Next: 'Vengeance is his': US official on Obasanjo
"Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has a penchant for “storied vindictiveness” and “proverbial vengefulness”, American embassy officials told their superiors in Washington. In a cable titled ‘Bayelsa governor’s arrest strikes fear in the hearts of his peers’ and sent to Washington on October 21, 2005, the consul general at the American embassy in Nigeria at the time, Brian Browne, described how governors of other southern states became jittery following the arrest of the former Bayelsa State governor. Mr. Alamieyeseigha was arrested in London in September 2005 on charges of money laundering. At the time of his arrest, about £1 million cash was found in his London home. He jumped bail in December 2005 but was impeached upon his return to Nigeria and prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for corruption. Two years later, on July 26, 2007, Mr. Alamieyeseigha pleaded guilty to a six-count charge of corruption and was sentenced to two years in prison on each count. The consul general, in his cable, which was sent before the former governor’s escape from the UK, told his superiors that Mr. Alamieyeseigha’s arrest in the UK was not only due to corruption allegations, but also due to his friendship with former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, who was Mr. Obasanjo’s arch enemy at the time."
Next: Inside NDDC and EFCC
Next: Yar’Adua asked Ibori to turn himself in, says Saraki
"Disturbed by the waning bilateral relations between Nigeria and the US government over the perceived lack of vigour in the anti-corruption fight, late President Umaru Yar’Adua asked James Ibori, the corrupt former governor of Delta State, to turn himself in to the British Metropolitan Police.
According to a U.S. diplomatic cable, made available to NEXT, Bukola Saraki, Kwara State governor, a close friend of Mr. Ibori and confidant of Mr. Yar’Adua, said this in a chat with former US ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Sanders."
Next: ‘We blocked Obasanjo, Babangida’s candidates for PDP chair’
"The emergence of Vincent Ogbulafor as National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2008 was a result of deft political manoeuvring and intense power play among three former Nigerian presidents which saw the camp of late President Umaru Yar’Adua triumphing, according to a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable made available to NEXT.
Bukola Saraki, the Kwara State governor, told former U.S ambassador, Robin Sanders, during a meeting on September 22, 2008 that he used his powerful position as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to help Mr. Yar’Adua’s anointed candidate emerge victorious."
The Telegraph: US feared British 'sharia banks' would finance terrorist groups
"Britain's enthusiastic support for "sharia banking" raised concerns in Washington that the City of London could become a centre of terrorist funding, leaked documents show.
Financial reforms pushed through by the Labour government allowed Islamic banks to flourish in Britain, amassing assets valued at more than £12 billion."
The Telegraph: US feared British 'sharia banks' would finance terrorist groups
"Japan was warned more than two years ago by the international nuclear watchdog that its nuclear power plants were not capable of withstanding powerful earthquakes, leaked diplomatic cables reveal.
An official from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in December 2008 that safety rules were out of date and strong earthquakes would pose a "serious problem" for nuclear power stations."
La Jornada: EU rechaza que Josefina Reyes haya sido asesinada debido a su activismo (EU rejects that Josefina Reyes has been killed because of her activism)
"Señala en un cable que el homicidio es producto de "sus vínculos" con delincuentes. (It is pointed out in a cable that the murder is product of "ties" with criminals.)"
La Jornada: Por "insistencia" de EU se relegó al Ejército de la lucha antinarco en Juárez (By "insistence" of EU was relegated the fighting anti-narco army in Juárez)
"Cables revelan la "colaboración" estadunidense para dejar al frente a la PF. (Cables reveal U.S. "collaboration" to give control to the Federal Police.)"
La Jornada: PGR y SG pidieron ayuda a EU para enfocar la lucha en dos ciudades (SG [Secretary of Government] and PGR [General Police of the Republic] sought for help from U.S. to focus on the struggle of two cities)
"Calderón "se juega su reputación" en el combate al crimen organizado, afirmaron". (Calderón "is staking its reputation" in the fight against organized crime, they said.)
El País: EE UU cree que Lugo carece de apoyos para gobernar Paraguay (The United States believes that Lugo lacks support to govern Paraguay)
"El presidente de Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, comenzó a gobernar en el año 2008 con serias turbulencias y maniobras desestabilizadoras de la oposición, que a los pocos meses de la investidura imputó al exobispo impericia, favoritismo, la promoción de la lucha de clases y le culpó por la inseguridad ciudadana y el estancamiento político. (The president of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, began to rule in 2008 with serious disturbances and destabilizing maneuvers of the opposition, which a few months after the inauguration accused the ex-bishop of incompetence, favoritism, the promotion of fights between classes and blamed him about the insecurity and political stalemate.)"
