Music To The Ears Of Entitlement

“We have allowed our party to be hijacked by people joining by text for three quid” – Unknown Labour MP (quoted by Guardian columnist Andrew Rawnsley)

As any career journalist will tell you, the first paragraph of your article must have a killer hook in these days of fickle, easily bored readerships. Tim Ross, senior political correspondent at The Daily Telegraph doesn’t disappoint:

Jeremy Corbyn’s close associates are secretly planning to purge the shadow cabinet of moderate MPs who disagree with his radical, anti-war policies, as he seeks to impose his will on the Labour Party.

It’s a masterpiece:

Secret: Sly/underhand/undemocratic.

Purge: Echoes of Stalin.

Moderate MPs: Supporters of a war that – by any even slightly honest and accurate examination of the actual situation in Syria – is insane.

Disagree: Implies Corbyn is acting in a dictatorial manner in choosing his cabinet when leaders of all political parties routinely do so.

Radical anti-war policies: Standing against yet more mass slaughter (and taking into account other recent catastrophic interventions) that serves only to send stocks in arms manufacturers higher is ‘radical’ in this enlightened era.

Impose his will: Just in case you missed it a few words earlier: Corbyn acts like a dictator – Stalin, subtly foreshadowed by our intrepid keeper of the sacred trust of the fourth estate, is the man Mr. Ross has in mind for us.

One should not expect anything different from this particular newspaper, but inversion of the concepts of ‘moderate’ and ‘radical’ lies at the heart of corporate media propaganda. In order to protect and sustain the crony capitalist system that is condemning billions to inescapable poverty and dozens of nations to war and chaos while enriching a tiny, privileged class all as the environment is ravaged, the single key issue that must be hammered relentlessly home is that the system as it stands, while not perfect, is nonetheless the only option we have; the only viable way of allocating the resources of the planet. Any alternative vision, no matter how well conceived or by whom, is unanimously condemned as naive, idiotic, clueless and even as a dire threat to national or global security. As for the brave soul proposing such an alternative, he or she can look forward to being smeared in every way imaginable until they are no longer a threat.

An integral part of this obscenely skewed version of reality is the concept of ‘leadership’, the unquestioned and unquestionable idea that some among us are endowed with certain intangible qualities of character that can lead us through the dark and into the light. By an astounding coincidence, in Western democracies, these people who are portrayed as born to lead must also toe the establishment line.

In the US this means unqualified support for foreign policy: the continuation of the operation of hundreds of bases in foreign nations; unconditional backing of Israel no matter how murderous and insane the actions of its government may be; the continuation of the drone campaign that has killed thousands of completely innocent people including kids, toddlers and babies; and support of the status quo with regard to blanket surveillance as well as the electoral system and campaign donations.

In the UK it is broadly the same: support for foreign adventures and Israel along with the US as well as the UK’s electoral system that ensures only establishment-friendly political parties and their filtered representatives have any chance of power. [It is worth noting here that the reason Jeremy Corbyn has been subjected to the most comprehensive media smear campaign in history is because he has slipped through the cracks and must be stopped at all costs, as the quotation at the beginning of this article demonstrates.] It also means support of the British royal family.

From a Guardian report:

Britain is “deeply elitist” according to a report by the government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty commission, with people educated at public school and Oxbridge creating a “closed shop at the top”.

Andrew Sparrow writes today: The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission said its study of the social background of those “running Britain” was the most detailed of its kind ever undertaken and showed that elitism was so embedded in Britain “that it could be called ‘social engineering’”.

The report shows that in many of the UK’s top professions there is a hugely disproportionate proportion of privately educated people compared to the general profile of the UK population.

Just 7% of the UK public attended private school, which compares to 71% of senior judges, 62% of senior armed forces officers, 55% of Whitehall permanent secretaries and 50% of members of the House of Lords.

The rate is also disproportionately high in other influential roles: 44% of people on the Sunday Times Rich List, 43% of newspaper columnists and 26% of BBC executives were all educated privately.

Just one in 100 members of the UK public was educated at Oxbridge, however graduates from those two universities make up 75% of senior judges, 59% of cabinet posts, 57% of permanent secretaries, 50% of diplomatics, 47% of newspaper columnists, 44% of public body chairs and 33% of BBC executives.

There is a massive disparity in representation of the public at large. The enormous influence over politics and the public discourse as depicted in the media is one born of a demographic that has no experience or understanding of poverty and many of the ills that result from it. The utterly false and self-flattering idea that hard work always leads to success [and the converse] holds sway among them, their own enormous headstart that came from being born into a wealthy family or benefiting from the advantages that come from being privately educated notwithstanding:

From another article:

The report says: “Our examination of who gets the top jobs in Britain today found elitism so stark that it could be called ‘social engineering’.”

It adds that the “sheer scale of the dominance of certain backgrounds” raises questions about whether getting a top job is about ability or knowing the right people.

[Commission Chair] Mr Milburn said: “Where institutions rely on too narrow a range of people from too narrow a range of backgrounds with too narrow a range of experiences they risk behaving in ways and focusing on issues that are of salience only to a minority but not the majority in society.

“Our research shows it is entirely possible for politicians to rely on advisors to advise, civil servants to devise policy solutions and journalists to report on their actions having all studied the same courses at the same universities, having read the same books, heard the same lectures and even being taught by the same tutors.

“This risks narrowing the conduct of public life to a small few, who are very familiar with each other but far less familiar with the day-to-day challenges facing ordinary people in the country.”

All of which brings us to the much-lauded closing speech in the House of Commons by Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn. The reactions from within the media class were almost unanimously gushing.

A selection:

“Quite extraordinary scenes: some Tory MPs even giving Hilary Benn a standing ovation” – Deputy Political Editor of BBC News, James Landale.

“For those of us who thought Hilary Benn had failed to inherit his father’s rhetorical gifts, it’s time to reconsider”The Guardian columnist (and 2014 Orwell Prize winner) Jonathan Freedland.

“I think that is the finest speech I’ve ever heard in the Commons, and delivered under such pressure”The Spectator political editor James Forsyth.

“Long after most have forgotten the detail of the House of Commons debate…many will remember the words of Hilary Benn.” – The Times

[Sources: Media Lens Twitter timeline]

But what did Benn actually say?

Now I share the concerns that have been expressed this evening about potential civilian casualties. However, unlike Daesh, none of us today act with the intent to harm civilians. Rather we act to protect civilians from Daesh, who target innocent people.

See how the civilian deaths that are certain to occur (and already have occurred) are so deftly brushed off. We apparently protect civilians by bombing the places where they live, but that’s OK because Daesh target innocent people; unlike us, who will in fact be targeting people who will certainly be completely innocent. Could Kafka have done better?

With the delicate consciences of the UK’s elected representatives expertly salved, Benn moved to close the deal:

Now Mr Speaker, I hope the House will bear with me if I direct my closing remarks to my Labour friends and colleagues on this side of the House. As a party, we have always been defined by our internationalism. We believe we have a responsibility one to another. We never have and we never should walk by on the other side of the road. And we are here faced by fascists. Not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us here tonight, and all of the people that we represent. They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy, the means by which we will make our decision tonight, in contempt. And what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated. And it is why, as we have heard tonight, socialists and trade unionists and others joined the International Brigade in the 1930s to fight against Franco. It’s why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini. It is why our party has always stood up against the denial of human rights and for justice. And my view, Mr Speaker, is that we must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria. And that is why I ask my colleagues to vote for this motion tonight.

Contempt! All a great orator needs to do, it appears, is keep repeating an emotive noun that feeds into the false notions of an ignorant, fearful and confused populace. This was George Bush all over again telling us that they hate us for our freedoms, an ignorant and simplistic assertion. Writer Sheldon Richman explains:

Let’s give these members of the American elite their due: one has to work hard to make a mystery of anti-American (and anti-Western) terrorism emanating from the Middle East. It takes prodigious effort to maintain an air of innocence about San Bernardino and Paris, because no one who claims to be informed can plead ignorance of the long history of U.S. and Western imperialism in the Muslim world. This includes the CIA’s subversion of Iranian democracy in 1953, the U.S. government’s systematic support of compliant autocratic and corrupt Arab monarchies and dictatorships, its empowering of Iraqi Shi’ite Muslims, and its unconditional backing of Israel’s brutal anti-Palestinian policies. (The savage 2014 war on Gaza killed many noncombatants.)

In the 10 years before the 9/11 attacks the administrations of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton bombed Iraq while maintaining an embargo, most especially on equipment for the water and sanitation infrastructure the U.S. Air Force had destroyed during the Gulf War. Half a million children died. This was also when U.S. officials promised, then reneged on the promise, to remove U.S. forces from the Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

From the air Americans routinely kill noncombatants in Syria and Iraq, most recently this week, when “at least 36 civilians, including 20 children, in a village in eastern Syria” were reportedly killed, according to McClatchyDC. Do Americans notice? Of course not. That’s why San Bernardino and Paris can be made to appear so mysterious.

Things like this happen all the time. The U.S. attack on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was especially egregious against this background of war crimes.

The UK’s establishment media love Hilary Benn and despise Jeremy Corbyn. They love the rhetoric and reserve no patience for the detailed facts and expert analysis (as urged by Corbyn) a situation as complex as this requires. We simply have to do something because they have contempt for our values. These are the words of a real leader – decisive, strong, born…entitled…to rule and it is music to their ears because that is how they also think. Democracy is all well and good until it gets in the way of the people who know by their very nature what is best for all of us. The wise caution exhibited by Corbyn and other opponents is easily depicted as ‘weak’ and ‘doing nothing in the face of an implacable enemy’. Benn is their vision of a real leader because he keeps it simple and speaks like one of them, facts and caution be damned. Benn is one of us: welcome to our exclusive club.

The adulation poured over Benn has nothing to do with love or concern for the nation and its security: indeed, it is entirely cynical. The media need a viable replacement for Corbyn if they succeed in bringing him down and what better preparation than to build someone up as Churchillian, someone who can return the Labour Party to ‘grown-up’ politics and put the naive children like Corbyn back in their playpen where they can’t do any damage? In other words, to ensure that the fake duopoly that ensures the rich remain in control whoever wins the election is restored.

