But because of where it was published, I’m taking it on.
Doing The Dirty
In a self-discrediting, tabloidesque, grasping-at-straws, thoroughly compromised “article” for Buzz Feed, ex-WikiLeaks intern James Ball once again attempts to spin his short-lived six-years-ago experience with Assange into contemporary relevance.
This isn’t a first. He’s been rehashing his story year in and year out.
In an earlier anti-Assange, anti-Ecuador piece he was editorially babysat on the by-line by a London BuzzFeed editor whose last 4 credits on the site are all aged anti-WikiLeaks articles crafted in tandem with James Ball.
A disclosure at the end of Ball’s latest WikiLeaks smear reads: “James Ball, one of the authors of this article, worked for WikiLeaks for a short period between late 2010 and early 2011.” (The disclosure does not appear on earlier articles on the same topic. Such as this one.)
What the disclosure fails to mention is that James Ball was in fact fired from WikiLeaks in early 2011.
This was revealed by notes published by WikiLeaks in response to the disputed Alex Gibney portrayal of related events in the unauthorised (and disputed) biography of WikiLeaks titled “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks”, in which James Ball was heavily featured, despite his extraordinarily brief tenure with the organisation.
While omitting to mention his firing, or that his involvement with WikiLeaks spanned at best, 23 days, Ball does allude to some controversy:
“To save readers a Google search or two, [Assange] would tell you I was in WikiLeaks as an “intern” for a period of “weeks”, during that time acted as mole for the Guardian, stole documents, and had potential ties to MI5.”
The lack of context surrounding these nefarious references is meant to come off as both humorous and self-deprecating. They serve to diminish the impact of an inevitable discovery of the reality: Ball told a friend he had interviewed for MI5.
He leads his readers to believe that the numerous denouncements of him are just outlandish rather than rooted in long-established fact, and that it is he and not Assange, who is the true victim.
That his body of anti-WikiLeaks work fits the messaging and agenda of the very intelligence agencies who oppose WikiLeaks, is of course, mere coincidence!
In this, Ball’s writing is as misrepresentative of himself as of his subject. Almost as misrepresentative as posting the same article under multiple different titles at precisely the same time and then circulating them both:
Both versions are timestamped October 23rd, 2016 at 8:11pm. Each article has its own unique URL so they are published as two seperate articles rather than just one with its headline changed. (Though by the time of writing, the former now has a redirect to the latter.)
One has a more benign title and the other an overblown, dramatic title. The former has a trending icon yet the latter earned over triple the hits and is positioned in a central position on the front page of BuzzFeed UK. Draw your own conclusions.
Going Down In History
Ball’s back catalogue of BuzzFeed work oscillates between the vacuous and the ridiculous and his WikiLeaks smears are no exception.
BuzzFeed is hardly renowned for high quality content but it did once have one of the greatest investigative journalists of all time at its disposal: Michael Hastings. Courageous, witty, bold, daring and polished, Hasting’s archive of BuzzFeed work directly confronted heads of state in a truly adversarial and critical manner.
Unfortunately, Hastings was so brilliant and supremely talented, and his writing and presentation style so infectious, inspiring and ultimately so effective, that he was killed for it.
Thus BuzzFeed, WikiLeaks and the world was robbed of a giant and historic talent, and all we are left with is… James Ball.
God help us.
Having spent all week crafting an epic about the impending World War III that Assange’s persecutors are doing their damndest to usher in, I almost appreciate the mental respite of getting to effortlessly analyse something so small-minded as the pettiness of Ball’s attacks.
Except that I also resent that these bottom-feeders are still mercilessly crapping on the few journalists who are taking the biggest and most important risks of our generation and achieving the greatest of results, despite them.
Over The Line
Ball’s opus is over 2,900 words which in the realm of click-bait is practically ‘War and Peace‘.
BuzzFeed is, of course, a website whose main navigation mechanisms are buttons that read “LOL”, “win”, “omg”, “cute”, “fail” and “wtf”.
It’s safe to say that Ball’s work could fall into at least four of those categories.
Which makes it tragically easy to dissect.
Predictably, he starts with a homage to the proclamations of power.
“On 29 November 2010, then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton stepped out in front of reporters to condemn the release of classified documents by WikiLeaks and five major news organisations the previous day.
WikiLeaks’ release, she said, “puts people’s lives in danger”, “threatens our national security”, and “undermines our efforts to work with other countries”.
“Releasing them poses real risks to real people,” she noted, adding, “We are taking aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information.” — James Ball
You could be forgiven for thinking that Hillary Clinton stating that she was taking “aggressive steps” against the leakers of CableGate might mean that she has some kind of vendetta.
Given that the law is not meant to be “aggressive“, but merely lawful.
Oblivious to this, James Ball instead uses much of the article advancing the mainstream state-mouthpiece strategy of attempting to convince us that it is in fact Julian Assange who has a vendetta against Hillary.
“Julian Assange watched that message on a television in the corner of a living room in Ellingham Hall, a stately home in rural Norfolk, around 120 miles away from London.
I was sitting around 8ft away from him as he did so, the room’s antique furniture and rugs strewn with laptops, cables, and the mess of a tiny organisation orchestrating the world’s biggest news story.” — James Ball
Having qualified himself as relevant by having been in Julian’s presence in that moment, the reader is expecting some grand revelation to be imminent. That Julian threw something at the television, perhaps? Or made some disgruntled commitment to vengeance?
No, of course he didn’t. So Ball has to fixate on a triviality instead.
“Minutes later, the roar of a military jet sounded sharply overhead. I looked around the room and could see everyone thinking the same thing, but no one wanting to say it. Surely not. Surely? Of course, the jet passed harmlessly overhead – Ellingham Hall is not far from a Royal Air Force base – but such was the pressure, the adrenaline, and the paranoia in the room around Assange at that time that nothing felt impossible.” — James Ball
So after watching Hillary Clinton on TV, Assange and others in the room… thought something.
James Ball knows they thought something because he could see it.
He doesn’t bother mentioning what that something was. Just intimates that it was thought.
What precisely is he suggesting with this anecdote? That the Air Force was going to bomb the mansion? No? Glitter-bomb it maybe?
In keeping with the rest of the piece, James never qualifies his suggestions with any actual conclusions. Just sets up tense scenes and quickly moves on, incapable of climax.
“Spending those few months at such close proximity to Assange and his confidants, and experiencing first-hand the pressures exerted on those there, have given me a particular insight into how WikiLeaks has become what it is today.
To an outsider, the WikiLeaks of 2016 looks totally unrelated to the WikiLeaks of 2010. Then it was a darling of many of the liberal left, working with some of the world’s most respected newspapers and exposing the truth behind drone killing, civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, and surveillance of top UN officials.” — James Ball
Not two reading minutes earlier, Ball described WikiLeaks as “a tiny organisation orchestrating the world’s biggest news story”. Now, he is trying to drive a wholly invented ideological wedge between the ‘then’ and ‘now’.
Yet six years later, WikiLeaks is still a comparatively tiny organisation (compared to the media conglomerates that it frequently laps circles around) that is, sure enough, still orchestrating the world’s biggest news stories. Ball attempts to suggest that WikiLeaks is no longer working on exposing war crimes, despite their most recent work exposing mountains of evidence that states responsible for arming and funding ISIS are also funding Hillary Clinton’s foundation and/or election campaign.
WikiLeaks are working on the same issues they always have. The crimes of Empire. Corruption and war. But Ball needs you to believe otherwise.
“Now it is the darling of the alt-right, revealing hacked emails seemingly to influence a presidential contest, claiming the US election is “rigged”, and descending into conspiracy. Just this week on Twitter, it described the deaths by natural causes of two of its supporters as a “bloody year for WikiLeaks”, and warned of media outlets “controlled by” members of the Rothschild family – a common anti-Semitic trope.
The questions asked about the organisation and its leader are often the wrong ones: How has WikiLeaks changed so much? Is Julian Assange the catspaw of Vladimir Putin? Is WikiLeaks endorsing a president candidate who has been described as racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and more?
These questions miss a broader truth: Neither Assange nor WikiLeaks (and the two are virtually one and the same thing) have changed – the world they operate in has. WikiLeaks is in many ways the same bold, reckless, paranoid creation that once it was, but how that manifests, and who cheers it on, has changed.” — James Ball
If the Democratic primaries were not rigged, why was there a slew of resignations of its top officials, not to mention lawsuits, as a direct result of the revelations?
If WikiLeaks is seeking to influence an election, why has it not openly endorsed a political candidate, as the New York Times and nearly every major U.S. publication (and many others around the world) do openly, every election cycle?
How inane and hypocritical, to accuse one of the few media organisations that does not endorse a candidate, of endorsing a candidate.
The questions Ball lists as “the wrong ones” – accusations of a change in philosophy or ideology, or of an association with Vladimir Putin – are the precise accusations being made by the candidate-endorsing mainstream publications that James Ball completely ignores the existence of in this article.
And with that, the man who has just informed us that he knew what every person in a room was thinking, without stating what that was, merely because a plane flew overhead, now tells us that WikiLeaks is “bold, reckless and paranoid”.
Having smeared WikiLeaks, Ball goes back to defending Clinton.
“Clinton’s condemnation of WikiLeaks and its partners’ release of classified cables was a simple requirement of her job. Even had she privately been an ardent admirer of the site – which seems unlikely – doing anything other than strongly condemning the leak was nonetheless never an option.
That’s not how it felt to anyone inside WikiLeaks at that moment, though. It was an anxiety-inducing time. WikiLeaks was the subject of every cable TV discussion and every newspaper front page, and press packs swarmed the gates of every address even tenuously connected to it. Commentators called for arrest, deportation, rendition, or even assassination of Assange and his associates.” — James Ball
Simply: no. It is not Clinton’s job to “aggressively” pursue anyone. There is no legal mandate for that. Any more than it is her job to aggressively pursue donations, paid-for speeches, the invasion of Libya, or any of the other crazy, corrupt nonsense she got up to while employed as Secretary of State.
Nor is it the job of commentators to be using mass media to call for illegal assassinations, but this is the effect of corruption at the very top echelons of government going unchecked for so long – it trickles down. Those beholden to power become emboldened to emulate them because they know the system will forgive and protect the corrupt. This is how corruption spreads from administration to administration and from generation to generation.
This is how a black man selling loose cigarettes on a New York street can be killed by police while a modern-day political mafia operate in the White House with immunity and a blank cheque.
Just stop and think for a minute – Bill Clinton was impeached. Impeached for lying to Congress. His wife publically ‘forgave’ him his indiscretions and now she’s going to be President. And he’s going back to the White House.
An impeached President will be moving back into the White House.
Does this not seem a little strange?
Maybe there’s a bigger problem to be addressed than a publishing organisation exposing corruption? Like, maybe the actual corruption itself, should be worthy of 2,900 words of James Ball’s attention?
Apparently not. He is too busy mud-slinging for The Empire.
“At the same time, WikiLeaks was having its payment accounts frozen by Visa and Mastercard, Amazon Web Services pulled hosting support, and Assange was jailed for a week in the UK (before being bailed) on unrelated charges relating to alleged sexual offences in Sweden.
Inside WikiLeaks, a tiny organisation with only a few hundred thousand dollars in the bank, such pressure felt immense. Most of the handful of people within came from a left-wing activist background, many were young and inexperienced, and few had much trust of the US government – especially after months of reading cables of US mistakes and overreactions in the Afghan and Iraq war logs, often with tragic consequences.”
“How might the US react, or overreact, this time? WikiLeaks was afraid of legal or extralegal consequences against Assange or other staff. WikiLeakers were angry at US corporations creating a financial blockade against the organisation with no court ruling or judgments – just a press statement from a US senator.
And the figurehead of this whole response was none other than Hillary Clinton. For Assange, to an extent, this is personal.” — James Ball
Assange has repeatedly stated that the system is broken, that the electoral process is a farce, and has described Clinton vs. Trump as Cholera vs. Gonorrhea.
By now it is pretty obvious that it is James Ball, for whom this is personal. He is yet again quite literally selling his dated, meagre WikiLeaks experience, and wants us to believe that he has a unique insight into the motivations of Julian Assange. Pffft.
“It’s unfair, or at least an oversimplification, to say Assange is anti-American. He would say he supports the American people but believes its government, its politics, and its corporations are corrupt.
A result of this is that he doesn’t see the world in the way many Americans do, and has no intrinsic aversion to Putin or other strongmen with questionable democratic credentials on the world stage.” — James Ball
What better description is there of the Clinton cabal and in fact the entire U.S. military industrial complex than “strongmen with questionable democratic credentials on the world stage“?
That is a literal definition of every single Western regime, yet it is being used to prop them up by attacking their political enemies to distract us from the obvious.
The facade of democracy lost it’s last leg in 2011 with the violent crushing of the Occupy movement.
Democracy is over. Finished. Kaput. It has been reduced to a race between a war-mongering wife of an impeached President who cheated her way to the nomination, versus a serial-groper reality TV star with a spray tan.
Democracy in 2016 is billion dollar corporations telling 400 million people that it is their civic duty to pick Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee.
No amount of burying our heads in the sand or reading James Ball articles on omg-lol-wtf-BuzzFeed is going to change that.
James Ball and the Rape Investigation
There is nothing more annoying to a survivor of rape than people who get sanctimonious on the behalf of alleged survivors, only when it is politically expedient to do so. Or worse, to cash in on it.
Of Assange’s alleged victims, Ball writes:
“Those who have faced the greatest torments are, of course, the two women who accused Assange of sexual offences in Sweden in the summer of 2010. The details of what happened over those few days remain a matter for the Swedish justice system, not speculation, but having seen and heard Assange and those around him discuss the case, having read out the court documents, and having followed the extradition case in the UK all the way to the supreme court, I know it is a real, complicated sexual assault and rape case. It is no CIA smear, and it relates to Assange’s role at WikiLeaks only in that his work there is how they met.” — James Ball
Nowhere does he mention that the women did not want Assange charged. Or that one said the police manufactured the case and that she was railroaded into it. Or that the other specifically said she was not raped.
Ball never once lets the facts get in the way of his story.
So Who Is James Ball?
In short, exactly what his article claims Julian Assange is. A bullshit artist.
By contrast, the following is what WikiLeaks had to say about James Ball, in their response to ‘We Steal Secrets’.
Ball lie number 1: That James Ball wouldn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement on ideological grounds
“James Ball is lying. James Ball signed a non-disclosure agreement with WikiLeaks on November 23, 2010.
WikiLeaks uses non-disclosure agreements to help protect the safety of its sources, its staff and its upcoming publications from informants. The FBI and rival media organizations have previously bribed or pressured persons they believe to be close to WikiLeaks. James Ball understood this, and saw no irony in being asked by WikiLeaks to sign his NDA in November 2010.
WikiLeaks staff suspected Ball was passing information from WikiLeaks onto others: rival media organisations or government agencies. WikiLeaks discovered that Ball had told a colleague he had a job interview with the UK intelligence service MI5 and had interned at the UK Home Office. WikiLeaks also discovered Ball was attending secret meetings with the Guardian journalist David Leigh – his former college professor at City University, and a vocal opponent of WikiLeaks.
While Assange was in prison it was discovered that someone had accessed the Sunshine Press press contacts account using an email client, and had mirrored its archive. Ball had briefly been given access to the account. Documents from the account subsequently appeared in the Guardian. Physical documents went missing, and Ball’s behaviour became erratic.
Therefore a second, special non-disclosure agreement was devised for Ball, to test his reaction. After being asked to sign it at WikiLeaks’ Norfolk office, Ball became anxious and asked to postpone signing it while he considered it. He then left for London.
It later became obvious to WikiLeaks staff that, showing malicious forethought, Ball had stolen what he thought was WikiLeaks’ copy of his original NDA (which would have given him both copies). However the document that James Ball stole was not WikiLeaks’ copy of the agreement. Ball had left his NDA out on a desk and it had been filed for security reasons. He had stolen his own copy of the NDA. The other copy had already been removed to a secure location, and is still in WikiLeaks’ possession.
Ball became unavailable for work, and stopped returning calls. He lied about his whereabouts, and invented reasons why he could not return, which were confirmed to be untrue by a mutual third party. After several weeks, it became clear that he had cashed in his favours to David Leigh, in return for which he was given a post at the Guardian and the first credit in David Leigh’s book.
Ball pursued career advancement at the Guardian by placing himself at the service of The Guardian’s institutional vendetta against WikiLeaks, publishing numerous deceitful attacks on WikiLeaks over the last two and a half years, all of which rely on heavily embellishing his role as a freelancer working as a junior intern at WikiLeaks.
During the short time he worked for WikiLeaks he insisted on being called “a journalist working with WikiLeaks” or “a freelancer working for them“. Some time after leaving, Ball reimagined his role at WikiLeaks for career advantage, changing his title in order to misrepresent himself to others as a “former spokesperson.” James Ball was never a spokesperson for WikiLeaks. Alex Gibney did not secure an interview with WikiLeaks’ actual spokesperson, Kristinn Hrafnsson.
Ball has consistently maintained that he never signed the WikiLeaks NDA, and has felt secure enough to lie in print and on camera because he believed he had destroyed the evidence, having stolen the NDA.
Although he lies straight to camera in “We Steal Secrets” about the NDA, in January 2013 Ball admitted that he did sign the WikiLeaks NDA, after having been challenged about it by WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson. In admitting this, he lied again, claiming that he had never denied signing a WikiLeaks NDA. The evidence to the contrary is in the film itself.” — WikiLeaks
Ball lie number 2: re Julian’s ex-handle, ‘Mendax’
“Ball fabricates the significance of one of Julian Assange’s teenage screen names “Splendide Mendax”, this time in the mouth of an interviewee. The screen name is a joke. In Latin it means “Nobly untrue”, but as a pseudonym it describes how handles protect an author’s identity even though being inherently “untrue”. It is a phrase which describes itself, not its author, just like the word “word”.
‘Claims my teenage nickname was Mendax, “given to lying”, instead of Splendide Mendax, “nobly untruthful”, which is a teenage joke on handles being inherently untrue. It is self-referential, not a psychoanalysis 20 years ahead of its time!'” — Julian Assange, Complaint to Ofcom regarding the Guardian co-produced Secrets & Lies documentary, January 9, 2012.” — WikiLeaks
Ball lie number 3: That he was a WikiLeaks spokesperson
“The full interviews from which Gibney selects clips of James Ball talking to the media tell a different story. As James Ball makes a number of false statements in Gibney’s documentary these are worth watching in full. In one with Fox TV, for example, Ball appears alongside Kristinn Hrafnsson (as he usually did), who is introduced as “WikiLeaks spokesman” while Ball is described as “a journalist working with WikiLeaks”. James Ball never “essentially filled in” as “WikiLeaks’ principal spokesperson”.
At 2.45 mins in, Mark Stephens explains that Julian Assange is not in hiding: “the police know how to get in touch with him, the Swedish prosecutor knows how to get hold of him, so everybody knows where he is – except the media.” It is therefore false and misleading for James Ball to suggest that Julian Assange was “in hiding”.
Starting at 8.30mins, Ball refutes the suggestion that WikiLeaks has put anyone in harm’s way: “We have correspondents from all over – you know, the New York Times Chinese correspondent, the Guardian Chinese correspondent – checking those cables that are published to see what they’re like. Of course WikiLeaks takes redactions seriously. It was said on the Iraq War Logs that there were 300 names going to be in them by the Department of Defense. When they were actually published, of course, the whole things were published redacted and safe.”
Ball lie number 4: That WikiLeaks funds and fundraising were used for Julian’s defense
“This is a deliberately false statement by James Ball. Alex Gibney does not challenge Ball on it. The facts are easy to find. The Julian Assange and Wikileaks Staff Legal Defense Fund (JADF) and the various means by which Wikileaks receives donations for its running costs are kept separate.
Donors to “Dinner for Freedom of Speech” were given a choice to donate to WikiLeaks or JADF, and this was made explicitly clear. The different donation bank details were clearly set out. There is no confusion for donors about where their money is going.
By pledging a donation on this day, no matter how large or small, you can help support Julian’s defence fund, and/or contribute to WikiLeaks.
This fundraising idea was organised in February 2011. James Ball’s internship had expired by mid-January 2011 and he had no involvement in this initiative at all.
