Category Archives: Chelsea Manning

Government Attacks Media As People’s Media Reveals The Truth

An Omaha police officer escorts freelancer Megan Feeney, a camera dangling from her zip-tied hands, on June 1, 2020. (Aaron Sanderford/Omaha World Herald).

NOTE: We are taking next weekend off to take care of personal needs. The newsletter will be back in two weeks. – KZ and MF

Government attacks on the media are escalating as the battle for the narrative grows in importance.

For the last decade, stories produced and amplified by the democratized media have put the power structure at risk. People saw government documents showing war crimes and violations of international law. We all saw police killing unarmed people and extreme militarized violence in response to nonviolent protests. These stories have been magnified by people realizing they are the media and sharing stories in their networks on a variety of platforms.

To maintain control, the power structure needs to stop people from knowing the truth. The recent RAND Report on the future of warfare cites the following concern: “As smartphones and social media saturate the developing world, militaries will find themselves harder pressed to control both what images the public sees and the narrative surrounding operations.”

Powerholders are striking back. This article focuses on two aspects of this conflict – the new indictment brought against Julian Assange this week and the attacks on media by the police during the nationwide uprising against police violence. Part of the job of each of us is to let them know we see what they are doing to try to hide the truth of their actions. We must hold them accountable for the false narrative they produce and their efforts to criminalize those who are the truthtellers and work to put out the true narrative those in power want to suppress.

Collateral murder video provided to Wikileaks.

Federal government’s new indictment against Assange based on smears

The leading truthteller who is under attack is Julian Assange. The prosecution of Assange will define freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and our right to know in the 21st Century.

This week the federal government sought to bolster its bogus case against Assange with more false and misleading claims in another superseding indictment. The centerpiece of the indictment remains the 17 Espionage Act counts for the publication of documents leaked by Chelsea Manning exposing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and illegal global diplomatic intrigues. The federal government did not add new charges but instead sought to mischaracterize Assange as a hacker because the charges based on the Espionage Act are problematic. The Espionage Act has never been used against a journalist and extradition from the UK is not allowed for political prosecutions. The prosecution of a journalist for reporting the truth about US foreign policy is clearly a political prosecution.

The federal government sought to define Assange as a hacker using speeches he gave at conferences calling for transparency and describing the power of government whistleblowers who share documents and hackers who acquire them. The government twists important political arguments made by Assange about the need to expose corruption and crimes of government, especially the US government, as conspiring with hackers.

To achieve this feat, they produced an indictment that “is riddled with inaccuraciesglaring plot holes, and amateurish errors, relies heavily on testimony from a literal convicted pedophile and diagnosed sociopath, and appears to be little more than a feeble attempt to legitimize the injection of the words ‘hacking’ and ‘hackers’ into the prosecutorial narrative,” as Caitlin Johnstone writes.  In addition, the prosecutors leave out important details including the FBI’s own complicity in hacking in an effort to set people up, including Assange, for prosecution.

They also sought to claim Assange and his colleagues at Wikileaks were conspiring with hackers because of the assistance they gave to Edward Snowden to avoid capture by the US government and move to Russia for political protection. Sarah Harrison of Wikileaks is described as a co-conspirator for her heroic role in saving Snowden from prosecution even though she is not charged with any crime. Other Wikileaks members are included as co-conspirators.

The new indictment points to statements made by Assange and other Wikileaks members at the Chaos Computer Club conference in Germany on December 31, 2013. Assange, Jacob Appelbaum, and Harrison participated in a panel discussion called, “Sysadmins of the World, Unite! A Call to Resistance.” This effort to turn a public speech by Assange into a hacker-conspiracy shows the desperation of the government to convict Assange. Kevin Gosztola writes in Shadowproof that “At no point does the Justice Department attempt to connect the alleged ‘recruitment’ of ‘hackers’ or ‘leakers’ to an actual individual, who heard these words and acted upon them.”

The original indictment, which claimed Assange assisted Chelsea Manning in acquiring classified documents, was obviously false. Manning had security clearance and legal access to the documents she leaked and did not need to hack the files. She had already downloaded the documents on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanomo Bay, and State Department cables before contacting Assange. During the extradition hearings it was revealed she asked Assange to help her acquire prohibited video games and music for her military colleagues. Assange did not even provide help to accomplish these innocuous objectives.

The government’s desperation is made glaringly clear in this new indictment as almost all of the new material has been on the public record in one form or other, for six years or longer. They date back to Assange’s speeches to public conventions of computer experts in the Netherlands and Malaysia, in 2009 and 2010.

As has been true with each of these indictments, the government is seeking to criminalize normal journalistic practices. This includes encouraging people with inside information to provide the media with documents that are in the public interest. Assisting whistleblowers with avoiding prosecution is common practice. Glenn Greenwald says you can find very detailed instructions on the New York Times and Washington Post websites about how to safely be a whistleblower.  He describes it as the “duty of a journalist to help their source not get caught.”

The investigation of Julian Assange began in the Obama-Biden administration. While Trump praised Wikileaks during his campaign, Mike Pompeo made it his goal to prosecute Assange and destroy Wikileaks to prevent any journalist anywhere in the world from reporting on US war crimes and corruption.

This prosecution is a threat to the fundamental purpose of the First Amendment that allows people freedom of speech to criticize the government without being punished for doing so. The First Amendment is not a protection of corporate media or some narrow classification of journalists but protects all people. The Assange case is important because Wikileaks has democratized the media by giving people a method to expose crime and corruption of governments and corporations. And, it is important because the US is prosecuting an Australian journalist, writing from the UK about the United States, thereby putting people at risk not just in the United States but anywhere in the world.

Police assault Australian media crew in front of the White House.

National uprising exposes attacks on media

The national uprising against police violence and the killing of people in communities of color are exposing more efforts to suppress the truth. This comes from arrests, harassment, and violent attacks on media reporting on the protests and showing police violence. Newsrooms are also complicit by suppressing reporting.

Charles Baker writes in Business Insider that in early June, “in Minneapolis, local law enforcement took aim at Linda Tirado, a photojournalist, and shot her in the eye as she covered protests over the police killing of George Floyd. They later subjected a black journalist from CNN to wrongful arrest. In Louisville, TV reporter Kaitlin Rust and her crew were targeted by local cops who peppered them with non-lethal bullets during a live broadcast.” This led to an open letter to police endorsed by groups such as the Society of Professional Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the National Press Club to stop the devastating targeting of journalists.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there have been 499 journalists affected in over 400 cases of press freedom violations in the United States since May 26.  The US Press Freedom Tracker reports more than 440 aggressions against the media during the protests, including 116 journalists attacked and 36 arrested. An example of this involved two journalists for the Associated Press who were assaulted by six police officers and ordered to leave the scene of protests in New York City. The police claimed they were violating the curfew; the reporters said they were essential workers and therefore allowed to be there. A video shows an officer responds, “I don’t give a shit.” Another reporter was violently arrested in New York and held for two nights in Manhattan Central Booking. And, another reporter was violently attacked while he held up his press credentials and shouted he was with the media, as shown in footage captured by the Associated Press.<

In Los Angeles, an independent journalist was arrested for covering protests after the curfew after he responded to the police who asked if he was press, saying “Yes, sir.”  In Oakland, a reporter covering a protest was arrested as the curfew approached despite her press credentials being visibly on display. There have been reports from many parts of the country including Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Atlanta, Worcester, Omaha, Dallas, Lincoln, Santa Monica, Des Moines, Denver, and Minneapolis among others.

The police also served a subpoena from the county prosecutor’s office for videos, photos, and audio captured by reporters for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com during recent protests in downtown Cleveland, thereby making journalists into an arm of the police. Also in Cleveland, police banned the media from covering protests.

Commercial media outlets have taken actions to restrict coverage of protests. US-controlled media outlets, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, have been censoring and downplaying the uprising and the violent police response. A Black reporter is suing the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for not allowing her to cover the protests because of a tweet she made. In response to a long history of media suppressing the voices of oppressed people, there is a growing revolt among Black journalists at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times.

Knowledge is Power

This century there has been a dramatic increase in awareness of government and corporate corruption, state violence, and systemic oppression. The internet and social media platforms have given everyone the tools to expose what is going on. It is this awareness that has fueled the rise in consensus that there are significant crises, that the current systems can’t address these crises and that we need new systems. The facade of democracy is fading. That we live in a failed state is becoming obvious. And now we have a summer of rebellion beginning with the Memorial Day murder of George Floyd.

Sign-up on our home page for the Popular Resistance Daily Digest and use the reports to be the media. Share articles in social media and with your networks. A key task for activists is to be the media by building up their networks and reaching more people. 

The powerholders are afraid because they can no longer control the narrative. Even those within their institutions, the corporate media, are breaking ranks and refusing to be complicit. The ruling class will do whatever it can to wrest that control back even if it means arrests and intimidation of people, breaking the law, and violating the Constitution.

The prosecution of Julian Assange, assaults on the media, and censorship of alternative voices are all an attack on our right to know. Knowledge is power. We must not lose the right to know what our government, state actors, and corporations are doing.

Julian Assange’s extradition hearing will be in September. The latest superseding indictment is another attempt to smear Assange’s reputation and weaken his public support. It is no coincidence that it came out just as the revelation of his two young children was garnering greater sympathy and Australian 60 Minutes did a favorable show on him. We must defend Assange by countering the smears, getting the truth out, and showing up for him. DefendWikileaks.org is one place to get information about what is happening and how to take action.

In this era, we all are protectors of the right to know. We encourage you to question what you see in the corporate media (and that includes the so-called public media like NPR), support independent media, and make it your responsibility to share information that counters false narratives. Learn how to be the media by covering injustice where you see it. It’s as simple as writing a letter to the editor or a blog, taking photos and videos with your phone, and sharing articles on social media.

Chelsea Manning Is Free From Jail, Faces Exorbitant Fines

Manning speaking outside of the grand jury in Alexandria VA before being incarcerated

Alexandria – Today, March 12, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia ended the grand jury of Julian Assange and Wikileaks in which Chelsea Manning refused to testify. As a result, US District Court Judge Anthony Trenga ordered the immediate release of Chelsea Manning.