Supporters of the airstrikes on Syria are deeply ignorant – wilfully or otherwise – of the facts on the ground. They may or may not be aware of the vast geopolitical/commercial interests in the region, interests that will be opened to plunder with Assad out and a Washington-friendly administration installed. Lack of awareness may be forgivable for the average person on the street, but it most certainly is not for those tasked with making such momentous decisions or reporting on them, officials and watchdogs entrusted by the public to ensure that decisions made in their name are done so with honest, objective and exhaustive consideration of all the information available. With Syria, this has demonstrably not occurred, with politicians and the bulk of the media keen instead to focus on the tub-thumping, substance-free oratory of a warmonger.

The politicians and journalists who sold this war have the blood of innocents on their hands, as they did with Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and dozens of other ‘interventions’ throughout history. They remain unrepentant and serve in effect as shills for the deeply corrupt arms industry: armed and dangerous.

[Note: For more on Benn’s speech, read the latest Media Lens analysis].

Written by Simon Wood

Twitter: @simonwood11

FVEY vs Kim Dotcom

Here is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth: The Five Eyes are after Kim Dotcom and the litigation against him is effectively a circus performance for media and the public because in private, the system has already been meting out his extra-judicial punishment for years.

The corporate, law enforcement and military infrastructure in play against him has virtually unlimited resources, little to no accountability, twisted, vengeful tactics and a very long memory.

With his extradition hearing presently unfolding in an Auckland Court, it is a critical moment for Kim Dotcom, his co-defendants and their families. But the mechanics of the lawsuit and extradition process are just a drop in the bucket of what has been inflicted upon them.

The real story isn’t about a prosecution at all. It is about illegal surveillance, slashed tyres, dead pets, electoral sabotage, infiltration, suspicious car accidents and a drive-by shooting.

Gone Rogue

For all intents and purposes, whether it’s because they’ve gone rogue or are off the leash or whether it is just unofficial deep state policy; New Zealand intelligence agencies have been acting “arguably at the behest of a foreign poweraccording to Bryce Edwards. Including against their own countrymen.

That used to be called treason. Now it is called international co-operation and is self-justified by a secret treaty that was hidden from the public for 60 years: known only as the UK/USA Agreement. According to this link detailing the complex history of the agreement, which instituted and eventually encompassed the Five Eyes, the full text only became available in 2010 – some 64 years after its genesis.

The very existence of the respective intelligence agencies remained secret for years and was only ever (eventually) confirmed due to public inquiries and investigative journalism.

In more recent years, the UK/USA Agreement  was further enhanced by a string of post-9/11 “War on Terrorcounter-terrorism and ‘intelligence sharing agreements’.

New Zealand

In the light of Edward Snowden’s revelations of secret NSA facilities in New Zealand, it is common knowledge that the country has effectively become a client state of the USA. A political and economic Mini-Me replete with fracking and GMO‘s. Run by a banker – an ex Member of the United States Federal Reserve who was also Minister in charge of the intelligence agency caught illegally spying on its own citizens – the GCSB.

As with the rest of the Five Eyes, New Zealand is a country where under-regulated private investigation and security interests work hand-in-hand alongside the state intelligence agencies. For those agencies, increasing the pool of targets has a monetary gain attached to it, in these days of state surveillance turning a profit.

Stalking Kiwis on the basis of political belief or association is a commercial enterprise. A well-funded and well-armed industry.

The East Stasi tactics of the past, as memorialised by a museum in Berlin, Germany, are a short-list of what is in play against dissidents in the Five Eyes countries.

Each time spy agencies are caught out red-handed, they pass a law to retrospectively legalise their illegal activities, then continue them unabated.

We have police filing thousands of warrantless data requests to companies which then hand over the private data of citizens without true legal compulsion. Intelligence agencies openly filming Kiwis and their families, inside their own homes, Orwell-style.

This is the environment in which the litigation against Kim Dotcom and co is unfolding.

Capitalism and The Great Lie of Meritocracy

The children of capitalism are taught that anyone can become a millionaire. If you are clever, apply yourself and take risks, you could one day make the rich list.

But this is extremely deceptive and misleading because the millionaires club is full of bullies with a pedigree and/or government connections. Once a person reaches a certain level of business success, raising their head above the parapet, gaining a profile, the powers that be hand-select who will be allowed to take the next step up, or who will have the full weight of the state thrown at them and be ruined.

Billionaires don’t become billionaires under their own steam. They are pre-selected, accepted or rejected by the system. Millionaires who don’t directly serve capital interests, or who disrupt them, are not allowed to remain millionaires, or become billionaires.

Thus, old money corrals and controls new money. If you don’t play the game, you will never be passed the ball. You will instead be red-carded and/or blacklisted.

This kind of economic bullying is used against entire countries in the form of “economic sanctions“. When used against individuals, it takes the form of character assassination, malicious commercial interference and/or persecution by Financial Crimes Agencies operating under the “Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009” legislation, as have been investigating Kim Dotcom.

The same police investigation team was used to investigate the Urewera activists in the Operation 8 “terrorism” debacle. The case against Dotcom has not only been fraught with illegal spying but with other anomalies and examples of puzzling ineptitude on the part of the Crown.

This year, a lead Inspector in the investigations, Grant Wormald, was found not guilty of perjury.

Fueling Dissent

The tactics of oppression being utilised – which are literally a Global War on Terror counterinsurgency strategy that can be and has been academically studied – actually fuels dissent. The persecuted only grow more determined and the protests grow bigger and more frequent with every injustice inflicted.

In New Zealand and Europe, this is most visibly seen with the mass movements against the TPPA and against the TTIP respectively. In America, it has been most pronounced in the mass civil unrest and police curfews of Ferguson and Baltimore.

The groans of public pain and insistence have become so loud that occasionally people have seized back the media narratives as, in alternately blacking out and distorting information related to the public interest, major media outlets have stretched their credibility to breaking point.

In New Zealand the movements have come in waves, each bigger than the last. The intensive state targeting of political dissidents, while forever altering individual lives, has failed in stemming the tide of anti-government sentiment and public derision for John Key’s government is now widespread, even amongst its own traditional support base.

Media Duplicity

Thanks to the duplicity and maliciousness of corporate media towards the entire political left, in particular, the Mana Party and the Internet Party, I was the only journalist granted a video interview with Hone Harawira at the Mana Party Annual General Meeting where the alliance with Dotcom’s Internet Party was announced.

Our media team had made a name for ourselves producing unedited, unmanipulated, raw, live footage. In doing so, we provided people with what they couldn’t get out of mainstream media: unadulterated truth. Those we interviewed appreciated the fact that they wouldn’t be misquoted, spliced, edited or misrepresented.

A Mandela confidante and indigenous leader, Harawira quoted Malcolm X straight into my camera.

“‘By Any Means Necessary’ is a book written by Malcolm X and I’ve always liked that phrase; that when you struggle, you don’t struggle politely. You don’t ask politely, for something that is yours by right. You go and say, ‘this is my right. I would like it back. If you’re not prepared to give it back, I’ll fucking take it off you. Set aside the protocols of a civilised society. Chase that which is yours. Stand up for your rights.”

The following day, I was the only journalist granted a video interview with Kim Dotcom at his Mansion for the Internet Party #SwimWithKim event.

I asked him what was the one thing that he would love to be asked by the mainstream media, that he had not been asked to date. He answered:

“I would want to be asked how we are going to select our candidates. How we are going to develop our policies. How are we a truly democratic party compared to all the other operators that basically just tell their members what they are doing instead of asking them and involving them in the whole process. I think the media has not asked the right questions around that. Today is the best example.. we are sitting here listening to you because we want to make this a truly democratic process.”

Media ignored the actual content of Kim’s speech at the event, where he referenced the technological savvy the Internet Party employed; from being the first political party to allow sign-ups via mobile app, to their crowd-sourced Loomio policy platform and their internet-generation candidates.

Where the paid media flailed at their lost access and printed conjecture-laden hit pieces, unpaid independent media and citizen journalists discussed the real issues. We created an elaborate mosaic of pics, vids and commentary to memorialise the events.

As I reported previously, corporate media were far comfier with fireworks and super-yachts. Where tabloid angles didn’t exist, they were manufactured.

I took this picture of Kim Dotcom, Chris Yong and Miriam Pierard for Occupy NZ, at the Internet Party #PartyParty event on Auckland’s famous K’Road. A picture that was then misappropriated by Rachel Glucina and published unaccredited in a poorly-executed smear of Pierard in the New Zealand Herald.

I was the only journalist to get a video interview (with then Internet Party Leader Laila Harre) at the tumultuous press conference that immediately followed the ‘Moment of Truth‘ event. A press conference where the New Zealand media refused to ask Glenn Greenwald about the content of the revelations or his Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism, completely ignoring the Snowden revelations about NSA bases on New Zealand soil and XKeyscore being used against New Zealanders, instead obsessively honing in on attacking Kim Dotcom.

Much has been written about the media’s malicious vendettas – at length by Nicky Hager in Dirty Politics, and in shorter form by Giovanni Tiso and Mandy Hager.

The issues are complex, unresolved and involve a large cast of characters – an insidious web of political interference in media.

Extra-judicial Punishment

To say that I am uniquely placed to comment on the topic of extra-judicial punishment would be an understatement. A barrage of it was imposed upon me ostensibly for my post FBI-raid interest in, coverage of and satellite involvement in the Dotcom saga and it is a part of why I am now effectively exiled in Berlin.

The list of economic, psychological and physical assaults on me is a long one and similar to some of what has been endured by the central figures in the Dotcom saga.

In my interview with Hone the shakiness in my voice is very apparent. The quality of my voice is a cross between intense anxiety and a dogged determination to steel myself and continue forward stoically.

What isn’t so visible are the reasons why I was proverbially crapping myself: I was wholly aware of the historical importance of the footage I was capturing and aware that I and others would continue to pay a high personal price for doing so.

As a result of my journalism, my house had been repeatedly broken into, my car tyres had been slashed, my family’s personal details and photographs of my home and vehicle published on the internet along with false accusations of me being a police officer. (Had I been a police officer the material would have been removed immediately; because I am not, and am in fact a target, the Police refused to get it removed and the completely false claims remained online for years).

