Category Archives: Craig Murray

Where is Canadian Media on the Assange File?

After 10 years of restricted freedom, political exile and incarceration, Julian Assange finally came face-to-face with his accusers at the Old Bailey Criminal Court in London. For three weeks in September, a team of English lawyers argued on behalf of their client, the U.S. Department of Justice, that the beleaguered WikiLeaks founder and publisher should be handed over to a U.S. national security court to face 17 counts under the 1917 Espionage Act.

If convicted by the District Court of Eastern Virginia, where the indictments originated, Assange will spend the rest of his life in an American supermax facility for having published evidence of United States war crimes, torture and a host of other government wrongdoing.

“The decade-long saga that brought us to this point should appall anyone who cares about our increasingly fragile freedoms,” blogged former Guardian reporter and Martha Gellhorn prize winner Jonathan Cook on the eve of Assange’s extradition hearings.

“Right now, every journalist in the world ought to be up in arms, protesting at the abuses Assange is suffering, and has suffered, and the fate he will endure if extradition is approved.”

If you go by years of Canadian reporting on Assange and WikiLeaks, Canadian journalists don’t share Cook’s sentiment. When asked in the summer if advocacy group Canadian Journalists for Free Expression has plans to advocate for Assange’s freedom, CJFE president Philip Tunley responded, “I am not seeing any consensus at CJFE to weigh in on behalf of Mr. Assange, though some clearly still support him and wish him well.”

The premise that it takes an informed citizenry to run a true democracy is being seriously subverted by the Canadian fourth estate itself. By distracting attention away from the press freedom principles of Assange’s extradition case and obsessing over his character, Canadian mainstream press have undermined the public’s right to know while ignoring the significance of WikiLeaks releases themselves. That needs to change.

As a Canadian freelancer, enduring 10 years of biased and inaccurate reporting in the Canadian press about Assange has been a source of dismay and frustration. Petitioning and complaining to senior editors and broadcast gatekeepers was clearly naïve given the paucity of responses.

One response that did come back signposted a troubling predicament in Canadian Assange and WikiLeaks coverage.

CBC had posted a Thomson Reuters story in August about a U.S. Senate Committee report that claimed WikiLeaks worked with Russian Intelligence to release the Democratic National Committee  emails in 2016.

When I suggested in my complaint that the report provides no evidence for this classic claim against WikiLeaks and that repeating official unsubstantiated narratives does not make them true, CBC director of journalistic standards Paul Hambleton emailed back:

“I fully understand that you may hold a different view than that of the Senate committee.

It is not the CBC’s obligation to determine what is ‘truth’ (a truly dangerous notion for any broadcaster), but only to present differing views fairly and accurately affording Canadians the opportunity and the information they need to make up their own minds about the nature or quality of the views expressed.”

I argued back: “The predicament here is that journalism is not principally about ‘the nature or quality of views.’ Journalism is foremost about presenting facts, checked and verified.”

What’s seriously worrying in the Assange and WikiLeaks coverage I complained about to CBC and other news outlets is that for the public, the repetition of established narratives — including unsubstantiated claims and assertions —eventually becomes a substitute for fact or truth.

I haven’t heard back from Mr. Hambleton.

When I wasn’t writing complaint emails to news outlets, I was busy pitching Assange stories and opinion pieces of my own. Except for two queries, most were politely (but outright) rejected, citing issues with space and timing.

Canadaland published one submission that called out Canadian Assange coverage for ignoring the United States’  attempt to criminalize whistleblower journalism.

The National Observer posted my opinion letter after negotiating with the editor who asserted one of the classic positions held by many in the legacy press. “Assange is a programmer and a hacker, but never worked as a journalist. You’re framing the issue as a journalism freedom issue. For me this is still a problem in your framing.”

The problem with my “framing” was resolved when I pointed out that Assange and WikiLeaks won a string of journalism awards over the years including the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism awarded annually to a journalist “whose work has penetrated the established version of events and told an unpalatable truth that exposes establishment propaganda, or ‘official drivel’, as Martha Gellhorn called it.”

We find ourselves in a time when unauthorized ideas are no longer guaranteed to make it into the mainstream, even when those ideas have been fact-checked and proven to be true.

The crisis in Canadian journalism isn’t underfunding and it isn’t the concentration of media ownership. The plight of Canadian journalism, if reportage on Assange is the yardstick, are the signposts that fearless independent reporting that holds governments and institutions to account has all but vanished from the mainstream, which is where most Canadians get their news.

In 2010, WikiLeaks released 750,000 pages of the Manning leaks, “the largest leak of classified documents in U.S history” declared the Pentagon  – State Department cables, Guantanamo secrets, Afghan war diaries and Iraq war logs which included collateral murder, the helicopter gunsight video that shows unprovoked slayings of civilians by U.S. troops in the streets of Baghdad.

Australian journalist John Pilger said Assange and WikiLeaks were in the crosshairs of United States authorities years before the publicity around the war logs releases made WikiLeaks a household name.

“The aim was to silence and criminalize WikiLeaks and its editor and publisher. It was as if they planned a war on a single human being and on the very principle of freedom of speech,” Pilger told a crowd of Assange supporters in front of the Old Bailey.

Pilger described in detail the campaign to discredit Assange led by the Cyber Counter-Intelligence Assessments Branch of the U.S. Defense Department after a 2007 WikiLeaks post of a U.S. Army manual of standard operating procedures for soldiers overseeing al-Qaida suspects held in Guantanamo military prison.

Pilger refers to the extradition hearings as “the final act to bury Julian Assange. It’s not due process, it’s due revenge.”

According to independent observers, the structural inequalities of the extradition proceedings alone, as overseen by Westminster District Judge Vanessa Baraitser, provide plenty of cause to have the U.S. extradition request dismissed outright.

During his incarceration at maximum security Belmarsh facility, Assange had only restricted access to his legal team and was only permitted to hold on to case files for a limited time. In court Assange sat in the back of the room behind a glass partition and wasn’t permitted confidential communications with his lawyers.

Two protected defence witnesses, former employees of Spanish security firm UC Global, confirmed that they recorded conversations in the Ecuadorian embassy between Assange and his lawyers and gave the information to U.S. intelligence officials.

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, also a witness for the defence, had his case thrown out for less, after president Richard Nixon operatives broke into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office to steal mental health information that might discredit him.

Former UK diplomat and independent journalist Craig Murray, who reported in his daily blog from Courtroom 10 at the Central Criminal Court of England, wrote in his Day 6 report from the hearings: “What came over most strongly was the desire of both judge and prosecution to railroad through the extradition with as little of the case against it getting a public airing as possible.”

None of the abuses of process were reported by establishment reporters. The only Canadian report from inside the courtroom, by the Globe and Mail, validated Murray’s observations and helped ensure judge and prosecution had their way.

Globe and Mail Europe correspondent Paul Waldie concludes in his Sept. 16 report about Daniel Ellsberg’s testimony, “At one point he (Assange) started heckling Judge Vanessa Baraitser who threatened to kick him out.”

However, according to Court News UK reporter Charlie Jones, what actually happened was that when U.S. prosecutors objected to the live testimony of German-Lebanese citizen Khaled El-Masri  — a survivor of CIA kidnapping, torture, and rendition —, Assange stood up and “heckled” from behind the glass partition at the back of the courtroom, saying “Madame, I will not accept you censoring a torture victim’s statement to this court.”

Waldie made no mention of defence witness El-Masri’s testimony, which confirmed what WikiLeaks’ publication of U.S. diplomatic cables had revealed in 2010, that significant U.S. pressure was brought on German authorities not to arrest and prosecute CIA actors.

Waldie also didn’t bring up that lawyers for the U.S. prosecution argued vehemently to keep all references to U.S. torture and wrong doing out of the proceeding’s transcripts.

Noam Chomsky was one of the defence witnesses whose full testimony Baraitser and the prosecution didn’t want to hear. His live testimony was replaced by a four-minute summary read into the court records.

An excerpt from Chomsky’s written submission: “In my view, Julian Assange, in courageously upholding political beliefs that most of us profess to share, has performed an enormous service to all the people in the world who treasure the values of freedom and democracy and who therefore demand the right to know what their elected representatives are doing. His actions in turn have led him to be pursued in a cruel and intolerable manner.”

Canadian coverage of Assange’s extradition consists almost entirely of the same Thomson-Reuters and Associated Press dispatches posted on various Canadian news sites. If you held them up against independent accounts, you’d think indie journos and wire service reporters attended different events.

Fidel Narváez, the Ecuadorian diplomat who granted Julian Assange political asylum, was one of only a handful of observers permitted into the courtroom. Narváez reports that on the first day, Baraitser cut access to the video stream in Courtroom 9 that had been previously authorized for nearly 40 human rights organizations and international observers, including Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and PEN International.

“If the case in London were decided solely on justice, as it should in a state based on law, this battle would have been won by Assange,” writes Narváez in one of his daily dispatches.

