The FBI’s war of entrapment amounts to a huge extortion scheme targeting the American people. The object is to terrify the public into surrendering their civil liberties in a twilight struggle with a mostly nonexistent domestic enemy. “These are high crimes, as high as they come, which, in a just world, would warrant many counts of impeachment for both chief executives responsible: presidents Bush and Obama.”
Attorney General Eric Holder told hundreds of Muslims near San Francisco that the FBI’s sting operations penetrating mosques across the country are an essential “tool in uncovering and preventing terror attacks.” But of course, most of the FBI’s high profile prosecutions for alleged domestic terrorism involve plots that were hatched in almost every detail by paid FBI informants who nurtured the schemes to their pre-planned conclusions. So, in point of fact, the FBI has not been engaged in “uncovering and preventing terrorist attacks,” as Eric Holder claims, but rather, it has spent tens of millions of dollars and many thousands of man-hours concocting, financing, and providing training and equipment for crimes purely of its own invention. The FBI – first under George Bush and then even more aggressively under Barack Obama – has fabricated the illusion of a wave of terror that did not, for the most part, exist. In doing so, the U.S. government has perpetrated at least two classes of crimes: one, against those it has directly entrapped and prosecuted for crimes conceived and executed by the government, itself; and the second, larger class of crime, conspiracy to deliberately deceive and terrorize the American people, for the purpose of depriving the American people of their civil rights, and to foment a public hysteria that would facilitate the launching of military attacks on other peoples.
These are high crimes, as high as they come, which, in a just world, would warrant many counts of impeachment for both chief executives responsible: presidents Bush and Obama. The irony is, the very atmosphere of hysteria and war fever that the fake terror plots engender among the public, insulates the perpetrators from accountability for their crimes. No wonder the incoming Obama administration shielded the outgoing Bush gang from prosecution. Obama instructed Eric Holder to expand the phony terror racket, not to shut it down. Both presidents’ historical legacies are now inextricably tied to a domestic war on terror that is largely a fiction.
The fiction has real victims, including the poor and powerless, largely Black and brown men who were manipulated like puppets in theatrical productions directed by the FBI for purpose of frightening an audience of 300 million Americans. The families of some of these entrapped, involuntary actors in the FBI’s fake terror dramas are scheduled to gather at New York University, in Manhattan, on December 16, to devise strategies for seeking justice.
Muslim Americans have been criminalized as a community. In Irvine, California, an FBI operative was so brazen in soliciting recruits for jihad, mosque members got a court restraining order to shut him up. It turns out the informant was paid $177,000 to incite a holy war – the going rate, apparently, for inventing terror where none has previously existed.
So who is the real target of government entrapment? It could not be the individuals sucked into the FBI vortex, since Eric Holder’s men knew they were incapable of independently carrying out the crimes and, therefore, represented no danger to society. No, American society, itself, has been entrapped by the Bush and Obama manipulators. The object is to terrify the American public, so that they will surrender their civil liberties – possibly the greatest extortion scheme in U.S. history.
Carbon Credits a Tool for Corruption?
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been ordered to remain in Kiev as part of a criminal investigation into allegations of power abuse.
“She is under a pledge not to leave town,” the general prosecutor’s spokesman Yury Boichenko was quoted as saying by AFP.
Tymoshenko earlier said that the country’s authorities had opened a criminal investigation against her for allegedly misspending state funds Ukraine received from selling greenhouse emission quotas under the Kyoto Protocol.
“I have just learned from an investigator that a criminal probe has been started against me personally because ostensibly environmental money during the crisis was spent on pensions,” she said, adding sarcastically that the probe had been opened “because I committed a grave crime — because I paid people pensions when the country was truly in crisis.”
The former premier told reporters that investigators had questioned her earlier on Wednesday but formal charges had not yet been brought against her in the absence of her lawyer.
Tymoshenko stepped down as prime minister in early March following her loss to pro-Kremlin Viktor Yanukovych in a hard-fought presidential election battle.
Tymoshenko was a key figure in Ukraine’s 2004 orange revolution but later became tied down with internal political disputes after falling out with former President Viktor Yushchenko.
The pretty two-storey home with a red-tiled roof built by Adel and Iman Kaadan looks no different from the rows of other houses in Katzir, a small hilltop community in northern Israel close to the West Bank.
But, unlike the other residents of Katzir, the Kaadans moved into their dream home this month only after a 12-year battle through the Israeli courts.
The small victory for the Kaadans, who belong to Israel’s Palestinian Arab minority, dealt a big blow to a state policy that for decades has reserved most of the country’s land for Jews.
Katzir is one of 695 so-called “co-operative associations”, communities mostly established since Israel’s creation in 1948, whose chief purpose is to bar non-Jews from residency.
In October, the Israeli parliament moved to enshrine in law the right of these associations, comprising nearly 70 per cent of all communities in Israel, to accept only Jews.
The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved a private members’ bill that will uphold the right of the communities’ admissions committees to continue excluding Arab citizens, who make up one-fifth of the population. The bill is expected to pass its final reading in the coming weeks.
Commentators have compared the legislation with South Africa’s notorious apartheid laws such as the Group Areas Act. A leading jurist, Mordechai Kremnitzer, of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said the bill gave off the “foul odour of racism”.