The JADF is administered and audited by Derek Rothera & Co. The terms of the trust and trustees can be found here.” — WikiLeaks
Ball lie number 5: That WikiLeaks didn’t support Pfc. Manning
“This is a now-classic anti-WikiLeaks argument created by James Ball, an attempt to allege that the blame for Manning’s arrest lies with WikiLeaks and not with Adrian Lamo, the FBI informant who turned Manning in after telling him that he would protect him.
Ball’s allegation that WikiLeaks does not adequately support its sources conflicts with the account that Manning presented before the military court regarding his alleged contacts with WikiLeaks. In a plea statement, February 28, 2013, Manning said this:
After a period of time, I developed what I felt was a friendly relationship with Nathaniel [Manning’s designation for his contact at WikiLeaks]. Our mutual interest in information technology and politics made our conversations enjoyable. We engaged in conversation often. Sometimes as long as an hour or more. I often looked forward to my conversations with Nathaniel after work.” — WikiLeaks
This ties in to the audacious claim in Ball’s latest article that WikiLeaks “botched” the rescue of Edward Snowden by “stranding him” in Sheremetyevo Airport.
This is so ironic, as James Ball worked for The Guardian, one of the newspapers who had direct access to Snowden and who financially benefited from his leaks.
Unfortunately, The Guardian’s staff abandoned Edward Snowden in Hong Kong. Had WikiLeaks not stepped in, the end result of Snowden’s actions would have been life imprisonment (under unimaginable conditions, such as those meted out to Pfc. Manning), or death.
Nevermind the small fact that the U.S. cancelled Snowden’s passport, preventing him from being able to travel beyond Moscow.
In June 2013, it was not clear at all that Snowden would even live. Very few people expected him to make it as far as July. Let alone to be granted temporary asylum (and subsequently, according to Snowden, permanent residency).
The lengths WikiLeaks went to to make this possible are unimaginable to any other media organisation. They put their own staff on the line to accompany him across borders, help to negotiate his asylum, and spend months on end with him to ensure his physical and mental wellbeing.
When was the last time The Guardian did that? When was the last time BuzzFeed did it?
This is a clear cut case of professional envy. Ball seeks to piss on the achievements of WikiLeaks in saving Snowden precisely because those actions were so significant and historic.
Ball goes on to reference the single instance of Snowden and WikiLeaks ever having a cross word in public. Ball claims “In recent weeks, Snowden has publicly clashed with Assange…”
God forbid Ball quote what Snowden has actually said about WikiLeaks, from their 10th anniversary celebration this month –
Ball’s claims become more and more ridiculous, the further you get into the article:
“While the extent of WikiLeaks’ role in the Arab Spring remains a matter for debate, Assange was at the forefront of an information revelation. His attempts to regain the spotlight in the meantime have largely failed.” — James Ball
WikiLeaks is garnering up to 40,000 – 50,000 retweets per tweet. They have the entire world’s media as a captive audience. They are the most talked about news organisation in the world. Their releases are poured over by millions of people on a daily basis. Assange is invited to appear on the most significant and wide-reaching of media platforms.
This is what Ball deems failure?
And success is, what? Writing about sheep fetuses for BuzzFeed?
WikiLeaks has achieved stratospheric levels of impact, attention, growth, political and historical impact.
But this two-bit ex-intern from six years ago needs you to believe otherwise.
A critical look at history reveals that World War II started in 1933, not 1939.
With the invocation of a state of war and the granting of war powers to the head of state, Nazi Germany was emboldened to begin their rampage of propaganda-fueled totalitarianism and ultimately invasion, mass murder and assimilation.
The official World War II commencement date of 1st September 1939 marks the day that England and France declared war and began openly militarily opposing Germany’s aggressive, expansionist agenda.
It is the date that officials were finally allowed to confirm to the public who were subsequently engaged (and drafted) to support it, that there was in fact a World War going on.
But with a slew of countries already having been breached by invading armies, World War II had begun well prior to the public acknowledgement of it.
Similarly, World War III will not be determined by the history books to have officially begun until a country or a coalition of countries formally stand to oppose and/or declare war against the now long campaign of invasion, subversion and international destabilisation perpetrated by the United States and their allies.
But nonetheless – even in the absence of such proclamations, World War III is well underway. That fact is only now filtering through to the awareness of the global public.
My analysis of the 1933 – 1939 period in Germany’s history has grave implications. The diplomatic and military conduct of Nazi Germany eerily mirrors that of the USA & co (hereafter colloquially described as The US Empire) in the period 2001 – 2016.
The events leading up to World War II and World War III are scarily similar.
Acclaimed author Naomi Klein has often written about the 10 steps to fascism and warned that they apply to America. She lists the decline into fascism as being indicated by (paraphrasing);
Otherisation (creating an enemy)
Paramilitary (outsourced military)
Immunised thuggery (Blackwater etc)
Domestic surveillance (NSA/facial recognition systems etc),
Arbitrary detention (TSA etc)
Subversion of media
Abuse of the definition and terms of espionage and treason, and
Legislative suspension of the rule of law.
This article will go beyond that, to look not just at the general trends and conditions but to compare the chronology of the specific acts of Nazi Germany with those of the modern day US Empire, in the context of World War II and the now well underway World War III.
The Naked Agenda
The most nefarious of acts are not the dastardly deeds waged covertly, in secret, but those executed publically in plain sight and then employed on a massive scale.
“Hitler never made a secret of his aims, he committed them to print and repeated them in countless speeches… he triumphed because the world was blind to the signals he constantly raised. Time and time again Hitler could have been stopped. By his fellow Germans first, and by foreign leaders later. Not until 1939 did the Allied leaders move to contain him and by then it was too late to block his road to war.” — from the documentary film ‘World War II – Germany – Road To War’
Time and time again over the last 15 years The Empire has declared that it is at war. They proclaimed that there would be multiple theatres of operation. That their “enemies” were numerous and would be hunted wherever they resided or roamed. Yet somehow we didn’t take it seriously enough.
Numbed to the overblown rhetoric of Western leaders, it never quite sunk in to the global public that America declaring a state of emergency, invoking war powers, dramatically expanding military capabilities and financing, employing legions of mercenaries, invading a string of foreign nations, upending elected governments, occupying foreign lands, incurring civilian casualties into the millions, creating massive refugee crises and incessantly lying about their motives for it, was in fact them instigating a Third World War.
The subversion of constitutions and democratic principles is a common thread among all tyrants, dictators and military regimes.
When a permanent state of emergency was declared in Germany and the “Enabling Act of 1933” passed, the stage was set for unending war.
While different in letter and inferior in scope to the far more complex USA Patriot Act of 2003, the ultimate aims were similar – to enhance the powers of the Nazi government to engage in internecine warfare, on whim.
Likewise, according to Wikipedia, in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the Bush Administration “asserted both a right and the intention to wage preemptive war, or preventive war. This became the basis for the Bush Doctrine.”
The Nazis soon used their powers to justify the execution and imprisonment of their own people and this is manifest in the recent conduct of The Empire also.
“intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
An initial draft of Senate Joint Resolution 23 included language granting the power “to deter and preempt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States… Members were concerned that this would provide “a blank check to go anywhere, anytime, against anyone the Bush administration or any subsequent administration deemed capable of carrying out an attack” and the language was removed. Constitutional law specialist professor Bruce Ackerman of Yale Law School has said that the Obama Administration’s use of the AUMF has so far overstepped the authorized powers of the final, enacted version of the bill as to more closely resemble the capabilities named in this draft text rejected by Congress.”
This is definitive proof that laws passed to expand the powers of the executive are carried over to subsequent administrations then employed as justifications and expanded upon, to devastating effect.
Wikipedia states that critics of the Bush Doctrine “were suspicious of the increasing willingness of the United States to use military force unilaterally. Robert W. Tucker and David C. Hendrickson argued that it reflects a turn away from international law, and marks the end of American legitimacy in foreign affairs.”
Both Nazi Germany and The US Empire share the trait of justifying their non-compliance with international law and treaties by manufactured legal caveat, to enable the abdication of their democratic responsibilities.
Germany claimed that international treaties were not adhered to by their political adversaries and therefore it need not uphold or be bound by them. The same argument has been made by Western powers about everything from the Kyoto Protocol, to torture.
Another similarity is a self-righteous contempt for established covenants governing the military conduct of nations.
Peace is an endlessly abused idealistic concept that quite obviously cannot ever be achieved by bombs, military expansion and more recently, drone warfare, yet we hear the term invoked over and over again in the speeches of the warmongers.
Incessant talk of peace in the context of waging preemptive war is a constant with both Nazi Germany and the modern day US Empire.
“Yearning for peace was greater in no other country of the world, was no more vibrant, than in the German volk” Hitler audaciously claimed, in one of countless such addresses.
‘The Road To War’ notes that Hitler “was always proclaiming his love of peace.”
Stated intentions to pursue peace while preparing for war were viscerally demonstrated at the Olympics of 1936 where Nazi Germany practised the Olympic tradition instituted in 1920 post-World War I by releasing 30,000 thousand white doves, in the immediate wake of their illegal occupation of the Rhineland.
In 2009, President Obama famously droned on for over 30 minutes about peace in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. This despite his administration having dramatically advanced the prevalence and use of obscene and high-tech methods of achieving extrajudicial killings, an extension of that which was employed in George W. Bush’s hegemonic and interventionist foreign policy.
Conquest In Stages
Every Empire has a Grand Poobah with a master plan, supported by a vast bureaucracy with fistfuls of them.
The obsession with strategic planning reassures them of their longevity. Yet their thirst for victory and conquest is never sated. It is an addiction. Once the cogs of war are greased and in motion they become trapped in a cycle of their own inertia.
Inevitably the velocity they generate speeds them towards their undoing.
Nazi Germany’s trail of subjugation forged across Central Europe. Back to back unopposed and largely bloodless successes bolstered its aspirations to impose dominion over the greater Western European continent. The further that aim progressed, the more murderous the campaign.
Ultimately this brought them to the doorstep of the seat of power in the USSR as well as into the North Atlantic maritime channel, to the British Isles.
‘Risk’ is a great analogy for how war planners see war. To them it is not the stark reality of their lawlessness; the blood and bone, murder and rape, mass displacement; it is a map, upon which is determined the geographical control, monopolisation, distribution and ownership of resources.
According to General Wesley Clark, back in 2001 the U.S. Department of Defense also had a plan and it went far beyond the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
“He said we’re…starting with Iraq then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off Iran.” — General Wesley Clark
The plan is not about democracy, or security, or fighting terrorism. The plan is about control. Just like Nazi Germany and many other Empires before them; they want to rule the world.
Each conquest is a launchpad for the next.
The invasion of Iraq allowed the United States to establish bases and to prepare itself for conflict in Syria. The invasion of Poland allowed Nazi Germany to establish bases and fortifications to prepare itself for the ground invasion of the USSR.
Nowadays, Ukraine is the new Poland.
The disbandment of the invaded nation’s military is another theme. Just as the Iraqi army was famously and disastrously dismantled post-invasion, Nazi Germany disbanded the Czech army, and others.
Stress factors for ethnic and religious tensions are deliberately exacerbated, as target countries are purposefully divided along sectarian lines by their invaders. The preconditions for civil war are maximised to provide further justification for an ongoing occupation, to create “bad guys” and “fall guys” and to prevent any cohesive opposition from forming or taking hold.
This invariably leads to sectarian warfare.
The tactic is simple: divide and conquer. Both Nazi Germany and The US Empire demonstrated the effectiveness of that strategy over and over again.
"Message from the mighty palace
Settled on the dirty streets
Got you fighting with your neighbour
Not the real enemy..."
- 'Wasted In The West' from FVEY by Shihad
Inaction By International Community
Inaction can be more dangerous than action.
In World War II the Allied powers failed to act again and again. They did not act against Hitler when he positioned his troops in the Rhineland, nor when he later occupied Austria.
“In 1936, Hitler moved his troops into the [demilitarized] zone, claiming that the recent treaty between France and Russia threatened Germany’s safety. His commanders had orders to retreat if the French army tried to stop them, but this time it was France who did nothing. The League of Nations, busy with the Abyssinian crisis, also did nothing.” http://www.johndclare.net/EII1.htm
The following table from JohnDClare.net explains the ‘Appeasement’ policy exercised during 1933-1939:
The modern military campaigns of The Empire have until recent times also been largely unopposed.
Modeled off the above, here is my own table of recent events:
Notably, none of the countries in which they have intervened has achieved a peaceful outcome. Active conflict remains in all of the above, up to the time of this writing.
There is a glaringly obvious line missing from my table and that is the bottom line of the World War II table: the open declaration of war by a nation or nations willing to declare war in direct opposition to the activities of The Empire.
Propaganda and Pretexts
The inception of war is always based on propaganda. This is true for each aggressive action undertaken in both World War II and World War III.
Nazi propaganda is a thoroughly explored topic. There are literally dozens if not hundreds of full-length documentaries on the topic. From anti-semitic, anti-Jew propaganda, to pro-state, pro-fascism propaganda, to anti-whatever-the-next-country-to-be-invaded-is propaganda, were one gullible enough to be influenced by it, they could soon become convinced that each German conquest was actually all for the benefit of the nation whose borders they violated and whose populations they decimated.
Nazi Germany’s tales of Germanic peoples supposedly being repressed in neighbouring nations were used to justify its incursions into multiple European countries. These myths came replete with tailor-made news reports containing images of crying women holding babies and whole families supposedly fleeing their homes.
The US Empire uses manufactured intelligence, criticism of the conduct of other foreign governments and the constantly recycled memory of 9/11 to claim that they are the ones under attack, rather than the countries they destabilise and the regimes they politically and militarily oppose.
Another recurring theme for the US is its cyclical doomsday warnings about the mortal dangers of weapons of mass destruction. Chemical weapons in Iraq are “unacceptable”, chemical weapons in Syria are “the red line”… but there is little mention or concern for where and how these technologies were supplied to or obtained by the countries possessing them.
“The Reagan administration even allowed Saddam to purchase the ingredients for weapons of mass destruction in the US. ‘The blueprints for chemical factories were supplied by sub-contractors of American companies to help the Iraqis build their own chemical weapons… the law stops you supplying the chemical weapons but you can get away with it by supplying the actual plans.’ This is cynicism of the highest order.” — Saddam Hussein – The Truth (Documentary)
Apparently only some uses of chemical weapons are offensive to the international commu nity. Others are not. According to the then Chairman of the Chemical Weapons Commission, when Iraq used chemical weapons against the Kurds “not one in this whole, at that time, thirty-five state’s Conference on Disarmament… no one lifted a finger.”
I have investigated the stated justifications of Nazi Germany and of The US Empire, for each of their military incursions and created the following tables:
Of course, for the propaganda of the state to thrive, there must be a wholesale subjugation of the press. This can be achieved economically, through mergers and acquisitions of the corporations that own them; it can be accomplished through smear campaigns and career disadvantages for those who refuse to tow the line.
If none of that works, then there is the outright criminalisation of the truth and the persecution of those who tell it.
Hitler deemed “The Munich Post”, a publication run by some of his most vociferous critics, Social Democrats in Munich, “The Poison Kitchen“.
The Poison Kitchen’s suspicion and criticisms of Hitler date back to 1921. This half dozen journalists and editors spent a dozen years publishing truths that the world didn’t take seriously enough.
Ignoring the warnings of Hitler’s critics ultimately cost an estimated 60 million human lives.
“In Nazi circles, the Munich Post became known as the “Poison Kitchen.” Prior to the Nazi takeover in 1933, “the Hitler Party” tried to silence the Post with libel suits and death threats against its staff. Nevertheless, the newspaper’s anti-Nazi resistance continued. Well into February 1933, the Post continued to publish reports about political murders carried out by the Nazis. Among its final anti-Hitler accounts was a three-part series that valiantly tried to counter what the Post had long regarded as Hitler’s most destructive characteristic: his willful falsification of history. The Post foresaw Hitler’s aims as disastrous for Germany and the world. Its views, however, did not prevail. Before the 1932-33 winter had ended, the Post’s anti-Hitler reporting was smashed, its courageous journalists imprisoned or killed.”
“Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party rigorously censored the news and media immediately after Hitler gained power in Germany in 1933 and throughout World War II. This extensive censorship made it impossible for any newspaper to stop or even obstruct Hitler in his political journey to exterminate non-Aryans during this powerful reign.”
“The Post was relentless in its reporting of the “secret death squad” within the NSDAP, called “Cell G”. They had been caught “red-handed” trying to assassinate members of the Nazi party that had been exposed and held responsible for insider leaks, specifically about the sexual blackmail scandal. The last of a series of articles on this squad quoted Hitler saying, “Nothing happens in the movement without my knowledge, without my approval . . . Even more, nothing happens without my wish.” This quote directly linked Hitler to the murders and covert violence of the NSDAP. The Munich Post was the first newspaper to openly make this claim.”
Twogood references‘Bernhard, Georg. “Tactics of Hitler.” New York Times, 13 December 1931, Sect III 1:8’ to show that the New York Times downplayed the significance and the risk of the Nazi’s cimes by publishing a flawed hypothesis that Hitler would just burn out or fade away of his own accord.
“…the New York Times incorrectly predicted, “just as soon as this fostering soil becomes exhausted the National Socialists spook will vanish. What will probably remain then will be a small, discontented bourgeois party.” This prediction was typical of other newspapers as well – it stated that Hitler would disappear and make no further impression. The Munich Post knew he would not just disappear. It warned that Hitler’s actions and ideas were dangerous and took them seriously, even when no one else did.”
As Hitler took power and death squads openly operated in broad daylight, the feverish warnings of The Poison Kitchen became even more desperate.
One author quoted in the text describes the Munich Post as ‘Cassandra-like‘, in reference to the Trojan prophetess who forewarns of the fall of Troy but is ignored.
As their own demise became ever more inevitable, a fact of which they must have been well aware, still they tried to diligently report on the travesties, in no uncertain terms:
“Followed were reports of the “political murder summary: eighteen dead and thirty-four badly wounded in death squad attacks.” In February they continued to run such headlines and reports as “Nazi Party Hands Dripping with Blood” and “Germany Today: No Day without Death.”
The Post continued to fight on futilely against the onrushing strength of Hitler’s party until March 9, 1933, when the Nazis banned the last opposition papers still publishing… The Munich Post offices were turned over to an SA squad to pillage. They gutted it completely… The writers and editors were dragged away to imprisonment in concentration camps. That was the end of the Munich Post. Its battle against Hitler and the Nazis had been lost.”
After 12 years of valiantly trying to warn the world about Hitler, these truth-tellers were silenced.
For another 12 years thereafter, Hitler’s regime would rampage across Europe, devastating country after country and causing the deaths of tens of milions of people.
It is important that we name the names of the courageous. Twogood concludes:
“Protesters to Hitler fought with their hearts and jeopardized their freedom and lives hoping the world would listen. These men included Martin Gruber, Erhard Auer, Edmund Goldschagg, Julius Zerfass and others, reporters and editors of the Munich Post. They faced imprisonment and death, trying unsuccessfully to warn the world…”
With the passage of time, their truth rings ever stronger..
Even in this modern day, real journalists are often martyred for living up to the ideals of the profession. True journalism is a public service and a service to the historical record. To tell the unpopular truth about nefarious power, no matter the risk.
While the perilous days of The Poison Kitchen may seem long behind us, the preconditions for such a reoccurence surround us. Journalists around the world are being spied on and (in many cases, illegally) monitored by their governments using high-tech equipment and corresponding laws that were designed for combatting terrorism.
The death of American journalist Serena Shim and the lack of investigation into her passing; the jailing of citizen journalists who eye-witness police killings of unarmed citizens; the siege of WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange; the litigation that brought Gawker media to its knees; the arrest and detention of Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman and the felony charges against a documentary producer at #NoDAPL, are all dire warnings that we might not be so far away from an escalation to internment camps, arbitrary detention and open military conflict as we might like to think.
At any given time, The US Empire has an ace in their pocket: for as they are well aware, bringing the press to heel can also be achieved, most potently, by harnessing galvanising events such as perceived attacks upon the country.
As with the Reichstag Fire in 1933, or the Gulf of Tonkin naval incident at the start of the Vietnam War, the culpability for the incidents can often lie a lot closer to home than the establishment ever lets on.
The brilliant journalist Glenn Greenwald is known for his sardonic, adversarial style when exercising righteous and biting criticism of the hegemony of The US Empire.
