On this episode of Going Underground, we speak to legendary journalist and film-maker John Pilger on a round-up of all the latest issues. John describes the current state of global affairs as in a state of world war, warning that the ‘coming war on China’ he warned about…has now arrived, he also discusses the Hong Kong protests and why they have grown, along with US involvement in the unrest. He discusses the collapse of the global nuclear arms control framework with the end of the INF Treaty and the beginning of a new arms race with Russia, amid a situation where he describes it as Washington’s goal to break up the Russian Federation under Putin. He also warns of the increased risk of nuclear war as nuclear superpowers such as Pakistan and India are also entering major tensions between each other. John Pilger also discusses his concern with John Bolton being at the ear of Donald Trump, how Brexit has created mass-distraction in the UK from the most pressing of issues at home (such as austerity and the NHS) and abroad. He slams sanctions on Venezuela and Iran and also updates us on the condition of Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange, after he visited him recently in Belmarsh prison.
Remember when it was obligatory to call Julian Assange paranoid?
That changed in March when the first of 18 US indictments confirmed designs to get him. All charges pertain to Wikileaks data that made him famous in 2010. Hard proof that hounding ensued from those initial releases accordingly forced the punditry to reconsider at least one of its armchair diagnoses of Assange.
Though most are unaware of the details, such hostile pursuit has concerned more than a few countries and institutions. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, recently stated that in “20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution, I have never seen a group of democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonize and abuse a single individual for such a long time.”
The official US reaction to Melzer’s report has naturally been to decry the content. It starts upon this with a certain fable of righteousness, which implies that a dog snarling into the hole of a rabbit does not confine it there:
Mr Assange voluntarily stayed in the embassy to avoid facing lawful criminal charges pending against him. As such his time in the embassy did not constitute confinement and was in no way arbitrary.
Like the term ‘confinement,’ the word ‘arbitrary’ is a weasel in this particular fable. It does not function in human rights law to imply any lack of rationale, but to identify the rationale of some authority as crucially unprincipled. Where such a fault applies it is likely to be ignored, misrepresented and/or distracted from by the culpable authority. Hence, as in the quote above, they tend to assert some righteous motive, real or fictional, as centrally vindicating.
It is common and wrong for those reprimanded to respond this way, since their place is to respect the findings of UN appointees and if necessary, reasonably correspond with them. The entire point of international law is that countries are legally held to account. In terms of the presently relevant human rights covenants, this involves a regime of independent assessment as to whether they are complying with the covenants they ratified. No brute enforcement applies here and the system should work perfectly well without it, if only the signatories abide by it in good faith.
In this primary and neglected context, the account that the US has given of itself has been a spectacular self-incrimination. The two sentences quoted above happen to assert the main premise of Assange and appointees from the UN who saw fit to defend him. For it is plainly implied in the quote that staying in the embassy was the logical means he appropriated to avoid negative repercussions intentionally prepared for him by the US in response his publishing.
The US is accordingly reduced to pretending that, as claimed above, the charges are internationally and nationally lawful. There is nothing to back this up other than legal paragraphs that have been long shunned, relentless obfuscation and a bully’s glare. The charges have been nigh universally denounced as an unprecedented threat to democracy which contradicts the letter and spirit of the US first amendment.
The response to Melzer from the US accordingly backfires and largely because its position from the outset has been foreign to reason. Its officials were obliged to reply to Melzer and apparently felt they managed to do this without committing to an abortive position. If so, they were deeply mistaken for reasons above, and also below.
The letter took exception to any notion that narratives about Assange, or indeed “commentary” in general, could be “cruel, inhuman or degrading…as defined by the Convention on Torture.”
Exclusion of the linguistic modes of relevant abuse is, however, clearly tendentious and searching the terms reveals that, contra the claim, they are nowhere defined or otherwise relevantly qualified in that convention.
This apparent chicanery culminates in the charge that, in virtue of finding fault with injurious disinformation, Melzer’s report has “dangerous implications for freedom of expression.” There is one clear sense in which that is true. An emerging sport of persecuting publishers could become endangered if human rights law had a chilling effect upon smearing them.
These positions taken by the US are in reaction to Melzer specifying concerted defamation as contributing to the debilitating and life-threatening persecution of Assange over a decade.
Without that malicious campaign, none of the gross injustice that he has endured, or which still looms, could have gained a foothold. Complicity of the press is therefore at the heart of this story.
Assange regularly complained about how Ecuador treated him while he took refuge in a corner room of its red-brick embassy. He unsuccessfully sued the Foreign Ministry last year over demands that he pay for his medical bills and clean up after his cat — among other conditions he said were intended to force him from the embassy. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also dismissed his complaints.
The first critical omission here is the reason his mentioned suit did not succeed. It was mindfully passed by an Ecuadorian judge into a fenced pit, previously known as Ecuador’s Constitutional Court. This had been shut down two months before Assange’s suit and was rebooted another three months later, with all-new, US-partial judges and a backlog of 13,000 cases.
So Assange’s team approached the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, which did not dismiss his complaints, as misreported above by the Post. Rather, it admonished Ecuador not to violate his rights by breaking asylum law with an act of expulsion, as starkly threatened in its foisted “protocol.” The IACHR refused nothing to Assange besides precautionary measures to prevent this expulsion, which transpired a month later, to their natural embarrassment. These points only further establish Melzer’s finding of illegal abuse by Ecuador and decimate the tales from the Post.
Also unmentioned were Ecuador’s included prohibition on his free expression and a crackdown on privacy of his visitors. Instead, Assange was portrayed as whining about such things as medical bills and pet care. Yet Ecuador never paid a health bill for him and nobody ever thought to ask them to. Nor did Assange or his legal team ever protest any stipulation about his cat, except as a baseless insinuation of neglect on his part, which was strategic and virally effective.
Fidel Narvaez, consul at the embassy for the first six years of Assange’s stay, witnessed the beginning of his persecution under the new President Moreno. Narvaez describes Assange a friend whose relations with permanent staff were always respectful and abidingly positive. The media chorus that “he wore out his welcome” thus evinces horrendous incompetence or worse. He was unwelcome only to political enemies in Ecuador, and that from the day he sought asylum. Moreno revealed his position here by speaking of Assange as “stone in the shoe” and “inherited problem,” while former President Correa remains outspoken in defence of Assange and denounces Moreno for betraying his party and country upon taking power.
The informed side of this controversy is not the orthodox one and Melzer has called the bluff of a lie-infused Western establishment. Hence all that is required to win this debate is to force it. That is why he speaks up, with hard and documented facts, and why we must follow suit.
The Fourth Estate, that historical unelected grouping of society’s scrutineers, has become something of a rabble, and, as a confederacy of strewn dunces and the ongoing compromised, is ripe for analysis. An essential premise in the work of WikiLeaks was demonstrating, to a good, stone-throwing degree, how media figures and practitioners had been bought by the state or the corporate sector, unwittingly or otherwise. At the very least, the traditionalists had swallowed their reservations and preferred to proclaim, rather unconvincingly, that they were operating with freedom to scrutinise and question, facing down the rebels from the WikiLeaks set.