The legislation, both its supporters and opponents are agreed, is a rearguard action to prevent the possibility that other Arab citizens might be inspired to follow the Kaadans’ example.
Israel Hasson, of the centrist Kadima party, who was among the bill’s formulators, said it reflected “the state’s commitment to the realisation of the Zionist vision” in Israel. That vision is embodied in a decades-old “Judaisation” programme to settle as many Jews as possible in the heavily Arab-populated north.
Suhad Bishara, a lawyer with the Adalah legal centre for the Arab minority, said that the long-standing practice of using admissions committees to weed out applications from Arab citizens was being given legal standing for the first time.
“This legislation makes clear in very blunt fashion that the thrust of policy in Israel is towards maintaining segregation in housing between Jewish and Arab citizens,” she said.
The question of control over land, Ms Bishara said, was felt especially keenly by the Arab minority, because the state had nationalised 93 per cent of all territory inside its recognised borders.
Co-operative associations, which are limited to no more than 500 families each, have jurisdiction over most of the country’s habitable land and are regarded by the authorities as a bulwark against an Arab takeover, she said.
Arab citizens, meanwhile, are largely restricted to living in 124 towns and villages, and control 2.5 per cent of Israel’s territory.
Planning and building laws confine the development and expansion of Arab communities, leading to overcrowding. Tens of thousands of Arab families, forced to build in non-zoned areas, live in homes under demolition orders.
Mr Kaadan, 54, a hospital nurse, said he had wanted to move to Katzir to improve his family’s quality of life. Baqa al Gharbiyya, an Arab town 10km from Katzir where they previously lived, was densely populated and lacked public services, while the local schools for his five children were underfunded and crumbling.
Typically, Arab municipalities receive only one third of the budget of Jewish communities.
Mr Kaadan said he had applied to Katzir when he learnt that plots of land there for house-building were heavily subsidised by the state, selling for a fifth of the price demanded in Baqa al Gharbiyya.
The family’s legal fight to win a place in Katzir has been arduous. It took five years for the Supreme Court to rule on the community’s decision in 1995 to reject the Kaadans on the grounds that they were Arab.
Making “one of the most difficult decisions in my life”, Aharon Barak, the court’s president, ordered Katzir’s admissions committee to consider the family’s application, warning that it could not reject them because of their ethnicity.
Katzir, therefore, imposed a new criterion for admission – “social suitability” – that the Kaadans also failed. It was clear to everyone, Mr Kaadan said, that “suitability” referred to the fact that they were not Jews.
When the Kaadans appealed to the court again, the Lands Authority, a state body that manages territory in Israel, relented and sold the family a plot in 2007.
However, the case has continued to reverberate.
Other exclusive Jewish communities in the Galilee sought their own solution to barring the entry of Arab families after Ahmed and Fatina Zbeidat, from the Arab town of Sakhnin, applied to the co-operative association of Rakafet in the Misgav region.
Rakafet’s admissions committee ruled in 2006 that the Zbeidats were unsuitable: Fatina was too “individualistic”, while her husband lacked “knowledge of sophisticated interpersonal relations”. Like the Kaadans, the Zbeidats have appealed to the Supreme Court.
Several Jewish communities near Rakafet hastily changed their bylaws last summer to include a loyalty oath. Typical was Manof’s, which requires applicants to share “the values of the Zionist movement, Jewish heritage, settlement of the Land of Israel … and observance of Jewish holidays”.
Ms Bishara, who represents the Zbeidats, said the couple was seeking a ruling against the use of admissions committees in the allocation of land and housing. The judges ordered the government to justify the practice at a hearing next month.
The new legislation, known as the Admissions Committee Bill, is designed to pre-empt any ruling by the court.
Gush Shalom, an Israeli peace group, said it would petition the Supreme Court to strike down the bill if, as expected, it becomes law in the next few weeks.
The liberal Haaretz newspaper called the bill an “outrageous” attempt to preserve “Jewish purity” in communities such as Katzir and Rakafet.
But the rightwing Jerusalem Post newspaper backed the legislation, saying Israeli Jews “should have the right to live in a community where they are not threatened by intermarriage or by becoming a cultural or religious minority”.
The historic strike of Georgia prisoners, demanding wages for their labor, educational opportunities, adequate health care and nutrition, and better conditions is entering a new phase. Strikers remain firm in their demands for full human rights, though after several days many have emerged from their cells, if only to take hot showers and hot food. Many of these, however, are still refusing their involuntary and unpaid work assignments.
A group that includes relatives, friends and a broad range of supporters of the prisoners on the outside has emerged. They are seeking to sit down with Georgia correctional officials this week to discuss how some of the just demands of inmates can begin to be implemented. Initially, Georgia-based representatives of this coalition supporting the prisoner demands included the Georgia NAACP, the Nation of Islam, the National Association for Radical Prison Reform, the Green Party of Georgia, and the Ordinary Peoples Society among others. Civil rights attorneys, ministers, community organizations and other prisoner advocates are also joining the group which calls itself the Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoner Rights.
Prisoners have stood up for themselves, and the communities they came from are lining up to support them. Today, at a groundbreaking for a private prison 300 miles southeast of Atlanta in Millen GA, residents of that local community opposed to the private prison are greeting the governor and corrections brass with a protest. They will be joined by dozens more coming in from Atlanta who will respectfully urge state authorities to talk to the prisoners. We understand that one person there has been arrested. Black Agenda Report will have photos and footage of that event on Thursday.
