The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

Julian Assange unlikely to face U.S. charges over publishing classified documents | The Washington Post

The Justice Department has all but concluded it will not bring charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified documents because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting U.S. news organizations and journalists, according to U.S. officials.

The officials stressed that a formal decision has not been taken, and a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks remains impaneled, but they said there is little possibility of bringing a case against Assange, unless he is implicated in criminal activity other than releasing online top secret military and diplomatic documents.

The Obama administration has charged government employees and contractors who leak classified information — such as former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning — with violations of the Espionage Act. But officials said that although Assange published classified documents, he did not leak them, something they said significantly affects their legal analysis.

“The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists,” said former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller. “And if you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no way to prosecute Assange.”

Justice officials said they looked hard at Assange but realized that they have what they described as a “New York Times problem.” If the Justice Department indicted Assange, it would also have to prosecute the New York Times and other news organizations and writers who published classified material, including The Washington Post and Britain’s the Guardian, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said last week that the anti-secrecy organization is skeptical “short of an open, official, formal confirmation that the U.S. government is not going to prosecute WikiLeaks.” Justice Department officials said it is unclear whether there will be a formal announcement should the grand jury investigation be formally closed.

“We have repeatedly asked the Department of Justice to tell us what the status of the investigation was with respect to Mr. Assange,” said Barry J. Pollack, a Washington attorney for Assange. “They have declined to do so. They have not informed us in any way that they are closing the investigation or have made a decision not to bring charges against Mr. Assange. While we would certainly welcome that development, it should not have taken the Department of Justice several years to come to the conclusion that it should not be investigating journalists for publishing truthful information.”

The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’ | Julian Assange

“THE New Digital Age” is a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of its leading witch doctors, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the 21st century. This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley, as personified by Mr. Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Mr. Cohen, a former adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton who is now director of Google Ideas.

[…] The book proselytizes the role of technology in reshaping the world’s people and nations into likenesses of the world’s dominant superpower, whether they want to be reshaped or not. The prose is terse, the argument confident and the wisdom — banal. But this isn’t a book designed to be read. It is a major declaration designed to foster alliances.

“The New Digital Age” is, beyond anything else, an attempt by Google to position itself as America’s geopolitical visionary — the one company that can answer the question “Where should America go?” It is not surprising that a respectable cast of the world’s most famous warmongers has been trotted out to give its stamp of approval to this enticement to Western soft power. The acknowledgments give pride of place to Henry Kissinger, who along with Tony Blair and the former C.I.A. director Michael Hayden provided advance praise for the book.

In the book the authors happily take up the white geek’s burden. A liberal sprinkling of convenient, hypothetical dark-skinned worthies appear: Congolese fisherwomen, graphic designers in Botswana, anticorruption activists in San Salvador and illiterate Masai cattle herders in the Serengeti are all obediently summoned to demonstrate the progressive properties of Google phones jacked into the informational supply chain of the Western empire.

The authors offer an expertly banalized version of tomorrow’s world: the gadgetry of decades hence is predicted to be much like what we have right now — only cooler. “Progress” is driven by the inexorable spread of American consumer technology over the surface of the earth. Already, every day, another million or so Google-run mobile devices are activated. Google will interpose itself, and hence the United States government, between the communications of every human being not in China (naughty China). Commodities just become more marvelous; young, urban professionals sleep, work and shop with greater ease and comfort; democracy is insidiously subverted by technologies of surveillance, and control is enthusiastically rebranded as “participation”; and our present world order of systematized domination, intimidation and oppression continues, unmentioned, unafflicted or only faintly perturbed. [++]

The Death of Truth

LONDON—A tiny tip of the vast subterranean network of governmental and intelligence agencies from around the world dedicated to destroying WikiLeaks and arresting its founder, Julian Assange, appears outside the red-brick building on Hans Crescent Street that houses the Ecuadorean Embassy. Assange, the world’s best-known political refugee, has been in the embassy since he was offered sanctuary there last June. British police in black Kevlar vests are perched night and day on the steps leading up to the building, and others wait in the lobby directly in front of the embassy door. An officer stands on the corner of a side street facing the iconic department store Harrods, half a block away on Brompton Road. Another officer peers out the window of a neighboring building a few feet from Assange’s bedroom at the back of the embassy. Police sit round-the-clock in a communications van topped with an array of antennas that presumably captures all electronic forms of communication from Assange’s ground-floor suite.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), or Scotland Yard, said the estimated cost of surrounding the Ecuadorean Embassy from June 19, 2012, when Assange entered the building, until Jan. 31, 2013, is the equivalent of $4.5 million.

