A federal grand jury is meeting at 11 am EST in Alexandria, Virginia. The grand jury is being employed to “build” a case against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who just won a gold medal for peace and justice from the Sydney Peace Foundation.
“The WikiLeaks case is part of a much broader campaign by the Obama administration to crack down on leakers,” writes Carrie Johnson of NPR. Johnson is one of a few reporters in the US press who has published a report today on this stirring development in the United States. She finds “national security experts” cannot “remember a time when the Justice Department has pursued so many criminal cases based on leaks of government secrets.”
The number of people subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury is unclear (and not in any of the few news articles published on the grand jury so far). What is known is that at least one individual from Cambridge was issued a subpoena seeking to compel him to testify before a Grand Jury. Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com reported the individual served had a public link to the WikiLeaks case and it was “highly likely” the subpoena was connected to the WikiLeaks Grand Jury investigation.
There are two other federal Grand Juries that are ongoing in the country. In San Jose, California, a Grand Jury has been empanelled to investigate the “hacktivist” group, Anonymous. Another Grand Jury in Chicago has been empanelled to target antiwar, labor and international solidarity activists for their political action.
Julian Assange Says Whistleblowers “Heroes,” WikiLeaks Played “Significant Role” in Recent Arab Uprisings As He Accepts Sydney Peace Prize
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was awarded the Sydney Peace Model at the Frontline Club in London. The award was given to recognize his work for “greater transparency and accountability of governments.” @Asher_Wolf covered the event on Twitter.
Assange said, “WikiLeaks is the most scrutinized organization per capita in the world,” and that he was in “the absurd situation of receiving the Sydney Peace Prize in London whilst wearing a surveillance device” around his ankle. He noted that the submission site for WikiLeaks is being re-engineered as a result of “sabotage and website attacks.” Also, Assange acknowledged that coverage of releases from WikiLeaks could devolve into newspapers attacking each other.
Below is video of Assange accepting the medal:
Traditional media organizations, especially those in the United States, are afraid of WikiLeaks. It threatens their position in society.
The new "leaks portal" launched by the Wall Street Journal called "SafeHouse" is not just a shoddy excuse of a system for accepting leaks from "sources" but a sign that the WSJ is afraid of WikiLeaks and how the organization is transforming journalism.
In an up-and-coming documentary on the New York Times, "Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times," executive editor of the Times Bill Keller says on-camera, "The bottom line is, WikiLeaks doesn't need us. Daniel Ellsberg did.” That reality has likely fueled the tension between Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Bill Keller and the Times.
At the 2011 National Conference for Media Reform (NCMR) in Boston about a month ago, Greg Mitchell, blogger for The Nation, who has been blogging all things WikiLeaks since the release of the US State Embassy cables began, was present for a panel on WikiLeaks. The panel, in addition to Mitchell, featured Amy Goodman, Glenn Greenwald, Micah Sifry, Emily Bell, and Christopher Warren. [The full panel can be viewed here.]
I had the privilege of interviewing Mitchell the day after the panel for The Nation.
[Full disclosure: I currently serve as an intern for The Nation and I happen to assist Mitchell on a daily basis.]
Edited podcast now posted.
This week's podcast features Michael K. Busch, who teaches international relations at the City College of New York, where he is also program coordinator at the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies. He has been covering the Gitmo Files in detail. He has also covered released cables on his site WikiBlogged, and he is listed as a resource in the back of Greg Mitchell's published book, "Age of WikiLeaks," which you can purchase in print on Blurb.com or in e-book form off of Amazon. [Follow him on Twitter @michaelkbusch]
On the program, we discuss the killing of Osama bin Laden in the context of the Pakistan Cables that one media organization, The Hindu (in India), covered extensively. We also talk about the files Busch has covered extensively and what his thoughts are on the release in general. And, the show discusses the Journal's newly launched SafeHouse, a WikiLeaks-imitation website it hopes "sources" will "leak" to like "sources" have leaked to WikiLeaks. [For more on this, WL Central coverage can be found here.]
