2011-01-07 EFF: The Best of Cablegate: Instances Where Public Discourse Benefited from the Leaks

EFF has chosen the cables they feel have "been critical to understanding and evaluating controversial events." Their choices:

  • “Dancing Boy” Scandal Alleges Child Prostitution, Possible Drug Use among U.S. Private Contractors
  • Pfizer Allegedly Sought to Blackmail Nigerian Regulator to Stop Lawsuit Against Drug Trials on Children
  • U.S. Failed to Bully Spain Into Adopting Untested Anti-P2P bill
  • U.S. to Uganda: Let Us Know If You Want to Use Our Intelligence for War Crimes
  • U.S. Haggling over Guantánamo Detainees

They include a summary of each with relevant links.

2011-01-07 Andy Worthington discusses Guantánamo and WikiLeaks

An unreliable* source (Vanity Fair), now widely cited, claims that WikiLeaks possesses "a fourth cache" of U.S. government documents "containing the personal files of all prisoners who [have] been held at Guantánamo."

In this essay and podcast, Andy Worthington, archivist of most that is known about most of the prisoners who have been held at Guantánamo, talks about the "gulf" between U.S. government claims about the prisoners and the truth of who they are and how they were captured.

In running through the prison’s history, I spoke about the huge gulf between the Bush administration’s claim that the prisoners in Guantánamo were “the worst of the worst,” who were all “captured on the battlefield,” and the rather less glorious truth: that the majority of the men — and boys — were sold to the US military by its Afghan or Pakistani allies for bounty payments averaging $5000 a head. I also pointed out how, on capture, none of the men were screened according to the Geneva Conventions’ competent tribunals, held close to the time and place of capture, and used to separate combatants from civiians when those detained are not wearing uniforms, even though, during the first Gulf War, around 1200 of these tribunals were held, and in three-quarters of the cases the men were sent home.

This led to the filling of Guantánamo with “Mickey Mouse prisoners,” as an early commander, Maj. Gen. Michael Dunlavey explained, and resulted in a prison that has never held more than a few dozen genuine terrorist suspects, with the majority of the prisoners being either completely innocent men, or foot soldiers for the Taliban, recruited to fight the Northern Alliance in an inter-Muslim civil war that began long before 9/11 and had, for the most part, nothing to do with al-Qaeda or international terrorism.

Rob and I also spoke about the conflict between the prisoners’ ongoing habeas corpus petitions, and the findings of the Guantánamo Review Task Force, established by President Obama to review the Guantánamo cases in 2009, and how the mainstream media in the US has not focused enough on the court’s rulings in the habeas cases. This is in spite of the fact that the judges have regularly revealed that the goverment’s supposed evidence consists of nothing more than unreliable statements — many extracted under duress, or through the use of torture — made by the prisoners themselves, or by their fellow prisoners, and how the ongoing habeas litigation has, shamefully, been sidelined by ther administration — with the evident cooperation of Attorney General Eric Holder — in favor of the Task Force’s findings.

* Sarah Ellison's narrative of this first encounter between Julian Assange and Nick Davies of the Guardian seems to have come entirely from interviews with Nick Davies, even though she has set some statements from Assange in quotation marks.

2011-01-06 Censorship in 2011

2010 was the worst year in 14 years for imprisonment of journalists according to statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists. 145 journalists were jailed worldwide, with Iran and China (34 apiece), Eritrea, Burma, and Uzbekistan among most oppressive nations. 14 years ago the number was inflated by Turkey's imprisonment of 78 journalists, and in 2010 the number was decreased by Cuba's release of 17 journalists from jail into Spanish exile. If those numbers were ignored, the 1996 number would be 107 to 2010's 162. Almost half of the jailed journalists worked primarily online. By far the majority were jailed for criticizing the state.

If we look at other censorship initiatives happening now, there is little room for optimism in 2011. Without a significant rise in global activism against censorship, it is poised to become worse in 2011.

The first day of 2011 was the day Hungary took over the presidency of the EU and also the first day of Hungary's new media law. This week has seen multiple media personalities disappear off the air as the effects of that new law are being felt.