I was harrassed at home, at events, by email, by phone and on Facebook. I had been followed on foot, tailed by vehicles, stalked and repeatedly photographed by strangers. My mail had been tampered with and my telecommunications intercepted.

When complaints to Police went nowhere, I was blatantly told to my face by an officer at our local police station that “as long as you are an activist these things will happen to you.”

As if that wasn’t creepy enough – things were about to get even more crazy in the lead-up to the 2014 general election and beyond. Here’s a partial timeline.

April 12 & 13, 2014: Hone Harawira spurns mainstream media and quotes Malcolm X to my camera, Kim speaks with me.

April 26, 2014: While holidaying in a remote location with my children, the oil cap was removed from our vehicle overnight by persons unknown, resulting in oil spilling all over the engine, catching fire and burning, stranding us.

May 11, 2014: The children and I are returning from Northland when we are boxed in by multiple unknown vehicles and “dazzlers” are used to attempt to cause us to cross the center-line/drive off the cliff in a blind spot of a cellular deadzone in Dome Valley, north of Auckland. It is Mother’s Day.

May 12, 2014: I call journalist Andrea Vance and report the attempt on my life. The Department of Immigration, meanwhile, is busy issuing deportation notices to Dotcom’s children’s nannies.

May 17, 2014: Kim and Mona Dotcom announce their separation.

June 25, 2014: Hone Harawira’s electorate office is the site of a drive-by shooting. The media takes nearly a week to report on it. Although Harawira is a sitting Member of Parliament at the time, very little is said about it in the mainstream media.

August, 2014: Hone Harawira’s car is driven off a cliff in a cellular deadzone in Northland. Details are sparse, other than that he is no longer present at the scene when police arrive. Given their past conduct towards him, and that he likely would have had no cellphone communications at the location, that is hardly surprising.

14 September 2014: In the week leading up to the Kim Dotcom/Glenn Greenwald/Julian Assange/Edward Snowden ‘Moment of Truth’ event, the constant intrusion of physical surveillance on me especially while I was circulating the event media resources got so intensive that I took refuge at a friend’s house and somehow kept it together enough to record this live radio segment a day ahead of the event.

20 September, 2014: in the wake of a media snow-job on Snowden’s revelations, coupled with low-voter turnout, the ruling government win re-election. The persecution of Kim Dotcom is to continue relentlessly.

22 September, 2014: Having received several death threats and relentless piggy-backing of my communications, I file numerous and ultimately largely fruitless official information act requests in an attempt to discover who is behind the threats.

Valentines Day, 2015: One of Kim Dotcom’s pet swans is killed.

kd1

[1/1/2016:  CORRECTION / UPDATE]  Kim says it is safe to say the swan was not shot dead as initially reported. He says:

kdcreply

 

The Glimmer Of Hope

…is that Dotcom wins at the Supreme Court resoundingly enough for his persecutors to have to leave him alone and/or pay costs. It seems this largely depends on the degree to which the Courts value the sovereignty of New Zealand and remain free of corruption. Whether Court orders that go against their interests hold weight with and would be enforced or respected by the partially-privatised military industrial complex is another thing entirely. They may continue to do what they damn well please regardless of whether Kim Dotcom is ultimately found ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’.

If someone(s) can continue to make money off stalking and surveilling Dotcom and anyone else within two degrees of separation of him then that is highly likely to continue regardless of any court outcome. Unless the cumulative geopolitic, financial and socio-political cost of them doing so becomes too great however, and some form of amnesty if not asylum is granted him.

The Perceived Threat of Innovation and Technology

Certainly, few in New Zealand can outproduce Kim in the tech space, both in innovation and organisational ability. FVEY despise him because he is viewed as competition by the corporations and because he is a wildcard. Unpredictable, experienced and resourceful.

The Internet Revolution doesn’t fit their risk management strategy, after all.

Unfortunately, the Kiwi public are the losers in the transaction, if we abide by domestic and international intelligence agencies who protect the interests of multi-national corporations, despite the fact that they threaten public access to future technologies and deprive the growth of the local tech sector.

Like the intelligence agencies, the corporations have a total disregard for democracy. Political sway, influence and representation is merely an entry on the general ledger to them – business transactions.

Politics after all is just one column of the structure of power and control outlined in the counterinsurgency theory – the others columns being economics and security.

If the political column falls, the Empire still reigns.

It is only when the base of the structure – information – turns against them, that all three columns are affected.

The Information Activists and the War on Journalism

Kim Dotcom said long ago that he believed a donation he had made to Wikileaks triggered the investigations into him.

Julian Assange recently revealed that it is the same Eastern District Court of Alexandria, Virginia Prosecuting Attorney involved in the investigations into Assange, Edward Snowden and Kim Dotcom.

According to this infographic, the grand jury investigation into Wikileaks and its supporters has now extended over five years.

Given this wider context, it is clear that the vendetta against Kim Dotcom is about much, much more than copyright.

This Is The Story You Will Not Hear In Court

The law that everyone attends Kim’s High Court hearing to debate at length is just one of the avenues that his oppressors use to hurt him.

Whether he wins or loses the case may be irrelevant to their ultimate intent. The Court action was a method to deprive him of resources, to attempt to malign his character, divide his family and friends. But it is just one piece of the counterintelligence pie.

It is pretty clear that this case isn’t about what it appears to be on the surface. Instead, it is and has been for years, FVEY vs Kim Dotcom.

It didn’t start in a Court room, isn’t always played out in one and regardless of the outcome, state interests and spies have long since judged Kim guilty and meted out their diverse and horrific punishments accordingly.

With no small amount of collateral damage and blowback.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website: Suzi3d.com

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

[Update/January 2016] This is what Kim Dotcom had to say about this article:

[Update/January 2018] This post is now available at my Steemit blog.

In Plain Sight: Why WikiLeaks Is Clearly Not In Bed With Russia

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”.

wlr2

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.

wlr

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.

wl1

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.

He entreats;

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.

Successes

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.

Berliners responded to a treason investigation into two journalists from Netzpolitik by taking to the streets, and launching an online solidarity statement signed by local and international journalists, publishers, academics and various luminaries in support.

The investigation was dropped and the investigating prosecutor fired.

  • 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.

In their press release celebrating success, the group states:

‘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’

In Conclusion

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.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website: Suzi3d.com

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

[Update/January 2018] This post is now available at my Steemit blog

Debunking The Dinosaurs: Dismantling Snowden’s Detractors

With the Sunday Times Snowden smear completely, utterly and thoroughly debunked, notably if not inadvertently by the journalist and editor themselves, it is time to move on to some of the logical fallacies and prevailing attitudes that continue to support the (albeit-dwindling) anti-Snowden sentiment lingering among certain political hangers-on.

While there were a number of humble apologies made in the Twittersphere and eventually, a “correction“, the most stubborn of establishment sycophants seem determined to press their case.

In particular, the below 15-point Twitter diatribe by columnist Michael Cohen was unmissable and he raised a number of easily dispellable falsehoods that less astute observers appear to have fallen victim to. Let’s take a closer look.

sb1

Given that the journalist himself openly stated that that’s precisely what they were doing. it is Cohen’s tweet that is absurd, rather than Greenwald’s theorum.

viness

sb2

But what about that Vine. The journalist says, direct quote:

We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British Government – Tom Harper, Sunday Times journalist

There we have it. Straight from the horse’s mouth.

sb3

Many national security reporters, analysts and correspondents have far closer, more incestuous and uncritical relationships with the security state that they are supposed to investigate. Public relations executives have invaded the management structure of major print publications and the public relations industry has grown while journalism as a whole has atrophied. State corruption of mainstream media dates back at least half a century.

What Michael Cohen is really accusing Glenn Greenwald of is loyalty to his source, national security whistle-blower Edward Snowden; an accusation which conversely espouses a disloyalty to the establishment which seeks to manipulate public discourse in favour of government policies – policies which include pervasive secrecy and the withholding of information in the public interest from the public arena.

Greenwald’s adversarial role is precisely what real journalism is about. His loyalty absolutely should be with his well-respected and internationally-renowned source, whose veracity and historic significance are long-since established, rather than with Democrat or Republican party lines trumpeted by those with a financial and political interest in the continuation of the status quo.

sb4Glenn Greenwald has been very open from the outset about the interrogation that went into vetting Snowden. Quoting from Greenwald’s interview with PBS’s Frontline:

Having been a lawyer before I was a journalist, and having been a litigator, and therefore having taken a lot of depositions, the purpose of which is to take somebody’s story and just break it down through hours of relentless questioning, where you just ask them similar questions but from different angles and different contexts to ask how reliable those claims are, because if somebody is lying, that process will usually ultimately reveal that, I decided to use those tactics, because I had to be 100 percent certain that I kicked the tires as hard as I could on his story.

The hotel room was relatively small. He sat on his bed. I sat on a chair, probably three feet away from him, maybe four or five feet, and I just looked at him, and I just asked him one question after the next. He didn’t go to the bathroom. He didn’t eat. He didn’t stop and have water. It was really a very rigorous interrogation. I think he later said that it was much more intense than debriefing sessions that he had at the CIA.

I wanted it to be that way by design, because I felt confident that if there was some mendacity or deceit or something scripted, that I would be able to discover it through that process. By the end of that five or six hours, I had zero doubt that he was completely real.

Greenwald went on to spend a further two weeks interviewing Snowden in Hong Kong, and countless hours since. This hardly seems like ‘publishing Snowden’s statements at face value’. Given the origin of the materials Snowden leaked, much of what he says isn’t even a matter of opinion, but a matter of provable fact.

To complain that Greenwald has subsequently become an advocate for Snowden is to ignore the rest of the political landscape and both paid and informal advocacy occurring on all sides. The President of the United States has a Press Secretary, who advocates for and articulates White House positions to the press. Corporations have lobbyists, who advocate for and articulate the positions of big business, to politicians. Politicians have public relation teams, who advocate for and advise them.

