The unfolding WikiLeaks story, from different angles.
Julian Assange should receive a special Nobel prize. It reflects on the uselessness and corruption of all the world’s establishment institutions that the Nobels, for example, do not choose (any more than the Pope and other highly placed figures) to back up a heroic David like Assange. He’s nothing if not a desperately needed disinfectant for the putrid system gradually drowning us all—human, beast and nature alike—in a perfect storm of pathological greed, corruption, selfishness and idiotic short-term thinking. —The Editor
Wikileaks’ next target: A major US bank
By Sahil Kapur | November 30th, 2010 [print_link]
He's been relentlessly revealing some of the US government's most deeply held secrets, but for his next act, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says he will expose the corruption of a major American bank.
In an interview with Andy Greenberg of Forbes earlier this month, Assange said his whistleblower website possesses and intends to disclose tens of thousands of secret documents from a major US financial institution early next year.
"It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume," Assange (left
He declined to provide any additional details but boldly predicted that the leak will be as high-impact as the Enron emails, which revealed the corruption of the Houston-based energy company and led to its demise in 2001.
"Usually when you get leaks at this level, it’s about one particular case or one particular violation," he said. "For this, there’s only one similar example. It’s like the Enron emails."
Assange added: "You could call it the ecosystem of corruption. But it’s also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that’s not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they’re fulfilling their own self-interest. The way they talk about it.
The Australian-born Wikileaks chief became a household name around the world upon regularly exposing internal US government documents pertaining to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This week, he has put the US in damage-control mode after revealing 250,000 classified diplomatic cables obtained from the Department of State without permission, exposing the modus operandi of American foreign relations and countless diplomatic secrets of world leaders.
For this, he has earned the wrath of the United States government and its allies while winning the affections of transparency lovers across the world. And now, Assange hints he will take greater interest in the private sector, from which he says his website has received many documents.
Greenberg reports that Assange "confirmed that WikiLeaks has damaging, unpublished material from pharmaceutical companies, finance firms (aside from the upcoming bank release), and energy companies, just to name a few industries."
Why Wikileaks is Good for Democracy
By Bill Quigley
Information is the currency of democracy. --Thomas Jefferson.
Since 9-11, the US government, through Presidents Bush and Obama, has increasingly told the US public that “state secrets” will not be shared with citizens. Candidate Obama pledged to reduce the use of state secrets, but President Obama continued the Bush tradition. The Courts and Congress and international allies have gone meekly along with the escalating secrecy demands of the US Executive.
By labeling tens of millions of documents secret, the US government has created a huge vacuum of information. But information is the lifeblood of democracy. Information about government contributes to a healthy democracy. Transparency and accountability are essential elements of good government. Likewise, “a lack of government transparency and accountability undermines democracy and gives rise to cynicism and mistrust,” according to a 2008 Harris survey commissioned by the Association of Government Accountants.
Into the secrecy vacuum stepped Private Bradley Manning, who, according to the Associated Press, was able to defeat “Pentagon security systems using little more than a Lady Gaga CD and a portable computer memory stick.”
Manning apparently sent the information to Wikileaks – a non profit media organization, which specializes in publishing leaked information. Wikileaks in turn shared the documents to other media around the world including the New York Times and published much of it on its website.
Despite criminal investigations by the US and other governments, it is not clear that media organizations like Wikileaks can be prosecuted in the US in light of First Amendment. Recall that the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Outraged politicians are claiming that the release of government information is the criminal equivalent of terrorism and puts innocent people’s lives at risk. Many of those same politicians authorized the modern equivalent of carpet bombing of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, the sacrifice of thousands of lives of soldiers and civilians, and drone assaults on civilian areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Their anger at a document dump, no matter how extensive, is more than a little suspect.
Ex Bush enabler MARC THIESSEN suggest on Hannity that Julian Assange should be kidnapped and liquidated. What else can we expect from such scum?
Everyone, including Wikileaks and the other media reporting the documents, hopes that no lives will be lost because of this. So far, that appears to be the case as McClatchey Newspapers reported November 28, 2010, that ‘US officials conceded that they have no evidence to date that the [prior] release of documents led to anyone’s death.”
The US has been going in the wrong direction for years by classifying millions of documents as secrets. Wikileaks and other media which report these so called secrets will embarrass people yes. Wikileaks and other media will make leaders uncomfortable yes. But embarrassment and discomfort are small prices to pay for a healthier democracy.
Wikileaks has the potential to make transparency and accountability more robust in the US. That is good for democracy.
Bill is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Quigley77@gmail.com
Crosspost with CommonDreams.org November 30, 2010
MEANWHILE, THE CRIMINAL SCUMBAGS' PARADE MARCHES ON
US embassy cables culprit should be executed, says Mike Huckabee
Republican presidential hopeful wants the person responsible for the WikiLeaks cables to face capital punishment for treason
By Haroon Siddique and Matthew Weaver
The Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has called for whoever leaked the 250,000 US diplomatic cables to be executed.
), who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination at the last election but is one of the favourites for 2012, joined a growing number of people demanding the severest punishment possible for those behind the leak, which has prompted a global diplomatic crisis.
His fellow potential Republican nominee [the utterly vile] Sarah Palin had already called for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be "hunted down", and an adviser to the Canadian prime minister has echoed her comments.
Huckabee said: "Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty." [So much for this repulsive and pious phony, a fitting specimen in the Reagan-worshipping Republican mob.)
He added, according to Politico: "They've put American lives at risk. They put relationships that will take decades to rebuild at risk. They knew full well that they were handling sensitive documents they were entrusted.