Never more deservedly so than this last week, when reporting on an incident that very easily could have been escalated into something vastly more sinister than it initially appeared.
Greenwald’s indignant tweet is dripping with sarcasm and understandably so, given the incredible imbalances of the protracted and very one-sided conflict in Yemen.
Plagued by US drone strikes for years, the country has basically become a weapons testing lab for Western powers and particularly the airforce of Saudi Arabia, who have accordingly copped most of the criticism for their constant and unforgiving aerial bombardment of Yemen. Yet, they are dropping US munitions upon a besieged and starving population and both US and UK military advisors are reported to be present alongside them.
The story coming out of mainstream sources, however, was stripped down, bland and lacking contextual information;
To hear CNN tell it, the poor, beleaguered (giant, cutting-edge) Western warship (in another country’s territorial waters) was unjustly attacked by (emaciated, underequipped) heathen natives (who just so happen to have been being picked off by flying killer robots for the last dozen years). And thus we see how in modern times, the truth often lays only in mental parentheses added by the astute reader. For everyone else, it’s – Yemen who? Where *is* the Red Sea?
In the wake of the hysteria, a different story emerged:
In this instance, the nemesis merely being the impoverished Yemen, the implications of such a misunderstanding was not on the scale of previous similar incidents.
Such as the most significant of all: the Gulf of Tonkin ‘false flag’, used to pass the Tonkin Gulf Resolution that ultimately sparked the Vietnam War:
“The commodore at the time, Herrick, did say that there was one torpedo, but one had to take that with a good deal of salt, because he had been just as certain about the next 20 torpedoes, and it really took him many years before, looking at the evidence, he finally acknowledged that he had been mistaken about the first one as well. But even on that night, we knew that what the president proceeded to say and what McNamara proceeded to say to the press in television interviews, that the attack was unequivocal, we knew that that was false, as many years later it turned out that the assertions by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld that they had unequivocal evidence of WMDs, weapons of mass destruction, in Iraq were false and known to be false at the time…” — Daniel Ellsberg, interviewed by historian Gareth Porter.
According to the same article:
“Years later, then secretary of defense Robert McNamara admitted to the incident never taking place in this documentary Fog of War…”
McNamara’s retrospective take, as quoted from the documentary referenced above:
ROBERT MCNAMARA, FMR. U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: “No, it was just confusion, and events afterwards showed that our judgment that we had been attacked that day was wrong. It didn’t happen.”
The story of an attack that wasn’t an attack, crushed and traumatised an entire generation.
American citizens were drafted to the war and compelled to fight. Over 58,000 were killed.
“In December 2012, Jeh Johnson, the General Counsel of the Department of Defense, stated that the military fight will be replaced by a law enforcement operation when speaking at Oxford University.”
Throughout history the United States has used counterintelligence tactics to wage war against its own citizens when they congregate en masse to exercise their democratic rights. But particularly since 2011, there has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of military-grade equipment flowing to police forces and brutal, physical oppression meted out against demonstrators and occupiers.
While it was assumed to be a profit-driven consequence of the privatisation of key aspects of the military, or just harsh policing tactics, there is now evidence that stormtrooper-like riot police serving as a domestic army is in fact in alignment with the strategic plans of the Department of Defense.
In the accompanying article, reporter Nick Turse notes the ‘dystopian’ nature of the vision portrayed and how it relates to current counter-terrorism efforts. But a closer look at the combination of audio and imagery betrays an even more sinister agenda.
At 2:09 in the video, riot police are seen grabbing a woman by the hair. Graffiti on a wall in the background reads “Fight the Power”. Juxtaposed over this, the voiceover warns: “Social structures will be equally challenged if not dysfunctional…”
Lines of riot police square off against protesters holding green, white and red flags, reminiscent of the Palestinian flag. A store behind them is labelled “Pharmacie.” The voiceover continues “…as historic ways of life clash with modern living.”
Hacktivists who hack for social justice issues are equated with violent criminals and insurgents. At 2:35 a screenshot of an Anonymous video is shown as the voiceover says: “Digital security and trade will be increasingly threatened by sophisticated illicit economies and decentralised syndicates of crime..” leading to a photo of a masked black man in a tropical climate holding a huge shotgun and wearing a sling of bullets.
At 3:35, hundreds of riot cops are seen behind a barrier, while the audio says “the advice of doctrine from Sun Tzu to current field manuals has provided two fundamental options: avoid the cities or establish a cordon to either wait out the adversary or drain the swamp of non-combatants and engage the remaining adversaries in high intensity conflict within. Even our counterinsurgency doctrine, honed in the cities of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, is inadequate to address the sheer scale of population in the future urban reality.”
So military counterinsurgency doctrine, designed for warzones, is lightweight by comparison to what the Army intends to unleash on urban cities. Reassuring.
But wait, there’s more.
At 4:19 we see riot police with shields, helmets, body armour and billy clubs fighting a crowd. The Oz-like voice says “Our soldiers will have to operate within these ecosystems with minimal disruption and flow.”
Riot police. Our soldiers. Let that sink in.
This video was produced by the U.S. Army. If riot police in urban areas are their soldiers this can lead to only one conclusion.
America is already making open warfare in their homeland, standard practice.
The U.S. Constitution forbids the use of military on U.S. soil. It appears those pulling the strings of The US Empire have figured out how to get around that: Use civilian police forces as “soldiers”.
They are so kind as to reiterate the point: at 4:30 the video nears its climax by showing masses of helmeted riot police. The voiceover states “We are facing a threat that requires us to redefine doctrine and the force in radically new and different ways..” Shot of hundreds more black-clad riot cops. “The future army will confront a highly sophisticated urban-centric threat…”
“Our soldiers.” “The future army.” “Redefining doctrine and the force.”
By unleashing hordes of domestic police forces armed to the teeth with military-grade weapons and equipment upon unarmed civilians on domestic soil, the U.S. Army isn’t just “redefining doctrine and the force in radically new and different ways” – it is redefining Constitutional Law, without the consent of the governed.
The US Empire is not the first to have armies of black-clad police forces attacking it’s own citizens.
Nazi Germany also had them. They too operated in tandem with military objectives and made a hunting ground of their own cities.
They were called the S.S.
Overextension – The Demise Of Empire
Neither Nazi Germany or The US Empire possess an achievable long-term objective. The stated end goal is always literally impossible to obtain, yet the wars wage on nonetheless.
Empirical governors always seek to expand, expand, expand. Or in terms of the acquisition and exfiltration of resources; to usurp and consume.
Each military misadventure overplays itself into the next endeavour.
Until the breadth of the empire becomes completely unsustainable and ultimately collapses.
“The defeat of Poland gave Hitler his common frontier with Russia. He had made war. But it was not the war he wanted. His misjudgement of the temper of Britain and France had wrecked his plan. Before the great march of conquest in the east could begin, he must eliminate both France and Britain. Either that, or plunge Germany into a prolonged two-front war.” — World War II – Germany – Road To War
For America, the Pivot to Asia is the second front. The idea that The U.S. Empire could fight on both their East (against Iran and/or Russia) as well as their West (against China) and still win, is a huge stretch of the imagination.
The much-touted 40+ member Coalition of the Wiling was more fanfare than substance and use of the term has largely faded from public discourse. But even at its heights, in the wake of 9/11, the total amount of troops and resources contributed by the coalition was a tiny fraction of that required to sustain the entire war effort.
According to Wikipedia only 3 countries provided combat troops for the initial invasion, another 3 countries did not even have standing armies, and Costa Rica and the Solomon Islands declined to participate as they were apparently not even consulted about their inclusion in the list.
It may also have been a zero sum game if not a net loss. Pundits labelled The Coalition of the Willing ‘The Coalition of The Billing‘ and ‘The Coalition of The Shilling‘ due to the large amounts of US aid being offered to some countries in order to secure participation.
While the United States currently enjoys military supremacy and thus alliance with many military partners and vassal states, that situation would change pretty quickly were The Empire to become weakened or exposed by fighting on both sides.
There is a long list of countries that The Empire has either overtly or covertly invaded or politically and economically subjugated, many with manufactured or installed pro-US puppet regimes that could easily be toppled by populaces which have not yet forgotten the crimes of the past, were the fortunes of The Empire to undergo substantial change.
Such an eventuality could make the Arab Spring look like a practice run.
No sane person wants war. War is insanity by definition. Least of all a country that lost as many as 30 million of its people during World War II – more than every other country put together.
“There is a Soviet-era song titled ‘Do The Russians Want War?’ I think this is something the West does not understand about us… even for modern day Russians, who grew up at a peaceful time and didn’t witness World War II… there is no prospect more terrifying than war… my grandma used to tell me, ‘Remember, there is nothing more horrible than war.’ Every time I’d come to complain about something she’d tell me ‘That’s nothing. You can do anything. You can fix even the most disastrous of your mistakes but remember, there’s nothing worse in this world than war.’ Because war renders everything else irrelevant. When there is war, there’s neither good nor bad. There’s only war…
…the mere mention of war to a Russian makes our skin crawl. It gives us a sense of the world coming to an end, a sense of panic… once they realise that, if they ever do, they’ll be able to understand everything about us. We have lived through real war so many times. Not the movies or video games, the way they get to experience it. It’s not even the kind of war where they dispatch their troops elsewhere, not knowing what it’s like to fight a war at home. If they ever realise that, which I hope they will, they’re bound to feel guilty and ashamed of what they’re doing right now.” — Maria Zarakhova, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson speaking on RT.com’s ‘In The Now’
The most spectacular holiday of the Russian year is May 9th. The day that Germany conceded defeat and World War II was finally over. Even now, more than 70 years later, the end of that war is cause for celebration in Moscow. Not merely commemoration, but actual jubilance. Gratitude for peace.
Having never been a target of a large-scale ground invasion on their home soil in the 20th century, The US Empire is out of touch with the impact that the kind of devastation seen at Stalingrad has on a civilian population. The scars, the memories and the heritage, or how those scars are passed down through the generations both biologically in the physical composition of the offspring of those whom were literally starved by the war, and by word of mouth: Lest We Forget.
With each country invaded by US Empire, there has been increasing resistance, just as there was against Nazi Germany. If World War III progresses to armed conflict on Russian territory, that resistance will be raised to new heights unimaginable to the invaders.
In World War II, at Stalingrad every man, woman and child fought or aided in the fight. It was not merely an issue of a draft – or one military marching upon another. Every single resident fought tooth and nail against the invaders, for the future of their homeland.
“Many women fought on the Soviet side, or were under fire. As General Chuikov acknowledged, “Remembering the defence of Stalingrad, I can’t overlook the very important question … about the role of women in war, in the rear, but also at the front. Equally with men they bore all the burdens of combat life and together with us men, they went all the way to Berlin.” At the beginning of the battle there were 75,000 women and girls from the Stalingrad area who had finished military or medical training, and all of whom were to serve in the battle. Women staffed a great many of the anti-aircraft batteries that fought not only the Luftwaffe but German tanks. Soviet nurses not only treated wounded personnel under fire but were involved in the highly dangerous work of bringing wounded soldiers back to the hospitals under enemy fire. Many of the Soviet wireless and telephone operators were women who often suffered heavy casualties when their command posts came under fire. Though women were not usually trained as infantry, many Soviet women fought as machine gunners, mortar operators, and scouts. Women were also snipers at Stalingrad. Three air regiments at Stalingrad were entirely female. At least three women won the title Hero of the Soviet Union while driving tanks at Stalingrad.”
That kind of experience remains with the population long after the war is over. They simply do not forget. The need for peace, for sanity, is urgent and enduring.
Even the citizens of the West who haven’t personally experienced war on their home soil within many generations, want peace. Some 36,000,000 people around the world marched against the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Unfortunately, mass demonstrations, while very much in the spirit of democracy, seem consistently all but ignored by the political hierarchy of The US Empire. While they may give the causes of activists lip service in campaign speeches, seldom does any action follow other than blatant tactics of oppression and suppression reminiscent of many of the other countries who they then hypocritcally decry for a supposed lack of respect for human rights.
The escalation of the War seems inevitable, because it is so closely following the blueprint of the past.
The biggest indicator of impending conflict is the imposition of economic sanctions.
Since the dawn of time, trade sanctions precede war.
“As a blunt tool of diplomacy, the concept of sanctions has been around at least from the time of the ancient Greeks, when Athens imposed a trade embargo on its neighbor Megara in 432 B.C. Since then, there has been a long history of countries blockading their enemies to compel a change in behavior. But how did this tactic morph into today’s “targeted” or “smart” sanctions — measures such as arms embargoes, asset freezes, and travel bans on key individuals and organizations — now aimed at Iran and Syria? They may be more humane and high-tech than a flotilla at sea, but are sanctions any more effective today than they were 2,400 years ago? After all, Athens’s embargo didn’t cow Megara into submission — it helped trigger the Peloponnesian War.”
“Sanctions and war are linked to each other. If you go against sanctions, you should know – nothing against sanctions – but if you do that, you should know that there is only war left.”
Of course, some may argue that sanctions are active warfare. Certainly the method of murder – economic or military – made no difference to the half a million Iraqi children who died as a direct result of sanctions in the 90s.
Sanctions imposed by vampires, held in place even after the premises under which they were imposed had been proven to be false.
From the same documentary:
“In 1990 the U.N. voted for a strict economic blockade. Officially the embargo would remain in place until Saddam’s arsenal had been entirely destroyed. U.N. inspectors forced the Iraqis to cooperate and soon became convinced that Iraq no longer posed a real threat. And yet the sanctions were maintained…
…”There’s something comfortable about having him in the box of sanctions and a regime of international inspection… that we had come to accept”…
…”We knew we were in a losing battle, that sanctions were going to erode to the point where eventually they become a joke… if you lift sanctions you break containment, if you break containment you no longer have Saddam Hussein under control.”
There is the statesman and the war hawk. The former acts to prevent war, the latter acts as a cheerleader for the military industrial complex, egging them on to their next conquest and has no qualms about getting their hands dirty.
They recount the history of the six prior Secretaries to do so:
So, Hillary would have been the seventh ex Secretary of State to become President, and the first to do so since 1845.
The last, as stated above, was James Buchanan. The reason the Christian Science Monitor describes him as the “worst US chief executive of all time” is because he was a one-term President who presided over the secession of states that led to the American Civil War.
The election of Donald Trump to President of the United States has been, to say the least, highly contentious. But given the hawkish international policies promoted by Clinton, it may have saved the world much blood and pain.
Now only one day after the election, no one really knows what is coming. There is almost universal dread among U.S. activists, due to Trump’s divisive domestic agenda. But among many others, there is genuine hope for a rebalancing of international power, away from the perennial misadventures of Empire – a profound change on the world stage. Only time will tell if President Trump will run the military industrial complex, or if the military industrial complex will run President Trump.
So what builds bridges to peace? Failed Presidential bid aside, Clinton’s post-‘Stronger Together‘ slogan was ‘Love trumps hate‘.
The foundations of love are understanding and empathy.
Geopolitically, this requires an acknowledgement and respect for cultures foreign to our own.
Such respect for culture is not unprecedented in contemporary American history. It has been achieved most poignantly, through the arts. One example is Van Cliburn, a young American man who travelled to Moscow, where he earned the admiration of the Russian populace with a series of spectacular performances that won him an inaugural international Tchaikovsky competition for concert pianists.
The feat was considered so significant that he returned to a ticker-tape parade in New York and his subsequent studio recordings outsold even Elvis Presley.
In an interview with PBS, Cliburn distanced himself from a 1958 Time Magazine cover that had audaciously claimed that he’d ‘conquered the Russians‘. Cliburn states:
“I am so grateful because they were wonderful to me. They were such great audiences… I didn’t conquer anything. As a matter of fact, they conquered my heart.”
That kind of humility, coupled with a common humanity is how we, the citizenry, can build bridges between our nations. To boast of conquest is hollow and temporary. Even the strongest bodybuilder cannot flex impressively forever – age will eventually defy them. But to forge a friendship, an alliance based on mutual respect, is to truly win.
In 2004 Cliburn was awarded the Russian ‘Order of Friendship‘. The medal celebrates foreign nationals whose efforts strengthen international relations.
Any person can wage destruction with ease, even a toddler can. But to build something lasting, profound and historic, that spans beyond one’s personal lifetime… such as cultural understanding and friendship… or to inspire unity… that is truly remarkable.
The Nobel Peace Prize was originally intended for recipients who had “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
Unfortunately it has become little more than a status symbol for those who wield great power and often with limited (if not overtly detrimental) outcomes.
Better results come from a more pure motivation – love and genuine well-wishing – a heartfelt yearning to find common ground, not merely though diplomacy but through cultural exchange, tolerance and celebration.
Thus it is not only the leaders of our countries that must rise to find solutions and reach an outstretched hand, but the very citizens themselves.
When they do, let us promote such efforts by acknowledging, encouraging and rewarding them.
The genesis of this groundbreaking series was a moral obligation to highlight obvious discrepancies in the coordinated smears against Jacob Appelbaum (IOError). That smear campaign’s self-pronounced and ostensibly achieved aim was to permanently shut down his (anti-surveillance, anti-three-letter-agency) public speaking by casting him out from the very communities he has dedicated his life to supporting.
Implemented, that aim had very little to do with protecting actual rape victims but everything to do with manipulating (by asserting social control over) the speaking circuit which is the visible face of the privacy and infosec movements, as well as dominating the critical infrastructure and the corporate structure (at board level) of the Tor Project:
Series In Review
“The Weaponising of Social” series kicked off with the first long-form article with the guts to seriously analyse the allegations against Jacob Appelbaum. This hit a lot of nerves and got a lot of exposure, with word-of-mouth more than making up for the total lack of commercial platfom, promotion or marketing of the work.
While intended to be a 3-part series, it really turned out to be 4 parts:
Performing a rudimentary linguistic analysis of the statements of the alleged victims (which range between 81 and 703 words each), the article notes that “people who are not survivors of rape cannot competently impersonate survivors of rape” and explains precisely why that is:
the inordinate brevity and apparently manufactured linguistic conformity of the JacobAppelbaum.net claims;
the profound and highly unusual absence of victim impact in those statements; and
the obvious presence of editing by third parties, giving the effect of multiple ‘voices’ within a single piece, when the norm is to respectfully allow the words of survivors to stand on their own merit without editorial manipulation.
The smear website’s initial exposure, then non-transparent retraction, of the name of a woman unrelated to the claims, is highlighted.
The article mentioned Meredith L. Patterson, the founder of a think-tank called “Weaponising Social“. One of three self-appointed “eye-witnesses” that famously went to media with a story about an incident that was promptly debunked by the alleged “victim“ herself.
The piece raised a plethora of concerns surrounding the site copy and the plagierism allegations, and pledged that a deeper look into the responses and conduct of the Tor Project and media, as well as the WikiLeaks connection, would follow.
Part Two dives headfirst into what it really means to be a Person of Interest – which there is no doubt Jacob Appelbaum is, especially given the context of the FBI and DoJ (amongst other agencies) investigations into WikiLeaks.
It discusses Appelbaum’s 30c3 revelations of spyware emitting up to a kilowatt of hardware radiation (which we dubbed #spycancer on Twitter at the time) – literally microwaving targets – and tells of my own experiences of being directly stalked and persecuted by state intelligence contractors when trying to amplify Jacob’s findings.
The near uniform anti-WikiLeaks positions of Jacob’s public critics are exposed, in their own words – including those of Leigh Honeywell, Valerie Aurora, Meredith L. Patterson, Andrea Shephard and Alison Macrina, just to name a few.
The article proved that Isis Lovecruft had (presumably unsuccessfully) attempted to gain access to the back-end of WikiLeaks’ secure whistleblowing platform, a year prior to her allegation against Jacob, and according to her own timeline, one year after he allegedly assaulted her.
While the smear website was designed by supposed privacy activists dedicated to anonymity, the article identified numerous security compromises inherent in its design.
Finally, it cautions that the desecration of Jacob Appelbaum is being actively used to hurt others associated with him including but not limited to Edward Snowden, and demonstrates that known FBI informants like Adrian Lamo (responsible for the arrest of beloved whistleblower Chelsea Manning) and Hector ‘Sabu’ Monsegur (whose betrayals led to the arrest of Jeremy Hammond among other whistleblowers) have been cheerleading the ostracision of Appelbaum from the outset.