Several reports on the web security and privacy of the Wall Street Journal’s new site, SafeHouse, which is inspired by WikiLeaks, have been published. Reactions centered around the “terms and conditions” on the website, which include a disclaimer that SafeHouse “cannot ensure complete anonymity." It also states the leak portal “reserve[s] the right to disclose any information about you to law enforcement authorities or to a requesting third party, without notice, in order to comply with any applicable laws and/or requests under legal process.”
Web security and privacy experts will continue to scrutinize this new venture. Those like Jacob Appelbaum, a security researcher and senior developer on the Tor online anonymity network will continue to let others know the Journal is being negligent and that this is not a project to be beta-tested on an open Internet. In addition to the security questions, there is the larger question of the Journal’s role in the press and why anyone would ever consider leaking to a newspaper like the Journal.
For establishing a basic understanding of this news organization, this is how SourceWatch, run by the Center for Media and Democracy, characterizes the publication: “The Wall Street Journal, an influential international daily newspaper published in New York City, is owned by News Corporation, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch. It does an abysmal job of informing its readers about climate change.”
Des responsables français en armement ont certainement suivi le départ du Druzki, la frégate un peu vétuste que Sofia vient d'envoyer au larges des côtes libyennes dans le cadre de l'opération alliée contre le régime de Kadhafi. Car le Druzki aurait pu être une corvette de classe Gowind, l'une des quatre que la France comptait vendre à la Bulgarie au prix d'un milliard de dollars US - soit pratiquement le double du budget annuel de la défense dans ce pays. Qu'est-ce qui a fait capoter ce "contrat du siècle" inclus dans l'ambitieux partenariat stratégique entre les deux pays signé par Nicolas Sarkozy à Sofia, le 4 octobre 2007, quelques semaines après l'euphorie de la libération des infirmières bulgares?
A lire les télégrammes diplomatiques américains de cette époque, révélés par les sites Bivol et BalkanLeaks , les partenaires locaux de WikiLeaks (cf. infra), il apparaît que les Bulgares ont surtout voulu temporiser, soufflant le chaud et le froid, dans le but de ne pas froisser Paris qui a joué un rôle actif dans la libération des infirmières. Beaucoup de responsables bulgares, y compris des militaires de haut rang, ne sont pas dupes : ils considèrent dès le départ cette acquisition comme vouée à l'échec, ces corvettes françaises dernier cri étant considérées comme un luxe inutile pour la marine bulgare.
Mais, plus que tout, la lecture de ces câbles illustre les efforts que Washington déploie pour dissuader les Bulgares d'honorer ce contrat contraire, selon eux, aux intérêts stratégiques de Sofia. Et surtout, des Etats-Unis, qui font un intense lobbying en faveur de l'achat par la Bulgarie de matériel américain d'occasion - notamment des avions de combat multifonctions.
Réformes bulgares, opportunités américaines
May 3, Global Press Freedom Day
Bulgaria’s ranking in freedom of press, published by Freedom House on the eve of May 3, the global press freedom day, is slipping down once again. Even though the country went down by just one spot, compared to last year, the trend that began in 2005 is continuing. A trend which can be noticed in the rankings of another large human rights organization “Reporters without Borders.”
The reasons for this trend are complex and have been analyzed in detail in the report on Bulgaria of Reporters without Borders, published in February 2009. It stresses on “power reflexes,” inherited by the totalitarian pass; economic pressure on journalists; murky ownership of large media and the role of the shady groups, striking terror of physical retribution with the non-conformists.
Several months later, in the eve of the general elections, American Ambassador Nancy McEldowney sends a classified report to the State Department, focused on Bulgarian media [09SOFIA304], where the diagnosis is harsh and the language far away from diplomatic: venality, corruption, political servitude, paid for with dirty money from the gray economy.
