| Electrified Thought Fences – Narcissism: Real And Imagined!

Electrified Thought Fences – Narcissism: Real And Imagined ~ ALERTS 2013, Media Lens.

One of the great tasks of the state-corporate commentariat is to install electrified thought fences between the public and rare voices attempting to challenge the status quo.

Dissidents are attacked from ostensibly noble positions opposing fascism, genocide, sexism and selfishness. The smears are empowered by the fact that they target an opponent’s reputation with ugly-looking labels that nobody really understands.

For example, no-one in fact knows at what point (if any) honest disagreement morphs into the Thought Crime ‘genocide denial’. But if enough pundits shriek with sufficient conviction and disgust that they know, many will believe them.

The mix of feigned outrage and genuine confusion deters neutrals from challenging the smear for fear of appearing foolish, or of being tarred with the same brush. They may instead step back from supporting, or even mentioning, the work of someone that ‘everyone knows’ is a ‘genocide denier’, a ‘sexist’, or a ‘narcissist’.

Last month, Joan Smith of the Independent wrote of Russell Brand:

‘I don’t think you would have to be a passionate feminist to conclude that this guy is (a) a sexist idiot and (b) a narcissist whose ideas about politics are likely to be only slightly more coherent than those of a 13-year-old boy.’

Smith’s comment was provoked by Brand’s opening sentence in a long article for the New Statesman:

‘When I was asked to edit an issue of the New Statesman I said yes because it was a beautiful woman asking me.’

Numerous commentators denounced this as an unacceptable, sexist remark. But does anyone believe that Brand was seriously claiming he had chosen to edit a national political magazine – incorporating his own impassioned, 5,000-word, political/spiritual essay – in response to a sexual urge? Brand, a comedian, was clearly mocking the all too human tendency to be at least in part guided by ‘lower’ urges as we pursue ‘higher’ ideals (classic comedic fare). He was surely also firing a shot at his own ego, at the idea that he was setting himself up as some pompous political leader.

As even Smith observed, ‘the “beautiful woman” who asked him is, I assume, the paper’s associate editor and current Brand love interest (for want of a better phrase), Jemima Khan‘.

Describing Khan as merely the ‘current Brand love interest’ is itself dismissive and patronising. Perhaps Brand is the ‘current Khan love interest’. Or perhaps she is Brand’s soul-mate and they are desperately in love. In which case, Brand’s comment could be viewed as a loving gesture in her direction, rather than an example of crazed sexual Pavlovianism. One can imagine that if a Clinton or an Obama had delivered a comparable reference to Hillary or Michelle, the press corps would have smiled at this ‘human touch’ and shifted admiringly in their seats.

Again, most people are unsure exactly what Brand has said, meant and done in his life, just as they are unsure where reasonable references to sexuality end and sexism begins. They are also unsure when comments and actions justify someone being permanently branded (indeed) as thoroughgoing ‘sexists’. But Smith seems to know. Many will have deferred to her fierce certainty, particularly given that she describes herself as a feminist, a label which suggests a depth of understanding on these issues which she may or may not in fact possess.

In the New Statesman, Laurie Penny (formerly of the Independent) also took Brand to task for being ‘clearly a casual and occasionally vicious sexist’. This sexism, ‘It’s everywhere’ on the left, Penny claimed: ‘It’s Julian Assange and George Galloway…’

In fact the evidence justifying such damning criticism of Brand, Assange and Galloway is pitifully thin and even fabricated. Consider, after all, that Penny commented:

‘Brand is hardly the only leftist man to boast a track record of objectification, of harassment and of playing cheap misogyny for laughs.’

The serious claim that Brand boasts a ‘track record’ of sexual ‘harassment’ came with an embedded link to an August 3, 2012 blog on a website called ‘Jezebel – Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women. Without Airbrushing,’ which reported that Brand had refused to begin filming a musical, ‘What About Dick?’, ‘until he convinced a wardrobe assistant to flash him [her breasts]. He actually delayed production for two hours, haranguing her the entire time’.

The blog continued: ‘co-star and comic Billy Connolly took him [Brand] aside for a stern talking-to. So, yup, Hollywood is full of professionals and no breasts are safe. Good Lord, imagine what Brand might have requested from a PA?’

Jezebel’s source for the story, to which it linked, was Murdoch’s Sun newspaper. Easy to understand why the author of the ‘Penny Red‘ blog chose not to link to the Sun as some kind of credible source.

Worse still, in December 2012, the Independent published this comment by Connolly:

‘”That [widely reported] story,” says Connolly evenly, “is a total invention. A complete fabrication. It’s total bollocks. It never happened. Russell was very well-behaved, and I found him very interesting.”‘

We wrote to Penny, asking whose account of the story was accurate. She replied on November 6:

‘I understand that Connolly refuted the claims – amended the copy 4 days ago to reflect that.’

But ‘4 days ago’ was close to one year after the refutation had been published by the Independent! We pointed out that the claims had not been amended in the version posted on ZNet (where we read them). Penny answered:

‘Znet isn’t my responsibility – I wasn’t consulted before they published.’

A curiously passive reaction from someone who portrays herself as a tub-thumping ‘activist’. Penny commented in her New Statesman/ZNet piece:

‘The left, because we like to fight from the moral high ground, is particularly bad at confronting its own bullshit.’

Suzanne Moore wrote in the Guardian of Brand:

‘He may indeed be a sexist. Or, as he put it earlier this week in these pages, in his most imitable style, may “suffer from the ol’ sexism”.’

Brand, it seems, is also guilty of unbearable ‘braggadocio’.

Moore has previously described Julian Assange as ‘the most massive turd’.

In the Sunday Times, Katie Glass described Brand as ‘an exhibitionistic narcissist obsessed with celebrity’. (Katie Glass, ‘The ultimate Marmite Brand,’ Sunday Times, September 22, 2013)

Arguably, one could search long and hard before finding a ‘mainstream’ politician of whom this could not be said. But of course no corporate journalist would ever dare heft such a ferocious smear in the direction of an Obama, Cameron or Blair.

Glass continued:

‘If you did not find his drugtaking, philandering or humour off-putting, you should try him now he has reinvented himself as a yogaaddicted, transcendentalmeditating vegan hippie, and a modern prophet with a Jesus complex.

‘We suspect his arrogant bravado, his over-the-top narcissism, even his sex addiction are signs that he is deeply fragile.’

While accusations of ‘sexism’ are used to smear high-profile dissidents, feigned concern for women’s rights is also deployed as a weapon in the propaganda arsenal promoting ‘humanitarian intervention’. This played a crucial role in the 2001 demonisation of the Taliban as targets for Western attack.

In 2007, we conducted a Lexis media database search for the terms ‘Taliban’ and ‘women’s rights’. Since 1995, there had been 56 mentions in the Guardian. Of these, 36 had appeared since the September 11, 2001 attacks. There was the same number of mentions (nine) in the last three and a half months of 2001 as in the previous three years combined. 90 per cent of the mentions in 2001 occurred after September 11. We found a similar pattern of reporting on gay rights in Afghanistan.

In 2011, concocted tales of Viagra-fuelled mass rape were also used to target the Libyan government for ‘intervention’ and destruction amid widespread concern about the security of women’s rights under Gaddafi. Notice, we are not here for one moment challenging the merits of feminism, but the abuse of feminism by state-corporate propagandists.

The Herd Behaviour Of Media Parrots

The focus on the ‘narcissism’ of leading dissidents is a recurring theme across the corporate media. Bloomberg Businessweek featured an article entitled, ‘The Unbearable Narcissism of Edward Snowden.’

Jeffrey Toobin condemned Snowden in the New Yorker as ‘a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison’.

On CBS, Bob Schieffer commented:

‘I think what we have in Edward Snowden is just a narcissistic young man who has decided he is smarter than the rest of us.’

Richard Cohen in the Washington Post:

‘Everything about Edward Snowden is ridiculously cinematic. He is not paranoiac; he is merely narcissistic. He jettisoned a girlfriend, a career and, undoubtedly, his personal freedom to expose programs…’

Cohen detected no cognitive dissonance in the idea that a narcissist would be willing to sacrifice his girlfriend, career and personal freedom to expose political corruption. In reality, this is exactly what narcissists are not inclined to do.

Similarly, Seumas Milne protested in the Guardian that, despite not having been charged, let alone convicted, of any crime: ‘as far as the bulk of the press is concerned, Assange is nothing but a “monstrous narcissist”, a bail-jumping “sex pest” and an exhibitionist maniac’.

Sir Harold Evans commented in the Observer: ‘I have not been impressed by the blather about “freedom of the press” surrounding the narcissistic Edward Snowden…’

Glenn Greenwald who, unlike most of the above critics, has met Snowden and worked closely with him, observed:

‘One of the most darkly hilarious things to watch is how government apologists and media servants are driven by total herd behavior: they all mindlessly adopt the same script and then just keep repeating it because they see others doing so and, like parrots, just mimic what they hear… Hordes of people who had no idea what ‘narcissism’ even means – and who did not know the first thing about Snowden – kept repeating this word over and over because that became the cliche used to demonize him.

‘The reason this was darkly hilarious is because there is almost no attack on him more patently invalid than this one. When he came to us, he said: “after I identify myself as the source and explain why I did this, I intend to disappear from media sight, because I know they will want to personalize the story about me, and I want the focus to remain on the substance of NSA disclosures.”

‘He has been 100% true to his word. Almost every day for four months, I’ve had the biggest TV shows and most influential media stars calling and emailing me, begging to interview Snowden for TV. He has refused every request because he does not want the attention to be on him, but rather on the disclosures that he risked his liberty and even his life to bring to the world.’

But according to the Daily Banter blog, none of this should be taken seriously. Why?

‘Glenn Greenwald has been looking to take down Obama and feed his own depthless narcissism for years now. He just managed to accomplish one of these goals in spades…’

Further ironies afflict these many casual denunciations of Assange, Brand, Snowden and Greenwald as ‘sexists’ and/or ‘narcissists’.