The broad-based Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoners Rights fully supports the heroic stand of Georgia’s prisoners. “This isn’t Attica,” one representative of the coalition explained. “No violent acts have been committed by any of the inmates involved. We hope state corrections officials will be as peaceful and respectful as the prisoners have been, and start a good faith dialog about quickly addressing their concerns.”
Right now, the ball is in the hands of state corrections officials, and reports are that in some of the affected prisons, authorities are fumbling that ball, engaging
“They transferred some of the high Muslims here to max already,” one prisoner told Black Agenda Report this morning. “They want to break up the unity we have here. We have the Crips and the Bloods, we have the Muslims, we have the head Mexicans, and we have the Aryans all with a peaceful understanding, all on common ground. We all want to be paid for our work, and we all want education in here. There’s people in here who can’t even read…
“They’re trying to provoke people to violence in here, but we’re not letting that happen. We just want our human rights.”
The transfers are intended to deprive groups of leadership and demoralize them. In some cases they may be having the opposite effect, stiffening prisoner morale and making room for still more leaders to emerge.
“The prisoners insist that punitive transfers are an act of bad faith, the opposite of what we should be doing,” said Minister Charles Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam in Atlanta. “The coalition supports them and demands no punitive transfers, either within or between institutions, and absolutely no transfers to institutions outside Georgia.”
Members of the public should continue to call the prisons listed below, and the GA Department of Corrections and the office of Georgia’s governor, Sonny Perdue. Ask them firmly but respectfully to resolve the situation non-violently and without punitive measures. Tell them you believe prisoners deserve wages for work and education. Ask them to talk to prisoners and the communities they come from.
It’s simple. With one in twelve Georgia adults in jail or prison, parole or probation or other court and correctional supervision, prisoners are us. They are our families. They are our fathers and our mothers, our sons and daughters, our nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles and cousins. Most prisoners will be back out in society sooner, not later. It’s time for us all to grow up and realize that warehousing, malnourishing, mistreating and abusing prisoners does not make us safer. Denying prisoners meaningful training and educational opportunities, and forcing them to work for no wages is not the way to do.
It’s time to fundamentally reconsider prison as we know it, and America’s public policy of mass incarceration.
In the wee morning hours of January 23rd, 2009 a U.S. spy plane killed 15 individuals in Pakistan near the Afghanistan border. It was Barack Obama’s first blood and the U.S.’ first violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty under the new administration.
As the U.S. government fired upon alleged terrorists in the rugged outback of Pakistan, Obama was back in Washington appointing Richard Holbrooke as a special U.S. representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, like the remote-control bombing that claimed human life that day, Obama’s vision for the region, in the embodiment of Holbrooke, was not a drastic departure from the failed Bush doctrine.
“[Holbrooke] is one of the most talented diplomats of his generation,” Obama said during a press conference at the State Department during the same month. In his speech Obama declared that both Afghanistan and Pakistan will be the “central front” in the War on Terror. “There, as in the Middle East, we must understand that we cannot deal with our problems in isolation,” Obama stated.
Despite Obama’s insistence that Holbrooke was qualified to lead new efforts in the War on Terror, history protested.
In 1975, during Gerald Ford’s administration, Indonesia invaded East Timor and slaughtered 200,000 indigenous Timorese. The Indonesian invasion of East Timor set the stage for a long and bloody occupation that recently ended after an international peacekeeping force was introduced in 1999.
Transcripts of meetings among Indonesian dictator Mohamed Suharto, Ford, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger have shown conclusively that Kissinger and Ford authorized and encouraged Suharto’s murderous actions. “We will understand and will not press you on the issue [of East Timor],” said President Ford in a meeting with Suharto and Kissinger in early December 1975, days before Suharto’s bloodbath. “We understand the problem and the intentions you have,” he added.
Henry Kissinger also stressed at the meeting that “the use of U.S.-made arms could create problems,” but then added, “It depends on how we construe it; whether it is in self-defense or is a foreign operation.” Thus, Kissinger’s concern was not about whether U.S. arms would be used offensively, but whether the act could be interpreted as illegal. Kissinger went on: “It is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly.”
After Ford’s loss and Jimmy Carter’s ascent to the White House in 1976, Indonesia requested additional arms to continue its brutal occupation, even though there was a supposed ban on arms transfers to Suharto’s government. It was Carter’s appointee to the Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Richard Holbrooke, who authorized additional arms shipments to Indonesia during this supposed blockade. Many scholars have noted that this was the period when the Indonesian suppression of the Timorese reached genocidal levels.
During his testimony before Congress in February 1978, Professor Benedict Anderson cited a report that proved there was never a U.S. arms ban, and that during the period of the alleged ban the U.S. initiated new offers of military weaponry to the Indonesians:
“If we are curious as to why the Indonesians never felt the force of the U.S. government’s ‘anguish,’ the answer is quite simple. In flat contradiction to express statements by Gen. Fish, Mr. Oakley, and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Richard Holbrooke, at least four separate offers of military equipment were made to the Indonesian government during the January-June 1976 ‘administrative suspension.’ This equipment consisted mainly of supplies and parts for OV-10 Broncos, Vietnam War-era planes designed for counterinsurgency operations against adversaries without effective anti-aircraft weapons, and wholly useless for defending Indonesia from a foreign enemy. The policy of supplying the Indonesian regime with Broncos, as well as other counterinsurgency-related equipment, has continued without substantial change from the Ford through the present Carter administrations.”