Narváez and other independent observers suggest that what was adjudicated was not whether Assange should be extradited for violating the Espionage Act, but rather the criminality of the American state itself.

The chilling claim put forward by U.S. prosecutors that the United States has jurisdiction over any journalist, any publication, anywhere in the world to prosecute under the Espionage Act for publishing classified U.S. information hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Canadian Association of Journalists.

“I can assure you that I, as president, as well as the CAJ’s advocacy committee, are keeping a very close eye on the Assange case,” said Brent Jolly. “The CAJ still believes the United States should immediately drop its attempts to extradite Mr. Assange.”

“Encouraging sources to leak information that is in the public interest to the media is a basic practice of journalism which must be defended. Journalists and whistleblowers have a role to play in protecting citizens in a democracy,” Jolly’s predecessor, Karyn Pugliese, told me after Assange was arrested and imprisoned at Belmarsh in 2019.

The CAJ’s position has yet to translate into accurate and unbiased reporting on the Assange-WikiLeaks file by Canadian journalists and news organizations. However, coverage of domestic occurrences of the ‘Assange effect’ — attempts to criminalize journalism, such as Justin Brake’s and Karl Dockstader’s arrest for covering Indigenous land disputes —  have been diligently reported.

“There is a vague but widely held notion among the Canadian press that Assange’s troubles are not terribly important and not particularly newsworthy,” Canadaland publisher Jesse Brown told me in October after the hearings.  “To actually engage with the facts invariably means accepting that Julian Assange is being persecuted for telling the public things about the American government that they did not want known, and that means accepting that Julian Assange’s cause is every journalist’s cause.”

The hearings wrapped up three weeks of witness testimonies in September. Assange’s lawyers submitted their closing arguments to the court on Nov. 6 arguing that the request for Assange’s extradition is the result of U.S. President Donald Trump’s political agenda.

“It is politically motivated, it is an abuse of the process of this court, and it is a clear violation of the Anglo-U.S. treaty that governs this extradition.”

Prosecutors will submit their closing arguments on Nov. 20. Baraitser is expected to hand down her judgement on Jan. 4.

The post Where is Canadian Media on the Assange File? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“None Of It Reported”: How Corporate Media Buried The Assange Trial

One of the most imposing features of state-corporate propaganda is its incessant, repetitive nature. Over and over again, the ‘mainstream’ media have to convince the public that ‘our’ government prioritises the health, welfare and livelihoods of the general population, rather than the private interests of an elite stratum of society that owns and runs all the major institutions, banks, corporations and media.

We are constantly bombarded by government ministers and their media lackeys telling us that ‘our’ armed forces require huge resources, at public expense, to maintain the country’s ‘peace’ and ‘security’. We do not hear so much about the realpolitik of invading, bombing or otherwise ‘intervening’ in other countries with military force, diplomatic muscle, and bribes of trade and aid deals to carve up natural resources and markets for the benefit of a few.

For those old enough to remember 2002-2003, who can forget the endless repeated rhetoric of the ‘threat’ posed by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, of how his ‘weapons of mass destruction’ could be launched within 45 minutes of his order, and how ‘we’ simply had to remove him from power? Or how, in 2011, the US, UK and France had to launch ‘humanitarian intervention’ to stop the ‘mass slaughter’ of civilians by Gaddafi’s forces in Libya. And on and on.

Moreover, the public is saturated by obsequious ‘news’ about the royal family, allowing for the odd scandal now and again, to convince us of their ‘relevance’, the ‘great work’ they do for the country, not least ‘boosting the tourism industry’, and their supposedly vital role in maintaining a ‘stable society’ steeped in tradition and rich history.

But when it comes to arguably the most important political trial in our lifetimes, there is a not-so-curious media reluctance to dwell on it or even mention it, never mind grant it the kind of blanket coverage that celebrity trials regularly generate.

Thus, media attention given to the extradition hearing of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder and editor, was minimal and dwarfed by the coverage devoted to the actor Johnny Depp over the summer.

We monitored BBC News at Ten, the main evening BBC news programme on BBC1, during the four weeks of the Assange hearing. As far as we could tell, there was not a single substantive item (there may have been passing mention on the first day). We observed that the last time Paul Royall, the editor of BBC News at Ten, had mentioned Assange in his daily tweets giving the running order for that evening’s News at Ten was in November 2019. We challenged Royall politely several times on Twitter, but received no response. We received the same non-response from deputy editor Lizzi Watson and her colleague Jonathan Whitaker.

We also challenged Daniel Sandford, the BBC’s home affairs correspondent whose remit, according to his Twitter bio, includes law.

We asked him:

‘Hello @BBCDanielS

‘As Home Affairs Correspondent for @BBCNews, where is your reporting of the #JulianAssange extradition hearing?’

To his credit, Sandford did at least respond, unlike the majority of his BBC colleagues in recent years. He told us:

‘The case is being covered by our World Affairs unit. I have been in a few hearings, and it is slightly repetitive at the moment. It will return as a news story.’

Those words – ‘slightly repetitive’ – look destined to become Sandford’s journalistic epitaph. Ironically, they have been endlessly repeated back to him by members of the public who were understandably incredulous, perplexed, irritated or even angry at his dismissive response to Assange’s ordeal and the huge implications of the trial.

We asked Sandford why he had never mentioned the testimony of Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture:

‘Thanks for replying. The UN’s @NilsMelzer notes that “the case is a battle over press freedom, the rule of law & the future of democracy, none of which can coexist with secrecy”. Surely the requirement of impartiality means you should report this; not wait until it is too late?’

We received no further response from the BBC correspondent. However, Rebecca Vincent, Director of International Campaigns at Reporters Without Borders, followed up our challenge and told Sandford:

‘I find this disappointing, Daniel. Repetitive or not, the public needs to know what is happening in these proceedings. And meanwhile – NGOs have been barred access. I can only get in thanks to the support of a network of grassroots activists queuing from 5 am over four weeks.’

Sandford bristled:

‘So you decided to join the pile-on too Rebecca? Thank you. I politely explained to @medialens why I personally was not covering the case and added that I had attended some hearings from personal interest, and explained why it is not news every day. But you are disappointed?’

‘Pile-on’ is the pejorative term used when a journalist receives critical replies from the public. Unfortunately, Sandford had received some abuse, but most people made polite and rational points. As we have learned over the years, most journalists hate being challenged by informed members of the public. And any instances of abuse – usually in the minority – are often leaned upon as an excuse to ignore or dismiss all challenges.

The home affairs correspondent continued:

‘I don’t have great influence over what is covered each day except on those stories I am working on, but press freedom does include the freedom for a news organisation to decide what should be included in the news each day.’

Rebecca Vincent replied again:

‘Which very often does not seem to include stories of massively egregious press freedom violations – that will in turn set a precedent affecting said news organisation. As I said, disappointing.’

Teymoor Nabili, a former news presenter on Al Jazeera, BBC and CNBC, replied to Sandford:

‘That’s a particularly bizarre reading of “press freedom”’

Indeed. In the ‘mainstream’ media – BBC News included – ‘press freedom’ amounts to publishing power-friendly ‘news’ articles, biased ‘analysis’ and commentary, and diversionary pabulum and tittle-tattle.

Journalist Mohammed Elmaazi, who had been reporting daily from the trial, also replied to Sandford:

‘This is probably the most significant case involving press freedom, the right to know and the Rule of Law, in the Western world in half a century, if not more so. Though as an individual reporter I wouldn’t hold you personally responsible for BBC’s coverage (or lack thereof).’

As John McEvoy noted in a piece on The Canary website:

‘To write about the greatest press freedom case in recent history, it has been necessary to rely almost exclusively on the work of independent journalists.’

An extensive list of these journalists can be found here.

Richard Medhurst, one of the independent journalists reporting the trial, made a powerful short speech outside the Old Bailey on one of the final days. The trial, and the lack of media coverage, was ‘an abomination’, he said. So too was the fact that the West’s war criminals were not even mentioned in court – Tony Blair, George Bush, Jack Straw, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest. In sum, the hearing was:

‘An absolute mockery of any kind of semblance of justice in this country’.

Former UK ambassador Craig Murray concurred when he too spoke outside the Old Bailey, saying of Assange:

‘His ordeal goes on and on. And all because he published the truth. There is no allegation in that court room that anything he published was a lie. Anything he published was true. And much of that truth revealed terrible crimes – war crimes and crimes against humanity, and lies and corruption by government. And not one of the people who committed those war crimes is on trial anywhere. Instead we have the man who had the courage to reveal those war crimes is the one whose liberty is at stake.’

A Twitter commenter made a point about one of the independent reporters at the trial:

‘Kevin Gosztola has reported more on the Julian Assange extradition trial than the NY Times, WaPo, BBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, MSNBC have combined.’

