Is a Criminal Enterprise

Trump’s choices made clear he is a crime boss.

Four Blackwater mercenaries who, working for Trump ally Erik Prince murdered Iraqi civilians, were pardoned. But there was no pardon for Jeremy Ridgeway, the soldier-for-hire who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, testified against the others and was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison.

Roger Stone, dirty trickster confidant; former General Michael Flynn, national security adviser who was on the Kremlin payroll; and 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort were pardoned. But Trump didn’t pardon Manafort deputy Rick Gates, who turned state’s evidence and confessed.

Earlier, Trump pardoned Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor convicted of trying to sell a Senate seat. But there was no pardon for lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime fixer who confessed to committing felonies at the direction of unindicted co-conspirator “Individual 1,” identified in federal court as Trump.

In true mobster fashion, Trump once referred to Cohen as a “rat” for confessing. He praised Manafort for not “flipping” to testify against him.

The boss takes care of friends and allies if they lie for the boss or keep silent, but does nothing for those who cooperate with law enforcement.

2020-12-07

The Why and What of WikiLeaks — and the Fear and Self-Censorship Response

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by Neil Godfrey

When WikiLeaks first appeared in 2006 . . . human rights lawyers immediately paid attention. WikiLeaks was publishing important information that had been kept from the public but was essential for human rights accountability.

Julian Assange’s 2006 OKCupid dating profile using the name Harry Harrison:

“WARNING: Want a regular, down to earth guy? Keep moving. I am not the droid you are looking for. Save us both while you still can. Passionate, and often pig headed activist intellectual seeks siren for love affair, children and occasional criminal conspiracy. Such a woman should be spirited and playful, of high intelligence, though not necessarily formally educated, have spunk, class & inner strength and be able to think strategically about the world and the people she cares about.

“I like women from countries that have sustained political turmoil.
Western culture seems to forge women that are valueless and inane. OK. Not only women!

“Although I am pretty intellectually and physically pugnacious I am very protective of women and children.

“I am DANGER, ACHTUNG, and ??????????????!”

“Harry” went on to say he was directing a “consuming, dangerous, human rights project which is, as you might expect, male dominated”. . . . The profile warned: “Do not write to me if you are timid. I am too busy. Write to me if you are brave.”

Investigative journalism depends on leaks

Principled government bureaucrats hand journalists documents when they see wrongdoing because they believe the public ought to know what the government is really up to. Principled corporate employees hand journalists confidential documents, which demonstrate the unlawful or unethical practices of powerful corporations. Whatever the public interest is in the material disclosed, public and private sector whistleblowers can face criminal and civil legal action for ensuring the public has the information we need to hold these powerful interests to account

The imperative to protect journalists’ sources

Protection of journalistic sources is one of the basic conditions for press freedom … Without such protection, sources may be deterred from assisting the press in informing the public on matters of public interest. As a result the vital public-watchdog role of the press may be undermined and the ability of the press to provide accurate and reliable information may be adversely affected. — European Court of Human Rights, ‘Factsheet: Protection of Journalistic Sources’, February 2019 [pdf]

This is why WikiLeaks is so dangerous to those in power with something to hide – and why WikiLeaks must be defended and protected.

The role of Wikileaks

Unfortunately, however, in many places around the world journalists can face prosecution if they refuse to reveal their source.

WikiLeaks’ model provides a practical solution: its anonymous submission system was specifically designed to provide protection to journalists and whistleblowers that the law does not provide, thereby providing greater encouragement to sources to come forward to better enable ‘the vital public-watchdog role of the press’. Together with its robust publication policy, WikiLeaks provides sources better protection and a promise that their material – once verified – will be published. And published with maximum global effect: rather than documents being the preserve of certain elite journalists in the world’s capitals, WikiLeaks makes its information available to journalists, citizen journalists, activists and lawyers the world over.

This is why WikiLeaks is so dangerous to those in power with something to hide – and why WikiLeaks must be defended and protected.

