2010-12-16 FAIR: Media paint flattering picture of U.S. diplomacy

FAIR summarizes the cablegate coverage in the US mainstream media, concluding:

These conclusions represent an extraordinarily narrow reading of the WikiLeaks cables, of which about 1,000 have been released (contrary to constant media claims that the website has already released 250,000 cables). Some of the more explosive revelations, unflattering to U.S. policymakers, have received less attention in U.S. corporate media.

After listing a very good summary of essential cablegate revelations that have been largely ignored by the US media the article finishes with a reminder of the statement from the NY Times explaining why they had published some cable information:

The "duplicity" of other countries can be illuminated by the cables, while the U.S.'s secret wars are evidence of "diplomacy." That principle would seem to be guiding the way many U.S. outlets are interpreting the WikiLeaks revelations.

2010-12-14 Foreign Policy: WikiFailed States

Foreign Policy provides a summary by country of US state policy for Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, Burma, North Korea, Eritrea, including what the state cables have so far revealed.

By now, you've read the WikiLeaked headlines, illuminating the inner workings of U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, or detailing the intractable regimes in Iran and North Korea. But what does Cablegate have to say about the world's forgotten conflicts -- the dimmer outposts of U.S. influence where Washington arguably has even bigger messes to confront? FP went through the archives with an eye to our 2010 Failed States issue to see what light the cables shed on these benighted places -- and whether the cables themselves may disrupt the often delicate balancing act of diplomacy.

2010-12-19 Joe Biden Calls WikiLeaks High Tech Terrorism as US Media Call for a More Moderate Response

As Joe Biden condemns Julian Assange as a "high-tech terrorist" and affirms that officials in the US Justice Department were actively exploring ways to prosecute Assange, some of the country's media organizations have been issuing statements in wary opposition.

The US media reaction is well outlined by Glenn Greenwald's December 14th article, 'Attempts to prosecute WikiLeaks endanger press freedoms' and was followed up today by a deferential and roundabout article in the NYTimes which eventually concludes:

It is not necessary for America to erect a Chinese-style “Great Firewall” to filter out government criticism; if Mr. Assange were prosecuted, would-be whistleblowers and news tipsters would have to think twice before taking action.

That would be bad news for American journalism ...

In the WikiLeaks saga, other commentators have elevated the stakes further, describing the cable dump, the bellicose official response and the juvenile efforts by hackers sympathetic to WikiLeaks as the opening salvoes of a long-awaited cyberwar.

Does it really make sense for Washington to escalate? This is one war in which most of the collateral damage would be American.

Internationally, the verdict is much more clear. EFF's article on December 16th reiterated their own opposition to censorship and their online campaign as well as summarized statements from the following organizations:

2010-12-19 WikiLeaks / Espionage Act Hearing: Conyers, Delahunt, Poe, Lowell

House Judiciary Committee Hearing on the Espionage Case and the Legal and Constitutional Issues Raised by Wikileaks [1]

Opening Statements



Opening Statements: Notable Excerpts and Main Points

Chairman John Conyers, Jr.

Conyers begins with reference to the 1989 case of Texas v. Johnson, the Supreme Court (a flag burning case). This case "set forth one of the fundamental principles of our democracy." Here, Conyers quotes Justice Brennan:

“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” [2] Background

2010-12-19 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

El País: EE UU: "España nos pide que presionemos a Bruselas a favor de los transgénicos" (US: "Spain asks us to press Brussels in favor of the transgenics")

"Los cables revelan la alianza entre EE UU y el Gobierno para defender los organismos genéticamente modificados. La embajada medió a favor de Monsanto en contra de las posiciones de Comisión. La legación vio a Garmendia como su aliada en el Ejecutivo. (The cables reveal the alliance between the United States and the Spanish government to stand in favor of the genetically modified food. The embassy interceded for the American company "Monsanto" and against the position of the European commission. The delegation saw in Cristina Garmendia an ally in the federal government.)

Read more (Spanish)

The Daily Star: WikiLeaks sheds light on Bangladesh

"The first batch of US embassy cables related to Bangladesh released on WikiLeaks reveals the role of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) in an effort to absorb the banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (Huji) into mainstream politics through forming the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), just before the 2008 general elections.

The cable originating from the US mission in New Delhi on April 27, 2007, describes the thoughts of the US, the UK and India in the aftermath of the '1/11' political changeover in 2007.

It was four days after the arrest warrant issued against Sheikh Hasina was suspended, and two days after the ban on her re-entering the country was lifted.

The subject of the cable is given as “Indian official sees Bangladesh at crossroads, Sri Lanka deteriorating, Burma becoming one-dimensional.”

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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Yemen radioactive stocks 'were easy al-Qaida target'

"Sana'a official told US diplomats solo sentry had been removed from atomic facility and CCTV system was broken.

A senior government official in Yemen warned US diplomats that poor security at the country's main store of radioactive products could allow dangerous material to fall into the hands of terrorists, according to a leaked US embassy cable.”

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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: How US 'second line of defence' tackles nuclear threat

"Diplomatic dispatches reveal world of smugglers, ex-military fixers and radioactive materials found in unlikely locations.

The leaked US cables reveal the constant, largely unseen, work by American diplomatic missions around the world to try to keep the atomic genie in its bottle and forestall the nightmare of a terrorist nuclear attack.”