The Fourth Estate has, however, been placed on poor gruel and life support. Gone are the days when Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein ferreted their way through sources and obtaining the material – leaks from confidential sources, no less – that would make them famous and lay the way for the demise of a US President. Such energy is frowned upon these days; the investigative journalist is being treated more as an irritating remnant, a costly undusted fossil. The way for what Nozomi Hayase calls the “Global Fourth Estate” is being well and truly paved as a result.
The corporate factor in this process is undeniable. The Australian media tycoon and ageing tyrant Rupert Murdoch has proven to be the kiss of death to much decent journalism, though he is by no means the only contributor. As a man who takes pride in directly intervening in the policies and directions of his newspapers, identifying the credible view from the crafty slant is a hard thing. Political and business interests tend to converge in such an empire. Balanced reporting is for the bleeding hearts.
Meshed in this compromised journalism is a particular type of commentator, the holder of opinions with an open channel to the national security establishment. They are the Deep Throats turned into media judges and avengers. They might be flatteringly called the national security fraternity, a club of the military and espionage clubbables, the sort who find it inconceivable that someone from the public might throw open the larder of government secrets to expose a state’s misdeeds. It went without saying that such individuals would see, in WikiLeaks, the incarnation of a pseudo-intelligence service, or at the very least, its tailor for one.
The national security fraternity is typified by the revolving door. It whirs around, not merely in oil companies, the US State Department and merchant banks, but the issue of the media stable. The state demands its permanent loyalties; those who have served in advisory roles in the state will keep paying once they leave. Security-trained and watered thoroughbreds are bound to see outliers and vigilantes as challengers who need to be put down.
Samantha Vinograd supplies a nice example. The crossover into journalism from the National Security State (NSS) is made from experience as advisor to the National Security Council as the Director for Iraq. (That could hardly have gone that well.) Her teeth well cut on security matters and advice, her journalism is bound to be tinged and flavoured by the apparatus of the state. Julian Assange, she argues, is “the self-anointed director of his own intel service.”
The evidence she assesses on whether Assange requires punishment is deemed self-evident; the evidence comes from a source that need not be questioned. Vinograd exudes the confidence of one clutching to the inside of the establishment, and one with lapels suggesting patriot and defender of state. An Assange-like figure is bound to not merely be poison making its way to the vestal virgins; it is a figure to be extirpated.
In casting her own eye over the list of expanded charges against Assange, she has taken the allegations against him of espionage to be factual. But she does so by attempting to repudiate his credentials as a publisher and journalist. “If anyone is making the [sic] Assange is a free speech champion, read paragraph 36,” she intones. “He knowingly endangered the lives of journalists, religious leaders, human rights advocates, and political dissidents and did incredible harm to all our security.” This devious interpretation on the part of the drafters has the purpose of demonising Assange – self-interested, maniacal, even sociopathic, they imply – while tagging, at the end, the only issue that concerns the US security apparatus: the fictional endangering of US national security. Absent here are observations and studies by the Pentagon which claimed on several occasions that there was little in way of evidence that lives had been compromised in the leak.
The same goes for former FBI types who see the accumulating dossier against Assange as an incriminating tissue of evidence. The issue here was pre-determined; it is shut and done. There is no broader philosophical point, because the only point that matters is realpolitik and the beating heart of the secretly minded patriot. Curiously enough, the distinction between liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, ceases to exist in such circles. We are left with the operating rationale of the big bad NSS, decked out in all its nasty, modern tinsel.
Asha Rangappa, former FBI “special agent” and editor at Just Security, is one of the NSS’s glorified commentators, even if much of her strategy lies in cringeworthy self-advertising. She was drooling with a certain social media imbecility at the news that an 18-count superseding indictment against Assange had been issued by the Department of Justice. “Awwwww yeah,” came her remark on Twitter. Don the gloves; go into action: Team America needs you.
Rangappa is a wonderful illustration of a corrupted type of journalist cum commentator, one conscious of a cop culture that is celebrated rather than questioned, paraded rather than critiqued. She is even featured in Elle Magazine, with a slush-filled gooey tribute from Sylvie McNamara. “I’m at Asha Rangappa’s dinner table because, for the past few years, her commentary on CNN and Twitter has helped hundreds of thousands of people understand the news.”
If a certain type of blinkered understanding is what you are out for, then she is your glamorous source. She was keen on putting away “bad guys”; she “rooted for the United States to beat the Soviet Union in the Olympics”; she acknowledges who “we had to fight for our values”. McNamara is won over, and hardly one to question. “Rangappa knows from previous experience how the FBI handles Russian spies and disinformation; add to the mix her professional skill at explaining complex ideas, and she is ideally positioned to break down the bewildering political events in recent years.” If you consciously avoid or fail to spot the inauthenticity in any of that, then you are well on the way to joining the National Security Club.
The US government’s indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange marked the worst attack on press freedom in modern history. Assange has been charged with 18 counts, including 17 violations of the Espionage Act. James Goodale, former general counsel of the New York Times, who urged the paper to publish the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administrationnoted, “If the government succeeds with the trial against Assange, if any, that will mean that it’s criminalized the news gathering process.”
On June 12, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed the extradition papers. Assange’s hearing is now set to begin next February. He is currently being held in London’s Belmarsh high security prison for what amounts to a politically motivated, 50-week sentence given by a judge for violating bail conditions in 2012 while attempting to obtain political asylum in Ecuador against the threat of extradition to the US.
Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture visited Assange with two medical experts and assessed that Assange has been subjected to prolonged psychological torture by the US government and its allies for nearly a decade, and warned about his serious physical deterioration. While this multi-award winning journalist who published truthful information in the public interest about the US government, is in jail, the British government (that has been a key player in this political persecution) recently held a Global Conference for Media Freedom.
Despite its stated mission of protecting the safety and rights of journalists, the conference failed to address the degrading and inhumane treatment of Assange and the US government’s prosecution of the publisher that could set a dangerous precedent for press freedom. This total hypocrisy was best shown by the fact that this gathering was hosted by UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt who, last month, told US TV that he would happily extradite Assange to Trump’s America where former CIA officer John Kiriakou indicated that he would receive no fair trial and face life imprisonment.
The true face of Western liberal democracy
Why has Assange become a target of these Western governments’ coordinated attack? Over 10 million documents that WikiLeaks released with a pristine record of accuracy revealed the corruption of these governments, including US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is apparent that Assange is being punished for revealing these governments’ inconvenient truth. But more significantly, he has been condemned because WikiLeaks’ publication exposed the true face of Western liberal democracy, informing the public about how the structure of power really works.