Britain has rejected an Ecuadorean request that Assange be granted safe passage to an airport. He is in limbo. It is, he said, like living in a “space station.”

(Source: azspot)

The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel giddily printed redacted copies of some of the WikiLeaks files and then promptly threw Assange and Manning to the sharks. It was not only morally repugnant, but also stunningly shortsighted. Do these news organizations believe that if the state shuts down organizations such as WikiLeaks and imprisons Manning and Assange, traditional news outlets will be left alone? Can’t they connect the dots between the prosecutions of government whistle-blowers under the Espionage Act, warrantless wiretapping, monitoring of communications and the persecution of Manning and Assange? Don’t they worry that when the state finishes with Manning, Assange and WikiLeaks, these atrophied news outlets will be next? Haven’t they realized that this is a war by a global corporate elite not against an organization or an individual but against the freedom of the press and democracy? The Death of Truth

WikiLeaks has more US secrets, Assange says | The Agonist

Julian Assange has confirmed that WikiLeaks still holds classified United States government documents that it is yet to publish.

However the transparency website will not release this material during the court martial of its source, US Army private Bradley Manning.

Speaking to Fairfax Media, Mr Assange said on Tuesday that Manning was “America’s foremost political prisoner … an activist who faces retribution for revealing the truth”.

Manning last Thursday publicly accepted responsibility for providing WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic reports, telling a US military court that he did so to spark public debate on US foreign policy and military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Bradley Manning’s plea was a very positive development for him,” Mr Assange said.

“For the first time he was able to speak about his motivation to reveal truths and stimulate public debate about war.

“The US Government has repeatedly sought to deny or suppress Manning’s motivation for his actions, and the tabloid press has tried to strip him of any political motivation.”

John Cusack: What Is an Assange? Part 2

John Cusack: So Jon, on the same terrain — if you give me information and I decide I want to put it out on, say Twitter, — and it’ll reach a million plus people — am I in the same class as Assange — if somebody sends me a video of a crime, and I believe a crime has been committed? Do I have a right or moral obligation to expose the truth…And am I protected?

Jonathan Turley: Well, this is a longstanding conflict that we’ve had in the civil liberties community with Congress. In fact, I testified before the House Intelligence Committee years ago on the move by a number of members to criminalize the publication of classified information, whether you’re a journalist or anyone else. So they were including all the journalists, as well as non-journalists.

And this had the support of the Republicans and Democrats. Members of Congress tend not to like whistleblowers, or journalists for that matter, because they get them off-script and when they are most vulnerable. They make this less controllable. I have previously testified before both Democratic and Republican members considering a disastrous move toward criminalizing the publication of classified information regardless of how you receive it.

The question of your releasing the same information on Twitter is interesting. Given your status, you actually reach more people than virtually all of the daily newspapers. So you’re reaching over a million-plus people with a single tweet that most newspapers would dearly love to replicate.

John Cusack: We both blog and write on line — as we are now —

Jonathan Turley: Then, we get into this serious question of why you’re not a journalist but Chris Matthews is. I mean, you actually are likely to reach 100 times more people than MSNBC would on any given evening because of your status.

John Cusack: One of Arianna’s big ideas was to create what she calls citizen journalists to participate and have your voices heard, — and ordinary people could be alongside — right up there with Hillary Clinton. And blog, and she’ll aggregate news. She’s created this kind of revolution in her own way. But it has to do with connectivity and aggregation and the idea of a citizen journalist. So is Assange basically a citizen publisher? It gets back to the same question — what are the rights of people to expose the truth? Where are their protections?

Jonathan Turley: I think that’s right. And this is where I think the media has decided to go conspicuously silent. Because there’s no question that Assange’s release of this information resembles the type of act for which journalists have received Pulitzers. He released information that came to him, and information that had not been released in any other forum. That information dealt directly with government deception and potential crimes.

So it walked and quacked just like a journalistic story. But they’re not willing to call him a journalist.

John Cusack: And so therefore, he has no protections?

Jonathan Turley: Well, that’s how the US government is dealing with it. They have rather transparently opted to deal with him as a suspected hacker. And they’re going to pursue him on that ground. If they get their hands on him, I expect they’re going to do everything they can to keep him in jail. They need to hoist the wretch, they need to make it clear that you won’t get away with this if you embarrass the government and release this type of information. Both the Bush and Obama Administration have previously threatened journalists. They are not going to hold back on Assange if they have already threatened to prosecute reporters.

John Cusack: As the man once said — You have the right to free speech — as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it. So it’s another part of the widening clamp-down on civil liberties and freedom of speech.

Jonathan Turley: Indeed.