A partial list of significant publications

The classified Guantanamo Bay manual detailing US torture techniques

The Minton report detailing Trafigura’s toxic dump on the Ivory Coast affecting over 100,000 people which the company had suppressed with a gag order in the UK

Collateral Murder, a video showing the US military killing two Reuters employees in Iraq

The Afghan War Diary, then ‘the most significant archive about the reality of war to have ever been released during the course of a war’ [revealing the Australian government lied when it announced the withdrawal of most Australian combat troops from Afghanistan]

The Iraq War Logs – the largest leak in US military history . . . The documents demonstrated there were many thousands more civilian deaths than reported or acknowledged by the US government, as well as the systemic failure to investigate reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi forces and abuse in US detention facilities. [The Iraq War Logs were used by lawyers in filing a case against the UK before the International Criminal Court.]

Cablegate became known as ‘the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain’ and there is no denying the overwhelming public interest in the material. From Tunisia to Tonga, Canberra to Cairo, and the West Bank to West Papua, WikiLeaks disclosures provided an unprecedented insight into the conduct of diplomacy and revealed corruption, abuse of power and human rights abuse the world over. [For example, WikiLeaks disclosures related to West Papua confirmed what those of us working on human rights there have long known – the Indonesian military is engaging in widespread human rights abuse while on the payroll of the huge US/Australian-run Freeport gold and copper mine – but the existence of these documents makes it much harder for our governments to deny that it is happening.] [A cable was cited before the European Court of Human Rights in a CIA rendition case from Italy.] [WikiLeaks cables were cited by lawyers fighting for the rights of the Chagos Islanders against the British government]

Reports about Sri Lankan military operations against the Tamils and in the groundbreaking documentary No Fire Zone, which led to a UN investigation into war crimes, and were cited by Tamil lawyers in London seeking an arrest warrant for former President Rajapaksa.

All of the above quotations and data is from Jennifer Robinson‘s chapter in A Secret Australia. I have added the links. The dating profile comes from Leigh and Harding’s WikiLeaks

See also: List of material published by WikiLeaks (Wikipedia); for a brief review of WikiLeaks releases relevant to Australia up to early 2011, see Michelle Fahy, with Bill Williams, Sue Wareham and Gerry Schulz, What has WikiLeaks Revealed?, Medical Association for Prevention of War, January 2011. (Cited by Richard Tanter in A Secret Australia)

One would think that the Australian government would be doing something to protect democracy’s and Assange’s interests. One would also think that all journalists and scholars would be going out of their way to make use of the material and the questions it all raises. The following observations are depressing:

Academic self-censorship

Given more than half a century of such apparently successful attempts to displace attention from the actual nature and consequences of US foreign policy and that of its allies, it is surprising how little academics in Australia have directly utilised the documentary evidence provided by WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden, or used the issues raised by them as a stimulus to further inquiry. Displacement on an institutional scale prevails, in part as a result of purposive state action, and partly the consequence of academic self-censorship.18 — Richard Tanter, “WikiLeaks, Australia and Empire”, A Secret Australia, pp. 23 f

18 On self-censorship in academic international relations, see the Forum ‘Censorship in Security Studies’ in the Journal of Global Security Studies, vol. 1, issue 4, November 2016, pp. 323-360, especially Benoît Pelopidas, ‘Nuclear Weapons Scholarship as a Case of Self-Censorship in Security Studies’ and Richard Ned Lebow, ‘Self-Censorship in International Relations and Security Studies’. — pp. 40 f

And giving Assange the last say in this post:

Of course the phenomena that occurs with us, and that we arc able to document in quite a concrete way, simply reflects the corruption of US academia and English-speaking academia more generally in terms of its understanding of international relations, because of its over-proximity to the State Department, in terms of feeder schools, or think-tanks where people aspire to security clearance or they have other forms of proximity to it, or they are scared about being prosecuted, That has been going on for decades. So the description we have of the world is not the description of the world as it actually exists, because our description of the world rests significantly on what academics have been able to do, and what journalists have been able to do. Enormous sections of that are opaque as a result of this type of self-censorship. So we had to produce a book instead. — Julian Assange in Scott Ludlam and Julian Assange, “Despair and Defiance: An Audience with Julian Assange”, A Secret Australia, p. 215


Cronau, Peter, and Felicity Ruby, eds. A Secret Australia: Revealed by the WikiLeaks Exposés. Clayton, Vic.: Monash University Publishing, 2020.