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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Tanzania official investigating BAE 'fears for his life'

"Prosecutor Edward Hoseah voiced safety fears over inquiry into 'dirty deal' involving sale of radar system to government.

The Tanzanian prosecutor investigating worldwide misconduct by BAE, Britain's biggest arms company, confided to US diplomats that "his life may be in danger" and senior politicians in his small African country were "untouchable".”

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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Egypt 'turned down' black-market nuclear weapons deal'

"Cairo's ambassador to the UN claimed President Mubarak said no to offer of atomic weapons from ex-Soviet state.

Egypt was offered nuclear weapons, material and expertise on the black market after the collapse of the Soviet Union, according to a senior Egyptian diplomat.”

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El País: Israel asegura que Irán es ya una amenaza nuclear (Israel affirms Iran is already a nuclear threat)

"El Gobierno pidió a EE UU una acción inmediata contra el régimen de los ayatolás. El jefe del Mosad advirtió de que las sanciones no frenarán a Teherán. (The Israeli government demanded the United States immediate action against the Ayatollah's regime. The Mossad chief said the economic sanctions won't stop Teheran.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: "Israel sería feliz si Hamás toma Gaza", dice el jefe del espionaje ("Israel would be happy if Hamas takes control of Gaza", says the chief of espionage)

"Consumada la división entre Cisjordania y Gaza, Netanyahu dice que no habrá paz sin una nueva situación en la franja. (Once finished the division between Cisjordania and Gaza, Netanyahu says there won't be any peace without a new situation in the border.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: El material nuclear circula sin control en el corazón de África (Nuclear material circulates freely in Africa's heart)

"Las instalaciones atómicas de Congo carecen de las mínimas medidas de seguridad. Algunas compañías extranjeras exportan uranio ilegalmente. (The atomic facilities in Congo are lacking the minimal controls of security. Some foreign companies export uranium illegally.)"

Read more (Spanish)

Le Monde: L'espoir de paix avec les Palestiniens brisé par "l'inertie" d'Israël (The wait for peace with the Palestinians broken by the Israel's inertia)

"L'analyse est celle du chef des renseignements militaires israéliens, Amos Yadlin, en décembre 2008, peu avant l'accession au pouvoir du président-élu Barack Obama et de Benyamin Nétanyahou, qui va retrouver les fonctions de premier ministre en mars suivant. (The analysis comes from the Israeli military chief of intelligence, Amos Yadlin, in December 2008, as an advance for the elected president to come, Barack Obama, and Benjamin Netanyahu, who was meant to re-start his responsibilities as Prime Minister next March.)"

Read more (French)

Le Monde: WikiLeaks : Israël, la peur des voisins arabes (Israel is its neighbors' fear)

"Un environnement hostile, des alliés régionaux peu sûrs, un futur incertain : tel est le Proche-Orient vu par les responsables israéliens, selon les télégrammes diplomatiques américains obtenus par WikiLeaks et révélés par Le Monde. (A hostil environment between the regional allies and an uncertain future: that's how the Middle East sees the Israelis, according to the American diplomatic telegrams obtained by Wikileaks and revealed by Le Monde.)"

Read more (French)

Le Monde: WikiLeaks : armes en Irak, les estimations erronées d'Israël (Weapons in Iraq: the wrong estimations came from Israel)

"Lorsque le sujet est abordé, lors d'une rencontre entre le sénateur américain Carl Levin, et un responsable des renseignements militaires israéliens, en mars 2009, il y a bien longtemps que les limiers américains ne cherchent plus en Irak les armes de destruction massive dont la présence supposée avait justifié, six ans plus tôt, l'invasion du pays. (When the subject was discussed in meetings between the American Senator Carl Levin and an Israeli agent of military intelligence, in March 2009, the United States had given up a long time ago the search in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction that allegedly justified their invasion of Iraq more than six years in the past.)"

Read more (French)

2010-12-17 The Guardian: US criticises court that may decide on Julian Assange extradition

The Guardian writes that the US state cables contain criticism by the US of European human rights standards. Specific criticism was directed at the Council of Europe for its stand against extraditions to the US, secret renditions and US prisons for terrorism suspects. The European court of human rights is also criticized for banning deportations to countries which practise torture and requiring more information in cases where the US would sentence life imprisonment with no possible appeal or automatic judicial review of the life sentence. One cable outlines that the US sought to pressure current Council of Europe secretary general Thorbjørn Jagland, the former prime minister of Norway, to prevent him from criticising secret renditions or other human rights issues concerning the US.

"The Council of Europe (COE) likes to portray itself as a bastion of democracy, a promoter of human rights, and the last best hope for defending the rule of law in Europe – and beyond," wrote US consul general Vincent Carver.

Of Thomas Hammarberg, human rights commissioner for the Council who criticized US policy, the cables assert that he saw himself as "God's gift to the world".

2010-12-18 Juice Rap News Episode 6 Cablegate: The Truth is Out There

The Juice Media Rap News team has released Episode 6, Cablegate: The Truth is Out There, their third news satire episode focusing on the Wikileaks debate. Featuring portrayals of Hilary Clinton and Alex Jones and an increasing sophistication, this is a highly entertaining and thoughtful six minutes which Wikileaks has posted on their site as well.