Today, the United States hosts World Press Freedom Day. The day, which was proclaimed to be May 3 by the UN General Assembly in 1993, is supposed to be an occasion for informing citizens of violations of press freedom. The day is to serve as a reminder “in dozens of countries around the world, publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered.”
When it was announced in December 2010 the US would be hosting World Press Freedom Day, WikiLeaks had just partnered with a few media organizations to release the US State Embassy Cables. The release known as “Cablegate” led to calls from elected politicians to prosecute members of the WikiLeaks media organization. While no specific newspapers were condemned or targeted (only the New York Times was publishing cables), the calls for prosecution were in effect attacks on press freedom from those in power.
The prosecution of WikiLeaks escalated last week as federal prosecutors stepped up its investigation into WikiLeaks by delivering a letter and a subpoena to an individual in Boston, someone whom a Grand Jury in Alexandria, Virginia, would like to press for details on WikiLeaks. The letter makes it clear the Grand Jury is interested in prosecuting WikiLeaks under the Espionage Act and would like to find out if individuals working for or with WikiLeaks conspired with the leaker of the information to get information.
Update: Edited podcast is posted.
The long-awaited release of the Guantanamo Files. More than 10,000 cables in the Cablegate release now posted—2000 of them from Canada and just out before the country's election. The Grand Jury beginning to issue subpoenas in its investigation of WikiLeaks. The media getting an out-of-the-ordinary tour of Ft. Leavenworth with the consent of the Department of Defense.
There was much to talk about this week.
With so much to discuss, Trevor Timm, the person behind the Twitter account @WLLegal, joined the program to talk about the latest news on WikiLeaks. Timm helped to make possible a great Personal Democracy Forum event called, “WikiLeaks & the Law" just over a month ago. [Go here for video of the full panel.] He also appeared on the show just over a month ago.
To listen to the recorded "This Week in WikiLeaks" podcast, click on the widget below:
An interview with Julian Assange for the Bulgarian site for investigative journalism Bivol.bg - Wikileaks media partner.
Bivol: WL started Cablegate with the partnership of five top international media outlets. Are you happy with this model? What are the limitations of this approach?
Please note: Reportage on IrishLeaks and other leaking platforms should not be read as an endorsement by WL Central - prospective leakers are urged to satisfy themselves of the trustworthiness of their intended recipients and to take precautions to ensure their own anonymity.
Today marks the launch of IrishLeaks, an implementation of the Wikileaks model for anonymous leaking platforms in the Republic of Ireland. The platform has received some coverage in domestic Irish news in recent days. IrishLeaks is apparently unaffiliated with Wikileaks in any way. The site now claims to be operational, and open to submissions.
IrishLeaks is the latest in a string of regional Wikileaks-style anonymous whistleblower platforms that have been set up since Wikileaks began to garner international attention, the most active of which has been Balkanleaks. WL Central listed some of these organizations here.
The "About" section of the site reads:
Boyko Borisov complained about Putin to the Americans; RWE had been “sabotaged” to give up on Belene NPP project.
Bulgarians "risk being cold" this winter if the government did not move forward with the Russian energy projects. This is what Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin said, off-the-record, to his Bulgarian counterpart, Boyko Borisov, during the summit in Gdansk in September, 2009. The tone of the sentence in question is not clear, we cannot judge if it was threatening enough, but obviously it seriously impressed Borisov in order for him to report it in a timely manner and for Putin’s words to find their place in the classified documents of the American diplomacy.
Borisov’s complaint about Putin’s attitude is described in a US diplomatic cable, dated October 5, 2009, released by Wikileaks [09SOFIA561]. The text does not elucidate if this has been a joke or a threat. On September 29, 2009, Borisov had asked the US government for assistance in the diversification of energy sources for Bulgaria.
“The cash-strapped new administration seeks not only to rid itself of projects of questionable commercial viability but also to increase its energy security through diversification,” the American diplomats believe.
