2010-12-21 Ekklesia: Why conscientious objector Michael Lyons deserves support

Ekklesia asks for support for twenty-four year old medic Michael Lyons. On 17 December he lost his appeal to be allowed to leave the Royal Navy on grounds of conscience.

When he heard reports about civilian casualties, including children, he made an effort to find out more about the situation. ''I was unable to find a real, just and noble cause to go out but I still had a sense of duty to my country,'' he explained at his hearing.

Then WikiLeaks revelations alerted him to the fact that civilian casualties were far greater than had originally been reported. “'Examples included a convoy of marines tearing down a six-mile highway, firing at people with no discrimination.”

What is more, despite being a medic, he might not be allowed to treat everyone needing his help, and might even be called on to kill: “It seems from previous testimony and courses I've done that even going out as a medic with all good intention, if you're at a patrol base or forward operating base, it's likely you'll have to use your weapon and will have to turn civilians away who are in need of medical aid."

For those wondering why data previously in a system which allowed close to one million authorized users, currently in a world where the citizens of almost every country can view it, is being blocked only from the people serving in the military it concerns, this could be the reason. Please support Michael Lyons.

2010-12-21 WikiLeaks / Espionage Act Hearing: Wainstein

Testimony of Kenneth L. Wainstein (Editor's note)

Assumptions made (stated as fact) by Wainstein:

  1. Wikileaks discloses "sensitive information" in a "mass and indiscriminate" manner.
  2. The sensitive information leaked through Wikileaks is "not newsworthy".
  3. In virtue of 1, Wikileaks poses a threat to National Security that is more serious than that posed by the disclosure of sensitive information by the mainstream media.
  4. Wikileaks activities do not qualify as traditional journalistic reporting.
  5. Charging Wikileaks as a journalistic organization with espionage under the existing laws would pose a thread to "the free press", as defined in terms of an organization that practices traditional journalism.
  6. There's an urgent need to suppress leaks that pose a threat to national security.
  7. The proposed Shield Act is unconstitutional.

The 2 questions on the table, in Wainstein's view, are:

  1. Whether to prosecute Wikileaks;
  2. Whether to revise the existing laws relating to the current Espionage Act.

Wainstein's answer to the second question is yes. The laws should be revised. Current laws must be clarified in a manner that more accurately reflects the particularities of new Internet-related methods of disseminating information in the 21st Century.

2010-12-20 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: 'Taliban treats heroin stocks like savings accounts'

"Head of UN office on drugs and crime Antonio Maria Costa says Afghan gangs and Taliban stockpiling drug to manipulate street price in the west.

The United Nations' drugs czar told Nato that Afghan insurgents were withholding thousands of tonnes of heroin and treating their drugs like "savings accounts" to manipulate street prices in the west, according to a leaked US cable."

Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Syria believed Israel was behind sniper killing

"Assassination of Syrian president's top security aide caused anxiety among the political elite, US embassy cables reveal.

It was late in the evening of 1 August 2008 in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous when the sniper fired the fatal shot. The target was General Muhammad Suleiman, President Bashar al-Assad's top security aide. Israelis, the US embassy in Damascus reported, were "the most obvious suspects" in the assassination."

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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: UK businessmen 'overeducated' says Richard Branson

"Virgin chief critical of British education system during discussion of entrepreneurship at Beijing business lunch.

Perhaps it's because he left school at 15 and ran his own business while his peers were still studying. But Richard Branson believes that the British education system does not serve budding businessmen and women well, according to a US diplomatic cable."

Read more

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Bulgarian nuclear project 'dogged by safety concerns'

2010-12-19 New Whistleblowing Sites

Online whistleblowing conduits appear to be an exciting new trend. From technological tools to what looks a lot like old fashioned investigative journalism, here are some of the up and coming whistle blowing sites.

IndoLeaks Jakarta Globe says this appeared on December 10.

Rospil An extension of popular Russian blogger Alexei Navalny's website, he is actively seeking documentation of corruption in the higher echelons of the national government and economy.

TuniLeaks This seems, at least at present, to serve as a forum to post and discuss Wikileaks state cable releases as they relate to Tunisia, along with the Twitter hashtag #tunileaks . According to Global Voices Advocacy they have been under heavy censorship threats and actions since they were started.

BrusselsLeaks This site is seeking corporation, consultancy, institution or NGO information in "Brussels – the European Capital and the place where decisions are made which impact the globe".

Many of these decisions happen behind closed doors and we have been working to make it more transparent for many years. Journalists, activists and communications professionals have now come together to form Brussels Leaks, a place to centralise intelligence gathered on the inner-workings of the EU.

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."
Read more

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

Read more

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."

Read more

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."

Read more

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.)"
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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

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