What is Western liberal democracy? It is a particular style of governance that was developed in the US and exported around the world. Political theorist Sheldon S. Wolin (2008) described it as “modern managed democracy” and attributed its creation to the framers of the Constitution. Wolin described how the Founding Fathers made a system that favored elite rule and that “the American political system was not born a democracy, but born with a bias against democracy” (p. 228).
The framers of the constitution wanted to have power over people. As a testimony to this, the original draft of the constitution did not have a Bill of Rights. They were added to the constitution as amendments. This didn’t come about without a struggle. The proponents of the Bill of Rights demanded them in order to safeguard individual liberty and challenged those who seek to preserve levers of control.
Even after the constitution was ratified with a Bill of Rights, the existence of this unaccounted power was never truly addressed. The wording of the First Amendment reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Here, the First Amendment was aimed to restrict the governmental power. It was specifically addressing what Congress can’t do. However, the constitution didn’t ensure that corporations would not be able to circumvent laws and restrict freedom of speech.
This lack of oversight made the system of governance vulnerable to corruption, as was observed by Thomas Jefferson, when he warned American people about a time when the American system of government would degenerate into a form of “elective despotism”.
New mechanism of accountability
The managed democracy relies on secrecy and deception to control the will of the populace. With the infiltration of commercial interests and the consolidation of media, the big business class has found a way to regulate free speech on their terms. The establishment of corporate media turned journalists’ First Amendment protection into a privilege that they can use against the public.
Journalists, who have now become a new class of professionals, no longer share interests with ordinary people. They serve the agendas of the powerful state in maintaining an illusion of democracy, by restricting the flow of information and controlling narratives. For instance, the New York Times has publicly acknowledged that it sends some of its stories to the US government for approval from “national security officials” before publication.
With the merger of the state and corporations, the power of private companies to influence governments and erode civil liberty has increased. Transnational corporations can now revoke and restrict basic rights at any time, crossing the judicial boundaries on the borderless cyberspace. Tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter censor free speech online and, without warrant, spy and invade the privacy of users.
Assange recognized the anti-democratic forces that existed at the very founding of the United States and the establishment of the constitutional republic. He also understood that within the existing political system there is no mechanism for ordinary people to check on this unaccounted power. Civil right activist Audre Lorde once wrote, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Assange through his work with WikiLeaks provided vital tools that make it possible for everyday people to counter corporate media’s weapon of mass deception and dismantle the master’s house.
At the core of WikiLeaks is scientific journalism. By publishing full archives in a searchable format, the whistleblowing site gave ordinary people a mechanism to independently check the claim of journalists and to hold them, with their unelected powers accountable. This way, the whistleblowing site enabled a true function of free press and opened a door for democracy.
Call for real democracy
With the Trump administration’s prosecution of Assange and imprisonment of whistleblower Chelsea Manning, we are now seeing a deepening crisis of enlightenment values. In Chinese, the word for crisis signifies danger and opportunity. This attack on free press poses great threat to democracy, but at the same time, perhaps it also presents an opportunity that has never been available before.
The truths that Assange and Manning have brought forward with enormous courage have pierced the façade of democracy. They sacrificed their personal liberty in order to give us a chance to create a society that is truly aligned with our values.
Manning has now been confined for more than four months after being found in contempt by a federal judge for refusing to testify before a grand jury, and is subject to punitive fines. Assange being locked up in the notorious UK prison previously referred to as “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay” has been made defenseless. He is not allowed to use a computer and has limited access to his lawyers, making him unable to adequately prepare for his legal defense.
In a message sent out from a high security prison, where he is being held in solitary confinement, Assange asked everyone to take his place. Democracy requires ordinary’ people’s participation in power. In order for us to alter this oppressive system, change ought to be made first within ourselves. Each of us needs to start exercising our right to free speech, assemble and associate with one another and organize a society, governed not by the elite few, but through networked conscience of common people.
Even after Assange’s imprisonment, character assassination and smearing designed to deceive the public continues with the latest CNN hit piece twisting embassy surveillance records against him. Assange remains silenced. He is suffering for all of us, urging us to find strength within to seize this opportunity to take back the power that belongs to us. Let us fight for his freedom. Let us complete the great work of justice and democracy he started with WikiLeaks. His plight of curtailed freedom is a call for a real democracy. We all must now take his place and claim our own significance. We must become Julian Assange, for his struggle is ours. We are all Julian Assange.
After a week of vocal protests from online supporters of Julian Assange, Twitter has reversed its unjust removal of the prominent pro-Assange activism account @Unity4J.
After the account was suspended without any explanation being presented to its operators, Assange supporters drew a clear line in the sand against internet censorship and began making a big noise that couldn’t be ignored. The account’s suspension drew condemnations from high-profile Assange supporters like Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, World Socialist Website, RT and Lee Camp, as well as a sustained social media campaign by grassroots supporters which included artwork, memes, and, of course, relentless “tagging” of Twitter Support and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Political dissidents in general, and Assange supporters in particular, can take this as a very positive sign. It cannot be denied that there is pressure being applied to new media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube to forcibly marginalize all perspectives which fall outside the ever-shrinking Overton window of approved political discourse, but it also cannot be denied that speaking out works. If enough people push back against internet censorship to make it too conspicuous and obvious, it can’t happen.
We know that @twitter can and does reinstate accounts after suspension in the wake of a public outcry: @caitoz was suspended only to be reinstated after multiple journalists spoke out against it. @twittersupport @jack reinstate @Unity4J, an account that never broke Twitter rules. https://t.co/ltyGEfedcz
— Elizabeth Lea Vos (@ElizabethleaVos) July 12, 2019
Unity4J co-founder Elizabeth Lea Vos called this from the early hours of the account’s suspension, tweeting, “We know that Twitter can and does reinstate accounts after suspension in the wake of a public outcry: @caitoz was suspended only to be reinstated after multiple journalists spoke out against it.”
“@caitoz” is my account, which was indeed reinstated after I was suspended from Twitter for expressing political wrongthink last year. A bunch of high-profile journalists and activists helped voice objection to my unjust removal from the platform, not necessarily because they liked my work but because they understood that the direction the platform was headed posed a grave threat to all politically dissident speech.
So we see a pattern here where censorship can only happen in the unseen margins. In a society where our rulers must maintain their nice guy image of free speech and democracy, censorship only works when it’s invisible. The social engineers cannot operate in an overtly totalitarian way without shattering the free democracy image and thus losing the ability to effectively propagandize the masses, without which they cannot rule. We can use this weakness of theirs to our advantage by continually ringing alarm bells and shining a spotlight on any overtly totalitarian behavior yelling “What’s this? Why are you doing that? Hey everyone, come look at this weird thing they’re doing!” Internet censorship in its current form can’t operate under such conditions.