The cable talks about the meeting between the Prime Minister and three large US energy companies, held on that same date. As a result, the government had made the commitment to engage in negotiations to use US technology to diversify its nuclear fuel supply and create a spent nuclear fuel storage facility.
Бойко Борисов се оплаквал от Путин на американците RWE е "саботирана" да се откаже от Белене
Ако няма напредък в придвижването на руските енергийни проекти, българите "рискуват да останат на студено през зимата". Това е казал руският премиер Владимир Путин "на ухо" на българския си колега Бойко Борисов, извън протокола, на срещата на високо равнище в Гданск на 1 септември 2009 г. Не става ясно с какъв тон е споменато въпросното изречение, т.е. дали е било достатъчно заплашително, но явно е направило сериозно впечатление на Борисов, за да бъде своевременно докладвано и да попадне в конфиденциалните информации на дипломацията на САЩ.
"Оплакването" на Бойко Борисов за отношението на Путин е отразено в американска дипломатическа телеграма датирана от 5 октомври 2009 г., разкрита от Wikileaks [09SOFIA561]. От текста не е ясно дали става въпрос за шега, или за заплаха. На 29 септември 2009 г. Борисов е поискал помощ от правителството на САЩ относно диверсификацията на енергийните източници за България. "Финансово закъсалата нова администрация не цели само да се отърве от проекти със съмнителна търговска жизнеспособност, но и да увеличи сигурността на енергийните доставки чрез диверсификация.", вярват американските дипломати.
Докладът разказва за среща на министър-председателя с три големи енергийни компании на САЩ на същата дата. В резултат на това правителството се е ангажирало в преговори да се използва тяхна технология за диверсификация на ядреното гориво и за утилизация на отработеното ядрено гориво.
Докладът разкрива, че американците са се надявали Бойко Борисов да спази обявените си официално намерения преди да поеме властта: да се преразгледат всички руски проекти свързани с големи енергийни сделки, направени от Тройната коалиция. Както показа времето обаче случи се точно обратното и ролята на премиера в началото на мандата му се оказа фалшива.
A set of cables about Bulgarian energy business, published by the Wikileaks media partner Bivol.bg, discloses a realm of "energy mafia", murky intermediaries, connected with organized crime, and Russian financial interests.
The cables reveal how Russia was blackmailing Bulgarians to advance the construction of new pipelines for Russian gas and oil, and of a new nuclear power plant in Belene (the only Russian project of this type in EU).
Describing his September 1, 2009, meeting with Putin in Gdansk, Borissov said Putin implied (in an off-the-record remark) that Bulgarians "risk being cold" during the upcoming winter if Borissov did not move forward with the projects.
Bulgaria is 100% dependent from Russian gas and nuclear fuel and was the most affected country during the gas supply cuts in 2009.
Translation of the full analysis by Bivol.bg will follow shortly.
UK fighting for Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer's release
Foreign Secretary William Hague will raise the case of Shaker Aamer with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she comes to the UK in May. Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt has told the BBC that dealing with the US on the issue is "frustrating". "We believe we are doing the very best that we can by trying to meet any objections the United States might have and putting the case for Shaker Aamer to return to the United Kingdom."
The US State Department will not comment on the diplomatic negotiations involving Aamer, except to say that "discussions on the case are ongoing". Aamer has never been charged and he has been approved for release by both the Bush and Obama administrations, but 'legal expert' Benjamin Wittes told BBC "It's not, just to say you'll let that person roam around freely."
But sources close to the case say the sticking point is that the US wants Mr Aamer sent to his homeland of Saudi Arabia where it is argued he would be less able to speak out.
Obama guilty of unlawful command influence
Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, told NBC News that Obama's statement "He broke the law," regarding Bradley Manning "is unlawful command influence," which includes an assumption of guilt. "The president shouldn't have said it. He should have been more circumspect."