The first week of 2011 Tunisia has been fighting to be heard over a mass censorship of protests, triggered by the December 17 self immolation of a 26 year old man who reportedly died on January 5. One of the best known Tunisian bloggers was apparently arrested today, adding to weeks of government crackdown on the use of social media in Tunisia and counter attacks on the Tunisian government by Anonymous (hilariously credited for a picture in the Al Jazeera article).

Three more Tibetan writers were sentenced to jail in China.

Saudi Arabia welcomed the new year by announcing their new internet regulation law which regulates electronic press, forums and blogging. The thirteen forms of internet publishing include websites, electronic ads, mobile phone or other broadcasts, email groups, electronic archives, room dialogues, and "any form of electronic publishing the ministry wishes to add". There are ten terms required to obtain a license, including good conduct and behaviour.

Belarus has at least 20 journalists jailed and have used beatings and raids of journalist homes in their intimidation this week.

The Swedish parliament has passed a law that requires new TV and radio services to be approved by the Swedish government before launching.

The Obama administration announced its fifth prosecution for unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

A regional council in France has suspended an employee for setting up a website called Wikileaks 13 looking to publish evidence of malpractice in the region. After uploading audio of a council commission meeting he was suspended "for having failed to respect his duty of loyalty as an employee".

2011-01-07 High Exposure Relocation for 'Potential Cablegate Victims'

The Seattle Times reports that "hundreds of human-rights activists, foreign government officials and businesspeople" were relocated by the U.S. State Department yesterday out of fear that their identities may be compromised in the leaked cables that have yet to appear. They have apparently "moved a handful to safer locations".

The New York Times and The Boston Globe are also reporting this news.

The U.S. State Department might instead have taken a more economical route and assisted in the redaction of names when contacted by Wikileaks prior to the release of The Afghan War Logs, or when asked to do the same for the Cablegate release. Previously, "Administration officials said they were not aware of anyone who has been attacked or imprisoned as a direct result of information in the 2,700 cables that have been made public to date by WikiLeaks." (Source)

It might have been safer for any potential victims to have been relocated silently and outside the glare of the mainstream media.

2011-01-06 Bianca Jagger: The Julian Assange 'Trial by Newspaper' - A Response to Nick Davies

In the latest chapter of an exchange that started with a Guardian piece by Nick Davies, was responded to by Bianca Jagger, rebutted by Nick Davies, and defended by our own x7o, Bianca Jagger has again responded in the Huffington Post.

In it Jagger provides many clear and well supported arguments, including a reminder of the constantly and willfully misunderstood difference between private citizens and public organizations in a democracy:

As all good investigative journalists know -- from George Orwell to Paul Foot and John Pilger -- there is a profound difference between exposing the deeds of powerful governments, corporations and the rich and throwing mud at those who released the information. One is investigative journalism; the other is muck-raking aimed at opponents of the powerful.

2011-01-07 Rallies in Support of Assange

ImageRallies for Julian Assange and Wikileaks are again gaining momentum in the lead up to the next scheduled hearing January 11. The details of Sweden's extradition request and the EU arrest warrant should be heard at that time.

London supporters will gather from 11am to 7pm outside the court, apparently now Belmarsh in souitheast London. Along with many events in Spain scheduled for January 8, Free Wikileaks and others are organizing global protests on January 11, 12 and 15. The Pirate Party of Canada is holding rallies on January 15, from 2pm to 5pm. Australia also has rallies scheduled for January 15.

2011-01-06 Observations on Israel Shamir in Counterpunch: Julian Assange's Deal With the Devil

Israel Shamir, the subject of some controversy in a recent Guardian piece has published an interesting article at Counterpunch, which not only tries to address many of the concerns raised in the Guardian, but takes the battle to the Guardian, and takes up the cause of Wikileaks quite forcefully.

The piece is very interesting, for a number of reasons. It provides new developments in the Shamir-Wikileaks story. Shamir claims to have no official or professional relationship with Wikileaks. He also points out a pre-publication page on Amazon that may or may not indicate that the Guardian is preparing a book on Wikileaks called "The Rise and Fall of Wikileaks." Shamir alleges that the Guardian is engaged in a smear campaign against Assange in anticipation of this "fall."

Certainly, over the last week, we at WL Central have had the opportunity to catch The Guardian falling short of what one might expect of an exemplary journalistic publication. Nick Davies was seen to propagate a straightforward falsehood when he alleged that Julian Assange had been using the Wikileaks Twitter account to smear the alleged victims of his alleged crimes. And on Monday the Guardian published an article by James Richardson which accused Wikileaks of potentially fatal negligence in the clearance for publication of a cable from Harare, when it was in fact the Guardian that cleared this cable.