Though Twitter’s opaque and unaccountable moderation process makes it impossible to ever know exactly what happened behind the scenes, from my own experience it’s probably safe to assume that @Unity4J was conducting itself in the same way thousands of other Twitter accounts behave every single day without issue, but it got singled out (possibly via establishment-friendly mass reporting) due to its dissident political speech. Some admin ruled that if you squint at the account’s behavior and the Twitter rules in just the right way, removing the account was warranted. Then a bunch of loud complaints began coming in, prompting an investigation which found that by golly, it turns out that we don’t have to squint at the facts of the matter in that weird way after all. After which the account was restored.
The @Unity4J Twitter Team would like to announce that we have been officially restored!
— #Unity4J (@Unity4J) July 18, 2019
Whenever there’s a spate of iron-fisted censorship from a large online platform, I see many dissidents talking about vacating that platform in favor of fringe sites with a more tolerant attitude toward dissident speech. Please do not do this. If you want to spend time on a much smaller platform like Mastodon or Minds then by all means go ahead and do so, but please remain active on large, mainstream sites as well.
Remember, the goal of all political dissent is to get dissident ideas into mainstream consciousness. If we all vacate the areas where the mainstream public are spending their time, we’re doing the social engineers’ job for them by quarantining ourselves to some isolated fringe sector of the internet. That’s exactly what they want us to do. They want us to remove ourselves so we can’t infect the mainstream herd with wrongthink.
So don’t do it for them. If they’re going to keep clamping down on dissident speech online, force them to do it out in the open where everyone can see. As we’ve just witnessed, they have a much, much harder time conducting censorship while under the light of public scrutiny.
Our job here is very simple: if we can get the mainstream public to start paying attention to the actual mechanisms of empire, oligarchy and oppression, we win. If we can’t, we lose. Everything that doesn’t help us toward this end is a frivolous distraction. The social engineers understand all of this quite clearly. We need to understand it too.
Stand in the center of the public stage, and keep infecting the herd.
History’s scope for the absurd and tragic is infinite. Like Sisyphus engaged in permanent labours pushing a boulder up a slope, the effort of making sense of such scope is likewise, absurdly infinite. To see images of an exhausted and world-weary Julian Assange attempting to dodge the all-eye surveillance operation that he would complain about is to wade in the insensibility of it all. But it could hardly have surprised those who have watched WikiLeaks’ battles with the Security Establishment over the years.
Assange is not merely an exceptional figure but a figure of the exception. Despite being granted asylum status by an Ecuadorean regime that would subsequently change heart with a change of brooms, he was never permitted to exercise all his freedoms associated with such a grant. There was always a sense of contingency and qualification, the impending cul-de-sac in London’s Ecuadorean embassy.
Between December 2017 and March 2018, dozens of meetings between Assange, his legal representatives, and visitors, were recorded in daily confidential reports written by an assigned security team and submitted to David Morales, formerly of special ops of the marine corps of the Spanish Navy. The very idea of legal professional privilege, a fetish in the Anglo-American legal system, was not so much deemed non-existent as ignored altogether.
The security firm tasked with this smeared-in-the-gutter mission was Spanish outfit UC Global SL, whose task became all the more urgent once Ecuador’s Lenín Moreno came to power in May 2017. The mood had changed from the days when Rafael Correa had been accommodating, one at the crest of what was termed the Latin American Pink Tide. Under Moreno, Assange was no longer the wunderkind poking the eye of the US imperium with cheery backing. He had become, instead, a tenant of immense irritation and inconvenience, a threat to the shift in politics taking place in Ecuador. According to El País, “The security employees at the embassy had a daily job to do: to monitor Assange’s every move, record his conversations, and take note of his moods.”
The revelations of the surveillance operation on Assange had had their natural effect on the establishment journalists who continue taking the mother’s milk of conspiracy and intrigue in libelling the publisher. CNN’s Marshall Cohen, Kay Guerrero and Arturo Torres seemed delighted in finding their éminence grise with his fingers in the pie, making the claim, with more than a whiff of patriotic self-importance, how “surveillance reports also describe how Assange turned the embassy into a command centre and orchestrated a series of damaging disclosures that rocked the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States.” Rather than seeing obsessive surveillance in breach of political asylum as a problem, they see the quarry obtained by UC Global in quite a different light. The WikiLeaks publisher had supposedly been outed.
The trio claimed to have obtained documents “exclusive” to CNN (the labours of El País, who did the lion’s share on this, are confined to the periphery) – though they have not been kind enough to share the original content with the curious. Nor do they make much of the private security materials as such, preferring to pick from the disordered larder that is the Mueller Report.
The CNN agenda is, however, clear enough. “The documents build on the possibility, raised by special counsel Robert Mueller in his report on Russian meddling, that couriers brought hacked files to Assange at the embassy.” Suggestions, without the empirical follow-up, are made to beef up the insinuated message. “While the Republican National Convention kicked off in Cleveland, an embassy security guard broke protocol by abandoning his post to receive a package outside the embassy from a man in disguise.” The individual in question “covered his face with a mask and sunglasses and was wearing a backpack, according to surveillance images obtained by CNN.” So planned; so cheeky.
Another line in the same report also serves to highlight the less than remarkable stuff in the pudding. “After the election, the private security company prepared an assessment of Assange’s allegiances. That report, which included open-source information, concluded there was ‘no doubt that there is evidence’ that Assange had ties to Russian intelligence agencies.” Not exactly one to stop the presses.
CNN, in fact, suggests a figure demanding, unaccountable, dangerous and entirely in charge of the situation. It is the psychological profile of a brattish historical agent keen to avoid detection. (Here the journalists are keen to suggest that meeting guests “inside the women’s bathroom” in the Ecuadorean embassy was a shabby enterprise initiated by Assange; the obvious point that he was being subject to surveillance by UC Global’s “feverish, obsessive vigilance”, to use the words of El País, is turned on its head.)
He is reported to have “demanded” a high-speed internet connection. He sought a working phone service, because obviously that would be unreasonable for any grantee of political asylum. He requested regular access to his professional circle and followers. Never has such a confined person been deemed a commander, an orchestrator and master of space. “Though confined to a few rooms inside the embassy, Assange was able to wield enormous authority over his situation.”
The account offered by Txema Guijarro García, a former advisor to Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño and an important figure dealing with the logistics of granting Assange asylum in 2012, is decidedly different. In general, “relations between him and the embassy staff were better than anyone could have expected. The staff had amazing patience and, under difficult conditions, they managed to combine their diplomatic work with the task of caring for our famous guest.”
The language from the CNN report suggests the mechanics of concerted exclusion, laying the framework for an apologia that would justify Assange’s extradition to the United States to face espionage charges rather than practising journalism. It is a salient reminder about the readiness of such outlets to accommodate, rather than buck, the state narrative on publishing national security information.