Manning has been incarcerated since May 2019. Judge Trenga had tried to coerce Manning into testifying by imposing a fine for every day she resisted even though she said repeatedly that she would not violate her principles, which include opposition to the secret grand jury system, and would never testify.

A hearing was scheduled this Friday on a motion for release filed in February 2020 by her attorneys. Manning was arguing that her long time in jail had shown she could not be coerced to testify and that her incarceration was a punishment, which is illegal under US law. On Wednesday, her lawyers and Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne reported she attempted suicide in jail. With the end of the grand jury and Manning’s release, the Friday hearing was canceled.

In May 2019, Manning wrote a letter to Judge Anthony Trenga, the presiding judge regarding her incarceration. The letter examined the history of grand juries and how they no longer serve their original purpose. Manning wrote:

I am certainly not alone in thinking that the grand jury process, which at one time acted as an independent body of citizens along the lines of a civilian police review board, slowly transitioned into the unbridled arm of the police and prosecution in ways that run contrary to the grand jury’s originally intended purposes.

She pointed out how grand juries were originally independent of the police and were investigations by citizens without a prosecutor. In fact, grand juries were originally a check on government as Manning wrote, they “nullified unjust laws or their unjust application.” She told the judge that only the US and Liberia continue to use grand juries as many western and developed nations have abandoned the process.

After providing the judge with a “nuanced understanding of my conscientious objection to the grand jury” she wrote:

Each person must make the world we want to live in around us where we stand… I object to the use of grand juries as tools to tear apart vulnerable communities. I object to this grand jury in particular as an effort to frighten journalists and publishers, who serve a crucial public good. I have had these values since I was a child, and I’ve had years of confinement to reflect on them. For much of that time, I depended for survival on my values, my decisions, and my conscience. I will not abandon them now.

Manning has once again shown courageous political leadership, standing up to an abusive criminal justice system and exposing the corrupt grand jury process that has often been used for political purposes — from indicting anti-slavery activists to members of the Black Panther Party — and now against the political prisoner, Julian Assange, for being an editor and publisher who told the truth about US war crimes, violations of international law and how US foreign policy dominated by corporate interests.

Manning has also shown great bravery in advancing trans rights. While imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, she fought for her right to treatment. She also struggled for her right to be held in the women’s prison in Alexandria. Her openness about being trans has been an inspiration to others. As Lexi McMenamin wrote:

One in six trans Americans — and one in two black trans Americans — have been to prison, according to Lambda Legal. Incarcerated trans people face higher levels of violence, and experience higher rates of rape and sexual assault. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, trans people are ‘ten times as likely to be sexually assaulted by their fellow inmates and five times as likely to be sexually assaulted by staff.’

The injustice against Manning continues. Manning’s attorneys sought to have the fines imposed by Judge Trenga vacated. Manning is facing more than $256,000 in fines, which have been accumulating at a rate of $1,000 a day. The court left those fines in place.

The incarceration of Manning was a violation of US law as the authority to incarcerate a recalcitrant witness was abused by Judge Trenga. Nils Melzer the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment wrote that Manning’s incarceration violated international law focusing on the prohibition against torture. While we are pleased Manning has been released, she should have not served any time in jail and the fines against her should be vacated.

What is Being Done to Chelsea Manning is “Revolting” – Lee Camp

US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning is recovering in a Virginia hospital after a suicide attempt, according to her lawyers. Manning was found in contempt of court in recent months for refusing to testify against WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, in the government’s case to extradite him from London. Penalty fees have been mounting over her months of imprisonment and yet she is still expected to appear in court tomorrow. Redacted Tonight host Lee Camp weighs in.

Julian Assange, the Glass Cage and Heaven in a Rage: Day Four of Extradition Hearings

Thursday, February 27, Woolwich Crown Court.  The first round of extradition hearings regarding Julian Assange’s case concluded a day early, to recommence on May 18th.  It ended on an insensible note very much in keeping with the woolly-headed reasoning of Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who is of the view that a WikiLeaks publisher in a cage does not put all heaven in a rage.  On Wednesday, Assange’s defence had requested whether he would be able to leave the confines of his glass cage and join his legal team. As Assange had explained in response to his nodding off during proceedings, “I cannot meaningfully communicate with my lawyers.”  There was little point in “asking” if he could follow proceedings without enabling his participation.

This was not a point that fell on reasonable ears.  The judge felt it came too close to a bail application, and was initially refused as posing a potential risk to the public.  Gibberish was duly thrown at counsel for both sides, with “health and safety”, “risk assessment” and “up to Group 4” featuring as meaningless terms on the obvious: that Assange could pose no threat whatsoever, as he would be in the continuous company of security guards.  As former UK diplomat Craig Murray observed, “She started to resemble something worse than a Dalek, a particularly stupid local government officer of a very low grade.”

According to the judge, to permit such a measure of access between Assange and his team effectively constituted a departure from court custody, a striking nonsense of Dickensian dimensions.  Not even the prosecution felt it unreasonable, suggesting that one need not be so “technical” in granting such applications.

Thursday’s proceedings reaffirmed Judge Baraitser’s stubborn position.  Her first gesture was to permit Assange a pair of headphones to better enable him to hear the proceedings, followed by a brief adjournment to see if his hearing had, in fact, improved.  Assange was unimpressed, removing them after 30 minutes.

Her stretched reasoning found Assange sufficiently accessible to his lawyers despite his glassed surrounds; he could still communicate with them via notes passed through the barrier.  “It is quite apparent over the past four days that you have had no difficulty communicating with your legal team.”  The judge was willing to permit Assange a later start in proceedings to enable a meeting with the legal team and adjourn should the defence wish to meet their client in a holding cell.

That so complex a case as extradition can be reduced to sporadic notes passed to legal counsel and staggered adjournments suggests the continued hobbling of the defence by the authorities. Its invidiousness lies in how seemingly oblivious the judicial mind is to the scope of the case, complexity reduced to a matter of meetings, small points of procedure and law.

The defence team submitted that the process of consultation suggested by the judge unduly prolonged proceedings, rendering them cumbersome and insensible.  The court might have to adjourn ever three minutes for a 20-minute break.  To constantly take Assange to and from his holding cell  would unnecessarily lengthen proceedings and complicate matters.  Judge Baraitser was dismissive of such argument, claiming that the defence was merely exaggerating.

The legal issues discussed on the fourth day centred on quibbling over the issue of espionage and its nexus with political activity.  Espionage, suggested James Lewis QC for the US-driven prosecution, need not be political.  Nor did it seem that Assange was intent on bringing down the US government.  “It can’t possibly be said that there is a political struggle in existence between the American government and opposing factions.”

Lewis, as has been  his approach from the start, preferred a more restrictive interpretation about what a “political” offence might be, notably in connection with extradition.  “Extradition is based on conduct, it is not anymore based on the names of offences.”  In a rather crude, end-of-history line of thought, Lewis argued that political offences were “dated” matters, hardly applicable to modern societies which no longer see dissidents upholding the values of liberal democracy. (It seems that the tree of liberty, according to the US prosecution, no longer needs urgent refreshment.)

Besides, argued Lewis, the court did “not need to resolve these issues, but they demonstrate that any bare assertion that Wikileaks was engaged in a struggle with the US government was in opposition to it or was seeking to bring about a policy change would need to be examined far more closely.”

That is exactly what the defence contended.  Assange’s core activities in publishing had been based on altering US policy, with Iraq and Afghanistan being key theatres.  “Why was he seeking to publish the rules of engagement?”, posed the defence.  “They were published to show that war crimes were being committed, to show they breached their own rules of engagement.”  Ditto the publication of the Guantanamo files, an act done to reveal the extent of torture being undertaken during the course of the “war on terror”.  All these, contended Edward Fitzgerald QC for the defence, did change government policy. “WikiLeaks didn’t just seek to induce change, it did induce change.”

The documentary record on Assange’s political activity in this regard is thick, much of it from the contentions of US officials themselves.  The US State Department preferred to see him, as former spokesman PJ Crowley did in 2010, a “political actor” with “a political agenda”, rather than being a journalist.

Incidentally, Crowley’s link with WikiLeaks has a curious end, with his resignation in 2011 following comments made about the treatment of Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning at the Quantico marine base in Virginia.  “What is being done to Bradley Manning,” he claimed at an MIT seminar that March, “is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the department of defence.”  Not an entirely bad egg, then.

Julian Assange Against the Imperium: Day Two of Extradition Hearings

The second day of extradition hearings against Julian Assange and by virtue of that, WikiLeaks, saw Mark Summers QC deliver a formidable serve for the defence at Woolwich Crown Court.  “It’s difficult to conceive of a clearer example of an extradition request that boldly and blatantly misstates the facts as they are known to be to the US government.”  The targets were, respectively, allegations by the US Department of Justice that Assange attempted to conceal Chelsea Manning’s identity for nefarious purposes and, second, that WikiLeaks was reckless as to the potential consequences of harm in releasing unredacted State Department cables in 2011.

The position WikiLeaks has taken on the latter position goes back to the problematic, rocky relationship it has had with The Guardian over the years.  In November last year, the paper took the position that Assange had to “be defended against extradition to the United States in a case that digs at the foundations of freedom of democracy in both Britain and the US, and could see him sentenced to a total of 175 years.”  History, however, shows a more fair-weather friend disposition, especially amongst a few of the paper’s journalists.

The Guardian was one of a select number of international outlets WikiLeaks had partnered with in what was intended to be, according to Summers, a harm minimisation process of release.  Initial cable publications in November 2010 heeded the principle of redaction, so much so that John Goetz of Der Spiegel considered them “extreme”.  Goetz’s statement was duly read by Summers: “These were more extreme measures than I had ever previously observed as a journalist to secure the data and ensure they could not be accessed by anyone who was not a journalist.”