Most commentators – including many on the left – appear to have little or no understanding of what these terms actually mean.

As the psychologist and social theorist Erich Fromm noted, narcissism in fact is characteristic of individuals ‘who are preoccupied with themselves and who pay little attention to others, except as echoes of themselves’ (Fromm, The Heart Of Man, American Mental Health Foundation, 2010, p.66). A narcissist is unable to see issues from the point of view of others and has ‘a lack of genuine interest in the outside world’. (p.67)

But as Fromm (and Freud) also noted, ‘even in the case of normal development, man remains to some extent narcissistic throughout his life’. Indeed, ‘The “normal,” “mature” person is one whose narcissism has been reduced to the socially accepted minimum without ever disappearing completely.’ (pp.60-61)

In other words, rare corporate bodhisattvas aside, the critics damning Assange, Brand, Snowden and Greenwald as ‘narcissists’ are busy throwing stones in greenhouses. But this only scratches the surface of their hypocrisy.

Sexism, of course, is a prime example of ‘group narcissism’, the idea that: “‘I am somebody important because I belong to the most admirable group in the world – I am white”; or, “I am an Aryan”.’ (p.76) Or indeed, ‘I am male.’

Group narcissism is so dangerous because it generates extreme distortions of rational judgement. Fromm commented:

‘The object of narcissistic attachment is thought to be valuable (good, beautiful, wise, etc.) not on the basis of an objective value judgement, but because it is me or mine. Narcissistic value judgement is prejudiced and biased.’ (p.70)

This, of course, is in direct collision with rational analysis, scientific method and simple common sense. Alas, Fromm concluded that despite some ameliorating impacts from higher education, ‘it has not prevented most of the “educated” people from joining enthusiastically the national, racial, and political movements which are the expression of contemporary narcissism’. (p.81)

And this, indeed, is the great irony of so much criticism of Brand the ‘narcissist’. Because Brand is a rare dissident precisely throwing off the corporate chains of ‘contemporary narcissism’ to point out ‘the absolute, all-encompassing total corruption of our political agencies by big business’.

And:

‘The planet is being destroyed. We are creating an underclass. We are exploiting poor people all over the world. And the genuine legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political class.’

These are some of the central truths and crises of our time that corporate journalists employed by the very system doing the damage will not and cannot discuss. Brand’s willingness to discuss them in the face of intense pressure to do otherwise – the corporate system will continue to strongly punish him for speaking out – his empathy with victims of corporate power, are again the exact opposite of what one would expect from a narcissist.

On the other hand, the determination of corporate commentators to ignore the importance and truth of Brand’s arguments, and to focus instead on his ‘sexism’, ‘narcissism’, and his relationship with Jemima Khan, are classic examples of group narcissism; of journalists prioritising their careers, their corporations, their class, ‘not on the basis of an objective value judgement, but because it is me or mine’.

As for the people and planet being subordinated to power and profit – they barely even register.

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PuppetFortunesFoolA

| Snowden aide Harrison takes refuge in Berlin!

Snowden aide Harrison takes refuge in Berlin ~ Deutsche Welle.

After helping US whistleblower Edward Snowden attain asylum in Russia, British journalist Sarah Harrison has left Moscow. Harrison has taken refuge in Berlin, out of concern she could be detained in the UK.

Die britischen Journalistin und Wikileaks-Aktivistin Sarah Harrison spricht am 21.06.2012 vor der Botschaft von Ecuador in London, in der WikiLeaks Gründer Assange geflüchtet war, zur Presse. Bei seinem Flug von Hongkong nach Moskau wurde der ehemalige US-Geheimdienstler Edward Snowden von Harrison begleitet. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT (zu dpa: «'Whistleblower' Snowden beschert Wikileaks ein Comeback»9

National security leakers lead a precarious existence these days. Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over a year now, unable to leave for fear of being arrested by British authorities and extradited to Sweden as part of a sexual assault investigation. Assange believes that going to Sweden would be the first step in his extradition to the US and an eventual trial there.

Meanwhile, NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden is under constant guard in Moscow after having received temporary asylum in Russia. For now, at least, Snowden has managed to avoid the fate that befell Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, who was convicted on espionage charges and sentenced in June to 35 years in prison for leaking 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

Snowden’s good fortune is largely due to British journalist Sarah Harrison, a Wikileaks researcher who helped the former NSA contractor escape the long arm of the US Justice Department. Having assisted one of the US government’s top public enemies, she has now taken refuge in Berlin, reticent to return to her native England for fear of being detained by authorities under the UK Terrorism Act.

On Wednesday, Harrison published a letter calling for whistle-blowers to be shielded from prosecution, saying that “giving us the truth is not a crime.”

“Wikileaks continues to fight for the protection of sources,” Harrison wrote. “We have won the battle for Snowden’s immediate future, but the broader war continues.”

‘Snowden is safe and protected’

Former intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden and Sarah Harrison (L) of WikiLeaks speak to human rights representatives in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport July 12, 2013. Snowden is seeking temporary asylum in Russia and plans to go to Latin America eventually, an organisation endorsed by anti-secrecy group Wikileaks said on Twitter on Friday. REUTERS/Human Rights Watch/Handout (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY) NO COMMERCIAL OR BOOK SALES. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Harrison accompanied Snowden from Hong Kong to Moscow

When Snowden first fled to Hong Kong after leaking his trove of NSA documents to US journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, Harrison flew to China at the behest of Wikileaks to help secure the whistle-blower’s safe passage and prevent his extradition to the US.

While not a lawyer by trade, she had acquired expertise on extradition matters through the case of Assange with whom she both worked and had been romantically involved.

“I’m sure that if Julian hadn’t been grounded at the embassy in London, he would have loved to have done it himself,” Jeremie Zimmermann told DW, referring to Snowden’s successful asylum application in Russia.

Zimmermann is the spokesman and co-founder of the digital rights group La Quadrature du Net in France. He was a contributor to Assange’s 2012 book “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet” and knows Harrison.

“I’m sure after [Assange], Sarah was the most competent,” he continued. “She’s a brilliant journalist and researcher and a brilliant person in general.”

Although Harrison didn’t elaborate on why, exactly, she left Russia, she did write that the job of securing Snowden had been completed.

“Whilst Snowden is safe and protected until his asylum visa is due to be renewed in nine months time, there is still much work to be done,” Harrison said. “The battle Snowden joined against the surveillance state and for government transparency is one that Wikileaks – and many others – have been fighting, and will continue to fight.”

Exile in Berlin

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stands with Ecuador's Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino (R) at Ecuador's embassy in central London June 16, 2013. Assange sought asylum in the embassy on June 19, 2012, in an attempt to avoid extradition to Sweden. REUTERS/Chris Helgren (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS MEDIA CRIME LAW)Assange is still holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London

Harrison has joined a growing colony in Berlin of transparency-advocates-in-exile. Poitras, who has reported on the Snowden leaks for the Washington Post and Der Spiegel, and hacker and Wikileaks supporter Jacob Appelbaum, both reside in the German capital.

“Already in the few days I have spent in Germany, it is heartening to see the people joining together and calling for their government to do what must be done – to investigate NSA spying revelations and to offer Edward Snowden asylum,” Harrison wrote in her letter.

The outcry in Germany has reached a fever pitch in recent weeks. Reports from the summer about the NSA collecting millions of Germans’ metadata have now been compounded by the revelation that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone was also allegedly hacked.

“Berlin seems to be the place of choice right now if you consider the vibrant character of the public debate here, and I’m referring to the last two front pages of Der Spiegel that sounded quite serious about it,” Zimmermann said. In a recent Der Spiegel issue, the news magazine published reports based on Snowden’s leaks, detailing possible NSA eavesdropping on Chancellor Merkel’s cell phone. The publication has also called for Snowden to be granted asylum.

Fear of UK Terrorism Act

The daughter of a middle class British family, Harrison’s father is a former executive at a clothing retailer and her mother works with children who have learning difficulties. After studying English literature at Queen Mary, she took a job as an international event manager, but ultimately decided to pursue journalism.

U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald (L) walks with his partner David Miranda in Rio de Janeiro's International Airport August 19, 2013. British authorities used anti-terrorism powers on Sunday to detain Miranda, the partner of Greenwald, who has close links to Edward Snowden, the former U.S. spy agency contractor who has been granted asylum by Russia, as he passed through London's Heathrow airport. The 28-year-old Miranda, a Brazilian citizen and partner of Greenwald who writes for Britain's Guardian newspaper, was questioned for nine hours before being released without charge, a report on the Guardian website said. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes (BRAZIL - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY MEDIA)
Greenwald’s boyfriend was held for nine hours under the terrorism act

Harrison received an internship with the Centre for Investigative Journalism in London in 2009 and landed a junior research position at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in 2010. Through her work at the bureau, she came into contact with Assange and later began working for Wikileaks as a researcher.

Taking the advice of legal advisers, Harrison has decided to stay in Germany, for fear of being detained in her native England under the UK Terrorism Act. In August, Glenn Greenwald’s boyfriend, David Miranda, was detained under the act for nine hours at London’s Heathrow Airport. Miranda had been on his way from Berlin back to Brazil – where he and Greenwald live – having transported materials between the Guardian journalist and Poitras.

Under the Terrorism Act, police can detain and question an individual in order to determine whether or not they are a “terrorist.” According to Harrison and other transparency activists, by detaining Miranda, London effectively defined national security reporting as “terrorism.”

“The problem is she’s now part of this net of suspicion,” Zimmerman said.

“It is likely that she would be suspected of the same kind of nonsensical charges if she even stepped foot here,” he continued. “So in a way, until further notice, she might be constrained to exile, the same way that Snowden, Greenwald, Poitras, [and] Appelbaum are today.”

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| Assange: ‘Snowden safe but journalists dealing with him at risk!’

Assange: ‘Snowden safe but journalists dealing with him at risk’ ~ RT.