Leigh, David, and Luke Harding. WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy. London: Guardian Books, 2011.

See also:

Brevini, Benedetta, Arne Hintz, and Patrick McCurdy, eds. Beyond WikiLeaks: Implications for the Future of Communications, Journalism and Society. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.


 


2020-11-30

Assange

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by Neil Godfrey


2020-02-26

The Assange Hearing

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by Neil Godfrey

What I have learned so far:

— the prosecutor in delivering his opening statements openly stated that he was addressing the media;

— many of the journalists left the courtroom after the prosecution set out its case and did not stay to hear the defence;

— information that has been public knowledge for ten years (published, in the public domain) that Wikileaks and Assange personally went to great lengths to remove sensitive names and sources from their files before they were released to the public means nothing to those in power: they still have the audacity to accuse Assange of not redacting key information and names;

— that the U.S. is allowed to target an Australian for exposing war crimes and the Australian government will not object.


2019-04-12

Julian Assange & WikiLeaks – Comments

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by Neil Godfrey

[Daniel] Ellsberg was called The Most Dangerous Man in America by President Nixon’s national security advisor, Henry Kissinger. Now Ellsberg, an articulate and energetic seventy-nine years old, was passing on the baton to Assange—and going one step further. He agreed that Assange was a ‘good candidate for being the most dangerous man in the world’ and he should be ‘quite proud of that’. He also had some advice for Assange. He was ‘not safe physically wherever he is’.

Fowler, Andrew. 2011. The Most Dangerous Man in the World: The Explosive True Story of Julian Assange and the Lies, Cover-Ups and Conspiracies He Exposed. Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press.

About two days ago I watched this press conference. The editor-in-chief sums up the fundamentals of journalism in a democratic society: If it’s newsworthy, if it’s in the public interest, and if it’s true — it should be published.

So many of knew Julian Assange’s days in the Ecuadorian embassy were imminently threatened but was not expecting the arrest so soon.

I know many readers of this blog have no time for Assange. I cannot deny I find his narcissism very unlikeable. But that’s not the point, of course. (And yes, I know the reasons others loathe him go well beyond his personality.)

A Real Test

https://twitter.com/ryangrim/status/1116295855122853889

-o0o-

Important Background

https://twitter.com/Snowden/status/1116285397284290560

-o0o-

The excerpt of the UNHR document in easier to read size:

The full document is at https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24042&LangID=E

-o0o-

Good Bullshit-free Analysis and Summary

Continue reading “Julian Assange & WikiLeaks – Comments”


2018-07-13

Once more on Julian Assange

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by Neil Godfrey

I know. Julian Assange is not easy to like as a person.

From Peter Van Buren’s Why I Stand With Julian Assange (The American Conservative)

Assange is challenging to even his staunchest supporters. In 2010, he was a hero to opponents of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while others called him an enemy of the state for working with whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Now most of Assange’s former supporters see him as a traitor and a Putin tool for releasing emails from the Democratic National Committee. Even with the sexual assault inquiry against him having been dismissed, Assange is a #MeToo villain. He a traitor who hides from justice inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, or a spy, or some web-made Frankenstein with elements of all the above. And while I’ve never met Assange, I’ve spoken to multiple people who know him well, and the words “generous,” “warm,” and “personable” are rarely included in their descriptions.

But none of that matters. What matters is that Assange has ended up standing at a crossroads in the history of our freedom . . . .

Then in conclusion

Wikileaks’ version of journalism says here are the cables, the memos, and the emails. Others can write about them (and nearly every mainstream media outlet has used Wikileaks to do that, some even while calling Assange a traitor), or you as a citizen can read the stuff yourself and make up your own damned mind. That is the root of an informed public, a set of tools never before available until Assange and the internet created them.

If Assange becomes the first successful prosecution of a third party under the Espionage Act, whether as a journalist or not, the government will turn that precedent into a weapon to attack the media’s role in any national security case. On the other hand, if Assange leaves London for asylum in Ecuador, that will empower new journalists to provide evidence when a government serves its people poorly and has no interest in being held accountable.