[continue]

What Is an Assange? | John Cusack

Jonathan Turley: Yeah, I think it’s fascinating when you look at the reaction to Bradley Manning and Assange. The government really went to DEFCON 4 in dealing with these guys. And the question is why. I think the answer to that is they want to hoist the wretch. They want everyone to see these guys twisting in the wind, so no one will do this again.

And what is it that they did? They released —

John Cusack: They were whistleblowers.

Jonathan Turley: Right, they released information embarrassing to the government. But when you look at the media coverage, they clearly are unwilling to treat Assange as a whistleblower, and they are particularly unwilling to treat him as a journalist.

And so this sort of goes to this longstanding question of what constitutes a journalist in the age of blogs and Internet sites?

John Cusack: I guess that’s probably the question I was stumbling towards — what do you believe that difference is, from the constitutional perspective of freedom of speech, or its protection?

Jonathan Turley: Journalists have been adopting a very narrow definition because they have a legitimate concern that, with the ability to create a blog in a matter of minutes, everyone can claim to be a journalist. If everyone is a journalist, then no one will likely have journalistic privileges. Journalists survive on these privileges and those privileges will evaporate if everyone can claim them.

And so if you look at things like the National Press Club, they long have had a definition of a journalist that deals with how much the person gets paid to do journalism, excluding people who are legitimate journalists but are not receiving a full-time, or even a significant part-time, salary. Those definitions are highly artificial today. Most people are now getting their news from the Internet and from blogs.

Kevin McCabe: — in a reference in a Times story, the reporter referred to Chris Matthews and Katie Couric as journalists, who would be attending the Al Smith dinner. And I was going to send a note saying Chris Matthews is no journalist. At one time he was a columnist. But he’s a cable TV opinion guy now. I think that what you say just brings a striking relief to all of that. It’s just so obvious.

Jonathan Turley: It also creates this awkward position, where if Adam Liptak at the New York Times releases material from Assange, it’s a journalistic act. When Assange releases this information in bulk, it’s considered a terrorist act. And nobody seems comfortable with trying to explain that distinction. And I’m not too sure that they can.

There’s two ways to look at whether someone’s a journalist — their function and their motivation. And usually, we look at both. Well, what was the motivation of Assange? Assange’s motivation, it seems to me, was clearly to be a whistleblower and to release this information. But he was also doing an act which is identical to what journalists do.

And yet, if you look at how he’s treated in the newspapers, they’re not treating him as either whistleblower or journalist; they’re treating him somehow as sui generis, something unique. He’s an Assange. [++]

As usual, the US establishment journalists have enabled the government every step of the way. Despite holding themselves out as adversarial watchdogs, nothing provokes their animosity more than someone who effectively challenges government actions. … To the mavens of the US watchdog press, Assange and Manning are enemies to be scorned because they did the job that the US press corps refuses to do: namely, bringing transparency to the bad acts of the US government and its allies around the world. Bradley Manning: a tale of liberty lost in America | Glenn Greenwald

thepeoplesrecord:

European Parliament votes to protect Wikileaks against financial blockade
November 21, 2012

European Parliament votes to protect WikiLeaks. In a landmark decision today the European Parliament initiated the drafting of legislation that would stop the arbitrary banking blockades against WikiLeaks and other organizations facing economic censorship. This is an important signal from the European lawmakers. It is a recognition of the seriousness of the precedents set in December 2010, still in force, when Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Western Union and Bank of America launched a unilateral, extrajudicial banking blockade against donations to WikiLeaks. The blockade has cost the organization more than US$50 million. The US Treasury formally found last year that there is no lawful reason why WikiLeaks should be placed on the US embargo list, but the highly political blockade continues. WikiLeaks welcomes the support of MEPs on this important issue and agrees with the European Parliament, which “considers it likely that there will be a growing number of European companies whose activities are effectively dependent on being able to accept payments by card; [and] considers it to be in the public interest to define objective rules describing the circumstances and procedures under which card payment schemes may unilaterally refuse acceptance.”

This underlines the claim by WikiLeaks that if the financial blockade against WikiLeaks is not stopped, US financial giants will be free to unilaterally decide which European companies and organizations live or die. As WikiLeaks has previously pointed out, this is an attack on fundamental rights that cannot be left unchallenged. The organization has already launched lawsuits in two European jurisdictions and is awaiting the final outcome in its complaint to the European Commission against the major credit card companies for violations of competition laws. The Commission’s decision is expected before the end of the year. WikiLeaks has been victorious in all court hearings about this issue to date.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: “I welcome this response from EU lawmakers. European independence is important. But there is no sovereignty without economic sovereignty. Politicized US financial monopolies must not be able to censor European organizations with impunity.”