To the claim of reckless publication, it was submitted that journalists Luke Harding and David Leigh revealed the relevant password in their book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy that led inexorably to the indiscriminate release of the cables.  The password granted access to the encrypted file with the full trove of unredacted cables, though this fact was only picked up by the German publication Der Freitag in August 2011.  James Lewis QC, representing the Crown Prosecution Service, scoffed at the notion, leading to the defence referencing the index of Harding and Leigh’s work.

The account submitted by Summers did not lack thriller appeal.  On August 25, the day Der Freitag started getting busy, Assange and Sarah Harrison, his WikiLeaks counterpart, got on the phone to both the US State Department and the US ambassador in the UK.  An emergency regarding the publication of unredacted State Department files, they warned, was imminent.  WikiLeaks, they stressed, would not be responsible for it.  The picture presented about Assange was one of concern. “We don’t understand,” he claimed at the time, “why you don’t see the urgency of this.  Unless we do something about it, people’s lives are being put at risk.”

The 18th count of the indictment charging that Assange aided and abetted Manning’s 2010 disclosures as part of a “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” was given similar, withering treatment.  Underpinning the argument is the claim that Assange assisted Manning adopt an anonymous identity via a cracked US military password.  That identity, argue the prosecution, would have permitted the obtaining and dissemination of classified material without her exposure.

This, countered Summers, lay in the realm of gross misunderstanding.  The US military would hardly have concerned itself with login details initiated by an anonymous user.  Far better to focus on the relevant IP address, a true sign of a user’s individuality.  Again, the stress by the defence has been on Manning’s individual conscience and initiative, making her a more traditional whistleblower than a malicious co-conspirator in computer hacking.  In her 2013 court martial, Manning insisted that “no one associated with the WLO [WikiLeaks] pressured me into giving me more information.  The decisions I made to send documents and information to the WLO and the website were my own decisions, and I take full responsibility for my actions.”

Nor could her motives for disclosing such documents be impugned; she had disclosed the US Army’s 2007 Rules of Engagement to enable those viewing the Collateral Murder video to contextualise the attack by the Apache helicopter that killed over a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff, in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad.

Also worth noting here is the level of discrimination shown: Manning did not provide the rules of engagement files from Afghanistan, despite having access to them.  The superseding indictment would have you think otherwise, alleging that, “Between in or around January 2010 and May 2010, consistent with WikiLeaks’s ‘Most Wanted Leaks’ solicitation of bulk databases and military and intelligence categories, Manning downloaded four nearly complete databases from departments and agencies of the United States.”

The demolition by Summers was impressively devastating. While the “Most Wanted Leaks” list did seek “bulk databases”, the diplomatic cables did not form part of them.  Evidence that Manning had ever seen the list was also scant, a point that could be adduced from material cited in her court martial.  Lewis weakly contended that the “Most Wanted Leaks” list was a “general allegation”, and more attention should be paid to the WikiLeaks website itself, which had the “solicitation” posted on it.  Sloppiness is often the métier of the desperate.

Lewis was also far from convinced about Manning’s motives, following a crude syllogistic line of reasoning that proved clumsy and laboured.  The statement made by Manning to show her wounded moral compass was “self-serving” in nature; but it was merely self-serving because it was made by a conspirator.  Conspirators, it followed, have no morals.  “You can’t rely on a self-serving statement without qualification whatsoever.  It’s the self-serving statement of a co-conspirator.”

What the defence had shown on the second day of extradition hearings was the increasingly hollow nature of much in the prosecution’s case, one increasingly reliant on what Summers described as “lies, lies, and more lies.”

The United States of America’s Doll House: A Vast Tapestry of Lies and Illusions

This is an updated and revised version of the full cover-story that appeared in the important publication, garrison: The Journal of History and Deep Politics, Issue 003.  Issue 004 is due out this week and I urge readers to purchase it.  You will read articles there that you will find no place else, brilliant, eye-opening analyses of issues that the MSM will never touch.

*****

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

— Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 2005

While truth-tellers Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning sit inside jail cells and Edward Snowden lives in exile in Russia, the American people hole up in an illusionary dwelling constructed to reduce them to children afraid of the truth.  Or is it the dark?  This is not new; it has been so for a very long time, but it has become a more sophisticated haunted doll’s house, an electronic one with many bells and whistles and images that move faster than the eye can see. We now inhabit a digital technological nightmare controlled by government and corporate forces intent on dominating every aspect of people’s lives. This is true despite the valiant efforts of dissidents to use the technology for human liberation. The old wooden doll houses, where you needed small fingers to rearrange the furniture, now only need thumbs that can click you into your cell’s fantasy world.  So many dwell there in the fabricated reality otherwise known as propaganda.  The result is mass hallucination.

In a 1969 interview, Jim Garrison, the District Attorney of New Orleans and the only person to ever bring to trial a case involving the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, said that as a result of the CIA’s murderous coup d’état on behalf of the military-industrial-financial-media-intelligence complex that rules the country to this day, the American people have been subjected to a fabricated reality that has rendered them a nation of passive Eichmanns, who sit in their living rooms, popping pills and watching television as their country’s military machine mows down people by the millions and the announcers tell them all the things they should be afraid of, such as bacteria on cutting boards and Russian spies infiltrating their hair salons.  Garrison said:

The creation of such inanities as acceptable reality and unacceptable reality is necessary for the self-preservation of the super-state against its greatest danger: understanding on the part of the people as to what is really happening.  All factors which contribute to its burgeoning power are exaggerated.  All factors which might reveal its corrosive effect on the nation are concealed.  The result is to place the populace in the position of persons living in a house whose windows no longer reveal the outside but on which murals have been painted.  Some of the murals are frightening and have the effect of reminding the occupants of the outside menaces against which the paternal war machine is protecting them.  Other murals are pleasant to remind them how nice things are inside the house.

But to live like this is to live in a doll’s house.  If life has one lesson to teach us, it is that to live in illusion is ultimately disastrous.

In the doll’s house into which America gradually has been converted, a great many of our basic assumptions are totally illusory.1

Fifty years have disappeared behind us since the eloquent and courageous Garrison (read On the Trail of the Assassins) metaphorically voiced the truth, despite the CIA’s persistent efforts to paint him as an unhinged lunatic through its media mouthpieces.  These days they would probably just lock him up or send him fleeing across borders, as with Assange, Manning, and Snowden.

It is stunning to take a cue from his comment regarding the JFK assassination, when he suggested that one reverse the lone assassin scenario and place it in the U.S.S.R.  No American could possibly believe a tale that a former Russian soldier, trained in English and having served at a top Soviet secret military base, who had defected to the U.S. and then returned home with the help of the K.G.B., could kill the Russian Premier with a defective and shoddy rifle and then be shot to death in police headquarters in Moscow by a K.G.B. connected hit man so there would be no trial and the K.G.B. would go scot free.  That would be a howler!  So too, of course, are the Warren Commission’s fictions about Oswald.

Snowden, Assange, and Manning

If we then update this mental exercise and imagine that Snowden, Assange, and Manning were all Russian, and that they released information about Russian war crimes, political corruption,  and a system of total electronic surveillance of the Russian population, and were then jailed or sent fleeing into exile as a result, who in the U.S., liberal, libertarian or conservative, would possibly believe the Russian government’s accusations that these three were criminals.

Nevertheless, Barack Obama, the transparency president, made sure to treat them as such, all the while parading as a “liberal” concerned for freedom of speech and the First Amendment.  He made sure that Snowden and Manning were charged under the Espionage Act of 1917, and that Assange was corralled via false Swedish sex charges so he had to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London (a form of jail).  He brought Espionage Act prosecutions against eight people, more than all former presidents combined.   He hypocritically pardoned Manning on his way out the door as if this would polish his deluded liberal legacy after making her suffer terribly through seven years of imprisonment.  He set the stage for Trump to re-jail Manning to try to get this most courageous woman to testify against Assange, which she will not do, and for the collaborationist British government to jail Assange in preparation for his extradition to the United States and a show trial.  As for Snowden, he has been relegated to invisibility, good for news headlines once and for a movie, but now gone and forgotten.

Obama and Trump, arch political “enemies,” have made sure that those who reveal the sordid acts of the American murderous state are cruelly punished and silenced.  This is how the system works, and for most Americans, it is not happening.  It doesn’t matter.  They don’t care, just as they don’t care that Obama backed the 2009 coup d’état in Honduras that has resulted in so many deaths at the hands of U.S trained killers, and then Trump ranted about all these “non-white” people fleeing to the U.S. to escape a hell created by the U.S., as it has been doing throughout Latin America for so long.  Who does care about the truth?  Has anyone even noticed how the corporate media has disappeared the “news” of all those desperate people clamoring to enter the U.S.A. from Mexico?  One day they were there and in the headlines; the next day, gone.  It’s called news.

The Sleepwalkers

But even though a majority of Americans have never believed the government’s explanation for JFK’s murder, they nevertheless have insouciantly gone to sleep for half a century in the doll’s house of illusions as the killing and the lies of their own government have increased over the years and any semblance of a democratic and peaceful America has gone extinct. The fates of courageous whistle-blowers Assange, Manning, and Snowden don’t concern them. The fates of Hondurans don’t concern them.  The fates of Syrians don’t concern them. The fates of Iraqis, Afghans, Yemenis, Palestinians don’t concern them. The fates of America’s victims all around the world don’t concern them.  Indifference reigns.

Obviously, if you are reading this, you are not one of the sleepwalkers and are awake to the parade of endless lies and illusions and do care. But you are in a minority.

That is not the case for most Americans.  When approximately 129 million people cast their votes for Donald Trump and HilIary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, you know idiocy reigns and nothing has been learned. Ditto for the votes for Obama, Bush, Clinton, et al.  You can keep counting back.  It is an ugly fact and sad to say.  Such a repetition compulsion is a sign of a deep sickness, and it will no doubt be repeated in the 2020 election.  The systemic illusion must be preserved at all costs and the warfare state supported in its killing.  It is the American way.