Edward Snowden is safe in Russia, but the fates of journalists who helped him and published his leaks are now of more concern for WikiLeaks, Julian Assange said in an exclusive interview with RT Spanish ‘Behind the News’ host Eva Golinger.

Assange also shared his views on the NSA scandal in Latin America and the future of freedom of information.

He criticized the US and the White House for abusing its power more than any other administration in history, stressing that President Obama has prosecuted twice as many journalists under the espionage act as all previous US presidents combined since 1917.

US can blackmail almost every influential person in Latin America

Eva Gollinger: We’re at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and with us is the founder and publisher of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange.

Issues such as cyber warfare, espionage, surveillance, you have analyzed and written extensively about. Your organization WikiLeaks has exposed the way the US and its allies use these mechanisms to advance their power in influencing the world and the recent documents and revelations made public by Snowden, a former National Security Agency analyst, have caused a furious reaction throughout Latin America. Documents particularly pointing to mass surveillance and data collection of different Latin American nations, but especially Latin American leaders, heads of states in Brazil and Mexico, the Ecuador government, in Venezuela and strategic interests. How have you viewed the revelations by Snowden and the impact they have had on Latin America and the reaction from these Latin American governments?

 

screenshot from RT interviewscreenshot from RT interview

 

Julian Assange: Ninety-eight percent of Latin American telecommunications to the rest of the world – that means SMS, phone, email etc. – passes through the US. That’s a function of the geography of the Americas, and as a result the US has what its intelligence agencies call a ‘home field advantage’, where they can easily intercept these communications that pass through them, index them, store aspects of them forever, and therefore gain understanding of how Latin America is behaving, where it is moving, its economic transfers, the activities of its leaders and major players.

That permits the US to predict in some ways the behavior of Latin American leaders and interests, and it also permits them to blackmail. Nearly every significant person in Latin America is blackmailable by the US, because the US has access to those telecommunications records that have passed through the US, as well as other records it has obtained within LA by planting fiber optic taps, surveillance equipment at embassies and DA bases. Even one of those revealed in Ecuador as a result of Snowden`s leaks.

So you have a situation where the US has mapped out the entire community structure, the relations between every individual who has any chance of having any influence in Latin America. And is able to shift and play off different parties against one another. If you say that it is true then why did Maduro win the Venezuelan presidential election? Why did president Correa win with a significant majority in the Ecuadorean elections, given the US attitude towards these two states?

Well it`s not a function of the US not having enough intelligence data about Latin America, it’s a function of the US taking its eye for a 10 year period off Latin America, and putting its eye on the Middle East and to a degree on to Asia as well. And during that period a number of Latin American states have developed an increased independence from the US and its activities and now unfortunately the US is turning its interests back to Latin America. But unlike 10 years ago, it has a worldwide mass surveillance apparatus to detect nearly every single person.

US controls states not invading them

EG: The President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff recently in her speech before the UN General Assembly had very harsh strong words for the US mass espionage program, and particularly for President Barack Obama, who was there in her presence when she gave the speech, and she not only denounced and condemned that espionage as a violation of sovereignty, but she also called for the creation of an independent internet and communications platform within Latin American nations, or even internationally, that is not subject to US control.

 

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (AFP Photo / Evaristo Sa)Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (AFP Photo / Evaristo Sa)

 

Countries like Venezuela have developed fiber optic cables with the Caribbean, with Cuba exclusively having also launched communication satellites into space to ensure their own communication sovereignty. Is this the solution to protecting them against this type of US invasion and violation through technological sovereignty?

JA: Look, just like there is no meaningful sovereignty without control of freedom of movement, no meaningful sovereignty without economic sovereignty, there is no meaningful sovereignty without control of your own communications. It’s freedom of movement, freedom of communication, freedom of economic interaction that defines a state. Now the US has been aggressively trying to interdict economic exchange through interception of control over Swift, Visa, MasterCard, payments going through Latin America via the Bank of America. But it’s also delving in to Latin American major computer systems, operate important segments of government and the media and Pertobras in Brazil and other major economic interests and interfering with the sovereignty of communications. That’s what it is about.

You know, when is a person or an organization is part of one state or another? Well, it’s part of a state if that state can control its movements, its economic interchange or its telecommunications interchange, the US is grabbing hold of economic interaction and telecommunications interaction and so what is left is some degree of control of the physical force in a state. Even that is being eroded.

When we look at what happened in the Edward Snowden case when the US sprayed out extradition requests, Neil McBride, the same national security prosecutor who is prosecuting me, behind that sprayed out extradition requests for Edward Snowden to Venezuela, to Bolivia, to Hong Kong, to Iceland, to Ireland. That was about trying to take advantage of treaty arrangements which force the police and judicial systems of other countries to obey the interests of the US government.

So by subordinating regulatory or policing systems in treaty arrangements to another government, that third component – the control of use of force – is also given away. In academic theory about what is happening there, we call this ‘lawfare’, which is using international treaty arrangements and multilateral organizations to get the territory or gains that you would normally get by war instead by law. When you couple that activity to telecommunications interception and economic interception then in fact you control the state without invading it. And that’s what leaders and policymakers must be aware of in Latin America. That there’s no effective sovereignty without sovereignty in the most important parts – economic interaction, telecommunications and control of police and judicial instruments.

EG: But is it possible knowing also what you know of about the US capacity in terms of its technology and its massive reach through surveillance that in Latin America they can develop sovereign technology that would be free from US control, or is it merely a dream?

JA: Well, this idea that Dilma proposed of perhaps setting up an international regulatory commission for the internet. There are some that the US is terrified of: the ITU – the international communications union – taking over regulation of key aspects of the internet. ITU is European-dominated, has been for many years. I don’t believe that the internet should be dominated by any one region and to a degree it shouldn’t be dominated by governments. I mean, the great liberty of communications for individuals and trade for businesses has come about because of a lack of control by states.

See, some of the proposals by Dilma being put forward are not a mechanism to give Brazilians greater freedom from interception, rather they are a mechanism to give the Brazilian government equal access to that intercepted information. So we must be quite careful. There’s a natural tendency by states, of course, to want to increase their own power. And they are more concerned in increasing their domestic power really, than they are typically concerned by the United States increasing its power.

Google spends more money to lobby in Washington than Lockheed Martin

EGI want to talk about Google. Because you’ve criticized Google extensively and also referred to it as an extension of US foreign policy and power. These are strong statements to make about a service that is used around the world. And for example in many Latin American countries, even the highest levels of government, have Gmail accounts. So can you elaborate a little bit on why you perceive Google as such a danger to our society and what are the alternatives?

JA: I wrote about that this year in my book ‘Cypherpunks’ and some recent articles reviewing the chairman of Google’s book ‘The New Digital Age’. In that book it’s very clear what is happening. Google is presenting itself to Washington as a geopolitical visionary who can show the US the way forward in Latin America, in Asia, in Europe and so on. And that’s quite a reactionary piece of work. With backcover praise chosen pre-publication by Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Tony Blair, [Michael] Hayden, the former head of the National Security Agency, the NSA. The primary acknowledgement is to Henry Kissinger.

So where’s that coming from? That is coming from Google that started out in California as part of grad student culture in Stanford University, pretty nice, naïve, wanting to build services that the world would use. But as Google got big it got close to government. As it tried to enter into foreign markets it became reliant on the State Department to the degree where the head of Google ideas is now immediately a former advisor of Hillary Clinton and Rice from the State Department.

This close nexus and interaction between Google and the State Department is something that we’ve documented on WikiLeaks in releases and also in cables – meetings between key State Department advisors and execs of Google. It wasn’t much of a surprise when we learnt that as far back as 2009 Google had paired up with the National Security Agency to enter into the PRISM program.

So we can see that Google is now part of Family America. It spends more money now on lobbying in Washington than Lockheed Martin. In the Google book it even states that what Lockheed Martin was to the 20th century, hi-tech companies will be to the 21st. It’s a really quite strong form of neo-imperialism. And I don’t want to use that phrase as some sort of hackneyed Marxist expression, but that’s what it’s about – jacking in the entire world into the US economic and informational system.

Banking blockade against WikiLeaks is similar to blockade against Cuba

EG: Your organization WikiLeaks has published hundreds of thousands of documents, many of them from the US government, classified documents. You’ve come under heavy fire, the organization has come under attack. And yet you continue to publish documents. Is that going to go on, how is WikiLeaks functioning and are the attacks also continuing?

JA: The attacks are continuing. Let’s go back to 2010. Pentagon gave a 40-minute public press conference. During that press conference they made a demand to us, the organization, to me personally. “You must destroy everything that we had published in relation to the US government.” Destroy everything we were going to publish. And cease stealing with [the help of] US military whistleblowers or else we will be compelled to do so. As a result we said no, we were not going to do so. We’re a publisher, we made a promise to our sources and the public to publish fearlessly and frankly.

The US government then engaged in a three-year-long war against WikiLeaks, which continues to this day. It started up a whole government investigation, including over 12 different agencies including the CIA, publicly declaring the grand jury into WikiLeaks, that investigation the Department of Justice admits as recently as August 23 continues.

The position that we’re in is that our important source of WikiLeaks, Private Manning, has been sentenced to 35 years. A tactical victory, believe it or not, for his defense team, because the US was demanding life imprisonment without parole. And probably as a result of our intervention in the Edward Snowden matter, we know it for a fact that the sentiment in Washington against WikiLeaks as a result of the Edward Snowden matter is increasingly adverse.

But the organization continues to publish, continues to fight in courts where we’ve intervened in multiple times. In the Bradley Manning case we’ve had a series of victorious court cases against the banking blockade. Interestingly all court cases that WikiLeaks has been involved and that have come to a judgment, it has won. There have been significant victories in the European Parliament where we’ve managed to push forward legislation which outlaws this sort of banking blockade that is against us, the blockade that’s similar to that blockade that’s happening against Cuba.