Freedom is never static. It either advances under our pressure, or recedes under theirs. I support Julian Assange.

 

 


2018-06-19

A moving plea for Julian Assange

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by Neil Godfrey

It is easy to find fault with Julian Assange as a person and with some of the views of John Pilger, but it is also easy to find much good in both of them. I found John Pilger’s address on behalf of Julian Assange very moving

Bringing Julian Assange Home

 


2010-12-03

Old Fashioned Democracy in the Internet Age

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by Neil Godfrey

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Image via Wikipedia

What a quaint idea that has only rarely been heard since the days of Thomas Jefferson: “Information is the currency of democracy” — Thank John Pilger for this reminder of something fundamental, yet that has been so lost in recent years that when people see it in action today they run scared and cry treason! Just like when our eyes are so used to the dark that the light hurts.

Hear the interview with John Pilger on the current tragicomedy over WikiLeaks at  http://www.abc.net.au/rn/breakfast/stories/2010/3083583.htm

(I loved his “They read our emails, so why shouldn’t we read theirs?” 🙂

Heartening also to see human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson is still active on the side of basic decency, as he is most times:

Do read Crikey’s report on his call for us to stand up for Julian Assange at http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/09/14/we-should-stand-up-for-assange-geoffrey-robertson/

Or if all of that is too heavy for you, how about John Lennon’s

Imagine there’s no country
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for

Is that what the fear is all about? That our favourite country is embarrassed about the exposure of its lies and true face?


2010-06-17

WikiLeaks is Asking for Urgent Help

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by Neil Godfrey

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This is from David Heath of ITWire:

Following the arrest of the person suspected of leaking the “Collateral Murder” video, WikiLeaks feels that it is under attack and is seeking urgent support.

iTWire received the following message in the past few minutes, it’s meaning is very clear.  We ask readers to assist where they can.

WikiLeaks may be under attack.

You were generous enough to write to us, but we have not had the labor resources to respond.

Your support is important to us. Please read all of this email to understand what is going on. We apologize for not getting back to you before. It is not through any lack of interest on our part, but an enforced lack of resources.

One of our alleged sources, a young US intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, has been detained and shipped to a US military prison in Kuwait, where he is being held without trail. Mr. Manning is alleged to have acted according to his conscious and leaked to us the Collateral Murder video and the video of a massacre that took place in Afghanistan last year at Garani.

The Garani massacre, which we are still working on, killed over 100 people, mostly children.

Mr. Manning allegedly also sent us 260,000 classified US Department cables, reporting on the actions of US Embassy’s engaging in abusive actions all over the world. We have denied the allegation, but the US government is acting as if the allegation is true and we do have a lot of other material that exposes human rights abuses by the United States government.

Mr. Manning was allegedly exposed after talking to an unrelated “journalist” who then worked with the US government to detain him.

Some background on the Manning case:

http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2010/06/11/transcript-daniel-ellsberg-says-he-fears-us-might-assasinate-wikileaks-founder/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradley_Manning
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/06/leak/
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/06/wikileaks-chat/
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/06/state-department-anxious/
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2010/06/143011.htm

[ note that there are some questions about the Wired reportage, see: http://www.boingboing.net/2010/06/13/video-wikileaks-foun.html#comment-809677 ]

WikiLeaks a small organization going through enormous growth and operating in an adverserial, high-security environment which can make communication time consuming and the acquisition of new staff and volunteers, also difficult since they require high levels of trust.

To try and deal with our growth and the current difficult situation, we want to get you to work together with our other supporters to set up a “Friends of WikiLeaks” group in your area. We have multiple supporters in most countries and would like to see them be a strong and independent force.

Please write to friends@sunshinepress.org if you are interested in helping with Friends of WikiLeaks in your area. You will receive further instructions.

We also have significant unexpected legal costs (for example flying a legal team to Kuwait, video production. Collateral Murder production costs were $50,000 all up).

Any financial contributions will be of IMMEDIATE assistance.

http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Special:Support

Please donate and tell the world that you have done so. Encourage all your friends to follow the example you set, after all, courage is contagious.

Julian Assange
Editor in Chief
WIKILEAKS

Continue reading “WikiLeaks is Asking for Urgent Help”