Thursday 9th of February 2023

First Amendment rights trampled...


Alexander Cockburn: First Amendment rights trampled - and WikiLeaks is not the only site to be shut down

By Alexander Cockburn
DECEMBER 9, 2010

The WikiLeaks sites have vanished — though more than 1,400 mirror sites still carry the disclosures. Amazon, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and the organisation’s Swiss bank have shut them down, either on their own initiative or after a threat from the US government or its poodles in London and Geneva. Julian Assange is in a British jail cell, facing a hearing on trumped-up Swedish allegations zealously posted by Interpol.

The US government is warning potential employees not to read the WikiLeaks materials anywhere on the web, and US Attorney General Eric Holder is cooking up a stew of new gag stipulations and fierce statutory penalties against any site carrying material the government deems compromising to state security. Commercial outfits like Amazon are falling over themselves to connive at the shutdowns, actual or threatened.

One of the biggest lessons for us all comes in the form of a wake-up call on the enormous vulnerability of our prime means of communication to swift government-instigated, summary shutdown.

Forty-three years ago, Ramparts magazine published its disclosures of the CIA’s capture of the National Student Association as a front organisation. The magazine became the target of furious denunciation by the Liebermans and McConnells of the day. Even before publication, the CIA’s Desmond FitzGerald authorised a dirty-tricks operation against Ramparts.

But at no time did the government muster the nerve to flout the First Amendment and try to shut the magazine down on grounds that it was compromising “national security” or was guilty of espionage. A courtroom challenge by Ramparts’ lawyers would have been inevitable.

While visiting Britain in the early 1970s, former CIA case officer Philip Agee had a brief meeting with Tony Godwin, editor-in-chief of Penguin Books, a friend of mine. Godwin agreed to publish Agee’s exposé, including the names of active CIA officers and details of their operations.

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from one recipient of leaks...

Veteran Channel Nine political journalist Laurie Oakes won the most prestigious award in Australian journalism, the Gold Walkley.

The Gold Walkley celebrates the most outstanding piece of journalism in the past year and Oakes won for his coverage of the Labor leaks during the federal election campaign.

He used his acceptance speech to take a swipe at Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

"The leaks that made this story possible didn't dominate the campaign, but they played a very big role in the campaign. I don't think they should've," he said.

"[But] there was nothing else, there were no issues, there was no policy inspiration, there were no ideas.

"We had two parties led by two political pygmies."

Oakes also attacked Ms Gillard and Attorney-General Robert McClelland for their response to the release of secret US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks.

"What they said was ridiculous," he said.

"To brand what the WikiLeaks site has done as illegal when there's no evidence of any breach of the law, I think is demeaning... I think as journalists we should make that our view."

when "friends" abandon you...

A number of WikiLeaks defectors, including founder Julian Assange's former right-hand man, plan to launch a rival site on Monday after accusing Mr Assange of behaving like "some kind of emperor or slave trader".

With WikiLeaks itself vowing to press on with its leaking regardless of the fate of Mr Assange, it seems that any attempts by US politicians to stop the leaks will be futile.

The new site, Openleaks, will launch on Monday, respected Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported. Like WikiLeaks, it will allow whistleblowers to leak information to the public anonymously. However, Openleaks won't host the documents itself, instead acting as an intermediary between whistleblowers and other groups including media organisations.

Several WikiLeaks members abandoned the site following perceived autocratic behaviour by Mr Assange. They said he failed to consult them on many decisions and put himself front and centre of everything WikiLeaks did.

Some members were also concerned that the Swedish rape allegations against Mr Assange were damaging the organisation's reputation. Dagens Nyheter reported that insiders were sabotaging the site earlier this year in order to convince Mr Assange to step down.


with "friends" like that, who needs enemies...

reality check required .....

The US Air Force is blocking computer access to The New York Times and other media sites that published sensitive diplomatic documents released by the Internet site WikiLeaks, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Air Force Maj. Toni Tones said more than 25 websites have been blocked and cannot be viewed by any Air Force computer. The ban - aimed at preventing the viewing of classified information - does not apply to personal computers.

She said the action was taken by the 24th Air Force, which is commanded by Maj. Gen. Richard Webber and is responsible for cyberwarfare and computer security for the service. The move was approved by Air Force lawyers, she said.