The disturbing symbiosis between Holbrooke and figures like überhawk Paul Wolfowitz is startling.
“In an unguarded moment just before the 2000 election, Richard Holbrooke opened a foreign policy speech with a fawning tribute to his host, Paul Wolfowitz, who was then the dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington,” reported Tim Shorrock following the terrorist attacks in 2001.
Shorrock continued: “Holbrooke, a senior adviser to Al Gore, was acutely aware that either he or Wolfowitz would be playing important roles in the next administration. Looking perhaps to assure the world of the continuity of U.S. foreign policy, he told his audience that Wolfowitz’s ‘recent activities illustrate something that’s very important about American foreign policy in an election year, and that is the degree to which there are still common themes between the parties.’ The example he chose to illustrate his point was East Timor, which was invaded and occupied in 1975 by Indonesia with U.S. weapons – a security policy backed and partly shaped by Holbrooke and Wolfowitz. ‘Paul and I,’ he said, ‘have been in frequent touch to make sure that we keep [East Timor] out of the presidential campaign, where it would do no good to American or Indonesian interests.'”
Holbrooke worked vigorously to keep his bloody campaign silent, and it appears to have paid off. In chilling words, Holbrooke described the motivations behind his support of Indonesia’s genocidal actions:
“The situation in East Timor is one of the number of very important concerns of the United States in Indonesia. Indonesia, with a population of 150 million people, is the fifth largest nation in the world, is a moderate member of the Non-Aligned Movement, is an important oil producer – which plays a moderate role within OPEC – and occupies a strategic position astride the sea lanes between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. … We highly value our cooperative relationship with Indonesia.”
Richard Holbrooke may have died, but the influence he had on U.S. foreign policy continues to kill.
In my earlier post at Veterans Today (The Case Against Wikileaks – I) I recapped the main problems I’ve had with alt media phenomenon Wikileaks and its co-founder, chief editor, and public face, Julian Assange.
I identified the problems as follows:
Wikileaks’ content - for tending to simply confirm what most experts have already suspected and directing most of its damaging revelations toward the US and the Islamic world, but not toward Israel
WL’s goal – for demanding full transparency from even private outfits, and encouraging hacking to achieve it
WL’s modus operandi - for being megalomaniac, sensationalistic, unilateral, and ( in a most hypocritical way) secretive
WL’s strategy – for catering to the Zionist line on 9-11 and employing mainstream/establishment platforms that further Zionist goals
Assange’s theories – for pseudo-libertarian posturing, betrayed by the authoritarian tendencies of JA’s life and work
But, first, let me play devil’s advocate. All these problems with Wikileaks might have a perfectly reasonable explanation.
- The documents released so far might just be a preview of coming attractions; Assange might be holding back the really big stuff.
- The media blitz might signal marketing skill, not a sell-out.
- The deference to Zionist sensibilities might be a tactful acknowledgment of power, not servility to it.
- The philosophical contradictions could arise from complexity and growth, not deception.
OK. Let’s say that’s the case. So what? Does that put Julian Assange in the clear?
Unfortunately, no. Even if you accept the most benign explanation for every issue I’ve raised so far, Wikileaks still poses problems.
Problem one. Where did WL get so many documents so quickly and how did they vet it so fast with their small volunteer staff?
Wikileaks was launched as a website in 2006. The domain name was registered on October 4, 2006 and its first document was published in December 2006. It was apparently founded by Chinese dissidents, with a number of other activists, journalists, start-up technologists, and mathematicians from “the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa” (per Wikipedia), as well as a number of other people registered as volunteers.
By 2007, per information at Cryptome.org. it was claiming that its database had grown to over 1.2 million documents none directly from Western governments, but sent from the United States to other states.
This claim seems to be contradicted in an article by Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at Atlantic.com, who writes that “by 2008? the repository held 1.2 million documents. I don’t know if this is just a typo or thoughtless error or something else. A Now Public post (January 3, 2007) indicates that Wikileaks was already claiming more than a million documents in its data base by January 2007.
If Madrigal’s statement is a mistake, it’s easy to see why he made it. For an outfit that began in October 2006 to acquire and thoroughly vet a million sensitive documents in three months or less, with a handful of unpaid activists headed up by an obscure Australian hacker, is quite a feat. In fact, I would say it’s impossible.
Here is the kind of disclosure Wikileaks was involved in, according to another letter sent to me from their press office in 2007. Especially, if, as it claims, it has never been caught out with a fraud.
Incidentally, it was on August 15, 2007 (seven months after the Now Public post) that I first heard of Wikileaks. I got a letter in my Inbox from Julian Assange, and his letter made the same claim – that the outfit had a million plus documents in its database.
Does that make sense? A million plus documents get uploaded and vetted between October 2006 and January 2007. And then, apparently, nothing happens the whole of the next year up until 2008, when, per Madrigal, there are still only a million plus documents in the data base?
If Wikileaks could upload and vet that many documents in three months, then, over the next year or two, with more people on the team and more publicity and income, you’d assume that they’d have added at least four 0r five million more documents.