It is true that average Americans have not built the doll’s house; that is the handiwork of the vast interconnected and far-reaching propaganda arms of the U.S. government and their media accomplices.  But that does not render them innocent for accepting decades of fabricated reality for so-called peace of mind by believing that a totally corrupt system works.  The will to believe is very powerful, as is the propaganda.   The lesson that Garrison spoke of has been lost on far too many people, even on those who occasionally leave the doll house for a walk, but who only go slightly down the path for fear of seeing too much reality and connecting too many dots.  There is plain ignorance, then there is culpable ignorance, to which I shall return.

Denying Existential Freedom

One of the first things an authoritarian governing elite must do is to convince people that they are not free.  This has been going on for at least forty years, ever since the Church Committee’s revelations about the CIA in the mid-seventies, including its mind-control program, MKULTRA.  Everyone was appalled at the epiphany, so a different tactic was added.  Say those programs have been ended when, in fact, they were continued under other even deeper secret programs, and just have “experts” – social, psychological, and biological “scientists” – repeat ad infinitum that there is no longer any mind control since we now know there is no mind; it is an illusion, and it all comes down to the brain.  Biology is destiny, except in culturally diversionary ways in which freedom to choose is extolled – e.g. the latest fashions, gender identity, the best hair style, etc.  Create and lavishly fund programs for the study of the brain, while supporting and promoting a vast expansion of pharmaceutical drugs to control people.  Do this in the name of helping people with their emotional and behavioral problems that are rooted in their biology and are beyond their control.  And create criteria to convince people that they are sick and that their distress has nothing to do with the coup d’état that has rendered them “citizens” of a police state.

We have been interminably told that our lives revolve around our brains (our bodies) and that the answers to our problems lie with more brain research, drugs, genetic testing, etc. It is not coincidental that the U. S. government declared the 1990s the decade of brain research, followed up with 2000-2010 as the decade of the behavior project, and our present decade being devoted to mapping the brain and artificial intelligence, organized by the Office of Science and Technology Project and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). How convenient! George H. W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, Trump — what a difference! But this is science and the welfare of the world.  Science for idiots.

Drip by drip, here and there, in the pattern of the best propaganda, as the French sociologist Jacques Ellul says – “for propaganda is not the touch of the magic wand. It is based on slow, constant impregnation. It creates conviction and compliance through imperceptible influences that are effective only by continuous repetition”2 – articles, books, media reports have reiterated that people are “determined” by biological, genetic, social, and psychological forces over which they have no control. To assert that people are free in the Sartrean sense (en soir, condemned to freedom, or free will) has come to be seen as the belief of a delusional fool living in the past, a bad philosopher, an anti-scientist, a poorly informed religionist, one nostalgic for existential cafes, Gauloises, and black berets.  One who doesn’t grasp the truth since he doesn’t read the New York Times or watch CBS television. One who believes in nutty conspiracy theories.

The conventional propaganda – I almost said wisdom – created through decades-long media and academic repetition, is that we are not free.

Let me repeat: we are not free.  We are not free.

Investigator reporter Jon Rappoport has consistently exposed the propaganda involved in the creation and expansion of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) with its pseudo-scientific falsehoods and collusion between psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry. 3 As he correctly notes, the CIA’s MKULTRA mind-control program has morphed into modern psychiatry, both with the same objectives of disabling and controlling people by convincing them that they are not free and are in need of a chemical brain bath.

Can anyone with an awareness of this history doubt there is a hidden hand behind this development?  Once you have convinced people that they are not free in the most profound sense, the rest is child’s play.  Convinced that they are puppets, they become puppets to be willingly jerked around.

“He played with me just as I used to play with dolls,” says Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

Now who would want to get people to believe they were not free?  The answer is obvious given a minute of thought.  It is not just Nora’s husband Torvald.

Perfect examples of the persistence of the long-term, repetitive, impregnating propaganda appear in news headlines constantly.  Here is an egregious example concerning the little understood case of the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy.  On Friday, August 30, 2019, Sirhan, who has been in prison for fifty-two years for the murder of RFK that he did not commit, was stabbed by another prisoner.  A quick click through the MSM headlines reporting this showed the same words repeated by all the corporate media as they fulfilled their function as CIA stenographers. One example, from CBS News, will suffice: “Robert Kennedy assassin hospitalized after prison stabbing.” RFK assassin, RFK assassin, RFK assassin … all the media said the same thing, which they have been doing for fifty-two years. Their persistency endures despite all the facts that refute their disinformation and show that Senator Kennedy, who was on his way to becoming president, was murdered, like his brother John, by forces of the national security state.

 Sartre and Bad Faith

Lying and dissembling are ubiquitous.  Being deceived by the media liars is mirrored in people’s personal lives.  People lie and want to be deceived.  They choose to play dumb, to avoid a confrontation with truth.  They want to be nice (Latin, nescire, not to know, to be ignorant) and to be liked.  They want to tuck themselves into a safe social and cultural framework where they imagine they will be safe. They like the doll’s house. They choose to live in what Jean Paul Sartre called bad faith (mauvaise foi):  In Existential Psychoanalysis he put it thus:

In bad faith it is from myself that I am hiding the truth. But with this ‘lie’ to myself, the one to whom the lie is told and the one who lies are one and the same person, which means that I must know in my capacity as deceiver the truth which is hidden from me in my capacity as the one deceived.

Such bad faith allows people to fabricate a second act of bad faith: that they are not responsible for their ignorance of the truths behind the government’s and corporate media’s lies and propaganda, even as the shades of the prison house ominously close around us and the world edges toward global death that could arrive in an instant with nuclear war or limp along for years of increasing suffering.

Those of us who write about the U.S. led demented wars and provocations around the world and the complementary death of democracy at home are constantly flabbergasted and discouraged by the willed ignorance of so many Americans.  For while the mainstream media does the bidding of the power elite, there is ample alternative news and analyses available on the internet from fine journalists and writers committed to truth, not propaganda. There is actually far too much truth available, which poses another problem. But it doesn’t take a genius to learn how to research important issues and to learn how to distinguish between bogus and genuine information.  It takes a bit of effort, and, more importantly, the desire to compare multiple, opposing viewpoints and untangle the webs the Web weaves.  We are awash in information (and disinformation) and both good and bad reporting, but it is still available to the caring inquirer.

The problem is the will to know.  But why?  Why the refusal to investigate and question; why the indifference?  Stupidity?  Okay, there is that.  Ignorance?  That too.  Willful ignorance, ditto.  Laziness, indeed. Careerism and ideology?  For certain.  Upton Sinclair put it mildly when he said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on not understanding it.”  Difficult?  No, it’s almost impossible.

But then there are many very intelligent people who have nothing to lose and yet adamantly refuse to entertain alternative possibilities to the reigning orthodoxies that have them in their grip.  As do many others, I know many such people who will yes me to death and then never fully research issues.  They will remain in limbo or else wink to themselves that what may be true couldn’t be true.  They close down.  This is a great dilemma and frustration faced by those who seek to convince people to take an active part in understanding what is really going on in the world today, especially as the United States wages war across the globe, threatens Russia, China, and Iran, among many others, and expands and modernizes its nuclear weapons capabilities.

As for Assange, Manning, and Snowden, their plight matters not a whit.  In fact, they have been rendered invisible inside the doll’s house, except as the murals on the windows flash back their images as threats to the occupants, Russian monsters out to eat them up.  As the great poet Constantine Cavafy wrote long ago in his poem “Waiting for the Barbarians” and they never come: “Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?  Those people were a kind of solution.”  Then again, for people like U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, who knows the Russian barbarians have and will come again, life must be terrifying as he tries so manfully to bar the gates.  The Russians have been the American solution in this fairy tale for so long that it’s hard for many Americans to believe another story.

The Two-Headed Monster

On the one hand, there is the massive propaganda apparatus operated by American intelligence agencies in conjunction with their media partners.

On the other, there is the human predilection for untruth and illusions, the sad need to be comforted and to submit to greater “authority,” gratefully to accept the myths proffered by one’s masters.  This tendency applies not just to the common people, but even more so to the intellectual classes, who act as though they are immune.  Erich Fromm, writing about Germans and Hitler, but by extension people everywhere, termed this the need to “escape from freedom,” since freedom conjures up fears of vertiginous aloneness and the need to decide, which in turn evokes the fear of death.4   There are also many kinds of little deaths that precede the final one: social, career, money, familiar, etc., that are used to keep people in the doll’s house.

Fifty years ago, the CIA coined the term “conspiracy theory” as a weapon to be used to dismiss the truths expressed by critics of its murder of President Kennedy, and those of Malcom X, MLK, and RFK.  All the media echoed the CIA line.  While they still use the term to dismiss and denounce, their control of the mainstream media is so complete today that every evil government action is immediately seconded, whether it be the lies about the attacks of September 11, 2001, the wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iran, etc., the coups disguised as color revolutions in Ukraine, Venezuela, Bolivia, Hong Kong, the downing of the Malaysian jetliner there, drone murders, the Iranian “threat,” the looting of the American people by the elites, alleged sarin gas attacks in Syria, the anti-Russia bashing and the Russia-gate farce, the “criminals” Assange, Manning, Snowden – everything.  The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Fox News, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, etc. – all are stenographers for the deep state.

So much of the ongoing propaganda travels under the banner of “the war on terror,” which is, of course, an outgrowth of the attacks of September 11, 2001, appropriately named and constantly reinforced as 9/11 in a wonderful example of linguistic mind-control: a constant emergency reminder to engender anxiety, depression, panic, and confusion, four of the symptoms that lead the DSM “experts” and their followers to diagnose and drug individuals.  The term 9/11 was first used in the New York Times on September 12, 2001 by Bill Keller, the future Times’ editor and Iraq war cheerleader.  Just a fortuitous coincidence, of course.