Until the launch of the Courage Foundation, whistle-blowers really had very little direct advocacy support. There was some measure of legal support, and limited if any direct governmental support. What is so offensive about journalists who advocate for the weak against the strong? I doubt it’s offensive at all, but rather the impact they are having is growing to be so huge that it is minimising the effectiveness of the disinformation campaigns run by their opponents.

No one, least of all Snowden himself, could have imagined the international sensation he would grow to become. All and sundry expected his fate to be much different. That the advocacy work undertaken on his behalf by his supporters has been achieving spectacular results seems to have provoked some professional jealousy from a political quarter who are used to controlling the media narratives themselves – a quarter that is being displaced by the rising groundswell of public opinion set against them.

sb5

The keystone of journalism is access. Access is forming and maintaining a close connection to a source or subject. Those who have access are fundamental to shaping the public narrative. For a mainstream political columnist to suggest this is an unusual arrangement is rather precious. Who does Michael Cohen think should be shaping the narrative? People who don’t have access or who have an alternate agenda? Like Snowden’s opponents? Or who have no moral investment, no stake in the outcome and no clue? Like these guys?

Cohen must know all about access. His timeline is full of Jeb Bush this, Hilary Clinton that. Campaign agendas are all about access. From fundraising to policy announcements to interviews. As a columnist for the Boston Globe, World Politics Review and the London Observer as well as an avid follower of mainstream political campaigns, surely Cohen understands full well the necessity, import and impact of access.

sb6

All media eats at Snowden’s table, regardless of whether they are pro-Snowden or anti-Snowden. The entire international media has been profiting off him for the last two years. They ALL have a financial stake in him, one way or the other. He has been the single largest recurring news story in memory, both for organisations and freelancers.

To that end, why should anyone for whom Snowden represents a meal ticket be trusted?

Beneficiaries can be divided into three groups:

* Those who take risks to support Snowden against the full weight of the state and get paid for it

* Those who take risks to support Snowden against the full weight of the state and don’t get paid for it

* Those who kick the shit out of Snowden and get paid for it, while getting kudos (if not additional funding) from the security state for doing so.

No points for guessing which group is the most heavily populated by the affluent, predominantly white cis male, dinosaurs of conventional media.

sb7

There is no greater irony than when those who would proclaim themselves the least inclined to put stock in conspiracy theories, begin inventing their own. At this point, Cohen launches headlong into supposition and innuendo.

sb8

Rather than playing Pin The Tail On Edward Snowden, Cohen could remove his blindfold with some simple research – reading Greenwald’s ‘No Place To Hide‘ would be a great start, as would watching Sarah Harrison and Julian Assange’s interviews about Snowden’s transition from Hong Kong to Russia.

In doing so he would realise that Snowden didn’t choose to be exiled in Russia, but was stranded there by the American government when it revoked his passport, presumably for exactly this reason – leaving him in Russia bereft of travel documentation created an easy opportunity to smear him as somehow being improperly affiliated with the Russians. And smear him they have, as Julian Assange explains clearly in this interview with Democracy Now. Julian’s answer is prefaced by a clip of Hillary Clinton leveling precisely the same accusation as Michael Cohen.

Hillary says:

Mr. Snowden took all this material, he fled to Hong Kong, he spent time with the Russians in their consulate, uh, and then he went to Moscow seeking the protection of Vladimir Putin — Hillary Clinton

Julian Assange responds:

This is sadly typical of Hillary Clinton… not even the National Security Agency accuses [Snowden] of working with the Russians. In fact, the NSA, formally in its investigation, has said that they don’t think he was working with the Russians, at least not before he left the agency. Hillary Clinton, however, tries to reshape the chronology in order to smear Edward Snowden with being a Russian spy. The actual chronology is that Edward Snowden went to Hong Kong, he then saw that the situation was very difficult, reached out to us for help, and we were intimately involved from that point on, so I know precisely myself and our staff know, what happened. We submitted 20 asylum applications on behalf of Edward Snowden, to a range of different countries… it was [Snowden’s] intent to go to Latin America… Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador was also looking favourable and Bolivia offered him asylum. En route to Latin America the U.S. State Department canceled his passport, leaving him marooned in Russia, unable to catch his next flight. Which had already been booked from the very beginning. His whole path had been booked while he was in Hong Kong.

Hillary says that he went to the Russian consulate in Hong Kong – I don’t know about that but I’m sure that, perhaps he was looking at all different kinds of asylum options and that would have made perfect sense for anyone to do that in such a severe situation.

Hillary Clinton was of course, Secretary of State from January 2009 until February 2013, with her tenure ending just a few short months before the State Department would cancel Snowden’s passport while he attempted to transit Russia.

And that is of course, the same State Department who won’t be launching an internal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.

sb9

Cohen’s “how long is a piece of string” argument is best answered by a commenter on the thread:

sbcomment

No one can prove anything in the negative. Proof is supposed to require evidence and evidence can’t be non-existent or it wouldn’t be evidence at all. What questions like these are really intended to do is to obfuscate, distract and smear. They are completely unbecoming.

sb10

As with much of Cohen’s commentary, he fails to back up his accusations with references so this point has been particularly difficult to research. Many hours of reading South China Morning Post’s Snowden archive later, and the only ‘operational info’ I’ve been able to establish that Snowden discussed with them, was wholesale spying on Chinese university students and on the SMS messages of the general population. Unless he is referring to the mention of mass surveillance being undertaken at-cable, which is a worldwide phenomenon that has been reported consistently around the globe, in many regions..

Indeed, the SCMP revelations fit perfectly with the ongoing theme of Snowden’s leaks; where the public of various countries (most of the countries in the world in fact) are spied on in by the U.S. in a wholesale fashion, without warrants or individual suspicion to justify the targeting.

Snowden’s releases have not been about military versus military – but military versus civilians: mass surveillance. To expect him to exclude Chinese civilians, or Russian civilians, or any other, just because the names of those countries are incendiary to the U.S. political mainstream, would be to expect him to discriminate on the basis of nationality, the way his government does. Yet Snowden has very much proved to be a global citizen, and clearly does not adhere to the inherently unjust principle of ‘American exceptionalism’. This does not detract from, but enhances his efficacy in the eyes of the global public.

sb11

Funnily enough, even the South China Morning Post has repeated this mainstream echo-chamber claim that Snowden somehow reversed his position about whether he had read the documents he leaked, during his interview with Last Week Tonight. Business Insider also claimed that host John Oliver had caught Snowden in a ‘lie’. Yet that itself is a lie, because the wording used by the echo chamber was never Snowden’s wording at all and the heavy editing in the segment makes it clear that whatever his real answers were, they lay on the cutting room floor.

Transcription from the relevant section of the John Oliver interview:

JO: How many of those documents have you actually read?

ES: I’ve evaluated all of the documents that are in the archive.

JO: You’ve read every single one?

ES: <edit>Well, I do understand what I turned over.

JO: <edit>There’s a difference between understanding what’s in the documents and reading what’s in the documents.

ES: <edit>I recognise the concern

JO: Right cos when you’re handing over thousands of NSA documents the last thing you want to do is read them.

ES: I think it’s fair to be concerned about, did this person do enough, were they careful enough, were they thorough

JO: Especially when you’re handling material like we know you were handling

ES: Well, in my defense, I’m not handling anything anymore, that’s been passed to the journalists and they’re using extraordinary security measures to make sure this is reported in the most responsible way.

Oliver uses the word ‘read’. Snowden immediately qualifies it with the word ‘evaluated’. The same word he had used all along. Yet in this ridiculous Business Insider article the onus is again flipped back to the word ‘read’ and a hyper-inflammatory tweet is included, to raise the drama a notch:

RFT

The outright accusation that Snowden is lying is way beyond the pale. It is clear that by his continuing use of the word ‘evaluate‘ that Snowden assessed (whether by computer script or manually) the content of the documents, likely considering their provenance, affiliation, meta-data or otherwise and then entrusted the documents to the journalists, instructing them to only publish what is in the public interest.

To try to split hairs by suggesting he should have read every single word on every single page prior to leaking it is nonsense and in the case of the “many tens of thousands of documents” Greenwald describes having received, outright impossible.

Were Last Week Tonight‘s editing not so appallingly obvious and heavy-handed, the misconception that Snowden lied may not be so easily clung to by his detractors and the content of his full answers could be known. However, the short, snappy style of the interviewer (which I wholly accept is for comedic effect) was clearly carried over to the editing of Snowden’s responses, to his detriment.

sb12

Having spent upwards of 15 hours researching this article and hundreds upon hundreds more studying and writing about Snowden’s releases “on my own”, I’m pretty sure I qualify. As with many others who are intrigued by the revelations, I have turned every possibility in my mind over, and over again, while reading, watching and analysing everything that is available in the public sphere.

Ultimately, what convinces me of Snowden’s authenticity is not his supporters but his detractors. They run the exact same establishment ‘deny, degrade, distract, disrupt, destroy‘ playbook against him that his revelations showed are being used against every other significant activist or political opponent in the Five Eyes. This in itself demonstrates how much of a threat he is perceived to be. The voraciousness with which he is attacked by sock puppet accounts and the uniformity of the disparagements they make about him is telling, as is the cast of characters trotted out to discredit him. Cheney. Clinton. Hayden. Current and past directors of this, that and the other agency including proponents of the Iraq war; the disinformation dinosaurs. As usual, the issues are interlinked. The arbiters of American exceptionalism and international economic exploitation detest Snowden and everything he stands for, which, when assessing his credibility, weighs heavily in his favour.

sb12b

Even if they were trying to protect Snowden and/or their images – how is this any different to the journalists who try to shield the U.S. government from scrutiny, and thus protect their own images? I’ll tell you how – because they are protecting a vulnerable whistle-blower in an unprecedented situation, rather than protecting the behemoth, colossal machine of war, economic bullying and austerity, racism, colonisation and Empire of the U.S. Government and the world is a better place for it. Those who get paid defending empire are hypocrites when finger-pointing at those who get paid to confront it.

sb13

There is a vast difference. Journalists who protect vulnerable sources, at great personal risk, cannot be equated with journalists who seek to protect their own government and in doing so uphold cushy, privileged lifestyles and self-justify their positions.

sb14

No. What is an incredible insult to a journalist is having a pro-government shill boast that they would like to write a defense of the journalist being droned to death. Or to have a journalist write an article about all the ways in which their pro-government military sources would like to murder a whistle-blower.