If not, then we have to think that they came into possession of that first cache of one million sensitive secret documents by some other means than leaking. Logically, the most obvious place would be some kind of intelligence or espionage outfit. The benign explanation for that kind of connection would be that WL was used as a tool by some agency, unknown to it. The more malignant explanation would be that it has been working with, or for, an intelligence outfit.
Problem two. WL’s professed areas of interest coincide with Anglo-American imperial interests around the world.
In his August 2007 letter, Assange described Wikileaks’ goals this way:
“Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact; this means our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by non-technical people.
We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.”
What struck me when I read the letter was that “oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East” are precisely the areas the US government is most avidly interested in and monitors. It occurred to me even then that Wikileaks might be some kind of surveillance effort that used foreign-born activists on its masthead to lend it credibility among the populations it was monitoring
Problem three. WL’s recruitment of activists seems to have been haphazard.
In August 2007, almost a year had passed since I’d published a book on the media coverage of Abu Ghraib. I’d experienced at first hand how difficult it was for activists to get a story heard in the way they wanted to tell it. Interviews were pulled, chapters were cut out of books, articles went unpublished, or if they were published, seemed to get buried via social media manipulation. From research as well as personal experience, I’d found that on crucial issues the establishment media operated to conceal and manipulate truth, rather than to disclose it. The undeniable inference was that the government was conducting a gigantic, almost continuous, psy-op directed not simply at foreign audiences, but also, and perhaps principally, at the home population. Stories that undermined the government in a radical way simply didn’t get major media attention.
Knowing this, I found it rather odd that my name was familiar to an activist in Africa of all places. (At the time, I thought Assange himself was African, because of the French- sounding name). I also found it odd, because the areas Wikileaks claimed to be interested in weren’t places I had any special expertise in. Another activist WL contacted, Tashi Namgyal Khamsitsang, a one time representative of the Dalai Lama, ended up on the roster of advisors, even though he too didn’t reply and he says he was never asked for advice or analysis. Noam Chomsky’s name was used, also, apparently, without his giving permission. This too suggests that WL was more interested in marketing activists’ credibility than using their skills.
One could even conclude that the purpose of WL was not simply to keep an eye on those areas “of interest” but to keep an eye on overseas activists and see that they didn’t seriously obstruct US imperial interests, while at the same time keeping track of activists in America and harnessing their energies.
With these suspicions, I didn’t reply, not wanting my IP address to be monitored.
Problem four. Wikileaks’ own claims about itself have been reinforced uncritically by the major media.
Central to the understanding of propaganda in the US is the fact that major journalists/outlets are really acting as gate-keepers, doing damage-control for the government, or providing a cover…a limited hang-out…. when stories get out of control. They accomplish this by continually revising the framing narrative of events as they unfold so they fit into an acceptable story about “bad apples” that d0esn’t really rock the overall conduct of a policy. One way this is done is by sexing-up the story, at one level, or making it interminably legalistic, at another. I call the first type of revision, “the pulp drama” and the second type, “the forensic drama”. Keep these terms in mind. They serve as a useful short-hand to understand how propaganda works in general and how it has worked in the Wikileaks story.
Here’s a sample of the forensic drama (Subtitle: Espionage laws and secrecy in the age of the Internet) as it’s on display in this Atlantic piece, captioned without any irony whatsoever, “How to think about Wikileaks“.
Here’s a sample of the pulp drama (Subtitle: Leaker’s leaky condom, hacker in the sack, Julian gets his jollies etc. etc.) in this piece of gossip at The Guardian,
Notice that both treatments of the story leave Wikileaks’ claims about itself essentially untouched. They serve to focus the debate within the parameters already set by WL’s own claims about itself, on legal minutiae about secrecy and espionage over which conservatives and liberals can be relied on to play ping-pong until doomsday OR on sensational personal details that provoke polarization at a more lowbrow level – Assange as pervert/fink versus Assange as Scarlet Pimpernel.
Neither account (forensic or pulp) questions the underlying assumption that what Wikileaks is about is “expose,” “disclosure,” or “transparency.” No hint that it might at least as plausibly be about surveillance, disinformation, and cyberwar.
Problem five. Who funds Wikileaks?
According to information at Cryptome.org, Wikileaks spokeswoman Hanna De Jong said that about 22 people involved in the project are still testing the prototype and seeking funding from groups like the Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute, which promotes democracy and human rights.
Problem six. Wikileaks markets its operation deceptively
From its inception, Wikileaks has been followed by accusations of both secrecy and deceptive practices.
John Young of the disclosure site Cryptome.org, whom Assange claims as a “spiritual godfather,” says he was deceived by WL into registering the domain when WL began. Young called the operation a fraud and fought back by leaking his correspondence with it, even accusing it of being a CIA data-mining outfit, according to Mother Jones magazine. Young has since gone back on some of his criticism.
Wikileaks uses the prefix wiki, in apparent emulation of the wiki model of collaborative authoring popularized by Wikipedia.
But although Wikileaks’ early statements claim collaborative leaking and editing, the site currently doesn’t allow all documents to be published and doesn’t let anyone edit published documents.