This much shorter piece was initially intended to cover just a single issue – that Jacob Appelbaum’s Wikipedia page was being constantly monitored and manipulated by an editor, Kenneth Freeman, who openly espoused Tor and EFF affiliations and touted a personal friendship with one of the accusers – Alison Macrina.
However, the rabbit hole got even deeper. It emerged that some of the vociferous anti-Appelbaum troll accounts which had been, on a daily basis, lambasting anyone who questioned the narrative of the smears are allegedly operated by some of the accusers themselves.
In the interim, their associates were leaking information to, of all people, the very journalists at The Daily Dot who had worked to redeem the reputation of FBI informant Hector ‘Sabu’ Monsegur (but abysmally failed – he remains almost universally reviled to this day).
Meanwhile, it was revealed that Jacob Appelbaum had been incensed by the discovery of CIA infiltration at the Tor Project.
The same CIA proven to have a track record of editing Wikipedia pages.
4. The Weaponising of Social Part 3: The Resurrection of Jacob Appelbaum
This monolithic undertaking will dive deeper into some of the above issues and cover those aspects yet to be discussed – namely:
The attitudes of those involved in the smears, in their own words, and further details of the extent of their involvement
The professional conduct of the Tor Project management and the web of associated relationships
The role of mainstream media, particularly the New York Times
The wider political environment and effects on the movements
The Worm Turns? Die Zeit Investigate
In a long-awaited move, Jacob Appelbaum has spoken with the German weekly magazine Die Zeit, who performed an in-depth investigation into the allegations against him.
The results – a depiction of that particular corner of the Berlin hacker scene as being drug-fuelled and sexually promiscuous – aren’t particularly flattering to anyone, but the findings with regards to the lack of veracity of the key allegations are utterly damning.
Speaking to eight eye-witnesses who spent the days in question with River and who vehemently deny that any sexual assault took place, many further details emerge, including some hard evidence that things may not be as she initially depicted. Particularly pertinent is that River had sent Jacob affectionate email communication after the fact, and spoke publically of wanting to return to Germany for more ‘fun’.
Furthermore, it is revealed that Alison Macrina – author of the 369-word “non-consensual washing” complaint posted under the pseudonym ‘Sam’ – is alleged to have had consensual sex with Jacob after his bath, a material factor that she did not reveal in her complaint against him, or apparently since.
When questioned about this by Zeit, she became incensed, and suggested that she did not consider her alleged omission of the consensual sex to be relevant.
The encounter between Jacob and Alison is said to have occurred in the days following what is alleged to be a consensual threesome with River that occured privately in a bedroom, rather than non-consensual sex in the lounge as had been claimed. This raises the possibility that the complainants becoming aware of the close timing of each other’s sexual encounters with Jacob may have retrospectively impacted the way they viewed, portrayed and related their interactions with him.
Taking Down An NSA Target
Regardless of the women’s motives, the net effect of their action has been the utter desecration of Jacob Appelbaum’s public image.
Appelbaum’s Tor Directory Authority had been specifically listed as an XKeyscore target in leaked NSA documents.
Jacob’s work with the documents furthered his interest and involvement in trying to curb the excesses of intelligence agencies engaging in surveillance.
There is a long, long list of reasons why the National Security State and its international counterparts are extremely pissed at him.
In the below video of an event at which he appeared with WikiLeaks’ Investigations Editor, Sarah Harrison (who is also the Acting Executive Director of the Courage Foundation) Jacob openly calls for direct action to be taken against US military bases, specifically the drone operation relay center at Rammstein, suggesting that activists should target its water supply:
Fastforward to this week and Alison Macrina tweeted:
According to Zeit and others before them, after Jacob Appelbaum’s expulsion from Tor their website listed Alison Macrina in his former position:
When I had questioned Macrina about this, she replied to me via Twitter that it was not true and stated that she does not work for the Tor Project. She then promptly blocked me before I could retweet her denial or screenshot it. Her tweet then disappeared from Twitter.
Why she stated that she does not work for Tor and may have deleted the tweet, is unclear. She is published on the Tor website, directly amplified through the official @TorProject Twitter account and additionally was named by Roger Dingledine in internal communications as someone that Tor staff should speak to with regards to the accusations against Jacob Appelbaum.
The association is beyond denial. So why would she attempt to distance herself from Tor? The only distinction that can logically be drawn is that as the founder of the Library Freedom Project, she may be in fact a Tor contractor/supplier of services rather than a salaried employee. Which, for someone so visible within the organisation, is splitting hairs.
Desecrating The Heroes Who Shared Their Platforms
Alison Macrina’s rise in exposure got a giant boost via the Library Freedom Project being amplified by Edward Snowden on Twitter in October 2015. On February 8th, 2016 she officially introduced herself to the Tor community by authoring a guest post on the Tor website.
Alison’s body language during the event was in stark contrast to the others present. Nervous laughter and fits of protracted too-loud and too-long giggling, combined with, at one point, her arms folded tightly across her chest. When it was her turn to speak, she spoke eloquently and confidently; when it was others speaking, she picked at loose strands of invisible fluff on her shoulder, kicked her crossed leg back and forth and leaned back in her seat.
At 54:35 in the video, when the person sitting next to her on the panel, David Mirza Ahmad, mentions Jacob Appelbaum by name, Alison Macrina does not even blink. There is no sign whatsoever of any recognition, discomfort, negative association, suppression of emotion or even the most subtle reaction to hearing Jacob’s name.
Despite the event occurring several months after she now alleges he had sexually assaulted her and some eight to ten weeks prior to her involvement in publishing the accusations against him.
In the wake of going public with her allegations, Macrina was directly pressuring WikiLeaks for comment.
By the end of July 2016, Appelbaum dispensed with, Macrina’s constant ribbing of and ire towards WikiLeaks, who were understandably reluctant to be drawn into the maelstrom, was being ratcheted up several notches:
Her above tweet – which was in defense of Edward Snowden – seemed ignorant of the fact that as a direct result of the campaign against Appelbaum, Snowden himself was being attacked by sock puppet accounts who were accusing him of being a rapist by association.
Some of the ensuing rhetoric got really, really nasty:
Unfortunately, it is not just sock puppet accounts attempting to take chunks out of Snowden.
After some discussion about ‘gatekeepers’ and leaking methodologies, this:
The term “rapey” is itself, offensive. With its use, the definition of rape is being willfully expanded into borderline meaninglessness and obscurity. As if there can be “racisty” or “sexisty” or “homophobicy”. There cannot. Rape is an absolute, and a serious crime against humanity. The term should not be callously invoked; watered down for the social convenience of he or she exercising the privilege inherently wielded when bastardising the language of the violated.
Macrina’s participation in the desecration of the very people who helped her rise to prominence, extends to jumping on the bandwagon of any criticism against WikiLeaks whatsoever, whether or not it was subsequently proven to be founded.
New York Times writer Zeynep Tufekci’s varying accusations of WikiLeaks having published (it didn’t) a dump of private information, have been thoroughly debunked:
Yet this has gone unacknowledged by Macrina and supporters, who lambast WikiLeaks at every opportunity.
Amazingly, WikiLeaks staunch support of organisations whose staff are actively undermining it, has continued unabated. When someone tried to deny that support exists, WikiLeaks made the salient point that in fact, every single page of their website promotes the use of Tor.
Unfortunately, these days WikiLeaks’ solidarity with these organisations seems to be a one-way street.
By August 2016, Alison’s original guest post on the Tor Project website had evolved into “Alison’s blog” – a dedicated space for her voice to be amplified by Tor, where she has now championed the release of official Tor internal policy documentation.
The passage they quote is from what I think of as the ‘second voice’ in River’s testimony… and we’ll look into how that may have come about soon.
A ‘Come To Jesus’ Moment
So how did Alison get from sitting on a stage with Julian Assange mid-March, not even registering or flinching at the mention of Jacob Appelbaum’s name, to claiming to be a sexual assault victim?
“I had my ‘come to Jesus’ moment months ago when I started hearing from victims.” – Alison Macrina, 6/6/2016
Herein lies a common thread in these stories.
What Alison is saying explains why she didn’t twitch a muscle at the mention of Appelbaum’s name on March 16. Because she didn’t realise she was a “victim” until later, when she heard complaints from other women.
River also says she didn’t realise she was a victim until she was told that her experiences were rape.
Isis Lovecruft says she had tried to convince herself she wasn’t a victim.
As explored in this series previously, Leigh Honeywell said she didn’t realise she was a victim until she took exception to Jacob Appelbaum’s support for Julian Assange.
So all four of the most significant claims of sexual assault, took years/months and group-think/collaboration in order to “realise” that they had been assaulted.
The strangeness doesn’t stop there. Isis’s blogpost revealing that she is the accuser ‘Forest’, simultaneously claims that she:
had spent “six months” collecting the stories of ‘victims’
didn’t initially tell the ‘victims’ who supposedly confided in her, that she was also a ‘victim’
didn’t intend to tell the Tor Project
planned to threaten Jake that they would tell the Tor Project “and other organisations”
told the Tor Project, but didn’t initially tell them she was a ‘victim’ either
After Jake caught wind of the intervention and, Isis alleges, threatened her, she presumably shelved the plan for an intervention. Her recounting of the so-called threats is really oblique at best, although later in her piece she subjectively lists a prospective legal count of blackmail.
In fact, she lists an entire slew of prospective legal counts against Jacob, with a final count of 35 years imprisonment as per her own calculations, all under the guise of answering why she wouldn’t pursue legal remedy. But the entire exercise just comes across as, ironically, a threat.
Especially given the sheer invention of counts such as “instructing a third-party to rape”, which do not reflect the published accusations at all.
Multi-party Edits, Manipulations and Manufactured Testimony
Researcher Janine Römer, who has been instrumental in documenting the unfolding saga, found evidence that seems to point to the presence of multiple editors making changes to the copy of the accusations published on the smear website.
The following is an excerpt of a conversation I had with her:
Janine: I noticed yesterday that the text of the entries on GitHub are coloured blue in odd places, and some have more blue text than others. Daniel’s has the least amount of blue from what I can tell. I can’t be sure about this but I suspect the blue text might be editing marks. The reason I think they’re editing marks is that places where I would expect the writer to put identifiable details (like Phoenix’s, where it describes the event), are areas where the text is blue. Same with the one that mentioned Jake’s fiancee. Actually in the one with “Jake’s fiancee,” it’s the opposite. Surrounded by blue text but then black text is inside the quotations. Either way I don’t know why the text is different colors.
Suzie: Typed/edited by multiple people?
Janine: Yes, this could support that.
Suzie: Fits with everything else I’m finding. Is there any way to show that that break in [River’s] rape testimony was typed by another person? If I’m right and it was an interjection – it says a LOT about the psychological profile of the person who did the interjecting and particularly in the powerplays of their relationship to that victim.
Janine: I’m not sure [of] it, they are images and I don’t know if the metadata would show that.
Given the obvious contentiousness of non-survivors editing or interjecting their own voice into alleged rape testimony, it is past time for the administrators of the site to come clean as to whether this indeed did happen, and to what extent.
Janine also brought to my attention the following tweet by one of the authors of the Die Zeit article:
Janine says of the above tweet:
“It sums up my thoughts on it. People who use GitHub do so for transparency reasons – open-source code, open-source writing. But the way they did it was not transparent, as they tried very hard to erase evidence of mistakes by deleting repositories.” – Janine Römer
“The GitHub copies of the entries are PNG images. Initially, all the entries were marked with the same date of December 31st, 2015; since then, newer entries have not only been given different dates but the dates on earlier entries were changed (you can [compare them in the archives](https://archive.is/https://github.com/ioerrror/jacobappelbaum.net*)). It is unclear what the date signifies.” – Janine Römer
According to Die Zeit, at least one of the ‘victim’ testimonies was manufactured on their behalf without their permission:
That the creators of the site saw fit to outright concoct a testimony on the basis of hearsay and rumour, then to publish it without the consent of the so-called ‘victim’, jeopardises the integrity of all of the testimony that they published.
Of additional concern, is the 81-word testimony of ‘West’:
From the beginning, this account seemed anomalous. How could someone traumatised by an unwanted advance of a sexual nature only have 81 words to say about it? The reference to being ‘very wary of communicable disease‘ reads as if the writer needed to create a reason why the subject would be so offended by a surprise kiss. The reference to ‘others present voiced their disapproval of the surprise advance, especially given my concerns about disease‘ begs the question – how did these others know of said concerns?
Is West an actual complainant, willingly participating in JacobAppelbaum.net? Or has this account been manufactured to, yet again without consent, represent the subject of the later-debunked claims of what Shepherd, Patterson and Tan said they saw at a hacker event?
Regardless, the fact that such a benign allegation was ever included alongside a claim of rape, speaks volumes about the intentions of the editors. Their focus on quantity of allegations over quality has only served to dillute and detract from the severity of the accounts of River and Isis.
Revisiting The Linguistics
In the first part of this series, I published screenshots of linguistic analyses of each of the allegations. All of the originally published testimonies including Sam and Forest’s, with the exception of Daniel and West, resolved to a reading level of 9th-10th grade.
Daniel and West’s pieces were written at ‘College Student’ reading level.
Curious about the anomaly, I analysed multiple samples of each of Alison Macrina, Isis Lovecruft and Meredith Patterson’s published writings on other blogs. All of the test samples produced a ‘College Student’ reading level.
So who wrote Daniel’s testimony? Did that same person then write West’s? If so, logically these accounts would be written by Meredith. Only she can confirm whether that is true. And why would the ‘Sam’ and ‘Forest’ testimonies on JacobAppelbaum.net be written at a 9th-10th grade reading level, when their writings on other sites are all ‘College Student’ level?
Apparently, if you want your information to have impact, good writing is all about knowing your readers:
According to the below statistics (from the website linked directly above), the average adult reads at a 9th grade reading level. The maximum “tolerable limit” is 11th grade.
It appears that the core testimonies on JacobAppelbaum.net were carefully constructed to have impact with a wide, common audience, and thus needed to be dumbed down in order to be approachable.
Yet the editors apparently felt that Daniel’s either couldn’t or shouldn’t be altered, which speaks to the power dynamics within the “collective”.
In short – the site copy was constructed to achieve maximum saturation.
Meredith, Victims of Jake & Weaponising Social
What first gave me the idea to analyse the linguistics of the allegations was the early discovery that Meredith L. Patterson is a linguistics graduate.
Her widely circulated Twitter commentary on the scandal, along with her track record of many years of labelling Appelbaum a plagiarist, and later a rapist; the prominence of the accusations of plagiarism on the JacobAppelbaum.net website; and the early reference of the @VictimsofJake account (then called @TimeToDieJake) to her deceased husband, Len Sassaman, led to a logical conclusion that she may have a deeper significance in the campaign against him.
However, the @VictimsofJake tweet was not the only instance of Sassaman’s death being tied to Appelbaum by someone who dislikes him:
According to Janine Römer:
“The VoJ account was created on June 3rd and that’s when it first tweeted and it had relatively early knowledge of the website because it tweeted a link to an early version that wasn’t live anymore. That was also the day Steele published the first blog post…
…very few knew about the website before the 4th [of June], so anyone who did is significant.” – Janine Römer
Founder of the think-tank Weaponising Social, Meredith has, funnily enough, published a 3-part blog series about the saga. It is framed as a complex theoretical-cum-practical academic discussion about psychopathy and sociopaths.
There’s a pattern most observers of human interaction have noticed, common enough to have earned its own aphorism: “nice guys finish last.” Or, refactored, “bad actors are unusually good at winning.” – Meredith L Patterson
She soon launches into a mini-lecture about social engineering:
She sneers at the idea that federal agents might work to engineer a scenario like this, even though the Snowden revelations re JTRIG, and many other real-world examples have proven that is precisely what they are employed to do.
“As accounts of the sociopath’s misdeeds come out, the sociopath’s narrative has to become more and more convoluted in order to keep the fanboys believing. “They’re all feds!” he shrieks. “Every last one of them!” Uh-huh. Sure. Because the feds always assign multiple agents not only to target one guy who can’t even keep his dick in his pants, but to become his coworkers, don’t they? This is not exactly an inexpensive proposition. Reality check: if the feds had wanted to pull a honeytrap (which there’d be no reason to do, given his mascot-only status at Tor), everything would have been a lot more cut-and-dried.” – Meredith Patterson
Funnily enough, the extrapolation of valid, precedented, founded fears of malicious interference by state agents into “They’re all feds… Every last one of them!” is something I have not seen suggested by any of Appelbaum’s supporters, but which is constantly touted by his detractors, in defense of themselves.
The obvious reality is that it wouldn’t have to be “all”. That is simply a smokescreen. It would only have to be one.
One who for example, dressed the “collective” action up as a good cause (defending victims! Holding a serial rapist to account!) to convince a couple of others close to them that they had been wronged and should participate. Who then collectively convinced increasing numbers of people that they should side with the ’cause’, for everyone’s benefit. While, funnily enough, the end result is to almost everyone’s detriment. Except the engineer/s of the plot and their small handful of key beneficiaries.
Patterson is right however that HUMINT infiltration of activist’s lives is not an inexpensive undertaking. That is why, literally, billions of dollars are assigned to funding U.S. Counterinsurgency strategy, which has been proven to be at play against activists and is predicated upon a theory that the target’s ideology, places of refuge or sanctuary, and resources must be relentlessly attacked and ultimately denied them.
Precisely as has happened to Jacob Appelbaum.
The sanctity of his home, his established reputation, his community affiliations and organisations, his employment and income, his reputation and even his ideology, stripped from him.
“The rockstar activist plays on non-rockstars’ fears of organized state opposition to their activism, and convinces non-rockstars that any challenge to the rockstar’s status is evidence of an organized plot against the activist group.”
It defies logic that Meredith isn’t well aware of how The Empire operates. She quotes military theory in her own blogposts:
Especially in the context of her think-tank, Weaponising Social, her last sentence is really worth quoting again, as it is just so fitting to this entire situation.
“Push hard enough from enough directions, and possibly the victim even becomes overwhelmed and stops functioning – a distributed denial of service.” – Meredith Patterson
The first Twitter accounts to tweet out the ‘early version’ of the website were:
On 15 June 2016 @VictimsOfJake intimated that Wired magazine would be interviewing River.
No such interview eventuated. Wired‘s June 6th article appears to be their only published piece on the scandal.
However, the suggestion that River will be coming forward to the press reinforces information provided to me by various sources. Though the subject of that information also seems to take issue with the @VictimsofJake account.
One person suggested that @VictimsofJake is EFF Director and journalist Jillian C. York, although based on other evidence, it is unlikely to be the case.
Distancing Themselves From Themselves
On August 9th, two months after the fact, Meredith finally covered off the topic everyone had been wondering about, for so long: why she hadn’t apologised for coming forward as an ‘eye-witness’ to an alleged incident that turned out to be a misrepresentation of yet another (non)victim:
As for Andrea Shepherd, this is the closest to an (non)apology that I’ve been able to find: [note: if something more substantial exists elsewhere, I’ll happily include it here]
The full-time anti-ioerror troll account @VoodooHacks seems to think Shepherd was the instigator of the scandal:
In Meredith’s posts, she ostensibly admits to being an organiser of the events, chides accuser Leigh Honeywell and alludes to Andrea Shepherd being a survivor of rape:
“Honeywell conveniently neglects to mention that this solution has its own critical failure mode: what happens to members of marginalized groups whom the existing affinity group considers unpersons? I can tell you, since it happened here: we had to organize on our own. Honeywell’s report came as a surprise to both me and Tor developer Andrea Shepard, because we weren’t part of that whisper network. Nor would we expect to be, given how Honeywell threw Andrea under the bus when Andrea tried to reach out to her for support in the past.” – Meredith Patterson
This seems to be reinforced by the @VictimsofJake account:
[UPDATE: further information has shed light on Meredith’s comment – she was apparently not intimating that Andrea had complained of rape to Honeywell, but of harrassment re the Pando crowd]
Clearly there is no love lost between the organisers of the campaign.
“the opportunity to gloat over seeing one’s prey stumble is too difficult to resist.” – Meredith Patterson
It is a shame Shepherd, Tan and Patterson didn’t take Meredith’s own advice and just frankly and immediately publically apologise for what they did to Jill, who was needlessly dragged into this highly public mess through no fault of her own.