The Army and Navy say they have not taken similar actions.

The White House on Dec. 3 formally reminded all federal employees and government contractors that anyone without a security clearance is not permitted to read classified documents, such as the diplomatic messages published by WikiLeaks, even on a personal computer at home outside work hours.

It was not immediately clear how the U.S. government would enforce this, but the White House said employees who inadvertently viewed the information should contact their U.S. security offices at work. The notice by the White House Office of Management and Budget said publication of the files by WikiLeaks "has resulted in damage to our national security."

The New York Times Co. issued a statement in response to the action Tuesday, saying "it is unfortunate that the U.S. Air Force has chosen not to allow its personnel access to information that virtually everyone else in the world can access."

Air Force blocks media sites that post WikiLeaks

The decision of the United States Air Force to ban access to many of the world's media websites - announced, in an apparent nod to 50s science fiction by "Major Toni Tones of the Air Force Space Command" - is illustrative of a type of governmental command-and-control attitude to information that has not merely been outdated by WikiLeaks, but has been rendered increasingly irrelevant over the last decade by online media.

Blocking a number of the world's major media outlets - one prays USAF personnel are still able to access Fox News - reflects a gatekeeper mentality in which the world is divided between those who control information and the rest of us. But the ready conversion of information to a stream of zeroes and ones changes it fundamentally. Distribution, rather than control, is now the easiest way to handle information, and in any event control systems are only as strong as their weakest links. As the alleged circumstances of the leaking of the WikiLeaks cables illustrate, that link can be very weak indeed.

Governments the world over appear to be struggling to accept this, in the same way the entertainment industry has taken decades to accept it. Only recently, Attorney-General Robert McClelland wrote to local mainstream media editors in an effort to establish a protocol for reporting on national security-related information that might emerge from WikiLeaks, oblivious to the fact they have no control over what information Australians can access or the way they do so.

Politicians and bureaucrats - including military officials - need to understand the dynamics of the new information environment. The old-fashioned command-and-control approach simply no longer works.

gone to court to demand the Twitter account

U.S. Subpoenas Twitter Over WikiLeaks Supporters By SCOTT SHANE and JOHN F. BURNS

WASHINGTON — Prosecutors investigating the disclosure of thousands of classified government documents by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks have gone to court to demand the Twitter account activity of several people linked to the organization, including its founder, Julian Assange, according to the group and a copy of a subpoena made public late Friday.

The subpoena is the first public evidence of a criminal investigation, announced last month by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., that has been urged on by members of Congress of both parties but is fraught with legal and political difficulties for the Obama administration. It was denounced by WikiLeaks, which has so far made public only about 1 percent of the quarter-million confidential diplomatic cables in its possession but has threatened to post them all on the Web if criminal charges are brought.

Dozens of Pentagon and State Department officials have worked for months to assess the damage done to American diplomatic and military operations by the disclosures. In recent weeks, Justice Department officials have been seeking a legal rationale for charging Mr. Assange with criminal behavior, including whether he had solicited leaks.

The move to get the information from five prominent figures tied to the group was revealed late Friday, when Birgitta Jonsdottir, a former WikiLeaks activist who is also a member of Iceland’s Parliament, received an e-mail notification from Twitter.

In the message, obtained by The New York Times, the company told her it had received a legal request for details regarding her account and warned that the company would have to respond unless the matter was resolved or “a motion to quash the legal process has been filed.” The subpoena was attached.

The subpoena was issued by the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia on Dec. 14 and asks for the complete account information of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence specialist awaiting a court martial under suspicion of leaking materials to WikiLeaks, as well as Ms. Jonsdottir, Mr. Assange and two computer programmers, Rop Gonggrijp and Jacob Appelbaum. The request covers addresses, screen names, telephone numbers and credit card and bank account numbers, but does not ask for the content of private messages sent using Twitter.

Some published reports in recent weeks have suggested that the Justice Department may have secretly impaneled a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, which often handles national security cases, to take evidence in the WikiLeaks inquiry. But the subpoena, unsealed by a Jan. 5 court order at the request of Twitter’s lawyers, was not issued by a grand jury.