Former options trader and porn merchant, Jimmy Wales, CEO of Wikipedia has explicitly and furiously distanced himself from Wikileaks, saying he had nothing to do with its use of the prefix and that he didn’t approve of its modus operandi. It is difficult to know what to make of this, since Wikipedia itself is seen by many as compromised by intelligence. It’s been shown to let cabals of editors shade entries on politically sensitive topics like 9-11 so that they conform with US government/Zionist/neoconservative positions.
So are we to take Wales’ statement at face value or is it disingenuous? Especially, since besides piloting the not-for-profit Wikipedia, Wales is president of the for-profit crown sourcing site, Wikia.inc which turns out to be the registrant for five Wikileaks domains. When this was pointed out by a reporter, Wales flat out denied the relationship, claiming the domains had been transferred “years ago,” although records show them to have been updated in late 2009, according to this Examiner piece.
Wikileaks has made repeated claims about the complete protection it offers leakers:
“WL is an uncensorable version of wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. It combines the protection and anonymity of cutting-edge cryptographic technologies with the transparency and simplicity of a wiki interface.” (from an internal mailing list published at Cryptome.org).
“To the user, WL will look very much like wikipedia. Anybody can post to it, anybody can edit it.
No technical knowledge is required. Leakers can post documents anonymously and untraceably.
Users can publicly discuss documents and analyze their credibility and veracity.
Users can discuss interpretations and context and collaboratively formulate collective
publications. Users can read and write explanatory articles on leaks along with background
material and context. The political relevance of documents and their verisimilitude will be
revealed by a cast of thousands. WL will also incorporate advanced cryptographic technologies
for anonymity and untraceability.”
In June this year, I blogged the following:
“The site which hosts Wikileaks, PeRiQuito (PRQ), is a Swedish internet service provider, reportedly famous both for the notoriety of some of its clients ( it houses pedophilia advocates NAMBLA, as well as Chechen rebels and an anti-copyright group, PiracyBay.org) and for its fierce protectiveness toward them.”
Intellipedia developed at the time
In October, according to Cryptome.org the federal Office of the Director of National
Intelligence unveiled Intellipedia, intended to improve intelligence
sharing by letting authorized analysts collaboratively edit content
on the government’s classified Intelink Web site.
Similar to In Q Tel
WL was looking for all kinds of radical ideas about intelligence, markets for intelligence
Problem nine. Wikileaks uses software that has been linked to US intelligence
Problem ten. Wikileaks sounds like Facebook and Google.
Problem eleven. The timing and marketing of Wikileaks is suspicious
Problem twelve. Wikileaks’s activism, as well as Wikileaks- related activism, seems to have an agenda
Lila Rajiva is a journalist and author residing in Baltimore, Maryland. She has degrees in economics and English from India, as well as a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, where she did doctoral work in international relations and political philosophy. Rajiva is the author of The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media (2005).
IS WIKILEAKS “SUBLIMINAL PREPPING” BY AN INTELLIGENCE AGENCY?
Let me first say that harassing Julian Assange for having published leaked government documents is completely wrong. There’s no evidence so far that anyone has been injured directly because of the leaks. National security (even as understood by mainstream statists) hasn’t been damaged. As for the embarrassment some officials might be feeling, tough. Governments routinely subject their citizens to much worse for no valid reason. As for diplomacy, there’s none worth the name. In high office, all we have are blackmailers, bullies, and bandits. Some outing and shaming of their public actions is in order. Exposing the crimes and blunders of the state is not only a right of citizens, but a duty.
As enough people have argued, Assange is obviously not guilty of treason, since he’s not a citizen of the US. And, although some people think he’s guilty of espionage, that’s doesn’t seem true either. He didn’t hack any state computer or blow any agent’s cover to get his information. It was mostly given to him voluntarily by whistle-blowers and leakers. All he did was publish it. And, since New York Times Co. v. United States (1971), US law has protected the right of publishers to publish politically sensitive information without “prior restraints,” as long as it doesn’t cause “grave and irreparable damage” to the public.
Having said that, though, I must admit that for almost a year now, as I’ve blogged, I’ve found the whole Wikileaks operation strange, if not a bit fishy. Let me recount the ways.
1. Most of the documents seem to cover material already fairly well-known to informed people. The new material is mostly embarrassing stuff, nothing truly revelatory, say dozens of critics. Now, mainstream critics might just be trying to do damage control, but why would respected alternative investigators who are outspoken critics of war and the police state, people like Wayne Madsen or co-founder John Young or Chris Floyd, among many others, also come to that conclusion? [Floyd seems to have "gone wobbly" since then].
By Assange’s own account in the The Australian, here are the most important revelations from Wikileaks:
“The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran ‘s nuclear program stopped by any means available.
Britain’s Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect “US interests”.
Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.
The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.”
Now, these disclosures would be nothing to scoff at on any activist’s resume. But is Assange telling us anything we didn’t already know? What has really been added so far except specifics and details? Then why are the revelations being called a new 9-11 ?
2. An overblown media story is not the only difficulty with Wikileaks.
Consider that in all this welter of damaging information, whatever you think of it, there’s nothing that really damages Israel.