“An honest person will try to find out how to make it right, while a bad actor will try to make it all about them.” – Meredith Patterson
When Friends and Enemies Say The Same Thing
An anonymous Tor developer posted a text file to the internet which made a number of significant claims about who is behind the JacobAppelbaum.net site and what their involvement is.
@VictimsOfJake promptly responded in a similar format.
Meanwhile, one of Alison Macrina’s friends was inadvertently corroborating some of the claims of the anonymous Tor developer and dropping Macrina in the proverbial by bragging about the extent of her involvement, on Jacob Appelbaum’s Wikipedia Talk page.
He then recanted “for legal reasons”.
A puzzling element regarding Macrina’s involvement, is why her ‘Sam’ story was not published when the site went live. It was in fact at that time, merely a placeholder.
Looking back at her Twitter timeline, she spent the night of the release of the allegations “excited to see the morning sunlight“. Her next tweet was a retweet of the Stanford rape survivor’s statement – seemingly a deliberate attempt to prep her audience for what would come. However, as discussed in Part One of this series, at 7,200+ words chock-full of victim impact, that statement bears absolutely no resemblence whatsoever to the so-called testimonies subsequently posted on the smear website JacobAppelbaum.net:
So Macrina went from not realising she was a victim and not being one of the original statements posted, to being the first to ‘out’ herself as a victim publically, to being ‘OK’ with her face being plastered onto her alleged attacker’s Wikipedia page.
Branding The Take-Down
There was a clear agenda to brand Macrina as “the face of victims” – despite the fact that she had not been raped.
The attempt to have a non-survivor become a self-styled representative for the survivors of violent rapes is reprehensible.
But there is no doubt that the scandal was yet again raising Macrina’s profile.
When being called out by Shava Nerad, ironically the original Executive Director of the Tor Project, for decrying “rock stars” while quite obviously becoming one, none other than Macrina’s Wikipedia-editor friend jumps to her defense:
Becoming The Police
The unfortunate Tor employees and advocates who had nothing to do with either those being smeared or those doing the smearing, were inevitably feeling the strain.
As were the wider activist community. What was done to Appelbaum had a catastrophic effect on personal relationships between long-time colleagues and friends, and fractured solidarity between organisations and subgroups.
“We’ve seen peak Berlin“, a core member who had been around for more than a decade told me.
Anyone who had visibly worked closely with Appelbaum and didn’t choose to instantly abandon him became collateral damage and subject to attacks and rumourmongering.
Even if their choice was based on knowledge that what was being said about him didn’t add up.
Tor allowing months to go by with accusations of rape hovering over the heads of unnamed persons known only as “Jake’s friends” was a callous and effective smear on everyone that knew him. Their constant refusal to this day to elaborate on precisely what those friends are supposedly guilty of or alleged to have done, on what basis two of them have now been fired, and the masking of their identities, is a brush that has tarred scores of people.
Meanwhile, the over-saturation of the story, which was being rehashed by anti-ioerror sockpuppet accounts on a daily basis, who were acting as a thought police by asked leading, open-ended questions of anyone who even mentioned him on Twitter, began to wear thin.
The controversy became more than an attack on Appelbaum – it became an existential threat to the Tor Project itself:
The narrative of the so-called ‘victims collective’ was ‘codes of conduct’ and ‘(un)acceptable behaviours’ and ‘safe spaces policy’ – social contracts that have ironically been used to rip activists groups apart for decades.
The introduction of safer spaces policy at Occupy had been the turning point that marked the rise of the movement becoming the demise of the movement. As soon as your personnel and resources are spent writing social contracts that then require enforcement, your focus is no longer external but internal.
Because when you start making laws, then someone has to become the police.
And having police around doesn’t make anyone feel any safer.
The message has been very clear: if you are with the newly ruling clique, they have your back. If you question them, the bees are coming.
In this instance, the institution of safer spaces policy and codes of conduct is a reinforcement of the rule of those who have formed a new executive governance.
That the policies are being instituted by the same people who have wreaked havoc upon the community, is a signal: if you don’t bow down, then as Meredith says, either jump or be pushed.
[Note: the social contract promoted by Macrina above is not the new code of conduct and community guidelines which is supposedly, to follow.]
Selective Solidarity and Dirt Digging
Little of the conduct evinced in this article by Tor’s new police force aligns with the creation of inclusive, safe spaces.
While perceived adversaries are mocked and mobbed instead of embraced and reconciled, the hostility culture is only going to get worse.
Likewise as ideological disagreements become highly personalised.
Throughout this series I had people come foward to me with information. I also uncovered a ton of it myself. This included veritable mountains of info about people’s intimate and sexual relationships. Some of the evidence I found blatantly contradicted other public claims they have made about them. I have decided not to publish any of it, because, as Shepherd once said of Pando:
In defense of her misrepresentations about the AKP emails “dump”, Zynep Tufekci sent me a link to a New York Times piece that was supposed to reinforce her claims. Being me, I clicked on the source links and found myself at Gawker and Gizmodo, reading about Julian Assange’s children, and his ten-year-old love letters.
Any credibility the article had went straight out the window.
The state agencies come at you through your romantic relationships, whether it be past, present or future; through your children, through your family, through your work, through your identity. That is the methodology of the unscrupulous; the immoral. Of scoundrels.
It is clear without any doubt that all personal grievances aside, the ultimate target is WikiLeaks and the aggravating factor is that the U.S. Presidential election is now a matter of mere weeks away.
The corporate media are speaking in unison against Trump and for the election of Clinton. You can find a half dozen articles decrying the former and another half dozen promoting the latter on any of the vast majority of big name American media websites.
It is not a coincidence.
Even though, to (very loosely) borrow from Sebastian Mondial, the candidates are two socks on the feet of the same person.
As this series progressed, the uniformly anti-WikiLeaks positions of Appelbaum’s accusers and their supporters became increasingly evident. Which neatly lined up with larger governmental objectives of bringing down the entire WikiLeaks publishing organisation rather than just some individuals associated with it.
But just as with the very protracted desecration of Julian Assange’s reputation, despite all the furore and spectacle the public dismemberment of Jacob Appelbaum did not stop WikiLeaks publishing, nor has it visibly hindered their work.
In the wake of the #DNCLeak, arguably WikiLeaks most successful release to date, it has become clear that yes, WikiLeaks remains the meta target, and more – that the catastrophic divisions created within the privacy and infosec community in the wake of the Appelbaum smears are falling squarely along ideological political lines.
The Circus In Full Swing
Election year madness has kicked in full-throttle, exposing the true colours of organisations and individuals alike and throwing a bunch of unlikely bedfellows together.
Wholly embracing the stage-managed divide-and-conquer dichotomy of (in Assange’s words) “Cholera versus Gonorrhea“, countless major players have thrown their full weight behind their preferred candidate.
The military industrial complex has stamped their seal of approval on Hillary Clinton. They fully intend her to be the next President of the United States of America.
So have the major New York magazines and newspapers – in particular, the New York Times, and more broadly, the vast majority of the media networks and the monopolies that own them.
In the case of the New York Times – denouncing WikiLeaks is not only ideological but a desperate attempt to distance themselves from any perceived culpability for having partnered with them, co-publishing their leaks, in the past.
It is the mass media equivalent of obtaining immunity by publically testifying against your co-accused. A corporate’s version of “turning state witness” – before the trial, in the court of public opinion.
The same New York Times that told America in 2002 that Iraq had WMD’s, has published at least three hit pieces on WikiLeaks this month alone, and incredibly, yet somehow fittingly, became the “exclusive” publication of choice for the Tor Project’s “independent investigation” findings.
The ties between the Tor Project and the New York Times run deep. It is well known, and was publically celebrated by those close to the individual involved, that an ex Tor Project employee took up a significant position at the NYT.
Nicole Perlroth, the author involved failed to answer as to how or why they had gained access to the ‘exclusive’ from the Tor Project, and the Tor Project refused to answer to why the findings of a rape investigation was an ‘exclusive’ at all.
Perlroth has a history of propagating anti-WikiLeaks sentiment in the paper.
In her June 4th statement, published the same day that JacobAppelbaum.net began widespread public circulation, Shari Steele wrote:
“We expect that this will be our only public statement.” – Shari Steele, Executive Director of The Tor Project
Less than two months later, Steele is exclusively interviewed by the New York Times. What happened in between, to prompt such a radical change in strategy?
Tor’s choice of mass-media outlet was almost as strange as the packaging of rape-investigation findings as an “exclusive” at all. Not to mention that, without any apparent request for retraction or correction by the Tor Project, the New York Times had recently reported that the Tor Project’s board “was pushed out“:
…a claim that directly contradicted Executive Director Shari Steele’s statement that the board had “elected” their replacements in “a bold and selfless decision” to effectively resign en masse.
For such a claim to go unchallenged, and answered by the granting of an “exclusive”, reads as if the messaging of what had really occurred was being tacitly approved if not outright pushed through the NYT, from behind closed doors at Tor.
Selecting The New Board Members
Ideological alignment with the actions of Shari Steele and “the company” regarding Appelbaum’s exit, and/or those behind the JacobAppelbaum.net site, may have been an assumptive prerequisite of qualification for placement on the new Tor Project board.
Coleman begins with praise for the aforementioned:
20 days later, she was officially announced as a member of the new board.
Also announced as a new board member, was Associate Professor Matt Blaze:
Shari Steele’s NYT Exclusive
It is in the wake of this appointment of the new board that Shari Steele was ‘exclusively’ interviewed by the New York Times, over the outcome of the Tor Project investigation into the rape claims.
The crux of the exclusive interview with Steele isn’t even mentioned until the 15th of the 18 paragraphs in the article.
The two sparse quotes from Shari appear at the very bottom and comprise less than 10% of the total word count.
Why did the New York Times feel the need to minimise their exclusive access?
They state that their interview with Steele was undertaken “late Tuesday” – that is the day before the Tor Project announced the findings of the investigation. So there is no doubt that they indeed had exclusive access regarding the outcome. Gizmodo had knowledge of the exclusivity of the interview at least several days beforehand. Yet that fact is as downplayed as the verbiage of the original allegations.
The Tor Project, a nonprofit digital privacy group, announced on Wednesday that an internal investigation had confirmed allegations of sexual misconduct…
The article references the official Tor Project statement that accompanied the so-called release of the findings.
“Many people inside and outside the Tor Project have reported incidents of being humiliated, intimidated, bullied and frightened by Jacob, and several experienced unwanted sexually aggressive behavior from him.”
“Sexually aggressive behaviour.”
Not sexual assault. Not rapes. Not gang rape. Not serial rape. Not instructing others to rape. Not violence, or sexual violence. Not stupefication. Or any of the other claims plastered all over social media and elsewhere, by his accusers and others.
Instead, as a result of their supposedly thorough, independent investigation, the claims have been dramatically downgraded.
I anticipate that Tor’s defenders will say that this is just the organisation trying not to get sued. Trying to limit its liability. That the statement is the result of professional advice. That they are not law enforcement and cannot label something a crime that hasn’t been tested in court by a judge and/or jury.
Which would run completely contrary to the lauding of Tor by those same defenders as having taken a strong stand for women, in support of the community and against rape and sexual assault.
As being ‘feminist’ superheroes, working for Gaia.
What is far more likely, is that the promised “dozens of victims” never manifested.
[UPDATE: the majority of the existing allegations relate to inappropriate workplace behaviour. However, with the exception of one joke at the Valencia conference where the complainant was not the person the joke was directed at, all other complaints of ‘professional misconduct’ did not occur at a place of work. There was in fact, no workplace. Jacob has been in exile for three years. There were no official Tor rules against, and indeed there was a culture of, social fraternising at pubs/clubs/private homes.)
The H.R. Leaks
On the liability front – Tor’s prior statements and conduct regarding this debacle have been highly questionable. Tor management have allowed multiple staff members to remain employed while visibly running an ongoing online smear campaign against another employee. There is evidence senior management knew about it in advance. They have tacitly endorsed, by their silence regarding it, the leaking of private human resources documents and other information from within the organisation. Leaks that were prejudicial and likely to be in the personal interest of those anonymously making the disclosures in order to support their own claims and to shore up the position of the organisation, rather than in the public interest.
Tor’s initial statement was, in the words of Roger Dingledine, “stripped down” and “bland“. It was in fact 24 words.
It is actually highly unusual for cases, even involving large numbers of victims, to get immediate attention in mainstream press.
Bill Cosby has constantly been brought up by Appelbaum’s detractors, but what they fail to note is that Cosby’s victims, all of whom had been raped or sexually assaulted, had to organise and fight for decades in order to be heard.
Likewise with those behind the Child Sex Inquiry in Britain, which has also spanned decades and still not yet achieved any laudable outcome.
While ignoring demonstrable, provable cases of rape, those who seek to champion rape survivors in name only have a tendency to apply their sympathies only where it suits them.
Worse – there is a clear pattern of partisanship evidenced by key voices in other major outlets which were specifically established to provide a critical counter-narrative to the duopoly of the status quo. Partisanship to me does not mean expressing political views – by all means, journalists should have and express political views. But when their articles are running the same lines as the New York Times on a regular basis – and ignoring material facts while quoting New York Times writers – chances are, they should still be at the New York Times.
Slowly but surely, once-radical organisations which many risked their lives to establish, grow and promote, are being co-opted into reinforcing the reality TV sideshow of the election cycle.
Those who are naturally disgusted by both the obviously corrupt and dangerous Hillary Clinton and the painfully inept and equally dangerous Donald Trump are being browbeaten into supporting Clinton regardless, constantly bludgeoned by the manufactured ‘threat’ of Trump being elected.
They are told that third-party ‘protest’ votes either don’t matter, or worse. As if third-party options that have incrementally increased their vote share, maturing and ultimately rising to prominence around the world (and ultimately even winning elections) did do so by no one voting for them.
The obviousness that in order for there to be a viable third party, people have to vote for them, seems to escape these hawks, who are so obsessed by chasing their next funding round that they end up undermining their own founding objectives and principles, to the detriment of us all.
In their quest to ‘play the game’ and thus secure their own fiscal future – nothing guarantees a favoured status like promoting amongst their own ranks and supporters, hatred of and disdain for Clinton’s number one enemy: Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
CIA Employee Hired By Tor Project
As has been proven, Tor/EFF and associated organisations are now being dominated by WikiLeaks detractors. But even more menacing, is the revelation of a CIA employee literally leaving the agency one day and starting work for Tor the very next day.
His inclusion took employees by surprise, and none were more visibly incensed about it than Jacob Appelbaum.
Funnily enough, when the ‘State of the Onion’ address at HopeX rolled around this year – an update on Tor Project recent happenings that Appelbaum traditionally gives – the schedule contained absolutely no mention of the elephant in the room:
The widely-perused leaked chat log of Appelbaum and others confronting the recently ex-CIA employee about his presence in Tor speaks volumes about the internal culture, and the voraciousness of Appelbaum’s understandable opposition to the hiring.
In short, the employee says he left the CIA because he loves Tor so much. You be the judge.
Jake’s concerns about Tor funding had predated the ex-CIA employee incident by some time:
While the target of widespread criticism for being effectively paid by the same government that he so often railed against, it is clear that Jacob himself was deeply concerned about Tor’s funding ties and the extent to which that effected decisions made by the organisation.
[Note: Several people – none of which are Jacob – have come forward to me privately raising concerns not just about the above issues but also about other activities that Tor has been “spending money on” – including but not limited to enhanced metrics for measuring user activity and location around specific ‘events’. That project has been funded “in part by the National Science Foundation”, and as other specific project funders (“sponsors”) are marked only by pseudonymous letters, it is an entire kettle of fish in and of itself that will need people with more technical expertise than I to examine further.]
WikiLeaks and The Iraq War
Indeed, the derision Jacob has faced has not only been due to the sexual assault/rape allegations, or the funding sources of his former employer.
Rather than ask the obvious questions surrounding the revelations of the ex-CIA employee ostensibly leaving an intelligence agency one day to arrive amongst the ranks of Tor developers the next, the topic of conversation over the leaked log astonishingly instead focused on other comments made by Jacob in the log.
Particularly, where he referenced his volunteer work with WikiLeaks.
His reference to WikiLeaks having helped to scale down military conlict in Iraq were personified to him.
The ridicule expounded upon Jacob’s comment: “later with WikiLeaks, I did help end the Iraq War.” This was regurgitated by @ErrataRob, to great hilarity, that Appelbaum was claiming to have “single-handedly ended the war in Iraq“.
However, in the eagerness to poke fun at Appelbaum and at WikiLeaks, the facts of the matter fell by the wayside. As Glenn Greenwald had reported for Salon – WikiLeaks indeed did have a hand in events that ultimately led to decisions by the Iraqi government that led to the down-scaling of the conflict.
“..negotiations were strained following WikiLeaks’ release of a diplomatic cable that alleged Iraqi civilians, including children, were killed in a 2006 raid by American troops rather than in an airstrike as the U.S. military initially reported.” – Glenn Greenwald
[UPDATE: as per WikiLeaks statement at the time, which ratifies the above: “It was WikiLeaks’ revelations – not the actions of President Obama – that forced the U.S. administration out of the Iraq War. By exposing the killing of Iraqi children, WikiLeaks directly motivated the Iraqi government to strip the U.S. military of legal immunity, which in turn forced the U.S. withdrawal.”]
The above accusation that Appelbaum doesn’t back up his assertions is eerily similar to the denials by FBI informant Hector ‘Sabu’ Monsegur that Appelbaum was of interest to the FBI.
In the above thread, @ErrataRob demands logs of Appelbaum’s references to Monsegur having attempted to entrap him on behalf of the FBI.
Ironically, Sabu also asks for logs. The reason it is ironic, is because it has been widely reported that the FBI monitored all of Sabu’s interactions 24/7, throughout the time that he was entrapping and informing on activists and journalists, including myself. So the simple answer is – while we might not have the logs – the FBI sure do. But funnily enough, they aren’t forthcoming with information, as poignantly demonstrated by the FBI General Counsel’s replies to Jacob Appelbaum’s questioning of her, in the below video:
National Security Letters were served on providers requesting the personal data of Jacob Appelbaum and gagging them, as reported by the Wall Street Journal in October 2011. Well in advance of Sabu’s informing rampage which stretched at least throughout most of 2012, and well into 2013. Yet Sabu continues to maintain that Appelbaum is not an FBI target.
Mustafa Al-Bassam promptly replied with the obvious:
@ErrataRob has a long history of trying to debuff Appelbaum, only to be shot down with publically available information.
It is now being reported by Violet Blue that Jacob Appelbaum has been listed as “an official Charlatan”:
Branding Appelbaum a charlatan is an eerie throwback to years of FBI informant Monsegur slinging about the exact same term. Searching @hxmonsegur & ‘charlatan’ yields 19 results.
Now that using the term ‘serial rapist’ is clearly off the cards, maybe subjective terms like ‘charlatan’ are all his detractors have left.
The long list of people the FBI informant has referred to as a “charlatan” is quite impressive.
Fastforward to this week, and the ‘rapist’ smear of Jacob Appelbaum is being downgraded to ‘sexual aggressor’.
This is probably indicative of the trajectory of opinion for the vast majority of the crowds that got on the anti-Appelbaum bandwagon early, only to belatedly discover that things are not at all as they seemed.
The Voice Of Reason
There were several voices of sanity, however. Even in the heat of the campaign, Courage beneficiary, whistleblower and hacker Lauri Love made it clear the issue was not the simple black or white dichotomy that Appelbaum’s accusers had been determined to force people into.
The ‘you’re either with us or against us’ attitude espoused by @VictimsofJake, openly wielded against anyone who didn’t immediately side with the mob from the outset, is immature, hypocritical and counter-productive.
At 01:09:51 in the first video embedded in this article featuring Sarah Harrison and Jacob Appelbaum, Jacob makes a fascinating offhand comment:
“I know that I’ve behaved completely differently knowing that there’s probably sex tapes being made in my – not just by me! – not to imply what I think I just implied but, you get the point…” – Jacob Appelbaum
This corroborates my earlier suspicion that Jacob knew full well that his home was under constant surveillance and that that surveillance may extend to the interior of his home and not just the exterior.
Common conventional methods of forming romantic partnerships that the general public takes for granted, become simply out of the question. Dating apps, cruising bars, hooking up with strangers for one-night stands, or engaging in liaisons outside of your trusted peer group can present not just a reputational risk but even a mortal one. Many of us, as a necessary measure of self-protection, are forced into prolonged periods of abstinence purely for survival.