(Image Credit: Dali Rău)
Aftenposten: FRENCH TOTAL-LED CONSORTIUMS ACCEPT LOWER PRODUCTION SHARES IN LIBYA
"Libya´s National Oil Corporation (NOC) renegotiated the terms of its production sharing agreements with France´s Total and its partners in Libya (Germany´s Wintershall and Norway´s StatoilHydro), adjusting the existing stand-alone contracts to bring them into compliance with the Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) rubric. The renegotiation of Total´s contract is of a piece with the NOC´s effort to renegotiate existing contracts to increase the Libya´s share of crude oil production. An interesting corollary is that one of the affected fields is that from which Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, periodically obtains oil lifts, which he sells to finance his various activities. Depending on whether his lifts had been coming out of the NOC´s production share or Total´s (it´s not clear what the arrangement was), the renegotiated agreements could adversely impact his revenue stream."
La Jornada: En 2009, Pascual destapó la debilidad de AN y Calderón tras la elección intermedia (In 2009, Pascual uncovered the weakness of AN and Calderon after the election term)
"En cable diplomático, el embajador describió el entorno político Calderón, "abrumado e inseguro" sobre la vía a seguir, sostuvo "Cree que un repentino éxito" en seguridad dará impulso a su posición, dijo. (In a diplomatic cable, the ambassador described the Calderón's political environment, [who was] "overwhelmed and unsure" about the way forward; "he believes that an overnight success" in security will boost its position, he said.)"
(Image Credit: Dali Rău)
Next: Govt paid N20m ransom to free Delta hostages
"The Nigerian government, through its secret police, fuelled kidnapping in the restive Niger Delta region by paying millions of naira in ransom to kidnappers, a leaked US diplomatic cable, made available to NEXT, has revealed.
The cable, dated February 6, 2007, and which punctured the claims by the government, and the Nigerian security agencies, that ransoms were never paid to kidnappers, detailed how the government funnelled N20 million through an official of the State Security Service (SSS) to militants to free two foreign hostages."
Next: CHEVRON NIGERIA SEEKS LONG-TERM SOLUTION TO DELTA UNREST
"Chevron Nigeria security consultant Hamish MacDonald shared concerns that a large amount of money was paid for the release of the Delta hostages and an industry of hostage-taking may be in the offing. Chevron has managed thus far to stay out of harm's way, but MacDonald feels the urgent need to expand internationally-supported, long-term development programs. He plans to discuss the matter privately with Delta State Governor Ibori. Chevron will be welcoming a new Managing Director, and, with his arrival, MacDonald expects Chevron to transition from an expansion mode to one of consolidation."
El País: "Ábrelo y di ahhhh: Sistema venezolano de salud" ("Open it up and say ahhhh: Venezuelan health system")
Next: Yar’Adua made me acting President, says Yayale
"As his health failed late president Umaru Yar’Adua illegally bypassed his vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, and handed presidential authority to Yayale Ahmed, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
This unconstitutional act has now come to light through US diplomatic cables leaked to Wikileaks and made available exclusively to NEXT."
Next: Buhari says speaker’s comments confirm his fears
"Two parties who went to court over the 2007 presidential elections, Atiku Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday reacted to comments credited to Speaker Dimeji Bankole that the late president, Musa Yar’Adua, bribed Supreme Court justices to swing the judgment in his favour. While Mr. Abubakar, the candidate of the opposition Action Congress in the election, maintained that the speaker of the House of Representatives’s comment had disgraced Nigeria, Mr. Buhari, the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, said the revelation had vindicated his stand that the nation’s judiciary could not be trusted, and therefore needed a thorough overhaul."
Der Spiegel: EADS-Manager verspotteten Kollegen vor US-Diplomaten (EADS managers colleagues mocked U.S. diplomats)
Bradley Manning's inhumane treatment during his pretrial incarceration looks set to become a millstone around Obama's neck in his dealings with other countries.
Today, International Bradley Manning Support Day, marks also the announcement of a campaign to have the United States president arrested once he arrives on Irish soil, during a planned visit to the Western European democracy in May. The #ArrestObama #May22 campaign holds that Ireland has an obligation under international law to pursue and prosecute all those within its jurisdiction who carry out or authorize torture, or who permit torture to be carried out, or who obstruct bringing those who do so to justice.
The campaign makes the claim that Obama's failure to prosecute high-ranking Bush administration officials - as well as the cruel and inhumane treatment to which U.S. military whistleblower Bradley Manning is being subjected in the Marine brig in Quantico - constitutes ownership of responsibility for torture.