If being called a stenographer hurts your feelings, perhaps it is time to walk a mile in a whistleblower’s shoes before casting judgement.


Finally, one more fallacious argument amplified by Cohen:

Screenshot from 2015-06-26 02:44:11

Anonymity is not the problem. The motivation for acquiring the anonymity and the institution benefiting from it is the problem, alongside the willingness of the media outlet to provide it when it is aware that the source has a personal interest in propagating opinions which are of direct benefit to their employers; sources for which there is a clear financial and social gain.

Which is diametrically opposed to the motivations of Edward Snowden, as evidenced in the very same John Oliver interview.

JO: So, did you do this to solve a problem?
ES: I did this to give the American people the chance to decide for themselves, the type of Government that they want to have. That is a conversation that I think the American people deserve to decide.
JO: There is no doubt it is a critical conversation…

…and it’s one that without Edward Snowden, we may never have had.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D
Official Website: suzi3d.com

Sign Of The Times

“We don’t go into that level of detail in the story; we just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government at the moment” – Tom Harper (lead reporter on latest Sunday Times Edward Snowden article)

Controversy has arisen around a recent Sunday Times story on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The article claims that the NSA documents leaked by Snowden have been hacked by Russia and China, putting the lives of agents in the field at risk. It is also a mixture of serious errors, outright falsehoods and unfounded claims made by anonymous sources. One source is quoted as saying that Snowden has ‘blood on his hands’, not the first time that such a claim has been mendaciously deployed for dramatic effect.

Many of the claims in the article have already been debunked by serious critics here, here, and most powerfully here by Glenn Greenwald, the journalist Snowden chose to give his documents to.

One also needs to ask why, if it is true that UK intelligence knew that there was a possibility that the files could be hacked (and momentarily putting aside Craig Murray’s note that names of agents would never be written down) potentially compromised agents were not withdrawn immediately and replaced where possible. If they really were so concerned about the threat to the lives of their agents, why wait until after the documents were hacked (if they were as claimed). The obvious course of action in such a scenario would be to withdraw any such agents from the field as soon as possible in order to minimize the damage.

The focus of this analysis, however, is on the widespread use of anonymous sources, especially within newspapers of record. The Snowden furor is the tip of the iceberg. One recent example of the use of anonymous sources is the repeated evidence-free assertions of build-ups of Russian troops on the border of Ukraine, usually accompanied by a strong implication that Russia is about to invade. When such assertions are published on Reuters or the other major ‘wires’, the financial and methodological realities of modern media ensure that the stories will be republished word-for-word everywhere, not only on internet news sites like Yahoo and Google, but also on major blogs and in low-quality independent media. [Aside: High-quality independent media would only print such claims with strong disclaimers while pointing out similar instances in the past].

In other words millions will read and ingest parts of the story and, when the next drama in the news cycle comes along, will forget everything apart from the few soundbites they vaguely recall: ‘blood on his hands’, for instance. As the vast majority of casual news readers have no familiarity with or serious interest in the details of the Snowden case (with some falsely believing, for example, that he gave the documents to WikiLeaks) or indeed in most other serious political or social issues, the damage will have already been done. This, in a nutshell, is why soundbites are so prized and ubiquitously used by PR and advertising firms.

Anonymous sources have been used in several important stories over the years and the most instructive example of how devastating such irresponsible media reporting can be is the destruction wrought upon Iraq. The New York Times and other newspapers relied on anonymous sources to allege the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The term WMD itself is one of the most successful soundbites of all time, with the acronym widely used at the time and even now in casual discourse.

The claims were reported uncritically and little or no questioning of the official government position could be found as the drums beat relentlessly for war. We now know that these claims were fed to the media in full knowledge that they were false or amplified, and history tells us that no WMDs were there.

Fast forward to 2015. Nobel Prize recipient Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) released a report entitled ‘Body Count’ this year that concluded that over a million people had been killed in Iraq since 2003 as a result of the invasion. Sectarian violence continues to rip the nation apart and the outlook is bleak with the ascendance of IS in the nation. The city of Fallujah lives with the legacy of US chemical warfare, with hideous genetic deformities and other serious health issues out of control. Meanwhile Judith Miller, the star New York Times reporter, recently embarked on a media tour to promote her book explaining how she really believed what she was writing at the time, employing classic tactics of obfuscation to defuse questioning on her culpability.

The dangers of using anonymous sources are clear:

1. They allow governments, institutions and major corporations to selectively leak information that benefits their agenda.

2. They lead to a situation where no one can be meaningfully challenged on the claims. Spokesmen can plead ‘national security’ and other excuses to avoid addressing questions.

3. A claim without evidence is just that: a claim – only a starting point for a journalistic investigation; not a green light for an explosive, defamatory headline piece that will grab instant worldwide attention.

Nonetheless, there are many cases where the use of anonymous sources is unavoidable, though given the above hazards, great care must be taken. There are several types of anonymous source. A credible source could be someone with whom a journalist has cultivated a long relationship, one whose credibility has been proven time and again on the basis of accurate past stories. A first-time source, perhaps an idealistic employee like Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden, can also be credible if they provide genuine evidence for their claims and are or have also been in a position to obtain such information.

Acting on information from first-time or even known sources – even with evidence (which may be fabricated) – is risky as Newsweek discovered in 2005 when a story (now retracted) it ran about a US Guantanamo interrogator flushing a copy of the Koran down a toilet turned out to be baseless. The story sparked violent riots in Afghanistan and other nations and at least 16 people were killed.

This is where journalistic instinct and experience all come into play. A good journalist will try to corroborate a story and name as many informants as possible, while at the same time appreciating that many sources have extremely good reasons for not being named. This, of course, damages the credibility of the story and makes it only a claim. A reporter and his/her editors must bear in mind the level of credibility when presenting the story to the public, considering factors such as the availability of publishable evidence (like pictures) and the extent of credibility of sources and corroboration and give an appropriate level of prominence to any article published based on this information.

There are, however, cases when it would be irresponsible to publish; namely when a source or even multiple sources have a track record of providing false information or when a source or sources have something to gain financially or politically from the story.

In the case of the Snowden article and the UK government, it’s two for two. The UK government has lied to or misled the public in the past on numerous occasions and its assertions therefore can not be reported uncritically. Further, GCHQ has been greatly embarrassed by the exposure of its Stasi-like operations thanks to Snowden, meaning the government would therefore benefit from discrediting or smearing him.

The Sunday Times responded to criticisms of its article in the form of a ‘has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed’ interview on CNN with the lead reporter on the story, Tom Harper, taking questions from host George Howell.

Gist (significant comments in bold):

Howell: How do senior officials at 10 Downing Street know that these files were breached?

Harper: Well, uhh, I don’t know the answer to that George. All we know is that this is effectively the official position of the British government.

Howell: How do they know what was in them [the files], if they were encrypted? Has the British government also gotten into these files?

Harper: Well, the files came from America and the UK, so they may already have known for some time what Snowden took — uhh, again, that’s not something we’re clear on … we don’t go into that level of detail in the story we just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government at the moment.

Howell: Your article asserts that it is not clear if the files were hacked or if he just gave these files over when he was in Hong Kong or Russia, so which is it?

Harper: Well again sorry to just repeat myself George, but we don’t know so we haven’t written that in the paper. It could be either, it could be another scenario.

Howell: The article mentions these MI6 agents … were they directly under threat as a result of the information leaked or was this a precautionary measure?

Harper: Uhh, again, I’m afraid to disappoint you, we don’t know…there was a suggestion some of them may have been under threat but the statement from senior Downing Street sources suggests that no one has come to any harm, which is obviously a positive thing from the point of view of the West.

In short, Tom Harper knows quite literally nothing about the story. He also says that ‘no one has come to harm’, which makes the inclusion of the term ‘blood on his hands’ unconscionable. He only knows what government officials hiding behind anonymity told him. Yet armed with this spectacular lack of knowledge, he published a headline article that claimed that the files had been ‘cracked’ by the Russians and Chinese (although he doesn’t know that) and also that Snowden has ‘blood on his hands’, while again having no evidence that this is true. These are extremely serious, dangerous and defamatory claims so one would expect the inclusion of a comment from the Snowden side, or at least from one of his prominent supporters or associates. No such opportunity was provided. This also is a fundamental breach of journalistic ethics.

If one were searching for a working definition of ‘government propaganda mouthpiece’, the actions of Tom Harper and – by extension – the Sunday Times are as close as one can get. While the Sunday Times and any media outlet are at liberty at any time to publish the ‘official position of the British government’ on any issue they choose, depicting it as bombshell breaking news complete with deliberately emotive language is the height of irresponsibility.

This is a serious embarrassment for a major newspaper. A retraction, apology and full explanation must be issued for any credibility whatsoever to be regained. As the Sunday Times is unlikely to accept such an assertion, and is indeed standing by its story, can we now expect a similarly aggressive and blockbusting article on the ‘official position of the British government’ on, say, its arms sales to the Saudi regime? At least in this case the term ‘blood on its hands’ would be demonstrably accurate.

It takes a special level of indoctrination to report with a straight face righteous accusations by British government officials that anyone at all has blood on their hands. The UK, both in its colonial and modern eras, has attacked, invaded, occupied or interfered with almost every nation on the planet. Such indoctrination is a common element of establishment journalists in the UK, with many seeming to possess no awareness of how ludicrous some of their claims about the crimes of current enemies are when weighed up against the similar, documented crimes of their own nation, which they almost unfailingly depict as a benign force in the world.

For the Sunday Times to stand by this obviously bogus story, there are only two possible interpretations of its role: it is either naive about or complicit in the actions of its government. As one does not become a decision-maker in a Rupert Murdoch-owned enterprise by being a shrinking violet, the first option can be safely eliminated. The unavoidable conclusion, therefore, is that the Sunday Times in publishing this article is complicit in the aims of the UK government.