In Twitter messages, WikiLeaks confirmed the subpoena and suggested that Google and Facebook might also have been issued such legal demands. Officials for Facebook declined to comment, and Google did not immediately respond to an inquiry.

Even the New York Times is worried

With the United States going all-out to punish Assange using the 100-year-old Espionage Act, many media organisations and journalists have sought to distance themselves from the whistleblower.

"I think what's emerging in the mainstream media is the awareness that if I can be indicted, other journalists can, too," says Assange.

"Even the New York Times is worried. This used not to be the case. If a whistleblower was prosecuted, publishers and reporters were protected by the First Amendment, which journalists took for granted. That's being lost."

Assange's big concern is that if an attempt to extradite him to Sweden on sexual abuse charges is successful he will be quickly handed over to the United States. As a result, he has already made available an encrypted 'insurance' file to anybody who wants to download it. In the event that something happened to him or WikiLeaks, a code would be released and the (presumably incriminating) files would be unlocked.

The threat was presumed to be aimed solely at the US government, but Assange tells Pilger he is also in the position to release files relating to Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp empire.

The Murdoch-owned Fox News has been particularly critical of Assange, with one of the station's presenters calling on him to be "illegally" killed by US special forces.

On China, Assange says the country has "aggressive and sophisticated interception technology that places itself between every reader inside China and every information source outside China.

"We've been fighting a running battle to make sure we can get information through, and there are now all sorts of ways Chinese readers can get on to our site."

Read more:,people,news,julian-assange-threatens-rupert-murdoch-and-news-corp#ixzz1AvCBi7o2

Note: the Chinese people are 7th on the list of readership for this important site,,,

scooped .....

One avenue by which the United States could press charges against Julian Assange appeared to have closed Monday, with US military officials' admission that they can't find a link between the WikiLeaks founder and PFC Bradley Manning, the alleged source of WikiLeaks' State Department cables.

News reports late last year indicated that the US was trying to build a criminal conspiracy case against Assange through evidence that he aided Manning when the Army private allegedly copied more than a quarter million classified State Department cables onto CD and walked away with them.

But according to military officials who spoke to NBC News, the US has failed to find evidence proving that link.

The officials say that while investigators have determined that Manning had allegedly unlawfully downloaded tens of thousands of documents onto his own computer and passed them to an unauthorized person, there is apparently no evidence he passed the files directly to Assange, or had any direct contact with the controversial WikiLeaks figure.

US Can't Link Julian Assange To Bradley Manning

a british judge has erred...

A British judge has ruled that Julian Assange be extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations.

Following more than two days of hearings this month at a London magistrate's court, Judge Howard Riddle ordered that the 39-year-old Australian and WikiLeaks founder be sent to Stockholm to face charges of rape and sexual assault.

The silver-haired Australian sat in the dock of the court showing no emotion as Judge Riddle read: "I must order that Mr Assange is extradited to Sweden".

"I have specifically considered whether the physical or mental condition of the defendant is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him," Judge Riddle said.

"In fact, I am satisfied that extradition is compatible with the defendant's convention rights. I must order that Mr Assange be extradited to Sweden."

He added that Assange had seven days to lodge an appeal the against the decision.


Gus: it is believed in some circles that the judge only did this so he could wash his hands of the whole thing and not be "a traitor" to international relations... There is no way that extradition proceedings can apply without charges in this case. The case is beyond being flimsy. Thus by sending Assange to the wolves, he also gives him the opportunity to challenge the decision... If there is an appeal (most likely) it will go to a higher court, with several judges on the bench... So Judge Howard Riddle passes the baby to others — and if Assange is sent to sweeden or not, Riddle has protected his own arse...

Video link for interrogation would suffice at this stage — then charges can be laid or not according to the "evidence"... for which at the moment there are no witness nor evidence. One thing I often mention is in order to catch something or destroy a species, one needs more than one "factor". In this case TWO women have presented themselves with cases of rape (in Sweeden) which would not cut mustard in say England nor Australia...

Please explain "compatible with convention rights" in this case... KrapP (that Gus "sweedish" for crap)...

then they will pass the hat...

A painting of Julian Assange taking a leak has won this year’s Bald Archy prize.

The caricature by French artist Xavier Ghazi portrays the WikiLeaks founder with his trousers around his ankles, urinating into a top hat with the US flag on it.