2011-01-06 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

Der Spiegel: Amerikaner lästern über Chaos-Konzern Gazprom (Americans gossiped about Gazprom chaotic corporation)

"Gazprom sollte Russland wieder zur Supermacht machen, Manager träumten vom "wertvollsten Unternehmen der Welt". Doch Geheimberichte aus Moskaus US-Botschaft zeichnen ein anderes Bild: Die Amerikaner halten den Megakonzern für chaotisch organisiert - und korrupt. (Gazprom should make of Russia a superpower again, or so dreamed the manager of the "world most valuable business". Though secret reports by the American embassy in Moscow showed a different image: the Americans accused the mega-corporation of being chaotic and corruptly organized.)"

Read More (German)

Der Spiegel: US-Diplomaten wollten EU für Genmais-Blockade bestrafen (American diplomats wanted to punish the EU for commercial blocking of genetically modified sweetcorn)

"Die von WikiLeaks enthüllten Botschaftsdepeschen zeigen, wie die USA die Gentechnik in Europa vorantreiben wollten: Ein US-Botschafter in Europa verlangte von Washington, genmaisblockierende EU-Staaten unter Druck zu setzen - und die "schlimmsten Übeltäter" zu bestrafen. (The secret diplomatic cables exposed by Wikileaks show how the United States wanted to push forward the genetic engineering in Europe. An American diplomat in Europe requested from Washington to establish a commercial blocking against the States of the EU in order to punish the "worst offenders".)"

Read More (German)

Le Monde: WikiLeaks : les Etats-Unis n'avaient pas cru possible un coup d'Etat au Honduras (The United States did not believe a coup in Honduras was possible)

2011-01-05: NewsInEnglish.no: Wikileaks & Cablegate Coverage

newsinenglish.no has been providing English coverage of the Norwegian Aftenposten stories. Aftenposten (Evening Post) is reported to have received the full complement of Cablegate documents, by unknown means. Nina Berglund's coverage at NewsInEnglish.no provides an overview of many of the Aftenposten stories thus far, and supplies some context as to how those stories are received in the Norwegian media.

Highlights From WikiLeaks : Views and News from Norway:

NewsInEnglish.no : Wikileaks has turned into a torrent
An overview of assorted stories in Aftenposten:

  • French officials accused of industrial espionage in Europe.
  • German intelligence agents developing spy satellites with US
  • Sri Lanka reportedly involved in illegal weapons purchases during war with LTTE

2011-01-04 Journalists killed in 2010 covered corruption

Under the light of the killing of members of the WikiLeaks staff and the death threats Julian Assange has received in the last months, taken seriously by the British authorities, the website Committee to Protect Journalists dot Org published today (01-04-2011) an interactive tool that shows the 44 Journalists Killed in 2010 after Confirmed Motive. Below, extracts from a short article in The Wall Street Journal on the topic:


The Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, which defends media workers around the world, tracks and investigates the circumstances surrounding the deaths of journalists, and it created an interactive infographic showing where, how and why most were killed last year. Thirteen of the 44, or 30%, were corruption beat reporters. Other top beats of journalists killed included politics, war, culture and crime. Some of the beats overlapped, however, causing the aggregated percentages to go far over 100%.

2011-01-04 Bradley Manning's Trial - Update

The army court-martial defense specialist and Bradley Manning's attorney David E. Coombs published his Motion to Dismiss Manning's case for Lack of Speedy Trial in his blog Army Court Martial Defense dot Info.

The Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial is applied to military jurisprudence through two separate and distinct provisions-- Rule for Court-Martial (R.C.M.) 707 and Article 10 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) (10 U.S.C. § 810). While both provisions seek to protect the same constitutional right, and while there is considerable overlap between the two, each provision has separate rules regarding when the protections attach and when they are breached.

Whether stemming from R.C.M. 707 or from Article 10 UCMJ, a motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial must be raised before the court-martial is adjourned, and it is waived by a guilty plea, as provided in R.C.M. 907(b)(2)(A) and 905(e). Once the issue is raised, the burden of persuasion rests with the government. R.C.M. 905(c)(2)(B). Before hearing on the motion, the parties may stipulate as to undisputed facts and dates of relevant pretrial events. The stipulation will provide the court a chronology detailing the processing of the case. R.C.M. 707(c)(2).