Jacques Ellul on Propaganda

Jacques Ellul has argued convincingly that modern propaganda in a technological mass society is more complicated than the state and media lying and deceiving the population.  He argues that propaganda meets certain needs of modern people and therefore the process of deceit is reciprocal.  The modern person feels lost, powerless, and empty. Ellul says, “He realizes that he depends on decisions over which he has no control, and that realization drives him to despair.”  But he can’t live in despair; desires that life be meaningful; and wants to feel he lives in a world that makes sense.  He wants to participate and have opinions that suggest he grasps the flow of events.  He doesn’t so much want information, but value judgments and preconceived positions that provide him with a framework for living.  Ellul wrote the following in 1965 in his classic book Propaganda:

The majority prefers expressing stupidities to not expressing any opinion: this gives them the feeling of participation.  For they need simple thoughts, elementary explanations, a ‘key’ that will permit them to take a position, and even readymade opinions….The man who keeps himself informed needs a framework….the more complicated the problems are, the more simple the explanations must be; the more fragmented the canvas, the simpler the pattern; the more difficult the question, the more all-embracing the solution; the more menacing the reduction of his own worth, the greater the need for boosting his ego.  All this propaganda – and only propaganda – can give him.5

Another way of saying this is that people want to be provided with myths to direct them to the “truth.”  But such so-called truth has been preconceived within the overarching myth provided by propaganda, and while it satisfies people’s emotional need for coherence, it also allows them to think of themselves as free individuals arriving at their own conclusions, which is a basic function of good propaganda.  In today’s mass technological society, it is essential that people be convinced that they are free-thinking individuals acting in good faith.  Then they can feel good about themselves as they lie and act in bad faith.

Culpable Ignorance

It is widely accepted that political leaders and the mass media lie and dissemble regularly, which, of course, they do. That is their job in an oligarchy.  Today we are subjected to almost total, unrelenting media and government propaganda. Depending on their political leanings, people direct their anger toward politicians of parties they oppose and media they believe slant their coverage to favor the opposition.  Trump is a liar.  No, Obama is a liar.  And Hillary Clinton.  No, Fox News.  Ridiculous! – it’s CNN or NBC.  And so on and so forth in this theater of the absurd that plays out within a megaplex of mainstream media propaganda, where there are many shows but one producer, whose overall aim is to engineer the consent of all who enter, while setting the different audiences against each other.  It is a very successful charade that evokes name-calling from all quarters.

In other words, for many people their opponents lie, as do other people, but not them. This is as true in personal as well as public life.  Here the personal and the political converge, despite protestations to the contrary.  Dedication to truth is very rare.

But there is another issue with propaganda that complicates the picture further.  People of varying political persuasions can agree that propaganda is widespread.  Many people on the left, and some on the right, would agree with Lisa Pease’s statement in her book on the RFK assassination, A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, that “the way the CIA took over America in the 1960s is the story of our time.”6  That is also what Garrison thought when he spoke of the doll’s house.

If that is so, then today’s propaganda is anchored in the events of the 1960s, specifically the infamous government assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, and RFK, the truth of which the CIA has worked so hard to conceal. In the fifty or so years since, a vast amount of new information has made it explicitly clear that these murders were carried out by elements within the U.S. government, and were done so to silence the voices of four charismatic leaders who were opposed to the American war machine and the continuation of the Cold War. To turn away from this truth and to ignore its implications can only be described as an act of bad faith and culpable ignorance, or worse.  But that is exactly what many prominent leftists have done.  Then to compound the problem, they have done the same with the attacks of September 11, 2001.

One cannot help thinking of what the CIA official Cord Meyer called these people in the 1950s: “the compatible left.”  He felt that effective CIA propaganda, beside the need for fascist-minded types such as Allen Dulles and James Jesus Angleton, depended on “courting” leftists and liberals into its orbit. For so many of the compatible left, those making a lot of money posing as opponents of the ruling elites but often taking the money of the super-rich, the JFK assassination and the truth of September 11, 2001 are inconsequential, never to be broached, as if they never happened, except as the authorities say they did. By ignoring these most in-your-face events with their eyes wide shut, a coterie of influential leftists has done the work of Orwell’s crime-stop and has effectively succeeded in situating current events in an ahistorical and therefore misleading context that abets U.S. propaganda.  They truncate the full story to present a narrative that distorts the truth.

Without drawing a bold line connecting the dots from November 22, 1963 up to the present, a critique of the murderous forces ruling the United States is impossible.

Among the most notable of such failures are Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, Howard Zinn, and Chris Hedges, men idolized by many liberals and leftists.  And there are many others who have been deeply influenced by Chomsky, Cockburn, and Zinn and follow in their footsteps.  Their motivations remain a mystery, but there is no doubt their refusals have contributed to the increased power of those who control the doll’s house.  To know better and do as they have is surely culpable ignorance.

From Bad to Worse

Ask yourself: Has the power of the oligarchic, permanent warfare state with its propaganda and spy networks, increased or decreased in the past half century?  Who is winning the battle, the people or the ruling elites?  The answer is obvious. It matters not at all whether the president has been Trump or Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, Barack Obama or George H. W. Bush, Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter.  The power of the national security state has grown under them all and everyone is left to moan and groan and wonder why.  All the while the doll’s house has become more and more sophisticated and powerful with the growth of electronic media and cell phone usage.

The new Cold War now being waged against Russia and China is a bi-partisan affair, as is the confidence game played by the secret government intended to create a fractured consciousness in the population.  This fragmentation of consciousness prevents people from grasping the present from within because so many suffer from digital dementia as their attention hops from input to output in a never-ending flow of mediated, disembodied data. Trump and his followers on one side of the coin; liberal Democrats on the other. The latter, whose bibles are the New York Times, NPR, The Washington Post, Democracy Now, The Guardian, etc. – can only see propaganda when they can attribute it to Trump or the Russians. The former see everything as a liberal conspiracy to take down Trump.  The liberals have embraced a new McCarthyism and allied themselves with the deep-state forces that they were once allegedly appalled by, including Republicans.  Their embrace of the formerly despised war-monger John Bolton in the impeachment trial of Trump is a laughable case in point, if it weren’t so depraved and slimy.  It surely isn’t the bloodthirsty policies of the Trump administration or his bloviating personality, for these liberals allied themselves with Obama’s anti-Russian rhetoric, his support for the U.S. orchestrated neo-fascist Ukrainian coup, his destruction of Libya, his wars of aggression across the Middle East, his war on terror, his trillion dollar nuclear weapons modernization, his enjoyment of drone killing, his support for the coup in Honduras, his embrace of the CIA and his CIA Director John Brennan, his prosecution of whistle-blowers, etc.  The same media that served the CIA so admirably over the decades became the liberals’ paragons of truth.  It’s enough to make your head spin, which is the point.  Spin left, spin right, spin all around, because we have possessed your mind in this spectacular image game where seeming antinomies are the constancy of the same through difference, all the presidents coined by the same manufacturer who knows that coin flipping serves to entertain the audience eager for hope and change.

This is how the political system works to prevent change.  It is why little has changed for the better over half a century and the American empire has expanded.  While it may be true that there are signs that this American hegemony is coming to an end (I am not convinced), I would not underestimate the power of the U.S. propaganda apparatus to keep people docile and deluded in the doll’s house, despite the valiant efforts of independent truth-tellers.

How, for example, is it possible for so many people to see such a stark difference between the despicable Trump and the pleasant Obama?  They are both puppets dancing to their masters’ tunes – the same masters.  They both front for the empire.

In his excellent book, Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State, Jeremy Kuzmarov assiduously documents Obama’s crimes, including his CIA background.7 As Glen Ford, of Black Agenda Report, says in the first sentence of his forward, “Barack Obama may go down in presidential history as the most effective-and deceptive-imperialist of them all.” Read the book if you want all the details.  They form an overwhelming indictment of the con artist and war criminal that is irrefutable.  But will those who worship at the altar of Barack Obama read it?  Of course not.  Just as those deluded ones who voted for the reality television flim-flam man Trump will ignore all the accumulating evidence that they’ve been had and are living under a president who is Obama’s disguised doppelganger, carrying out the orders of his national security state bosses. This, too, is well documented, and no doubt another writer will arise in the years to come to put it between a book’s covers.

Yet even Jeremy Kuzmarov fails to see the link between the JFK assassination and Obama’s shilling for the warfare state.  His few references to Kennedy are all negative, suggesting he either is unaware of what Kennedy was doing in the last year of his life and why he was murdered by the CIA, or something else.  He seems to follow Noam Chomsky, a Kennedy hater, in this regard.  I point out this slight flaw in an excellent book because it is symptomatic of certain people on the left who refuse to complete the circle.  If, as Kuzmarov, argues, Obama was CIA from the start and that explains his extraordinarily close relationship with the CIA’s John Brennan, an architect, among many things, of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, and that Obama told CIA Director Panetta that the CIA would “get everything it wanted,” and the CIA killed JFK, well, something’s amiss, an enormous gap in the analysis of our current condition.

The doll’s house is a mind game of extraordinary proportions, orchestrated by the perverted power elites that run the show and ably abetted by their partners in the corporate mass media, even some in the alternative press who mean well but are confused, or are disinformation agents in the business of sowing confusion together with their mainstream Operation Mockingbird partners.  It is a spectacle of open secrecy, in which the CIA has effectively suckered everyone into a game of to-and-fro in which only they win.

Our only hope for change is to try and educate as many people as possible about the linkages between  events that started with the CIA coup d’état in Dallas on November 22, 1963, continued through the killings of Malcolm X, MLK, RFK and on through so much else up to September 11, 2001, and have brought us to the deeply depressing situation we now find ourselves in where truthtellers like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden are criminalized, while the real perpetrators of terrible evils roam free.

Yes, we must educate but also agitate for the release of this courageous trio.  Their freedom is ours; their imprisonment is ours, whether we know it or not.  The walls are closing in.

Lisa Pease is so right:

The way the CIA took over America in the 1960s is the story of our time, and too few recognize this.  We can’t fix a problem we can’t even acknowledge exists.

If we don’t follow her advice, we will be toyed with like dolls for a long time to come.  There will be no one else to blame.

  1. Interview with Jim Garrison, District Attorney of Parish of Orleans, Louisiana, May 27, 1969.
  2. Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Jacques Ellul, Vintage Books, 1973, pp. 17-18.
  3. Jon Rappoport, CIA mind control morphed into psychiatry?  July 11, 2017.
  4. Escape from Freedom, Erich Fromm, Rinehart & Company, Inc., 1941.
  5. Ellul, op cit., p. 140.
  6. A Lie Too Big To Fail, Lisa Pease, Feral House, 2018, pp.500-501.
  7. Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State, Jeremy Kuzmarov, Clarity Press, 2019.