Gosztola, editor of Shadowproof.com website, followed up with:

‘Fact-checked this and it only took a few minutes to confirm #AssangeTrial’

And yet, bizarrely, there was a BBC reporter present throughout the Assange hearing, according to both Rebecca Vincent and James Doleman of Byline Times, who was providing daily trial updates. As Vincent noted:

‘The BBC had a reporter in court (I could see him from the public gallery) who was apparently filing twice a day. There were 18 days of proceedings. Why weren’t more pieces published?’

So, what was happening to the reports that were presumably being submitted by the BBC reporter? Nobody could tell us, including the ever-silent editors of BBC News at Ten.

Investigative journalists Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis of Declassified UK have extensively studied numerous aspects of the Assange extradition hearing and published seven articles concerning legal irregularities and conflicts of interest in the case. These articles revealed:

  1. Julian Assange’s judge and her husband’s links to the British military establishment exposed by WikiLeaks
  2. The son of Julian Assange’s judge is linked to an anti-data leak company created by the UK intelligence establishment
  3. Chief magistrate in Assange case received financial benefits from secretive partner organisations of UK Foreign Office
  4. UK minister who approved Trump’s request to extradite Assange spoke at secretive US conferences with people calling for him to be “neutralized”
  5. At risk from coronavirus, Julian Assange is one of just two inmates in Belmarsh maximum-security prison held for skipping bail
  6. UK government refuses to release information about Assange judge who has 96% extradition record
  7. As British judge made rulings against Julian Assange, her husband was involved with right-wing lobby group briefing against WikiLeaks founder

BBC News and other corporate media could certainly not be accused of being at all ‘repetitive’ about such deeply damaging aspects of the extradition hearing.

Observing the court proceedings from the limited space of the public gallery day by day, Murray warned:

‘It has been clear to me from Day 1 that I am watching a charade unfold. It is not in the least a shock to me that [magistrate Vanessa] Baraitser does not think anything beyond the written opening arguments has any effect. I have again and again reported to you that, where rulings have to be made, she has brought them into court pre-written, before hearing the arguments before her.

‘I strongly expect the final decision was made in this case even before opening arguments were received.’

Murray added:

‘The plan of the US Government throughout has been to limit the information available to the public and limit the effective access to a wider public of what information is available. Thus we have seen the extreme restrictions on both physical and video access. A complicit mainstream media has ensured those of us who know what is happening are very few in the wider population.’

In a superb piece for Consortium News, political commentator Alexander Mercouris demolished the shifting and nonsensical US case for extradition. He nailed the fundamental reason that Washington is pursuing Assange:

‘Julian Assange and his organization WikiLeaks, have done those things which the U.S. government and its national security apparatus most fear, and have worked hardest to prevent, by exposing the terrible reality of much of what the U.S. government now routinely does, and is determined to conceal, and what much of the media is helping the U.S. government to conceal.’

He continued:

‘the true purpose of the U.S. government’s relentless pursuit of Assange is to prevent him from exposing more of its crimes, and to punish him for exposing those of its crimes which he did expose, if only so as to deter others from doing the same thing, is perfectly obvious to any unbiased and realistic observer.’

Mercouris added:

‘Assange and WikiLeaks have exposed rampant war crimes and human rights abuses over the course of illegal wars waged by the U.S. government and its allies.  The death toll from these wars runs at the very least into the tens of thousands, and more plausibly into the hundreds of thousands or even millions.’

In conclusion:

‘In other words, it is Assange and his sources, first and foremost Chelsea Manning, who are the defenders of international law, including the Nuremberg Principles, and including in the case which is currently underway, whilst it is those who persecute them, including by bringing the current case against Assange, who are international law’s violators.

‘This is the single most important fact about this case, and it explains everything about it.’

At the end of the trial, RT’s Afshin Rattansi noted:

‘English magistrate Vanessa Baraitser declares at London’s Old Bailey that she will judge on Julian Assange’s extradition to a Virginia Court to face Espionage charges on 4 January 2021. The judgement will impact every journalist in the world.’

We highlighted that last sentence on our Twitter feed, adding:

‘As for stenographers and guardians of power in the “mainstream” media, they can just carry on as before…’

This, of course, is a central reason why state-corporate ‘journalists’ are so disinterested in the trial. The overwhelming majority simply do not – cannot – see themselves threatened by Washington’s assault on real journalism and truth-telling.

Closing Scene: A BBC Man Appears

On the penultimate day of the four-week hearing, the BBC’s avuncular veteran reporter John Simpson turned up (‘Still with BBC after 53 yrs, trying to make sense of a mad world’, says his Twitter bio): someone we had sparred with on the topic of Iraq in the early days of Media Lens.

He tweeted after his day at court:

‘I went to Julian #Assange’s extradition hearing at the Old Bailey today.  It will end tomorrow or Friday, with a decision expected in January.  Alarming witness statements today from whistleblowers about the bugging of Assange’s lawyers in Spain.’

Simpson’s comment was not entirely accurate or comprehensive. According to whistleblower testimony presented at the Old Bailey by former employees of UC Global, a Spanish security company, attempts had allegedly been made by the company to bug Assange and his lawyers inside the Ecuador embassy, under the auspices of the CIA. That fact alone should have been sufficient to throw out any court case against Assange, given the supposedly sacrosanct confidentiality of private legal conversations between lawyers and clients. There were even proposals by UC Global to kidnap or poison the WikiLeaks publisher on behalf of the CIA. Investigative journalist Max Blumenthal has done valuable work in exposing all of this, as he detailed in an interview with Deepa Driver of the campaign group Don’t Extradite Assange, and in an extensive article for The Grayzone website.

These shocking details appear never to have surfaced in BBC coverage, such as it was. On October 2 – the day after the hearing had ended – we observed that there had been just four articles published on the website during the hearing. One was a short, bland report of the first day of the case. Two were more ‘human interest’ pieces about Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, and their two children. A fourth piece was titled, ‘Julian Assange: Campaigner or attention seeker’. Perhaps ‘the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster’ believes the latter to be the case, thus deciding to all but ignore the hearing and its serious implications for justice, journalism and democracy.

It is worth noting that Stuart Millar is the digital news editor at BBC News, so presumably has responsibility for the website. He is the former head of news at the Guardian. This ‘comical’ tweet about Assange dates from Millar’s time at the Guardian:

‘I like to think that #Assange chose the Ecuadorean embassy because it’s so convenient for Harrods’

Yet more proof, if any were needed, of the groupthink that prevails among even the most ‘respected’ media outlets. If you need to demonstrate that your media credentials are bona fide – that you are ‘one of us’ – making a ‘joke’ at the expense of Julian Assange is a sure-fire way to show you can be trusted.

It would never do, for example, to give headline coverage to the CIA-instigated spying of Assange in the Ecuador embassy, the torture he is enduring by his incarceration, his parlous mental and physical state, the real risk of suicide should he be extradited to the US, almost certainly being dumped into the ‘hellhole’ of a ‘supermax’ US prison. All of this is to ensure that Assange serves as a warning example to anyone – anywhere in the world – who might dare to publish information that the US government does not wish to be made public.

Such grotesquely disturbing details did not even approach becoming ‘slightly repetitive’ to consumers of BBC News. Instead, they were buried. The BBC could, for instance, have interviewed Fidel Narvaez, former Ecuadorian Consul, to speak about the spying (which took place after Narvaez had been replaced in the embassy, following the election of Ecuador president, Lenin Moreno, who has been bending over backwards to do the US’s bidding under Donald Trump).

BBC journalists, and other ‘mainstream’ reporters could have included something of Noam Chomsky’s five-page submission to the hearing in support of Assange. They could have printed just one line, namely that Assange:

‘has performed an enormous service to all the people in the world who treasure the values of freedom and democracy’.

Reporters routinely behave as stenographers to power – the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg and ITV’s political editor Robert Peston are prime examples. But to be a stenographer to cogent commentary from Noam Chomsky is, of course, unthinkable. As we pointed out on Twitter on October 2, the day after the hearing ended, Kuenssberg has mentioned Assange a grand total of four times on her Twitter account – all back in 2014. Then, she had asked blankly:

‘What do you think should happen to him?’

Her silence on the extradition hearing spoke volumes: BBC News in a nutshell.

As far as we can tell from Twitter searches, Peston last mentioned Julian Assange on January 29, 2017. When we published a media alert last month that discussed Assange, we challenged Peston and Kuenssberg about their long-term silence on the WikiLeaks founder. Needless to say, they did not reply.

Likewise, other high-profile media figures including the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Huw Edwards, Andrew Neil and Nick Robinson, and Sky News political editor Adam Boulton, kept quiet when we asked them to explain their silence on Assange.

As US comedian Jimmy Dore said:

‘We need everybody exposing war crimes and the crimes of our government… So if you see a newsperson and they’re not screaming about this, the reason why they’re not is because it helps their career.’

‘Free Julian Assange’ campaigner John Mcghee, one of those protesting outside the Old Bailey on the day John Simpson was there, wrote an account of having met the BBC world affairs editor and enjoying a warm friendly exchange:

‘We talked for a few minutes and he revealed to me his incomprehension at the glaring absence of media representatives in or indeed outside the Old Bailey. He was genuinely shocked by the fact that a mainstream media embargo has apparently been imposed on the trial of the century that could sound the death knell for freedom of speech the world over.’