2011-01-03 US Dep't of State Internet Freedom Programs

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) are looking for organizations interested in submitting proposals for projects that support what the document terms 'internet freedom'. Specifically, they have US$30 million for

projects that will foster freedom of expression and the free flow of information on the Internet and other connection technologies in East Asia, including China and Burma; the Near East, including Iran; Southeast Asia; the South Caucasus; Eurasia, including Russia; Central Asia; Latin America, including Cuba and Venezuela; and Africa. Programming may support activities in Farsi, Chinese, Russian, Burmese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, French, and other languages spoken in acutely hostile Internet environments.

The State Department's previous attempts at promoting 'internet freedom' met with a lack of success, according to Foreign Policy because "By aligning themselves with Internet companies and organizations, Clinton's digital diplomats have convinced their enemies abroad that Internet freedom is another Trojan horse for American imperialism." The statement from the link above: "DRL and NEA support programs ... in countries and regions of the world that are geo-strategically important to the United States." may have helped convince their enemies. They will have the opportunity to disprove that idea when all of the following technology is turned in all other directions, as history shows it will be. Always assuming any of the new projects work better than, for instance, Haystack.

2011-01-04 TruthOut: Ray McGovern | Obama Should Read WikiLeaks Docs

Submitted by x7o on Tue, 04/01/2011 - 02:57

A solid, if colourful, commentary from ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, which criticizes the Obama administration Afghanistan War strategy on the basis of information divulged in diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks. Highly recommended reading, which goes beyond the Wikileaks surface story, and puts Cablegate to genuine use, placing it in the context of press reports on Afghanistan over the last few years, and developing a credible long term overview of the Afghanistan War. Of all of the commentary we've seen, McGovern's article demonstrates the formidable public interest value of the Wikileaks disclosures when they are applied, rather than talked about.

One particularly interesting point raised is that the cables indicate that the Obama administration is developing Bagram so as to sustain military operations far beyond the projected draw out date of 2014.

From Ray McGovern | Obama Should Read WikiLeaks Docs:

2011-01-04 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

Le Monde: WikiLeaks : l'espionnage économique de Paris dérange ses alliés européens (Paris' economic espionage disturbs French allies)

"La France, plus encore que la Chine et la Russie, serait le pays le plus actif en matière d'espionnage industriel chez ses alliés européens, rapporte mardi 4 janvier le journal norvégien Aftenposten sur la foi de télégrammes diplomatiques obtenus par WikiLeaks. (France, even more than China and Russia, is the most active country in the matter of industrial espionage on their European allies, reported tuesday January 4th the Norwegian paper Aftenposten based on the source of diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks.)"

Read more (French)

Herald Sun: France heads industrial espionage: WikiLeaks cables

"France is the country that conducts the most industrial espionage on other European countries, even ahead of China and Russia, said leaked US diplomatic cables quoted today by Norway's Aftenposten."

Read more

Toronto Star: Canada’s soccer team played under match-fixing suspect: WikiLeaks

"Figuring prominently is a 2009 friendly match between Canada and Macedonia, which was refereed by a Bulgarian official under suspicion for match-fixing. At issue was an investigation into the actions of referee Anton Genov, who officiated the Canada-Macedonia match in December of 2009 in the former Yugoslavian republic."

Read more

Aftenposten: Norge godtok rakett-shield all in 2007 skjold alt i 2007

2011-01-04 Decentralized Infrastructure for WikiLeaks

Some technical details on the idea of creating a secure, distributed architecture for the Wikileaks site without the need for hosting providers and hardware servers:

The idea is simple - each participant can download and run a small program which runs a web server and serves the files and information from the site. Thus anyone who wishes to participate and to help WikiLeaks may install a small software that would not take up a lot of resources.

Read the article by Delian Delchev and join the discussion on Balkanleaks.eu: https://www.balkanleaks.eu/diw.html

2011-01-04 Convictions of an Anonymous Legion

ImageUnless the sources of the DDoS attacks being carried out by Anonymous are identified and stopped, there seems to be no end in sight for their deluge of operations. These 'AnonOps' are presented as global outreach operations of sorts, aimed at assisting individuals and organizations subjected to persecution by governments and other institutions aiming to silence free expression and dissent.