Source

(Source: thepeoplesrecord, via randomactsofchaos)

Lawyers for Julian Assange & WikiLeaks Seek Details on Justice Department’s Criminal Investigation | The Dissenter

Lawyers for WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, have sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting further information on the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into Assange and WikiLeaks.

Former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, counsel to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) write, “In light of recent reports suggesting the possibility of an ongoing criminal investigation of Mr. Assange and/or WikiLeaks—and the existence of secret grand jury proceedings in the Eastern District of Virginia—we write to assess whether Mr. Assange in fact faces any criminal jeopardy in the United States and to protect his interests in the face of an investigation and/or trial.”

The grand jury exists and has been meeting. It has been confirmed in proceedings in the court martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks. It was also confirmed in diplomatic communications between the United States and Australia, which were covered by the Sydney Morning Herald.

The letter specifically asks for confirmation on whether Assange is a “target or subject of any federal grand jury investigation for alleged violations of the Espionage Act of 1917 and/or other federal criminal law.” It also seeks confirmation on whether the Justice Department plans to “ arrest or extradite Mr. Assange from Sweden or any other country to face current or prospective charges in the United States relating to WikiLeaks and/or his activities as a publisher and journalist.”

Noting the existence of ”indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, Section 1021 or of the September 21, 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force,” the letter inquires as to whether the Justice Department might be operating under the legal theory that Assange “may have provided ‘substantial support’ to Al Qaeda or ‘associated forces’ by publishing information passed to him by Bradley Manning.” [++]

futurejournalismproject:

Cypherpunks
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is coming out with a book next month, co-authored with Jacob Applebaum, Andy Müeller and Jérémie Zimmerman.
Via OR Books:

Assange brings together a small group of cutting-edge thinkers and activists from the front line of the battle for cyber-space to discuss whether electronic communications will emancipate or enslave us. Among the topics addressed are: Do Facebook and Google constitute “the greatest surveillance machine that ever existed,” perpetually tracking our location, our contacts and our lives? Far from being victims of that surveillance, are most of us willing collaborators? Are there legitimate forms of surveillance, for instance in relation to the “Four Horsemen of the Infopocalypse” (money laundering, drugs, terrorism and pornography)? And do we have the ability, through conscious action and technological savvy, to resist this tide and secure a world where freedom is something which the Internet helps bring about?
The harassment of WikiLeaks and other Internet activists, together with attempts to introduce anti-file sharing legislation such as SOPA and ACTA, indicate that the politics of the Internet have reached a crossroads. In one direction lies a future that guarantees, in the watchwords of the cypherpunks, “privacy for the weak and transparency for the powerful”; in the other lies an Internet that allows government and large corporations to discover ever more about internet users while hiding their own activities.

futurejournalismproject:

Cypherpunks

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is coming out with a book next month, co-authored with Jacob Applebaum, Andy Müeller and Jérémie Zimmerman.

Via OR Books:

Assange brings together a small group of cutting-edge thinkers and activists from the front line of the battle for cyber-space to discuss whether electronic communications will emancipate or enslave us. Among the topics addressed are: Do Facebook and Google constitute “the greatest surveillance machine that ever existed,” perpetually tracking our location, our contacts and our lives? Far from being victims of that surveillance, are most of us willing collaborators? Are there legitimate forms of surveillance, for instance in relation to the “Four Horsemen of the Infopocalypse” (money laundering, drugs, terrorism and pornography)? And do we have the ability, through conscious action and technological savvy, to resist this tide and secure a world where freedom is something which the Internet helps bring about?

The harassment of WikiLeaks and other Internet activists, together with attempts to introduce anti-file sharing legislation such as SOPA and ACTA, indicate that the politics of the Internet have reached a crossroads. In one direction lies a future that guarantees, in the watchwords of the cypherpunks, “privacy for the weak and transparency for the powerful”; in the other lies an Internet that allows government and large corporations to discover ever more about internet users while hiding their own activities.

Sweden detains Pirate Bay founder in oppressive conditions without charges | Glenn Greenwald

One of the prime arguments I have always made about the Assange asylum case is that his particular fear of being extradited to Sweden is grounded in that country’s very unusual and quite oppressive pre-trial detention powers: ones that permit the state to act with an extreme degree of secrecy and which can even prohibit the accused from any communication with the outside world.

That is what has always led Assange to fear going to Sweden: that those detention procedures could be used to transfer him to the US without any public scrutiny (only the most willfully irrational, given evidence like this, would deny that this is a real threat). And that is the argument on behalf of Assange that has produced the greatest amount of anger: in part because some self-loving westerners find the suggestion inconceivable and offensive that a nice western nation (as opposed to some Muslim or Latin American country) could possibly be oppressive in any real way.