Certainly, some credit is due to John Simpson for reporting on the extradition hearing on that day’s BBC Radio 4 PM Programme. But it was a short segment of just 3 mins, 28 secs near the end of the hour-long programme, and it wasn’t even trailed at the start of PM. Shocked or not, Simpson certainly made no mention of his ‘incomprehension’ at the lack of media coverage.

Moreover, although it included short quotes from Stella Moris, Assange’s partner, and Jen Robinson, one of Assange’s lawyers, it was a thin piece that even repeated the debunked claim that US agents and informers had been harmed as a result of the work of WikiLeaks and Assange. It missed out so much of importance that was being diligently chronicled daily by Craig Murray. His detailed updates included copious vital facts that were glaringly absent from almost all ‘mainstream’ coverage; in particular BBC News.

Simpson reacted with short shrift (or silence) to those who complained to him on Twitter about the dearth of BBC coverage. He replied to one:

‘So how come I reported on this for the BBC yesterday? Find another conspiracy theory, is my advice.’

We are aware that the BBC did not totally blank Assange. But surely even Simpson could recognise that coverage had been pitifully inadequate given the importance and possible repercussions of the case? No ‘conspiracy theory’ is required. It is simply a fact.

Recently, when Tim Davie, the new BBC director general, tried to make his mark by declaring:

‘We are going to be publishing clear social guidelines… the enforcement policies will be very clear… we’ll be able to take people off Twitter’

he was asked by MPs ‘about the impartiality of those who work for the BBC’. But so far, none of them have asked about the impartiality of those who work for the BBC and have tweeted (or reported) nothing about a hugely significant political trial taking place in this country. It is what John Pilger rightly calls, ‘lying by omission’.

We sent an open tweet to any prospective BBC whistleblowers struggling with their consciences:

‘Most large organisations have whistleblowers who step forward when ethics, conscience and courage prevail.

‘Where are the whistleblowers inside BBC newsrooms? #JulianAssange

Nobody has responded, so far.

‘Shaming’

Afshin Rattansi interviewed John Pilger about the Assange hearing and its ramifications on the Going Underground programme on RT (which, as Twitter is keen to tell everyone, is ‘Russia state-affiliated media’. As yet, BBC News Twitter accounts have not been labelled as ‘UK state-affiliated media’).

Rattansi asked Pilger to respond to Daniel Sandford’s excuse for not reporting on the hearing as it was ‘slightly repetitive’. Pilger said:

‘For that BBC journalist to describe [the hearing] as “repetitive” doesn’t quite leave me speechless. But it leaves me with a sense that it’s over with much of the media.’

He explained:

‘To watch this day after day. This extraordinary, important trial telling us so much about how those who govern us, those who want to control our lives, and what they do to other countries, how they lie to us – watch this day after day and see none of it reported. Or, if you do see it reported, you’ll see something like “Assange told to pipe down” by the judge on a day – he only did this two or three times, I don’t know how he kept his mouth shut – where he stood up and protested at evidence that was clearly false and offensive to him. That was the headline. That was the story of the day.’

One vital example was when Assange was wrongly accused by the prosecution lawyers of having endangered the lives of US agents and their informers in releasing WikiLeaks documents that had not been redacted of names. This endlessly repeated propaganda claim was refuted by the famous Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg who testified on behalf of Assange:

‘I have also spoken to [Assange] privately over many hours. During 2010 and 2011, at a time when some of the published material had not yet seen the light of day, I was able to observe [Julian’s] approach. It was the exact opposite of reckless publication and nor would he wilfully expose others to harm.

‘Wikileaks could have published the entirety of the material on receipt. Instead I was able to observe but also to discuss with him the unprecedented steps he initiated, of engaging with conventional media partners, [to maximise] the impact of publication [so] it might [best] affect US government policy and its alteration.’

Award-winning Australian journalist Mark Davis was an eye-witness to the preparation of the Afghan War Logs in 2010 for newspaper publication, documented in Davis’s film, ‘Inside Wikileaks’. Davis spoke at a public meeting in Sydney last year and said that he was present alongside Assange in the Guardian’s ‘bunker’ where a team from the Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel worked on the publication of articles based on, as the NYT put it:

‘a six-year archive of classified military documents [that] offers an unvarnished and grim picture of the Afghan war.’

Davis attests that, far from being ‘cavalier’ about releasing documents that might endanger lives, it was:

‘Guardian journalists [who] neglected and appeared to care little about redacting the documents.’

Moreover:

‘They had a “graveyard humour” about people being harmed and no one, he stated emphatically, expressed concern about civilian casualties except Julian Assange.’

Assange had:

‘subsequently requested that the release of the Afghan War Logs be delayed for the purpose of redaction, but the Guardian not only insisted on the agreed date, they abandoned him to redact 10,000 documents alone.’

In fact, Assange worked through the night to do this, after the Guardian journalists had gone home.

Moreover, the claim that lives had been put at risk by WikiLeaks in publishing US cables could not even be substantiated by the US itself. As Patrick Cockburn observed in the Independent:

‘The Pentagon has admitted that it failed to find a single person covertly working for the US who had been killed as a result of the WikiLeaks disclosures. This failure was not for lack of trying: The Pentagon had set up a special military task force, deploying 120 counter-intelligence officers, to find at least one death that could be blamed on Assange and his colleagues but had found nothing.’

In the same RT interview mentioned earlier, Rattansi asked about the role of the Guardian in the Assange case; something we have documented at length. Pilger summed up their ‘campaign of vilification against Assange, the way they turned on their source, as ‘a disgrace’.

In an interview for the Australian magazine Arena, Pilger expanded on this important component of the Assange story:

‘How shaming it all is. A decade ago, the Guardian exploited Assange’s work, claimed its profit and prizes as well as a lucrative Hollywood deal, then turned on him with venom. Throughout the Old Bailey trial, two names have been cited by the prosecution, the Guardian’s David Leigh, now retired as “investigations editor” and Luke Harding, the Russiaphobe and author of a fictional Guardianscoop” that claimed Trump adviser Paul Manafort and a group of Russians visited Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy. This never happened, and the Guardian has yet to apologise. The Harding and Leigh book on Assange—written behind their subject’s back—disclosed a secret password to a WikiLeaks file that Assange had entrusted to Leigh during the Guardian’s ‘partnership’. Why the defence has not called this pair is difficult to understand.’

He continued:

‘Assange is quoted in their book declaring during a dinner at a London restaurant that he didn’t care if informants named in the leaks were harmed. Neither Harding nor Leigh was at the dinner. John Goetz, an investigations reporter with Der Spiegel, was at the dinner and testified that Assange said nothing of the kind. Incredibly, Judge Baraitser stopped Goetz actually saying this in court.’

True to their role as ‘leftist’ Guardian figleaves, neither Owen Jones nor George Monbiot published an article so much as mentioning Julian Assange during the four-week hearing. Jones tweeted ‘support’ by linking back to an article he published in April 2019. Monbiot stumped up the energy to send out three token tweets. But he tweeted nothing about Nils Melzer, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky or the shocking revelations from UC Global whistleblowers about spying on Assange, along with CIA-sponsored plans to kidnap or poison him.

One Twitter user asked:

‘Why are people “spooked” by the Assange case? It’s a genuine question, the media silence is weird, even on the left, @AyoCaesar @AaronBastani @GeorgeMonbiot to name a few.

‘What’s stopping them from screaming this from the rooftops? Are they scared, threatened, what?’

Monbiot at least replied:

‘I’ve tweeted about it many times. But for me it’s one of hundreds of crucial issues, many of which are even more important. It’s terrible, but compared to, say, soil loss, it’s a long way down my list.’

Challenged further about his near-silence, he said:

‘I have nothing to add to what others have already said. I never write about an issue unless I have something new and original to say. It’s not about ticking boxes for me, it’s about expanding the field.’

We responded:

‘What a happy coincidence that @GeorgeMonbiot can find nothing “new and original” to say about Assange, who has been targeted with a ferocious smear campaign by his employer. Try citing @NilsMelzer’s arguments, George, that would be “expanding the field” for most Guardian readers.’

As the former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook noted:

‘Monbiot could have served as a counterweight to the relentless maligning of Assange in the Guardian’s pages by pointing out how these smears were unfounded. Instead he has either echoed those smears, or equivocated on them, or remained silent.’

Cook added:

‘Monbiot is not the free thinker, the fearless investigator of difficult truths, the leftwing conscience he claims to be. It is not really his fault. It is in the nature of the function he serves at the Guardian …He enjoys the freedom to speak out loudly on the dangers of environmental destruction, but that freedom comes at a price – that he closely adhere to the technocratic, liberal consensus on other issues.’