Question for Kirbymoorside UK Hustings Meeting: Would you stand up for Julian Assange?

To those candidates who are putting themselves forward as MPs to become a voice within the UK Parliament — would you stand up for Julian Assange and for those who. in speaking truth, have the audacity to challenge the dialogue of power?

I am disappointed that my question relating to the arbitrary detention of Julian Assange was not presented at the Hustings meeting at Kirbymoorside. I consider it to be a question of such vital importance for all those who share a common belief in justice, truth and commitment to democracy and freedom of speech, so I have chosen to re-present a significantly fuller version of the question by using an open letter form.

The treatment of Julian Assange, arguably one of the world’s most brilliant, courageous and outspoken personalities, raises serious concerns in so many ways that we urgently need an open discussion on it. These areas include: unlawful arbitrary detention, the law on asylum and extradition, democracy, sovereignty, torture, free speech, and state violence.

The initial investigation against Julian Assange, which originated in Sweden, never reached the stage of prosecution and all investigations have since been withdrawn. Julian Assange has also served time in prison for skipping bail by seeking asylum within the Ecuadorian Embassy because of the well-founded fear that he would be extradited to the United States. In such circumstances skipping bail and seeking asylum was a rational and fully justified decision. Nevertheless, our judicial system chose to punish him by giving him a prison sentence in Belmarsh — a prison reserved for Britain’s most dangerous and violent offenders.

That sentence has now been served which brings into question why Julian Assange continues to be detained. Within the UK extradition of political prisoners is prohibited. Therefore, questions arise as to the legality of this extradition order and what the justification is for his continued detention, especially within a top security prison. Julian Assange is charged with espionage, which by any definition, comes under the umbrella of political activity. Along with Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange is charged with publishing information regarding US war crimes in Iraq. The UK is a sovereign kingdom and signatory to international human rights laws, over and above its relation with the US. For UK laws to be subverted at the behest of a foreign government raises a further serious question. Just who is being represented here: the citizenry or some other power?

In 2016 a UN Working Party on arbitrary detention determined that the detention of Julian Assange was unlawful. How this same Working Party in 2019 would view his forcible extraction from the Embassy and his subsequent detention at Belmarsh Prison can only be speculated upon.

Nils Melzer, UN Rapporteur on torture, has stated that the current treatment of Julian Assange — of being under surveillance and placed in solidarity confinement, both during the latter years within the Ecuadorian Embassy and within Belmarsh Prison — amounts to psychological torture.

Julian Assange is a researcher and publisher. His crime has been to publish truthful information relating to serious war crimes committed against civilians, including journalists and children, by US forces within Iraq. Clearly this revelation is embarrassing for the US — which along with the allied military forces invaded Iraq on a contrived pretext — at the time deemed illegal by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The devastation of this war has been disastrous for civilians throughout much of the Middle East as this toxic war mentality kiled hundreds of thousands, created a huge refugee population, and contributed to terrorism that has expanded into Europe and beyond. Definitively, telling, writing, and publishing the facts was a moral obligation. There is a glaring irony here given that within the UK “it is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment ‘not’ to reveal information relating to a serious crime if one becomes aware of it.”1

The state has normalised war just as it has normalised the extremes of wealth and power. The oligarchy has relegated a large segment of the population to a marginal economic existence. The so-called democracy has been subverted to the whims of transnational corporations, banks too big to fail, the military industrial complex, the pharmaceutical medical monopoly and special interest groups. The violence inflicted upon Julian Assange for his factual revelations should serve as a warning to all publishers, journalists, writers, artists, whistleblowers and anyone of integrity who values human rights, justice, honesty, and democracy.

Freedom of speech is what protects us all from tyrannical governments. It brings them into check when they acquire too much power. A government which represents those with money and power serves only to foster a climate of corruption and fear. It does nothing to address the increasing division between rich and poor and the growing population of those who find themselves afflicted by poverty or sent to fight wars of aggression.

Julian Assange was a leader in researching facts, exposing corruption, crime, and injustice. He became a teacher for those who value original thought and inspired critical thinking. Without such people our world is poorer.

My question therefore is: Where do you stand with regard to the treatment of Julian Assange and others who are willing to risk their freedoms in speaking truth and revealing information that the state finds embarrassing, including that of war crimes and crimes against humanity?

  1. See  Craig Murray, “Violence and the State“, December 3, 2019.

A New Kind of Tyranny: The Global State’s War on Those Who Speak Truth to Power

What happens to Julian Assange and to Chelsea Manning is meant to intimidate us, to frighten us into silence. By defending Julian Assange, we defend our most sacred rights. Speak up now or wake up one morning to the silence of a new kind of tyranny. The choice is ours.

— John Pilger, investigative journalist

All of us are in danger.

In an age of prosecutions for thought crimes, pre-crime deterrence programs, and government agencies that operate like organized crime syndicates, there is a new kind of tyranny being imposed on those who dare to expose the crimes of the Deep State, whose reach has gone global.

The Deep State has embarked on a ruthless, take-no-prisoners, all-out assault on truth-tellers.

Activists, journalists and whistleblowers alike are being terrorized, traumatized, tortured and subjected to the fear-inducing, mind-altering, soul-destroying, smash-your-face-in tactics employed by the superpowers-that-be.

Take Julian Assange, for example.

Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks—a website that published secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources—was arrested on April 11, 2019, on charges of helping U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning access and leak more than 700,000 classified military documents that portray the U.S. government and its military as reckless, irresponsible and responsible for thousands of civilian deaths.

Included among the leaked Manning material were the Collateral Murder video (April 2010), the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), the Iraq war logs (October 2010), a quarter of a million diplomatic cables (November 2010), and the Guantánamo files (April 2011).

The Collateral Murder leak included gunsight video footage from two U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters engaged in a series of air-to-ground attacks while air crew laughed at some of the casualties. Among the casualties were two Reuters correspondents who were gunned down after their cameras were mistaken for weapons and a driver who stopped to help one of the journalists. The driver’s two children, who happened to be in the van at the time it was fired upon by U.S. forces, suffered serious injuries.

This is morally wrong.

It shouldn’t matter which nation is responsible for these atrocities: there is no defense for such evil perpetrated in the name of profit margins and war profiteering.

In true Orwellian fashion, however, the government would have us believe that it is Assange and Manning who are the real criminals for daring to expose the war machine’s seedy underbelly.

Since his April 2019 arrest, Assange has been locked up in a maximum-security British prison—in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day—pending extradition to the U.S., where if convicted, he could be sentenced to 175 years in prison.

Whatever is being done to Assange behind those prison walls—psychological torture, forced drugging, prolonged isolation, intimidation, surveillance—it’s wearing him down.

In court appearances, the 48-year-old Assange appears disoriented, haggard and zombie-like.

“In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law,” declared Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture.

It’s not just Assange who is being made to suffer, however.

Manning, who was jailed for seven years from 2010 to 2017 for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, was arrested in March 2019 for refusing to testify before a grand jury about Assange, placed in solitary confinement for almost a month, and then sentenced to remain in jail either until she agrees to testify or until the grand jury’s 18-month term expires.

Federal judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia also fined Manning $500 for every day she remained in custody after 30 days, and $1,000 for every day she remains in custody after 60 days, a chilling—and financially crippling—example of the government’s heavy-handed efforts to weaponize fines and jail terms as a means of forcing dissidents to fall in line.

This is how the police state deals with those who challenge its choke-hold on power.

Make no mistake: the government is waging war on journalists and whistleblowers for disclosing information relating to government misconduct that is within the public’s right to know.

Yet while this targeted campaign—aided, abetted and advanced by the Deep State’s international alliances—is unfolding during President Trump’s watch, it began with the Obama Administration’s decision to revive the antiquated, hundred-year-old Espionage Act, which was intended to punish government spies, and instead use it to prosecute government whistleblowers.

Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has not merely continued the Obama Administration’s attack on whistleblowers. It has injected this war on truth-tellers and truth-seekers with steroids and let it loose on the First Amendment.

In May 2019, Trump’s Justice Department issued a sweeping new “superseding” secret indictment of Assange—hinged on the Espionage Act—that empowers the government to determine what counts as legitimate journalism and criminalize the rest, not to mention giving “the government license to criminally punish journalists it does not like, based on antipathy, vague standards, and subjective judgments.”

Noting that the indictment signaled grave dangers for freedom of the press in general, media lawyer Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., warned:

The indictment would criminalize the encouragement of leaks of newsworthy classified information, criminalize the acceptance of such information, and criminalize publication of it.

Boutrous continues:

[I]t doesn’t matter whether you think Assange is a journalist, or whether WikiLeaks is a news organization. The theory that animates the indictment targets the very essence of journalistic activity: the gathering and dissemination of information that the government wants to keep secret. You don’t have to like Assange or endorse what he and WikiLeaks have done over the years to recognize that this indictment sets an ominous precedent and threatens basic First Amendment values…. With only modest tweaking, the very same theory could be invoked to prosecute journalists for the very same crimes being alleged against Assange, simply for doing their jobs of scrutinizing the government and reporting the news to the American people.

We desperately need greater scrutiny and transparency, not less.

Indeed, transparency is one of those things the shadow government fears the most. Why? Because it might arouse the distracted American populace to actually exercise their rights and resist the tyranny that is inexorably asphyxiating their freedoms.

This need to shed light on government actions—to make the obscure, least transparent reaches of government accessible and accountable—was a common theme for Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who famously coined the phrase, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Writing in January 1884, Brandeis explained:

Light is the only thing that can sweeten our political atmosphere—light thrown upon every detail of administration in the departments; light diffused through every policy; light blazed full upon every feature of legislation; light that can penetrate every recess or corner in which any intrigue might hide; light that will open up to view the innermost chambers of government, drive away all darkness from the treasury vaults; illuminate foreign correspondence; explore national dockyards; search out the obscurities of Indian affairs; display the workings of justice; exhibit the management of the army; play upon the sails of the navy; and follow the distribution of the mails.