2010-12-18 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables describe Belarus leader as 'bizarre' and 'disturbed'

"Leaked cables report Alexander Lukashenko, who is set to win Sunday's election, intends to 'stay in power indefinitely'.

Alexander Lukashenko, the autocratic ruler of Belarus who is poised for re-election for a fourth term this weekend, is an increasingly "bizarre" and "disturbed" ruler who plans to stay in power indefinitely, according to US diplomats in Minsk."
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New York Times: Cable Shows Nations Going Easy on Cuba

"Cuba is getting a free pass on its human rights abuses from many of the world’s leading democracies, with visitors from Canada, Australia and Switzerland failing to criticize the Castro regime or meet with dissidents while on the island, according to a confidential diplomatic cable sent to the State Department from Havana."
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El País: EE UU intentó evitar que Sacyr lograse las obras del Canal de Panamá (The United States tries to stop Sacyr of getting the works in the Panama Canal)

"Washington hizo gestiones para impedir el triunfo español.- Panamá expresó dudas de que Sacyr pueda ejecutar el proyecto. (Washington pursued negotiations to stop the Spanish triumph. Panama expresed concern on the ability of Sacyr to carry the project.)"
Read more (Spanish)

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cable reveals Berlusconi's efforts to duck Bono tongue-lashing

"Italian prime minister considered increasing budget for foreign assistance just to avoid losing face to U2 frontman.

A WikiLeaks cable reveals how Silvio Berlusconi, seen here at a press conference for the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, decided to maintain levels of aid to Africa to avoid a showdown with Bono."
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The Guardian: Steven Spielberg was target of Arab League boycott, WikiLeaks cable shows

"Leaked dispatch reveals diplomats from 14 Arab states voted to ban the director's films in response to his donation to Israel.

A WikiLeaks cable reveals that Steven Spielberg and his Righteous Persons Foundation were the target of an Arab League boycott."
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El País: España y EE UU instalan detectores de armas nucleares en tres puertos (Spain and the United States installed nuclear weapon detectors on three ports)

"Los portales para escanear millones de contenedores ya están operativos en Algeciras y pronto lo estarán en Valencia y Barcelona. (The ports to scan millions of containers are ready to operate in Algeciras and are going to be ready soon in Valencia and Barcelona.)"
Read more (Spanish)

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: UN offered Robert Mugabe a lucrative retirement overseas

"Source in the MDC told American officials that Zimbabwe president rejected the offer from Kofi Annan.

The head of the United Nations offered Robert Mugabe a lucrative retirement package in an overseas haven if he stood down as Zimbabwe's president, according to claims quoted in leaked diplomatic cables."
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El País: Misión Milagro: una operación de ojos a cambio de adoctrinamiento (Mission Miracle: eyes surgery in exchange for indoctrination)

"México teme que los enfermos de la vista operados de forma gratuita en Caracas estén siendo aleccionados contra EE UU. El servicio de inteligencia mexicano detecta a 500 bolivarianos que actúan en partidos y universidades. (Mexico fears those who get free eyes surgery in Caracas are being indoctrinated against the United States. The Mexican Intelligence Service detects 500 indoctrinated Mexicans in political parties and universities.)"
Read more (Spanish)

El País: El presidente de Colombia congeló el acuerdo militar con EE UU que había impulsado como ministro (Colombian President Jose Manuel Santos stopped the military agreement with the United States that had been promoted in the past by himself)

"Juan Manuel Santos abogó por un amplio pacto de defensa con Washington para frenar a Hugo Chávez. (President Juan Manuel Santos started an extended agreement of defense with Washington in order to stop Hugo Chavez.)"
Read more (Spanish)

El País: El presidente de Sudán guarda 6.800 millones en bancos de Reino Unido (President of Sudan saves 6.8 billions {around 9 billion USD} in british banks)

"El fiscal de la Corte Penal Internacional pidió a EE UU que se diera a conocer el desfalco de capitales de Omar al Bashir. (Judges of the International Criminal Court asked to the United States to unveil the fraud of capital by Omar al Bashir.)"
Read more (Spanish)

2010-12-17 Bank of America Refuses to Process Transactions That May be Destined for WikiLeaks

The Bank of America has joined MasterCard, PayPal, Visa and Swiss bank PostFinance in refusing to process transactions "of any type" that it believes is intended for Wikileaks. No word on what will form the basis for that belief. "This decision is based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments."

In a recent interview with Forbes magazine, Julian Assange stated that he planned to release information on a major bank early next year. It has been widely speculated in the US media that the bank in question is the Bank of America.

Both Visa and Mastercard are now facing legal action from Datacell, the IT company based in Switzerland and Iceland, that enables Wikileaks to accept credit and debit card donations. They could also have their operating licenses taken away in Iceland, according to members of the Icelandic Parliamentary General Committee.

2010-12-17 The House Judiciary Committee on WikiLeaks

Yesterday, the US House Judiciary Committee hosted a panel of Constitutional Law and national security scholars to look at the question of whether Wikileaks or Julian Assange could or should be prosecuted for publishing leaked data from the US. The three and a quarter hour hearing is available here, and an article has been posted about it today by Matt Schafer on Lippmann Would Roll.