The Bald Archy - a parody of the Archibald Prize for portraiture - is a competition of humorous works of art, making fun of Australian celebrities and politicians. The exhibition and prize is advertised as the only one in the world judged by a sulphur-crested cockatoo named Maude.

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deleted from life...

December 3rd, 2010 may very well go down as a turning point in the history of human governance. 

On that day, PayPal decided to permanently block Wikileaks’ ability to receive donations for its investigative journalism project, rooted in the judicious sourcing and publication of leaked government and industry documents. 

With this decision, the globe-spanning cash management service abandoned any pretense that it did, could, or would operate free of the dictates of the US-led international “security” consensus. 

Rather, it allowed all the world to see what a very small minority of analysts had been saying quite regularly since the 1990s: that the explosive upward trajectory of Silicon Valley technologies—with their unprecedented ability to surveil private citizens and to control the flow of money and information into their lives—can only be understood in terms of its initial and ongoing relationship to the US Deep State and its Atlanticist and Five Eyes servants. 

Unfortunately, very few people took note of the December 2010 “announcement” and its future implications for our lives. 

The practice of ostracism—we get the term from Ancient Greece—is as old as the history of organized human societies. Powerful political actors and their courtiers have always despised the minority within the society who raise questions about their competence or legitimacy, and thus generally have had few compunctions about visiting exile, or if needed, physical death upon them. 

It was not until the late Middle Ages that this elite impunity began to be substantially challenged. In 1027, for example, at a gathering known as the Peace and Truce of God, a group of Catalan priests, commoners and small landowners came together to challenge the feudal nobility’s right to use coercive violence against them. More well known today is the English Magna Carta of 1215 which established habeas corpus; that is, the sovereign’s obligation to explain in writing why and where he was imprisoning each one of his subjects. 

It was from these humble challenges to sovereign power that modern democracy—understood as a system where those few wielding political power derive their prerogatives from the many, and thus must respond to their desires—was developed. 

Among those who grew up during and just after the antiwar movement’s de facto defeat of the military-industrial complex’s war on Vietnam, this inherently tension-laden relationship between elite power and popular consent was widely understood. 

Conversely, the average citizen’s knowledge and celebration of “people power,” as it was sometimes called back then, was viewed with deep fear and suspicion by the agents of the US national security elite which, under the cunning leadership of Allen Dulles and others, had insinuated itself into the inner reaches of the US presidency during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations. 

These people viewed the United States as an empire, and understood that no empire could ever grow and prosper as such if it were to in any way grant the common people a check on their “right” to intimidate and inflict violence upon other countries. 

So while many citizens of the country basked in the apparent reaffirmation of their fundamental rights and liberties during the late 70s and 80s, the recently chastened agents of the Deep State got back to work. 

The first palpable result of their clawback efforts was Ronald Reagan’s decision to name William Casey, one of the last remaining links to the foundational Dulles years at the CIA, to head that same organization. More fundamental still were the national security establishment’s decision to promote and execute “demonstration wars,” which is to say conflicts of limited geopolitical importance, but of potentially large psychological value, in Grenada, Panama and the Persian Gulf over the next decade.

The first and most obvious of these psychological goals was to remind the world of the US desire and ability to project power wherever and whenever it deemed it necessary to do so. The second, especially important after both the external and internal defeats handed to the war-making elites over Vietnam, was to rehabituate the US public to the necessity and the nobility of making war. 

The third and arguably most important goal, which is deeply intertwined with the last objective mentioned, was to experiment with new methods of putting the media back into the government-controlled pocket it had managed to crawl out of in the late 60s and much of the 70s. Indeed, as Barbara Trent’s superb Panama Deception suggests, this was arguably the prime goal of the attack on that Central American country. 

As George Bush Sr. (engaging in the erstwhile elite practice of giving away to those listening carefully the real nature of their aims) exultantly declared in the wake of the premeditated destruction of Iraq and the fiery death of several hundred thousands of its inhabitants: “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.”

The government’s reaction to the attacks of September 11th, centering on the promulgation of what appears to have been a largely preprepared Patriot Act, ushered in the next act of the great Deep State clawback: the near wholesale inversion of the citizen’s relationship to the state. 