It is also distinctly out of step with the defences being made in favour of publishing leaked diplomatic cables being expressed in the Tory leadership debate in Britain. While it should be construed with care, the words of Boris Johnson in the aftermath of the publication of British cables authored by the now ex-UK ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, are pertinent. “It cannot conceivably be right that newspapers or any other media organisation publishing such material face prosecution”. Even Johnson can take the pulse of history accurately once in a while.
One of the biggest Twitter accounts dedicated to circulating information and advocacy for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, @Unity4J, has been completely removed from the site. The operators of the account report that they have been given no reason for its removal by Twitter staff, and have received no response to their appeals.
Any Assange supporter active on Twitter will be familiar with the Unity4J account, which originated to help boost the wildly successful Unity4J online vigils in which well-known Assange defenders would appear to speak out against his persecution. As of this writing, the account has been gone for a day and a half.
“About 8:45am CST on Thursday July 11, one of our Unity4J Twitter team members went to retweet on the account and noticed that the account was no longer accessible,” reports pro-Assange activist Christy Dopf, one of the operators of the account. “When each of us also attempted to access the account we all received the same message ‘Account Suspended’. Twitter did not send us a reason or violation for the suspension. So an appeal was submitted. We did receive correspondence that Twitter got our request and the case is currently open. Unfortunately we do not have a timeline on how long this could take.”
Speaking for myself as a vocal Assange supporter on Twitter, I can say that I’ve been following the @Unity4J account closely since its earliest days and I’ve never once seen it post anything other than highly professional-looking advocacy for Julian Assange. I’ve certainly never seen it post anything that could be construed as abusive, misleading, or otherwise in violation of any of Twitter’s posted rules.
This account’s deletion is just the latest in a long string of apparently biased actions against WikiLeaks and Assange by the immensely influential social media platform. That bias was made abundantly clear with Twitter’s ridiculous refusal to verify Assange while he was posting from his own account despite his undeniably being a significant public figure, and despite the fact that Twitter was well aware that the account was authentic. The platform has been receiving consistent complaints among Assange supporters of using shadow bans to marginalize their voices, as well as unfair posting locks and restrictions.
“It seems that Assange supporters have been targeted for suspension over the last few days and weeks, including the suspension of individuals (Yon Solitary, Monique Jolie) as well as accounts like Unity4J,” Unity4J co-founder Elizabeth Lea Vos told me today. “All of these suspensions are unacceptable, but I find the Unity4J suspension especially egregious because it was an amplifier of events across the board, not only actions run by Unity4J. It never broke the twitter rules and it was an activist account supporting a journalist who’s been silenced or ‘disappeared,’ so this suspension is an extension of that suppression. Assange asked us to become his voice, and platforms like Twitter appear to be actively working against the possibility of that effort.”
Pro-Assange activists have been speaking out against @Unity4J’s removal.
“The main Twitter account defending Julian Assange, and therefore press freedom and freedom of speech, has been suspended,” tweeted comedian and Redacted Tonight host Lee Camp. “@Unity4J – suspended for defending a hero.”
“HELP!! Twitter suspended @Unity4J The global #FreeAssange supporters account!” tweeted Assange’s mother Christine Assange. “Its a central point for updates, interviews and actions re my son politically persecuted journalist JULIAN ASSANGE! Please demand @TwitterSupport and @Jack re-instate it. Many thanks #Unity4J”
“I have no doubt that @Unity4J’s twitter account was suspended because it was a hub of useful information on solidarity events and actions in support of Assange, WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning and more. Horrendous censorship to suspend the account, @TwitterSupport,” tweeted Elizabeth Lea Vos.
“If @Unity4J is not restored, it is proof that Twitter would have sided against the Free Mandela movement, and every other mass liberation movement of a ‘terrorist’ turned Nobel nominee,” tweeted Unity4J co-founder Suzie Dawson.
Many other Assange supporters have been flagging the attention of the Twitter Support account and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey objecting to the unjust silencing of a perfectly legitimate activist account, to no avail thus far.
The censorship of political speech on online media platforms is a large and growing problem. Twitter has been better about this than the far more sycophantic Facebook and Google, but the discrimination against anti-establishment political speech is undeniable at this point. I myself was removed from the platform last year just for saying the world would be better off without warmongering US Senator John McCain in it, and was only restored after protests from high-profile Twitter users.
In a corporatist system of government, in which there is no meaningful separation of corporate power and state power, corporate censorship is state censorship. With giant Silicon Valley corporations aligning themselves with shady state-funded propagandistic think tanks like the Atlantic Council, being admonished on the Senate floor that they must help quash political rebellion, and being targeted for narrative control influence by the US military, there’s vanishingly little difference between what’s happening more and more to political speech with these tech giants and what happens in overtly totalitarian governments. The only difference is the stories people choose to tell themselves about it.
The time to speak up about this silencing is now. Your voice is next.
The rapid descent of the nation, the system and the planet under the domain of private-profit-first capitalism continues with opposition growing but still far too much acceptance that only agrees to new employees at the level of state rule who represent the same class interests but in more polite forms. This means some benefits for some groups but always at far more cost to others. Affirmative Action, to mention only one program created to supposedly amend some of racism’s worst social malevolence towards a minority, did far more to advance women, who represent a majority, while bringing growth to the black middle and upper middle classes but even greater growth in black poverty and a massive increase in black prisoners crowding America’s penal colony. A profit for some always entails a loss for others and as long as this system prevails, so will that rule.
A Trump regime more feared by Republican Party wealth than Democratic Party wealth feared Bernie Sanders is holding true to those fears in that it might rush the empire to ruin even faster than what was inevitable anyway. While Trump has some tendencies that put him left of what, under current perverse standards, passes for liberal, his inability to maintain a position from the start of a sentence to the end is most feared by the ruling class, which is why its liberal sect-cult has been moving towards impeachment since the day before his inauguration while the conservative-cult-sect has seen to it that he is surrounded by dunderheads and murderers who make him seem almost thoughtful by comparison.
As his administration’s policies, not always his, help bring Russia, China and really the rest of the world closer together both in immediate fear and long-term hope, the American people have to understand that we are part of that group and act that way rather than continue performing as humanity’s self-chosen rulers. We are fast approaching a point at which not just future generational threats are forecast but those in which tomorrow morning could bring on a colossal blunder that creates a war beyond anything even the brain-dead and morals-free who cause it might have imagined. The present crisis with Iran is simply the long term Israeli occupied American government policy writ larger, more dangerously and, if possible, even dumber than in the past. But this closely follows the near destruction of Venezuela which has failed but at critical cost to that nation, suffering along with too many others the death rattle abuse of an imperial power which still rules for the moment only as a result of being able to kill more people more quickly than any other nation. That awesome and ugly power is fading, too, but hoping that it will happen soon enough isn’t enough. The American people will have to bring about radical change, a transformation here that will greatly aid in the transformation of the globe into a community of cooperation, peace and social justice, to replace the bloody animosity and injustice so long accepted as reality.