Interestingly in relation to financial blockades and the freedom of economic interaction, that sovereign right for states to interact within states, to interact economically. The internet has meant that economic interaction and communication are now merged together. So when the US wants to intercept and surveil [sic] the economic interactions between people and companies, it just intercepts the internet and it gets both of these at the same time. Similarly if it wants to block off economic interaction with some bank, say in Iran, well it can just block off telecommunications with that bank.

Espionage Act: Obama prosecuted twice as many people than all previous presidents

EG: You mentioned Private Manning’s case. And in that case, now known as Chelsea Manning, she was accused of espionage for passing documents to a media organization. Classified documents. But not to the so-called traditional enemies. So this treatment now of media organizations or journalists as an enemy – is that dangerous in terms of whistleblowers for one? But also the media outlets? And do you think that this forms part of what President Barak Obama referred to in his speech before the UN recently as the exceptionalism of the US. This kind of persecution, treatment of media and whistleblowers as terrorists.

JA: Look, whenever you see a president talk about exceptionalism, what he’s trying to say is the rules of civil behaviour doesn’t apply to him. Whether that’s in invading another country or whether that’s abuse of laws at home. In relation to Barack Obama’s use of the espionage act against alleged journalistic sources and journalists, that’s something new. So it’s very important that people understand that this is not just a bit more of the same, it’s a radical change.

Barack Obama has prosecuted more people under the espionage act, more journalistic sources under the espionage act than all previous presidents combined, going back to 1917. In fact he’s prosecuted double the number. So this is a deliberate conscious decision by the White House to create a chilling effect, using the espionage act as opposed to some other mechanism. In the case of Bradley [now Chelsea] Manning there’s no allegation, has never been an allegation that he has passed information on to another country, that he has sold information, that he was intending to harm the United States or its people in any manner whatsoever. So that’s just a linguistic abuse to call speaking to the media espionage. Similarly it’s a linguistic abuse to say that WikiLeaks as a publisher, when it publishes, is conducting espionage.

 

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

 

EG: I want to talk about your case a little bit. We’re here in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where you’ve been for over a year, close to a year-and-a-half. And as of now there has been no resolution to the situation. You’ve been given asylum by Ecuador, but you can’t get to Ecuador because the British government would detain you if you set foot outside these doors. Recently the foreign minister of Ecuador, Ricardo Patino, has confirmed the fact that they have been working aggressively with the UK government trying to reach a solution. They’ve been unsuccessful and now they’re considering taking a case to a foreign international court: violation of sovereignty as well as the right to asylum amongst other rights that have been violated. How do you see the resolution to this situation? And is there one?

JA: It’s a political, diplomatic, legal mix. I think in a reasonably short time frame – year, year-and-a-half actually, there are some good signs that there will be a resolution. That time is on my side in this situation, because as times goes by, more of the facts of the situation are coming out. We’ve been filing criminal cases in Sweden, in Germany, in relation to intelligence activity against the organisation there. So I think the position of the some of the players involved is becoming aggressively more untenable as time goes by. And we have seen even the Conservative Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson denounce the expenditure of the police outside this embassy spying on me. He said that now this money amount to $10 million and should be spent on frontline policing, what police are meant to do, not ringing this embassy.

EG: And both you and Edward Snowden have received asylum in Latin American nations. You in Ecuador and he’s been offered asylum in Venezuela and Bolivia and also in Nicaragua. He is in Russia with temporary asylum which your organization helped him obtain. But how do you view the fact that it has been Latin American nations, traditionally known as less powerful and developing countries, that they had the courage to stand up to US power and support both of you.

JA: It’s extremely interesting, isn’t it? We were involved in filling out asylum requests for Edward Snowden formally and informally to around 20 different nations. Some because we thought there was a decent chance, others because we wanted to show the public the refusal to generate some public debate and awareness about how the government is behaving. But you’re right, in terms of those nations that stepped forward, it was Latin America and Russia. Not all of Latin America either, but Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador showing a keen interest. What does that mean?

These are not very powerful countries. Russia we can understand, it has its own nuclear armaments, it’s geographically fairly independent. Whereas Latin America is not so. That’s really I think is an expression of Latin American democracy, where you have governments who feel the need to be responsible to their people, who feel the need to live up to the sort of values that they are preaching or they will held to account by the population.

And so I see that as a part of the democratic nature of Venezuela, Ecuador and perhaps now even Brazil, which hasn’t yet made an offer, but it’s starting to respond – in relation to the surveillance matter, in protecting Glenn Greenwald – it’s starting to respond to the public pressure there.

 

The Guardian's Brazil-based reporter Glenn Greenwald (R) and his partner David Miranda in Brasilia on October 9, 2013 (AFP Photo / Evaristo Sa)The Guardian’s Brazil-based reporter Glenn Greenwald (R) and his partner David Miranda in Brasilia on October 9, 2013 (AFP Photo / Evaristo Sa)

 

EG: Also a shift in global power and the growing sentiment of sovereignty and independence in Latin America, but I want to ask about something…

JA: You can compare in an interesting way, say Germany and Venezuela. So in Germany privacy is a really big concern, it’s probably of all the medium sized countries, privacy is the most in value in Germany, because of what happened in the WWII, and some other cultural aspects. And in Germany we had Angela Merkel up for election. So not only did these events about Edward Snowden’s asylum and then spying occur in the context where a country is interested in privacy, but in the context of a country that had federal election. And with reporters like Laura Poitras, based in Germany, working with Der Spiegel, publishing about German documents. And yet the German government did not offer Snowden asylum, did not seek to transport him or assist him in any manner whatsoever.

So I think this is an example when even if the population has the democratic desire, population has the will, that the government doesn’t properly reflect the will of the population. Whereas we can see in Ecuador and Venezuela, that the government is more…

EG: Bolivia as well…

JA: …and Bolivia… that the government is more responsive. At least in relation to sovereignty issues, to the demands of the population.

Snowden is safe, I am more worried about Sarah Harrison, Guardian journalists

EG: Unwilling to subordinate itself to US power. I can only get in one last question. I want to throw in a few things.

One is the issue if the future of journalism. Is investigative journalism under extinction because of this treatment and prosecution of journalists who are exposing US abuses and those also other powerful entities around the world and are therefore being treated as terrorists or enemies? Snowden’s possibilities in the future: what awaits him in terms of whistleblowers’ treatment? Would he come under severe prosecution by the US? And also I want to tie into all of that a question about the film that’s coming out. Is it another attempt, the same thing in terms of trying to discredit and distort the work that you’re doing, WikiLeaks is doing, Snowden is doing? Anyone, who’s trying to expose those abuses?

JA: Edward Snowden: he’s now safe in Russia. He has asylum for a one-year period formally. But assuming he doesn’t run anyone over in a car, I imagine that the Russians will be happy to extent that indefinitely. I’m more concerned in terms of present people at risk, with our journalist Sarah Harrison, who was involved in getting Edward Snowden out of Hong Kong, spent 39 days with him in the Moscow airport, protecting him filing asylum applications and is still in Russia. Now, she’s from the UK, as we know. The Guardian newspaper was raided, Glenn Greenwald’s partner detained for nine hours on account of terrorism charges here without charge. A formal investigation, a formal terrorism investigation has started up in relation to all those people.

 

Edward Snowden (3rd R) alongside UK WikiLeaks journalist Sarah Harrison (2nd R) and the US whistleblowers (L to R) Coleen Rowley (FBI), Thomas Drake (NSA), Jesselyn Raddack (DoJ) and Ray McGovern (CIA). (Photo by Sunshinepress/Getty Images)Edward Snowden (3rd R) alongside UK WikiLeaks journalist Sarah Harrison (2nd R) and the US whistleblowers (L to R) Coleen Rowley (FBI), Thomas Drake (NSA), Jesselyn Raddack (DoJ) and Ray McGovern (CIA). (Photo by Sunshinepress/Getty Images)

 

EG: Well the head of MI5 has also just declared that Edward Snowden, his documents have placed national security in danger…

JA: Yeah, I mean just absurd. But also it’s a position by the UK which is clearly that they’re going after anyone who has had something to do with this matter, probably in order to show to the US that they feel their pain and that they are a part of the same club. And possibly in relation to GCHQ. So that’s a concern for us, what will happen to Sarah Harrison? But I think if we look at the bigger picture, OK, yes, there’s some development in the US and the UK, which is extremely serious. It’s obvious to everyone. The rule of law is gradually starting to collapse. The mechanisms of government are lifting off from the population, from the judicial system. The judicial processes are becoming more and more secret. Here, introduction of a secret court.

Even the Labour Party here, Ed Miliband from the Labour Party pushing legislation saying that soldiers should not be able to be criticized, adding them to hate speech legislation. This is a sort of proto-fascism. I mean, that’s a strong thing to say, but I think that’s a correct description. And the US – yes, that is making people extremely timid. It has made. The Guardian does good work here, but it has made the Guardian also very timid in its publications. It’s been holding a lot of stories back. It’s been extensively redacting, it has been holding documents back, same in the US.

From the point of view of WikiLeaks as a publisher, of course, we think that’s great, that we we’ll be the only player left in the field. From the point of view of Julian Assange as a free speech activist, I think that’s an abomination and extremely concerning. On the other hand, just because you can smell the gun powder in the air, you can smell the heat of the battle between those people, who are revealing information about the crimes of state, and war crimes and mass surveillance and so on. And those who are trying to suppress it. It doesn’t tell you which side is winning.

There’s a serious conflict going on between a growing national security system in the West and those people who are trying to expose what that system is doing. That’s for sure. Which one of these two groups is winning is not clear. We actually have some pretty important winds under our belt as well as saying many journalists are surveyed and prosecuted.

EG: The film?

JA: OK, so the film, Fifth Estate …or actually introduced already…

EG: Do you think it’s an attempt to discredit you and your organization?