LWR's overall verdict was as follows:

When all was said and done, the witnesses seemed to agree, in part, that the government is overclassifying information, the Espionage Act of 1917 is likely unconstitutional, the SHIELD Act, proposed recently by Sen. Joe Lieberman [I-CT], rests on a shaky constitutional footing also, and it is important that the legislature not overreact to the WikiLeaks cables. ...

Almost all witness cited flaws within the Espionage Act, while the consensus on whether WikiLeaks is protected by the First Amendment did not enjoy a similar consensus. With all witnesses having testified, four argued that Wikileaks is protected by the Constitution, two argued that it should be prosecuted, and witness Stephen Vladeck abstained from making a determination on WikiLeaks.

2010-12-17 Australian Federal Police: Assange Has Committed No Crime Under Australian Law

As the Australian Federal Police inquiry announced its finding that neither Julian Assange nor Wikileaks have broken any Australian laws, the Australian Labor Party finds its public support slipping. According to an article in The Age, the opposition has overtaken the government for the first time since the federal election in August. Support for the coalition is up four per cent since the start of December, and support for the government is down four per cent. According to The Age:

The poll was conducted at the height of the WikiLeaks controversy, fuelled by Prime Minister Julia Gillard's assertion that the actions of Australian Julian Assange, the web site's founder, were illegal.

In another article today The Age answers Prime Minister Julia Gillard attacks on Wikileaks by stating:

Ms Gillard cannot credibly claim that the Australian people did not need to know the contents of these cables. And she should be assured that The Age will keep publishing them.

2010-12-17 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks, part 13

Reporters Without Borders: Open letter to President Obama and General Attorney Holder regarding possible criminal prosecution against Julian Assange

Dear President Obama and Attorney General Holder,

Reporters Without Borders, an international press freedom organization, would like to share with you its concern about reports that the Department of Justice is preparing a possible criminal prosecution against Julian Assange and other people who work at WikiLeaks.

We regard the publication of classified information by WikiLeaks and five associated newspapers as a journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment. Prosecuting WikiLeaks’ founders and other people linked to the website would seriously damage media freedom in the United States and impede the work of journalists who cover sensitive subjects.

It would also weaken the US and the international community efforts at protecting human rights, providing governments with poor press freedom records a ready-made excuse to justify censorship and retributive judicial campaigns against civil society and the media.

We believe the United States credibility as a leading proponent of freedom of expression is at stake, and that any arbitrary prosecution of WikiLeaks for receiving and publishing sensitive documents would inevitably create a dangerous precedent.

Members of the faculty at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism wrote to you recently warning that “government overreaction to publication of leaked material in the press has always been more damaging to American democracy than the leaks themselves.” We fully agree with this analysis.

The ability to publish confidential documents is a necessary safeguard against government over-classification. We urge you to use this debate to review the government’s policy of classifying documents in order to increase transparency in accordance with the promises made by the administration when it first assumed office.

We thank you both in advance for the attention you give to our observations.


Jean-François Julliard Secretary-General

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uruknet.info: Why we stand with WikiLeaks

"In reality, the prosecution of Assange is part of a government war on dissent that comes in the context of raids and subpoenas of left-wing and antiwar activists in Chicago and the Twin Cities seeking to criminalize support for, among other things, the growing movement for justice for the Palestinian people.

They want to chill our right to dissent. If we are to prevent that, we must stand in defense of the right of Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks to expose the crimes committed by the U.S."

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Huffington Post:Why I Am Donating $50,000 to WikiLeaks' Defense Fund

"I'm sick and tired of the politicians and political pundits treating this man as if he were a criminal. If WikiLeaks had existed in 2003 when George W. Bush was ginning up the war in Iraq, America might not be in the horrendous situation it is today, with our troops fighting in three countries (counting Pakistan) and the consequent cost in blood and dollars."

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2010-12-17 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: WikiLeaks cables: Sudanese president 'stashed $9bn in UK banks'

"Speculation that Omar al-Bashir siphoned $9bn in oil money and deposited it in foreign accounts could fuel calls for his arrest.

Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, has siphoned as much as $9bn out of his impoverished country, and much of it may be stashed in London banks, according to secret US diplomatic cables that recount conversations with the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court. Some of the funds may be held by the part-nationalised Lloyds Banking Group, according to prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who told US officials it was time to go public with the scale of Bashir's theft in order to turn Sudanese public opinion against him."
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Der Spiegel: CIA Rendition Case: US Pressured Italy to Influence Judiciary

"The CIA rendition of cleric Abu Omar in 2003 turned into a headache for Washington when a Milan court indicted the agents involved. Secret dispatches now show how the US threatened the Italian government in an attempt to influence the case. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was apparently happy to help."
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El País: EE UU sospecha de grupos de la oposición cubana en España (The United States suspects about groups of Cuban opposition in Spain)

"La embajada en Madrid cree que el fundador de Cuba Democracia Ya! es agente cubano y recela de Encuentro Cubano, una plataforma que recibe fondos norteamericanos. (The Embassy in Madrid believes the founder of "Cuba Democracia Ya!", a platform founded by the United States, is actually a Cuban agent.)"
Read more (Spanish)

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables reveal US concerns over timing of Charles Taylor trial

"Leaked dispatches retell speculation that former Liberian leader's war crimes trial is being slowed down by Ugandan judge.

Judges in one of the world's most controversial war crimes trials have been deliberately slowing down proceedings, senior US officials believe, causing significant delays to proceedings.