Present trends are hopeful only under continued lesser evilism that enables voters to select leaders appealing to minority identity groups and performing beneficially for them while still aiding and abetting the system that will create a few more billionaires but far more poverty, war, and far less humanity the longer it is tolerated. Continued stress on individual villains posing as leaders and minorities disguising humanity as special identity groups is the divide and conquer strategy of our rulers.
If there is a single individual that warrants any attention beyond that of the human race, at least for the moment, it should be Julian Assange, whose persecution and suffering after performing as a heroic servant of the people is a disgrace to supposed if yet unrealized democracy. The future of a truly informed public able to act with full knowledge of what rulers are actually doing, after generations of living in forced atmospheres of propaganda passing for material reality, is under greater threat than ever. Assange, and one of his prime sources, Manning, are imprisoned by social forces that represent a menace to the human race and by individuals in leadership among that force who have pond scum between their ears and pus running through their veins.
These are the creatures who can rule that foreign nations must bow to the imperium or be destroyed because it knows best, is best, and represents future freedom and democracy, even if present slavery, mass murder and authoritarianism are its most important tools. These are the paid servants who report (?) and comment on reality as stenographers to power and call it “journalism” and “punditry”. And they are a tiny minority of the human race, running the nations, the people and the planet into the ground at an ever-faster pace, while we are distracted by false consciousness beyond the imagination of past social critics who invented that term.
Showing his contrasting skills, among them the negative of acting like an oaf with a nuclear weapon in his hand but the positive of at times being a crystal clear communicator, the ego-maniac in the white house has popularized the term “fake news”, instantly understood by just about everyone as describing the political establishment, corporate media and those holding power over the means of communication. That power is now fading as well, by what is still anti-social but has great possibilities of becoming truly social media. At present, it is still a market tool to make some richer at the expense of consumers, but Assange and Manning are prime examples of what it can mean in truly spreading information to the people and not just the latest product for sale or celebrity to admire or paid politician to vote for.
While the issues of climate and atmospheric plague, threats of more war, greater poverty and approaching capitalist bankruptcy must be confronted and dealt with for the longer term, the short term threat to Assange and Manning is a crisis for not just them but for humanity and any possibility of opening the books and files to reveal real rather than fake news. Freeing them is far more important than simply getting rid of Trump. Not just for them and the American people, but for what that will say about America to the people of the world.
Last week, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed the US extradition request to hand over Julian Assange, who is charged with 18 counts of violating the US Espionage Act. Assange’s immediate fate now lies in the hands of the British justice system.
Javid ‘consistently voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas’, including war on Afghanistan, Syria and the catastrophic 2011 assault on Libya. In other words, he is a key figure in precisely the US-UK Republican-Democratic-
John Pilger described Assange’s extradition hearing last week to The Real News Network:
I don’t think these initial extradition hearings will be fair at all, no… He’s not allowed to defend himself. He’s not given access to a computer so that he can access the documents and files that he needs.
I think where it will change is if the lower court – the magistrate’s court that is dealing with it now and will deal with it over the next almost nine, ten months – if they decide to extradite Julian Assange, his lawyers will appeal. And it will go up to the High Court. And I think it’s there in the High Court where he may well – I say “may” – get justice. That’s a cautiously optimistic view. But I think he’s most likely to get it there. He certainly won’t get it the United States. There’s no indication of that.
As we noted in a media alert last week, the groundwork for the persecution of Assange has been laid by a demonising state-corporate propaganda campaign. Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, who is also Professor of International Law at the University of Glasgow, has turned the accepted ‘mainstream’ view of Assange completely on its head:
First of all, we have to realize that we have all been deliberately misled about Mr Assange. The predominant image of the shady “hacker”, “sex offender” and selfish “narcissist” has been carefully constructed, disseminated and recycled in order to divert attention from the extremely powerful truths he exposed, including serious crimes and corruption on the part of multiple governments and corporations.
By making Mr Assange “unlikeable” and ridiculous in public opinion, an environment was created in which no one would feel empathy with him, very similar to the historic witch-hunts, or to modern situations of mobbing at the workplace or in school. (Our emphasis)
These are very significant, credible comments and, as we will discuss below, Melzer recently provided a stunning example on Twitter of how this ‘carefully constructed, disseminated and recycled’ image of Assange has been faked.
Melzer’s revelation concerns Assange’s long, dishevelled beard, which was a source of much ‘mainstream’ hilarity when Assange was arrested and dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy on April 11. First, let’s remind ourselves of some of the grim highlights of this media coverage. In the Daily Mail, Amanda Platell wrote:
How humiliating that as the alleged sexual predator Julian Assange emerged from Ecuador’s embassy, flourishing a wild beard, Australian scientists revealed a primordial link between “flamboyant accoutrements such as beards” and titchy testicles.
In the New Statesman, the Guardian‘s Suzanne Moore celebrated:
O frabjous day! We are all bored out of our minds with Brexit when a demented looking gnome is pulled out of the Ecuadorian embassy by the secret police of the deep state. Or “the met” as normal people call them.
In the Evening Standard, William Moore commented:
Julian Assange… looked like a sort of mad Lord of the Rings extra as he was hauled away from the Ecuadorian embassy last week.
Charlotte Edwardes wrote in the Evening Standard:
Julian Assange’s removal from the Ecuadorian embassy brought his straggly beard into the light. The Beard Liberation Front gets in touch to say he will not be considered for its annual shortlist of the best facial hair. “It is impossible to unequivocally state that his beard presents a positive public image,” it says.1
David Aaronovitch of The Times tweeted:
I see Tolstoy has just been arrested in central London.
Like so many journalists, Derek Momodu, the Daily Mirror‘s Associate Picture Editor, made a joke about a bearded character from the BBC comedy series ‘Only Fools And Horses’:
Unconfirmed reports that Wikileaks boss Julian Assange tried to pass as Uncle Albert to avoid arrest – but no-one was fooled.
The Daily Star devoted an entire article to the mockery:
Bearded Julian Assange compared to Uncle Albert as Twitter reacts to arrest
Pamela Anderson’s favourite fella has got a surprising new look.
Embedded in the piece was a Daily Star reader survey that attracted 234 votes:
Would you describe Julian Assange as…
A hero [36%]
A weirdo’ [64%]
Unsurprising results, given the context and the wider political-media campaign.
The Daily Express also devoted an article to comedy takes of this kind:
Hilarious Julian Assange memes have swept Twitter in the wake of the Wikileaks founder’s arrest including one he tried to pass himself off as Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses – here are the best ones.