The campaign comes at an inconvenient moment for the new Fine Gael/Labour coalition government, elected mid-last-month in a landslide ousting of the previously dominant Fianna Fail party. The new government will be seeking to establish strong diplomatic ties with the United States, in the hopes that this will reap benefits in the face of Ireland's withering economic situation. In November, the last Irish government revealed that it had negotiated a deal with the International Monetary Fund, in response to the deepening crisis in the banking sector. Any matter that jeopardizes the precarious bargaining position of the tiny European state will likely frustrate the fledgling government.
WL Central will be covering the Bradley Manning protests in Quantico this weekend. Currently, protesters were warned to leave the site, 118 stayed past the final warning, arrests have begun. FireDogLake reports that the director of operations at Quantico Marine Base issued a “threat advisory” regarding the protests this weekend.
This date, March 19, 2011, marks the beginning of the ninth year of the US war in Iraq. The war, which began in 2003 with a bombing campaign of “shock and awe," has for years been more of an occupation than a war. Despite the fact that many believe the war is over (especially Americans), the US still has 47,000 troops in Iraq and, despite a 2011 withdrawal date, will likely continue to have tens of thousands of soldiers based in Iraq for years to come.
The past year has seen the world learn a great deal about the US war and occupation of Iraq. With the WikiLeaks release of US State Cables, the Iraq War Logs, and a “Collateral Murder” video showing US soldiers firing on journalists and innocent civilians from an Apache helicopter, the criminal nature of the war and occupation has become more evident. To mark the end of eight years of US troops in Iraq and the beginning of a ninth year, it is worth noting the many revelations on Iraq that have become known thanks to WikiLeaks.
On October 22, 2010, 390,000 field reports, which became known as the Iraq War Logs, showed the regular use of abuse, brutality and torture used on Iraqis by Iraqi Police and Iraqi Security Forces. The logs revealed, despite US claims, a tracking of civilian deaths had been going on, and, in fact, 66,000 civilian deaths (15,000 which were previously unknown) had occurred.
On 10th March 2011 Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a speech to the US Congress. It was notable for one reason, the US media appeared barely to report it—Google searches show Australian entries page after page—and perhaps that’s because the US media market for show ponies, seals and canines performing obsequiously for an audience is already saturated.
Crafted for a US audience it was as Hugh White (Australian National University professor and a former senior Defence Department official) said: a piece of policy-free puff…I suppose she wanted the Americans to like her, but she decided not to say anything serious to them.
Our leaders never say much that is seriously an assertive, independent point of view to the USA. This is of course as befits a thoroughly one sided relationship characterised by ultra obsequiousness by an almost endless line of Australian prime ministers from Robert Menzies who begged the US to join in the Vietnam war; Harold Holt’s—all the way with LBJ and more lately John Howard who jumped on the Bush orchestrated litany of lies bandwagon, otherwise known as the second Iraq war (and absurdly incorporating a war on an abstract noun--terrorism) as if we somehow owed an eternal debt--which can never be repaid--as a satrapy of the USA and our prime ministers are the satraps. Or as liberal party Senator Brandis, leaker of the ‘Ratty’ label might have said in the case of John Howard, a ratsap.
WL Central published an article two days ago, outlining the extraordinarily heavy handed redaction by the Guardian of a Bulgarian cable. Wikileaks tweeted the article, saying it was "Another very serious example of the Guardian "cable cooking" in violation of WikiLeaks agreements". Guardian investigations editor David Leigh responded with "@wikileaks Another stupid lie from #Assange alleging 'cable censorship' by #Guardian, (stuck with UK libel laws as he knows). What a liar!"
Wikileaks did not however, accuse the Guardian of cable censorship, they accused them of "cable cooking". A closer inspection of what happened in this one instance of cable redaction by the Guardian indicates that the Wikileaks description was closer to the mark. In fact, an examination of this document brings a feeling that the world will be in for Cablegate 2.0 when we finally get to see these cables without Guardian redaction.
The redaction on this particular cable is best shown here. The parts redacted by the Guardian are in green.
India cables released to The Hindu have created a storm in the past days. Now, The Hindu reports that the US State Department warned the India government of the “existence of such communications on December 23, 2010. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and spoke to Krishna about WikiLeaks. She warned the government of “potentially embarrassing disclosures.”
On December 21, 2010, then-State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, “Those mutual interests are unchanged by any document that has been released by WikiLeaks. We are going to do this one day at a time, one action at a time. The Secretary continues to have regular contacts either in person or in phone calls with world leaders. This issue comes up, and without exception, the leaders reassure her that notwithstanding whatever ripples have been created by these revelations, our relations with these countries will continue because they're important.”