When meeting new people doesn’t gel with your threat model, there is no other choice but to seek comfort amongst those in your existing community. Thus, the answer as to why Jacob engaged in such ‘risky’ behaviour is likely that amongst his close friends – those he perceived as facing many of the same challenges as him – was the sole environment in which he could express his sexuality.
A lesson hard learned.
In that same video, Appelbaum comments:
“You can’t really blow the whistle these days without blowing up your own life; on really serious issues, with large state adversaries.” – Jacob Appelbaum
The massive powers that Jake Appelbaum took on, have taken the spotlight off themselves, by making a spectacle of him.
Just as they did with Julian Assange.
The Missing Dozens
FBI informant Sabu’s publication of choice The Daily Dot, claimed a female source told them there were “easily a dozen” victims of Appelbaum.
For the record, the Daily Dot has spoken to a dozen sources alleging misconduct. We have spoken to four people who have relayed personal stories of harassment and sexual assault. Some of these women have described themselves as members of an underground “victim network” that now consists of more than a dozen individuals. We understand some are discussing revealing their names and stories soon.
In Isis Lovecruft’s follow-up blogpost, she writes:
“…additional reports of extremely severe sexual assaults and rape are pouring in to The Tor Project.”
In the findings of the Tor Project’s rape investigation there is only mention of two other cases. It is not stated whether these two cases are ‘Briar’ and ‘Alice’.
“It should not be required that a dozen people are harmed before any one of them is taken seriously.”
However, if we take into account the information in this series, and in the Die Zeit article, it changes that picture dramatically.
Nature of Complaint
Public / Anonymous
Allegedly omitted mention of consensual sex following the bath. Claim relates to same timeframe as River
Eye-witnesses claimed to Die Zeit: multiple consensual events over a three day period have been muddled into one misrepresentative non-consensual claim and that no rape actually occurred.
(Isis Agora Lovecruft)
Organised victim statements/reported to Tor Project but didn’t disclose that she was also a victim. Later claimed victim status
Potentially written by one of the creators of the website or its administrators
Extremely brief account that does not detail any specifics
May have been invented by one of the creators of the website/administrators
Professional improprieties including propositioning. Has been ratified by several prominent eye-witnesses.
Claims was targeted after entertaining notion of snitch-jacketing Appelbaum
‘Alice’ says her account was manufactured/ published without her knowledge or consent
It is unknown at this time why this ‘placeholder’ account never eventuated
during BDSM consensual sex (particulars of claimed non-consensual activity unstated)
Historical claim. Says that years after the fact, Appelbaum’s support for WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange made her realise she had been violated
Self-described “eye-witnesses” wrongly claimed that Jill was a “victim”
(came forward by necessity)
The “victim” herself says she was not a “victim” and was alarmed to find that she was being misrepresented as one
In the above table:
ORANGE: Accounts that may have been misrepresented, manipulated or invented by smear organisers. (Not reflected: a ‘second’ voice may also have been inserted into middle of River’s testimony)
GREY: Claims that do not involve physical contact of any description but outline personal or professional grievances
BLUE: Complaints that don’t actually describe what happened in detail or are highly unlikely to be pursuable by law – i.e. being kissed in a bar
RED: Claims which are contested by eye-witnesses or by the ‘victim’ themselves
YELLOW: The sole remaining testimony which details a crime
Not listed above:
Accounts by others who say they were pressured into claiming ‘victim’ status
Some other historical accounts by third parties related to unprofessional or unkind speech – such as has already been admitted to by Appelbaum in the Die Zeit article and prior to that, in his original press statement
Taking the findings in the table into account, using the same colour code and looking objectively at what remains, this is what the “serial rapist” / “dozens of victims” claims now look like:
Isis a.k.a. ‘Forest’, who admits to spending “six months” collecting the stories of “victims”, and who didn’t reveal her own allegations to the others or to the Tor Project until after the fact, is the only one left.
Only two people know for sure whether her allegations are true.
Jake and Isis.
The Macrina Logs
Multiple sources have provided me with chat logs featuring Alison Macrina. Some I have been able to verify the authenticity of, some I have not.
There is evidence of a concerted effort not just to air the grievances of alleged rape victims, or to warn others away from having anything to do with Appelbaum, but of a conspiracy to act against him in unison with the very specific objective of damaging his career beyond repair.
Furthermore, there is evidence of pressure being applied both to people whose testimonies appear on the smear website and some who don’t, to denounce Appelbaum or to come forward publically to shore up support for the others involved.
At this time, in the interests of source protection I am withholding the full logs. It is possible that they will be released at a future date.
[UPDATE: this heartbreaking open letter by @shiromarieke cannot be ignored. It catalogues the toxic culture remaining at Tor, the failures of management, the lies and selectivity of those who created the smear campaign and the extremely disappointing end results.]
[UPDATE:posted on the same day as the above, but from half a world away, yet another Tor supporter (one who was the subject of a police raid for running a Tor exit node) has pulled his support from the project, citing gross professional misconduct on the part of Tor management.]
Yes It Is All About Us – They Make Damn Sure Of That
For Persons of Interest, it is made to be all about us because the government is desperately afraid of it being all about them.
Their illegality, their wrongdoing. Which is perpetrated on a massive scale.
So they invest ridiculous amounts of resources into creating a file that is quite literally all about us.
They undertake investigations which are internally framed as being all about us.
They plant agents and concoct situations which are all about us.
They attack us by every possible vector because to them, their very survival requires that it be all about us.
The reason for this is because having shone a spotlight on the powers that be is usually how Persons of Interest are selected in the first place.
Then, once they’ve turned our lives upside down and made a huge spectacle of us, they say “oh – so it’s all about you! You’re a narcissist!”
They called Julian Assange a narcissist, they called Edward Snowden a narcissist, now they call Jacob Appelbaum a narcissist.
In this, the post-Orwell age – where spy agencies are turned upon their own citizens just like the Stasi they used to decry, and drone murderers kill teenagers and babies and then win the Nobel Prize: to be called a narcissist by these people who are the ultimate narcissists – those who kill with impunity and lie about it with no remorse – to be told with scorn and derision in a mocking and accusatory tone that it is “all about you” – is a badge of merit and a profound honour.
In the backwards Orwellian nightmare we live in, exercising common sense or stating things as they quite plainly are and thus expressing views that oppose the monied and complicit status quo, is deemed a ‘radical’ and untenable position.
Radical because too few have the proverbial balls to openly speak their mind or own the full extent of their true opinions in public, making those of us who do a rarity.
Untenable because doing so makes you a target for relentless persecution or worse; a deterrent which is highly effective against those who treasure their public perception or persona, possessions, property, prosperity or (perceived) privacy above the need to appease their conscience by calling a spade a spade, honouring their humanity and openly advocating for the sociopolitical evolution we so desperately need.
It was only a few years ago that millions of people were emboldened to speak up and demand radical (read: common sense) change. The relative speed with which they were largely subdued and corralled back into the political mainstream is frankly shocking and testament to the lethal efficiency of the systems of social control that surround us.
Even Occupy Has Forgotten What Occupy Is About
“No true democracy is obtainable when the process is determined by economic power.” – The Occupy Wall Street General Assembly
The founding declaration of Occupy Wall Street needs to be periodically revisited, to remind us of what birthed the movement.
It is poignantly read below, by Keith Olbermann.
Unfortunately, the societal conditions described remain to this day and have become even further entrenched; exacerbated by the passage of time. Every word of the founding statement holds true, yet the spirit of resistance in which it was authored, has been mostly co-opted by the same politicians and organisations who it once critiqued and decried.
During Occupy, the idea that our main social media accounts – @OccupyWallSt & @OccupyWallStNYC would be used to congratulate politicians, would have led to a massive outcry, but we have become so used to the blatant co-option of our movement that few barely even notice it anymore.
“Our Revolution Endures” etched in the colours of a political party, above a “Paid For By Bernie 2016″ campaign disclaimer makes a complete mockery of the word revolution:
“Not the billionaires” it says inside parentheses, the words spelled out in a pale grey scale – as if, as I predicted in December 2015 that he would, Bernie hasn’t just sold his campaign supporters out to Hillary and the very same billionaires he spent so long decrying.
I got the month wrong – April rather than July – but it was clear from the outset that Bernie Sanders was B.S.
Occupy was born of the betrayal of the broken promises of Obama.
Of course the elites knew that ruse would work again. It always has. Generation after generation, we never learn.
And thus – when the politician full of attractive rhetoric eventually sells us out – the cycle of disillusionment, civic rage and institutional violence, oppression and then political co-option renews.
It isn’t revolution at all.
It’s a cycle and it’s perpetual. Manufactured by the elites. They just pull the levers and watch it spin, around and around again.
I smelled it coming when the compositional horror story that is the band “Nickelback” released the song “Edge of a Revolution.” I can’t even embed the video here because it is so revolutionary that anyone who uploads it to You Tube is instantly hit with a copyright notice and removal.
Bless her soul, even Jill Stein isn’t immune to using the word ‘revolution’ to describe a political campaign. I retweeted and liked the tweet despite it, because I also think if Bernie was worth his salt that in the wake of the betrayal, he would have joined Stein and not Clinton.
The real revolution started by Occupy and not yet finished can be quantified in the bodies of the literal dead – the hopes crushed, the houses lost, the citizens exiled, the relationships and careers destroyed, the homeless re-disenfranchised by the evictions, the property stolen and destroyed.
Every time a politician says the word ‘revolution’ that is all I see. Tents being ripped to shreds, the People’s library being hauled away in rubbish trucks ultimately paid for by the same People whose will was being subverted, whose dreams lay shattered.
Those who gave everything they were and had, to bring the movement to prominence, only to be completely betrayed and violated by the societal infrastructure that was supposed to protect us.
We are spat on every time the language of our struggle is misappropriated for temporary political gain.
The Age Of Hypocrisy
This is the age of hypocrisy that we live in. We know the political process is bullshit – we knew it in 2011. Prior generations knew it, railed against it and lost, just like us. But here we all are, participating in it once again nonetheless.
I know full well that it is all just a great big reality TV show. But I have still voted every election cycle of my adult life.
Most of the people who know me, with the exception of those few who are in even deeper trouble for their honesty and principles than I am, would tell you I am the most ‘radical’ person they have ever met.
Yet even I find myself writing tweets and articles – albeit criticisms, including this one – that feed the electoral monster just by giving it breath.
My own inadvertent complicity scares me almost as much as the corruption and the collusion behind the political farce – because it indicates the level of saturation of the message that participation in the political process – even the critique of it – is a requirement of a properly functioning democracy.
But we knew in 2011 that the process was irredeemably broken.
Just like we knew it in 2000. In 1986. In 1963. In 1935.
George Bush’s brother handing him the presidential election was “democracy” in action.
JFK getting shot in the head on live TV. That was “democracy” in action.
Wall Street making billions while everyone else goes bankrupt. Police beating, pepper-spraying and mass arresting protesters, while “protecting” a bronze bull statue. That was “democracy” in action.
The same nepotism, grand larceny, financial crimes and human rights violations that the USA accuses everyone else of but themselves. That, is “democracy” in action.
We don’t need or want it and desperately have to find a way to get free of the political mousewheel, for good.
In a real revolution, no one would be allowed to own luxury holiday homes in seven different cities that sit empty 50 weeks per year, while retirees and veterans sleep on park benches.
Every bedroom in the White House would be open to homeless families.
Public money paid for every luxury in that building, yet the public are restricted from even seeing the inside of it let alone enjoying it.
All politicians, including the U.S. presidents are the same ilk of usurpers, usurists and tinpot dictators that they so frequently decry.
A real revolution would put direct democracy into the hands of everyone, and undermine the power of the few.
It is long overdue.
Snowden Nailed It
The U.S. election is an illusion of choice and that fact, at least, is more widely accepted than ever before.
Edward Snowden’s publically expressed distaste for both political candidates tracks back quite some time.
WikiLeaks Led The Charge
Julian Assange and WikiLeaks’ criticism of Trump tracks back even further.
Largely as backlash for the wildly successful #DNCLeak, the world’s corporate press are currently accusing WikiLeaks of essentially being a front for Russian hackers and/or favouring Trump.
I look at it from the following perspective. I followed Hillary Clinton for years, you know that I have a personal issue with Hillary because she was Secretary of State when we published diplomatic cables and more recently emails refused to disclose. And she is much more warlike than Obama. What happened in Libya, the destruction of that country and the collapse of its state, it was mostly a war of Hillary. Hillary was behind it all. Pentagon generals opposed to intervene but Hillary pushed for that bombing. So now comes in Donald Trump, who is more ‘guerrero‘ than Hillary. So whoever wins will be even more aggressive than Obama. The Trump phenomenon is interesting. At this time there is not a massive flood of Latin Americans wanting to enter the United States. Then it is interesting to see where does this phenomenon. Trump is appealing to the same grotesque nationalism can be seen in discussions on refugees in Australia and Europe. The issue of immigrants really was not on the agenda significantly until Donald Trump began to lift. The rest of the Republican Party has more decency and more willing to like voters Hispanic roots.
[Note: The Google translation of the word ‘guerrero’ made little sense so I left the word in Spanish and linked to another translation of that specific term which seems to explain it]
More recently, Assange made his feelings even more plain:
If essentially calling Donald Trump “Gonorrhea” isn’t enough to convince you – time for more hard evidence than merely opinion.
WikiLeaks, it turns out, as part of the very same leak they are copping so much criticism for, actually published Donald Trump’s donor list.
WikiLeaks – A Library Besieged By Barbarians
For the Empire, WikiLeaks getting 16,202 retweets on a single tweet is a nightmare from hell. Especially when the tweet in question was an epic release of US government insider information from inside the political party of the sitting US president.
The corporate media are no doubt equally apopleptic over WikiLeaks getting 14,304 retweets on a tweet like this:
Even the spelling mistake couldn’t stop such a pertinent point about the obvious mass media politically-motivated collusion and hypocrisy from going viral.
Yet politically-motivated collusion is what those already proven to be engaged in, are so eager to accuse WikiLeaks of. Along with a slew of associated accusations that ultimately just serve to distract from the actual content of the disclosures, which have been catastrophic for the Democrats.
Their subsequent National Convention has devolved into nothing short of a circus, as disillusioned Democrats find their voices and raise them in unison.
Julian Assange has famously compared WikiLeaks to the ancient Library of Alexandria. A colossal treasure trove of authentic documentation – a catalogue of human knowledge and historical documents, unmatched in modern times and besieged by barbarians who wish to bury, burn or suppress that knowledge by any means possible.
The barbarians in question are a who’s-who of the military industrial complex, as well as politicians in positions of significant power in many governments around the world who have been embarrassed, inconvenienced or angered by WikiLeaks publishing hidden truths.
His insights are really welcome and the interview is filled with original thought.
The interview debunks a slew of the criticisms against WikiLeaks.
On leaks versus hacks:
Information is constantly stolen by intelligence agencies the world over, for their own ends – yet when it is “stolen” and released to the public for the public good, the same governments who profit from the antics of their intelligence agencies, suddenly take affront at the methods by which the information in the releases are obtained.
Greenwald tackles this beautifully, with his comparison to Ellsberg and The Pentagon Papers:
With regards to criticisms (which are prevalent but for which no actual evidence has been provided by critics – only conjecture) that WikiLeaks withheld the DNC release until the most politically expedient time, for maximum damage – Greenwald entirely debunks the theory, stating that -if- this was done, that it is a common practice for news media to withhold stories, for a variety of reasons.
“I think there is a lot of hypocrisy going on in criticizing WikiLeaks for that.” – Glenn Greenwald
The journalist presses him on the issue, but Greenwald stands strong in the face of continued questioning. He goes on to tackle some of the major anti-Trump talking points also; pointing out that criticism of NATO’s interventionist escapades (especially post-Libya) and a desire to tone down the aggression against Russia does not actually make Trump an agent of Russia – that these are legitimate aspects of foreign policy debate that should be had regardless of who is standing.
The pushback gets even firmer when Greenwald states:
It gets better. Reading the next part, I’m literally applauding in my seat. Finally, finally, a major mainstream figure is speaking the righteous rage of the people, without co-opting the message to a particular political platform.
The quote is so incredible it really needs to be read twice.
The reason [Brexit] resonated is that people have been so fucked by the prevailing order in such deep and fundamental and enduring ways that they can’t imagine that anything is worse than preservation of the status quo. – Glenn Greenwald
Absolutely correct and this sham of an election is just adding fuel to the fire.
I don’t usually litter my articles with swear words and neither does Greenwald usually propagate them in his interviews either. But this is the level of frustration we are experiencing.
Nothing meaningful has changed since 2011. And we are all sick to death – literally – of that. No justice – no peace.
The Slate interview is long and comprehensive and there is a ton more worthy content in it than what is discussed above. It is well worth your time to read.
Old Grudges Rehashed
Unfortunately the debunking of so much of the anti-WikiLeaks hysteria has been predictably overshadowed by the singular criticism Greenwald upheld – and not for the first time.
In a media environment where few words and fast output equals easy money for beleaguered “journalists” – a single tweet by Snowden often spirals into global news.
Few journalists are interested in the “big picture” unless it can be explained in a paragraph or two and in a way that aligns with their own strategic career goals.
At a time when the temperature of establishment rage towards WikiLeaks is well past boiling point, it was inevitable that any criticism levelled at them by a usually sympathetic figure, or anyone who may have been viewed as an ally, would be immediately picked up and capitalised upon.
And whoomp – there it is:
Snowden sharing the Greenwald interview? 610 retweets. Snowden concurring with the singular Greenwald criticism of WikiLeaks? 5,100 retweets.
Which really makes you wonder how many people lauding the criticism actually bothered to read the full interview.
But the point Snowden was making isn’t new. He’s said it all along.
Snowden’s tweet counts 138 characters. (Yes, I’m such a geek as to have checked). Which might account for some of the problematic language. Being, the diminutive “helped“, when WikiLeaks has arguably engineered, advanced and championed their field, at extreme risk and sacrifice; and the inflammatory “hostility“.
Hostility unfairly implies emotion rather than ideology, at least to my reading.
The tweet itself generated plenty of hostility – predictably dividing respondents into three categories – those who agree with WikiLeaks on principle, those who agree with Snowden on principle, and those who don’t want to see them criticising each other for whatever reason, and just want them to play nice and get along.
The emotiveness of the tweet is reminiscent of counter-criticisms that track back years regarding Snowden’s strategy for his release of information. I think both parties are so conditioned to receiving torrential waves of abuse regarding their every choice and utterance, that they are understandably tender from the constant bruising.
Snowden and Assange are not silly people. They are in fact, the smartest and most strategic thinkers on the planet. Neither are prone to rashness. They know full well the impact and consequence of their actions. I suspect there is likely much more at play than meets the eye, more than any of us observing can know or guess at.
The issue of curation is an interesting one to me, because in order to have curation, you must have a curator, or curators.
Snowden often makes the point of the behemoth surveillance apparatus – that it isn’t just about who controls the infrastructure and calls the shots now – but who will in the future.
The logical answer would be to have an editorial board, but in these times of freedom of information organisations being under siege – what guarantee is there that any such board would also remain in tact?
We have just witnessed the wholesale firing of the entire board of the Tor Project – or to be politically correct – their “graciously stepping down” en masse… on the back of revelations of a Central Intelligence Agency employee literally having left the agency one day and started work at Tor the next.
WikiLeaks is arguably THE most under-threat journalistic organisation in the entire world. (Which for the record, Greenwald has covered extensively in a long string of brilliant articles about the US persecution of Assange, WikiLeaks and associates).
So the question for me is, where would the curation start and where would it end? Every person has their own ideas of precisely how such curation should or could be done and it would be extremely difficult to get a unified consensus on every single instance.
For their particular threat model, having one fixed rule that can provide a benchmark and carry on for future generations seems the safe bet.
Then of course, there is the significant issue of resourcing. WikiLeaks has been under a historic banking blockade for years now. They can’t place ads in newspapers and hire staff. They rely on an extemely rare breed of people who are willing to quite literally dedicate their lives and risk losing everything they have, in order to skill share with the organisation.
It is high risk and often thankless work.