In The Times, Ben Macintyre wrote a piece titled, ‘Julian Assange belongs with crackpots and despots’, observing that Assange had been ‘hauled out of the Ecuadorian embassy, wearing the same beard and outraged expression as Saddam Hussein on removal from his foxhole’. The caption accompanying the photos said it all:
Julian Assange revelled in holding court at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Right, the Panamanian [dictator] General Manuel Noriega took refuge in the Vatican embassy in 1989
There are clear Stalinist and Big Brother echoes when one of the most important political dissidents of our time generates this headline (subsequently edited) in the Daily Mail:
A soaring ego. Vile personal habits. And after years in his squalid den, hardly a friend left: DOWNFALL OF A NARCISSIST
The title of a Guardian press review also headlined completely fake, Ecuadorian government claims that Assange had smeared the walls of the embassy with his own excrement as highlighted in The Sun:
“Whiffyleaks”: what the papers say about Julian Assange’s arrest
The assumption behind all these comments, of course, was that Assange’s beard was further confirmation that he was ‘a definite creep, a probable rapist, a conspiracist whackjob’, as ‘leftist’ media favourite Ash Sarkar of Novara Media tweeted. Or, as the Guardian‘s George Monbiot wrote in opposing Assange’s extradition:
Whether or not you like Assange’s politics (I don’t), or his character (ditto)…
As discussed, Nils Melzer argues that Assange has become ‘”unlikeable” and ridiculous in public opinion’, not because of who he is, but because of a state-sponsored propaganda campaign – the journalists listed above are either complicit or dupes. This media charade was exposed with great clarity by Melzer’s revelation on Twitter:
How public humiliation works: On 11 April, Julian Assange was mocked for his beard throughout the world. During my visit, he explained to us that his shaving kit had been deliberately taken away three months earlier.
It had simply never occurred to the great herd of journalists – which understood that Assange was someone to be smeared, mocked and abused – that his appearance might have something to do with Ecuador’s brutal treatment cutting off his communications, his visitors and even his medical care. Fidel Narvaez, former consul at the Ecuadorian embassy from the first day Assange arrived, on 19 June 2012, until 15 July 2018, said the Ecuadorian regime under president Lenin Moreno had tried to make life ‘unbearable’ for Assange.
As part of a Swedish project in support of Assange, a message containing an offer from Melzer to be interviewed was emailed to around 500 individuals, primarily Swedish journalists. Recipients were able to reply with a single click on an embedded link in the message. Not a single journalist did so. In an email copied to Media Lens, Melzer commented:
My impression is that, after my initial press release, most of the mainstream media have gone into something like a shock paralysis leaving them unable to process the enormous contradiction between their own misguided portraits of Assange and the terrifying truth of what has been going on in reality. The problem, of course, is that mainstream media bear a significant share of the responsibility for enabling this disgraceful witch-hunt and now have to muster up the strength to face their tragic failure to objectively inform and empower the people in this case.
One of my own nationalities being Swedish, I am quite familiar with what a certain obsession with political correctness can do to one’s capacity for critical thinking. But the fact that, of more than 500 solicited Swedish journalists, not a single one was interested in an in-depth interview with a Swiss-Swedish UN expert publicly accusing Sweden of judicial persecution and psychological torture, speaks to a level of denial and self-censorship that can hardly be reconciled with objective and informative reporting.2
It is indeed a dramatic example of denial and self-censorship. But, alas, there is no ‘shock paralysis’, for corporate media have been treating the best-informed, most courageous and most honest truth-tellers this way for years and decades.
When Denis Halliday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, resigned in protest in September 1998, describing the UN sanctions regime he had set up and run as ‘genocidal’, his comments were mentioned in passing then forgotten. The same treatment was afforded his successor as UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Hans von Sponeck, who resigned in protest at the sanctions in February 2000. Since its publication in 2006, von Sponeck’s forensic, deeply rational and deeply damning account of his experiences, A Different Kind Of War – The UN Sanctions Regime In Iraq, (Berghahn Books, 2006), has been mentioned once across the entire US-UK press, in a single paragraph of 139 words in an article by Robert Fisk in the Independent, and never reviewed.3
At a time of maximum global media coverage of Iraq, Halliday was mentioned in 2 of the 12,366 Guardian and Observer articles mentioning Iraq in 2003; von Sponeck was mentioned 5 times. Halliday was mentioned in 2 of the 8,827 articles mentioning Iraq in 2004; von Sponeck was mentioned 5 times.
In 2002, Scott Ritter, former UN chief weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-1998 declared that Iraq had been ‘fundamentally disarmed’ of 90-95% of its weapons of mass destruction by December 1998, signifying that the case for war was an audacious fraud.4 In the 12,366 articles mentioning Iraq in 2003, the Guardian and Observer mentioned Ritter a total of 17 times.
In February, we described how Alfred de Zayas, the first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years, had commented that US sanctions were illegal and could amount to ‘crimes against humanity’ under international law. Our ProQuest UK media database search for the last six months for corporate newspaper articles containing:
‘de Zayas’ and ‘Venezuela’ = 2 hits
One of these, bitterly critical, in The Times, was titled:
Radical Chic – The UN’s system of human rights reporting is a politicised travesty
There have been a couple of other mentions in the Independent online, but, once again, we find ourselves reaching for the same comment from Noam Chomsky that sums it up so well:
The basic principle, rarely violated, is that what conflicts with the requirements of power and privilege does not exist.5
- Edwardes, ‘Julian Assange’s removal’, Evening Standard, 12 April 2019.
- Melzer, email, 13 June 2019.
- Fisk, ‘Fear climate change, not our enemies’, The Independent, 20 Jan 2007.
- Ritter and William Rivers Pitt, War On Iraq, Profile Books, 2002, p. 23.
- Chomsky, ‘Deterring Democracy’, Hill and Wang, 1992, p. 79.
In the last week, the realities of US foreign policy have been exposed by a leaked audio tape, a leak about a US attack on the Russian electrical grid, and US attempts to extradite Julian Assange. All the information points to a foreign policy that violates international law and standards, perpetrates wars and conflict and seeks to undermine press freedom in order to commit its crimes in secret.
This is not new information to those of us who closely follow US foreign policy, but these new exposures are broad and are in the mass media where many millions of people can view them and gain a greater understanding of the realities of US actions around the world. Join the People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine this September.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses a closed-door meeting hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations on May 28, 2019 (Credit: Ron Przysucha/U.S. Department of State)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Exposes Himself To Jewish Leadership
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a foreign policy speech to the presidents of major Jewish organizations. The speech was remarkable because it shows the special attention this group receives. Very sensitive secrets of US foreign policy were provided to the audience. Thankfully, someone in the audience audio-taped the conversation, and as a result, millions of people in the US and around the world now know the truth about some critical US foreign policy issues. Here are some of the topics he discussed:
US Seeks To Stop Jeremy Corbyn Before He Is Elected:
The audio includesPompeo promising to do his “level best” to stop Corbyn from ever being elected as Prime Minister of the UK. Pompeo was responding to a question, “Would you be willing to work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK?” This was about the false claim that Corbyn is anti-Semitic because he favors the rights of Palestinians and criticizes Israel. Pompeo responded:
It could be that Mr. Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.