But now we have a case that confirms exactly those claims about Sweden’s justice system, and since it has nothing to do with the WikiLeaks founder, one hopes these issues can be viewed more rationally. Gottfrid Svartholm is the founder of the file-sharing Pirate Bay website who has been prosecuted by the Swedish government for enabling copyright infringements. At the behest of Sweden, he was recently arrested in Cambodia and then deported to Stockholm, where he has now also been accused (though not charged) with participating in the hacking of a Swedish company.

Svartholm is now being held under exactly the pretrial conditions that I’ve long argued (based on condemnations from human rights groups) prevail in Sweden:

“Gottfrid Svartholm will be kept in detention for at least two more weeks on suspicion of hacking into a Swedish IT company connected to the country’s tax authorities. According to Prosecutor Henry Olin the extended detention is needed ‘to prevent him from having contact with other people.’ The Pirate Bay co-founder is not allowed to have visitors and is even being denied access to newspapers and television… .

“Since he hasn’t been charged officially in the Logica case the Pirate Bay co-founder could only be detained for a few days.

“But, after a request from Prosecutor Henry Olin this term was extended for another two weeks mid-September, and last Friday the District Court decided that Gottfrid could be detained for another two weeks.

“To prevent Gottfrid from interfering with the investigation the Prosecutor believes it’s justified to detain him for more than a month without being charged. The Pirate Bay co-founder is not allowed to have visitors and is being refused access to newspapers and television… . The Prosecutor hasn’t ruled out a request for another extension of Gottfrid’s detainment in two weeks, if the investigation is still ongoing.”

The claim that produced the most vitriol was that Sweden vests remarkable power in prosecutors and courts to keep accused suspects completely hidden from public view, with no communication or other contact with the outside world, and that this power is exercised with some frequency. Now we have confirmation of that claim from, of all people, the Swedish prosecutor in this case, Henrik Olin, who said in an interview outside the courtroom:

“‘According to the Swedish system, when the preliminary investigation is finished, I as prosecutor will decide whether to prosecute him… . In the Swedish system it is quite usual for people to be detained on this legal ground, and it gives me the possibility to prevent him from having contact with other people.’”

Unlike in the British system, in which all proceedings, including extradition proceedings, relating to Assange would be publicly scrutinized and almost certainly conducted in open court, the unusual secrecy of Sweden’s pre-trial judicial process, particularly the ability to hold the accused incommunicado, poses a real danger that whatever happened to Assange could be effectuated without any public notice. That has always been, and remains, the prime fear for his being extradited to Sweden: a fear that could be, and should be, redressed by negotiations between Ecuador, Sweden and the UK to assure that he can go to Sweden while having his rights protected.

In U.N. Address, WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Urges Obama Admin to End “Regime of Secrecy”

I am reminded of the phrase, “the audacity of hope.” Who can say that the president of the United States is not audacious? Was it not audacity for the United States government to take credit for the last two years of progress? Was it not audacious for him to say on Tuesday the United States supported the forces of change in the Arab Spring? Tunisian history did not begin in December 2010, and Mohamed Bouazizi did not set himself on fire so Barack Obama could be re-elected. His death was an emblem of the despair he had to endure under the Ben Ali regime. The world knew, after reading WikiLeaks publications, that Ben Ali and its government had for long years enjoyed the indifference, if not the support, of the United States—in full knowledge of its excesses and its crimes. So it must come as a surprise to Tunisians that the United States supported the forces of change in their country. And it must come as a surprise to the Egyptian teenagers who washed American tear gas out of their eyes that the U.S. administration supported change in Egypt. It must come as a surprise to those who heard Hillary Clinton insist that Mubarak’s regime was stable, and when it was clear to everyone that it was not, it must come as a surprise that the U.S. backed its hated intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, who we proved the U.S. knew was a torturer, to take the realm. It must come as a surprise to all those Egyptians who heard Vice President Joseph Biden declare that Hosni Mubarak was a democrat and that Julian Assange was a high-tech terrorist. It is disrespectful to the dead and to the incarcerated of Bahrain’s uprising to claim that the United States supported the forces for change. That is indeed audacity.

Who can say that it is not audacious that the president, concerned to appear to look leaderly, looks back on this change, the people’s change, and tries to call it his own? But we can take heart here, too, because it means that the White House has seen that this progress is inevitable. In this season of progress, the president has seen which way the wind is blowing. And he must now pretend that it’s his administration who made it blow.