That they manage to produce what they do, under the circumstances they are daily confronted with, is frankly miraculous. None of their detractors could compete with their output. None are. Their tally was at over 10,000,000 documents some time last year. Over a dozen major releases in 2015 alone.
Many, many stones are cast but who can even begin to claim achievements on a similar scale?
It’s not even just a matter of their journalistic output – they somehow not only manage to keep their head above water while facing unprecedented levels of danger, obstruction, interference, infiltration, oppression and difficulty – but they also support others who are endangered.
Recently, they have constantly had the stuffing kicked out of them by some staff at organisations who they continue to support and promote on their pages.
At what point do we actually collectively pause, consider what they endure in a field few else are endeavouring to compete in and have the graciousness to say THANK YOU WIKILEAKS!!!!!!!!!!
Their publishing models and releases have been capitalised on by multiple news organisations who have made bank off their work and then stabbed them in the back. Yes, I’m looking at you New York Times and The Guardian, in particular.
News organisations all around the world have their own SecureDrop installations – and what is the genesis for the concept? WikiLeaks.
Brother Vs. Brother, Org Vs. Org, Friend Vs. Friend
I recently said on Twitter: “The US election is a public exercise in Divide & Conquer and the extent to which it is working is frankly depressing.”
I can’t help but wonder how many people all over the United States are falling out with each other over the Trump-vs-Clinton dichotomy. How many family members. How many workmates? Employers and employees? Siblings? Lovers? Husbands and wives?
Does this ridiculous, unnecessary side show result in divorces? Broken homes? Is the price really worth it?
What exactly do the public stand to gain?
The obvious irrationality of both candidates, and their unsuitability for office, is so obscene it would be hilarious if it weren’t so horrific.
The wife of an impeached president versus a casino, golf club and supermodel tycoon. And it’s even worse: this is the reality that few will confront, but everyone is really having to subliminally reconcile regardless:
The image on the left is a Huffington Post article begging people not to turn a blind eye to the current child rape allegations against Trump.
The image on the right is a Free Beacon article containing leaked audio of Clinton bragging about how she got a child rapist’s 30-year possible sentence reduced to 2 months time served.
Many people, especially this year, have been referring to me as an investigative journalist. I actually wouldn’t call myself that, because I’m not classically trained in investigative journalism and that hasn’t been my primary focus.
Nearly 5 years ago now, I began reporting live from events then blogging about them afterwards. News spotting in my spare time. Keeping a close eye on what was happening to our fellow independent media teams in occupations around the world and working with them to the best of my ability.
Amplifying for anyone I felt wasn’t getting the attention for their issues that they deserved.
I morphed into a long-form journalist by necessity – in a chronically nepotistic media microcosm (New Zealand) – telling as many people as possible about the corrupt political and media antics being wielded against people in my home town of Auckland. It wasn’t really journalism so much as whistle-blowing. Over and over and over again. Whistle-blowing on police, on civic authorities, on the intelligence agencies, on the military industrial complex.
I eventually came to the conclusion that that is what a good journalist is. Someone who blows the whistle and never stops.
It’s usually circumstantial rather than deliberate. I get curious and dig, or I accumulate scraps of information over a protracted period of time, or I witness things myself. My mental data-microwave goes “DING!” and out pops an article.
Overall what drives me is the realisation that I’m in a unique position to contribute and I feel morally obliged to, despite the obvious drawbacks.
Whenever our media team was burning out, overtired, overstressed, suffering from lack of resources and the strain constantly imposed upon us by state and private agencies and saboteurs – when we really didn’t feel like going on anymore – we would look at each other and say, “if not us, then who?” Then we’d get off our butts and go do it all again. That is the spirit in which I write.
I think the real reason I am being described as an investigative journalist is because I have a habit of unearthing significant information that corporate media haven’t or won’t. What few realise is how easy that is to do, and what an indictment it is on the mainstream press that they so often either fail at it, or refuse to look.
How did I find out WikiLeak’s position on Trump? I searched “@WikiLeaks” + “Trump” on Twitter.
The idea that the dozens if not hundreds of journalists falsely accusing WikiLeaks of being a front for Russia and/or Donald Trump didn’t do the same thing, is astonishing. Or that if they did, that they didn’t amplify the obvious.
But among the learned and free thinkers – there is consensus. Assange thinks, as does Snowden, and apparently Greenwald, that Trump is as bad as Clinton.
For what it’s worth, so do I.
As Greenwald stated in the Slate interview, much better than I could:
I think in general there is no effort on the part of media elites to communicate with [Trump sympathisers] and do anything other than tell them that they are primitive, racist, and stupid. And if the message being sent is that you are primitive, racist, and stupid, and not that you have been fucked over in ways that are really bad and need to be rectified, of course those people are not going to be receptive to the message coming from the people who view them with contempt and scorn. I think that is why Brexit won, and I think that is the real danger of Trump winning. – Glenn Greenwald
As for the accusation that WikiLeaks is in league with Russia… that has already long since been dealt to. It is an unfounded and ridiculous allegation. A smear.
If only the mainstream media would get the memo and cast off their willful blindness.
But that is merely wishful thinking. while money, promotions and status remain largely bestowed upon those most beholden to the corporatocracy that are the true string-pullers, the shadow governments of the West.
And while the vanguard of the people; namely WikiLeaks and Julian Assange; remain Public Enemy Number One.
[This post was blogged live. Thanks for watching! Further source links yet to be added.]
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
For any student of modern propaganda techniques, the ruling announced last week in favor of WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) has provided fertile ground for research. Indeed, the level of media frenzy sparked by the ruling can be regarded as a barometer of the power and extent of establishment forces ranged against him and his organization.
UNWGAD found that the predicament of Assange amounts to ‘arbitrary detention’, a legal term that is clearly defined, deriving from Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that both the United Kingdom and Sweden are signatories to. Article 9 states that ‘no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile’. Arbitrary arrest or detention ‘are the arrest or detention of an individual in a case in which there is no likelihood or evidence that they committed a crime against legal statute, or in which there has been no proper due process of law’. ‘Due process’ is defined as ‘the legal requirement that the state must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person’.
Dr. Roslyn Fuller, a lecturer in International Law based in Ireland, has this to say about the ruling:
The Working Group stated they considered Assange’s case to fall under Category III, which covers cases where a trial does not comply with international human rights norms. The Working Group found that Sweden and the UK have pursued Assange in a disproportionate manner, given that the Swedish prosecutors could have questioned Assange at any point and he had declared himself willing to cooperate.
The two claims against Assange that were ‘dropped’ by the prosecutor last year were dropped because they were about to become time-barred. The prosecutor chose to allow this rather than to question Assange. One would think that if the prosecution had the interests of the alleged victims at heart, they may have chosen to pursue questioning in the UK – a common enough activity – rather than let the investigation lapse.
So while Assange may be holding out, so is Sweden, and nations have obligations to move the wheels of justice along as swiftly as practicable. The Working Group’s assessment is basically, “how hard can it be to conduct a preliminary investigation?” with the implication that if the prosecutor were serious, they would have gotten this wrapped up by now.
Furthermore, the Working Group found that “the grant itself and the fear of persecution on the part of Mr Assange based on the possibility of extradition, should have been given fuller consideration in the determination and the exercise of criminal administration, instead of being subjected to a sweeping judgment as defining either merely hypothetical or irrelevant”.
In other words, British and Swedish authorities should have considered that Assange’s fear of persecution might be founded and questioned him in the embassy, something it was perfectly possible to do with minimal effort in the interests of pushing their case forward. Questioning Assange at the embassy would not have jeopardized their case, whereas coming out of the embassy could have jeopardized Assange’s life. Thus, it would be disproportional to force him to do so when there was nothing to be gained by it. Assange’s interest in being protected from extradition to the United States outweighed the Swedish prosecution’s interest that he only be questioned in Sweden. Dismissing these concerns out-of-hand was arbitrary.
Even before UNWGAD’s announcement, serious pressure will have been felt by members of the group not to rule for Assange, according to the former chair, Norwegian lawyer Mads Andenas, as he explains in this short radio interview. Although reluctant to provide specifics, he makes it clear that any ruling against ‘big’ nations like the UK or the US face considerable institutional resistance.
The media reported the ruling before its announcement, allowing the headlines to get the digs in early. This BBC article stated: ‘Julian Assange is being “arbitrarily held”, UN panel to say’. In casual speech, ‘arbitrarily’ is often used in a roughly synonymous manner to ‘randomly’, implying that the UK is randomly detaining Assange. Cue an avalanche of outrage and indignation on social media and elsewhere from casual news readers deeply offended at the suggestion that the UK is somehow behaving like a dictatorship and randomly applying justice, given that Assange is of course free to leave the embassy at any time and further given that through relentless media disinformation and misinformation for years, the average news consumer now believes that Assange must ‘face justice’.
A Downing Street spokesman was on hand to supply fuel for the fire: “We have been consistently clear that Mr Assange has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK but is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorean embassy.”
This statement also employs the non-legal use of the term ‘arbitrary’. Readers, the vast majority of whom have little or no knowledge of or concern about the details of the Assange case, are therefore given validation of an already misleading statement by an authority figure: classic psychological manipulation.
UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond rejected the UN group ruling, condemning it as ‘ridiculous’. Mr. Hammond, who has no legal expertise or background, further made the false claim that the group is made up of ‘lay people, not lawyers’ and that the ruling is ‘flawed in law’. [Note: Former Guardian journalist Jonathon Cook expands on this point expertly here]
The corporate media was also on hand to deride and condemn the ruling. The Guardian’s Marina Hyde, who has form smearing Julian Assange, wrote a rambling, vindictive, error-strewn article that has to be read to be believed. She then engaged in a smug, arrogant and self-congratulatory round of ‘banter’ [here and here] with like-minded journalist mates on Twitter, displaying a staggering level of contempt for a man described by the United Nations as deprived of liberty (add sunlight to that) for years as well as an embarrassing lack of awareness of her own gatekeeper role. It raises serious questions about editorial integrity at the Guardian, a newspaper of record, that a journalist with such obvious dislike for the subject of her article (with precedent) was permitted to write an analysis of a major story like this, particularly in light of the fact that Hyde usually covers showbiz and, by her own admission, has no detailed familiarity with the Assange case.
Social media lit up as soon everyone became an expert on international law and the qualifications and credentials of the members of UNWGAD. Comments below the line of articles all over the world slammed Assange with the usual tired and long discredited arguments.
The first wave of attack generally concerns the allegations of rape. It takes only a short period of research to find out the facts. [Note: anyone who believes they know what they are talking about with regard to the Assange case should read this FAQ here]
From the FAQ [emphasis (bold) mine]:
 new information has emerged that both women explicitly deny having been raped by Mr. Assange. In a statement to the UK Supreme Court, the prosecutor acknowledged that the complainants wished only to ask the police for advice about HIV tests, having discovered they’d had both had sex with Mr. Assange. (There has never been an allegation Mr. Assange has HIV.) Neither of the women wished to lodge a formal complaint.
The woman of whom Mr. Assange is accused of the offence of “lesser rape” (a technical term in Swedish law) sent an SMS to a friend saying that she “did not want to accuse JA [of] anything” and “it was the police who made up the charges”. The other woman tweeted in 2013 that she had never been raped. Both women’s testimonies say that they consented to the sex.A senior prosecutor already dismissed the ’rape’ accusation, saying that there were no grounds for accusing Mr. Assange on this basis. But a third prosecutor, lobbied by a politician who was running for attorney general, took over the investigation and resurrected the accusations against Mr. Assange. Due to the great number of incorrect reports , it is best to rely on primary source documents in this matter, which are on the internet and the UK Supreme Court “Agreed Statements of Facts” agreed to by the UK, the Swedish authoritiesm and Mr. Assange’s legal team. (See here and here.)
The women themselves in their own words explicitly say they were not raped. The women themselves in their own words said they had no wish to lodge a complaint. Yet to the experts in the corporate media and on social media or below the line, Assange is apparently a ‘cowardly rapist’ who is ‘holed up’ in an embassy ‘evading justice’. They occasionally even remember to write ‘alleged’ before ‘rapist’.
The next line of attack concerns Assange’s alleged evasion of justice. Yet Assange left Sweden on 27th September 2010 without impediment from prosecutor Marianne Ny, who had been assigned to the case from September 1st. It is worth noting that if this case was so serious that it became an international incident leading to the (very unusual) issuance of an Interpol Red Notice, and if the well-being of the alleged rape victims was such a priority for the prosecutor, the fact that Ny did nothing to question Assange before he left as a matter of urgency is highly suspicious.
It is also notable that Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, made some very disturbing claims with regard to the two women involved:
Julian Assange’s Swedish lawyer was shown scores of text messages sent by the two women who accuse him of rape and sexual assault, in which they speak of “revenge” and extracting money from him, an extradition hearing was told.
Björn Hurtig, who represents the WikiLeaks founder in Sweden, told Belmarsh magistrates court that he had been shown “about 100” messages sent between the women and their friends while supervised by a Swedish police officer, but had not been permitted to make notes or share the contents with his client.
“I consider this to be contrary to the rules of a fair trial,” he said. A number of the messages “go against what the claimants have said”, he told the court.
One message referred to one of the women being “half asleep” while having sex with Assange, Hurtig said, as opposed to fully asleep. “That to my mind is the same as saying ‘half awake’.” One of the women alleges that Assange had sex with her while she was sleeping.
Before destroying a man’s reputation an objective, honorable or honest person would first look into the details and circumstances surrounding the case. Such considerations obviously do not apply to Assange.
One final line of attack is the idea that Assange is ‘voluntarily’ hiding in the embassy. It is insulting to the intelligence and legal abilities of the UNWGAD lawyers to think that they are incapable of correctly interpreting this unusual situation in legal terms. Anyone believing that they are in danger of political persecution, as Assange does, has the legal right under international law to seek protection on humanitarian grounds. From the FAQ:
International law says that a sovereign country has decided to recognise Mr. Assange as needing protection from political persecution on humanitarian grounds. Mr. Assange has a right to meaningfully exercise that protection through passage to Ecuador. Ecuador invoked a number of applicable conventions, including the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees. The United Kingdom and Sweden are also parties to the 1951 Convention and are obligated to recognise the asylum decision of Ecuador. While both states have been careful to avoid saying that they do not recognise the asylum, their actions can only be interpreted as a wilful violation of Mr. Assange’s right to ’seek, receive and enjoy’ his asylum. In international law, the obligation to protect persons from persecution under the 1951 Refugee Convention prevails over extradition agreements between states.
The United Kingdom says it has a treaty obligation to extradite Mr. Assange to Sweden even though he has not been charged with an offense. There is a conflict between the United Kingdom’s obligations to the 1951 UN refugee convention and its obligations under the European Arrest Warrant system. It is established law that these conflicts are to be resolved in favour of the higher obligation which is to the 1951 convention.
Rather than follow international law, the United Kingdom has chosen to interpret the conflict in favor of its geopolitical alliances. The United Kingdom has a history of breaking international law in this manner, for example, in its invasion of Iraq, its cooperation with US rendition operations, and its facilitation of global mass spying via its intelligence service GCHQ. Sweden is also a party to these last two violations.
Assange has reason to be concerned. A secret, long-running US investigation has been mounted against him, according to US Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd. “The grand jury is a serious business,” said Michael Ratner, a human rights lawyer advising Assange. “They’re all over this,” he added. [Sources here]
Reason for concern indeed given the US approach to whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, who was tortured while awaiting trial, as well as the US’s clear contempt for international laws and conventions, highlighted dramatically when it forced down the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales in the mistaken belief that Edward Snowden was aboard. That case also highlighted the powerful influence the US wields over European nations: France, Italy and Spain all denied airspace to Morales forcing the plane to land in Austria.
The UN ruling puts the UK and Sweden in a very sticky position as they recklessly try to play it both ways. In the past both nations have welcomed rulings by the same group when they benefited their geopolitical priorities, as this Crikey article explains:
What happens when the UN panel that you previously thought was excellent produces a verdict that you don’t like?
That was the problem facing UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (little-known outside the Tory Party and best known for having been a Goth in his younger days, not that there’s anything wrong with that) when the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in favour of Julian Assange’s complaint that he had been arbitrarily detained by the UK and Sweden.
But Hammond’s problem is the Cameron government had a very different view of the WGAD when it ruled that the Burmese regime’s ongoing detention of Aung San Suu Kyi was a breach of international human rights law. “As in its previous five ‘opinions’, the Working Group has found that the continuous deprivation of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s liberty is arbitrary, and has requested the government of Myanmar to implement its previous recommendations and to remedy the situation,” Hammond’s predecessor William Hague said in calling for her release. Indeed, it’s been only a few months since the British government was happy to quote the WGAD in its guidance on handling particular types of protection and human rights claims about China.
China is a constant target of the WGAD. Unlike other UN bodies that might be criticised for obsessing about Western governments while ignoring the human rights abuses of dictatorships, WGAD focuses almost entirely on non-Western countries. In the years while Assange has been detained, the Working Group has ruled against China 14 times — with most rulings dealing with multiple detainees — and against Iran nine times, as well as ruling against Cuba and North Korea (again, often covering multiple cases) four times each. Syria, Saudi Arabia, Russia and the Palestinian Authority have also been among its targets. It’s in such company the UK and Sweden now find themselves.
The United States was also happy to cite the WGAD in the case of Alan Gross, who spent several years in a Cuban jail after travelling to the country to provide Cuba’s Jewish community with internet access. US politicians and the State Department were happy to cite WGAD’s finding that Gross was arbitrarily detained. The US Justice Department also cites WGAD decisions in its criticisms of the human rights records of other countries. And the WGAD ruled last August that Iran was holding US journalist Jason Rezaian arbitrarily as well; the State Department also invokes the WGAD’s decision about other imprisoned journalists.
In short, the WGAD is usually a reliable source for Western countries eager to criticise the human rights records of countries like China, Iran and Cuba. But the moment it looks askance at Western practices, it’s “ludicrous” and dismissed.
This episode teaches some lessons. Essential among them is the fact that analysis in the corporate media is now crippled beyond repair, its credibility a smoking wreck. If one desired an analysis of an aspect of astronomy or cosmology, would one read the opinions of a writer who still advocates the Ptolemaic Model of the solar system? The same applies to an analysis of the complicated legal case of Assange by obviously biased and prejudiced non-experts who are given a platform to speak to millions nonetheless. This further applies to much of foreign policy and other areas that require ‘nuance’ in the corporate media because advertisers are so touchy about what reaches the general public. The only meaningful analyses now come from independent journalists and writers who are free from corporate or government/lobby-group influence.
We also learn that corporate journalists not only act as gatekeepers in their day job, but even in their free time, gleefully towing the establishment line and seemingly oblivious to the deadly consequences of their obfuscations as they help to bring liberal, anti-war opinion over to the ‘humanitarian interventionist’ camp of the imperialist ‘right to protect’ doctrine.
Disturbingly we can also acquire a sense of the enormous power wielded behind the scenes by those who want Assange. If the UK and Sweden are willing to reject the findings of a United Nations panel of legal experts, a panel they never had complaints with in the past when they were condemning China etc., then we know that the stakes are as high as they get. The recklessness of this rejection is staggering, as explained by the Center for Constitutional Rights [Emphasis (bold) mine]:
In our briefs to the WGAD, we argued that someone is effectively detained when they are forced to choose between confinement and running the risk of persecution. That is the precise dilemma faced by Mr. Assange, who would lose the protection of his asylum if he stepped out of the embassy. The risk of extradition is the ‘fourth wall’ for the now repudiated claim that he is free to leave the embassy. As a result, it has been years since Mr. Assange has had access to proper medical care, sunlight, or the ability to see his family.
The WGAD’s decision in Mr. Assange’s case sets an important precedent for refugees. In our submissions we analogized the situation faced by Mr. Assange to that of asylum-seekers in detention facilities. States may claim that asylum-seekers held in subhuman conditions are not ‘detained’ because they are technically free to leave for their home country, but this is a non-choice, since the home country would persecute the asylum seeker.
In choosing to reject the UN ruling, not only are Sweden and the UK failing to live up to their treaty obligations because they do not suit their agendas – a working definition of an action of what Western nations traditionally call ‘rogue nations’ – but they are also putting their own citizens at risk by setting a dangerous precedent that will allow any evil dictator anywhere to also reject the findings of the UN in the future.