The Secretary of State describing how the US would attempt to influence British elections comes despite all the claims of Russia allegedly influencing US elections. A Labour spokesman responded: “President Trump and his officials’ attempts to decide who will be Britain’s next prime minister are an entirely unacceptable interference in the UK’s democracy.”
US Coup in Venezuela not going well
In another US interference in democracy, Pompeo discussed the US coup in Venezuela. Pompeo described the opposition to Maduro as divided and acting in their own self-interest. He said: “Our conundrum, which is to keep the opposition united, has proven devilishly difficult.” Pompeo said in the meeting, the image of unity was really only useful as a “public” facade.
Pompeo also admitted that he has been working on the coup in Venezuela “since the day I became CIA director.” He explained creating unity among the opposition “was something that was at the center of what President Trump was trying to do.” Pompeo became CIA director on January 23, 2017.
Despite the US saying in public that Juan Guaido was president of Venezuela, he admitted in the audio tape that Maduro was still president and he could not predict the timing of when he would leave, but he assured the audience that the economic war and other actions against the government and against the Venezuelan population would result in his leaving.
The efforts of the Embassy Protection Collective continue in court. The US is seeking to convict four protectors of federal crimes that could result in one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The US has unlimited resources, we need enough resources to put on a strong defense. A jury verdict acquitting us of these charges will be another blow against the US coup in Venezuela. Donate here.
Kushner Peace Plan Unlikely, Iran Too Sensitive To Discuss
Pompeo told Jewish leaders that the Trump administration’s soon-to-be-released Middle East peace plan will be considered “unworkable,” and might not gain traction. Pompeo acknowledged the plan’s perceived favoritism to Israel and was not optimistic saying, “It may be rejected. Could be in the end, folks will say, ‘It’s not particularly original, it doesn’t particularly work for me.’”
Pompeo was about to get into other Middle East issues like Iran but expressed concern that someone might be taping the conversation and the information could be too sensitive.
Iran Threats Heat Up Based On Unproven US Allegation
On June 13, two outbound tankers in the Gulf of Oman suffered from explosions on the side facing international waters. Iranian rescuers rushed to assist the two oil tankers, transferring all 44 crew members to Iran’s southern shores.
The US is claiming the attacks came from mines placed on the boats by Iran. The president of Kokuka Sangyo Marine, (shipowners), Yutaka Katada, said: “there is no possibility of mine attack as the attack is well above the waterline” and the crew described a flying object hitting the tanker.
The US blaming Iran gives us a “Remember the Maine!”/Gulf of Tonkin feeling, examples of false claims that led to war. The US provided a grainy, hard to understand video of a boat allegedly removing a mine from a tanker hours later. The US claims it was the Iranian Revolutionary Guard removing evidence of Iran’s involvement. There are many problems with this theory that raise more questions than answers.
The attack against the Japanese-owned tanker came at the moment that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The meeting was a historic one, the first Japanese leader to visit Iran since its revolution 40 years ago. Would Iran attack an oil tanker and sabotage its own meeting with the Japanese leader? This theory strains credulity. The US accusation against Iran seems designed to undermine Iran-Japanese diplomacy. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, said in a tweet, “Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.”
These attacks seem to be against the interests of Iran as they provide an excuse for escalation against Iran by the US and its allies. Neocons and US armed regimes who oppose Iran, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, would all benefit from this attack.
Even though much of the media repeated the allegations, the suspicion that this was a false accusation against Iran was so strong that many media outlets noted the lack of evidence; e.g., the New York Times, CNN, and NPR. The Saudi media immediately amplified the US accusation. US intelligence experts questioned the claim, raised doubts about the video and noted the US history in “ginning up” attacks for political purposes. Japan has asked for more proof, European governments questioned the claim. The lack of evidence for the US claim and the reality of how it makes little sense for Iran to make such an attack seem to be exposing the US more than undermining Iran.
US Cyberattack on Russian Electrical Grid
On June 15, the New York Times reported on interviews with military officials over the last three months that showed the US stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid. The US has deployed computer code into the Russian electrical system for future cyber attacks. The actions are a warning to President Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, according to current and former government officials.
The Times reports the US “strategy has shifted more toward offense…with the placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before.”
Last year, new authorities were granted separately by the White House and Congress to United States Cyber Command, an arm of the Pentagon, to conduct offensive online operations without receiving presidential approval. The Times reports that Trump has not been briefed on the details of these actions for fear of his reaction. Trump denies the report and accused the Times of “a virtual act of treason.”
It is not clear how far the US has gone into the Russian electrical system. Could it cripple Russia’s electrical system or shut down its military? This may not be known until it is activated. Attacks on power grids by the US are not new, as shown in the attack on the Venezuelan electrical system in March, but boring into a system in preparation for war seems to be new.
US Behind Conviction Of Lula and others in Brazil
Glenn Greenwald obtained thousands of pages of communications between the people involved in the conviction of Lula da Silva, a popular politician in Brazil. It appears now that Lula was falsely convicted to prevent him from winning the presidency in 2018 and that the US was behind it. Brazilian judges are now calling for the conviction of Lula and many others who were targeted to be thrown out and an investigation into the massive corruption. Greenwald says there is more to come.
Officials in the US government and leaders of transnational corporations are well-aware that they are violating or skirting international and domestic laws. When an official is caught on tape in a private meeting, leaks of documents are provided to the media or an off-the-record interview reveals US strategies for war, the government gets upset.
We do not have to look any further to see this than the attempt to extradite Julian Assange to face prosecution in the United States. The US has issued a formal request for the extradition of Assange on 18 charges, 17 of which are violations of the Espionage Act, that could incarcerate him for the rest of his life. The Magistrate’s Court scheduled a five-day extradition hearing beginning on February 24, 2020.
The video in this tweet shows the hatred prominent people have for Julian Assange for merely publishing the truth about US war crimes, State Department operations, the Guantanamo Bay Prison and corporate corruption.
Do you still believe that the US fights for peace, justice, truth & freedom?
Assange showed the crimes of the US elite and they accused him of terrorism.
Terrorism is the favorite word of the US, in this way they justify the murders. They accuse you of terrorism and then attack pic.twitter.com/2qOKl8BY46
— Enrique |#FreeAssange | (@garoukike) December 30, 2018
The facade is being lifted on US foreign policy. It is no longer possible for the US to get away with its crimes. And global power is shifting. Last week, Russia and China signed two major agreements, thus ending the US as the dominant superpower and creating a multipolar world. Alliances are changing – India may partner with Russia and China.
We are facing a historic crossroad. Will the US continue to try to dominate the world using economic, cyber and military weapons, further isolating itself and wasting resources that are needed to meet human needs and protect the planet, or will the US become a partner in good faith with other great powers? It is up to us to determine which path is taken. Join us this September during the United Nations General Assembly to call for the US to be held accountable in the People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine. Click here for more information.