Secret cables reveal US doubts about the trial in The Hague of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, amid allegations that one of the judges has manipulated proceedings so that she can personally give the verdict in the case."
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Der Spiegel: The Unwanted Iran Brokers: US Irked by Over-Eager Swiss Diplomats

"In 2006 and 2007 Swiss diplomats tried to usher the Americans and Iranians to the negotiating table. Recently published US diplomatic cables show how deeply the Swiss initiative irked Washington -- and how Bern refused to give up despite repeated requests from the US."
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El País: El visado libre de Ecuador dispara las alarmas en Washington (The visa free access to Ecuador turns the alarms on in Washington)

"La decisión del presidente Rafael Correa de permitir el ingreso de todo el mundo en 2008 convirtió al país andino en una puerta hacia EE UU y el resto de América para inmigrantes ilegales, sospechosos de terrorismo y narcotraficantes. (2008 President Rafael Correa's decision on allowing access to everybody without a visa made of the andean country an open gate to the United States and to the rest of the continent for illegal immigrants, terrorism suspects and drug dealers.)"
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Le Monde: WikiLeaks : sur la piste de la mystérieuse LRA de Joseph Kony (Wikileaks: behind the mysterious track of Joseph Kony's LRA)

"C'est l'un des groupes armés les plus mystérieux et les plus violents de la planète. Qui viendra à bout de l'Armée de résistance du Seigneur (Lord's Resistance Army, LRA), venue d'Ouganda, et qui évolue à présent entre le nord-est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), la Centrafrique (RCA) et, sans doute, le Sud-Soudan ? Le mouvement, ancré à l'origine au sein de la population acholie, dans le nord de l'Ouganda, et opposé au pouvoir du président Museveni lors de sa création à la fin des années 1980, s'est mué en groupe armé aux objectifs flous, luttant pour sa survie en massacrant les villageois des régions qu'ils traversent, ou en les transformant en esclaves."
Read more (French)

Le Monde: WikiLeaks : Cuba, une dissidence exsangue (Cuba, a weak dissidence)

"La fin du régime castriste, tant de fois annoncée, semble proche aux diplomates américains en poste à La Havane, à en juger par les télégrammes diplomatiques obtenus par WikiLeaks et révélés par Le Monde."
Read more (French)

El País: La corrupción atenaza la inversión extranjera en República Dominicana (Corruption stops foreign investments in Dominican Republic)

"Empresarios estadounidenses relatan a su Embajada en Santo Domingo cómo algunos funcionarios exigen sobornos e incluso llegan a las amenazas. (American businessmen tell their embassy in Santo Domingo how some politicians demand bribes and even try to threaten them.)

Estados Unidos considera que el clima de corrupción en República Dominicana deja a la inversión extranjera a merced de funcionarios gubernamentales que exigen sobornos de manera "audaz" en un país donde las encuestas revelan que la población acepta este tipo de hechos. Algunos inversores estadounidenses han recibido incluso amenazas, funcionarios corruptos han sido promovidos a puestos de mayor responsabilidad. (The United States believes the corrupt environment in Dominican Republic abandons foreign investments to the domain of the government and "clever" politicians of a country in which the polls indicate that the population approves corrupt behavior. Some American investors have even received threats and corrupt politicians have been promoted to positions of high responsibility.)"
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Le Monde: WikiLeaks : la torture et le totalitarisme, quotidien de l'Erythrée, pays à la dérive (Torture and Totalitarism are the routine in the state of Eritrea, an abandoned country)

"Dans l'un des pays les plus fermés au monde, l'Erythrée, les témoignages sur les conditions de détention dans les prisons sont rares. En voici un, recueilli par des diplomates américains en 2008, selon un télégramme diplomatique obtenu par WikiLeaks et révélé par Le Monde. Il s'agit du récit d'un Erythréen, "encore secoué émotionnellement" après cinq mois de détention arbitraire, qui raconte le quotidien des détenus du petit pays de la Corne de l'Afrique. (In one of the most hermetic countries in the world, the state of Eritrea, accountability on the detentions of prisonniers is rare. Even though, there's a 2008 actual recount [on this] by American diplomats, according to a telegram obtained by WikiLeaks and published by Le Monde.)"
Read more (French)

2010-12-17 Statement from WikiLeaks Regarding the Bradley Manning Defense Fund


There have been some attempts in the last week to create a controversy regarding Wikileaks' support for Bradley Manning and his legal defense fund. As anyone watching the news will recognize, Wikileaks has had difficulties in the last months obtaining and accessing their funding, but they are as committed to supporting Bradley Manning as always and have issued the following statement:

We will honour what we have pledged. We are quite strained right now and do not have full access to our limited resources, however, we have forwarded £10,000 (sterling) for the moment and informed Mr Coombs (Bradley's lawyer) about the transactions and it will take a few days to go through.

As acknowledged in the article linked above, Wikileaks' support for Manning has already resulted in substantial support for his defenders:

Loraine Reitman, a member of the group’s steering committee, shied away from placing blame on WikiLeaks.

“WikiLeaks is the reason we’ve been able to get so much money and donations,” she told Threat Level. “They’ve been linking to us and tweeting about us, and every time they do it, donations come in.”