The Tunisian people are perceived by Anonymous to be in need of global support and the same can be said of Wikileaks. In particular, the consensus seems to be that governments and other powerful bodies have chosen to pursue Julian Assange and his collaborators for having exposed crimes committed by those same institutions. As Assange has often pointed out himself, it is a disturbing fact about the current situation that upon learning about the horrendous crimes exposed through the leaks, the first impulse has not been to pursue the culprits, but instead to punish individuals who acted on conscience to make those crimes known.

Whether the Anonymous group can succeed in its attempts to raise awareness of these issues and to discourage censorship hangs on the question of whether its members can be stopped. How likely is it that Anonymous members will be identified prosecuted?

2011-01-04 Nonoperational Site Update: Wrath of Anon in Tunisia

As of yesterday, the following 7 Tunisian sites appeared to be down. They remain nonoperational at this time.

The following 2 sites have been down for longer than 24 hours:

In addition to these, the following sites are also down today:

It is likely that the DDoS attacks are being continually carried out on sites that have managed to regain temporary functionality. To verify whether a site is only inaccessible in your own area or more generally, you may enter the site URL here.

Go to: Convictions of an Anonymous Legion

2011-01-04 LimeWire fights to the death

The music industry is claiming more than one billion dollars in damages against LimeWire for copyright violations and LimeWire is fighting back by attempting to get subpoenas forcing "third-party licensees to hand over a range of documents, including contracts, royalty payments, accounting books and even internal company communications where executives at leading digital outfits discuss their relationship with the record business.". According to World News Australia:

In further papers to support its motion, LimeWire argues that these documents are relevant, that internal emails from third-party licensees/distributors like Amazon (and presumably, Apple) should be turned over so they can see what really went on during negotiations over licensing songs for sale. The documents, the company says, "could illuminate Plaintiffs' views as to the true value of their works and how Plaintiffs acted toward Amazon and other online digital music providers."

In other words, LimeWire is dragging a whole host of parties into its dispute with the record industry, and looking to shed light on its range of dealings in the past decade. The courts will have to figure out whether this is a reasonable request or too burdensome.

Last week a California court turned down LimeWire's request to subpoena information from MediaDefender, which provides anti-piracy software to the record industry, as being irrelevant to the question of what damages are owed.

2011-01-03 PsySR Open Letter on PFC Bradley Manning's Solitary Confinement

Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) have posted an open letter to Robert Gates calling upon him "to rectify the inhumane, harmful, and counterproductive treatment of PFC Bradley Manning immediately."

As an organization of psychologists and other mental health professionals, PsySR is aware that solitary confinement can have severely deleterious effects on the psychological well-being of those subjected to it. We therefore call for a revision in the conditions of PFC Manning’s incarceration while he awaits trial, based on the exhaustive documentation and research that have determined that solitary confinement is, at the very least, a form of cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment in violation of U.S. law.

2011-01-04 James Richardson's Collateral Damage in the Guardian: WikiLeaks & Tsvangirai

Submitted by x7o on Tue, 04/01/2011 - 02:57

Today, James Richardson had an opinion and analysis piece published in The Guardian about the fallout in Zimbabwe from the publication of the 09HARARE1004 cable. Information about Morgan Tzvangirai's meetings with US embassy officials was disclosed in the Harare cable, and this will likely be the subject of a politically motivated high treason trial brought against Tzvangirai by Mugabe, the ultimate penalty for which is a death sentence.

It shouldn't be downplayed how serious it is that Tsvangirai might be facing the death penalty. But there are problems with the conclusions that Richardson draws, and they derive from a worrying looseness with the facts.

It would surely be unreasonable to claim that merely expressing approval of the sanctions in private meetings with US officials warrants a treason trial. But these are the sorts of concerns that journalists must consider when conducting harm minimization, and the unreasonableness of a particular regime is always something that has to be considered a factor when assessing the consequences of publication.

But it is in the apportioning of blame that Richardson reveals a troubling lack of balance in his attitude to Wikileaks.

From WikiLeaks' collateral damage in Zimbabwe | James Richardson | guardian.co.uk:

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