In short:

‘Monbiot, therefore, treads the finest line of all the Guardian’s columnists. His position is the most absurd, the one plagued with the biggest internal contradiction: he must sell extreme environmental concern from within a newspaper that is entirely embedded in the economic logic of the very neoliberal system that is destroying the planet.’

This is supremely relevant to the Assange case. Because if the US wins, then journalism and the public’s ability to know what is going in the world will be even more crushed than they already are. And that spells disaster for avoiding worldwide environmental breakdown in an era of rampant global capitalism.

The post "None Of It Reported": How Corporate Media Buried The Assange Trial first appeared on Dissident Voice.

George Monbiot’s Excuses for Not Speaking out Loudly in Defence of Assange Simply Won’t Wash

Faced with a barrage of criticism from some of his followers, George Monbiot, the Guardian’s supposedly fearless, left-wing columnist, offered up two extraordinarily feeble excuses this week for failing to provide more than cursory support for Julian Assange over the past month, as the Wikileaks founder has endured extradition hearings in a London courtroom.

The Trump administration wants Assange brought to the United States to face espionage charges that could see him locked away in a super-max prison on “special administrative measures”, unable to have meaningful contact with any other human being for the rest of his life. And that fate awaits him only because he embarrassed the US by exposing its war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq in the pages of newspapers like the New York Times and Guardian – and because Washington fears that Assange, if left free, would publish more disturbing truths about US actions around the globe.

But there is much more at stake than simply Assange’s rights being trampled on. He is not simply the western equivalent of Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and dissident who notably offered his own support to Assange during the hearings. Weiwei covered his mouth outside the Old Bailey courtroom in protest at the media’s blanket silence over the crimes being perpetrated against Assange.

Assange faces a terrifying new kind of extraordinary rendition – one conducted not covertly by US security services but in the full glare of publicity and, if the London court approves, with the consent of the British judiciary. If extradition is authorised, a precedent will be set that allows the US to seize and jail any journalist who exposes its crimes. Inevitably, that will have a severe chilling effect on all journalists investigating the world’s only super-power. It will not only be the death of journalism’s already enfeebled role as a watchdog on power but a death blow against our societies’ commitment to the principles of freedom and openness.

The barest minimum

This should be reason enough for anyone to be deeply concerned about Assange’s extradition hearing, most especially journalists. And even more so a journalist like Monbiot, whose work’s lifeblood is the investigation of unaccountable power and its corrosive effects. If any British journalist ought to be shouting from the rooftops against Assange’s extradition, it is Monbiot.

And yet, he has failed to write a single column in the Guardian on Assange, and in response to mounting criticism from followers pointed to three retweets backing Assange during the past four weeks of extradition hearings. All three, we should note, were of articles published in his own newspaper, the Guardian, that broke with its hostile coverage and could be considered vaguely sympathetic to Assange.

This was the barest minimum that Monbiot could afford to be seen doing. After all, positioned as the Guardian’s left-wing conscience, it would have been strange indeed had he not retweeted the rare instances, in a sea of Guardian articles ridiculing and vilifying Assange, of the paper making a nod to its more left-wing readers.

But notably, Monbiot failed to retweet any of the daily articles posted by former UK ambassador Craig Murray that detailed the horrifying abuses of legal process against Assange during the extradition hearings as well as evidence from expert witness after expert witness that demolished the central claims of the US case. Monbiot did not retweet any of the articles or comments by the renowned investigative journalist John Pilger, who has been a stalwart defender of Assange.

He did not retweet the testimony of Noam Chomsky, the celebrated linguist and political analyst, that the US charges against Assange are entirely political in nature and therefore void the US extradition request. Monbiot has similarly ignored the comments of Nils Melzer, the United Nations’ expert on torture, that Assange is already being psychologically tortured by the combined actions of the UK and US to keep him locked up in extreme isolation and in a prolonged state of chronic fear for his future.

Monbiot also did not retweet the astounding evidence last week from a former employee of the Spanish company that provided security at the Ecuadorian embassy, where Assange spent seven years in political asylum. The whistleblower testified that under CIA direction the company broke the law by surveilling Assange, even in the toilet block, and listened in to his privileged conversations with his lawyers. This fact alone should have been enough to force the presiding judge, Vanessa Baraitser, to rule against the US extradition request.

Cowardly excuses

No, Monbiot told his followers about none of these developments or about much more that has emerged over the past four weeks. Instead he offered two cowardly excuses for why he has remained so mealymouthed at the worst assault on press freedom in living memory.

The first was that the Assange extradition hearing apparently isn’t important enough. It is simply “one of hundreds of crucial issues” and “compared to say, soil loss, it’s way down my list”.

No one can doubt that Monbiot rightly takes environmental issues extremely seriously. But he doesn’t just tweet and write about the environment. There are many others issues, entirely unconnected to the environment and of which he appears to know almost nothing, that he regularly writes about.

One will suffice as illustrative. For the past two years Monbiot has dedicated a great deal of time and energy – time and energy he has refused to expend on defending Assange and press freedom – to attack those who have questioned claims by the US and UK intelligence services that the Syrian government under Bashar Assad carried out a chemical weapons attack in Douma in April 2018. The supposed attack provided the pretext for the US to launch a bombing attack on Syria – an example of a supreme international crime, according to the Nuremberg principles.

Monbiot has tried to intimidate into silence those, including whistleblowers from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), who have suggested that, in fact, the evidence points to jihadist groups being responsible for what happened in Douma. Those jihadists – labelled “terrorists” by the western media in all countries other than Syria – have been explicitly financed by western allies like Saudi Arabia, and more covertly by the west itself. Nonetheless, Monbiot has smeared anyone sceptical of the official western narrative about Douma as an “Assad apologist”, including by implication the distinguished Middle East reporter Robert Fisk, who, unlike Monbiot, actually visited Douma.

Monbiot has no expertise on the Middle East, and presumably has drawn his conclusions from reading the Syria coverage of the Guardian, whose positions he precisely echoes. It is bad enough that he has used his platform to go on the offensive against those taking a critical position on the events in Douma. But worse still, he has swept up in his smear campaign whistleblowers from the OPCW, the United Nations’ chemical weapons watchdog body, who have been warning that the OPCW is no longer independent but has become a deeply politicised body that tampered with the inspectors’ findings in the Douma case to bolster Washington’s self-serving agenda in Syria.

The whistleblowers’ claims are hardly out of line with the wider picture of the OPCW. The organisation has been falling under Washington’s thumb for nearly two decades. The previous head of the OPCW, Jose Bustani, was forced out by the Bush administration after he sought to negotiate further weapons inspections of Iraq to deprive the US of a pretext to launch its illegal invasion in 2003. Angry that US plans for regime change might be disrupted, John Bolton, the warmongering US ambassador to the UN, even threatened Bustani: “We know where your kids live.”

At least three members of the OPCW team that investigated the Douma events have tried to warn that the evidence blaming Assad was doctored by the organisation’s officials and that their own research showed that the most likely culprit were jihadist groups – who presumably hoped to engineer a pretext for more direct western intervention in Syria to help them bring down the Syrian government.

Misinformation around the Douma events has grown so dire that Bustani himself recently tried to intervene on behalf of the whistleblowers at the Security Council. He noted in testimony blocked by the US and UK: “At great risk to themselves, they [the whistleblowers] have dared to speak out against possible irregular behaviour in your Organisation [the OPCW].” He added: “Hearing what your own inspectors have to say would be an important first step in mending the Organisation’s damaged reputation.”

Absurd argument

There are plenty of reasons, therefore, to criticise Monbiot for his smearing of the Douma sceptics and the OPCW whistleblowers. But I am not interested here in revisiting the Douma episode. The point I am making relates to Assange.

In asserting that he doesn’t have time to defend Assange, Monbiot is implicitly arguing that opposing the current all-out war by the US on journalism is a lower priority than his smearing of the OPCW whistleblowers; that bullying and silencing Douma sceptics is one of those “hundreds of crucial issues” more important than preventing Assange from spending the rest of his life in jail, and more important than saving investigative journalism from this gravest of assaults by the US.

To understand how absurd Monbiot’s argument is, let us note that the only way we can ever properly settle the Douma case – without regurgitating claims by the US and UK intelligence services, as Monbiot has been doing – is if someone manages to leak the classified communications on Douma between the US administration and the OPCW leadership. That would let us know whether it is the OPCW whistleblowers telling the truth or the suits in head office. The whistleblowers have already stated that US officials turned up at an OPCW meeting unannounced and in violation of the body’s independent status in a bid to lean on staff.

The only way we will learn the truth with any certainty is if there is a leak of documents – to an organisation like Assange’s group Wikileaks.

The war on Assange has not only been a war on journalism. It is also a war on the whistleblowers who have assisted journalists and Wikileaks in arriving at the truth. Hanging on the outcome of Assange’s case is not only his personal fate, but journalism’s very ability to tap into sources close to the centres of power. In abandoning Assange, we abandon any hope of finding out the truth on a whole range of the most pressing issues facing us.