2010-12-17 US offers Bradley Manning a plea bargain in return for testimony against Assange

In their latest attempt to find legitimate grounds for charging Julian Assange with a crime, US federal prosecutors have landed on the idea of charging him as a conspirator through a plea bargain that has been offered to Pfc. Bradley Manning. The plea bargain would have Manning name Julian Assange as a fellow conspirator to the leaks, which include the now infamous Collateral Murder video of April 2007. The video shows a US helicopter attack on civilians in Baghdad in which the victims included children and members of the press.

Julian Assange denies having had any contact with Private Manning, insisting that he has "never met or even spoken" with him. The New York Times reports that "among materials prosecutors are studying is an online chat log in which Private Manning is said to claim that he had been directly communicating with Mr. Assange using an encrypted Internet conferencing service." Assange is said to have provided Private Manning with access to a dedicated server, which would in turn be used for uploading the leaked files to Wikileaks.

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2010-12-16 Nieman Foundation Conference: From Watergate to WikiLeaks: Journalism and Secrecy in the New Media Age


The Nieman Foundation is hosting today a conference entitled "From Watergate to WikiLeaks: Journalism and Secrecy in the New Media Age". The full schedule is available here. A live video feed is also available here.

The conference will include two keynotes, from Associated Press executive editor Kathleen Carroll and New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, as well as three panels:

1. Global Struggle: Prosecuted, Banned, Blamed: Reporters Push Boundaries as a Voice of Public Accountability
2. National Challenges: Whither the Gatekeeper? Navigating New Rules and Roles in the Age of Radical Transparency
3. Future of Transparency: Secrets 2.0: Exploring Entrepreneurial Answers to Journalistic Obligations

2010-12-16 Sweden case updates: Bail appeal hearing [Update 5]

Following the Crown Prosecution Service's decision to appeal the bail granted on Tuesday by the Westminster Magistrates' Court, another hearing will take place today at 11:30 GMT at the High Court.

Peter Alexander of NBC News noted on Twitter that "Assange lawyer says defense has collected $315K bail. He's free if appeal's denied." The court had requested on Tuesday that the full bail amount be presented in cash.

Journalists present at the court, including a team from The Guardian, report that Julian Assange and his legal team have already arrived at the court for the hearing, which is expected to take two hours. It is unclear at this point whether live updates via Twitter will be allowed from the courtroom, as was the case at Tuesday's hearing.

In the meantime, please don't miss Peter Kemp's continued legal analysis of the bail and extradition arguments: Extradition Part 2--Bail, and Bail Arguments and the Appeal.

Update 1: Justice Ouseley has ruled that no Twitter updates will be allowed from the courtroom today, reports The Guardian's Luke Harding.

Update 2: The Guardian's Luke Harding quoted Justice Ouseley as saying, "The history of the way it [the case] has been dealt with by the Swedish prosecutors would give Mr Assange some basis that he might be acquitted following a trial." According to Mr Harding, "the case is looking good" for Julian Assange.

Update 3: The prosecution's appeal has been denied, reports Channel 4. Julian Assange has been granted bail, on slightly modified conditions compared to those specified at Tuesday's hearing, namely additional sureties, reports Guy Rundle for Crikey.

The next extradition hearing will take place on January 11.

According to testimony at Tuesday's hearing, Julian Assange will stay at the estate of Captain Vaughan Smith, founder of the Frontline Club. You can read Mr Smith's exclusive piece in yesterday's Independent, explaining his support for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, concluding: "If to fight for this country we will have to fight for its fundamental principles of justice then I declare my position in the ranks."

Update 4: Guy Rundle reports that hearing costs have been awarded against the Crown Prosecution Service.

Update 5: After the formalities were completed, Julian Assange was released today at 6pm London time. He gave a short speech on the steps of the High Court, thanking supporters, his lawyers, members of the press "who were not all taken in," and the British justice system. He called on people to support those facing conditions harder than he did in prison, and promised to continue his work and reveal the evidence behind the allegations.

A video of the statement is available via the New York Times.

2010-12-16 German newspapers call for WikiLeaks protection [Update 1]

A group of German newspapers, including Die Tageszeitung, Der Freitag, Die Frankfurter Rundschau, Der Tagesspiegel, the European Center For Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and online news site Perlentaucher.de published a joint statement against the attacks and legal threats to WikiLeaks.

The full text of the statement, in German, can be read here. Our translation follows:

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." 

Die Tageszeitung, Der Freitag, Die Frankfurter Rundschau, Der Tagesspiegel, the European Center For Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Perlentaucher.de simultaneously publish this appeal against the attacks on Wikileaks.

1. The attacks on Wikileaks are inappropriate

The Internet publication platform Wikileaks has, since the publication of the secret U.S. embassy cables, come under great pressure. In the U.S., Wikileaks leaders were named "terrorists," with even calls for their assassination. Big international companies like MasterCard, PayPal and Amazon ended their cooperation with Wikileaks - without charges having been issued against the organization, let alone a conviction. At the same time the technical infrastructure of Wikileaks has been subject to anonymous attacks over the Internet.

These are attacks on a journalistic medium in response to its publications. One can criticize these publications with good reason. But we are against any form of censorship by government or private agencies. If Internet companies can use their market power to prevent a news organization from publishing, this would mean democracy is defeated through economic means. These attacks show a disturbing idea of democracy, where freedom of information exists only for as long as it hurts no one. 