Written by Simon Wood

Twitter: @simonwood11

Et Tu, Counterpunch?

Laura Poitras was smart to stay out of the limelight so long. Her flowering emergence into the mainstream media sphere has been perfectly timed and her diligent work ultimately rewarded with CitizenFour earning the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 2015 Academy Awards.

But as soon as one sticks their head up above the parapet they are instantly subject to organised, concerted detractors, waiting to punish them for it.  It appears Poitras is no exception.

The long-standing publication Counterpunch has some amazing work under its belt – especially pertinent, its reporting surrounding information gleaned from the outcome of the Partnership for Civil Justice FBI FOIA requests in the wake of the Occupy movement.

To citizen journalists in the movement, the name Counterpunch was synonymous with fearless and intrepid political journalism.

It could be counted on to provide cutting-edge counter-narrative to the political mainstream. Yet with recent attempts to debunk the work of Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden and now Laura Poitras, Counterpunch seems to have shifted its critical focus from major political figures to those whose work exposes them.

It is extremely distressing to watch publications you have great respect for, printing wanton disparagement of those who have had to subject themselves to massive personal risk and sacrifice in order to raise valid issues and propel important ideas into the public domain.

In ‘Et Tu, Poitras?‘ ‘independent investigator’ Bill Blunden uses scraps of translated narrative to nail Poitras to the wall, rehashing the same title phrasing and acidic tone as an earlier Counterpunch piece entitled ‘Et Tu, Obama?

Coming from New Zealand, where the Maori ‘E Tu’ is a motivational call to action, “Stand Up”; the title of the article wasn’t initially distressing. However, ‘Et Tu‘ is in fact Latin and translates to a derisive “And, you?” Scanning through the preceding Obama take-down, it is clear the use of the title implies insult, indeed the provenance of the term is an accusation of betrayal.

The gall of invoking Poitras’ name if not in sequence with, then foreshadowing it by the name of the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, is noteworthy. Laura Poitras is well known for going out on a limb to protect whistle-blowers, whereas Obama is the overseer of an administration that uses the archaic Espionage Act to prosecute them with unprecedented frequency.

Scratching below the surface of the negative analysis in the ‘Et Tu, Poitras?’ article, the logical transgressions are frequent and the flaws in the construction, transparent.

Blunden starts by explaining that his article relates to an interview Laura Poitras participated in with a Dutch news outlet. Blunden then points the readers to “a rough English translation” via Cryptome.

Yet astonishingly, he does not utilize the transcript he linked to, instead quoting from an unattributed translation with contextual framing that is a substantial departure from the Cryptome text.

Blunden’s version quotes Poitras as saying “Google’s servers are secure: that’s a big change” – which sounds like an absolute statement of personal endorsement which he then immediately lambasts her for at length.

Yet his own Cryptome reference quotes her as actually saying “Google securing its servers – that’s a big change“; an observation of progress made by Google rather than a carte blanche endorsement of Google’s services.

Blunden’s explosion of disgust at her position extrapolates to insinuate that Poitras is burying her head in the sand about everything from child slave labor to tax avoidance; ridiculous and reckless hyperbole given the innocence of her observation when absorbed in context.

Moving straight into a one-two punch by invoking Facebook, Blunden again violates the Cryptome translation by providing yet another skewed and uncredited version.

Blunden quotes Poitras as saying: “Facebook has its website available through the anonymous network Tor. Everyone has appreciation for it, while Facebook is always seen as the enemy of privacy.”

Yet the Cryptome translation reads “Facebook made its website available through the anonymizing network Tor. Everyone appreciates that, while Facebook is always seen as the enemy of privacy.”

The word “made” inferring progress from their prior positions; rather than the static stance implied in Blunden’s quote. His inflection – “appreciation for it” – insinuates Poitras is stating appreciation for Facebook, whereas Cryptome’s “appreciates that” clearly refers to appreciation for the Tor anonymity network rather than for Facebook.

But it gets worse. Much worse. As the Cryptome translation shows, these two individual quotes Blunden has bludgeoned in order to lampoon Poitras, featured a conjoining sentence which he has completely failed to mention in his article and which invalidates his entire premise for it.

Omitted by Blunden but revealed by Cryptome –

“Whether it is 100 percent secure or not, it means that a growing market for privacy exists, and that businesses will respond to that.”

Demonstrating that Poitras was not intending to argue security of the services at all but only to observe their changing positions in the wake of the Snowden revelations.

Indeed the second and third leaked documents from Edward Snowden ever published implicated Google and Facebook in the now infamous PRISM program. The authors of the resulting 6 June 2013 Washington Post article were Barton Gellman and… Laura Poitras! (For trivia purposes; PRISM was also written about in The Guardian by Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill 7 June 2013 which due to time zones was within the same 24 hour period, indeed a simultaneous release.)

So the very woman Bill Blunden attempts to smear as being pro-Google and Facebook was in fact a co-author of the articles which exposed those corporation’s participation in government mass surveillance in the first place.

Ironic huh?

Given the historic significance of her many achievements it is no surprise Poitras is both envied and reviled in unsavory circles.

According to TruthDig, Poitras is “a model for a new generation of investigative journalists bent on protecting their sources while uncovering wrongdoing“.

Her film work pre-Snowden saw her named 2012 MacArthur Fellow by the MacArthur Foundation, an award which she says reduced her to tears at the outpouring of support and recognition from her peers. Doubtless because extracting oneself from the matrix of conventional Western suburban existence to participate in revealing its many geopolitical crimes and hypocrisies, is a long, lonely and arduous road seldom rewarded with anything more than invasion of privacy and violation of human rights and civil liberties, if not outright derision and ostracism.

In this Village Voice article aptly titled ‘Laura Poitras Explains Why Edward Snowden Did It And Asks You To Consider Your Relationship With Google‘, Poitras discusses some of the risks and her motivations for taking them:

“I’ve been working on these issues for a long time, so the feeling, as an American, that this country is drifting — morally — away from basic principles like the rule of law is very concerning,” she explains. “I feel like I’m in a position where I can contribute to a conversation that may shed some light on the human implications of some of these policies. I’ve been on this path for a while. There was a high degree of risk in this, but I also felt that with the magnitude of these disclosures, moving forward was a no-brainer…there were risks for the journalists, but the risks were far greater for the source.”

That’s not to diminish the sacrifice Poitras herself has made — as she admits, “There were moments of real tension and stress, thinking about how the implications of this stuff would be really intense and dangerous. It will change my life moving forward.” — Laura Poitras, interviewed by The Village Voice

The conclusion to the Village Voice article is perfection – they summarise, “Indeed, [Poitras’] life has changed — but due to the risks she and her source have undertaken, the lives of every American citizen have changed as well.”

By contrast, Below Gotham Labs’ Bill Blunden, ‘professional investigator’, certainly hasn’t impacted the lives of every American citizen and the subtle manipulations within his articles substantially drag down the efficacy of Counterpunch’s publication. The BGL website is in fact little more than a blog aggregator, featuring such easily disputed sources as Pando and underpinned by the same  prominent and recurring anti-Tor themes.

Anti-climatically the grand finale` of ‘Et Tu Poitras‘ widens his net of disparagement to include Pierre Omidyar, Glenn Greenwald and even Snowden himself.

One need not think too hard to imagine which persons and/or organisations might have a motive to malign Poitras, Omidyar, Greenwald, Snowden and the Tor network in one fell swoop, or how a market might easily exist for authors willing to do so.

Had he performed even the most rudimentary web searches on the aforementioned in conjunction with the keywords ‘Google’ and ‘Facebook’, Blunden might have had to publish what they really think, some rudimentary examples being:

Laura Poitras: ‘Facebook is a gift to intelligence agencies

Edward Snowden: ‘called networks like Facebook and Google “dangerous” for being hostile to privacy

Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald’s book about his experiences with Poitras and Snowden, ‘No Place To Hide‘, discusses Google’s culpability in mass surveillance and other related factors on pages 18, 20, 21, 74-75, 94, 108-111, 135, 153, 156, 170-171, and 252.

The “techno-libertarians”, Blunden calls them, and suggests they believe privacy can come from “the next app”. Well he must not have watched too many Edward Snowden videos then.

Snowden has repeatedly stated that if individually targeted by the agencies, that they will subvert your communications regardless of your methods of communication. They will locate and subvert your hardware, monitoring and violating your physical environment, and invest significant resources to do so, given political or criminal imperative.

The reason he advocates encryption is not to prevent individual targeting, no matter how fairly or unfairly it is applied, but to prevent MASS surveillance, where entire populations are caught in a wholesale, illegal and immoral dragnet.

At this point it’s difficult to tell what is more disappointing – that there are authors who still refuse to acknowledge this point or that they continue to get publishing credits while doing so.

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

 

Deciphering The Tor Project

The recent OMG-Tor-is-government-funded #TorGate “scandal” and the on-going anti-Tor Pando/Yasha Levine campaign has disturbing parallels and despite thousands of words spilled onto digital pages, the most significant implications have been largely ignored.

Governments Using Tails/Tor

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. When I recently applied for a passport renewal, the staff at the Department of Internal Affairs operated their computer from a USB stick. When I made this observation on Twitter, Yasha Levine himself retweeted it.

Why are  our governments using these technologies? There is only one rational answer. They are best practice. When operated correctly, they actually work.

If Tails/Tor etc are being entrusted with the most sensitive data that governments hold, then they clearly are among the best tools currently available for protecting data integrity and privacy.

As they are being used by governments, it is not surprising that the funding for their inception came from government agencies. Nor is it surprising that government would continue to subsidize technologies upon which they are reliant, going forward.

The Level Playing Field

So what’s the problem?  Why all the fuss? Well it’s pretty simple. If use of these tools is best practice, it doesn’t mean the government wants you to use them.

Widespread uptake and competent use of these tools would create a level playing field that is inherently unattractive to power. Access to technology has always been the great divide between the have’s and the have-not’s.

While some argue that because the larger the number of nodes, the greater Tor increases in potency, this strengthens Tor as a program and network, but makes it less controllable by government.