If Monbiot hopes to be able to campaign more effectively on “hundreds of crucial issues” like soil loss and other environmental concerns, he needs Assange and Wikileaks as vigorous as possible, not Assange locked away in a dark cell and Wikileaks a shadow of the organisation it once was.

Monbiot, of course, does not need me to tell him all this. He understands it already. Which is why his behaviour needs explaining – a matter we will get to in a minute.

All too ready to tick boxes

But before that, let us turn our attention to his second, extraordinary excuse for failing to raise his voice above a whisper on Assange’s plight.

Monbiot claims he cannot add anything “original” to what has been said already about the Assange case and that “It’s not about ticking boxes” but about “expanding the field”.

Let us set aside the obvious lacuna in this argument: that Monbiot has been ticking every box imaginable on the Douma incident. He added precisely nothing to the debate apart from his own smears of the whistleblowers. All he did was echo the intelligence services’ talking points, which had already been given an extensive and uncritical airing in the Guardian.

So Monbiot is quite clearly capable of being highly unoriginal when he chooses to be.

But there are, of course, lots of original things Monbiot could contribute to the coverage of the Assange case in his own newspaper, the Guardian, given that the only people speaking up for Assange – apart from one article by Patrick Cockburn in the Independent – have been outside the “mainstream”, without a platform in the corporate media.

Monbiot could have served as a counterweight to the relentless maligning of Assange in the Guardian’s pages by pointing out how these smears were unfounded. Instead he has either echoed those smears, or equivocated on them, or remained silent. He could have, for example, observed that there were very good grounds for Assange to seek political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy, as the extradition hearings have confirmed, in contrast to the constant claims in the Guardian that Assange was “fleeing rape charges” – charges that existed only in the imagination of newspaper editors – or that he was paranoid and arrogant.

Or Monbiot could have pointed out that the Guardian fabricated an easily disproved smear story that a Trump aide, Paul Manafort, and unnamed “Russians” had supposedly visited Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in secret three times – without leaving any evidence, even though the embassy was the most heavily surveilled building in London, both inside and out.

The story, presumably provided to the Guardian on an unattributable basis by one of the security services involved, was published to ensnare Assange in evidence-free Russiagate claims and thereby alienate liberals so that they would not oppose the US extradition case. Monbiot could have added that the Guardian was wrong not to apologise for the deceitful, malicious report and retract it.

Or Monbiot could tell his readers that the Guardian is not declaring a glaring conflict of interest in its coverage of the Assange hearings. Rather than being a neutral observer of developments, the paper is, in fact, deeply implicated in the very charges levelled by the US against Assange. Its former investigations editor David Leigh was the one who recklessly published the password to a critically important trove of secret documents held by Wikileaks, giving every security service in the world access to them. Eventually, in a damage limitation operation, Wikileaks was forced to publish the files unredacted to let anyone named know they were in danger.

If anyone should be on trial for endangering US informants – no one should be, and no informants were harmed – it is not Assange but Leigh and other senior Guardian editors.

All of these would be highly “original” things for Monbiot to write about that would undoubtedly “expand the field”. But I am not really suggesting that he go so far as to be honest about the vile role played by his employer in selling out Assange. I am worldly enough to know how things work. He has a good, mainstream platform that weekly publishes his articles – and he does not want to jeopardise that by criticising his own newspaper.

But, of course, Monbiot does not need to criticise the Guardian to support Assange. There are plenty of other, important things to write about if he chooses to. The point is he chooses not to. The real question, once his pathetic excuses are stripped away, is why.

Mopped up by the Guardian

And that, sadly, is because Monbiot is not the free thinker, the fearless investigator of difficult truths, the left-wing conscience he claims to be. It is not really his fault. It is in the nature of the function he serves at the Guardian – and with which I am only too familiar myself from my years working there.

The Guardian is the main outlet of the Guardian Media Group, which depends on advertising to survive. It is a corporate venture premised on exploiting the Guardian’s market share to the greatest extent possible, just as the Daily Mail, the Sun, and the Times do with their own markets. In this regard, newspapers are no different from supermarkets. If they fail to corner their section of the market, another corporation better suited to do so will step in and seize it from them.

Assange understood this only too well, as he explained in an interview back in 2011 after learning that the Guardian had been breaking its agreements with Wikileaks and sharing confidential files with others. He observed:

What drives a paper like the Guardian or New York Times is not their inner moral values. It is simply that they have a market. In the UK, there is a market called “educated liberals”. Educated liberals want to buy a newspaper like the Guardian and therefore an institution arises to fulfill that market.

Most of the Guardian’s writers pander squarely to the general “educated liberals” market. But some, like Monbiot, are there with a more specific purpose: to mop up sections of the population that might otherwise stray from the Guardian fold.

Owen Jones is there to mop up left-wing supporters of the Labour party to persuade them that the Guardian is their friend, as he continued to do even while the paper was helping to destroy the party’s elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Jonathan Freedland is there, in part, to reassure liberal Jews that the Guardian is on their side, which he did by playing up the evidence-free smears that Labour had an especial antisemitism problem under Corbyn. Hadley Freeman is there, as are others like Suzanne Moore, to represent liberal women deeply invested in identity politics and to make sure they keep them away from class politics.

The point is that the Guardian is a corporate endeavour that makes sure its columnists cover as many liberal-left bases as possible without allowing any really subversive voices a platform from which they can challenge or disrupt the neoliberal status quo.

Monbiot, therefore, treads the finest line of all the Guardian’s columnists. His position is the most absurd, the one plagued with the biggest internal contradiction: he must sell extreme environmental concern from within a newspaper that is entirely embedded in the economic logic of the very neoliberal system that is destroying the planet.

The Guardian understands its own urgent need to greenwash too. Its market, educated liberals, are increasingly frightened by the multiple environmental threats we face, which is why very belatedly – decades late, in fact – the paper has been prioritising this issue above all others.

But, of course, given the logic of its corporate, money-making, advertiser-driven agenda, the Guardian is not just highlighting the threat to the environment to win over more educated liberals. It is also monetising this threat for itself as aggressively as it can. It did so again this week as its editor, Kath Viner, appealed to educated liberals to make a subscription donation to the paper based on the claim that it will campaign to protect the environment better than any other UK newspaper. That, of course, is a remarkably low bar it has set for itself.

Treading a fine line

Monbiot is trapped in this same logic: campaigning for the environment from within an organisation whose economic imperatives are designed to trash the planet.

He treads this very fine line by deviating as little as necessary from the Guardian’s own narrow, status quo-hugging agenda. He enjoys the freedom to speak out loudly on the dangers of environmental destruction, but that freedom comes at a price – that he closely adhere to the technocratic, liberal consensus on other issues. The paradox is that on foreign policy matters we have Monbiot effectively colluding in the propaganda of the west’s war industries – the most polluting on the planet – as he professes his environmental credentials to the Guardian’s liberal readers.

This stance is not imposed on him. He does not receive orders from Guardian editors to smear OPCW whistleblowers or to restrain himself from tweeting forthright support for Assange. Instead he has imbibed the corporate culture of the Guardian – as I once did, as most of us do in our daily lives – as a sanity survival strategy, as way to placate the cognitive dissonance that would overwhelm him if he did not.

Paradoxically, the two excuses he offered justifying his lack of support for Assange followed a tweet in which he had just castigated the left – as he is wont to do when confronted with evidence he would rather not hear – for preferring conformity over solidarity.

I’m no psychologist, but this sounds suspiciously like projection to me. Monbiot was immediately and rightly pulled up by followers who pointed out that, in his abandonment of Assange, he had once again shown a high degree of conformity to official, intelligence agency-serving narratives, as well as to those of his employer, the Guardian. He had also shown a very low degree of solidarity with a man who has almost single-handedly taken on the western power establishment in the hope of helping us finally to hold it to account.

Ultimately, the problem lies not with Monbiot. He is just serving the market, attracting socially responsible liberals to the Guardian, rationalising the paper’s reformist agenda within a suicidal, global, neoliberal economy, and preventing left-wingers from straying too far, to the point where they might contemplate a more revolutionary form of politics.

The problem lies not with Monbiot. It lies with us. We continue to ignore the fact that we are being played by the system, that we are being placated by pale offerings like Monbiot, that our consent is needed and that we keep finding reasons to give it rather than withdraw it. Neither Monbiot nor the Guardian is going to liberate our minds. Only we can do that.

The post George Monbiot’s Excuses for Not Speaking out Loudly in Defence of Assange Simply Won’t Wash first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Empire’s Mask Slips at Julian Assange Trial

A billboard van calling for an end to extradition proceedings against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange waits at traffic lights in Parliament Square in London, England, on September 14, 2020. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Err, yes.”

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

Nothing to see here

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

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

So why is he “the man in the public gallery”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Ellsberg speaks

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

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

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

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

On the by now legendary Collateral Murder video, Murray details Ellsberg’s argument:

Ellsberg stated that it definitely showed murder, including the deliberate machine gunning of a wounded and unarmed civilian. That it was murder was undoubted. The dubious word was “collateral”, which implies accidental. What was truly shocking about it was the Pentagon reaction that these war crimes were within the Rules of Engagement. Which permitted murder.