The key cable creating a massive political crisis in India was sent out from Consulate Chennai on May 13, 2009. A US diplomat writes:
The subject of politicians bribing voters, with either cash or gifts, was a recurring theme in the course of covering the 2009 election campaigns in South India. Wherever we went, journalists, politicians, and voters spoke of the bribes as a commonly accepted fact of the election process. Political insiders, and in some instances candidates themselves, admitted to us that candidates regularly violate India's election rules in the course of campaigning for office. This cable examines methods by which political parties bribe voters and how those bribes affect elections in India.
Human Rights Watch has issued a statement demanding that the US government explain the "extremely restrictive and possibly punitive and degrading treatment" of PFC Bradley Manning in pre-trial detention at Quantico Marine base in Virginia:
According to regulations governing operation of the brig issued by the secretary of the Navy, when a prisoner has been assessed to no longer pose a suicide risk by a medical officer they should be returned to appropriate quarters. According to a complaint filed by Manning, on 16 occasions military mental health professionals recommended that he be removed from POI status. While Manning's complaint was made public by his lawyer, the brig commander has not released the brig's formal response to his allegations. If Manning agrees to the release of medical or mental health information that would otherwise be confidential to protect his privacy, the government should immediately make public its rationale for his continued POI status.
... The new charges filed against Manning, for which the death penalty is possible, include aiding the enemy, even though Manning allegedly provided documents to WikiLeaks, not an agent of a government or armed group at war with the US. The removal of Manning's underwear during the evenings began the same day the additional charges were filed.
The language of the HRW statement approaches that of the ACLU's warning that Manning's treatment may be unconstitutional, as we reported here. That report has been updated with news of Ann Clwyd's question in the House of Commons today, the leader's lack of objection to her comparison between Manning's situation and that of prisoners at Guantanamo, and a transcript and video of Clwyd's exchange yesterday in committee with Foreign Minister William Hague.
Update: Ann Clwyd MP's question today, 17 March, in the Commons, on the turn
MP Ann Clwyd (L-Cynon Valley) today raised the question of the treatment of PFC Bradley Manning at the Quantico military base in Virginia with the foreign secretary, William Hague, during his testimony before the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. (The exchange between Clwyd and Hague appears in the last several minutes here.)
Although Hague stood on legal formalities in his reply -- he cannot take a position without Manning's consent; Manning has stated that he does not consider himself a UK citizen; and it is up to Manning's US lawyer to seek redress of any treatment he considers unlawful -- he made one significant concession. At the close of his remarks he said voluntarily that the concerns of UK citizens about Manning's treatment would be brought to US diplomatic attention because they had been raised in a parliamentary committee.
Earlier in the day, an interview with Manning's friend David House, who has been talking to support networks in the UK this week, was published in the Guardian.
On March 12, 2001, in Colombia, then-president and vice president of Sintramienergetica, were both picked up by men of the the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a terrorist paramilitary force in Colombia that has at this point been mostly dissolved. According to El Espectador, a Colombian newspaper (that has partnered with WikiLeaks), the trade unionist leaders were murdered in Locarno and transported in a van to Orcasita where they were found dead hours after being killed.
Sintramienergetica is a trade union that has workers that do labor for a US company based in Alabama, Drummond Coal. The history between the trade union and the coal giant has been tumultuous. Paramilitary leaders alleged to be responsible for the murders of the two trade unionists have gone on trial with Drummond being accused of handing over a suitcase of money to leader Rodrigo Tovar Pupo asking him to help “remove barriers” the union was creating for the company.
An “open letter” from the ex-Bank of America employee was recently posted on the website Anonymous has been using to share the leaked emails. It appears to be in response to how he was characterized in coverage of the leak.
TechHerald.com has focused on this comment, which he wrote in response to a question from Anonymous on whether he had more emails: “I have to save the rest. I promised a WSJ [Wall Street Journal] reporter in Australia the story back in Jan when the Balboa sale was announced. I also need to keep a few aces for my inevitable years of litigation for what I’m doing.”
Today, Anonymous published a letter from him. It suggests he may not be so focused on profiting off his information after all.
He thumps his chest at Bank of America saying Bank of America continues “to underestimate me.”
“I’ve already read their plan of action against me. Anonymous leaked it for the world to see months ago,” he adds. “While “Anonymous” BofA executives huddle together and cower behind their corporate logo, hoping their corporate name can withstand a greater shitstorm than mine, we’ve both been reading the exact same battle plan. Don’t be fooled by press releases. The HB Gary plan cost a lot of the money from their piggy bank, and they’re not ones to let their own money go to waste.”