JA: I don’t sort of look at the things that way. This film comes from Hollywood. I know the book that it was based on. The books were definitely an attempt to do precisely that. DreamWorks has picked the two most discredited libellous books out of dozens of books available for it to pick. But it’s coming out of a particular milieu about.. within Hollywood and that constraints, it seems, what scripts can be written and what things would get distribution. I don’t know if that was the intent of the filmmakers. It’s certainly the result, but it’s been doing quite poorly in the reviews.

I think the information we have published about it was pretty successful in knocking out any view that is inaccurate history. It’s interesting to see that in the America’s Disney, who’s responsible for the distribution there, has been putting up posters of me with the word ‘traitor’ emblazoned across my face. You know, a laughable concept ‘cos because I’m an Australian, I couldn’t even be a traitor, in theory, to the United States. I mean it’s a type of libel.

I think ultimately people are starting to become immune to those sorts of attacks. There’s been so many as time is going by. And people who’ve been watching the WikiLeaks saga have seen many of these attacks, having seen that they’ve turned out not to be true. So I think our base is not going to be affected by the film.

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| Snowden’s father praises son in letter for summoning Americans to confront ‘tyranny!’

Snowden’s father praises son in letter for summoning Americans to confront ‘tyranny’ ~ Associated Press, Washington Post.

McLEAN, Va. — The father of NSA leaker Edward Snowden, frustrated by his inability to reach out directly to his son, on Tuesday wrote him an open letter, extolling him for “summoning the American people to confront the growing danger of tyranny.”

The letter was written jointly by Lon Snowden and his lawyer, Bruce Fein.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Edward Snowden will have to stop leaking U.S. secrets if he wants to stay in Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Edward Snowden will have to stop leaking U.S. secrets if he wants to stay in Russia.

 

Edward Snowden stays hidden in Moscow as asylum options narrow

After flirting with sanctuary in Russia, the leaker of secrets changes his mind, and so do several countries.

It comes a day after Edward Snowden issued a statement through WikiLeaks ripping the Obama administration for leaving him “stateless” and revoking his passport. Snowden is in Russia and has been seeking asylum in multiple countries.
Snowden’s father has expressed concern that WikiLeaks supporters who have been helping his son seek asylum may not have his best interests at heart. The father has said he’d like his son to be able to return to the U.S. under the right circumstances. Wikileaks is an anti-secrecy website that has published several documents deemed classified by governments.

In the letter, Fein and the father tell Snowden that “(w)hat you have done and are doing has awakened congressional oversight of the intelligence community from deep slumber” and “forced onto the national agenda the question of Whether the American people prefer the right to be left alone from government snooping absent probable cause. … You are a modern day Paul Revere: summoning the American people to confront the growing danger of tyranny and one branch government.”

On Friday, Lon Snowden told NBC News that his son had technically broken the law but was not a traitor and was motivated by legitimate concerns about the programs. He also expressed frustration that WikiLeaks may not be giving his son the best advice. WikiLeaks has been helping Snowden apply for asylum in a variety of countries. Snowden has applied for asylum in Venezuela, Bolivia and 18 other countries, according to WikiLeaks,

Lon Snowden and Fein have been trying to arrange for the younger Snowden to be able return to the U.S. under circumstances that they believe would guarantee fair treatment and a fair trial, including a promise that he would not be detained prior to trial and would not be subject to a gag order. Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency systems analyst, released sensitive documents on U.S. intelligence-gathering operations.

Fein said in a phone interview Tuesday that he received a call Saturday, after Lon Snowden’s televised interview, from Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange. In it, Assange purported to deliver a message from son to father asking that elder Snowden keep quiet. Fein, meanwhile, said he is continuing to work to establish a direct link between father and son that does not require WikiLeaks as an intermediary.

The letter Tuesday was written by Fein but signed by both he and Lon Snowden. It goes on to say: “Irrespective of life’s vicissitudes, we will be Unflagging in efforts to educate the American people about the impending ruination of the Constitution and the rule of law unless they abandon their complacency or indifference. Your actions are making our challenge easier.

We encourage you to engage us in regular exchanges of ideas or thoughts about approaches to curing or mitigating the hugely suboptimal political culture of the United States. Nothing less is required to pay homage to Valley Forge, Cemetery Ridge, Omaha Beach, and other places of great sacrifice.”

Fein said he hopes the letter can help focus the public on the debate that Snowden initially hoped to foster when he leaked details about the surveillance programs. That debate over the proper role of surveillance in American society “is being obscured by the debate on where to seek asylum.”

The asylum debate, meanwhile, is one of keen interest to Assange, who has said repeatedly that he expects to face criminal charges in the U.S. and has been seeking asylum from Ecuador.

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| Rafael Correa: we helped Snowden by mistake!

Rafael Correa: we helped Snowden by mistake ~

  •  in Quitoguardian.co.uk.

    Ecuador’s president reveals travel pass was granted ‘without authorisation’ and says whistleblower is now Russia’s problem.

    Rafael Correa Ecuador president Edward Snowden

    Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa said Snowden ‘must be on Ecuadorean territory’ to make an asylum request. Photograph: Martin Mejia/AP

    Ecuador is not considering Edward Snowden‘s asylum request and never intended to facilitate his flight from Hong Kong, president Rafael Correa said as the whistleblower made a personal plea to Quito for his case to be heard.

    Snowden was Russia’s responsibility and would have to reach Ecuadorean territory before the country would consider any asylum request, the president said in an interview on Monday.

    “Are we responsible for getting him to Ecuador? It’s not logical. The country that has to give him a safe conduct document is Russia.”

    The president, speaking to the Guardian at the presidential palace in Quito, said his government did not intentionally help Snowden travel from Hong Kong to Moscow with a temporary travel pass. “It was a mistake on our part,” he added.

    Asked if he thought the former NSA contractor would ever make it to Quito, he replied: “Mr Snowden’s situation is very complicated, but in this moment he is in Russian territory and these are decisions for the Russian authorities.”

    Asked if he would like to meet him, he said: “Not particularly. He’s a very complicated person. Strictly speaking, Mr Snowden spied for some time.”

    The comments clashed with expressions of gratitude the 30-year-old fugitive issued hours later, before Correa’s views had been published.

    “I must express my deep respect for your principles and sincere thanks for your government’s action in considering my request for political asylum,” said a letter, in Spanish and attributed to Snowden.

    “There are few world leaders who would risk standing for the human rights of an individual against the most powerful government on earth, and the bravery of Ecuador and its people is an example to the world.”

    Snowden contrasted the silence of governments afraid of US retaliation with Ecuador’s help in his flight to Moscow on 22 June. A temporary Ecuadorean travel document substituted for his cancelled US passport.

    “The decisive action of your consul in London, Fidel Narvaez, guaranteed my rights would be protected upon departing Hong Kong – I could never have risked travel without that. Now, as a result, and through the continued support of your government, I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest.”

    The letter will boost Ecuador’s reputation with Snowden’s supporters but sat awkwardly with the president’s attempt to distance Quito from the saga. Correa said Quito respected the right of asylum and appreciated Snowden exposing the extent of US spying, but would not consider an asylum request unless he made it to an Ecuadorean embassy or the country itself – a remote possibility while he remains reportedly marooned in Sheremetyevo airport‘s transit lounge. “He must be on Ecuadorean territory,” the president said.

    Correa said his government had not, and would not, give Snowden an authorised travel document to extract himself from the airport. “The right of asylum request is one thing but helping someone travel from one country to another — Ecuador has never done this. ”

    He said the temporary travel document issued by his London consul on 22 June – and publicly disowned five days later — was a blunder.

    “It was a mistake on our part. Look, this crisis hit us in a very vulnerable moment. Our foreign minister was touring Asia. Our deputy foreign minister was in the Czech Republic. Our US ambassador was in Italy.”

    Narvaez and the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has sheltered at Ecuador’s London embassy for the past year to escape extradition, took matters into their own hands because they feared Snowden risked capture, Correa said.

    “The consul, in his desperation, probably he couldn’t reach the foreign minister … and he issued a safe conduct document without validity, without authorisation, without us even knowing.”

    Correa said the consul was a “cultured” man and cited the example of Ecuadorean diplomats in Czechoslovakia giving Jews visas in defiance of their foreign ministry during the second world war.

    “Look, he [Assange] is in the embassy, he’s a friend of the consul, and he calls him at four in the morning to say they are going to capture Snowden. The [consul] is desperate – ‘how are we going to save the life of this man?’ – and does it.

    “So I told him: OK, if you think you did the right thing, I respect your decision, but you could not give, without authorisation, that safe conduct pass. It was completely invalid, and he will have to accept the consequences.”

    Narvaez would be “sanctioned”, the president said, without elaborating.

    Some Ecuadorean diplomats have complained that Assange appeared to usurp Quito but the president said there was no rupture. “Mr Assange continues to enjoy our total respect and is under the protection of the Ecuadorean state.”

    Correa, a standard bearer for the left in Latin America, has joined European and other Latin Americans leaders in denouncing US espionage.

    However he softened his tone over the weekend and praised vice-president Joe Biden for a gracious phone call, saying he would consider Washington’s request to refuse any asylum claim from Snowden while retaining Ecuador’s sovereignty.

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    Related articles

| Ecuador Caught in Lie Over Snowden “Safe Pass!”

Ecuador Caught in Lie Over Snowden “Safe Pass” ~ ADAM WEINSTEIN, ABC NEWS.

A “safe pass” allowing NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s travel to Ecuador to seek political asylum was reportedly reviewed and approved by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correaaccording to Univision news. This is after Correa’s government distanced itself from the Snowden affair today and declared the pass invalid.

The pass, a copy of which was obtained Wednesday by Univision, is dated June 22 and asks authorities in other nations to allow Snowden safe passage to Ecuador as a political refugee. That’s also the date that U.S. officials revoked Snowden’s American passport, effectively halting his international travel. He is believed to be in hiding at Moscow’s airport.

In an ironic twist, Univision used metadata attached to an electronic copy of the safe pass to verify that it was composed at the work computer of Javier Mendoza, the Ecuadorian deputy consul in London (see photo above). Mendoza has acted as an intermediary for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted in Sweden in connection with sexual assault allegations, but maintains that U.S. authorities are hunting him for Wikileaks’ political activities.