The prosecution cannot explain why Julian Assange withheld no less than 15,000 files; how he took a lot of time to redact the ones that were published; and why both the Pentagon and the State Dept. refused to collaborate with WikiLeaks. Murray:

Ten years later, the US Government has still not been able to name one single individual who was actually harmed by the WikiLeaks releases.


Prometheus Bound 2.0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Not here the darkness, in this twittering world” (T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton).

An army of future Assanges awaits.

The post Empire’s Mask Slips at Julian Assange Trial first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Where the Skripals Are Today

On 4 March 2018, both Sergei Skripal and his daughter who was visiting from their shared home country of Russia, Yulia Skripal, were poisoned in Salisbury England, and — though both survived — neither of them has been allowed to communicate to the public except under the watch of their British court-appointed ‘guardians’. They also have been prohibited to communicate with any Russians. Repeated efforts by the Russian Embassy to be allowed to communicate with them have been rejected by the UK Government. The BBC reported on 18 May 2018, that, “Ms Skripal was released on 9 April and was moved to a secure location. It is not known whether Mr Skripal has been taken to the same location as his daughter.” UK’s National Health Service issued a news-release that same day headlined “Sergei Skripal discharged from Salisbury District Hospital.” Efforts by (at least) Ms. Skripal, to communicate with members of her family in Russia, and also with her fiancé, also in Russia, have been blocked by the UK Government. No legal charges have been filed against either of the Skripals.

The “Court of Protecton … Date 22/03/2018” proceeding, which seems to have determined their legal fate, didn’t even consult any of their relatives, and, according to John Helmer’s terrific book just issued, Skripal in Prison, (p. 74), also “The Russian Government was not consulted or informed in advance” about the proceeding, and therefore was allowed no role whatsoever in deciding the outcomes regarding these two Russian citizens. The UK Court’s ruling, on 22 March, stated that “Neither Mr Skripal nor Ms Skripal appear to have relatives in the UK although they appear to have some relatives in Russia. The SSHD [Secretary of State for Home Development] have not sought to make contact with them.” No explanation was provided on why. So, the Skripals are stranded. We don’t know whether either of the Skripals has even been informed that the Russian Embassy was trying to make contact with them. They might both have been (and now remain) deceived to think that they have been simply abandoned by their country.

As I noted on 8 March 2020, citing mainly Helmer’s book, and linking to his published articles, “the much-publicized British-alleged ‘Russian novichok’ 4 March 2018 Salisbury England poisoning of the Russian-British double-agent Sergei Skripal and of his visiting daughter Yulia was never conclusively sourced as having been at all a Russian operation; and both of the victims are being held against their wills in UK though they seem to want to return to Russia, but are prohibited from being able to communicate to the public or to answer any questions out of the presence of their British and American holders (basically being imprisoned by UK without any trial and with not even an appearance in court).” Furthermore, “Chapter 23 of Helmer’s book is a reprint of his 8 December 2019 online article, ‘The Skripals Under US Control at a USAF Nuclear Bomber Base in Fairford, Gloucestershire,’ and it clearly proves the U.S. Government’s participation in their imprisonment. Such U.S. involvement does not fit, at all, with the propagandized ‘news’ reports about the Skripal case.” As Helmer reported there, the first thing that Yulia (apparently the first of the two to regain consciousness) tried to do after recovering was to speak with her family in Russia, but “the telephone call was unauthorized by hospital officials and required Skripal to hide from her guards.” (It was brief, and rushed.) Furthermore, as Helmer reported on 5 April 2018, “In Moscow, her cousin Victoria Skripal has told the Russian press she has repeatedly tried to telephone her cousin on the latter’s Russian mobile telephone, but that this device has been disconnected.”

The youtube of the call — as recorded, somehow, at the other end, in Russia — was soon taken down by youtube. But Britain’s Daily Mail, perhaps their least-censored major newspaper, published the transcript of it, on the day of the call, 5 April 2018, and closed by noting: “The call is only 1 minute 47 seconds. The voice purporting to be Yulia sounded weak and tense.” Furthermore, when Yulia’s cousin, “Victoria,” told her she wanted to fly to visit with them there, Yulia said: “No-one [referring to the UK Government] will give you a visa, Vika.” (In other words: she would be denied entry to UK.) Victoria nonetheless pressed, and Yulia was about to explain, and then just stopped herself: “here the situation is now…we’ll deal with it later.” Victoria, apparently, now got the message, and so said “I know everything,” meaning: I understand — you’re not free to talk. The rest of the conversation were pleasantries, and expressions of mutual affection. Yulia’s “we’ll deal with it later” expressed her belief that the UK would soon free her, but she not only hasn’t been freed: she is, effectively, in solitary confinement, wherever she is, or else is dead, though no announcement of her death has been made by the UK Government.

On 19 July 2018, Vladimir Putin was interviewed by Oliver Stone, and when the issue of Sergei Skripal briefly came up, Putin said “I have been told that he wants to make a written request to come back” to Russia. Unfortunately, Stone (a poor interviewer) failed to ask any good follow-up question (such as, “But isn’t he a traitor to Russia?”); but, if what Putin said there was well-sourced, then clearly not only Yulia but also her father are imprisoned by UK, without even the pretense to any court-proceedings in which either of them (or any representative duly appointed by either of them) has played any part — and with zero advocacy for either of them by the UK press, the U.S. press, or any other U.S.-controlled press. (Otherwise, only Yulia is being imprisoned in UK. But, then, if Sergei thinks he’s being protected by UK, why is UK not trumpeting testimony from him asserting his belief that Russia had poisoned him and his daughter? Apparently, Putin is correct, but UK won’t permit Sergei to file anything, at all. UK doesn’t want Sergei to be on the loose and accusing UK of having tried to murder both him and his daughter. So: UK is ‘protecting’ both of them.)

Fortunately, three great investigative journalists, plus an entire team of academics, all of these persons being independents instead of hirees, have been, separately from one-another, following the trail down the rabbit-hole of the Skripals’ case, and have discovered things that the Skripals’ imprisonment-without-trial, UK & U.S.A., joint Deep-State team, have been assiduously trying to hide (and successfully have been hiding) from the audiences of the Western ‘news’ media. Other than Helmer (an American who had served in the Jimmy Carter Administration but now lives in Moscow), there has also been the whistleblowing former UK Ambassador, and now also great journalist, Craig Murray, who likewise has a blog, and the third great journalist on this case has been the anonymous author of the “Moon of Alabama” blog. The scholars’ group are the Working Group on Syria — the people who first revealed that the alleged cause for the U.S. and UK and France attack against Syria with over a hundred missiles, on 14 April 2018, was based upon, and was claimed to be punishment of, an actually fraudulent, non-existent, Syrian Government gas-attack, against civilians in the Syrian town of Douma, on 7 April 2018, and was therefore an entirely unprovoked U.S.-and-allied international war-crime. A common thread between that faked excuse for an invasion of Syria on 14 April 2018, and the faked ‘evidence’ that Russia had done the Skripal poisonings, was the lying reports by the OPCW, saying that Russia did Skripal, and that Syria did the alleged 7 April 2018 ‘gas’-attack. If Western publics had been informed about either OPCW lie, then the leadership of the OPCW itself would probably have been forced to resign, and the organization of the OPCW would probably have been forced to change. So, it’s these great investigators (journalists and scholars), against the UK-&-U.S.A.’s Deep State (including its ‘news’-media). (NOTE: The “Deep State” is the billionaires.) However, because these independent investigators are suppressed in the U.S. and UK empire, which includes Netherlands and almost all the rest of the EU, the OPCW continues on as before, thoroughly corrupt. Thus, for example, on 13 March 2020, Russia’s RT headlined “Fourth OPCW whistleblower says staff ‘frightened into silence’ as watchdog brought into ‘shameful disrepute’ over Douma probe,” and, on 11 April 2020, the Syrian-American investigative journalist Steven Sahiounie headlined at The Duran, “The OPCW is used as a political tool against Syria” and reported the by-now shocking extent of incredibility to the reports that the propagandists who run the OPCW are publishing, which display a degree of sheer shoddiness that no longer makes even a pretense to being founded upon credible experts and evidence.

There clearly is an organized gang, if not an organized gang of gangs (including media-heads), (and let’s call this a “conspiracy,” because it certainly is that) which is behind all of this smearing against Russia and against any government that is not hostile toward Russia. Even with the ideological excuse for the Cold War — communism versus capitalism — gone, that supposedly ‘ideological’ war has continued on the U.S.-UK side. (Perhaps all of it can be traced back to the plan for world conquest which Britain’s Cecil Rhodes first described in 1877.)

On 24 June 2019, a highly credible anonymous analysis of evidence regarding the Skripal matter concluded:

No one who has looked into the case in any detail can possibly be satisfied that the account given by the UK Government and The Metropolitan Police is correct.