2. Freedom of publication applies to Wikileaks

In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of publication is evidenced as a foundation of democratic societies. It applies not only to traditional media like newspapers or television. The Internet is a new form of information dissemination. It must enjoy the same protection as traditional media. It would cause a global outcry if the U.S. were to bring an espionage case against the New York Times, a financial crusade against Der Spiegel, or an attack on the servers of the Guardian.

3. The right to control the state

The criminalization and prosecution of Wikileaks goes beyond this individual case. There are calls for the publication of confidential information in such quantities to be prevented. Indeed, the volume of documents revealed to the public a much deeper insight into state action than former publications in top media. Journalism has not only the right but the duty to control the state and to elucidate the mechanisms of governance. It creates transparency. Without transparency, there is no democracy. The state is not an end in itself, and must withstand a confrontation with his own secrets.

We, the initiators and signatories demand a stop to the persecution of Wikileaks, contrary to international law. We call on all States and all companies, to oppose the campaign against civil rights. We urge all citizens, public figures or not, in political positions or as individuals, to take action to stop the campaign against freedom of expression and freedom of information. We invite everyone to participate in the call for media freedom.

The first signatories of this appeal:

Die Tageszeitung, Der Freitag, Die Frankfurter Rundschau, Der Tagesspiegel, the European Center For Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Perlentaucher.de

Update 1: The German Journalists' Association, DJV, has added its support to the statement above. "It is not compatible with the principles of freedom of expression, when politics and business are trying to exercise censorship," DJV national chairman Michael Konken said in a statement. "Those who suppress the source, harm journalism," he added.

2010-12-15 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: BP suffered blowout on Azerbaijan gas platform

"Striking resemblances between BP's Gulf of Mexico disaster and a little-reported giant gas leak in Azerbaijan experienced by the UK firm 18 months beforehand have emerged from leaked US embassy cables.

The cables reveal that some of BP's partners in the gas field were upset that the company was so secretive about the incident that it even allegedly withheld information from them. They also say that BP was lucky that it was able to evacuate its 212 workers safely after the incident, which resulted in two fields being shut and output being cut by at least 500,000 barrels a day with production disrupted for months."
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Der Spiegel: The Unwanted Iran Brokers: US Irked by Over-Eager Swiss Diplomats

"In 2006 and 2007 Swiss diplomats tried to usher the Americans and Iranians to the negotiating table. Recently published US diplomatic cables show how deeply the Swiss initiative irked Washington -- and how Bern refused to give up despite repeated requests from the US.

That US diplomats posted in Bern were upset by the efforts of Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey to intervene in the conflict surrounding Iran's nuclear program in 2006 and 2007 and force themselves on the United States as an intermediary is well known. But just how upset has now become clear from the confidential diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks."
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El País: Vuelos CIA: Sócrates aprobó en secreto los vuelos desde Guantánamo (CIA flights: [Portuguese prime minister José] Sócrates secretly approved flights from Guantanamo)

"El primer ministro portugués, José Sócrates, y el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores, Luis Amado, autorizaron el sobrevuelo de aviones estadounidenses con prisioneros repatriados de la cárcel de Guantánamo, y el uso de la base aérea estadounidense de Lajes, en las islas Azores, aunque el Gobierno luso nunca lo ha reconocido públicamente. Varios cables de la Embajada de EE UU en Lisboa entre los años 2006 y 2009 dan cuenta de las presiones de Washington y la cautela con la que actuó el Ejecutivo portugués para autorizar dichos vuelos. Las denuncias de la existencia de prisiones clandestinas en Europa (Rumania y Polonia) y de vuelos secretos de la CIA, en los que detenidos de origen árabe, sospechosos de terrorismo, eran trasladados clandestinamente en aviones estadounidenses a Guantánamo, habían levantado una gran polvareda en Portugal."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Thai leaders doubt suitability of prince to become king

"Thai leaders harbour grave misgivings about the crown prince's fitness to become king owing to his reputation as a womaniser and links to a fugitive former prime minister, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

Three senior members of Thailand's powerful privy council, a group of advisers appointed by the king, make clear their preference for an alternative to Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, who is considered a political liability because of his extramarital affairs in several European countries."
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Der Spiegel: 'Coded Language' and Yes Men: Cables of Confusion from the Heart of the Vatican

"US diplomats seem bemused with the hierarchical structures and the lack of sophistication within the Vatican. Not only do most Catholic Church leaders lack an e-mail account, only a few "are aware of imminent decisions."

A month after the German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in the Sistine Chapel, on April 19, 2005, the US Embassy to the Vatican sent a cable to the State Department in Washington providing its first readings on what the United States and the world at large should expect from the new head of the Roman Catholic Church."
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El País: Temor a una intervención militar de Chávez a favor del régimen cubano (Worries about a military intervention by Chávez in support of the Cuban regime)

"La Embajada de EE UU en Caracas recomendó al Departamento de Estado que advirtiera a Hugo Chávez contra la tentación de intervenir en Cuba si la enfermedad y eventual fallecimiento de Fidel Castro condujera a algún tipo de convulsión social en la isla caribeña, según consta en un cable enviado a Washington poco después de que en La Habana se anunciara la grave enfermedad de Castro."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Chevron discussed oil project with Tehran, claims Iraqi PM

"The US energy firm Chevron negotiated with Tehran about developing an Iraq-Iran cross-border oilfield in spite of tight US sanctions, according to the Iraqi prime minister in leaked diplomatic cables.