Metadata also showed that the Snowden pass was last edited, for 48 minutes, by the consul in London, Fidel Narvaez.

Ecuadorian Press Secretary Betty Tola did not directly address the pass’ authenticity but told Univision today that “any document in this regard is not valid and is the sole responsibility of the person who has issued [it],” suggesting that the London consulate might have acted alone in issuing it.

That does not appear to be the case, however. According to communications obtained by Univision, Narvaez wrote the pass at President Correa’s request, and the consul recounted speaking directly with the president about the “unique circumstances” of Snowden’s case.

After the pass was revealed publicly, sources tell Univision, Correa instructed his staff to deny any role in its creation. “The official position is that the Ecuadorian government has NOT authorized any pass for anybody,” those instructions read. “Any document that exists about has no validity.”

It is unclear why Correa’s government would deny a role in assisting Snowden. U.S. authorities have charged the former IT worker with espionage for his role in leaking top-secret documents about American domestic surveillance programs. While they have signaled that countries harboring Snowden could face harsh trade consequences, Ecuador has remained cavalier about the U.S. threat.

In a press conference Thursday with Tola, Ecuadorian Communications Minister Fernando Alverado said the nation didn’t want America’s trade dollars.

In fact, he said, Ecuador was willing to offer the U.S. $23 million a year “in order to provide training in human rights and help avoid attacks on individual privacy.”

PHOTO:  Electronic metadata on the Snowden safe pass shows it originated at the computer of the Ecuadorian deputy consul in London.

Electronic metadata on the Snowden safe pass shows it originated at the computer of the Ecuadorian deputy consul in London. (UNIVISION)
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| WE STEAL SECRETS: ALEX GIBNEY, WIKILEAKS & JULIAN ASSANGE!

WE STEAL SECRETS: ALEX GIBNEY, WIKILEAKS & JULIAN ASSANGE ~

Robert Manne,  THE MONTHLY 2013.

 

Medium length read 3500 words

Alex Gibney is one of America’s most celebrated and respected documentary film-makers. His major work about Julian AssangeWe Steal Secrets: The story of WikiLeaks, has just been released, presumably to coincide with Bradley Manning’s trial for treason before an American military court. 

Nothing concerning Assange is straightforward. Even before the film’s release a wild war of words broke out between WikiLeaks and Gibney. WikiLeaks accused Gibney of bias, ignorance and character assassination. To prove its point it published a detailed, annotated version of the film script, based on an audio recording. In response, Gibney has accused Assange of paranoia, a self-destructive desire for control and an inability to accept even legitimate criticism. Gibney’s powerful, accomplished and vivid film will for some time help shape opinion, especially among those members of the liberal Left on whom Assange now most relies. So in the conflict between them, it matters who is right.

Stripped of detail, most films tell a simple moral tale. Gibney’s goes like this. As a teenager, Assange is an audacious, underground computer hacker. Eventually, he is convicted and punished lightly. At this time, Assange is a humanitarian, anarchist revolutionary. He is interested in “crushing bastards”, a David determined to smite Goliath. In his 30s, he creates a whistleblower organisation, WikiLeaks, to do so. Its first really important success is the exposure of a banking scandal in Iceland.

In Iraq, a junior intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, becomes aware of WikiLeaks. Manning is struggling with a personal crisis of gender identity. In the US intelligence environment after September 11, the “need-to-know” rule about access to classified information has been replaced by “need-to-share”. As a result, Manning is in possession of massive amounts of raw intelligence data. Some of the things he sees shock him. In his unstable state, he secretly passes hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks, perhaps because of Assange’s persuasive powers. Abandoned by Assange, Manning unburdens his tormented soul and speaks of his crime in online chats with a supposed pro-WikiLeaks hacker, Adrian Lamo. Painfully torn between loyalty to the US and loyalty to Manning, Lamo chooses the US – and fame. Manning is arrested and then treated shamefully. The film’s sympathies are with him. He is somewhat ambiguously a hero and altogether unambiguously a victim.

The film’s sympathies, we discover halfway through, are not with Assange. In publishing Manning’s material about American war crimes he is no doubt brave, perhaps crazy-brave, but he is also many other things. One accusation follows another. Assange, we are told, lives in a digital world where real human beings do not matter. In favouring the release of the unredacted Afghan war logs he is indifferent to whether the Afghan sources mentioned in them live or die. They are, after all, collaborators. The Manning leaks turn Assange into a global star. He enjoys this newfound celebrity rather too much. We see him being made up for a television appearance and admiring photographs of himself in the press. In Sweden he has sex with two women. When they go to the police with complaints about coercion or a deliberately torn condom, he claims he is the victim of a “smear campaign” or, possibly, a CIA “honey trap” operation. Assange fantasises tiresomely about secret surveillance of himself. He exaggerates or even imagines a “secret plot” to extradite him to the US on charges of espionage. This provides his excuse for fighting extradition to Sweden to face the music and then for seeking political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

In Gibney’s moral tale, Assange may deserve praise for publishing Manning’s revelations. His enemies in the US administration and on the ideological Right may have used inflammatory rhetoric about cyber-terrorism or even assassination against him. But it is his character flaws that have tarnished his achievements and destroyed his organisation. Assange believes the purity of his motives justifies his many ruthless and dishonest actions. Even worse, under his leadership WikiLeaks as an organisation has become a mirror image of those it once opposed – secretive, authoritarian, intolerant, unjust.

This conclusion, as reached in We Steal Secrets, rests on a false foundation: that Assange’s present fears about extradition to the US are groundless or grossly exaggerated. We are told in a single sentence that Assange was once investigated by the US Department of Justice on possible espionage charges, and are later reminded that after two years no charges had been filed. This misunderstanding distorts almost everything we learn from the moment Julian Assange’s troubles commence, following WikiLeaks’ publication of the Bradley Manning material. In November 2010 the US Attorney-General, Eric Holder, announced a major criminal investigation into WikiLeaks. In Virginia a grand jury was empanelled. According to a leaked secret email from a former deputy chief of counterterrorism inside the State Department’s security service, in February 2011 a sealed indictment against Assange was issued. Two years later, on 26 March 2013, the US Attorney’s office for the eastern district of Virginia confirmed that the grand jury investigation “remains ongoing”.

No one could tell from watching We Steal Secrets that, ever since the empanelling of the grand jury, Assange has had excellent reason to believe that if extradited to the United States he will be in danger of spending the remainder of his life in one of its prisons. Assange’s fears are not fanciful, as Gibney suggests, but genuine and well founded.

Diminishing Assange’s fears is problematic for another reason. Assange challenged the world’s most powerful state by publishing the material Manning sent to WikiLeaks. Since then, he has relied upon a team of legal advisers, the unconditional loyalty of his tight circle of insiders, and his own high-level political skills to avoid extradition and its consequences. Not recognising the peril that Assange faces, and the steps he has taken to resist it, systematically distorts Gibney’s analysis of his main subject – the history of WikiLeaks over the last two and a half years.

Gibney might have understood this better if Assange had been willing to be interviewed. He was not. Two stories exist about the failure of their protracted negotiation. In We Steal Secrets Gibney tells us that Assange informed him that $1 million was the going rate for an interview, leading his audience to believe that money was a principal reason for Assange’s non-participation. Gibney also tells us that Assange suggested he might co-operate if Gibney acted as a spy reporting on his interview subjects. WikiLeaks’ annotations to the script provide an alternative version of the negotiation. Assange acknowledges that in their talks he told Gibney about the £800,000 he had once been offered by the BBC. In the circumstance, this was a careless boast but not a demand for payment. In the course of their conversations, Gibney told Assange about his interviews with high-ranking US officials, like Michael Hayden, the former CIA director. Assange admits that he told Gibney of his interest in learning about their plans for his extradition and trial. This was an understandable if foolish suggestion. Yet Gibney fails to tell his audience about the main reason for Assange’s unwillingness to be interviewed. Assange was appalled at the misrepresentations of previous documentaries about him and WikiLeaks. They were not just galling but also dangerous. He and his supporters faced serious legal and political risk.

To tell the inside story of WikiLeaks without interviewing Assange or any of his loyal supporters, Gibney was forced to rely on some of the insiders who have either been dismissed from WikiLeaks, like the German Daniel Domscheit-Berg, or who have defected, like James Ball, the young Englishman. Assange is a charismatic leader of a besieged organisation. It cannot have been easy for Domscheit-Berg or Ball to part company with Assange gracefully or without guilt. For this reason, the danger of relying uncritically on such witnesses ought to have been obvious. The evidence ofWe Steal Secrets suggests that for Gibney it was not.

Take the evidence of James Ball, who describes to Gibney his reaction to being asked by Assange to sign a non-disclosure agreement. “I found this a little awkward – being asked by a transparency organisation to sign exactly the kind of document used to silence whistleblowers around the world. It seemed pretty troubling and so I refused.” It is an apparently telling judgement. There are, however, problems with it. It is an oversimplification to call WikiLeaks a transparency organisation. WikiLeaks is based on the idea of seeking to expose corruption by guaranteeing its sources not transparency but absolute anonymity. This is one reason non-disclosure agreements might be needed. Nor is it reasonable to expect transparency from a tiny organisation under threat from an almighty state. Even more obviously, as Assange has proven, Ball did in fact sign a first non-disclosure agreement, on 23 November 2010. Ball also claims, damagingly, that Assange did not distinguish between donations to WikiLeaks and to his Swedish legal defence. “No one knows now whether money going to WikiLeaks is going to Julian or elsewhere.” As WikiLeaks shows in its annotations, donors were offered a clear choice. “You can help support Julian’s defence fund and/or contribute to WikiLeaks.” Donations were audited by a firm of accountants.