The narrative put out by the Metropolitan Police is not simply questionable, it is plain impossible.

I believe, today more than ever, that this affair is a carefully constructed drama to push Russia in[to] a corner and justify Western foreign policies in various places such as Ukraine, Iran and Syria.

Who really tried to assassinate Sergei Skripal? And why? Frankly, it would not surprise me a bit if we discover one day — 50 years from now? — that a Western Intelligence agency was feeding Skripal with a mix of information and disinformation regarding the alleged Trump-Russia collusion, knowing full well that this report would eventually end up at the FBI.

If true, that agency has played Steele, and therefore the FBI, like a skripka. This story is not over yet. Stay tuned!

The best summary of the evidence which led to that conclusion is here.

Without any doubt, the basis of the Robert Mueller report on “Russiagate” was loaded with lies and was not even physically possible. Speculation is one thing, and must be avoided at all costs, but lying is even worse — utterly disqualifying. And, yet, Western ‘news’-media routinely lie (usually by stenographically reporting the lies by officials, and then having the gall to call that their ‘journalism’, instead of their “propaganda” — and such allegations are then propaganda about propaganda, or meta-propaganda). It’s all lies on top of lies — just mountains of lies, including calling authentic news ‘fake news’, and calling their own fake news ‘truth’. It is Orwellian.

On 5 November 2018, “Anonymous” posted to cyberguerilla:

a large number of documents relating to the activities of the ‘Integrity Initiative’ project that was launched back in the fall of 2015 and funded by the British government. The declared goal of the project is to counteract Russian propaganda and the hybrid warfare of Moscow. Hiding behind benevolent intentions, Britain has in fact created a large-scale information secret service in Europe, the United States and Canada, which consists of representatives of political, military, academic and journalistic communities with the think tank in London at the head of it.

The Working Group on Syria headlined on 21 December 2018 “Briefing note on the Integrity Initiative” and presented massive documentation exposing further that organization, which had been formed on 22 June 2015 (barely over a year after the U.S. had seized Ukraine and thus started the final phase of America’s operation to capture Russia) and which organization quickly spread its tentacles throughout the institutions of the Cecil-Rhodes-founded U.S.-UK empire and thereby became fundamental to the poisoning of the Skripals and the cover-ups of that. (Explaining the Skripal case seems to me to require going even beyond the Integrity Initiative and to include the broader ring whose origin extends back to the plan for world conquest which Britain’s Cecil Rhodes first described in 1877.)

On this same day, December 21st, Craig Murray headlined “British Government Covert Anti-Russian Propaganda and the Skripal Case,” and he described the connections between the Integrity Initiative, and the Russiagate campaign by America’s Democratic Party, to restore that Party’s version (replacing the Republican Party’s version) of the Cecil-Rhodes-founded operation for an all-encompassing U.S.-UK global empire:

Now let us tie that in with the notorious name further down the list; Pablo Miller, the long-term MI6 handler of Sergei Skripal, who lived in Salisbury with Skripal. Miller is the man who was, within 24 hours of the Skripal attack, protected by a D(SMA) notice banning the media from mentioning him. Here Pablo Miller is actively involved, alongside serving FCO and MOD staff, in a government funded organisation whose avowed intention is to spread disinformation about Russia. The story that Miller is in an inactive retirement is immediately and spectacularly exploded.

Now look at another name on this list. Howard Body. Assistant Head of Science Support at Porton Down chemical weapon research laboratory, just six miles away from Salisbury and the Skripal attack, a role he took up in December 2017. He combines this role with Assistant Head of Strategic Analysis at MOD London. “Science Support” at Porton Down is a euphemism for political direction to the scientists – Body has no scientific qualifications.

Another element brought into this group is the state broadcaster, through Helen Boaden, the former Head of BBC News and Current Affairs.

In all there are six serving MOD staff on the list, all either in Intelligence or in PR. Intriguingly one of them, Ian Cohen, has email addresses both at the MOD and at the notoriously corrupt HSBC bank. The other FCO name besides Duncan Allan, Adam Rutland, is also on the PR side.

Zachary Harkenrider is the Political Counsellor at the US Embassy in London. There are normally at least two Political Counsellors at an Embassy this size, one of whom will normally be the CIA Head of Station. I do not know if Harkenrider is CIA but it seems highly likely.

So what do we have here? We have a programme, the Integrity Initiative, whose entire purpose is to pump out covert disinformation against Russia, through social media and news stories secretly paid for by the British government. And we have the Skripals’ MI6 handler, the BBC, Porton Down, the FCO, the MOD and the US Embassy, working together in a group under the auspices of the Integrity Initiative. The Skripal Case happened to occur shortly after a massive increase in the Integrity Initiative’s budget and activity, which itself was a small part of a British Government decision to ramp up a major information war against Russia.

Furthermore, on 15 July 2019, I headlined “Mainstream Media Hide Skripal’s Connections to Russiagate-Trump Case” and documented the extensive crossover (including Skripal’s own UK handler, Pablo Miller) between the personnel who in Britain were crucial in both of those operations — and who were minimized in the press-accounts.

There are splits within any political organization; and, apparently, the false-flag operation against the Skripals was done by a ring that included not only representatives of UK billionaires, but also representatives of Democratic Party U.S. billionaires who are competing for power against Republican Party U.S. billionaires. This is a power-struggle within the U.S.-UK elite. Though that entire elite want to conquer Russia, they disagree on how to do it. The Trumpians want to conquer China and Iran first, but all the others are simply obsessed against Russia. The Skripals got trapped by the Russia-obsessed billionaires. (For another example of a split amongst the billionaires: one of Trump’s biggest donors, Peter Thiel, said in October 2016, “If you’re a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan, you have no effective access to our legal system,” and therefore he donated ten million dollars to Hogan’s case against Gawker so as to beat the comparably financed case by the liberal backers of Gawker. This is the reason why the United States, which has a higher percentage of its residents in prison than any other nation does, has amost entirely low-wealth people in prison. In a sense, poverty is a crime in America, and only the super-rich can afford competent legal representation. The Hulk-Hogan-versus-Gawker case was well-financed on both sides.)

Back on 24 November 2018, “Moon of Alabama” had bannered “British Government Runs Secret Anti-Russian Smear Campaigns” and opened:

In 2015 the government of Britain launched a secret operation to insert anti-Russia propaganda into the western media stream.

We have already seen many consequences of this and similar programs which are designed to smear anyone who does not follow the anti-Russian-government lines. The ‘Russian collusion’ smear campaign against Donald Trump based on the Steele dossier was also a largely British operation but seems to be part of a different project.

The ‘Integrity Initiative‘ builds ‘cluster’ or contact groups of trusted journalists, military personal, academics and lobbyists within foreign countries. These people get alerts via social media to take action when the British center perceives a need. …

The now published budget plans show that more than 95% of the Initiative’s funding is coming directly from the British government, NATO and the U.S. State Department. All the ‘contact persons’ for creating ‘clusters’ in foreign countries are British embassy officers. It amounts to a foreign influence campaign by the British government that hides behind a ‘civil society’ pseudo-NGO.

There is an important link in that article, at the sentence “Another file reveals (pdf) the local partnering institutions and individuals involved in the programs.” It opens up a pdf document showing the hundreds of email addresses of each one of the hundreds of Integrity Initiative participants in each one of the 33 countries, and there is even a person listed there in Russia: Vygaudas Ušackas, the European Union’s Ambassador to Russia, who had just then left the Lithuanian Government’s service to join the board of a Lithuanian aerospace company that’s registered in Cyprus in order to evade taxes.

So, if far more people are aware of the accusations than are aware of the lies and liars that are behind the accusations, then maybe the public should be demanding the press to investigate itself, and to begin that by demanding that all news-media which fail to expose the rot and falsehoods that their competitors are publishing will need to be dispossessed to the public within a year, with one share of stock going to each adult and answerable only to that — the public — and not to any investors nor to any politicians.

But, first, the public needs to demand that the UK Government release the Skripals at a public event, at which each, both the father and the daughter, will, for the first and only time in public, tell the world which country they want to be living in. Right now, neither is being allowed to do that. And, if it won’t happen soon, then when will it? It should be done within one year.

Otherwise: what is the UK Government hiding? And, if the UK Government can do this to the Skripals, then what visitor to UK can they not do it to? Maybe George Orwell didn’t write science fiction, after all. He allegorized future history.

Unless the Skripals have been killed or otherwise disposed of, they are still under coercive isolation by the UK Government, perhaps at a U.S. military base, as non-persons, who aren’t granted even the merely nominal legal representation that Julian Assange is receiving. (Donald Trump and Boris Johnson both want Assange dead and his fiancé and two young children to be deprived of his love and of his very presence.)

Maybe “George Orwell” (Eric Blair) knew and understood his country’s future more accurately than the vast majority of its residents today do, who are actually living in it.

  • Originally posted at Strategic Culture.