Justin Raimondo, a right-wing libertarian, has tried to suggest there is. He says there’s material in Wikileaks that reveals the sinister activities of the Israeli mafia. Big deal. Everyone knows the Israeli mafia is everywhere, not just in Israel. The Russian mafia is a euphemism for the Russian and Ukrainian Jewish mafia, which has strong ties to Israel. The Colombian drug trade is run by this mafia. So is the Eastern European sex trade. According to Mark Mitchell, Wall Street is run by it. A leak about the world’s most dangerous mafia, that everyone already knows about, doesn’t really damage Israeli foreign policy, does it? It even carries a good guy flavor about it. [Added: No criticism is intended of Raimondo's intentions or his work, which I much admire and regularly read. I just think he's wrong on this one].
That means what we really have in Wikileaks is a document dump slanted a particular way. So says at least one establishment figure, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor for President Carter. Say what you will about him, Brzezinski, master-mind of the policy of luring the Soviet Union to its destruction in Afghanistan, is nobody’s fool. He spots the hand of an intelligence agency in all this.
Could this be a calculated subliminal “prepping” of the collective pysche by a state intelligence outfit, masquerading as an expose of states?
3. Now comes a report that Julian Assange cut a deal with Israeli officials to keep anything damaging to Israel out of the revelations. I don’t know how well-sourced or credible this report is. But then there’s also Assange’s citation of Benjamin Netanyahu, the hawkish Israeli prime minister who’s praised Wikileaks. And there’s Assange’s statement in The Australian crediting Rupert Murdoch, a hard-line Zionist and one of the biggest promoters of war with Iraq, as his inspiration. That alone should make people think twice . It’s not just that Israel isn’t damaged by Wikileaks. A lot of the material on the site actually helps Israel’s global objectives. We now know that neighboring Arab states are alarmed by the idea of a nuclear Iran. We learn that the Saudi rulers are in bed with the Israeli government and are thoroughly corrupt. Pakistan is treacherous and a threat. There’s a hornet’s nest of terror in South India. This is news? And even if you think it is, who benefits?
Doesn’t all this simply amplify Israel’s hardline attitude to the Islamic world and justify the recent introduction of the biometric ID into India, Afghanistan, and the Af-Pak border? Don’t the revelations reflect most poorly on the Arab states and on America, but not on Israel? Don’t they channel attention away from the global economic collapse master-minded by Zionist financiers and their supremo, the Federal Reserve? Don’t they redirect toward the US anger that was previously directed at Israel, for the slaughter in Gaza, for the massacre on the Mavi Marmara, and for the AIPAC espionage case? Gordon Duff, at Veterans Today thinks so. Even liberal commentator Juan Cole writes that Assange is being tarred and feathered for giving to the public what AIPAC routinely gives to Israel.
And what is the ultimate result? Israel now claims that the US is too distracted to broker a deal on settlements.
Again, who benefits from that? Israeli hard-liners, of course.
4. But maybe all this is just the price Assange has to pay to get wide coverage in the Western mainstream, largely dominated by Zionist editors, writers, and publishers?
Is it also part of the price that he has to bash the 9-11 movement? If you’re against empire and exploitation, as Assange says he is, then shouldn’t you be interested in uncovering the truth about the attack that was the explicit trigger for the unjust war on Iraq, the global war on terror, Homeland Security, and every police state measure since?
And if you’re not, what’s your excuse?
It’s not just that Assange is not interested in 9-11. He’s gone out of his way to mock people who’ve devoted countless unpaid hours of work to investigate it, with none of the media attention that follows every step Assange takes.
5. And that brings me to my fifth point. The fate of whistle-blowers and tellers of dangerous truth is rarely rock-star celebrity. Count them. Mordechai Vanunu, who exposed Israel’s nuclear program – imprisoned for nearly 20 years. Gary Webb, who exposed the CIA connection to the distribution of crack cocaine in the US – probably murdered. Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, who criticized Putin’s policies in Chechnya – assassinated. Lebanese journalists Samir Qassir and Gebran Tueni, who criticized the Syrian government – killed in car bombings. In 90% of such cases, says the Committee to Protect Journalists, the killers are never brought to justice. Yet, Assange, “the most dangerous man in Cyberspace,” according to the faux-alternative magazine Rolling Stone, lives to tell the tale of his persecution from the cover of Time magazine and the podium of TED conferences, weighted down with awards and honors from such establishment worthies as The Economist, The New Statesman, and Amnesty International.
And now he is the center of an international man-hunt. Here too, the claims are bizarre. If Wikileaks hasn’t put lives at risk or seriously damaged “national security,” by even the government’s own account, what to make of all these feverish cries for prosecution under the espionage act, for imprisonment and torture, even for execution? Are they for real, or does any one else detect an element of theater? The Wikileaks disclosures have been called cyber-terrorism by many. When before have we seen an international man-hunt for a rag-tag band of terrorists headed up by a charismatic leader with a striking appearance and a personal life shrouded in mystery? Now we have Osama-bin-Assange and Al-Wikileaks at war with Joe Lieberman and Sarah Palin, on one hand, and cheered on by David Frum, on the other. Notice that Frum points out that the disclosures actually support George Bush’s rationale for invading Iraq.
This is box-office gold. As some wide-awake journalist has noted, the big winner in all this is the establishment media. Before, it had one foot in the grave. Deservedly. Now it is a “truth-teller.” Readership is up, resurrected by proxy. And the major alternative press, the foundation activists, are bolstering the conclusions of the New York Times. How convenient.