Even more importantly, in the final minutes of the film, Gibney relies uncritically on the interpretative judgements of those insiders who have fallen out with Assange. It is Domscheit-Berg who argues that “WikiLeaks has become what it detests and what it actually tried to rid the world of.” And it is James Ball who identifies what is called “‘noble cause corruption’; essentially you do things which, if anyone else did [them], you would recognise aren’t OK … but because you know you’re a good guy, it’s different for you.” These statements, being partly defensive and self-justificatory, are hardly objective and authoritative.

Assange’s spectacular fallings-out have not only been with former WikiLeaks insiders. Almost as bruising were those with some of his mainstream media partners at the New York Times and the Guardian. Gibney does not pretend to explain why these explosions occurred. He allows the Australian journalist Mark Davis to record the hypocrisy and condescension of the New York Times, which first published WikiLeaks’ material and then ridiculed Assange before abandoning him to his fate. More questionably, it is one of Assange’s most implacable enemies, Nick Davies of the Guardian, the hero of the News of the World phone hacking scandal, who makes some of the film’s most damaging charges. On screen, Davies bristles with aggression towards Assange. He is the film’s most important witness regarding Assange’s supposed indifference to the fate of the Afghan sources named in the US war logs. In this dispute between Davies and Assange, the evidence is mixed. In We Steal Secrets Davies claims that Assange told him in a personal conversation that if Afghans were collaborators with the Americans they deserved to die. Assange has always denied using such words, though he uses as his defence the eyewitness testimony of a Der Spiegel journalist concerning a quite different occasion, a dinner conversation involving a second detested Guardianjournalist, David Leigh. In another instance regarding the Afghan-indifference accusation, Assange is on firmer ground. Davies tells Gibney of his “amazement” when he heard Assange tell journalists at a press conference on 25 July 2010 about his harm minimisation strategy. “Julian had no harm minimisation in place.” The WikiLeaks annotations quote from an article published in the Guardian that very morning, in part written by Davies, which outlined clearly WikiLeaks’ strategy for harm minimisation. Almost everyone agrees that Assange’s first impulse – to publish the Afghan war logs unredacted – was wrong. But it was a lesson he learnt and never consciously repeated.

There are also legitimate questions about the film’s account of the Swedish sexual allegations. Some arise from the way Gibney has edited material from contemporary interviews with Assange. In one, Assange is shown to be saying: “I have never said this is a honey trap. I have never said it’s not a honey trap.” And shortly after: “There are powerful interests that have incentives to promote these smears.” Here is a fuller version of the interview Gibney draws upon:

Assange: I have also never criticised these women. We don’t know precisely what pressures they have been under, exactly. There are powerful interests that have incentives to promote these smears. That doesn’t mean that they got in there in the very beginning and fabricated them.

Interviewer: So you’re not suggesting this was a honey trap?

Assange: I have never said that this is a honey trap.

Interviewer: You don’t believe it?

Assange: I have never said it’s not a honey trap. I’m not accusing anyone until I have proof.

The differences between the original interview and the comments seen on screen are subtle but significant. Gibney’s misleading edit underpins the scathing assessment by Davies that follows directly and which carries the film’s final interpretative weight: “What Julian did was to start the little snowball rolling down the hill, that this was some kind of conspiracy.” Davies is hardly an objective witness on this matter. Responsible for the first analysis in the British press of the leaked Swedish police report concerning the allegations, his competence and fair-mindedness were immediately challenged by Assange and his supporters. One of his most acerbic critics was Guy Rundle, in an article in this magazine. Several months after its publication, a still-enraged Davies threw a glass of wine in Rundle’s face.

Far more importantly, Gibney misleads his audience about the reason Assange has fought so fiercely to avoid extradition to Sweden. The interpretation he favours is best expressed by one of Assange’s Swedish accusers, Anna Ardin: “He has locked himself up to avoid coming to Sweden to answer a few pretty simple questions.” This is utterly unconvincing. There is direct evidence that the US is delaying action until the conclusion of the Swedish cases. Indeed, Assange’s lawyers believe that US legal authorities are compelled to wait for decisions on both the request for extradition from Britain and the hearing in Sweden of possible charges before moving on Assange. Those interested can find their detailed reasoning in the tightly argued and cogent document, ‘Extraditing Assange’. In these circumstances Assange is, to put it mildly, right to be cautious. One false move might earn him a lifetime in jail. In We Steal Secrets, Gibney breezily ignores all this. He claims rather that “members of Assange’s legal team admitted that it would be easier for the United States to extradite Assange from Britain.” At best, this is a vast oversimplification. Gibney relies here on an interview fragment from Baroness Helena Kennedy, who has since told Assange that she has been misrepresented.

The wronged party in We Steal Secrets is Bradley Manning. Once more, however, there are problems about the way Gibney presents the crucial evidence. There are only two direct sources for Manning’s state of mind at the moment of his fateful decision to pass on to WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic documents: his confessional chat logs with Adrian Lamo, where the emphasis is on his crisis of gender identity, and his statement before the military court at Fort Meade on 28 February this year, in which he outlines lucidly the political reasons for his disillusionment with his country’s behaviour and decision. Because Gibney relies exclusively on the confessional chat logs, his audience is led to believe that it was profound psychological breakdown rather than sincerely held political principle that best explains Manning’s motives. Although Assange and many of his supporters argue that interest in Manning’s psychic state is prurient or irrelevant to Gibney’s story, and that Manning should be seen as nothing but a principled war crimes whistleblower, with Manning, at the moment of his critical decision, the personal and the political were self-evidently and inscrutably entangled. Nonetheless it seems wrong and puzzling for Gibney to omit the best evidence we have of Manning’s political motivation. Nor can Gibney argue that Manning’s testimony came too late to be included. One small detail in the film – Manning’s claim that he approached both the Washington Post and the New York Times before approaching WikiLeaks – proves that Gibney had read Manning’s statement to the court in time.

At its conclusion, We Steal Secrets tries to drive a moral wedge between Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. James Ball suggests that Manning turned to his betrayer, Lamo, only because he was abandoned by WikiLeaks. This is simply untrue. In his statement to the court, Manning spoke about the many long and enjoyable conversations he had with his contact at WikiLeaks, whom he called “Nathaniel”. In this testimony Manning does not identify “Nathaniel”. The Lamo chat logs suggest that almost certainly he was Assange. Further to Ball, Assange’s most bitter enemy, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, offers a contrast between the situations facing Assange and Manning: “We must get away from this understanding that we see Julian as the saviour, as some noble guru, as some new hero or some new pop star or whatever that’s going to change all of it … Bradley Manning is the courageous guy. He is the one that took all the risk and, in the end, now is suffering.”

In the moral economy of We Steal Secrets, Domscheit-Berg’s words come close to serving as a final judgement. They also involve several telling distortions. Assange and Manning have been loyal to each other throughout what is their mutual crisis. The risks facing Assange are very real, and if there is one quality in him that cannot possibly be doubted, it is his quite extraordinary courage.

Shortly before this film was released, the New Yorker launched a whistleblower drop-box coded by another young electronic freedom fighter, Aaron Swartz, who earlier this year took his life rather than face trial following a grand jury indictment for illegally downloading large numbers of academic articles. And, at the time of writing, the world learnt that the American government had been secretly collecting the phone, email and text records of its citizenry, a practice that Al Gore described as “obscenely outrageous”. Julian Assange is the fearless and imaginative inventor of a political means by which individuals in the electronic age can expose the encroachment and corruption of state and corporate power. For this reason, he seems to me to deserve far more sympathy and credit than is found in Alex Gibney’s superficially impressive but ultimately myopic film.

Robert Manne appears in We Steal Secrets, having written a major profile of Julian Assange for this magazine in 2011.

Robert Manne's picture

Robert Manne

Robert Manne is a professor of politics at La Trobe University and has twice been voted Australia’s leading public intellectual. He is the author ofLeft, Right, Left: Political Essays, 1977-2005 and Making Trouble. Visit hisblog. See also The Stolen Generations – a documentary collection

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Manning Rationale

Manning Tragedy

| 365 days on ice: Assange still holed up in Ecuador’s London Embassy!

365 days on ice: Assange still holed up in Ecuador’s London Embassy ~ RT.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange took shelter in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London one year ago Wednesday, sparking a standoff with UK authorities that could leave the world-renowned whistleblower cooped up for years to come.

When Assange first made his asylum bid 365 days ago, the tense standoff that ensued seemed likely to ignite an international incident.

British authorities “warned” Ecuador that they could raid its embassy and arrest Julian Assange if he was not handed over, a move the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister charged would be a “flagrant violation” of international law.

Although the situation has significantly calmed since then, the UK’s commitment to arresting Assange remains unwavering.

Britain has vowed it will do everything in its power to block Assange’s passage to Ecuador despite being granted asylum by Quito in August 2012. Downing Street commitment to securing Assange’s extradition to Sweden, where is wanted for questioning over sex crime allegations by two women, has manifested itself in a year-long police presence outside of the embassy building in Knightsbridge, London. As of Wednesday, the Telegraph estimates that the policing the Ecuadorian Embassy has cost British taxpayers in excess of $6.6 million dollars.

Following talks between Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino and his British counterpart William Hague on Monday, both sides agreed to keep the channels of communication open, but “no breakthrough” was made on the Assange case.

Patino said he remained in good spirits despite his limited living accommodations which Assange likened to living in a space station.

The Ecuadorean government stood by its decision to grant Assange asylum, vowing there would be no changes in his circumstances.

This photo courtesy of the Ecuador Foreign Ministry shows British Foreign Minister William Hague and Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino(L)as they hold a meeting in New York on September 27, 2012 to discuss the situation of granting asylum to Julian Assange in Ecuador. (AFP Photo / Fernanda Lemarie)This photo courtesy of the Ecuador Foreign Ministry shows British Foreign Minister William Hague and Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino(L)as they hold a meeting in New York on September 27, 2012 to discuss the situation of granting asylum to Julian Assange in Ecuador. (AFP Photo / Fernanda Lemarie)

Patino met with Assange on Sunday and said that, despite his ordeal, he remains in good spirits.