Of course, transparency is futile without a populace that is informed, engaged and prepared to hold the government accountable to abiding by the rule of law.

For this reason, it is vital that citizens have the right to criticize the government without fear.

After all, we’re citizens, not subjects. For those who don’t fully understand the distinction between the two and why transparency is so vital to a healthy constitutional government, Manning explains it well:

When freedom of information and transparency are stifled, then bad decisions are often made and heartbreaking tragedies occur – too often on a breathtaking scale that can leave societies wondering: how did this happen? … I believe that when the public lacks even the most fundamental access to what its governments and militaries are doing in their names, then they cease to be involved in the act of citizenship. There is a bright distinction between citizens, who have rights and privileges protected by the state, and subjects, who are under the complete control and authority of the state.

Manning goes on to suggest that the U.S. “needs legislation to protect the public’s right to free speech and a free press, to protect it from the actions of the executive branch and to promote the integrity and transparency of the US government.”

Technically, we’ve already got such legislation on the books: the First Amendment.

The First Amendment gives the citizenry the right to speak freely, protest peacefully, expose government wrongdoing, and criticize the government without fear of arrest, isolation or any of the other punishments that have been meted out to whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden, Assange and Manning.

The challenge is holding the government accountable to obeying the law.

Almost 50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in United States v. Washington Post Co. to block the Nixon Administration’s attempts to use claims of national security to prevent The Washington Post and The New York Times from publishing secret Pentagon papers on how America went to war in Vietnam.

As Justice William O. Douglas remarked on the ruling:

The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

Almost 50 years later, with Assange being cast as the poster boy for treason, we’re witnessing yet another showdown, which pits the people’s right to know about government misconduct against the might of the military industrial complex.

Yet this isn’t merely about whether whistleblowers and journalists are part of a protected class under the Constitution. It’s a debate over how long “we the people” will remain a protected class under the Constitution.

Following the current downward trajectory, it won’t be long before anyone who believes in holding the government accountable is  labeled an “extremist,” is relegated to an underclass that doesn’t fit in, must be watched all the time, and is rounded up when the government deems it necessary.

Eventually, we will all be potential suspects, terrorists and lawbreakers in the eyes of the government.

Partisan politics have no place in this debate: Americans of all stripes would do well to remember that those who question the motives of government provide a necessary counterpoint to those who would blindly follow where politicians choose to lead.

We don’t have to agree with every criticism of the government, but we must defend the rights of all individuals to speak freely without fear of punishment or threat of banishment.

Never forget: what the architects of the police state want are submissive, compliant, cooperative, obedient, meek citizens who don’t talk back, don’t challenge government authority, don’t speak out against government misconduct, and don’t step out of line.

What the First Amendment protects—and a healthy constitutional republic requires—are citizens who routinely exercise their right to speak truth to power.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the right to speak out against government wrongdoing is the quintessential freedom.

Be warned: this quintessential freedom won’t be much good to anyone if the government makes good on its promise to make an example of Assange as a warning to other journalists intent on helping whistleblowers disclose government corruption.

Once again, we find ourselves reliving George Orwell’s 1984, which portrayed in chilling detail how totalitarian governments employ the power of language to manipulate the masses.

In Orwell’s dystopian vision of the future, Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish “thought crimes.”

Much like today’s social media censors and pre-crime police departments, Orwell’s Thought Police serve as the eyes and ears of Big Brother, while the other government agencies peddle in economic affairs (rationing and starvation), law and order (torture and brainwashing), and news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda).

Orwell’s Big Brother relies on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary.

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is “safe” and “accepted” by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry—mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all—our backs are to the walls.

From this point on, we have only two options: go down fighting, or capitulate and betray our loved ones, our friends and ourselves by insisting that, as a brainwashed Winston Smith does at the end of Orwell’s 1984, yes, 2+2 does equal 5.

As George Orwell recognized, “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Assange and Trump: Real Hero, Fake Villain

The rapid descent of the nation, the system and the planet under the domain of private-profit-first capitalism continues with opposition growing but still far too much acceptance that only agrees to new employees at the level of state rule who represent the same class interests but in more polite forms. This means some benefits for some groups but always at far more cost to others. Affirmative Action, to mention only one program created to supposedly amend some of racism’s worst social malevolence towards a minority, did far more to advance women, who represent a majority, while bringing growth to the black middle and upper middle classes but even greater growth in black poverty and a massive increase in black prisoners crowding America’s penal colony. A profit for some always entails a loss for others and as long as this system prevails, so will that rule.

A Trump regime more feared by Republican Party wealth than Democratic Party wealth feared Bernie Sanders is holding true to those fears in that it might rush the empire to ruin even faster than what was inevitable anyway. While Trump has some tendencies that put him left of what, under current perverse standards, passes for liberal, his inability to maintain a position from the start of a sentence to the end is most feared by the ruling class, which is why its liberal sect-cult has been moving towards impeachment since the day before his inauguration while the conservative-cult-sect has seen to it that he is surrounded by dunderheads and murderers who make him seem almost thoughtful by comparison.

As his administration’s policies, not always his, help bring Russia, China and really the rest of the world closer together both in immediate fear and long-term hope, the American people have to understand that we are part of that group and act that way rather than continue performing as humanity’s self-chosen rulers. We are fast approaching a point at which not just future generational threats are forecast but those in which tomorrow morning could bring on a colossal blunder that creates a war beyond anything even the brain-dead and morals-free who cause it might have imagined. The present crisis with Iran is simply the long term Israeli occupied American government policy writ larger, more dangerously and, if possible, even dumber than in the past. But this closely follows the near destruction of Venezuela which has failed but at critical cost to that nation, suffering along with too many others the death rattle abuse of an imperial power which still rules for the moment only as a result of being able to kill more people more quickly than any other nation. That awesome and ugly power is fading, too, but hoping that it will happen soon enough isn’t enough. The American people will have to bring about radical change, a transformation here that will greatly aid in the transformation of the globe into a community of cooperation, peace and social justice, to replace the bloody animosity and injustice so long accepted as reality.

Present trends are hopeful only under continued lesser evilism that enables voters to select leaders appealing to minority identity groups and performing beneficially for them while still aiding and abetting the system that will create a few more billionaires but far more poverty, war, and far less humanity the longer it is tolerated. Continued stress on individual villains posing as leaders and minorities disguising humanity as special identity groups is the divide and conquer strategy of our rulers.

If there is a single individual that warrants any attention beyond that of the human race, at least for the moment, it should be Julian Assange, whose persecution and suffering after performing as a heroic servant of the people is a disgrace to supposed if yet unrealized democracy. The future of a truly informed public able to act with full knowledge of what rulers are actually doing, after generations of living in forced atmospheres of propaganda passing for material reality, is under greater threat than ever. Assange, and one of his prime sources, Manning, are imprisoned by social forces that represent a menace to the human race and by individuals in leadership among that force who have pond scum between their ears and pus running through their veins.

These are the creatures who can rule that foreign nations must bow to the imperium or be destroyed because it knows best, is best, and represents future freedom and democracy, even if present slavery, mass murder and authoritarianism are its most important tools. These are the paid servants who report (?) and comment on reality as stenographers to power and call it “journalism” and “punditry”. And they are a tiny minority of the human race, running the nations, the people and the planet into the ground at an ever-faster pace, while we are distracted by false consciousness beyond the imagination of past social critics who invented that term.

Showing his contrasting skills, among them the negative of acting like an oaf with a nuclear weapon in his hand but the positive of at times being a crystal clear communicator, the ego-maniac in the white house has popularized the term “fake news”, instantly understood by just about everyone as describing the political establishment, corporate media and those holding power over the means of communication. That power is now fading as well, by what is still anti-social but has great possibilities of becoming truly social media. At present, it is still a market tool to make some richer at the expense of consumers, but Assange and Manning are prime examples of what it can mean in truly spreading information to the people and not just the latest product for sale or celebrity to admire or paid politician to vote for.

While the issues of climate and atmospheric plague, threats of more war, greater poverty and approaching capitalist bankruptcy must be confronted and dealt with for the longer term, the short term threat to Assange and Manning is a crisis for not just them but for humanity and any possibility of opening the books and files to reveal real rather than fake news. Freeing them is far more important than simply getting rid of Trump. Not just for them and the American people, but for what that will say about America to the people of the world.

Abuses Show Assange Case was Never About Law

It is astonishing how often one still hears well-informed, otherwise reasonable people say about Julian Assange: “But he ran away from Swedish rape charges by hiding in Ecuador’s embassy in London.”

That short sentence includes at least three factual errors. In fact, to repeat it, as so many people do, you would need to have been hiding under a rock for the past decade – or, amounting to much the same thing, been relying on the corporate media for your information about Assange, including from supposedly liberal outlets such as the Guardian and the BBC.

At the weekend, a Guardian editorial – the paper’s official voice and probably the segment most scrutinised by senior staff – made just such a false claim:

Then there is the rape charge that Mr Assange faced in Sweden and which led him to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in the first place.

The fact that the Guardian, supposedly the British media’s chief defender of liberal values, can make this error-strewn statement after nearly a decade of Assange-related coverage is simply astounding. And that it can make such a statement days after the US finally admitted that it wants to lock up Assange for 175 years on bogus “espionage” charges – a hand anyone who wasn’t being wilfully blind always knew the US was preparing to play – is still more shocking.

Assange faces no charges in Sweden yet, let alone “rape charges”. As former UK ambassador Craig Murray recently explained, the Guardian has been misleading readers by falsely claiming that an attempt by a Swedish prosecutor to extradite Assange – even though the move has not received the Swedish judiciary’s approval – is the same as his arrest on rape charges. It isn’t.

Also, Assange did not seek sanctuary in the embassay to evade the Swedish investigation. No state in the world gives a non-citizen political asylum to avoid a rape trial. The asylum was granted on political grounds. Ecuador rightly accepted Assange’s concerns that the US would seek his extradition and lock him out of sight for the rest of his life.