These days, Tor is entirely open-source, which gives it the ability to muster significant voluntary manpower that could theoretically rival the resources of government.  That the recent TorGate attacks are focused upon the developers – those at the coal face of the architecture, development, testing and strategic direction of Tor, is rather telling.

Recent disclosures of NSA documents have demonstrated that all you need to do to get yourself on a watch-list these days is to run Linux or to be a commercial sys admin (systems administrator) by trade. In this environment, is it surprising that the government is both targeting users of Tails/Tor etc, while simultaneously enjoying the benefits of the technologies, itself?

Or is its desire to stonewall public access to anonymizing tools indicative of a greater complex of privilege and entitlement, as evidenced in many other sociopolitical areas of modern life?

In the days of “Collect It All” it seems that if you aren’t using Tor, all your communications and files are being collected by the government anyway – explaining why if you are using it, you get relegated to the watch-list to be targeted individually. The occurrence of this targeting lends to both the efficacy of Tor and the unquenchable desire of the state to retain and purview all of your private information, at whim.

The Open Source Movement  & The War on Innovation

Anyone who thinks open source developers aren’t targets of the state should try becoming an effective one and see what happens to you. The Open Source Movement is both a source of pure hope for the betterment of humanity, and a perceived threat to industry and government.

Developers that bow out of the corporate arena to pursue open source projects are often maligned and attacked and preyed upon by detractors and competitors.

Yet despite this, both industry and government utilize open source tools for their own benefit. This is a hypocrisy that has been demonstrated elsewhere.

In the recent Dirty Politics scandal in New Zealand, Wikileaks partner Nicky Hager blew the whistle on a number of major misdeeds being performed by government Ministers and employees in New Zealand.

One of the revelations is that these political operatives bragged to each other of using Tor/Tails.  Yet they are ideologically and actively set against the proponents of internet privacy and net neutrality.

They despise and ridicule Kim Dotcom. They have written dozens of smear posts about him, despite his incredible contributions to software development in New Zealand, and Mega’s advances in anonymizing technologies. They equally dislike and work to undermine the Julian Assange’s, Edward Snowden’s and Jacob Appelbaum’s of this world.

The Dirty Politics cabal continue to act against the public interest and exclusively for private and political interests and they do it all while using Tor/Tails.

The irony is thick. The reality is, the attacks on independent entrepreneurs and high profile advocates for the Open Source movement is first and foremost about controlling innovation, mitigating perceived corporate risk and managing change. Protecting monopolies by stifling digital evolution. Protecting the dynasties, the old boys’ club.

Serving the general public is barely on the radar. They are at the bottom of the access spectrum where technology is concerned. First comes the military – then the military-industrial complex (these days easier to think of it as the military-commercial complex thanks to the wonders of privatization of functions that were traditionally performed within the realm of government) – then comes commercial, then comes the American public and select others – then follows the rest of the first world countries in the order in which they are favored by the Americans, and then follows the rest of the world.

This is precisely why projects like Tor are initially government-funded, and why  the attacks on them begin at the point at which the technology is finally open-source and filtering through into the public sphere.

In the rare situation where a technology makes it to public access while still being a part of the critical infrastructure of the upper echelon, such as appears to be the case with Tor, the undermining becomes even more venomous, as the stakes are considered to be higher for those in the seat of power and privilege.

It also results in an ongoing stake in the maintenance and further development of the software. For the beauty of open source is that it provides a free ‘core’. A platform upon which governments, and anyone, can build, customize and deploy their own tailored solutions.

Therefore there can be countless extensions or plug-ins to Tor, which, dependent upon license conditions and the willingness of various parties to adhere to them, can allow infinite versions of the software to exist other than that which is freely available to users via the official website.

It is of course, also about how it is used in conjunction with other things – a connector rather than the entire proverbial pie.

Other Recent Criticisms of Tor

It must be frustrating to be Jacob Appelbaum. He gets up on stages as at #30c3, tells the world incredible and important things, hopes like hell they understand what he’s talking about, works his butt off to advance open source technologies, and still gets crapped on regardless.

His often-touted ‘six figure salary’ is a fraction of what he could clearly earn contracting in the corporate sector and yet a dedicated set of detractors – ironically many within the halls  of government and not just random troll personas on Twitter – constantly try to take him, and Tor, down a few notches.

And they are prepared to sink to any low to do it. One of the troll themes is that Tor enables child predators/abusers/pornographers. Tweets and no-name blog-posts that aren’t worthy of being linked to here, accuse Tor developers of being somehow responsible for facilitating the most disturbing perversions of mankind.

This accusation can also be found in the comments section of Quinn Norton’s Pando piece: Clearing The Air Around Tor. The obvious rebuttal is absent. Almost every internet platform in history has been used by child predators and pornographers.

From #horsesex, #dogsex and #familysex on IRC throughout the 90s (and probably 00s), to Yahoo! chat, to Craigslist – to even Second Life and a variety of online children’s gaming platforms, virtually no software community has been free of the invasion of unsavory characters using technology to commit crimes.

Are all to be equally punished? Or only those whom it is en vogue to attack?

While Quinn promoted her article on Twitter as being “about what makes very good indeed, & how the community can make it better” it contains a number of criticisms and appears on a website that features an entire slew of anti-Tor conjecture.  The first internal hyperlink Pando has added to the article leads to Yasha Levine’s piece “Tor Spooks” – pretty much rendering Quinn’s fence-sitting posturing moot by association.

Scroll to the bottom of the article and not only will you find that Quinn Norton is a “Social Justice Navy Seal” but that there is a whole row of other related anti-Tor articles for you to select from. In fact they are coming thick and fast, with another Pando op-ed implying that Quinn’s critical assessments of Tor posted to an anti-Tor website were despite her being “pro-hacker”. Very interesting that they would create this internal polarity – an illusion of opposing views, for Quinn claims:

“The Tor team and general information security community have not proven to be good at communicating with regular people. Tor is no magic bullet”

This comment is remarkable, given that when you launch the Tor browser, you immediately see:

Tor Homepage

It is difficult to imagine how Tor could be any more matter of fact than that. Regardless of whether it has a pretty interface, Tor has struck a great balance between low word count and high quality content. It is actually very approachable linguistically and easy to navigate. The standard of documentation is excellent.

Is it marketing-driven corporate drivel? No. You can accuse them of not campaigning like Coca-Cola but it is unfair to suggest they are less than upfront about the capabilities (and liabilities) of Tor, or to hold their geek status against them when it comes to their ability to communicate with users.

Quinn summarises;

“I’d also like the community of Tor supporters and Tor developers to tell a better story, more true to what Tor is and does, so that we don’t run into these kinds of misunderstandings. And even more important, so that users at risk don’t misunderstand and misuse this powerful but specific tool.”

At this point, other than cutesy little animated videos explaining things in a reeeeeeeeeeeally slow voice, it’s debatable whether the Tor story can get much more approachable than is apparent in its ongoing penetration into the mainstream.  As for ‘misunderstandings’ – if there were one or two comments about Tor on Pando that may be a valid adjective, however with the persistence and sheer quantity of the anti-Tor material posted on Pando, it is clear there is such a heavy investment in lambasting Tor that they are unlikely to cool their heels anytime soon.

Pando have the nerve to claim they are the victims of a “smear”. When we see a Tor website with a sliding gallery of anti-Pando articles that may seem more plausible. But for now the proof is in the pudding, and Pando’s counter-revolutionary tabloid-style narratives (yes, this is the publication that once referred to Justine Tunney as the “leader” of Occupy Wall Street, a leaderless movement) are very much transparent to even the most casual of observers.

But putting the haters aside – it really is time to ask, why have open source engineers becoming political targets? Why will rogue trolls and stalkers try to mess with your life if you work for the Tor Project?  What is standing in the way of human innovation and how can we stop the suppression of evolution?

Most important of all – how can we close the technological access gap to keep a level playing field between both ourselves and those government employees who claim to act in our interest – without being labelled criminals or terrorists or being added to watch-lists, all for the audacity of having aspired to the enjoyment of the same privacy protections as our esteemed political representatives?

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website: Suzi3d.com

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

 

Glenn Greenwald and the Irrelevance of Electoral Politics

On 17 September 2014, three days before the New Zealand general election, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald gave an interview that, were it properly analyzed and circulated globally, should turn geopolitics on its head and destroy the critics who claimed he was taking a political “side”  in his appearance at ‘The Moment of Truth‘.

Greenwald’s answers to leading Kiwi political commentator and new media aficionado Russell Brown get to the heart of the largest conceivable electoral issue: one that makes it clear our politicians are little more than reality TV stars in a projected fantasy; an illusion of democracy and governance that masks our true rulers.

The resulting conversation gives further context to the revelations of the warrant-less spying and mass-surveillance activities of the GCSB, New Zealand’s equivalent of the NSA:

Brown: …it’s not as if these activities have only taken place under governments of the right.

Greenwald: That’s a really important point. The GCSB is a long-standing agency, it’s a lot like the NSA. The NSA has grown more or less steadily regardless of whether there’s a Democratic or Republican administration, and of course currently in the United States there is a Democratic President who is perceived as more on the left than the right, and yet the NSA has grown dramatically over the last six years. These agencies really do exist outside the democratic process. They are in a sense their own autonomous beasts and election outcomes really don’t determine the extent to which they continue to grow, unfortunately. That’s part of the problem.

In pointing out that the surveillance/police state has continued to grow under the ruling parties of both political wings of most nations, Greenwald and Brown smash the left-right paradigm that divides us in one fell swoop, and soon move on to the  crux of the mattter;

Brown: So what drives that growth?

Greenwald: I think that one of the things that has happened is that military structures in general have insulated themselves from the political process. And the kinds of claims that are made to justify their growth, whether putting people in fear of terrorism or other kinds of threats, are very powerful tools. No politician wants to be seen as making the country less safe, or to be vulnerable to claims that they stood in the way of the security of citizens. And these agencies are very good at manipulating public discourse to make sure that they’re continually fed greater authority and greater budgetary support – and just generally allowed to operate without much interference from political officials.

If the above were all there were to it, we could easily conclude that politicians are inept and more concerned by their own image than in performing effective oversight, and that this is evident in both the left and right political spheres.