It is profoundly telling – a shocking demonstration of the power of media propaganda – that millions of people automatically side with governments who have lied time and time again on every issue imaginable, that have committed some of the most terrible crimes in history, against one man who has risked his freedom and life to expose some of those crimes. The idea that he might have been set up or has been persecuted is summarily dismissed despite the obvious motive for Western governments to do such a thing and despite the enormous amount of documented evidence demonstrating that this is precisely the case.
The Assange situation has long been a farce but now a ruling of the United Nations has been permitted to become a political football. This way utter lawlessness lies. The UK must immediately release and compensate Julian Assange as the UN ruling dictates. Failure to do this will only serve to confirm its status as a rogue nation and US lapdog.
With Glenn Greenwald debating General Keith Alexander live on stage as I write this, it is rather convenient timing for this insipid hit piece to emerge claiming definitively that Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks and anyone who supports them are “in bed with the Russians”.
John Schindler’s tweet is just plain irresponsible and dangerous as well as untrue. The smear is an old one; the tactic timeless; the source/author dubious but several angles are worth addressing that I don’t think have been properly before.
The Primary Lie: That WikiLeaks Censors Itself For Russia
The biggest lie is the easiest to disprove. Heard so many times it’s impossible to count – that WikiLeaks doesn’t print documents on/about Russia or that aren’t in its interests… that they somehow exclude Russia from their databases or only print approved messages.
Using the most basic investigative method available, let’s see whether this is true: by going to WikiLeaks official website and typing “Russia” into the search bar.
In case you can’t see that writing at the bottom – there are 647,208 results for ‘Russia’ in WikiLeaks’ database.
Let’s look a little closer.
So. Just in the first few results alone we have:
an article exposing Russian investigations into Tor users – from the Edward Snowden files no less
an article describing a Russian government decision as ‘foolish’
a report on Russian attempts to regulate the blogsophere/new media
a report on Russian censorship of a BBC interview
I think it’s safe to say we won’t have to analyse the entire 647k docs to find more that are critical of Kremlin political views and positions.
WikiLeaks’ Solidarity With Russian Activists
The Russian activists and performance artists known as “Pussy Riot” aren’t just friendly to the cause – they even sit on the advisory board of the Courage Foundation.
None of the detractors explain why, if WikiLeaks is so far “in bed with the Russians”, they work with Russian dissidents who have been targeted for arrest and prosecuted by the State.
Stuck In The Airport For 39 Days
In the pro-NSA anti-Snowden “counterintelligence” fantasy-land of John Schindler, WikiLeaks sent one lone woman to take Snowden ‘from Hawaii to Moscow’ to “defect” only so that he could be… stuck in a Moscow airport with no valid passport for 39 days, desperately applying for asylum, to a whole host of countries?
No, if he was defecting, he’d be welcomed with a parade. Not stuck in civil and physical limbo for over a month. He would have had entire teams of security guys flying him around in military or private jets – instead his entire transit was on civilian airliners.
What makes far more sense is that Edward and Sarah Harrison’s lack of co-operation is what effected their circumstance, leaving them stranded in the airport.
Even after asylum was granted, Sarah stayed on with Edward for several months… this too, indicates that WikiLeaks provided aftercare for him; he was not simply abandoned or left to fend for himself.
A Long Look In The Mirror
Central to the claims that Snowden is colluding with the Russians is the suggestion that intelligence agencies are just so badass that non-cooperation with them is not an option.
This may be true for those without public visibility and a high profile, but as Sarah herself pointed out, Russian authorities were aware that she had access to a platform with millions of followers able to rally in defense of their rights at a moment’s notice.
I can’t help but wonder – who is Julian Assange supposed to hire for bodyguards? Americans? Why is the mere presence of people of Russian origin in one’s life basis for a conspiracy theory?
But any smear will do and smear they have. If the constant boasting of Schindler’s “counterintelligence” / “counterterrorism” background isn’t enough of a clue, a quick look through the author’s past posts exposes his agenda.
“Ever since the Snowden saga broke a few weeks back I’ve defended the Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) against the most scurrilous charges in the media..”
Like clockwork, derisive, salacious and defamatory posts date from June 2013 to the present day, making wild accusations. That Snowden is working with the Chinese – that he is working with the Russians – that WikiLeaks is working for the Russians – with the grave nature of what Snowden actually leaked ignored in an attempt to deflect blame away from the elites in control of the intelligence agencies.
One of the author’s smear pieces claims Snowden did no damage and is irrelevant – the next that he did vast, lasting and unforgivable damage. Snowden’s position and access is minimised to him being “just an IT guy”; the next minute it is complained that he took over a million documents. The story is ever-changing and in aggregate, discredits itself.
Snowden’s True Significance
Edward Snowden did many remarkable things – countless things. That he managed to extricate so much information, get it out to the public, and make his “escape” is in itself incredible.
But his greatest achievements are the least talked about.
Snowden is solution-focused. Rather than merely inform the public, he presents them with an array of tools and resources with which to protect themselves.
It is this engagement that is next level. Not just standing on a stage and giving a speech but taking steps to implement actual change. Not merely educating his audience, but changing their practical behaviours, impacting their decision-making.
As much as his critics downplay him as “just an I.T. guy” Snowden’s words and actions are reminiscent of every individual role in a development team. He is the tester – testing the safety and suitability of open source products for public use. He is the analyst… mapping and understanding systems and making recommendations. He is the database administrator… the networker… the technical writer… the architect… the development manager… the delivery manager… the CTO.
Yet it is not these roles he is recognised for so much as his less tangible qualities. Truth-telling. Bravery. Valour, in its truest sense – ‘great courage in the face of extreme danger‘.
Snowden has brought back a time when celebrity meant more than vain idolatry. When statues were carved, or buildings were named, not for those of elite birthright, great wealth or superficial beauty but for those of daring, heroic deeds undertaken for a greater good.
False promises of corrupted political systems aside – when our children aspire to be more like Edward Snowden than Justin Bieber; or Jesselyn Radack than Britney Spears; there is hope and there will be change.
The World Grows Weary
While humans bicker and slander, steal, oppress, tax and incite, the Earth grows weary. There is ecological devastation wherever we look. Apocalyptic weather patterns, extinctions of multiple species and constant natural disasters.
Refugees are fleeing war-torn countries in their millions while financial systems inflict poverty upon billions.
Pretty soon there will be no amount of anti-Snowden op-eds sufficient to bedazzle us in the face of our reality: humankind is in big fucking trouble and it will take more than words to get us out of it.
Critical thought, research and dissemination of information are the foundations to change but we are now past the point where action is required. Our support for whistleblowers needs to be more material than effortlessly debunking the libel of the status quo’s talking heads. To that end, this article is going to be about more than just the critics.
WikiLeaks is doing a brilliant job of directly confronting the system by holding a mirror up to it. Now we need to show our solidarity and not just declare it. Let our actions combine in beautiful, complex ways.
Effecting change where the State refuses to do so, creating new systems that bypass it entirely.
For we should not aspire just to slowing the pace of human destruction, but to creating new pathways of preservation, new avenues of possibility…
…to literally birth a new world. The evidence of the unsuitability and unsustainability of the old one is all around us.
No longer do we need to debate it.
We need to create it.
There have been three recent geographically-disparate and diverse political actions that have produced immediate results.
Glenn Greenwald and First Look Media co-ordinated a brilliant fundraising effort to raise contributions for the legal defense of whistleblower Chelsea Manning, resulting in over $100,000 being donated within the first 48 hours.
Aspects of Manning’s case are precedent-setting and will have ramifications for future whistle-blowers therefore empowering her to pursue her rights to their full extent now may become even more consequential later.
Transsexual Kiwi Prisoner Wins Transfer To Female Prison
A group of activists in New Zealand who began a hunger strike and various online initiatives in protest at a transsexual woman being incarcerated in a men’s prison has achieved a resounding victory.
Prisoner Jade Follett has now been transferred to a womens prison and is to receive an apology from the Department of Corrections. The Twitter account of protest group No Pride In Prisons that organised the actions, is calling for more than an apology.
‘The fact that the policy places trans women almost always in men’s prisons by default shows how much needs to be changed…
That it took a hunger strike to get Corrections’ attention to this urgent issue indicates just how little regard they have for prisoners’ safety…
‘If it emerges that other trans prisoners have been treated in a similar manner, we will not hesitate to take action’
The above is proof that diversity of tactics is more than a catch-phrase; ends can be achieved by a variety of means.
It is also proof that people power is winning battles.
These victories are won when actions are organised and carried out speedily, loudly and on hot-button issues, where the State has insufficient time to prepare countermeasures and is forced to opt for ‘damage control’ tactics that can ultimately count in the favour of protesters and effect change.
With all the problems of the present and uncertainties of the future it is WikiLeaks, independent media and whistleblowers informing us; open-source technological initiatives protecting us; and real people opening their hearts, raising their voices and taking action on the streets, that are the difference between certain human self-destruction and social evolution.
“Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed – and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment – the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution – not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply ‘give the public what it wants’ – but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.” – John F. Kennedy
12 June 2014 marks the second anniversary of Julian Assange’s refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London. Mr. Assange has been detained in the United Kingdom against his will without charge for almost four years. This anniversary should serve as an opportunity to once again attempt to inform the many millions of people made ignorant or uncaring of the realities of this complex case thanks to a concerted media disinformation and smear campaign against both WikiLeaks and its founder.
Readers who are open to the possibility that they may have been misled on this issue should first follow these links and read/watch in full:
A FAQ here explains some of the general circumstances of the case.
This short animated video also provides a clear, informative summary.
Writing in USA Today, Michael Ratner also took the opportunity to raise points that highlight the farcical nature of this standoff:
Harassment, targeting and prosecution of whistle-blowers, journalists and publishers have become a dangerous new normal — one we should refuse to accept, especially in a time when governments are becoming more powerful and less accountable. It’s time to end this assault, starting with granting Snowden amnesty and withdrawing the threat of U.S. criminal prosecution of Assange.
In the two years Assange has spent cloistered in the Ecuadorian Embassy, the British extradition law under which he was ordered to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct has changed. With this change, the allegations that originally secured Assange’s extradition order to Sweden would no longer suffice. Now, a decision to charge Assange with a crime is necessary for extradition, but Sweden has never made that decision.
That hasn’t kept Britain from ignoring Assange’s right to asylum by clinging to the now-invalid law. Instead, British police and security forces keep watch on the entrance, windows and surroundings of the Ecuadorian Embassy around the clock, which has cost $10 million.
Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to investigate Assange and might have secretly charged him without his knowledge. A grand jury empaneled in 2010 remains open, keeping Assange in legal limbo. Under such conditions, leaving the embassy would mean a stop in Sweden before Assange is given a one-way ticket to a U.S. prison to likely face inhumane treatment and a sentence similar to Manning’s, including extended solitary confinement.
Similar harsh treatment and excessive punishments haven’t applied to the people in government who perpetrated the crimes exposed by these whistle-blowers and published by WikiLeaks. In fact, people such as national intelligence director James Clapper, who lied under oath to Congress, have avoided consequences altogether.
Britain should respect Assange’s asylum and allow him to leave the embassy unmolested. Whistle-blowers such as Snowden and Manning should not face the impossible decision between living in exile and spending decades imprisoned. We deserve a justice system that holds governments accountable and considers the public service done by whistle-blowers and the people who publish their information.
Sweden can end this standoff easily by questioning Assange by video or by sending investigators to the embassy. Both of these options are permissible under Swedish law, and indeed both have been utilized in the past. Meanwhile, the UK Foreign Office maintains it has a ‘legal duty’ to extradite Mr. Assange, despite, in a clear instance of double standards, resisting (and preventing) the extradition to Spain of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, arrested in 1998 in London under an international arrest warrant (issued by a Spanish judge) on multiple counts of murder, torture and war crimes.
Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of the often hostile public reaction to the plight of Julian Assange is the assumption by so many of benign intent on the part of the US and its close allies, the UK and Sweden. Despite the mass intrusive surveillance apparatus exposed by Edward Snowden, under the umbrella of which strategies reminiscent of the East German Stasi have been laid out for the world to see; despite the long documented history of illegal, covert operations undertaken by agencies of the United States like COINTELPRO, Operation Mockingbird, Operation CHAOS and many others; despite dozens of illegal interventions and bombings of foreign sovereign nations; despite multiple CIA-sponsored coup d’etats that replaced democratically elected leaders with murderous dictators; despite the numerous fake FBI terror plots to justify the enormous dedication of resources to the ‘war on terror’; despite the quite insane double standards displayed in the ‘intelligence’ arena…despite all these documented realities, perplexing it is indeed that any serious person could assume any benign intent whatsoever. Indeed, given the above list, an intelligent person would surely assume the precise opposite.
The myth persists that Julian Assange is somehow the malign party (‘He ‘stole’ the documents’ etc.) for enabling the cables leaked by Bradley Manning and others to see the light of day, documents that contain thousands of accounts of mind-boggling criminality perpetrated by officials elected in our democratic systems and the people under their command.
Did you know, for example, that WikiLeaks informed the world’s people of the following (from an earlier article on this blog):
It was official government policy to ignore torture in Iraq.
U.S. officials were told to cover up evidence of child abuse by contractors in Afghanistan.
Guantanamo prison has held mostly innocent people and low-level operatives.
There IS (despite government claims to the opposite) an official tally of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.
US Military officials withheld information about the indiscriminate killing of Reuters journalists and innocent Iraqi civilians.
The State Department backed corporate opposition to a Haitian minimum wage law.
The U.S. Government had long been faking its public support for Tunisian President Ben Ali.
Known Egyptian torturers received training from the FBI in Quantico, Virginia.
The State Department authorized the theft of the UN Secretary General’s DNA.
The Japanese and U.S. Governments had been warned about the seismic threat at Fukushima.
The Obama Administration allowed Yemen’s President to cover up a secret U.S. drone bombing campaign.
The U.S. Army considered WikiLeaks a national security threat as early as 2008, according to documents obtained and posted by WikiLeaks in March, 2010.
Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commanders repeatedly, knowingly lied to the American public about rising sectarian violence in Iraq beginning in 2006, according to the cross-referencing of WikiLeaks’ leaked Iraq war documents and former Washington Post Baghdad Bureau Chief Ellen Knickmeyer’s recollections.
The Obama administration worked with Republicans during his first few months in office to protect Bush administration officials facing a criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies that some considered torture. A “confidential” April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid obtained by WikiLeaks details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.
A U.S. Army helicopter allegedly gunned down two journalists in Baghdad in 2007. WikiLeaks posted a 40-minute video on its website in April, showing the attack in gruesome detail, along with an audio recording of the pilots during the attack.
US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished..
US special-operations forces have targeted militants without trial in secret assassination missions, and many more Afghan civilians have been killed by accident than previously reported, according to the WikiLeaks Afghanistan war document dump.
Five years ago, the International Committee of the Red Cross told U.S. diplomats in New Delhi that the Indian government “condones torture” and systematically abused detainees in the disputed region of Kashmir. The Red Cross told the officials that hundreds of detainees were subjected to beatings, electrocutions and acts of sexual humiliation, the Guardian newspaper of London reported Thursday evening.
The British government has trained a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organizations as a “government death squad”, leaked US embassy cables have revealed. Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which has been held responsible for hundreds of extra-judicial killings in recent years and is said to routinely use torture, have received British training in “investigative interviewing techniques” and “rules of engagement”.
Secret U.S. diplomatic cables reveal that BP suffered a blowout after a gas leak in the Caucasus country of Azerbaijan in September 2008, a year and a half before another BP blowout killed 11 workers and started a leak that gushed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
The United States was secretly given permission from Yemen’s president to attack the al Qaeda group in his country that later attempted to blow up planes in American air space. President Ali Abdullah Saleh told John Brennan, President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, in a leaked diplomatic cable from September 2009 that the U.S. had an “open door” on terrorism in Yemen.
Contrary to public statements, the Obama administration actually helped fuel conflict in Yemen. The U.S. was shipping arms to Saudi Arabia for use in northern Yemen even as it denied any role in the conflict.
Saudi Arabia is one of the largest origin points for funds supporting international terrorism, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged U.S. diplomats to do more to stop the flow of money to Islamist militant groups from donors in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government, Clinton wrote, was reluctant to cut off money being sent to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Pakistan.
A storage facility housing Yemen’s radioactive material was unsecured for up to a week after its lone guard was removed and its surveillance camera was broken, a secret U.S. State Department cable released by WikiLeaks revealed Monday. “Very little now stands between the bad guys and Yemen’s nuclear material,” a Yemeni official said on January 9 in the cable.
Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, constructed with apparent help from North Korea, fearing it was built to make a bomb. In a leaked diplomatic cable obtained by the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, then-US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice wrote the Israelis targeted and destroyed the Syrian nuclear reactor just weeks before it was to be operational.
Diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks indicate authorities in the United Arab Emirates debated whether to keep quiet about the high-profile killing of a Hamas operative in Dubai in January. The documents also show the UAE sought U.S. help in tracking down details of credit cards Dubai police believe were used by a foreign hit squad involved in the killing. The spy novel-like slaying, complete with faked passports and assassins in disguise, is widely believed to be the work of Israeli secret agents.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Al Jazeera network that some of the unpublished cables show “top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA, and many officials keep visiting US embassies in their respective countries voluntarily to establish links with this key US intelligence agency. These officials are spies for the U.S. in their countries.”
Pope Benedict impeded an investigation into alleged child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. Not only did Pope Benedict refuse to allow Vatican officials to testify in an investigation by an Irish commission into alleged child sex abuse by priests, he was also reportedly furious when Vatican officials were called upon in Rome.
Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness carried out negotiations for the Good Friday agreement with Irish then-prime minister Bertie Ahern while the two had explicit knowledge of a bank robbery that the Irish Republican Army was planning to carry out, according to a WikiLeaks cable. Ahern figured Adams and McGuinness knew about the 26.5 million pound Northern Bank robbery of 2004 because they were members of the “IRA military command.”
Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC has infiltrated the highest levels of government in Nigeria. A high-ranking executive for the international Shell oil company once bragged to U.S. diplomats, as reported in a leaked diplomatic cable, that the company’s employees had so well infiltrated the Nigerian government that officials had “forgotten” the level of the company’s access.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon told a U.S. official last year that Latin America “needs a visible U.S. presence” to counter Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s growing influence in the region, according to a U.S. State Department cable leaked to WikiLeaks.
McDonald’s tried to delay the US government’s implementation of a free-trade agreement in order to put pressure on El Salvador to appoint neutral judges in a $24m lawsuit it was fighting in the country. The revelation of the McDonald’s strategy to ensure a fair hearing for a long-running legal battle against a former franchisee comes from a leaked US embassy cable dated 15 February 2006.
Much of the information in the cables had nothing to do with national security and was most definitely in the public interest – a seemingly endless litany of illegal behavior by the US and its proxies or allies. And yet, while the instigators of these acts walk free, many enjoying promotions, lucrative jobs and book tours, Julian Assange is denied freedom of movement, despite being granted political asylum by the respected sovereign nation of Ecuador over legitimate concerns of possible human rights violations and political persecution.
What, then, is the cause of this baffling hostility towards Mr. Assange, when, given the scope and depth of criminality he has uncovered, he would in a sane world be receiving with our deep gratitude the world’s most prestigious honors and awards for services to the public and democracy?
Culpability clearly lies with the corporate-owned media. Numerous articles have appeared throughout the mainstream press that have printed lies, inaccuracies, lazy reporting, smears and personal insults. [Note: one such article was analysed on this blog last year]. Comments below the line on these pieces published in major newspapers often mirror the incorrect factual statements made by the writers and the general confusion is added to by the input of obvious astroturfers drawn to the fray with every new assault.
Julian Assange, recognised by the UK high court as a journalist and a recipient of several prestigious journalism awards (including the Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism and the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism), is the victim of an obvious fit-up, a crude, clumsy, clearly bogus attempt to force him into the clutches of those who want not only their revenge, but also – mafia-style – to ‘send a message’ to deter anyone else who might entertain the forbidden desire of informing the public of the secret evils carried out behind their backs in their name and with their taxes.
In the interests of law, of protecting press freedoms and the essential democratic ideal of holding those with great power accountable, not to mention the human rights and freedom of a man unjustly held against his will, right-thinking people of conscience must raise their voices and hands in defense of Julian Assange.