Nouri al-Maliki's claim, reported in the cables, that Chevron was in discussions with the Iranian government will raise eyebrows in Europe and other parts of the world where international companies have come under significant pressure from Washington to end investments and other financial dealings with Tehran.

Chevron declined to either confirm or deny that it had been in contact with Iran, and confined its reaction to a statement saying it had not done, and would not do, anything in violation of US law."
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Le Monde: WikiLeaks : Ukraine, la déception Timochenko (Ukraine, Tymoshenko's deception)

"Paralysie politique, gabegie, économie étouffée par la corruption : le bilan ukrainien, six ans après la Révolution orange qui a renversé le président Léonid Koutchma, parait décevant. C'est ce qu'indiquent les télégrammes de l'ambassade américaine à Kiev, obtenus par WikiLeaks et étudiés par Le Monde. Les derniers datent de fin février, alors que Viktor Ianoukovitch, le candidat du Parti des régions, vient de remporter le second tour de l'élection présidentielle le 7 février, contre la premier ministre, Ioulia Timochenko."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: BP accused by Azerbaijan of stealing oil worth $10bn

"The president of Azerbaijan accused BP of stealing billions of dollars of oil from his country and using "mild blackmail" to secure the rights to develop vast gas reserves in the Caspian Sea region, according to leaked US cables.

Ilham Aliyev said the oil firm tried to exploit his country's "temporary troubles" during a gas shortage in December 2006. In return for making more gas supplies available for domestic consumption that winter, BP wanted an extension of its lucrative profit-sharing contract with the government and the go-ahead to develop Caspian gas reserves, one cable from the US embassy in Baku reports. Aliyev also threatened to make BP's alleged "cheating" public, cables show."
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Le Monde: WikiLeaks : la torture et le totalitarisme, quotidien de l'Erythrée, pays à la dérive (Torture and totalitarianism, everyday reality in Eritrea, a country adrift)

"Dans l'un des pays les plus fermés au monde, l'Erythrée, les témoignages sur les conditions de détention dans les prisons sont rares. En voici un, recueilli par des diplomates américains en 2008, selon un télégramme diplomatique obtenu par WikiLeaks et révélé par Le Monde. Il s'agit du récit d'un Erythréen, "encore secoué émotionnellement" après cinq mois de détention arbitraire, qui raconte le quotidien des détenus du petit pays de la Corne de l'Afrique.

Le témoin avait été arrêté chez lui, à l'aube, par des soldats venus vérifier sa carte de démobilisation, pratique commune "avant la fête de l'indépendance". Le service militaire est obligatoire en Erythrée, pour les hommes comme pour les femmes, pour une période d'un an et demi généralement reconduite plusieurs fois."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: US fears over west African cocaine route

"When an unidentified plane crashed into the desert in northern Mali in November 2009, it was immediately suspected of smuggling cocaine from Latin America. The west African route to the lucrative European markets had been growing in popularity for some time following successful anti-smuggling operations in the Caribbean.

But what was truly shocking about the mysterious unmarked, burned-out aircraft nearly 10 miles from a makeshift airstrip, was its size. The Boeing 727-200 was big enough to carry 10 tonnes of the drug. It was obvious the Colombian cartels were now plying the west African route on an industrial scale."
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2010-12-15 FAIR: We Support WikiLeaks


FAIR (Freedom and Accuracy in Reporting) has published a petition in support of WikiLeaks, signed by Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald, Barbara Ehrenreich, Arundhati Roy, Medea Benjamin, Tom Morello, John Nichols and more. The text reads:

As journalists, activists, artists, scholars and citizens, we condemn the array of threats and attacks on the journalist organization WikiLeaks. After the website's decision, in collaboration with several international media organizations, to publish hundreds of classified State Department diplomatic cables, many pundits, commentators and prominent U.S. politicians have called for harsh actions to be taken to shut down WikiLeaks' operations.

Major corporations like Amazon.com, PayPal, MasterCard and Visa have acted to disrupt the group's ability to publish. U.S. legal authorities and others have repeatedly suggested, without providing any evidence, that WikiLeaks' posting of government secrets is a form of criminal behavior--or that at the very least, such activity should be made illegal. "To the extent there are gaps in our laws," Attorney General Eric Holder proclaimed (11/29/10), "we will move to close those gaps."

Throughout this episode, journalists and prominent media outlets have largely refrained from defending WikiLeaks' rights to publish material of considerable news value and obvious public interest. It appears that these media organizations are hesitant to stand up for this particular media outlet's free speech rights because they find the supposed political motivations behind WikiLeaks' revelations objectionable.

But the test for one's commitment to freedom of the press is not whether one agrees with what a media outlet publishes or the manner in which it is published. WikiLeaks is certainly not beyond criticism. But the overarching consideration should be the freedom to publish in a democratic society--including the freedom to publish material that a particular government would prefer be kept secret. When government officials and media outlets declare that attacks on a particular media organization are justified, it sends an unmistakably chilling message about the rights of anyone to publish material that might rattle or offend established powers.

We hereby stand in support of the WikiLeaks media organization, and condemn the attacks on their freedom as an attack on journalistic freedoms for all.

Please join us in signing the petition here.

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