Greenwald’s words, while enlightened and enlightening, are often written off as just being the opinion of one man.

But it doesn’t end there. Greenwald soon references disclosures made by Edward Snowden – specifically, documents containing the words of NSA officials themselves.

Greenwald: There is a document that we published maybe four or five months ago. It was an interview that was done internally at the NSA with the official in charge of foreign partnerships. And they asked him, why is it that for example in Europe, where you have wildly disparate swings in the election outcomes, from the right to the left, it doesn’t really affect the partnerships that we have with these countries’ intelligence agencies?

And he said, that’s because virtually nobody in the political process, anyone outside of the military structure, even knows these partnerships exist.

More conclusions: politicians aren’t just vain and inept, they’re in the dark and most are ostensibly happy to stay there.

Although Greenwald’s next reference is to New Zealand Green Party co-leader Russel Norman, a man who has repeatedly pressed the issue of illegal spying and mass surveillance and is the opposite of the caricature of a stereo-typical obtuse, morally-disengaged parliamentary representative, it further corroborates our theories;

Greenwald: You had the Green Party leader here in New Zealand say in an interview that I watched that he was on the committee that oversees the GCSB and yet he learned far more about what the agency does by reading our stories than he did in briefings. They really have insulated themselves from the political process and have a lot of tools to ensure that they continue to grow and their power is never questioned.

Conclusion: if not already willfully blinded by their own greed, ego, ambition, our politicians are blinded by lack of access to information required in order to make conscientious governance decisions and effectively pursue the oversight duties to which they are supposedly tasked.

The net effect for the intelligence agencies is a general immunity from political processes and from oversight; and therefore an immunity from the entire principle of democracy that, especially in the so-called “First World”, we are raised to believe is not only our societal framework and environment but an inalienable right.

Ironically the document Greenwald referenced is also an interview – not by one man with a perceived agenda, but by the NSA themselves.

In it, the “Deputy Assistant for SIGINT Operations” is asked if “foreign intelligence relationships” are “usually insulated from short-term political ups and downs”.

The Deputy Assistant answers:

NSA: For a variety of reasons, our intelligence relationships are rarely disrupted by foreign political perturbations, international or domestic.

Perturbations is a hell of a word. But what on earth does it mean?

pert

So it means aggravations. Disturbances. But it also means;

pert1

Anxieties. Deviations. That lead to…

pert2

…discoveries! Knowledge. Evolution.

And how does this occur? What is the impetus, what are the tell-tale signs?

pert3

So it all comes down to physics and the laws of attraction. Physics is a hell of a thing to fear, or to try and avoid. Should we really want to? If new planets and solar systems can be discovered by perturbances, why are perturbances undesirable? Why are they something to be “insulated from”?

Sounds a lot like “business risk” language – for in commerce and industry, innovation can be perceived as a threat to profitability, for its ability to disrupt the status quo. This is what spawned”Risk Management” and “Change Management” as managerial pathways.

Thus it seems our intelligence agencies, always pitched in public as critically-important mechanisms that exist to defend the rights of citizens and protect their countries, are in fact commercial enterprises motivated not by moral principles but by business “risk”.

There is undeniable environmental evidence all around us that the interests of traditional business and the interests of the planet and humanity as a whole, are not in alignment.

With chaos and war all around the globe, we are left to wonder how important money or the economy will be, if our lack of innovation means there are no environmental resources left to sustain us.

The entire concept of money being more important or valuable than humanity is oxymoronical – without humanity or the planet there can be no money, no economy.

Greenwald shedding light on the utter subversion of our electoral process and the irrelevance of our politicians, is the start of a conversation that desperately needs to be had.

For while promises of political change can be so alluring – as we saw with the rise of Obama and even with attempts by smaller, new paradigm efforts like The Internet Party – if the systems they aspire to and operate in prevent them from ever achieving the core objectives of democracy then they are rendered utterly irrelevant.

As I write this, Twitter has inserted an ad into my timeline from the Bank of New Zealand. “Success as an adult hinges on being good with money” it begins.

No.

Success as an adult hinges upon, when required, acting against your own immediate interests to ensure that your planet and future generations of your race – the human race – can continue and survive.

The ability to evolve, to learn, to grow, to live and to sustain life within our natural environment is more important than the ability to earn money within a manufactured construct.

Acting democratically is not about one vote every three or four years, or aspiring to enter a system which has been fundamentally corrupted.

It is about a true commitment to the consent of the governed; one which requires them to be informed and actively involved in achieving their own outcomes.

The greatest risk to electoral politics appears to be business and the greatest risk to business is not “perturbations” – it is itself.

For in its obsession to protect itself from perceived “risk”, the system is itself exacerbating the size of its own existential threat, every single day.

[This post was live-blogged and is now finished. Thank you for watching]

Written by Suzie Dawson

Twitter: @Suzi3D

Official Website: Suzi3d.com

Journalists who write truth pay a high price to do so. If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via credit card or Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you!

[Update/January 2018] This post is now available at my Steemit blog.

The Snowden Principle

This article has been republished with the permission of its author – the consummate actor, filmmaker and talented writer John Cusack. John is a board member of the journalism advocacy group Freedom of the Press Foundation.


At the heart of Edward Snowden’s decision to expose the NSA’s massive phone and Internet spying programs was a fundamental belief in the people’s right-to-know. “My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them,” he said in an interview with the Guardian.

From the State’s point of view, he’s committed a crime. From his point of view, and the view of many others, he has sacrificed for the greater good because he knows people have the right to know what the government is doing in their name. And legal, or not, he saw what the government was doing as a crime against the people and our rights.

For the sake of argument, this should be called The Snowden Principle.

When The Snowden Principle is invoked and revelations of this magnitude are revealed; it is always met with predictable establishment blowback from the red and blue elites of state power. Those in charge are prone to hysteria and engage in character assassination, as are many in the establishment press that have been co-opted by government access . When The Snowden Principle is evoked the fix is always in and instead of looking at the wrongdoing exposed, they parrot the government position no matter what the facts

The Snowden Principle just cannot be tolerated…

Even mental illness is pondered as a possible reason that these pariahs would insist on the public’s right to know at the highest personal costs to their lives and the destruction of their good names. The public’s right to know—This is the treason. The utter corruption, the crime.

But as law professor Jonathan Turley reminds us, a lie told by everyone is not the truth. “The Republican and Democratic parties have achieved a bipartisan purpose in uniting against the public’s need to know about massive surveillance programs and the need to redefine privacy in a more surveillance friendly image,” he wrote recently.

We can watch as The Snowden Principle is predictably followed in the reaction from many of the fourth estate – who serve at the pleasure of the king.

Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC suggests that Glenn Greenwald’s coverage was “misleading” and said he was too “close to the story.” Snowden was no whistleblower, and Glenn was no journalist she suggests.

Jeffrey Toobin, at the New Yorker, calls Snowden “a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.”

Another journalist, Willard Foxton, asserted that Glenn Greenwald amounted to the leader of a “creepy cult.”

David Brooks of the New York Times accuses Snowden- not the Gov–of betraying everything from the Constitution to all American privacy …

Michael Grunwald of TIME seems to suggest that that if you are against the NSA spying program you want to make America less safe.

Then there’s Richard Cohen at the Washington Post, who as Gawker points out, almost seems to be arguing that a journalist’s job is to keep government secrets not actually report on them.

The Snowden Principle makes for some tortured logic.

The government’s reaction has been even worse. Senators have called Snowden a “traitor,” the authorities claim they’re going to treat his case as espionage. Rep. Peter King outrageously called for the prosecution of Glenn Greenwald for exercising his basic First Amendment rights. Attacks like this are precisely the reason I joined the Freedom of the Press Foundation board (where Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras also serve as board members)

As Chris Hedges rightly pointed out, this cuts to the heart of one of the most important questions in a democracy: will we have an independent free press that reports on government crimes and serves the public’s right to know?

It cannot be criminal to report a crime or an abuse of power. Freedom of the Press Foundation co-founder Daniel Ellsberg argues that Snowden’s leaks could be a tipping point in America. This week he wrote “there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material,” including his own leak of the Pentagon Papers.

The Snowden Principle, and that fire that inspired him to take unimaginable risks, is fundamentally about fostering an informed and engaged public. The Constitution embraces that idea. Mr. Snowden says his motivation was to expose crimes -spark a debate, and let the public know of secret policies he could not in good conscience ignore – whether you agree with his tactics or not, that debate has begun. Now, we are faced with a choice, we can embrace the debate or we can try to shut the debate down and maintain the status quo.

If these policies are just, then debate them in sunlight. If we believe the debate for transparency is worth having we need to demand it. Snowden said it well, “You can’t wait around for someone else to act.”

Within hours of the NSA’s leaks, a massive coalition of groups came together to plan an international campaign to oppose and fix the NSA spying regime. You can join them here – I already did. The groups span across the political spectrum, from Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and longtime civil rights groups like ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Free Press.

As more people find out about these abuses, the outrage mounts and the debate expands. Many in the mainstream media have shown that the public can’t count on them to stand up to internal pressure when The Snowden Principle is evoked to serve the national interest, and protect our core fundamental rights.

The questions The Snowden Principle raises when evoked will not go away….How long do they expect rational people to accept using the word “terror” to justify and excuse ever expanding executive and state power ? Why are so many in our government and press and intellectual class so afraid of an informed public? Why are they so afraid of a Free Press and the people’s right to know?

It’s the government’s obligation to keep us safe while protecting our constitution . To suggest it’s one or the other is simply wrong.

Professor Turley issues us a dire warning:

“In his press conference, Obama repeated the siren call of all authoritarian figures throughout history: while these powers are great, our motives are benign. So there you have it. The government is promising to better protect you if you just surrender this last measure of privacy. Perhaps it is time. After all, it was Benjamin Franklin who warned that “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

See what’s happened already in the short time only because the PRISM program was made public, here.

Written by John Cusack.

Twitter: @JohnCusack

[This essay was originally published at the Huffington Post.]

The Farcical Case Against Julian Assange

“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.

Also:

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.

LIST ENDS

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.

Written by Simon Wood

Twitter: @simonwood11

International Spin Bin