Over the past year, the Wau Holland Foundation received roughly 1.3 million Euros in donations for Wikileaks. Around 400,000 Euros were paid out, the majority for the salaries of Wikileaks staff (ca. 100.000) and campaigns (ca. 140.000), and rather modest amounts for travel, legal assistance and technical infrastructure. Moreover, Paypal received 30.000 Euros in fees.
"Campaigns" also involve the work of external contractors such as journalists and specialist editors.
The average donation amounted to 24.70 Euros. The highest amount received was 3.500 Euros in April 2010.
Read the full report here.
Minister Foreign Affairs
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Canberra ACT 2600
1) Julian Assange and Wikileaks.
Firstly I would like to say that the international community who support Julian Assange would undoubtedly thank you for your support of him on the issue of his legal rights in the UK and scotching the threats made by your colleagues the prime minister Ms Gillard and attorney general Mr McClelland to cancel his passport late last year. Your support of human rights in relation to Julian Assange is to be commended, including the intercession of our diplomats on his behalf asking certain questions of Swedish authorities (1) which it is assumed emanated from your good offices.
More could be done for example to point out to the European Union that their European Arrest Warrant System is disgracefully flawed and subject to serial abuses by member states (especially Poland) now that showing a prima facie case has been removed entirely from extradition procedures in the European Union’s EAW system. Australia as you would likely be aware, did not extradite without the applicant nation showing a prima facie case up until 1985 when the “no evidence” and “dual criminality” provisions became available to applicant nations under amended legislation.(2) Where subjected to abuse, prima facie requirements should be reinstated.
As you are also no doubt aware the US Department of Justice is leaving no pebble unturned in their vengeful attempts to find - or more likely - manufacture some evidence against Julian Assange for a charge of conspiracy to commit espionage.
This is happening despite First Amendment protections which the DOJ’s epigones are attempting to undermine as they engage in polemical arguments using gymnastic semantics in the US media, in an exercise to assert he is not a journalist as a means to preclude those rights, contrary to the US constitution.
Julian Assange told the Times of India Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, that the Swiss banking data that was handed to him on January 17 of this year has not been released because the source, Rudolf Elmer, gave the data to Assange publically and was immediately arrested pending a criminal investigation. Assange told Goswami, "We have had an indirect offer through a third party that if we return what they believe to be the data then they will work to acquit Mr. Elmer to be free. So my ability to talk about this subject is of course limited by the fact that the Swiss bank has a hostage."
Assange also stated that India seems like it is losing per capita much more tax money than Germany.
The tenth episode of "This Week in WikiLeaks" features Iraq war veteran Ethan McCord and Bradley Manning Support Network Steering Committee member Kevin Zeese. McCord and Zeese have both appeared on "This Week in WikiLeaks." They are part of this week's episode because I recorded them talking at an event in New York City organized by World Can't Wait to promote a new short documentary, "Incident in New Baghdad."
Run time is about 1 hour for the episode.
To listen, click on the play button on the widget below:
Rally for Bradley Manning
Obama spokesman denies Obama expressed the view he expressed
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor denies that US President Obama was "expressing a view as to the guilt or innocence of Pfc. Manning specifically" when he said, regarding Bradley Manning, "He broke the law."
Regarding Obama's further statement that he has to abide by the laws as well as Manning, Steven Aftergood, a classified information expert at the Federation of American Scientists, agreed with the point made earlier by WL Central, “There are rules and procedures governing the de-classification process, but those rules also are based in presidential authority. The president has supreme authority over what is classified.”
While the White House is playing down the significance of the president's statement, Manning supporters are not. UK Friends of Bradley Manning writes: It is not surprising that the White House is keen to play down this incident. Military case law indicates that “pretrial publicity itself may constitute unlawful command influence” (United States v. Simpson, 58 MJ 368) and, if this is raised at court martial, the US Government will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the case has not been prejudiced. (United States v. Reed, 65 M.J. 487) Should unlawful command influence be proven, incidentally, then dismissal of the case is possible “as a last resort.” (United States v. Douglas, 68 M.J. 349)