In the name of “fighting terrorism,” we were all reclassified, in effect, as “guilty until proven innocent,” with the government now arrogating to itself in the generalized absence of probable cause, the right to snoop on all our private communications, to create elaborate profiles of our daily comportments and to search our cars without warrant at airports and at an ever-growing list of other so-called sensitive areas. And they did so without widespread citizen resistance. 

In the first decade of this century, the same US Deep State—which if a former very high ranking former European-based investment banker I know is correct has long worked quite closely with large US-based international financial concerns—took advantage of the implosion of mainstream journalism’s business model in the late 1990s to greatly extend its ability to direct and control public opinion in the US and Europe. 

Emblematic of this radical shift was the sweeping Americanization in the geopolitical and cultural focus of Europe’s so-called “quality dailies” during this period, something which in turn greatly enhanced the US-controlled Atlanticist’s ability to publicly and concertedly disparage any political actor who raised the slightest objections to NATO’s strategic goals or the EU’s financial and culture-planning aims. 

All of which brings us back to Julian Assange. When he revealed the grotesque and heartless nature of US war crimes in Iraq in graphic detail, the Deep State decided that a “mere” campaign of character assassination of the type used with those foreign leaders who question the core goodness of the US or its policies would not do. Rather, it needed to visit complete social death upon him. And thanks to PayPal and all of the other high tech platforms that followed its lead, it has been able to do so quite successfully. 

A decade later the techniques of public-private thuggery used to socially assassinate Assange and end his program of independent journalism are being broadly used against large swathes of the US population.

As in the case of the Australian journalist, the US government, working in concert with the almost wholly coopted corporate press, first pursued those questioning the logical coherence of the Covid narrative with well-orchestrated campaigns of defamation. (Remember the fate of those two emergency room doctors from California who questioned the severity of the disease in the Spring of 2020?). 

And when numerous medical figures of much greater scientific renown, such as John Ioannidis and the Nobel Prize winner Michael Levitt to name just two examples, similarly questioned the core suppositions of the Covid narrative, the now rock solid government-media-high tech alliance upped their game to include their summary banishment from certain platforms, which in today’s world is to say the conscious infliction upon them of informational death. 

It appears that the Biden Administration—or perhaps more accurately, the combination of Deep State, Big Pharma and international finance potentates currently designing its policies— might have actually believed these tools of coercion would be sufficient to achieve their goal of turning every man, woman and child in the country into a perpetual vaccine patient, and blissful donor of ever greater amounts of of their personal information for commercial exploitation and enhanced state and corporate control over their lives.

But as it became increasingly clear in the late spring and summer of 2021 that the campaign of informational terror was no longer effectively delivering the desired results on the vaccine front, the US government turned, as they had in the case of Assange, to their corporate allies and the option of inflicting social death on those who continued to believe that their bodies and their lives belonged to themselves and not the government and its Big Pharma backers. 

And let’s be honest and not shy from the truth. This is exactly what is going on. 

After quite consciously using the enormous moral and rhetorical force of the government and media to label a third to a half of its own citizens as social pariahs, the Biden Administration is now working hand-in-glove with the country’s large corporations to destroy these same citizens’ standing as fully empowered citizens through the destruction of their livelihoods. 

And this, supposedly, to impel people to take a vaccine that clearly does not do the first thing a vaccine must always do: prevent transmission of disease. 

And don’t be fooled by the fact that the orders to socially assassinate millions of our fellow citizens are delivered in seemingly rational tones, and presented as a wholly logical and unremarkable approach to controlling Covid by the media. 

Like all flailing empires before it, ours has come home and loosed its ever-ghoulish and ever-paranoid furies upon its own people. 

It is a truly frightening spectacle. 

But as students of history we can take heart in the fact that even as counterinsurgency campaigns like the one now being waged against at least one third of the US population in the name of insuring our collective safety cause untold amounts of heartache and destruction, they are seldom successful in the long run. 

People eventually decide that living life in constant fear is to not live at all, and find their way back to the sacred practice of affirming life, with all its risks and disappointments, at every turn.  



Thomas Harrington is an essayist and Professor of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College in Hartford (USA) who specializes in Iberian movements of national identity Contemporary Catalan culture.




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