"And anyone who had access to that level of information was not only a person who understood what their rules were, but they also signed, under oath, a commitment that they would not violate. They did … Any lives they endangered, they're personally responsible for and the blood is on their hands."
Bradley Manning, a US army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking the diplomatic cables, is currently being held at a military base. He has been charged with transferring classified data and delivering national defence information to an unauthorised source. He faces a court martial and up to 52 years in prison.
The 23-year-old was arrested after boasting in instant messages and emails to a high-profile former hacker, Adrian Lamo, that he had passed the material to WikiLeaks along with a highly classified video of US forces killing unarmed civilians in Baghdad.
Kathleen McFarland (left)
, who served in the Pentagon under the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, concurred with Huckabee. "It's time to up the charges," said McFarland, now [fittingly] a Fox News national security analyst. "Let's charge him and try him for treason. If he is found guilty, he should be executed."
It is not just the Americans who are demanding blood. Tom Flanagan, a senior adviser to the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, issued what has been described as a fatwa against Assange, on the Canadian TV station CBC.
"I think Assange should be assassinated, actually," he said. "I think Obama should put out a contract and maybe use a drone or something." Flanagan chuckled as he made the comment but did not retract it when questioned, adding: "I wouldn't feel unhappy if Assange does disappear."
Revelations directly relating to Canada have been few and far between so far, although there was some embarrassment for Harper in the leak of a US embassy note from one of the French president's key foreign advisers. It explained that Harper was invited to last year's D-day commemorations in Normandy only because his government was in trouble.
Assange is facing growing legal problems around the world.
The US has announced it is investigating whether he has violated its espionage laws, and his details have been added to Interpol's worldwide wanted list, based on an arrest warrant issued by Swedish prosecutors in connection with rape allegations.
On Monday, Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook: "He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaida and Taliban leaders?"
Global Research November 30, 2010
Wikileaks and the New Global Order: America’s Wake-up Call
By Jonathan Cook
The Wikileaks disclosure this week of confidential cables from United States embassies has been debated chiefly in terms either of the damage to Washington’s reputation or of the questions it raises about national security and freedom of the press.
The headlines aside, most of the information so far revealed from the 250,000 documents is hardly earth-shattering, even if it often runs starkly counter to the official narrative of the US as the benevolent global policeman, trying to maintain order amid an often unruly rabble of underlings.
Is it really surprising that US officials appear to have been trying to spy on senior United Nations staff, and just about everyone else for that matter? Or that Israel has been lobbying strenuously for military action to be taken against Iran? Or even that Saudi Arabia feels threatened by an Iranian nuclear bomb? All of this was already largely understood; the leaks have simply provided official confirmation.
The new disclosures, however, do provide a useful insight, captured in the very ordinariness of the diplomatic correspondence, into Washington’s own sense of the limits on its global role -- an insight that was far less apparent in the previous Wikileaks revelations on the US army’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Underlying the gossip and analysis sent back to Washington is an awareness from many US officials stationed abroad of quite how ineffective -- and often counter-productive -- much US foreign policy is.
While the most powerful nation on earth is again shown to be more than capable of throwing its weight around in bullying fashion, a cynical resignation nonetheless shines through many of the cables, an implicit recognition that even the top dog has to recognise its limits.
That is most starkly evident in the messages sent by the embassy in Pakistan, revealing the perception among local US officials that the country is largely impervious to US machinations and is in danger of falling entirely out the ambit of Washington’s influence.
In the cables sent from Tel Aviv, a similar fatalism reigns. The possibility that Israel might go it alone and attack Iran is contemplated as though it were an event Washington has no hope of preventing. US largesse of billions of dollars in annual aid and military assistance to Israel appears to confer zero leverage on its ally’s policies.
The same sense of US ineffectiveness is highlighted by the Wikileaks episode in another way. Once, in the pre-digital era, the most a whistleblower could hope to achieve was the disclosure of secret documents limited to his or her area of privileged access. Even then the affair could often be hushed up and make no lasting impact.
Now, however, it seems the contents of almost the entire system of US official communications is vulnerable to exposure. And anyone with a computer has a permanent and easily disseminated record of the evidence.
The impression of a world running out of American control has become a theme touching all our lives over the past decade.
The US invented and exported financial deregulation, promising it to be the epitome of the new capitalism that was going to offer the world economic salvation. The result is a banking crisis that now threatens to topple the very governments in Europe who are Washington’s closest allies.
As the contagion of bad debt spreads through the system, we are likely to see a growing destabilisation of the Washington order across the globe.
At the same time, the US army’s invasions in the Middle East are stretching its financial and military muscle to tearing point, defining for a modern audience the problem of imperial over-reach. Here too the upheaval is offering potent possibilities to those who wish to challenge the current order.
And then there is the biggest crisis facing Washington: of a gradually unfolding environmental catastrophe that has been caused chiefly by the same rush for world economic dominance that spawned the banking disaster.
The scale of this problem is overawing most scientists, and starting to register with the public, even if it is still barely acknowledged beyond platitudes by US officials.
The repercussions of ecological meltdown will be felt not just by polar bears and tribes living on islands. It will change the way we live -- and whether we live -- in ways that we cannot hope to foresee.
At work here is a set of global forces that the US, in its hubris, believed it could tame and dominate in its own cynical interests. By the early 1990s that arrogance manifested itself in the claim of the “end of history”: the world’s problems were about to be solved by US-sponsored corporate capitalism.
The new Wikileaks disclosures will help to dent those assumptions. If a small group of activists can embarrass the most powerful nation on earth, the world’s finite resources and its laws of nature promise a much harsher lesson.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jkcook.net.