Assange, of course, has been proven – yet again – decisively right by recent developments.

Trapped in herd-think

The fact that so many ordinary people keep making these basic errors has a very obvious explanation. It is because the corporate media keep making these errors.

These are is not the kind of mistakes that can be explained away as an example of what one journalist has termed the problem of “churnalism”: the fact that journalists, chasing breaking news in offices depleted of staff by budget cuts, are too overworked to cover stories properly.

British journalists have had many years to get the facts straight. In an era of social media, journalists at the Guardian and the BBC have been bombarded by readers and activists with messages telling them how they are getting basic facts wrong in the Assange case. But the journalists keep doing it anyway. They are trapped in a herd-think entirely divorced from reality.

Rather than listen to experts, or common sense, these “journalists” keep regurgitating the talking points of the British security state, which are as good as identical to the talking points of the US security state.

What is so striking in the Assange coverage is the sheer number of legal anomalies in his case – and these have been accumulating relentlessly from the very start. Almost nothing in his case has gone according to the normal rules of legal procedure. And yet that very revealing fact is never noticed or commented on by the corporate media. You need to have a blind spot the size of Langley, Virginia, not to notice it.

If Assange wasn’t the head of Wikileaks, if he hadn’t embarrassed the most important western states and their leaders by divulging their secrets and crimes, if he hadn’t created a platform that allows whistleblowers to reveal the outrages committed by the western power establishment, if he hadn’t undermined that establishment’s control over information dissemination, none of the last 10 years would have followed the course it did.

If Assange had not provided us with an information revolution that undermines the narrative matrix created to serve the US security state, two Swedish women – unhappy with Assange’s sexual etiquette – would have gotten exactly what they said in their witness statements they wanted: pressure from the Swedish authorities to make him take an HIV test to give them peace of mind.

He would have been allowed back to the UK (as he, in fact, was allowed to do by the Swedish prosecutor) and would have gotten on with developing and refining the Wikileaks project. That would have helped all of us to become more critically aware of how we are being manipulated – not only by our security services but also by the corporate media that so often act as their mouthpiece.

Which is precisely why that did not happen and why Assange has been under some form of detention since 2010. Since then, his ability to perform his role as exposer of serial high-level state crimes has been ever more impeded – to the point now that he may never be able to oversee and direct Wikileaks ever again.

His current situation – locked up in Belmarsh high-security prison, in solitary confinement and deprived of access to a computer and all meaningful contact with the outside world – is so far based solely on the fact that he committed a minor infraction, breaching his police bail. Such a violation, committed by anyone else, almost never incurs prosecution, let alone a lengthy jail sentence.

So here is a far from complete list – aided by the research of John Pilger, Craig Murray and Caitlin Johnstone, and the original investigative work of Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi – of some of the most glaring anomalies in Assange’s legal troubles. There are 17 of them below. Each might conceivably have been possible in isolation. But taken together they are overwhelming evidence that this was never about enforcing the law. From the start, Assange faced political persecution.

No judicial authority

* In late summer 2010, neither of the two Swedish women alleged Assange had raped them when they made police statements. They went together to the police station after finding out that Assange had slept with them both only a matter of days apart and wanted him to be forced to take an HIV test. One of the women, SW, refused to sign the police statement when she understood the police were seeking an indictment for rape. The investigation relating to the second woman, AA, was for a sexual assault specific to Sweden. A condom produced by AA that she says Assange tore during sex was found to have neither her nor Assange’s DNA on it, undermining her credibility.

* Sweden’s strict laws protecting suspects during preliminary investigations were violated by the Swedish media to smear Assange as a rapist. In response, the Stockholm chief prosecutor, Eva Finne, took charge and quickly cancelled the investigation: “I don’t believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape.” She later concluded: “There is no suspicion of any crime whatsoever.”

* The case was revived by another prosecutor, Marianne Ny, although she never questioned Assange. He spent more than a month in Sweden waiting for developments in the case, but was then told by prosecutors he was free to leave for the UK, suggesting that suspicions against him were not considered serious enough to detain him in Sweden. Nonetheless, shortly afterwards, Interpol issued a Red Notice for Assange, usually reserved for terrorists and dangerous criminals.

* The UK supreme court approved an extradition to Sweden based on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) in 2010, despite the fact that it was not signed by a “judicial authority”, only by the Swedish prosecutor. The terms of the EAW agreement were amended by the UK government shortly after the Assange ruling to make sure such an abuse of legal procedure never occurred again.

* The UK supreme court also approved Assange’s extradition even though Swedish authorities refused to offer an assurance that he would not be extradited onwards to the US, where a grand jury was already formulating draconian charges in secret against him under the Espionage Act. The US similarly refused to give an assurance they would not seek his extradition.

* In these circumstances, Assange fled to Ecuador’s embassy in London in summer 2012, seeking political asylum. That was after the Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, blocked Assange’s chance to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

* Australia not only refused Assange, a citizen, any help during his long ordeal, but prime minister Julia Gillard even threatened to strip Assange of his citizenship, until it was pointed out that it would be illegal for Australia to do so.

* Britain, meanwhile, not only surrounded the embassy with a large police force at great public expense, but William Hague, the foreign secretary, threatened to tear up the Vienna Convention, violating Ecuador’s diplomatic territory by sending UK police into the embassy to arrest Assange.

Six years of heel-dragging

* Although Assange was still formally under investigation, Ny refused to come to London to interview him, despite similar interviews having been conducted by Swedish prosecutors 44 times in the UK in the period Assange was denied that right.

* In 2016, international legal experts in the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which adjudicates on whether governments have complied with human rights obligations, ruled that Assange was being detained unlawfully by Britain and Sweden. Although both countries participated in the UN investigation, and had given the tribunal vocal support when other countries were found guilty of human rights violations, they steadfastly ignored its ruling in favour of Assange. UK Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond flat-out lied in claiming the UN panel was “made up of lay people and not lawyers”. The tribunal comprises leading experts in international law, as is clear from their CVs. Nonetheless, the lie became Britain’s official response to the UN ruling. The British media performed no better. A Guardian editorial dismissed the verdict as nothing more than a “publicity stunt”.

* Ny finally relented on Assange being interviewed in November 2016, with a Swedish prosecutor sent to London after six years of heel-dragging. However, Assange’s Swedish lawyer was barred from being present. Ny was due to be questioned about the interview by a Stockholm judge in May 2017 but closed the investigation against Assange the very same day.

* In fact, correspondence that was later revealed under a Freedom of Information request – pursued by Italian investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi – shows that the British prosecution service, the CPS, pressured the Swedish prosecutor not to come to the London to interview Assange through 2010 and 2011, thereby creating the embassy standoff.

* Also, the CPS destroyed most of the incriminating correspondence to circumvent the FoI requests. The emails that surfaced did so only because some copies were accidentally overlooked in the destruction spree. Those emails were bad enough. They show that in 2013 Sweden had wanted to drop the case against Assange but had come under strong British pressure to continue the pretence of seeking his extradition. There are emails from the CPS stating, “Don’t you dare” drop the case, and most revealing of all: “Please do not think this case is being dealt with as just another extradition.”

* It also emerged that Marianne Ny had deleted an email she received from the FBI.

* Despite his interview with a Swedish prosecutor taking place in late 2016, Assange was not subseqently charged in absentia – an option Sweden could have pursued if it had thought the evidence was strong enough.

* After Sweden dropped the investigation against Assange, his lawyers sought last year to get the British arrest warrant for his bail breach dropped. They had good grounds, both because the allegations over which he’d been bailed had been dropped by Sweden and because he had justifiable cause to seek asylum given the apparent US interest in extraditing him and locking him up for life for political crimes. His lawyers could also argue convincingly that the time he had spent in confinement, first under house arrest and then in the embassy, was more than equivalent to time, if any, that needed to be served for the bail infringement. However, the judge, Emma Arbuthnot, rejected the Assange team’s strong legal arguments. She was hardly a dispassionate observer. In fact, in a properly ordered world she should have recused herself, given that she is the wife of a government whip, who was also a business partner of a former head of MI6, Britain’s version of the CIA.

* Assange’s legal rights were again flagrantly violated last week, with the collusion of Ecuador and the UK, when US prosecutors were allowed to seize Assange’s personal items from the embassy while his lawyers and UN officials were denied the right to be present.

Information dark ages

Even now, as the US prepares its case to lock Assange away for the rest of his life, most are still refusing to join the dots. Chelsea Manning has been repeatedly jailed, and is now facing ruinous fines for every day she refuses to testify against Assange as the US desperately seeks to prop up its bogus espionage claims. In Medieval times, the authorities were more honest: they simply put people on the rack.

Back in 2017, when the rest of the media were still pretending this was all about Assange fleeing Swedish “justice”, John Pilger noted:

In 2008, a secret Pentagon document prepared by the “Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch” foretold a detailed plan to discredit WikiLeaks and smear Assange personally. The “mission” was to destroy the “trust” that was WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity”. This would be achieved with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”. Silencing and criminalising such an unpredictable source of truth-telling was the aim.” …

According to Australian diplomatic cables, Washington’s bid to get Assange is “unprecedented in scale and nature”. …

The US Justice Department has contrived charges of “espionage”, “conspiracy to commit espionage”, “conversion” (theft of government property), “computer fraud and abuse” (computer hacking) and general “conspiracy”. The favoured Espionage Act, which was meant to deter pacifists and conscientious objectors during World War One, has provisions for life imprisonment and the death penalty. …

In 2015, a federal court in Washington blocked the release of all information about the “national security” investigation against WikiLeaks, because it was “active and ongoing” and would harm the “pending prosecution” of Assange. The judge, Barbara J. Rothstein, said it was necessary to show “appropriate deference to the executive in matters of national security”. This is a kangaroo court.

All of this information was available to any journalist or newspaper  that cared to search it out and wished to publicise it. And yet not one corporate media outlet – apart from Stefania Maurizi – has done so over the past nine years. Instead they have shored up a series of preposterous US and UK state narratives designed to keep Assange behind bars and propel the rest of us back into the information dark ages.