“I got to tell him for the first time, face-to-face, that the government of Ecuador maintains its firm decision to protect his human rights,” Patino said. The Wikileaks founder expressed his willingness to spend the next half-decade cooped up in the basement room of a building which he described as so dim, he utilizes a lamp mimicking blue sky, set to a timer, least he work all night, the Guardian’s Esther Addley reports.

But with a steady stream of supporters providing him amenities, a personal trainer, a treadmill and high speed Internet, Assange believes five years in those conditions are vastly preferable to the alternatives.

His detractors believe he is using his notoriety to escape the Swedish justice system. Assange, in writing to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa one year ago, said he was being persecuted and could not return to his native Australia, fearing he could be extradited to “a foreign country that applies the death penalty for the crime of espionage and sedition.”

Ecuador concluded “his fears are legitimate.”

Assange claims the same imperilment been the driving force behind his decision to avoid returning to Sweden for questioning. He has previously expressed his willingness to answer queries from Swedish investigators on condition that he receives strong guarantees that he won’t be extradited the United States, where he believes he will be tried for his role in the 2010 US diplomatic cables leak – the largest such disclosure in the country’s history. Those guarantees have not been forthcoming.

Despite his willingness to remain in limbo, Assange believes the US is softening towards his plight, claiming a deal could be reached between Ecuador and the UK which would see him finally step foot outside of the embassy “within a year.”

“I think the position in the UK is softening,” he told the AFP news agency“Of course, it will never publicly humiliate the United States by offering me safe passage in a manner that doesn’t seem to be forced.”

A balloon marking the first anniversary of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's entry to Ecuador's embassy is tethered above the building in central London June 16, 2013. (Reuters / Chris Helgren)A balloon marking the first anniversary of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s entry to Ecuador’s embassy is tethered above the building in central London June 16, 2013. (Reuters / Chris Helgren)

The anniversary comes as the US authorities are hot on the tracks of Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee responsible for leaking details of the National Security Agency’s massive Internet surveillance program PRISM.

“Mr Snowden is as good an example of a hero as any. He has performed an extremely courageous act,” Assange said lauding him for exposing America’s “creeping mass surveillance state”.

“What we don’t want to see is him ending up the same way as Bradley Manning — detained without trial, abused in prison and now facing life imprisonment.”

While Assange is seeking to flee the UK, he believes “The British Government should be offering Mr Snowden asylum, not excluding him from their borders.”

“I am sure if you asked the people of the UK what they wanted, they would be in favor of protecting Mr Snowden. The UK doesn’t want to say no to the US under any circumstances – not in my case, and not in the case of Mr Snowden,” he continued.

If Snowden ever made his way to the single story mansion black just around the corner from Harrods department store, he might find more than one supporter.

“If he [Snowden] wants to ask asylum from the Ecuadoran government, he can do it,” Patino said from London on Monday, “and we, of course, would analyze it.”

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| When Truth Becomes an Enemy of the State: Bradley Manning on Trial!

When Truth Becomes an Enemy of the State: Bradley Manning on Trial ~ Michael RatnerTruthout.

Yesterday, after three years of confinement, Pfc. Bradley Manning finally went on trial in a military court at Fort Meade, Maryland. But it is less a real trial than it is a trial run, an experiment on how to make an example out of a government whistleblower, intimidate journalists’ sources, and make journalists and publishers targets.

What Manning did for his country was priceless, and for that he will pay a heavy price. Here’s a young soldier who put his future on the line so Americans had a chance to see the human and moral cost of the wars their government is waging. Manning’s information shaped the American public’s understanding of the ongoing wars and the way the press reports on these conflicts. This shift in perception is largely responsible for US troops finally coming home. Manning now faces a life sentence and the most serious charge against him carries a potential death penalty.

Government prosecutors will try to prove Manning had reason to believe his actions would aid the enemy. In his testimony earlier this year, Manning explained his political motivation, arguing that he had hoped to “spark a domestic debate” over current US wars and saying that he did so to have a “clear conscience.”

In a telling sign of just how fair of a trial Manning will get, the military judge already ruled that almost all questions and evidence the defense can raise about Manning’s intentions for acting are irrelevant to the trial. The judge has also stated that two dozen prosecution witnesses will testify behind closed doors. Many of these will be discussing the WikiLeaks documents available to all everywhere, except in the courtroom, since the government still considers them secret.

WikiLeaks and Julian Assange were threaded through the prosecutor’s opening, with speculative claims that Manning was taking direction from WikiLeaks and Manning looked for what to disclose on the WikiLeaks most wanted list. Manning’s lawyer repeated that he acted on his own and was not taking direction from WikiLeaks. The “wanted” list was actually an open Wiki list contributed to by human rights groups and others. This effort to brand Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as “conspirators” has been the government strategy from the beginning and has had its latest reincarnation when the FBI in an affidavit claimed FOX reporter James Rosen was a co-conspirator or aided and abetted his source. Sadly, that seems to be the dangerous direction the government is taking in its efforts to squelch truth-telling.

The military judge has also determined that court documents and transcripts, even of her own rulings, will continue to be unavailable to reporters and the general public. Manning’s supporters crowd-funded stenographers to make up for the lack of transcripts, but last week the court denied them press passes. Yesterday, one of the stenographers was able to get in after the Bradley Manning Support Network gave up their pass for the day. There is no guarantee any stenographers will be allowed on future dates, and the same goes for most of the 370 media organizations that have requested access, most of whom did not get it.

Center for Constitutional Rights is suing the military judge in Manning’s case in an attempt to make public the documents in the case. We cannot afford to let the government get away with these amateur-hour procedures designed to discourage press coverage of the most important state secrets trial since the Pentagon papers.

Everyone who cares about the future of this country needs to learn about this case and get involved in Manning’s defense: make his case in the court of public opinion, call on newspapers to carefully scrutinize how this trial is being handled and drive a meaningful public debate about the morality of Manning’s actions.

Truth is a condition for government accountability. Bradley Manning is facing the most severe punishment for a journalistic source in this country’s history because truth itself has become an enemy of our state. Exposing the truth about government misconduct does not make one a traitor; turning your back on truth-tellers like Manning does.

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| How the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism!

How the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism ~ NEWS SOURCES, War in Context.

The Los Angeles Times reports: The FBI obtained a sealed search warrant to read a Fox News reporter’s personal emails from two days in 2010 after arguing there was probable cause he had violated espionage laws by soliciting classified information from a government official, court papers show.

In an affidavit, an FBI agent told a federal magistrate that the reporter had committed a crime when he asked a State Department security contractor, Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, to share secret material about North Korea in June 2009.

The affidavit did not name the reporter, but Fox News identified him as its chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen. He was not charged, but Kim was indicted on espionage charges in August 2010 and is awaiting trial. He has denied leaking classified information.

The case marks the first time the government has gone to court to portray news gathering as espionage, and Fox News officials and 1st Amendment advocates reacted angrily Monday after the secret warrant was reported by the Washington Post.

“We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter,” said Michael Clemente, Fox News executive vice president of news. “In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.” [Continue reading…]

Eugene Robinson writes: In both instances [with the AP and Fox News], prosecutors were trying to build criminal cases under the 1917 Espionage Act against federal employees suspected of leaking classified information. Before President Obama took office, the Espionage Act had been used to prosecute leakers a grand total of three times, including the 1971 case of Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Obama’s Justice Department has used the act six times. And counting.

Obviously, the government has a duty to protect genuine secrets. But the problem is that every administration, without exception, tends to misuse the “top secret” stamp — sometimes from an overabundance of caution, sometimes to keep inconvenient or embarrassing information from coming to light.

That’s where journalists come in. Our job, simply, is to find out what the government doesn’t want you to know. [Continue reading…]

Glenn Greenwald writes: Under US law, it is not illegal to publish classified information. That fact, along with the First Amendment’s guarantee of press freedoms, is what has prevented the US government from ever prosecuting journalists for reporting on what the US government does in secret. This newfound theory of the Obama DOJ — that a journalist can be guilty of crimes for “soliciting” the disclosure of classified information — is a means for circumventing those safeguards and criminalizing the act of investigative journalism itself. These latest revelations show that this is not just a theory but one put into practice, as the Obama DOJ submitted court documents accusing a journalist of committing crimes by doing this.

That same “solicitation” theory, as the New York Times reported back in 2011, is the one the Obama DOJ has been using to justify its ongoing criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange: that because Assange solicited or encouraged Manning to leak classified information, the US government can “charge [Assange] as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.” When that theory was first disclosed, I wrote that it would enable the criminalization of investigative journalism generally:

“Very rarely do investigative journalists merely act as passive recipients of classified information; secret government programs aren’t typically reported because leaks just suddenly show up one day in the email box of a passive reporter. Journalists virtually always take affirmative steps to encourage its dissemination. They try to cajole leakers to turn over documents to verify their claims and consent to their publication. They call other sources to obtain confirmation and elaboration in the form of further leaks and documents. Jim Risen and Eric Lichtblau described how they granted anonymity to ‘nearly a dozen current and former officials’ to induce them to reveal information about Bush’s NSA eavesdropping program. Dana Priest contacted numerous ‘U.S. and foreign officials’ to reveal the details of the CIA’s ‘black site’ program. Both stories won Pulitzer Prizes and entailed numerous, active steps to cajole sources to reveal classified information for publication.

“In sum, investigative journalists routinely — really, by definition — do exactly that which the DOJ’s new theory would seek to prove WikiLeaks did. To indict someone as a criminal ‘conspirator’ in a leak on the ground that they took steps to encourage the disclosures would be to criminalize investigative journalism every bit as much as charging Assange with ‘espionage’ for publishing classified information.”

That’s what always made the establishment media’s silence (or even support) in the face of the criminal investigation of WikiLeaks so remarkable: it was so obvious from the start that the theories used there could easily be exploited to criminalize the acts of mainstream journalists. [Continue reading…]

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