I dearly wish Julian Assange were exactly as he seems – a brilliant iconoclast delivering the death blow to imperialism. But my memory is not so dim. I remember another media circus besides the one around Osama. I recall the mass adulation of a man who exuded brilliance, youth, hope, and salvation. That was in 2008, and he was a young law professor from Chicago. How did that turn out?
6. Then again, if Assange’s message is so subversive to the state, why are the state’s most reliable mouthpieces plastering his message everywhere? Why did Assange himself choose the New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel for his initial exposes? These are left-center outlets, statist to the core. And Assange, the self-proclaimed libertarian chooses them? Perhaps, one could argue, the left-center is where the most powerful and influential media organs are located. Assange is just being a savvy marketer in picking those outlets.
But perhaps not.
Perhaps, instead, he could have thrown in one libertarian or conservative newspaper, at least, to show even- handedness? How hard would it have been to send material to, say, the Independent?
7. But he didn’t, so again I ask you, how libertarian can he really be? And if he isn’t a libertarian, why does he go out of his way to proclaim he is? There’s nothing wrong, after all, with being a socialist or even a communist, at least in most places outside the US. Why doesn’t Assange just declare himself a left-wing peacenik and leave it at that?
Ah, now things get even more interesting. Dig into Assange’s writings - most of it very engaging and thoughtful – and contradictions emerge.
On June 18, 2006, he writes:
“Rights are freedoms of action that are known to be enforceable. Consequently there are no rights without beliefs about the future effects of behavior. Unenforcable general rights exist only insofar as they are argumentation that may one day yield enforcement. Hence the Divine Right of Kings, the right of way, mining rights, conjugal rights, property rights, and copyright. The decision as to what should be enforced and what may be ignored is political. This does not mean that rights are unimportant, but rather, that politics (the societal control of freedom) is so important as to subsume rights.”
I will repeat that. Assange places societal control above the exercise of rights.
This is not libertarian. And it’s not an isolated statement. It’s repeated elsewhere.
“Technical people, good at stacking houses of abstract cards
often look at the law and see rules, but this is a shadow, for law hangs
from the boughs of politics, that branch of behavior involved with the
societal control of freedom of action. Always consider the real politik
of law; who will push for change and who will resist.”
And then about global warming (Assange seems to believe in anthropogenic global warming), he says this:
“The bottom line is, as Benford notes, “we’re going to have to run this planet.”
One critic has pointed out that at the core of Assange’s philosophy is not openness and freedom so much as a left-leaning concern with “justice.” Nothing wrong with that either. So why the dress-up in American-style libertarianism? At whom is the repackaging, if it is that, directed?
Authoritarianism emerges also in Assange’s own work at Wikileaks, where he is technically the chief editor and spokesman. His associates complain of egotistic, autocratic behavior, much different from his anarchist professions. Some have left to start their own sites. Others complain about the secrecy he maintains about his work, also at odds with the transparency he advocates for others.
This secrecy might, at first, seem justified. Wikileaks, after all, is a private, not a public outfit. Maybe so. But that distinction hasn’t stopped the site from publishing the secrets of other private organizations, like the Christian Scientists and the Mormons. It’s also published the hacked private emails of Sarah Palin and the financial information of private clients of the Swiss bank, Julius Baer. Wayne Madsen has argued that this ultimately benefits Democrat financier George Soros.
This is a performance that seems not only hypocritical but curiously partisan and parochial, especially when set against the generous intellectual sweep of Assange’s theoretical writing.
And that’s exactly the taste left in your mouth after a sampling of Wikileaks‘ revelations. After all the hype about “scientific journalism,” the conclusions Wikileaks supports are downright provincial: our government lied us into war in Iraq; Hillary Clinton’s a bitch; Arab regimes are corrupt and deserve regime change; private contractors are bilking tax-payers; corporate corruption is the real conspiracy, not 9-11.
This is stuff that could have come out of the computer of any government propagandist.
More to the point, some of us wonder if it did.
(To be continued) – Part II
US President Barack Obama’s popularity has dropped by three percentage points in the past two weeks, now standing at 39 percent, according to results of a new poll.
A Zogby Interactive poll released on Tuesday indicates that Obama’s approval rating equals a low since he took office at 39 percent, while 63 percent of respondents think the US president is a weak leader compared to only 19 percent who regard him as a strong leader.
The latest poll comes after Obama agreed earlier in December to keep all of the Bush-era tax cuts for another two years in a bid to resolve differences with Republicans in Congress.
“It was a bad week for Obama’s relationship with his party’s base, which sees him giving in too easily to the Republicans,” John Zogby said in a statement.
According to the poll, 68 percent of those surveyed also believe that America is heading in the wrong direction.
The figures come as there are widespread assumptions that a string of government failures, including the failure to rein in the economic crisis in the US, the prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the high unemployment rate in the country have largely contributed to the slippage in Obama’s popularity rate.
Against a backdrop of the worst recession since the Great Depression, which has driven many Americans out of workplace, the latest figures published recently by the US Federal Reserve show that the unemployment rate will remain at around 9.5 percent this year and 8.9 percent in 2011.
Obama’s healthcare reforms have also struck a snag as a federal court has ruled that a key part of the new bill is unconstitutional.
Obama’s average approval rating has declined in each quarter since he took office last year.