He suggests he is not afraid of Bank of America executives or employees who might be plotting against him:
Russian nuclear accident specialist Iouli Andreyev, who helped with cleanup in the aftermath of Chernobyl, said on March 16, “The Japanese were very greedy, and they used every square inch of the space. But when you have a dense placing of spent fuel in the basin, you have a high possibility of fire if the water is removed from the basin.” His comments came as Japan faces a growing nuclear disaster with nuclear reactors leaking and radiation plumes discharging into the atmosphere.
Andreyev put the blame on corporations and United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency, saying they had “willfully ignor[ed] lessons from the world's worst nuclear accident 25 years ago to protect the industry's expansion.” He condemned the nuclear industry for ensuring Chernobyl was not studied properly.
Japan has been scrambling to contain a nuclear catastrophe ever since an 8.9 earthquake struck last week. As of Wednesday, March 16, a helicopter was unable to drop water on “the most troubled reactor” in the country. Workers left the power plant briefly as radiation levels increased.
In 2007, twelve power companies “admitted to thousands of irregularities in reporting past problems.” Japanese citizens began to resist the building of new nuclear reactors. They pushed for legal actions to suspend operations. Now, US State Cables released by WikiLeaks, which are being published by the Telegraph and The Guardian, further affirm that some sort of coverup has been going on.
Several writers have published their thoughts on the bank employee emails posted by Anonymous. They appear to have been caught up in the news cycle, hoping to get ahead of this story and get the most traffic to their post. In rushing the story, at least a few have committed a basic failure of journalism, one that could easily be remedied by fact checking.
Juli Weiner at VanityFair.com writes, “A-ha! Bank of America is indeed the large United States bank whose internal documents and e-mails were rumored to soon appear on the Internet. But twist! The leaker of those documents was not WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, spectral nuisance and folk hero, but Anonymous, the rabble-rousing hacking collective.”
Angela Orr on Technorati writes, “Alluded to by the Anonymous community for months, leaks of Bank of America documents have finally begun to come to light, as the so-called #BlackMonday Operation began, today.”
And, at ComputerWorld, Darlene Storm writes, “It's unclear whether part one of the bankofamericasucks leak is the same information that BofA was afraid WikiLeaks would publish.”
Actually, it is incredibly clear. Look at the dates: they are all from days ago, the first one being sent out on March 10, 2011. This makes it impossible for Anonymous to be leaking whatever material WikiLeaks happens to hold.
Anonymous, the hacktivist group known for supporting WikiLeaks and mounting actions in cyberspace in defense of freedom of information and transparency, launched “#BlackMonday” at midnight. Emails between an Anonymous user and an employee with Balboa Insurance, whose work is connected to the operations of Bank of America, were posted.
The employee claims to have worked for the company for the last seven years. He writes, “Many of you do not know who Balboa Insurance Group (soon to be rebranded as QBE First by Australian Reinsurance Company QBE according to internal communication sent to all Balboa associates) is, but if you’ve ever had a loan for an automobile, farm equipment, mobile home, or residential or commercial property, we knew you. In fact, we probably charged you money…a lot of money…for insurance you didn’t even need.”
Emails from the employee allegedly affirm suspicions that banks like Bank of America have been engaged in rampant fraud. But, the bigger story here is Anonymous has made contact with an employee at Balboa Insurance and opened up a conduit for getting information out to the world. He appears intent to push others to blow the whistle of Bank of America fraud.
In an email sent on March 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm, the Balboa Insurance employee writes about a key strategic issue that Anonymous faces in its campaign to take down Bank of America for its disingenuous and fraudulent dealings (particularly a campaign that began when the bank announced it would cease to process donations to WikiLeaks).
The spokesman for the Department of State in the Obama administration, PJ Crowley, resigned today for having criticized the inhumane treatment of U.S. political prisoner Bradley Manning as "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid."
Commentary in TIME and Politico strongly suggest that Crowley's resignation was a forced move by an administration that does not bear internal criticism. Politico indicates that insider sources have been heralding the replacement of Crowley - with NSC spokesman Mike Hammer - for a long time, and that the Manning incident allowed this to be expedited. Crowley has publicly expressed his pleasure that Hammer will replace him on his twitter account.
Late last week, commentators on the treatment of alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning were surprised when Crowley unequivocally criticized the Department of Defense at a small seminar in MIT on new media. An attendee reported his statement: