News Archive - 2011-02 (February 2011)

2011-02-01 Army Vows Not to Shoot as Protesters make Million Man Marches in Cairo, Alexandria Today [UPDATE: 2]

9:30pm Cairo - Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has just given a speech in which he vowed not to run for president in the fall but would not step down until them. He said protests are "manipulated by political forces" in his TV address. Initial reaction from the estimated two million people still protesting in central Cairo is that he has to go now.

6:00pm Cairo - Tweets and news reports we are seeing as the Sun sets in Cairo indicated that the Million Man March has been an overwhelming success. Araby tweets "2 Million in Alexandria. Almost 3 Million in Cairo. Around half a Million Suez. It's happening."

People on Tahrir Square in Cairo where Al Jazeera is reporting 2 million people have gathered are saying that they aren't leaving until Hosni Mubarak does. People are standing shoulder to shoulder in the famed Tahrir Square, the atmosphere is lively but peaceful as protesters wave signs a loft and chant slogans demanding that Mubarak go. Someone even hung an effigy of Mubarak from a street sign. The army has placed barbed wire around Mubarak's residence and they have been checking protesters for weapons as they entered the square but they have done nothing to stop the march.

While the largest protest is taking place in Cairo, the nations capital, large protests also took place in other cities across Egypt including Sinai, Alexandria, Suez, Mansoura, Damnhour, Arish, Tanta, el-Mahalla and el-Kubra. A quater million marched in Sinai and over a million in Alexandria.

Gigi Ibrahim, one of the protesters, told Al Jazeera the activists will not be satisfied until Mubarak steps down. "... Every day there are more numbers on the street than the day before. I think the protests are gaining momentum. The people ... will literally not leave until Mubarak steps down," she said.

As the people demanding an end to the 30 year presidency of Hosni Mubark plan an historic Million Man March in Cairo's Tahrir Square today and a second Million Man March in Alexandria, the army pledges not to fire on the protesters. While Mubarak is now belatedly offering to open talks with the opposition and make reform, he has fired his old cabinet and even appointed his first vice-president in 30 years, the people just see these promises as another desperate attempt to stay in power. Now, in the most recent developments, even the army is indicating that it will take the side of the people against Mubarak and without the army he has no chance to maintain his rule.

Today the Egyptian people will demand his resignation with a loud united voice.

Tuesday morning Al Jazeera says:

Protesters in the Egyptian capital have begun gathering for a planned "march of a million", calling for Hosni Mubarak, the embattled Egyptian president, to step down.

Demonstrators began gathering from early on Tuesday morning in Cairo's Tahrir Square, which has been the focal point of protests in the capital and served as the meeting area for the march to begin on the eighth day of an uprising that has so far claimed more than 125 lives.

Another million-strong march is planned in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, as national train services were canceled in an apparent bid to stymie protests.

Army support, without which Mubarak can not stay in power, is unraveling quickly in the face of the people's support for the army and determined opposition to Mubarak. Reuters reports:

"The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people," it said, though it would stop looters.

"Your armed forces, who are aware of the legitimacy of your demands and are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody."

Yesterday Mubarak pulled the plug on the last Internet Service Provider functioning in Egypt. One ISP had been left standing to service the Egyptian stock market after the earlier Internet take down. Now his desperation has reached a new level. The government even shut down train service to try to stop people from getting to Cairo. The protest movement would not be thwarted though. Activist used faxes, cell phones, after service was restored and made use of satellite and dial-up Internet access wherever they was available.

The Egyptian President is now offering a program of sweeping reforms that almost everyone is calling too little too late. His newly appointed vice-president Omar Suleiman appeared on state run TV to say he was beginning a dialogue with all political forces on constitutional and other reforms.

People are no longer interested in anything he has to say. It is too late to promise reform. They will not stop their protests until he is forced from office.

"But all groups, young, old, rich, poor, Christians, Muslims they are all heading [to Tahrir Square]."

Gigi Ibrahim, a political activist who is planning on attending the rally, told Al Jazeera the protesters will not be satisfied until Mubarak steps down.

"I think today there will be great numbers on the street ... every day there are more numbers on the street than the day before. I think the protests are gaining momentum. The people ... will literally not leave until Mubarak steps down," she said.

This will be a historic day for Egypt and the world.

These are our most recent articles on the Egyptian struggle:
2011-01-31 Egypt's Military jockeys to maintain Longstanding Grip on Power
2011-01-31 Cable: Egyptian April 6 activist's democracy goals "highly unrealistic"
2011-01-30 Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues

2011-02-01 Bradley Manning's dual citizenship eligibility and the law [Update 1]

The conditions of Private Manning's confinement have been widely reported. Not surprisingly, on January 24, Amnesty International called on US authorities "to alleviate the harsh pre-trial detention conditions of Bradley Manning."

As we also reported here, Psychologists for Social Responsibility have joined the call for Manning's humane treatment in an open letter to Robert Gates, which calls upon him "to rectify the inhumane, harmful, and counterproductive treatment of PFC Bradley Manning immediately."

Amnesty International is now calling on British authorities to intervene on behalf of Private Manning on the basis that Manning may be a British citizen.

In a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press, Amnesty International's U.K. Director Kate Allen said Manning's background meant that British officials "should be demanding that the conditions of his detention are in line with international standards."

Manning is very likely, in fact, eligible for dual citizenship by law. Manning's status as a potential UK national was first reported here, where it is pointed out that his mother, Susan Manning, is a UK citizen, having been born in the UK. As was pointed out here, however, things are not so simple in terms of international law.

According to the Master Nationality Rule, discussed in this pdf document (in Section 3.3), “when a dual citizen is in the country of one of his two nationalities, that country has the right to treat that person as if he or she were solely a citizen or national of that country. This includes the right to impose military service obligations, or to require an exit permit to leave.” This seems to clearly entail that the UK is not under any obligation to defend Manning.

However, note that according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London, the British Consulate may intervene in certain cases in which a UK national is imprisoned abroad. According to the FCO, although dual nationality does not guarantee any privileges while a UK citizen is in the other nation of his/her other nationality (in this case, the United States), there is nevertheless the possibility of British intervention.

If you are a dual national traveling in the state of your other nationality we would not normally offer you support or get involved in dealings between you and the authorities of that state. We may make an exception if, having looked at the circumstances of the case, we consider that there is a special humanitarian reason to do so. (My emphasis)

Whether the UK decides to intervene in the event that Manning should apply for British citizenship will therefore depend on its interpretation of "humanitarian reasons." It should be noted, however, that in the case of Guantanamo inmate David Matthew Hicks, who "applied for British citizenship in 2005" while detained without trial, UK citizenship status was not sufficient to warrant any help from UK authorities. In fact, the British government revoked his British citizenship only hours after it had been granted and did so under section 56 of the Immigration, Asylum And Nationality Act 2006, which allows allowing the Home Secretary to “deprive a person of a citizenship status if the Secretary of State is satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good.”

Further interpretive issues arise, then, with regard to the notion of "public good", which appears broad enough to be deemed logically and legally consistent with any decision made by the UK in the case of Bradley Manning. Pending further analysis, the question seems to rest on purely moral grounds at the moment, given the vagueness and ambiguity plaguing the existing terms.

Update 1:
It was confirmed by Private Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, that Manning does not currently hold dual UK/US citizenship. It was also reported that this "deflates an effort by Amnesty International to get British authorities involved in a dispute over the conditions of Pfc. Bradley Manning's pretrial confinement."

This line of argument may be misleading, however. Obtaining future assistance from the UK is not contingent on whether Manning is presently a UK national, but on whether he is eligible to be one. If he is eligible, and it seems clear that he may be, then he need only apply for citizenship, as David Matthew Hicks did while in confinement in Guantanamo Bay.

2011-02-01 Cable: Spanish Politician Used for Bin Laden Photo Was Source of Tension Between U.S., Spain

Gaspar Llamazares, a Spanish politician and member of the Communist Party of Spain, is the focus of part of a recent cable released by WikiLeaks.

The cable from Madrid covers a meeting between Ambassador Solomont and Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba that touched on several topics including Haiti, Al Qaeda, training of security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and Guantanamo detainees. It also featured a conversation on Llamazares, whose photo had days ago been reported to have been used by an FBI forensic artist “to create an age-processed image of Osama bin Laden" for a "Rewards for Justice" website featuring photos of most wanted terrorists.

From 10MADRID49 on January 18, 2010:

“The Ambassador reiterated USG regret that Spanish politician and congressional deputy Gaspar Llamazares, photo had been used to create an age-processed image of Osama bin Laden. He explained that the FBI forensic artist had selected features from a database of stock reference photographs to create the image and was unaware the subject he used was a Spanish politician. He added that there was no political or other motivation, that the similarities between the photos (posted on the Rewards for Justice website) were unintentional and inadvertent. Ambassador said that the Embassy had acknowledged the error and contacted Llamazares on January 16 who seemed satisfied with our outreach. Even so, the FBI was looking into the process that led to the unintended depiction and would offer a letter of explanation. Embassy Legatt would be contacting Llamazares to set up a meeting to clarify the matter. Rubalcaba welcomed the Embassy actions to put the controversy to rest, noting that Llamazares, despite his leftist leanings, was a good chap with lots of common sense.”

Except, there is no way that Llamazares was satisfied at all with whatever explanation the Embassy offered Llamazares. One day later, the Associated Press, which broke the story on January 16, reported Llamazares “angrily rejected the United States’ apology” and “demanded the U.S. investigate the incident and take appropriate action.”

Additionally, Llamazares suggested this incident should be a cause not only of “concern but also worry and indignation over the behavior of the FBI.” He asked for a guarantee that the images were not “still in the hands of intelligence services at airports or other places abroad.” And, he said it bothered him to “think what would have happened if the FBI had used the photo of an ordinary person, and not a public figure able to draw attention to the matter.”

Following the January 19 meeting detailed in the cable, AFP quoted Miguel Angel Moratinos, who said Spain was in the process of trying to get the United States to publicize the mistake. It does not appear that any more investigation into what happened took place.

For Llamazares, the incident raised many questions, like whether “the FBI has a habit of keeping files on leftist politicians in the U.S., Europe, Latin America or elsewhere.” He didn’t buy the official story that the FBI “found his photo by chance on the internet.”

Llamazares has been outspoken on a couple revelations in WikiLeaks cables. In the case of the investigation into the death of cameraman Jose Couso in Iraq, he has accused the Spanish government of “submission” to the US instead of defending the nation’s own “countrymen.” Basing his arguments on WikiLeaks documents citing Couso, he thinks the government has been covering up the incident or violating the rights of victims instead of preventing the US from interfering in “the course of justice.” He also has called for more scrutiny over what happened with “the passage of the so-called 'CIA flights.'”

2011-02-01 Jordan's King Sacks Government as Protests Grow

Jordan's King Abdullah II sacked his cabinet Tuesday after being confronted with the on going protests by thousands of Jordanians over high unemployment and high food prices. Jordan's Royal Palace announced that the Monarchy had accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Samir Rifai, who many blame for rising fuel and food prices and poor economic performance. The King has asked ex-army general Marouf Bakhit to form a new government. Bakhit has been prime minister before and also has been an ambassador to Israel so while this change may be prompted by the demands of the people in the streets, it is not seen as any real change in the status quo.

The Jerusalem Post had this to say about him:

n 2005, Abdullah named Bakhit as his prime minister days after a triple bombing on Amman hotels claimed by the al-Qaida in Iraq leader, Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

During his 2005-2007 tenure, Bakhit — an ex-army major general and top intelligence adviser — was credited with maintaining security and stability following the attack.

According to Rosemary Hollis, professor of Middle East policy studies at London's City University,

[Bakhit] is a former general and briefly ambassador to Israel who has been prime minister before. He's someone who would be seen as a safe pair of hands, I wouldn't see it as a sign of liberalization. With his previous premiership, he talked the talk of reform but little actually happened.

Inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, protests have spread across Jordan in recent weeks. Demonstrators blame corruption and free-market reforms for making the plight of the poor worst than it already was. Jordan has one of the Arab worlds smallest economies and it is heavily dependent on foreign aid. The King's succession of governments have done nothing to stem a prolonged recession or the rising public debt that has grown to a record $15bn this year.

Every Friday since the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia, the opposition movement has held protest rallies in Amman, Jordan's capital, following Muslim pray. This Friday,

About 3,500 opposition activists from Jordan's main Islamist opposition group, trade unions and leftist organizations gathered in Amman's downtown, waving colorful banners reading: "Send the corrupt guys to court."

The crowd denounced Jordanian Prime Minister Samir Rifai's unpopular policies. Many shouted: "Rifai go away, prices are on fire and so are the Jordanians."

Another 2,500 people also took to the streets in six other cities across the country after the noon prayers. Those protests also called for Rifai's ouster.

King Abdullah has promised to have Bakhit "correct the mistakes of the past." The King also said that economic reform was a "necessity to provide a better life for our people, but we won't be able to attain that without real political reforms, which must increase popular participation in the decision-making."

Regardless of such talk of reform and enlightenment and in spite of changes at the top, the protests in Jordan are expected to grow as this movement for radical change sweeps the region.

See also:
2011-01-28 In Jordan Thousands Demand New Government
2011-01-23 Middle East protest round-up: Yemen, Jordan, Algeria
2011-01-01 Wikileaks in the Jordan Media - Arabic Cable Translations

2011-02-01 Sudan Struggles to Protest

Protests continue in Khartoum despite violent police suppression which has resulted in one reported death of a protester. Tweets from activists in Khartoum say the government has started blocking some protesters' individual cell phones. On Tuesday, around 200 students were beat back from protesting outside outside al-Nilein university by police who have already arrested and injured many protesters and killed one.

Opposition Islamist Hassan al-Turabi and a dozen members of his party were arrested earlier this month and are being held without charges. The African Center for Justice and Peace Studies released a statement saying "These ongoing rights violations are a pattern to silence dissident voices and limit access to information. The responses undertaken by police forces ... exemplify the extent to which the (ruling party) are unwilling to tolerate any other voices on the road to democratic transformation." They also said that police had detained more than 100 people on Monday and were continuing arrests, with people being taken from their homes and offices. Numbers that have been detained are impossible to keep track of. Rallies are illegal in Sudan without permission, which is rarely given.

Demonstration at Medical Complex on January 30 via @SudanProtests

2011-02-01 Tunisian Islamic Leader Returns as EU Freezes Ousted President's Assets

Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Islamist party Ennahda, returned to Tunisia after 22 years in exile. In a celebration of their newly won freedom, thousands of supporters welcomed him at Tunis Airport on Sunday. Ennahnda has said it intends to take part in Tunisia's post-revolution elections but Ghannouchi told reporters that fears that compare him to the father of Iran's Islamic Revolution were wrong. He said he is much more moderate in his views “Some Western media portray me like (Ayatollah Ruhollah) Khomeini, but that’s not me.”

In an interview he did with the Financial Times three days after Ben Ali fled Tunisia, while Ghannouchi was still in London, he emphasized the broad nature of the Tunisian Revolution:

Who made this revolution? It is the people who made this revolution.This revolution was not made by an angry, out-of-control mob. There are 250, 000 university graduates who are in fact the basis for this revolution. It is not angry, uneducated people. They were the base of this revolution with their creative ways of using the internet and other media. As to the trade unions, it’s true that their leadership has been subservient (to the regime) but the regional union headquarters were the centre of the protests and they led the revolution.

The lawyers also led the main protest marches and these are important bodies which were later joined by the opposition towards the end. There are still important civil society institutions, lawyers, trade unions, political parties, the representative bodies of unemployed graduates and it is them who (could potentially) support the constitutional council.

Ghannouchi seems to be aware that some people in the United States or Europe will falsely equate Islam with terrorism. At the airport he told supporters "We are not terrorists, and we are against terror like everybody else. We oppose Bin Laden. We are for freedom."

Catholic Online said:

The 69-year-old Ghannouchi gave assurances of Ennahada's respect for democracy and women's rights in a newspaper interview after Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia, bowing to street protests that ended his 23-year rule.

"The government used to always say, to frighten people away, that (the Islamists) will take away the rights of women," he said in the interview. "We all recognize, we accept the personal status code and will not cancel it or refuse it."

Democracy in Tunisia means that all parties and all political movements must partcipate and in that spirit most Tunisians welcomed Ghannouchi's return home from his long exile.

EU Now Willing to Stop Theft of Tunisian Assets

On Monday the European Union agreed to freeze Ben Ali's assets, which are reported to be in the neighborhood of $50 billion USD and reported to reside in many neighborhoods in France and other European counties. As reported by France24:

EU foreign ministers agreed Monday to freeze the assets of former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife and associates. The EU is also expected to look at offering better trade terms to Tunisia to help strengthen its economy.

Ben Ali's European assets include hotels, banks, tuna exports, construction, newspapers and pharmaceuticals. Now that Ben Ali has been thrown out of power, the EU is shocked, shocked to learn that the vast wealth they have been keeping for him is the result of the misappropriation of state funds.

Now that the game is up with Ben Ali, Europe and the United States are seeking ways to established relationships with Tunisia on a new basis. Reuthers reports:

EU ministers meeting in Brussels were also expected to look at ways to offer better trade terms to Tunisia to help strengthen the country's economy.

Since Ben Ali's overthrow, the EU has been trying to create a new relationship with a country with which it developed strong trade and political ties during Ben Ali's 23 years in power.

When Ben Ali fled to France they slammed the door in his face. They wouldn't let him land. Ben Ali had every right to be surprised, the French government of Nicolas Sarkozy had backed him to the hilt till this last minute. As Middle East Online reported:

France's ties with Ben Ali's Tunisia went far beyond "non-interference". In 2008, rights groups criticised Sarkozy for praising the regime "for opening up the democratic space."

When rights groups were already reporting police had shot dead dozens of protesters before Ben Ali fell, Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie suggested France could train the force to better maintain order.

A private French supplier's shipment of new equipment for the Tunisian police, including tear gas grenades of the type that killed a French journalist, was halted at Paris airport only hours before Ben Ali fled.

Now they were singing another tune. "Non-interference and support for freedom and democracy are at the heart of our foreign policy," President Nicolas Sarkozy said through a spokesman as they sent Ben Ali scurrying off to Saudi Arabia where he finally found refuge. This caused one Tunisian to Tweet

“What an irony that a guy who banned veils should end up with the Wahhabis.”

The international financial network maintained it's support for Ben Ali till the last minute also. According to the WSJ a few days after Ben Ali left "Moody's Investor Service Inc. downgraded Tunisia's sovereign rating by one notch Wednesday and changed the country's outlook to negative from stable, citing political instability caused by the toppling of the previous government." This will make it harder and more expensive for the new government to borrow money.

It is the job of Moody's to look out for investors not cuddle new governments some might say. Civil and social instability do make for a negative investment environment, so why didn't Moody's lower Tunisia's bond rating when blood was flowing in the streets and the stock exchange was being denied the Internet by hackers? Why did they lower it only after the thorn has been removed and the wound is starting to heal?

2011-02-01 WikiLeaks Cables Show Mubarak Not Very Open to Reforms or Freedoms for Egyptians [UPDATE: 4]

At 2:30 PM Egypt time, there are well over a million Egyptians in and around Tahrir Square. The atmosphere is being described by Al Jazeera as a festival atmosphere. CNN has Anderson Cooper reporting from the protests. And, reports are circulating on Twitter indicating Egyptian State TV is running images of Cairo looking serene, void of protesters, and flashing a “Protect Egypt” banner on screen during music videos.

The millions are deliberating over whether to march to the presidential palace or not. Having a foothold in Tahrir Square gives Egyptians control over Cairo, the power to keep the city’s business halted, and that gives them tremendous leverage as the opposition continues to push for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

The U.S. government, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs representing the government’s delicate stance on the unfolding revolution, has repeatedly spoke of how Mubarak must begin to establish a “transitional process” for “free elections.” The US government has been sticking to calls for the Mubarak regime to uphold “freedom of speech, association, communications, and assembly” as well as suggestions to lift “decades-old emergency laws, the release of political prisoners and changes in the Egyptian Constitution.”

What is the likelihood that Mubarak would reform his regime? As the uprising continues to grow, a power shift is certainly making it harder for Mubarak to cling to authoritarian policies of government that have pushed Egyptians to revolt.

Typically, Mubarak has been averse to calls from the U.S. (and presumably other governments) to reform. A WikiLeaks cable, 09CAIRO874, provides insight into Mubarak’s attitude toward reforming his regime:

¶4. (S/NF)No issue demonstrates Mubarak,s worldview more than his reaction to demands that he open Egypt to genuine political competition and loosen the pervasive control of the security services. Certainly the public "name and shame" approach in recent years strengthened his determination not to accommodate our views. However, even though he will be more willing to consider ideas and steps he might take pursuant to a less public dialogue, his basic understanding of his country and the region predisposes him toward extreme caution. We have heard him lament the results of earlier U.S. efforts to encourage reform in the Islamic world. He can harken back to the Shah of Iran: the U.S. encouraged him to accept reforms, only to watch the country fall into the hands of revolutionary religious extremists. Wherever he has seen these U.S. efforts, he can point to the chaos and loss of stability that ensued. In addition to Iraq, he also reminds us that he warned against Palestinian elections in 2006 that brought Hamas (Iran) to his doorstep. Now, we understand he fears that Pakistan is on the brink of falling into the hands of the Taliban, and he puts some of the blame on U.S. insistence on steps that ultimately weakened Musharraf. While he knows that Bashir in Sudan has made multiple major mistakes, he cannot work to support his removal from power.

The above mentioned cable highlights Mubarak’s disdain for all these “freedoms” the US (and other countries) think he should grant Egyptians: “As with regional issues, Mubarak, seeks to avoid conflict and spare his people from the violence he predicts would emerge from unleashed personal and civil liberties. In Mubarak’s mind, it is far better to let a few individuals suffer than risk chaos for society as a whole.” (In addition to Mubarak’s attitude toward “reform,” the cable also indicates Mubarak was not open to talking about the Egypt economy, specifically Egyptian poverty, which has fueled the revolution.)

On elections, cables released prior to January 31, indicate that Egyptians might not be so confident that organizing free and fair elections with Mubarak still heading the regime would in the end be free and fair. A cable, 10CAIRO213, shows fear of police has led Egyptians to be afraid of “procuring voter registration cards” for elections. Another cable, 10CAIRO197, highlights a round of Muslim Brotherhood arrests that took place just before parliamentary elections in 2010. The arrests were regarded by observers as “part of a continuing GOE campaign to suppress the NDP's only significant political challenge ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections.

It is tough to analyze the past few years of governance in Egypt by Mubarak’s regime and not understand why the opposition does not want to compromise or form an agreement for moving forward with Mubarak.

The opposition will continue to make demands and call for Mubarak to step down from power. The Egyptian people do not want reform. They want Mubarak gone. And, they also do not want Mubarak in power when elections are held this year.


Wall Street Journal reports, "Participants in a private meeting Monday morning at the White House's Roosevelt Room said a long discussion of Mr. Mubarak's future left them with the understanding that the White House sees no scenario in which Mr. Mubarak remains in power for long. White House officials said they made no explicit predictions about Mr. Mubarak's future."

Update 2

Good news for the Egyptian revolution. New York Times reports, "President Obama has told the embattled president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, that he should not run for another term in elections in the fall, effectively withdrawing American support for its closest Arab ally."

It will now be much easier to push Mubarak to resign.

Keep in mind: Those protesting do not just want Mubarak to not run for another election. They have embarked on a revolution that is committed to driving out Mubarak and any other leaders who explicitly carried out authoritarian policies against the Egyptian people over the past decades. They will not merely accept a commitment to not run again.

Update 4


Mubarak will "die on soil of Egypt." Revolution presses on.

2011-02-01 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Telegraph: FBI hunts the 9/11 gang that got away

"The FBI has launched a manhunt for a previously unknown team of men suspected to be part of the 9/11 attacks, the Daily Telegraph can disclose."

Read more

The Telegraph: 9/11 gang with pilot uniforms fled to London

"Even before three men of Middle Eastern appearance had told cleaners to stay out of their room, staff at a Los Angeles airport hotel had become increasingly suspicious of what they were up to."

Read more

The Telegraph: Libyan 'frogman' sent to train in Rome couldn't swim

"In Libya, where corruption and nepotism are often stitched into the fabric of society, it is often not a case of what you know, but who you know."

Read more

The Telegraph: WikiLeaks files reveal 'cold, callous and brutal' behaviour of ministers

"A mother who lost her daughter in the Lockerbie attack has condemned the “cold, callous and brutal” behaviour of British ministers after WikiLeaks documents revealed how they secretly advised Libya on securing the successful early release of the bomber."

Read more

The Telegraph: Libya insists ball in U.S. court on scud B alternative

"In a February 9 meeting with the Ambassador, the head of Libya's Scud B destruction program, General Ahmed Azwai, insisted that the USG was mostly responsible for Libya's delayed fulfillment of Scud B destruction commitments. Azwai blamed the USG for hampering Libyan efforts to find a Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)-compliant alternative weapons system to replace its Scud B stock and refused to discuss a destruction timeline until Libya acquires a replacement system. The Libyans passionately believe that the U.S. committed to assisting in the search for an alternative weapons system, and they want the U.S. to fulfill that commitment."

Read cable

The Telegraph: Tenth U.S.-Japan commission meeting on November 8, 2007 Tokyo

"Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John C. Rood, led the U.S. delegation to the tenth U.S.-Japan Commission on Arms Control, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Verification on November 8 in Tokyo. The Commission meeting made clear that Japan shares a common view on important areas in nonproliferation and will continue to be a strong ally. The meeting covered a wide range of issues, including North Korea and Iran; the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and proliferation finance; disarmament and non-proliferation issues; U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation; the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GI); and the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)."

Read cable

The Telegraph: Readout North Atlantic Council Meeting January 28, 2009

"Senior Civilian Representative Gentilini said the Afghans were eager for NATO to respond to its proposal for a military technical agreement, sent to NATO in early January. The SCR and several Perm Reps stressed that a MTA with the Afghans could help address the issue of civilian casualties, but many cautioned that the legal difficulties involved in negotiating such an agreement called for the Alliance to proceed with caution."

Read cable

The Telegraph: Narayanan urges better bilateral understanding on terrorism to senators Feingold and Casey

"National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan told Senators Russ Feingold and Bob Casey May 30 that the U.S.-India relationship amounts to much more than just trade links and defense deals, but rather benefits from a mutual empathy. Asked about terrorism, Narayanan related that training camps on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border have attracted more "white faces.""

Read cable

Aftenposten: Afghanistan: Capital Flight and Its Impact on Future Stability

"Afghanistan´s is a cash-based economy, relying on historic trade linkages with neighboring and regional partners. Given Afghanistan´s strategic location, ongoing conflict, and deep involvement in illicit trade (e.g., narcotics), as well as some neighboring country currency exchange policies, vast amounts of cash come and go from the country on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis. Before the August 20 election, $600 million in banking system withdrawals were reported; however, in recent months, some $200 million has flowed back into the country. In terms of total money leaving the country, analysts are uncertain whether it is generated within Afghanistan or is moving through Afghanistan from other countries such as Pakistan (Pakistan´s strict currency controls makes smuggling through Kabul International Airport (KIA) an attractive option). Experts also do not know the ratio of licit and illicit monies leaving the country. Given Afghanistan´s general political uncertainty, lack of credible and safe investment opportunities, and unsettled election, it appears that individuals moved more money than normal out of the Afghan banking sector and country as a hedge before the elections. While some of the money appears to be returning, Mission -- with support from Washington agencies and other posts in the region -- will work to closely monitor the cash movements, both as a sign of public confidence in GIRoA and for possible illicit financial activities."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Shahrani Refutes Corruption Charges

"As he awaited President Karzai´s announcement of the cabinet, and his expected move from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to Mines after the new year, Wahidullah Shahrani categorically denied the corruption rumors against him. Reports are circulating in Kabul that Shahrani was involved in a corrupt oil import deal. Shahrani told Ambassador Wayne in a December 15 meeting that the rumors originated with Marshall Fahim Khan´s brother, who lost a bid on a lucrative oil contract when Shahrani was Deputy Finance Minister and had oversight responsibility for numerous procurement tenders. Shahrani claimed the Japanese Embassy and its development assistance arm, JICA, had conducted a transparent bidding process for the contract, and said that he could provide documentation to support his innocence. He believes the corruption rumors were designed to undermine his renomination as Minister of Commerce or elsewhere, and instead pave the way to nominate into office someone who could use it as a vehicle for patronage. (NB: The new Commerce Minister announced on December 19, Ghulam Muhammad Yaylaqi, was Central Bank Chairman in the 1990s and Chamber of Commerce President until 2008. He was allegedly accused of corruption involving counterfeit money in 2001. He was supported by Islamic Unity Party Chair Mohammed Mohaqqeq.)"

Read cable

Aftenposten: Afghanistan Banking Sector Vulnerabilities: Exposure to Dubai´s Collapsing Property Market and the Role of Lottery Accounts

"The Treasury Attache Office in Afghanistan has met with multiple bank officials, financial sector experts, and a [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] reporter in recent weeks to discuss growing rumors that Kabul Bank and Azizi Bank are highly exposed to the Dubai property market. Together, Kabul Bank and Azizi Bank make up a large share of the deposit holdings in Afghanistan. A failure of either bank would have a significant negative impact on the development of the country´s economy, in turn severely undermining the U.S. Mission´s goals in Afghanistan. The Treasury Attache´s Office also discussed the use of lottery deposit accounts with officials from both Azizi Bank and Kabul Bank."

Read cable

2011-02-01 Yemen's Day of Rage and Abdul Ilah Shayi

ImageThe Interior Ministry of Yemen issued a statement on its website outlining extra security measures it has taken in preparation for Yemen's Day of Rage on February 3. Security forces have been reinforced around Sanaa, the capital, and transportation routes into major cities have security checkpoints added for 'wanted suspects' or firearms. The opposition parties have called for a million protesters march in emulation of Egypt's current demonstrations and asked for members and other supporters outside the capital to join. Around 15,000 protesters marched in Sanaa last Thursday.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced last week on state TV that he would step down after his second presidential term expires in 2013. He is to address an emergency meeting of the two chambers of the parliament, the House of Deputies and the Shura Council, tomorrow, one day before Yemen's Day of Rage. He is to discuss "issues and developments of interest to the nation and citizens" according to the official Saba news agency.

WL Central discussed here President Saleh's complicity with US attacks on Yemen that killed civilians, as detailed in the US state cables. Amnesty released a report on January 19 of a Yemeni journalist jailed after alleging US involvement in missile attack.

Abdul Ilah Shayi had accused the US of being involved in an attack on the community of al-Ma’jalah in the Abyan area, southern Yemen, which took place on 17 December 2009 and killed 55 people, including 14 women and 21 children. Shayi had written articles accusing the US government of involvement and had been interviewed by Al Jazeera. He was sentenced on January 18 to five years in prison by the Specialized Criminal Court in the capital Sana’a, for his purported links to al-Qa’ida. His acquaintance, Abdul Kareem al-Shami, was jailed for two years on similar charges.

He "appears to have been targeted for his work uncovering information on US complicity in attacks in the country," Amnesty International has said. His lawyers and activists in Yemen say the charges were fabricated because of his journalism. “There are strong indications that the charges against ‘Abdul Ilah Shayi’ are trumped up and that he has been jailed solely for daring to speak out about US collaboration in a cluster munitions attack which took place in Yemen,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “If this is the case, Amnesty International would consider him a prisoner of conscience and call for his immediate and unconditional release.”

2011-02-02 A Revolution Calendar

Map via @Houeida Anouar


WL Central Coverage

Tunisia December 15:

2011-02-01 Tunisian Islamic Leader Returns as EU Freezes Ousted President's Assets
2011-01-27 Tunisia protests continue as a warrant is issued for Ben Ali
2011-01-24 Tunisia today: "It’s not a unity government, it’s a fake unity government”
2011-01-21 Ben Ali has used Europe's prejudices
2011-01-19 Unrest in Arab States [Update 1]
2011-01-18 Reaction to Tunisia's new government
2011-01-18 Ahmed Hashem El-Sayed dies in Alexandria hospital from self-immolation wounds
2011-01-17: Comments on the new national government formed in Tunisia
2011-01-17 Tunisia's new government
2011-01-17 Slim Amamou named Tunisia's Secretary of Youth and Sports
2011-01-15 What the US state cables on Tunisia said
2011-01-14 Tunisia: Ben Ali Out, Mohamed Ghannouchi Out
2011-01-04: Nonoperational Site Update: Wrath of Anon in Tunisia

Egypt January 25:

2011-02-03 Marietje Schaake on the situation in Tunisia and Egypt
2011-02-03 Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More!
2011-02-02 Pro-Mubarak Forces and Police Thugs Attack Journalists
2011-02-02 Food Crisis in Egypt
2011-02-01 WikiLeaks Cables Show Mubarak Not Very Open to Reforms or Freedoms for Egyptians [UPDATE: 4]
2011-02-01 Army Vows Not to Shoot as Protesters make Million Man Marches in Cairo, Alexandria Today [UPDATE: 2]
2011-01-31 Egypt's Military jockeys to maintain Longstanding Grip on Power
2011-01-31 Cable: Egyptian April 6 activist's democracy goals "highly unrealistic"
2011-01-30 Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues
2011-01-30 Egyptian government orders Al Jazeera shutdown
2011-01-30 Al Jazeera no longer welcome in Egypt
2011-01-30 Arab Totalitarians want Tech for National Security Emergencies
2011-01-29 Who is Egypt's new Vice President?
2011-01-29 Mubarak swears in new PM and VP as unrest persists
2011-01-29 No Internet? No Problem! Anonymous Faxes Egypt
2011-01-28 Cable: Egypt displeased with number and tone of U.S. human rights recommendations
2011-01-28 Cable: The Amir of Qatar discusses Syria, Egypt, and Iran
2011-01-28 Cable: Political arrests of Muslim Brotherhood
2011-01-28 Cable: Egypt's Emergency Law
2011-01-28 Mubarak refuses to step down
2011-01-28 Cable: Police torture in Egypt
2011-01-28 Cable: Police brutality and poor prison conditions in Egypt
2011-01-28 Cable: Assessing support for Mohammed El Baradei
2011-01-28 Cable: Mubarak discusses Iran and a "split" within Arab ranks
2011-02-28 Cable: Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread
2011-01-28 Cable: President Mubarak in Washington
2011-01-28 Egypt is on fire
2011-01-28 Cable: Qatar on the Israeli-Palestine talks, Egypt and Iran
2011-01-28 Egypt Cables - New Releases [UPDATE 12]
2011-01-27 Mubarak blinks as Egyptian protests continue for third day
2011-01-26 Week of "rage" in Egypt sees casualties, global support [UPDATE 1]
2011-01-25 Revolution Day in Egypt
2011-01-19 Unrest in Arab States [Update 1]
2011-01-18 Ahmed Hashem El-Sayed dies in Alexandria hospital from self-immolation wounds
2011-01-17 Egyptian man sets himself on fire [UPDATE: 1]
2011-01-16 Protests in Egypt

Sudan January 30:

2011-02-01 Sudan Struggles to Protest
2011-01-31 Protests in Sudan
2011-01-31 Student in Sudan protests killed by police

Yemen February 3:

2011-02-01 Yemen's Day of Rage and Abdul Ilah Shayi
2011-01-29 Yemen: Day of Rage on February 3
2011-01-27 Tens of thousands rally in Yemen, demand change
2011-01-23 Middle East protest round-up: Yemen, Jordan, Algeria
2011-01-19 Self-immolation protest spreads to Yemen

Syria February 5:

2011-01-31 US state cables on Syria
2011-01-31 Syria: Day of Rage on February 5
2011-01-28 Cable: The Amir of Qatar discusses Syria, Egypt, and Iran
2011-01-28 Cable: Mubarak discusses Iran and a "split" within Arab ranks
2011-01-28 Cable: Qatar on the Israeli-Palestine talks, Egypt and Iran
2011-01-24 Self-immolation "infection" spreads to Syria
2011-01-16 Syria, Jordan and Algeria Respond to Protest Threat

Algeria February 12:

2011-01-27 Algerians plan big protest rally for February 9
2011-01-23 Middle East protest round-up: Yemen, Jordan, Algeria
2011-01-19 Unrest in Arab States [Update 1]
2011-01-16 Syria, Jordan and Algeria Respond to Protest Threat
2011-01-16 Protests in Algeria

Bahrain February 14:

Libya February 17:

2011-01-31 Cables: Libya threatened to seize assets of Petro-Canada
2011-01-27 Libya is in revolt as Gaddafi worries
2011-01-19 Unrest in Arab States [Update 1]
2011-01-16 Early reports of unrest in Libya [UPDATE 1]

2011-02-01 Jordan's King Sacks Government as Protests Grow
2011-01-28 In Jordan Thousands Demand New Government
2011-01-23 Middle East protest round-up: Yemen, Jordan, Algeria
2011-01-16 Syria, Jordan and Algeria Respond to Protest Threat
2011-01-01 Wikileaks in the Jordan Media - Arabic Cable Translations

Saudi Arabia
2011-02-02 Will Saudi Arabia protest?
2011-01-28 Cable: Mubarak discusses Iran and a "split" within Arab ranks
2011-01-19 Unrest in Arab States [Update 1]
2011-01-02 Saudi Arabia Regulates internet publishing

2011-02-02 Food Crisis in Egypt

Analysts are warning of a food crisis in Egypt. Stratfor reports that, in the best-case scenario, the country has less than 40 days demand left.

  • Year round irrigation channels that crisscross the Nile valley and delta "massively restrict the movements of trucks that could...distribute wheat. Egypt has hardwired into its infrastructure literally hundreds of thousands of potential supply disruptions." (Source: Stratfor)
  • Egypt imports roughly 60 percent of its wheat needs. (Source: Stratfor) Egypt is the worlds largest importer of wheat. (Source: Slate)
  • Egypt's one port, Alexandria handles 80 percent of Egypt’s incoming and outgoing cargo. "The ongoing protests in Egypt have encouraged most of the workers at the Alexandria port to skip work. The port is not officially closed, but current reports indicate that no workers are available to either load or unload cargo." (Source: Stratfor)
  • Egypt claims to have grain reserves equal to 5.6 million metric tons (mmt), or enough grain to feed the country for 112 days. But according to analysts, this figure includes grain that has been purchased, but is not yet in the country. Combined with distribution challenges and loss of port, problems are compounded. (Source: Stratfor)

    In researching this, STRATFOR discovered that the Egyptian government has some 350,000 metric tons of storage capacity in port silos, 250,000 metric tons at inland silos, another 400,000 metric tons in open storage scattered around the country, and some 500,000 metric tons in various forms of private storage. Egypt is attempting to build out this storage and has so far constructed another 14 silo facilities with about 30,000 metric tons each. If we combine all of this capacity and assume they are all completely full, it only totals 1.9 mmt, or less than 40 days of demand. (Source: Stratfor)
  • Rising Food Costs Make Egypt Particularly Vulnerable

    There has also been a huge run-up in food costs in recent months. Food prices in Egypt rose 17 per cent last year, according to Market Watch. A Credit Suisse survey reports that food inflation in the country has actually reached over 20 per cent, and is amongst the highest rates globally. Egyptians spend more on food each month than any other emerging nation, roughly 40 per cent. (Source: Slate)

    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that "the worldwide food price index is at an all-time high—surpassing its 2008 peak, when skyrocketing costs caused global rioting and pushed as many as 64 million people into poverty. The price of oils, sugar, and cereals have all recently hit new peaks—and those latter prices are especially troubling for Egypt, as the world's biggest importer of wheat." (Source: Slate)

    Moreover the threat of instability has pushed the cost of food up even more in the Egyptian capital and elsewhere. (Source: Slate)

    The Wall Street Journal reports that high food and commodity prices are partly a result of rising demand, but also reflect the vast amount of capital "pumped into markets in response to the global economic crisis, most notably the U.S. Federal Reserve, weakening the dollar "while at the same time driving up the price of dollar-denominated assets, including agricultural commodities such as corn and wheat which have doubled in seven months."

    Egyptian Demographics and Autocracy

    Egypt's population is 81 million at present, and growing at 2 per cent a year. "By 2025, its population could reach 104 million, and by 2050 it population could be close to 140 million, an increase of 70 percent." (Source: Huffington Post)

    Market Watch reports that "In the absence of political freedom, no one is effectively fighting the government’s cultivation of a gigantic public sector, where hidden unemployment is glaring, average pay is hardly $20 a week, and overall payroll and benefits gobble some 40% of GDP."

    Public education is substandard, so that the "consequent shortage of skilled workers has made industrialization even more difficult than it already is due to corruption." In fact one in three of the 700,000 university graduates can expect to find a job, while the bulk of U.S. aid goes to the military. "Egypt’s squandering of its limited resources on an immense army is even less economically justified than the Soviet Union’s was in its time." (Source: Market Watch)

    Egyptian Food Crisis In the News:

    Epoch Times: Bankers and Speculators Helped Create Egyptian Crisis

    Scientific America: Are high food prices fueling revolution in Egypt?

    NPR: Protests and the Price of Bread

    WSJ: The Politics of Food Prices in Egypt

2011-02-02 Julian Assange awarded Sydney Peace Medal

The Sydney Peace Foundation has announced that it will award a rare gold medal to WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange for his work on behalf of peace and justice worldwide. The Peace Medal, distinct from the foundation's annual Peace Prize, has been awarded to only three other individuals: the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, and Japanese lay Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda.

Foundation director Stuart Rees said today:

"Peace from our point of view is really about justice, fairness and the attainment of human rights. ... Assange has championed people's right to know and has challenged the centuries-old tradition that governments are entitled to keep the public in a state of ignorance."

Prof Rees said Mr Assange's work was in the tradition of Tom Paine's Rights of Man and Daniel Ellsberg's Pentagon Papers - "challenging the old order of power in politics and in journalism".

"In the Paine, Ellsberg and Assange cases, those in power moved quickly to silence their critics even by perverting the course of justice."

Mr Assange has been informed of the award and said it would be an "enormous pleasure and honour" to receive it.

The Sydney Peace Foundation is a non-profit organization set up within the University of Sydney in 1998.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

2011-02-02 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Telegraph: Iran's missile launchers towed by Peugeots

"Family cars made by Fiat, Peugeot and Renault are being used as missile platforms by the Iranian armed forces because of their difficulty obtaining proper military vehicles, leaked cables show."

Read more

The Telegraph: US vs China in battle of the anti-satellite space weapons

"On the night of Feb 20, 2008, Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, was on a plane to Hawaii when his telephone rang."

Read more

The Telegraph: The race to take control of space

"The race to take control of space raged throughout much of the cold war and has previously been dominated by the Americans."

Read more

The Telegraph: US and China in military standoff over space missiles

"The United States threatened to take military action against China during a secret "star wars" arms race within the past few years, according to leaked documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph."

Read more

The Telegraph: Timeline of the space race

"The US and China are locked in a bitter battle to assert their power in space, leaked diplomatic cables have disclosed. Here is a timeline of the space race."

Read more

The Telegraph: WikiLeaks: tension in the Middle East and Asia has 'direct potential' to lead to nuclear war

"Tension in the Middle East and Asia has given rise to an escalating atomic arms and missiles race which has “the direct potential to lead to nuclear war,” leaked diplomatic documents disclose."

Read more

The Telegraph: Libyans met minister days before bomber's cancer was confirmed

"A Foreign Office minister secretly met his Libyan counterpart to discuss the release of the jailed Lockerbie bomber days before it was confirmed that the terrorist had cancer, government documents show."

Read more

The Telegraph: Al-Qaeda 'is planning a dirty bomb'

"Al-Qaeda is actively tring to secure nuclear material and recruiting rogue scientists to build a radioactive "dirty" bomb, according to leaked diplomatic documents."

Read more

The Telegraph: Did al-Qaeda plot fifth attack on 9/11?

"A group of Qataris suspected of conducting surveillance on the targets of 9/11, and providing "support" to the plotters of the atrocities, were due to fly to Washington on the eve of the attacks, the Daily Telegraph can reveal."

Read more

The Telegraph: What the cables said about the 9/11 Qatari gang

"WikiLeaks cables reveal that the FBI has launched a manhunt for a Qatari gang suspected to be part of the 9/11 attacks."

Read more

The Telegraph: Qatar's moderate reputation hit by 9/11 link

"The revelation that a group of potential 9/11 plotters came from Qatar will come as a blow to the country’s wealthy royal rulers, who have been at pains to portray the oil-rich emirate as a beacon of stability and moderation in a volatile region."

Read more

The Telegraph: Gordon Brown ordered Pakistani president to kill Osama bin Laden

"Gordon Brown was apparently convinced that Osama bin Laden was alive and hiding in Pakistan and ordered the country’s president to have him killed, leaked diplomatic dispatches disclose."

Read more

The Telegraph: Uranium bricks and radioactive trains among nuclear terror scares

"American officials around the world are locked in a constant race to stop terrorists and rogue states from obtaining nuclear, biological and chemical materials which could be used to construct a “dirty bomb”."

Read more

The Telegraph: Terrorists 'plan to use teddy bear bombs to blow up planes'

"Terrorists are planning to use children’s toys such as teddy bears to get bombs onto planes, according to leaked diplomatic dispatches."

Read more

Aftenposten: Security Environment Profile Questionnaire (SEPQ) for Cairo and Alexandria (SEPQ) Spring 2009

"The following are Post´s Security Environment Profile Questionnaire (SEPQ) responses for Cairo and Alexandria:"

Read cable

Aftenposten: Tunis Security Environment Profile Questionnaire (SEPQ) Spring 2009

"The following are Post´s Security Environment Profile Questionnaire (SEPQ) responses for Tunisia:"

Read cable

Aftenposten: Algiers Security Environment Profile Questionnaire

"The following are Post´s Security Environment Profile Questionnaire (SEPQ) responses for Algeria:"

Read cable

Aftenposten: King, Queen and Foreign Minister Meet with Senate Staffers

"A Government of Jordan-sponsored U.S. Senate staff delegation accompanied by Ambassador Hale met March 23 with King Abdullah. The King focused on Iran,s role in Iraq, Hamas,s electoral victory, and Syria. The King appreciated Capitol Hill support, but stressed Jordan will need continued help to face regional challenges."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Scenesetter for King Abdullah´s Visit to the U.S.

"King Abdullah is extremely pleased to be the first Arab leader to meet with the President in Washington. He wants to show his skeptical public and the wider Arab street that his moderate approach gains him access to (and, he hopes, influence with) the White House. The visit also enhances his standing among his fractious peers. Jordanians question, however, whether the necessary pressure will be exerted on Israel to bring about a two-state solution. The King has high expectations that he will come home with tangible evidence."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Jordan: Scenesetter for Visit of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

"Jordan is increasing its contributions in Afghanistan and to regional security efforts, reaching out to Syria to provide an alternative to Iranian influence, and maintaining its focus on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The King is able to carry out this ambitious regional agenda with the support of USG financial assistance. In FY09, Jordan received USD 547 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF) and USD 335 million in Foreign Military Finance Funds (FMF), plus USD 150 million forward-funded with FY10 FMF funds. Looking forward, Jordan hopes Iraq will be able to function as a secure and stable Arab partner in the region, but Jordan is also disappointed by our decision not to leave behind or store military equipment from the redeployment from Iraq through Jordan."

Read cable

Aftenposten: As Jordan´s Government Fades, Reform Hangs in the Balance

"The end may be near for the Dahabi government. After two years in office, its inability to advance a coherent political agenda with parliament and the public at large has led to the increasing sense among our contacts that a change is forthcoming. It is less clear, however, what form that change will take. Talk at the highest levels about a potential dissolution of parliament adds to the uncertain atmosphere. What is clear is that reform as envisioned in the 2006 National Agenda is at a standstill, with the Dahabi government failing to advance almost every tenet of the royally endorsed plan. The decision on the road ahead ultimately rests with the King, who has given almost no indication of which way he is leaning."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Jordan: PM Resigns, New Government to be Formed

"Nader al-Dahabi resigned as Prime Minister today, and Samir Zayd al-Rifa´i, son of Upper House Speaker Zayd al-Rifa´i, is to take his place. The King privately cited corruption within the previous government and the delay in parliamentary elections as reasons for the timing of the announcement. While the end of Dahabi´s government is not a surprise, initial reactions to the appointment of Rifa´i as Prime Minister have been mixed at best. This change in government has been long anticipated, but it remains to be seen whether a new Cabinet--still unconfirmed--will prove itself to be more competent in its reform efforts than its predecessor."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Jordan: King Tasks New Premier With Reform, Teamwork

"King Abdullah´s letter of designation to Prime Minister Samir al-Rifa´i on December 9 told the new premier to form a Cabinet that will have a clear plan for continuing and implementing reform efforts, and emphasized that teamwork and transparency are essential for reforms to move forward. The letter also stated that the new parliament is to be elected and convened "no later than the last quarter of 2010." As in designation letters past, the King touched on the economy and reiterated Jordanian foreign policy goals. Abdullah throughout the letter appears preoccupied with preventing corruption in the new government, probably reflecting his view that the previous Cabinet was undermined by corruption as well as its own internal stalemate on reform legislation. With Cabinet minister appointments looming, parliamentary elections anticipated, and talk of real political change in the air, the King appears to be angling for the right combination of factors to mold Jordan´s political infrastructure into a better-functioning political system."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Jordan: Court Ruling Threatens Freedom of Expression/Press

"Journalists and non-governmental organizations are up in arms about a ruling by Jordan´s highest court subjecting online media to the country´s Press and Publications Law (PPL). Non-governmental organizations and journalists assert the government will use the ruling to curb the dozens of Jordanian news sites (and possibly blogs, Facebook, and Tweets) that write on "taboo" topics not covered elsewhere and encourage reader commentary. The Minister for Media Affairs publicly stated that the court´s decision was "precedent and "must be respected." The Chief of the Royal Court and the King´s media advisor told the Ambassador that the Court´s ruling was unwelcome and that the government planned to pass in the near future a criminal cyber security law based on international standards, as well as replace the PPL once a new elected Parliament was in place."

Read cable

El País: Las relaciones con Siria, un foco de tensión entre España y EE UU (The relations with Syria, a source of tension between Spain and the United States)

"Una escala técnica en Damasco del ministro español de Exteriores, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, el 7 de marzo de 2006, en la que se entrevistó con el ministro sirio de Exteriores, Walid Muallem, provocó el enfado de EE UU. (A technical stop in Damascus made by the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs in March 7th of 2006, in which Miguel Ángel Moratinos met with the Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Walid Muallem, upset the United States)"

Read more (Spanish)

2011-02-02 WikiLeaks nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Snorre Valen, a member of the Norwegian parliament, has nominated WikiLeaks for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

In motivating his nomination, Mr Valen writes:

... many seek to redraw the map of information freedom with the emergence of institutions like Wikileaks. Political powers and institutions that ordinarily protect freedom of speech suddenly warn against the danger, the threat to security, yes even the “terrorism” that Wikileaks represent. In doing so, they fail in upholding democratic values and human rights. In fact, they contribute to the opposite. It is not, and should never be, the privilege of politicians to regulate which crimes the public should never be told about, and through which media those crimes become known.

Liu Xiabao was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his struggle for human rights, democracy and freedom of speech in China. Likewise: Wikileaks have contributed to the struggle for those very values globally, by exposing (among many other things) corruption, war crimes and torture – some times even conducted by allies of Norway. And most recently: By disclosing the economic arrangements by the presidential family in Tunisia, Wikileaks have made a small contribution to bringing down a 24-year-lasting dictatorship.

The Peace Prize winner will be announced in October. Unlike the other Nobel prizes, the Peace Prize is administered in Norway rather than in Sweden and is presented in a ceremony in Oslo each December in the presence of the king of Norway.

See also The Swedish Wire and The Register.

2011-02-02 Will Saudi Arabia protest?

ImageKing Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who has provided a new home for ex-Tunisian president Ben Ali, has been calling Egyptian protesters "infiltrators" who seek to destabilize their country, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi King Abdullah called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and "was reassured". "During the call, the king said, 'Egypt is a country of Arabism and Islam. No Arab and Muslim human being can bear that some infiltrators, in the name of freedom of expression, have infiltrated into the brotherly people of Egypt, to destabilize its security and stability and they have been exploited to spew out their hatred in destruction, intimidation, burning, looting and inciting a malicious sedition.'".

Saudi Arabia "strongly condemns" the protest. Whether Saudi Arabia is itself at risk of revolution or mass protests remains to be seen. On November 13, the Saudi Arabian government declared that facebook had "crossed a line" and restricted access to their approximately 27 million people for a few hours, on morality grounds. It would be unlikely that the Saudi government would tolerate mass protest organizing on social media. But there was reportedly a recent protest below, a very rare event, that may be either an anomaly or a precedent.

Protest in Jeddah, Saudi arabia against govt corruption via @_x4o and @_ummah

Video description: This is rare protest footage of a procession held in Jeddah, Saudi arabia, with protestors chanting Allahuakbar and other islamic invocations over the government's corruption generally and general handling of the 2011 January Jeddah floods. From an arabic website, this video was described as being footage of not just anger about these floods specifically, but more generally government malfeasance. This is VERY VERY rare in saudi arabia, and seldom do people protest against the government in any way shape or form. It is also said to be driven in part by what has happened in Tunisia and Egypt.

2011-02-03 Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More!

‘The chant is يسقط يسقط حسني مبارك – Tell the world he is killing us’

As the Sun rises in Cairo on the tenth day of the Egyptian uprising, the protesters opposed to the government of Hosni Mubarak still hold Tahrir Liberation Square. They still hold it in spite of a night of horrific violence by pro-Mubarak thugs that attacked the peaceful protesters with machine guns, other guns and fire bombs. Overwhelming evidence is already mounting that this murderous gang was composed of police in plain clothes, NDP functionaries and loyalist and hired thugs. The army, which in previous days made sure all the protesters that entered the square were unarmed, stood by and did nothing while the assault took place.

The goal of the thugs was to drive the protesters from the square. In this they were not successful.

The price these freedom fighters, men, women and children, have paid so far is high. As I write this, the number of dead is being put at 5, but since over 800 are reported injured, the number of deaths is likely to rise. One witness said she saw seven bodies.

But they held! They held that now bloody ground which is the symbol of their fight against a tyrant and now a beacon for the liberation of all humanity.

When night falls, the thugs will strike again.

Unless while the Sun is still shining on Cairo, the pressure of the people of the world can be brought to bear to make Mubarak call off his thugs. The U.S. bankrolls the Egyptian military to the tune of $1.3 billion USD a year. President Obama can make him call off the thugs so pressure should be put on him too.

You should make it your mission for the next 24 hours to make sure your voice is heard and tell

Mubarak, Call Off Your Thugs!

Here is one thing you can easily do for starters. Sign this petition and retweeted it to tell President Obama "to Stop all Aid to the Mubarak Regime and Condemn its Violence"

Campaigns and protests will be forming up shortly so stay tuned.
Tahrir Square ميدان التحرير

Further proof of Mubarak's involvement with the thugs:

Police offered me money to join pro Mubarak Protests

To be honest, I want to tell you something. I am unemployed, and I have a relative who works with the police who offered me money to join the pro-Mubarak protests. Frankly, I took the money and went and I know that they are all police men or those who are benefitting from the National Party, and who want the regime to stay in power. I want to let you in on the secret: they are giving money to police or to soldiers and asking them to demonstrate for Mubarak, and to bring anyone else they know so that it appears that Mubarak has lots of supporters. To be honest, I am ashamed of myself, and I feel that this a huge betrayal of the nation. I took the money and went with them and demonstrated with them and I was not proud of myself. I support the Egyptian people, and god willing the Egyptian people will be victorious.

From Zaid Saleh on Twitter: from Tahrir sq..the confession of some who have been arrested from the horse & camel riders, they are hired through KAMAL ALJABRI-from the parliment from Alsaman area. Please pass.

2011-02-03 Algerians plan Feb 12 protest against 19- year-long state of emergency

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika promised through official APS news agency that he would lift the state of emergency which has been in force for the last 19 years in Algeria "in the very near future," Government opponents, who have been inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have been pushing for its end. The promise to lift the banned on public demonstrations is seen as a bid stave off unrest.

Opposition groups in Algeria are calling a major protest on February 12 and they have recently made repeal of the emergency powers one of their main demands. As the anti-government forces in Tunisia have given an example, hundreds have been willing to publicly protest the ban on public gatherings in Algeria.

The state of emergency was imposed in 1990 after brutal fighting with Islamic fighters left tens of thousands dead but many people feel that the government's justification for holding such extraordinary powers has long pasted.

According to France24 Bouteflika told a meeting of ministers:

"In order to stop any unfounded speculation on this subject, I ordered the government to immediately draw up appropriate provisions which will allow the state to continue the fight against terrorism until its conclusion, and with the same effectiveness," the agency quoted him as saying.

Bouteflika said protest marches, banned under the state of emergency, would be permitted everywhere except the capital.

"The capital is an exception in this respect for well-known reasons of public order and certainly not in order to prevent any form of expression," he said.

Bouteflika also said the government should adopt new measures to promote job creation, and that Algerian television and radio, which are controlled by the state, should give airtime to all political parties, the official APS news agency reported.

Many rulers throughout North Africa and the Middle East are looking at the recent uprisings of the people in Tunisia and Egypt and taking steps to quiet the opposition in their countries. It remains to be seen if Bouteflika's promise will be kept.

And while the President has promised to lift the ban "in the very near future" the government warned on Wednesday that it would be in effect for the planned protest. The Washington Post reports:

Opposition leaders, human rights groups, unions, students and jobless workers are planning a march Feb. 12 in Algiers, the capital. They want the government to lift the state of emergency that has been in effect since 1992, end its ban on new political parties and generally be more transparent.

But Deputy Prime Minister Nouredine Yazid Zerhouni reminded organizers Wednesday that the march is "officially banned."

"Those who are calling for this march must take responsibility for damage or for things getting out of hand,"
Zerhouni told reporters, adding that the government had no plans to lift its state of emergency

So the stage is set for a revolutionary confrontation between the authoritarian Algeria government and it's freedom loving people on Feburary 12th.

A week ago we wrote of the Algerian opposition in:
2011-01-27 Algerians plan big protest rally for February 9

2011-02-03 Bradley Manning Support Network Continues to Call Attention to Manning's Detention

Today (Thursday, February 3) the Bradley Manning Support Network, an ad hoc, international grassroots effort to help Bradley Manning, the private accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, is holding a National White House Call-in Day. The group says it is holding the Call-in Day because the Obama Administration has pretended not to know anything about the case.

Kevin Zeese, a leader with the group, spoke to WL Central about Manning and the Call-in Day.

"The reason we decided to go to the White House is Robert Gibbs was asked about Manning at a press conference and gave a kind of we don't know anything about it answer," explained Zeese.

A press release for the Call-in Day suggests the White House has no concern for "Bradley Manning's extreme confinement conditions, or the fact that recent pre-approved visitors of Bradley's have been detained and interrogated by military police in order to block their scheduled visit."

Zeese described the work of the network, explaining it started shortly after Manning was arrested and then detained about eight months ago. The group's first task was to "raise money for his legal defense, and thanks to tens of thousands of donors" the group raised around $125,000. Manning was able to choose the military lawyer he wanted to represent him, David E. Coombs.

The group's next task was to "generate support for Manning: when his conditions of confinement came out, that became a key issue." It was an opportunity for the group to discuss his case and make people consider whether he was a patriot or a traitor.

Zeese suggested that the “necessity” defense, which came out of the Nuremberg Trials, could be part of his case. Following orders, since then, has been no excuse for being complicit in war crimes. Much of the network thinks Manning was a soldier in the military who saw war crimes being covered up, didn’t want to be accused of war crimes himself, and so decided to get information out to the public.

The support network’s advisory board includes: Medea Benjamin of Code Pink: Women for Peace; Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, board member for the National Whistleblower Center; Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower; Kathleen Gilberd, Co-Chair of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild; Mike Gravel, former United States Senator (D-AK); Kimber Heinz, War Resisters League; Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Member of the Icelandic Parliament; Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and activist; Michael Moore, documentary filmmaker, author and activist; Jose Vasquez, Iraq Veterans against the War and Ann Wright, US Army Colonel (retired).

It enjoys the support of professor Noam Chomsky, journalist Scott Horton, and, in addition to Code Pink, a number of other peace groups.

Photo by Bill Hughes

Toward the end of last year was when this movement around supporting Manning really began to develop. Letter writing, phone calling, demonstrating and petitioning all became tools for increasing the public's understanding of Manning's arrest and detention. And, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the group held one of their most successful demonstrations yet at Quantico Brig, the Marine base where he is being held.

Zeese recounted the demonstration saying supporters were told to stay off Marine property but went ahead and marched up to the entrance. They blocked the entrance for a few hours and slowed traffic. The group was very proud that they were able to take this stand, however, Zeese suggested it is exactly these demonstrations of support that are pushing military on the base to increase the strict conditions of Manning's detention. For example, after the demonstration on MLK Day, Manning was put on suicide watch, even though his psychiatrist said that was not necessary.

Many in the group find that Manning's act was intended to start a debate on US foreign policy. The group has raised the fact that Manning "did not sell the documents and make himself wealthy, he did not take the documents to Iran or China or another competitor of the US. He did not even conceive of doing these things. " Manning can only be alleged to have leaked the documents for no charge to the media, to WikiLeaks. And so, the group largely concludes that he wanted to draw attention to US foreign policy

Zeese illuminated how the contents of the WikiLeaks cables released thus far support the idea that Manning wanted more debate.

"WikiLeaks documents really lay out in the language of US diplomats how we are behaving like a rogue nation: that we bribe foreign officials, threaten foreign officials, we spy on foreign officials, that we work with dictators and loyalists unelected, that we work against democratically elected leaders in coups," explained Zeese. "Hillary Clinton's turned the State Department into a nest of spies. All of this has come out in these documents."

Zeese added, "The United States needs to debate that foreign policy and Bradley Manning if he did this is responsible for starting that debate. That's a patriotic act, trying to make us a better country."

On some of the news regarding Manning that has come out recently, Zeese said the stories on "mental health" should be regarded as a "counter-attack in the propaganda war." He suggested the stories are part of a "character assassination" campaign by the Department of Defense. On Manning possibly being a citizen in UK, he said the group is working with people in Wales (Manning’s mother lives in Wales). And, on reports of no link between Julian Assange and Manning, he said “that was very important” because “there were some early analysis of Manning's pre-trial punishment as really a way to get him to testify against Assange.”

Today, Thursday, February 3, the group hopes to build on all the work it has done so far by convincing a number of Americans to call the White House and indicate their concerns over the way Manning has been treated.

To participate in the Call-in Day, here is the call-in information:

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
White House switchboard: 202-456-1414
(or White House comments: 202-456-1111)

The Bradley Manning Support Network has posted some talking points worth raising when contacting the White House.

2011-02-03 Greg Mitchell on being held hostage by WikiLeaks—and revisiting 'Collateral Murder'

Greg Mitchell will be doing a book salon chat at Firedoglake at 3:30 PM ET this afternoon.

A little more than two months ago, as in some previous cases, Greg Mitchell started live-blogging when a major story broke. But a funny thing happened with WikiLeaks’ “Cablegate” release: The story, and the reader interest, did not go away after a couple of days—as the cables kept coming out, the controversies spread, and Julian Assange became a household name in America.

One week passed, then another. He started labeling it The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog and giving it a number, e.g. “Day 20.” Then “30.” Echoing the early days of Nightline during the Iran crisis in the late-1970s, He wrote that like America then he was being held “hostage.” When he hit day 50, he joked about topping Joe DiMaggio’s consecutive ‘hit” streak—and on day 57, passed it. Now it’s at Day 68 and counting.

On Friday, January 28, his book, The Age of WikiLeaks, was published.

Greg Mitchell has granted me permission to republish excerpts from his book to WL Central. Here is the first excerpt:

* * *

The first hint of what was to come came early in the year, when WikiLeaks at its Twitter feed made a public request for help in decrypting a video it described as “US bomb strikes on civilians.” For some reason, it suggested March 21 as a possible release date.

The organization, however, was scrambling for funds. Julian Assange, 38, had pleaded for donations so he could prepare what he described as hundreds of thousands of pages of documents relating to “corrupt banks, the U.S. detainee system, the Iraq war, China, the U.N,” and other topics.” A German foundation reportedly collected about $1 million for the WikiLeaks account, easing the way for a very busy 2010.

Intrigued by WikiLeaks’ activities, New Yorker writer Raffi Khatchadourian had e-mailed Assange, and then chatted with him on the the phone, establishing a certain level of trust. Assange mentioned the video, in somewhat vague terms. The writer knew it would make a splash if released. He’d wanted to write about WikiLeaks anyway and so, with an okay from his editor, he flew off to frigid Reykjavik, Iceland, in late March. Khatchadourian, author of The Kill Company (on Operation Iron Triangle in Iraq) and a profile of Adam Gadahn (an American who joined Al Qaeda), must have seemed to Assange like a good man for this job.

At a newly rented house soon dubbed the “bunker,” Khatchadourian found a team of half a dozen volunteers had joined the tall, silver-haired Assange, and were readying the release of the thirty-eight-minute cockpit video from Iraq, which they labeled Project B. Assange had told the owner of the house they were journalists covering the volcanic eruption then disrupting air travel in Europe. He had chosen Iceland for his secret task after spending time there helping to draft a law with strong free-speech provisions. Some people involved in that fight, including a member of parliament, Birgitta Jonsdottir, now were engaged with Project B.

Also involved was Rop Gonggrijp, a well-known Dutch hacker and businessman, who knew Assange well. As Khatchadourian described it in his lengthy New Yorker report two months later, Gonggrijp “became the unofficial manager and treasurer of Project B, advancing about ten thousand euros to WikiLeaks to finance it.”

The video, on a hard drive in the bunker, was still in the early stages of editing. Assange would not identify his source for the video, Khatchadourian later wrote, saying only that the person was unhappy about the helicopter attack in Iraq.

The writer captured Assange’s describing to his colleagues what was on the video: “In the first phase, you will see an attack that is based upon a mistake, but certainly a very careless mistake. In the second part, the attack is clearly murder, according to the definition of the average man. And in the third part, you will see the killing of innocent civilians in the course of soldiers going after a legitimate target.”

As days passed, Assange worked night and day, editing the footage and scrubbing any elements that might reveal the leaker, while trying to decide if he wanted to release the full video and/or a shorter version, with commentary, that would be more viewer-friendly. The video did not yet have a name. He considered Permission to Engage, before choosing Collateral Murder. The New Yorker writer quoted him telling Gonggrijp, “We want to knock out this ‘collateral damage’ euphemism, and so when anyone uses it they will think, ‘collateral murder.’ ”

Much time was spent analyzing the video for evidence of Iraqi targets carrying rocket propelled grenades or AK-47s. Assange spotted what seemed to be weapons but in most cases it was not conclusive. He had declined to ask military experts for advice, since they were “not terribly cooperative” when he told them it was for a WikiLeaks release.

Breaking the code of secrecy, Assange dispatched two Icelandic reporters to Baghdad to notify the families of those killed or injured in the attack, including the mother of a boy and a girl who had been sitting in a van driven to the scene by their father. Assange wanted to prepare the families for publicity but also to gain some telling details on what happened that day.

Assange made a frank admission to Khatchadourian. Yes, he tried to foster “harm-minimization” to individuals in his work but WikiLeaks could not spend all of its time checking every detail. He was aware that some leaks risked harming the innocent—“collateral damage, if you will”—and that one day WikiLeaks members might get “blood on our hands.“

Finally, Assange finished the edited version, at eighteen minutes, which covered the first two attacks. He also picked an opening quote, from Orwell: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.” The intro would also include information on the deaths of the two Reuters staffers and the Army’s investigation absolving crew members for that. It handled the delicate issue of guns on the ground by observing that “some of the men appear to have been armed [but] the behavior of nearly everyone was relaxed.”

In the bunker, Assange predicted: “The video shows what modern warfare has become and, I think, after seeing it, whenever people hear about a certain number of casualties that resulted during fighting with close air support, they will understand what is going on. The video also makes clear that civilians are listed as insurgents automatically, unless they are children, and that bystanders who are killed are not even mentioned.” 

Greg Mitchell's book is now updated in a 2nd edition. This is the only place it can be purchased for now, with no Amazon or store sales.   It sells for $11.95, and can be shipped all over the world. 

2011-02-03 Guardian and NY Times editors discuss WikiLeaks: livestreamed panel

This evening two of the editors who worked with WikiLeaks on the publication of the Afghan and Iraq war logs and the diplomatic cables, Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian and Bill Keller of the New York Times, will discuss their interactions with WikiLeaks on a panel hosted by the Columbia University Journalism School in New York City.

Jack Goldsmith, the former assistant attorney general who raised alarms within the US Department of Justice about DoJ legal opinions on torture and now a Harvard University law professor, will join the panel as discussant. The panel will be moderated by Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at CJS.

In a recent tweet, WikiLeaks referred to some members of the panel as its "detractors."

The panel will be livestreamed at the CJS site at 7 pm EST.

2011-02-03 Israel Shamir's Relationship with WikiLeaks?

Updated: See end of article.

The exact character of the relationship between Israel Shamir and WikiLeaks has been of much interest in recent weeks, given that Shamir himself is a person who has been associated with much controversy in the media. It has been assumed that, to the extent that WikiLeaks and Shamir are associated, controversy that applies to Shamir applies also to WikiLeaks. But this is not necessarily the case.

Certain accounts have alleged that Shamir is an "employee" of WikiLeaks - a claim that is almost certainly false (Edit: although, see the update, below). In fact, Shamir appears to have been on the payroll of the the various Russian and former Soviet publications for which he wrote, and on whose behalf he served as an "accredited journalist" - an individual whose job it was to access a specific set of cables, and to distribute them among newspapers of the former Soviet bloc.

While this relationship is official in character, it does not appear to have been unique, in that it is apparent that many individuals, all over the world, were given access to specific sets of cables, to convey those cables to media organizations in a particular geographic area.

Furthermore, given this relationship, it is doubtful whether the controversies purportedly associated with Israel Shamir thereby taint WikiLeaks in turn, no more than they would if a journalist working for The Guardian turned out to be mired in controversy. An association of this type does not constitute an endorsement of every belief or activity of that associate. And even assuming some negligence on the part of WikiLeaks in the accreditation of, for instance, a malpracticing journalist, that mistake does not constitute a wholesale indictment of WikiLeaks' project, but a regrettable indication that WikiLeaks had not been careful enough, and ought to improve in future.

What is Shamir's relationship with WikiLeaks?

On Friday 17th December 2010, Andrew Brown, the editor of The Guardian's Comment Is Free section on religious matters, posted to his a blog a collection of claims about WikiLeaks' connection to the controversial figure of Israel Shamir. Brown claimed that Shamir is "WikiLeaks's spokesperson and conduit in Russia." Shamir's apparent anti-semitism was dealt with in the last post in this series, but a question remains over Shamir's relationship with WikiLeaks. The connection is troubling, but the predominance of evidence on the matter has been foreign language news, and various blog posts which derive their evidence from a narrow resource of quotes. It is therefore necessary to assess the evidence in a comprehensive way.

Characterizations of Shamir's links with WikiLeaks have tended to exaggerate Shamir's affiliation with WikiLeaks.

Michael C. Moynihan, for instance, characterized Shamir as an "extremist employee" of WikiLeaks, and asked "Why is WikiLeaks employing a well-known Holocaust denier and his disgraced son?" The rest of this article is gravely irresponsible with the conclusions it draws from scant evidence.

But it has now been revealed that Israel Shamir, when he is not accusing Assange's accusers of setting CIA honey traps, works with WikiLeaks in an official capacity.

According to reports in the Swedish and Russian media, the broad strokes of which have been confirmed by a WikiLeaks spokesman, Shamir serves as the group's content aggregator in Russia, the man who "selects and distributes" the cables to Russian news organizations, according to an investigation by Swedish public radio. In the newspaper Expressen, Magnus Ljunggren, an emeritus professor of Russian literature at Gothenburg University, outlined Shamir's close ties to WikiLeaks and his position "spreading the documents in Russia." (The article is illustrated with a picture of Assange and Shamir in an unidentified office.)

During an appearance on Echo Moskvy radio, Yulia Latynina, a reporter at the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, wondered "What does it mean that Assange is allowing himself to be represented by an extremist?" Latynina also found that the Kremlin-friendly paper working with Shamir to promote the WikiLeaks material had already published "outright lies" Shamir claimed were supported by leaks...

Wahlström and Shamir, father and son, are the WikiLeaks representatives for two rather large geographic areas. According to Swedish Radio's investigation, Wahlström is the gatekeeper of the cables in Scandinavia, and "has the power to decide" which newspapers are provided access and what leaks they are allowed to see. (At the time of filing, Wahlström had yet to respond to an email request for comment.)

In Russia, the magazine Russian Reporter says that it has "privileged access" to the material through Shamir, who told a Moscow newspaper that he was "accredited" to work on behalf of WikiLeaks in Russia...

Strip away the caginess and the obfuscation-remember, no one is allowed secrets but WikiLeaks-and Hrafnsson, who took over spokesman duties when Assange was jailed last week, confirms that WikiLeaks chose Shamir to work with their Russian media partners. After its investigation, the Swedish Radio program Medierna concluded flatly that "Israel Shamir represents WikiLeaks in Russia."

A more cautious version appeared in Andrew Brown's blog post, recycling the same information:

From: 2010-12-17: The Guardian's Andrew Brown Blog: "WikiLeaks & Israel Shamir" by Andrew Brown

WikiLeaks's spokesperson and conduit in Russia has been exposed in the Swedish media as an anti-semite and Holocaust denier; his son, who represents the organisation in Sweden and is handing out stories to selected papers there, has been involved in an earlier scandal where a story he wrote about the supposed Israeli control of Swedish media was withdrawn after several of the people in it complained of being misquoted.

While this does not affect the credibility of the WikiLeaks revelations, it does raise uncomfortable questions for the whistleblowers' organisation....

...Aftonbladet is paying [Johannes Wahlstrom, Shamir's son] both as a researcher and a consultant, because he has exclusive access to the WikiLeaks cable dump in Sweden and is the gatekeeper who doles out stories to favoured media partners. This use of freelance journalists is the model used by WikiLeaks in countries where it does not have a large and established media partner like the Guardian or Der Spiegel.

The other recipients of Wahlström's stories are Uppdrag Granskning, a flagship current affairs programme on Swedish television, and Svenska Dagbladet, one of the main Stockholm newspapers (owned by the same concern as Aftonbladet)...

...[Shamir] also denied that he had any special connection with WikiLeaks, though the group's spokesman, Kristinn Hrafnsson, confirmed that he was their representative in Russia, just as his son is in Scandinavia. Expressen also published a photograph of him standing behind Julian Assange at a computer, published in the Russian paper, which has been reprinting the WikiLeaks cables he passed to them.

There is actually very little in the cited Expressen article that describes any substantive ties between Shamir himself and WikiLeaks. The "confirmation" that Shamir is an employee of WikiLeaks was the following fragment of an interview with Kristinn Hrafnsonn on Swedish Radio:

From: 2010-12-10: SverigesRadio: Bekräftat för Medierna: ökänd antisemit jobbar med WikiLeaks (Audio - Partially in English)

Swedish Radio: Israel Shamir...Are you aware of him? Do you know him?

Kristinn Hrafnsson: Yes. Yes, he is associated with us.

SR: So what is his role?

KH: Well, I mean, we have a lot of journalists that are working with us all around the world. And they have different roles in working on this project. I won't go into specifics into what each and everybody's role is.

SR: Are you aware of how controversial Israel Shamir is in an international context?

KH: There are a lot of controversial people around the world that are associated with us. I don't really see the point of the question.

SR: Are you aware of the allegations that he is an anti-Semite?

KH: I have heard those allegations...yes, yes. [Pause] What is the question really there?

SR: The question is, do you that that would [sic] be a problem?

KH: No, I'm not going to comment on that.

For Moynihan (with the help of the Swedish Radio presenters) Shamir went from a journalist "associated with WikiLeaks" to "an employee of WikiLeaks," and "WikiLeaks' representative." We then had from Harry's Place a series of claims of escalating hysteria that gave Shamir the role of "WikiLeaks gatekeeper". None of these terms are apparently accurate. Consider Shamir's comment in the same interview that he was not an employee of WikiLeaks:

From: 2010-12-10: SverigesRadio: Bekräftat för Medierna: ökänd antisemit jobbar med WikiLeaks (Audio - Partially in English)

Shamir: I am just a journalist who writes about WikiLeaks. That's it.

SR: Someone told me that you had been also taking part in some meetings with WikiLeaks about how to distribute this latest...

Shamir: No... No... Not that much. Not that much. I contacted them and they contacted me and I talked about them quite a lot, but it's not like I am a part of WikiLeaks. I am not.

WikiLeaks have been reported to have been unforthcoming on the exact nature of the relationship. The Guardian seems here to interpret Assange's rather guarded and noncommital statement very creatively, reading into it that Assange was "defending" Shamir:

From: The Guardian: Julian Assange: my fate will rest in Cameron's hands if US charges me

Assange defended one of WikiLeaks' collaborators, Israel Shamir, following claims Shamir passed sensitive cables to Belarus's dictator, Alexander Lukashenko. Lukashenko has arrested 600 opposition supporters and journalists since Sunday's presidential election. The whereabouts and fate of several of the president's high-profile opponents are unknown.

Of Shamir, Assange said: "WikiLeaks works with hundreds of journalists from different regions of the world. All are required to sign non-disclosure agreements and are generally only given limited review access to material relating to their region. We have no reason to believe these rumours in relation to Belarus are true."

In fact, Assange's comment above, about a non-disclosure legal agreement, and limited review access to regionally specific material, appears to correctly characterize Shamir's cable access. Shamir appears to be one of many freelance journalists who have been given regionally specific access to certain cables, under close review by Assange. There has been no indication that Shamir is an employee of WikiLeaks, that he is WikiLeaks' spokesperson to Russia, that he is their "gatekeeper," "content-aggregator" or "representative." What we have, in comments from Hrafnsson and Assange, is the impression that Shamir is just one of the many journalists who was given access to certain cables specific to his interest.

This relationship is not entirely out of kilter with the one Shamir himself appears to characterize. In one of his CounterPunch articles, published in the early days of CableGate, he gives the impression that he is merely one of many journalists given access to the documents.

From: Assange in the Entrails of Empire

The digital generation prefers the Matrix's Neo to Superman, but the dynamics remain the same. As Neo wanders Moebius' spaceship, he stumbles upon a group of down-to-earth, eager, sweet kids dedicated to the destruction of the Matrix. Hard as steel yet perfectly humane, these young men and women enjoy the camaraderie of an elite troop awaiting the signal to attack. They follow their leader simply because he is the best and the brightest. I felt this same esprit de corps on a recent visit to one of WikiLeaks' safe-houses somewhere in Europe. This confluence of hackers and journalists was assembled in preparation to launch what will be known to history as Cablegate, or perhaps Megaleaks. Here were Malena from Brazil, Joseph from Sweden, Sara from New Zealand, James from England, and numerous others no less important and valuable, all lounging on mats and sofas, laptops on laps and eyes peering into the heart of the Matrix.

In another CounterPunch piece, much more recently, he responds (rather polemically) to the rumours that he is an employee or representative of the organization, with the assurance that he is "just a friend." (Note: In his writing, Shamir very often appears to call those his friends towards whom he feels warm regard.)

From: 2011-01-05: The Secrets of WikiLeaks: Julian Assange's Deal With the Devil

The third piece was surprisingly an attempt to smear Assange by association with me.

This last attack was written by Andrew Brown has been described as "The Guardian's resident moron", and with good reason. I always enjoy discussing my views, though Brown completely missed the subtleties and nuances of my writings. Andrew Brown is a man who understands the public's need for screaming headlines. Now we are left with a lot of crazy bloggers who claim I am the Mossad's liaison to WikiLeaks and that WikiLeaks is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mossad.

I do not for a moment think that anybody sane takes these ridiculous accusations seriously - they are just more things to throw at Julian. I am not a member of WikiLeaks, not even a spokesman, just a friend. But even without me, Brown will still be able to attack Assange for quoting Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize winner and "notorious antisemite whose works are being published by a racist site." Quoting a popular blog, Brown "is beneath contempt, and, from now on, beneath notice". Still, the Guardian editors let him off his leash from time to time, to their eternal disgrace.

In the most recent article from Shamir, he has this to say:

From: 2011-02-01: Indicting the Messanger: BBC Joins Smear Campaign Against Assange and WikiLeaks

I have been mainly involved with the post-Soviet space, and from that vantge point I have delivered cables to very different media outlets, to the mainstream Russkiy Reporter, the mass-circulation Komsomolskaya Pravda, to the opposition Novaya Gazeta, to the Naviny, an independent site in Belarus because I did not like The Guardian's arrangement of keeping embedded media in full control. If it worked in the East, it may work in the West: we may free ourselves from their mind control.

Foreign Language Source Collection

To ascertain the precise role Shamir has played in the conveyance of cables to the Russian media, it is necessary to delve into the Russian and Eastern European press. A Moscow Times article has deputy editor of Russian Reporter, Vladimir Shpak, confirming that Shamir is involved somehow in their relationship with WikiLeaks, but claiming that he is not Russian Reporter's only conduit to WikiLeaks. We also learn, by quote from Shamir, that he is a "freelancer who is accredited to WikiLeaks." Russian Reporter (RusRep) was the first media organization in Russia to have exclusive access to Cablegate materials.

Moscow Times: Putin bristles over leaked US cables

Meanwhile, questions remain about the handling of the stories in national media. While WikiLeaks did not mention Russian outlets among the select media that were given early access to the cables, Russian Reporter magazine said Thursday that it did have privileged access. The magazine has been in close contact with Assange since this summer and had access to hundreds of cables containing Russia-related information, deputy editor Vladimir Shpak said.

Shpak refuted criticism that Russian Reporter, which belongs to the Kremlin-friendly Expert publishing group, was withholding material damning to the authorities. "You can read allegations arguing the exact opposite - that we just publish damning material - in the patriotic press," he said by phone.

The magazine has cooperated with Israel Shamir, a Russian-born Israeli journalist, on WikiLeaks. But Shpak denied that Shamir alone was responsible for the magazine's access to WikiLeaks. Shamir said by phone that he was a freelancer who was "accredited" to WikiLeaks. "This means I have working relations with them but does not mean going to the banya together," he said.

In this Radio Liberty interview with the editor of Russian Reporter, Vitaly Leiben, some details as to the manner in which Russian Reporter came by the cables are divulged. Leiben appears to imply that the newspaper had arranged with WikiLeaks that Shamir would conduct the cables of specific Russian interest to RusRep. Shamir was allowed select the cables under the supervision of Assange.

Discussion between the editor in chief of the Russian reporter and editor in chief of "Top Secret" on the interpretation of the new portions of compromising

"Russian Reporter" has the right to publish the "secret files" of WikiLeaks in Russia . Latest issue of the magazine came out with the first portion of the materials, which seemed the most interesting to editorial. About the details of this cooperation, talking editor in chief of Russian reporter Vitaly Leibin (full text of the discussion on this topic, held in The Hour Newspapers, read HERE "Press Hour " ).

Elena Rykovtseva: Sure, it looks strange and unusual, when for reprint materials from the site requires a partnership, authorization, agreement. Normally, it would seem, posted on the Internet - so everyone can publish. Suddenly, it turned out - not all. How did that happen? How to come to you? How did you negotiate? How did you sign a contract?

Vitaly Leiben: No contract, no. WikiLeaks and its founder and leader Julian Assange - is very informal person, as can be read in an interview in our magazine a couple of months ago. The fact is that before each new "release" Julian offers a variety of media (rather large number, many of whom refuse to, for example, in the U.S. at this time only the New York Times agreed, and The Wall Street Journal refused) to cooperate - to begin to research the documents and understand what is in them. Accordingly, for this cooperation, these partners have the "right of first night", they are the first to lay out some of its own information on this database.

ER: So he hires you as the experts?

VL: No. There probably is our gain. Rather well. To be correct, we're cooperating in quite the same way as The Guardian and The New York Times. Their staff, journalists sat and worked together with volunteers from WikiLeaks, collated over this vast database to find some intriguing things of their and their organizations' interest. We did not work with our staff but worked with freelance journalist Israel Shamir, whose main activity is as a WikiLeaks activist. The remaining conditions - are the same. We had to understand what is interesting for us to do journalistic work on - to select the most interesting and start gradually to publish it . The Afghan and Iraqi dossiers were published immediately after the first release in full. Now, for various reasons WikiLeaks' leadership decided not to do this. Julian explains this by saying - then the public only noticed and discussed the overall figures for civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, but did not discuss different parts of diplomacy and military policy. That simply got lost in the data stream. But now he believes that the documents are best published gradually, so that with each new topic people are able to discuss it fully. This gradual publication of the documents will go on until about January 17. But Julian has his own war. He struggles with a superpower. He has in mind not only the U.S., but in general the whole of secret diplomacy. He believes that the big policies are designed so that some people can secretly negotiate behind the backs of people. Here is what he is trying to destroy.

ER: So, they have a huge volume of documents, which they did not spread immediately. If I understand correctly that you first print and then they broadcast? For example, what you have today in the magazine, and what was on your website - this is on the site WikiLeaks?

VL: There are some of intersections, but the fact is that we as "Guardian", as The New York Times, worked with a large selection and chose what we were interested in. Of course, as it turned out, "The Guardian" is also interested in Russia. But initially they were more interested in Iraq.

ER: Yes, we've heard that they are particularly interested in Yuri Luzhkov.

VL: I have read this document. We will publish it soon. I didn't find it most interesting, simply because everything on Yuri Luzhkov is clear. But it is interesting that in February this year, the U.S. ambassador in Moscow understood that Luzhkov was close to retirement. He had a hypothesis, do not know true or not, this is due to Luzhkov's extensive criminal connections.

EL: What are you get for it? You pay them money?

VL: No. Not allowed to pay WiliLeaks, because it's volunteer organization. I think many people are paying. But this question is voluntary. We will pay a journalist who worked there for us, the fee for the work - but not the site WiliLeaks. A benefit of WiliLeaks is that was the greatest global impact. And when there is a little mystery, fight for it, to nip off pieces of information before all everyone will see it in his opinion, this will deploy a better public debate.

There is some more information on the relationship between Shamir, WikiLeaks and RusRep in the introduction to the WikiLeaks release, on RusRep's site.

From: RusRep on Cablegate, by Vitaly Leiben and Israel Shamir

On November 28, WikiLeaks has begun a partial publication of the unique collection of confidential and classified documents. That it is from this huge database of secret dispatches of the U.S. embassies may cause international scandal? "RR" is the first reported preliminary results of the analysis of materials and some scandalous facts for the Russian audience...

In order to ensure that the materials reach interested readers, the publication will be implemented in concert with the leading newspapers of the world; the main partner in Russia - "Russian Reporter". In addition, WikiLeaks has attracted several independent journalists from different countries: from Great Britain, USA., Sweden, Russia, France and Brazil. Their publications on the site WikiLeaks will complement the newspaper and magazine publications...

Head and founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange has hidden from persecution in northern Europe. Next to him is now a journalist Israel Shamir; thanks to his work "Russian reporter" gets preliminary materials before they become public...

"Russian Reporter" has been making itself familiar with the material from WikiLeaks since Friday. Mainly these documents relate to Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan and other countries.

In this Russian Reporter article, Shamir takes issue with the claims of Julia Latynina, some of which were published in this Moscow Times article.

Latynina, school yourself in the material

The ignorance of the material here, and the impact on other prisoners is fantastic. She wonders why magazine "PP" does not repeat the same materials, which were given to the Guardian and The New York Times. Why, instead of the story of the Saudi king who gave the materials to Russia? Is this the miscalculation of a journalist who did not pass important information? No, "RR" was closed on Monday, when it came out of the Guardian and The New York Times. This was justified by editorial decisions - the interesting reports about the Saudi King had been printed in newspapers, of carefully mapping the "Guardian", and dispatches from Russia to wait for the magazine in the world. In addition, they were more interesting for Russian readers.

Pure fiction and the description of the activities of journalists working with WikiLeaks: "all the journalists came from around the world, got into the room where they locked up the key and watched the papers, - 250,000 of these cablegram. And indeed, apparently, in this room were only those people who Assange trusts." Latynina would have to estimate - how much space and time would be needed to work this way? Doubtless many years and hundreds of rooms. Of course, nothing like that happened. It is, without checking, voiced somebody distorted information.

In the transcript of an interview with Shamir in Zavtra Shamir mentions that he had access to Estonian documents, that documents were provided by him "on behalf" of Assange. We also learn that he was initially contacted by Assange in an email, in which he was given an offer to "represent" WikiLeaks in countries within the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Zavtra: Round table in the wording of "Tomorrow"

Israel Shamir: I, for instance, now sit and deal with Estonian documents. They are very interesting, and I interpret them in a certain way. I see that the Dispatch fully confirms Russia's position in Estonia...

ALEXANDER NAGORNO: Israel, you are so confident talking about it, as if specially want to disclose the source of possible leaks or, conversely, trying to disguise it, pointing to a false target.

IS: I speak only about their own impressions of working with documents provided by me on behalf of Julian Assange. They, in my opinion, there is a very strong Middle Eastern accent.

AN: Israel, as well as the general did your collaboration and friendship with Assange - of course, if all of us here, this is an appropriate security clearance?

IS: In my opinion, Julian Assange - all unique and wonderful man, with a minimum of some personal needs and requirements. Sleeps anywhere, eat that give ... indifferent to money. And with his understanding of justice. But he has a bright idea that he is as far as possible trying to implement. And not for the fame, power or money. He wants, rather, something to give to the world than to take something from the world. And these people now, in our severe time not so very much ... And our collaboration began with what he sent me an email, in which he proposed to consult the WikiLeaks. Of course I said yes. Then, in the course of our correspondence, received an offer to represent WikiLeaks in CIS countries. I thought this offer very interesting, and I accepted it. Now every day becomes more interesting and fun ...

We learn in the Belarussian publication Interfax that he is "known as the only Russian accredited journalist at WikiLeaks." We also learn the apparently conflicting information that Assange "called" Shamir.

From: Interfax: "The Belarusian dossier" and other secrets WikiLeaks disclosed in Minsk

INTERFAX: You are known as the only Russian accredited journalist at WikiLeaks, a confidant of site creator Julian Assange. I would like to hear your opinion about the goals of the site, for which it was created, because now a lot of controversy surrounds WikiLeaks.

Israel Shamir: The site was created by Julian himself. He is a totally unique person - one such person in the world is not enough. It has clear guidelines on the light, the transparency, the fact that people know what is happening, what the authorities do. To avoid the conspiracy behind the people. In my opinion, it's great, and healthy.

INTERFAX: And how did you meet?

IS: He... called me one day, a few years ago.

INTERFAX: He came in contact with you?

IS: Yes. He is very apt to show the initiative ...

INTERFAX: Judging by the website, yes.

IS: He was a wonderful person. What he did - he has opened for us to create and have a complete picture of U.S. policy, as they try to influence the world to create their pockets of influence - it is amazing.

To conclude on Scandinavian sources, in this Journalisten (Norway) interview with Johannes Wahlstrom, we learn that the relationship Wahlstrom bears to WikiLeaks is apparently analogous to that of Shamir, in that he has access to a restricted set of cables relevant to the region in which he is operating:

The 29-year-old repeats that he has had access to 'Cablegate', which the diplomatic records are also called. This he told Morgenbladet before Christmas. His agreement with Assange concerned, however, only those reports from the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, and materials directly related to these. Neither Svenska Dagbladet nor Aftonbladet has apparently seen the rest of the leak, as has the SVT and VG.

From: Journalisten: Do not Aftenposten

In an interview with a former WikiLeaks volunteer, Herbert Snorrason, who acrimoniously left WikiLeaks to join Daniel Domscheit-Berg's OpenLeaks project, insinuates that WikiLeaks no longer can claim to exercise stringent control over Cablegate materials. The conclusion that WikiLeaks does not maintain full control of its materials ought to come as no surprise, since it released the full quantity of cables to five newspapers. Some views on, for instance, the Aftenposten leak are explored in the Journalisten article above.

From: 2010-12-10: SverigesRadio: Bekräftat för Medierna: ökänd antisemit jobbar med WikiLeaks (Audio - Partially in English)

[first excerpt]

Swedish Radio: Would you say that WikiLeaks today is in full control of the unpublished parts of the diplomatic leak?

Herbert Snorrason: I... doubt it very much.

SR: Why?

HS: Because... both because they have been spreading information to... various parties... which obviously they... can never have full control over.

SR: Meaning media companies or something else?

HS: Meaning, uh... primarily media companies, I believe... but in part, there is also the issue of... um... ... ... some people... within the organiz... or who previously were within the organization who may have gotten copies of these documents.

[later excerpt]

HS: This is an indication that... something is not... entirely... working right.

SR: Is this the ?bladet example?

HS: Well... they are the most obvious case but there have been other... news organizations publishing... stories.... on this content... without... well, without... that... story... having been broken anywhere else, so... ... ... It seems that a number of news organizations in Iceland... have... somehow... obtained access to this information.

[later exerpt]

HS: In that sense... of being... not engaged in any... issue of the day, politics... but rather focusing on the long term... I believe it is very important for WikiLeaks to stay... apolitical.

Finally, in a portion of the Swedish Radio interview with Hrafnsson that was not transcribed and printed by, the interviewer probes Hrafnsson on doubts raised by Snorrason, and receives a rather vague, but unsurprising response.

From: 2010-12-10: SverigesRadio: Bekräftat för Medierna: ökänd antisemit jobbar med WikiLeaks (Audio - Partially in English)

KH: Do we have full control over the material?

SR: Yes. The documents.

KH: Yes.

SR: Because we heard that Aftonbladet got it against your will?

KH: I guess that is... not an accurate description of it.

SR: So that is not true?

KH: Uh, that is not an accurate description of of it, no.

SR: What would be an accurate description of it then?

KH: ... ... ... Well, maybe the fact of the matter is that we intend distribution at regional levels to many media organizations in each country, that is probably going to be happening in Sweden as well, as well as in other countries, so there are different processes in different countries, without going into that in detail.

It has to be remarked that on the date of the SverigesRadio programme, Julian Assange had been in prison for 3 days. It remains possible that Hrafnsson's evasiveness indicates not that he is witholding information, but that he doesn't actually have it.

There remains confusion about the precise nature of Shamir's relationship to WikiLeaks, but from the predominance of (sometimes contradictory) information it is unlikely that he is an employee of WikiLeaks, and equally unlikely that he is an officially sanctioned spokesperson. On the basis of the above sources it is likely that as an "accredited journalist," he, similarly to many journalists from around the world, was enjoined to sign a non-disclosure agreement with WikiLeaks, and allowed access to a select and limited number of cables specific to the Commonwealth of Independent States, which he was non-exclusively permitted to distribute to publications in that area, while perhaps being enjoined to allow Russian Reporter a lead in publication. It appears likely that he acted on behalf of those publications in some cases, and carried out some writing for them.

It is important not to exaggerate the relationship unless substantiating evidence is provided. The nominal relationship here described may yet be seen as justifying criticism of WikiLeaks. Given the controversy around Shamir's person, it may have been unwise to identify him as a trustworthy journalist, or to appear to endorse him. There may in fact be grounds for criticism of WikiLeaks, if that organization failed to adequately vet the individuals they selected to allow access to. That criticism, however, must take account of, and be proportional to, the facts.

There are, for instance, worries that Shamir has been misrepresenting the content of cables, and using them to influence the government in Belarus. These are indeed worries, but should they happen to be true, the relationship between WikiLeaks and Shamir, characterized above, does not warrant the wholesale villainization of WikiLeaks, nor does it warrant the "credible allegation" that "WikiLeaks actively collaborated" with anyone, as certain people have been only too willing to assert. To date, the best sources on the matter indicate that that relationship is not such as would vindicate allegations of vicarious liability.

Update: A Guardian article has been brought to my attention which appears to expand on the information above, and contradict some of it. Shamir appears still to have had limited access to cables, but appears to have - on the apparent testimony of a WikiLeaks staffer in Ellingham Hall - invoiced WikiLeaks for a sum of money for having "read and analysed" the Moscow cables.

(2011-03-01, 23:12 GMT) Update 2: Following on from a developing controversy about the Israel Shamir story, covered here, WikiLeaks released a clarificatory press statement on its relationship with WikiLeaks. The statement is straightforward and direct, and directly contradicts some of the information that has been treated as fact by the mainstream press. The statement is covered here.

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2011-02-03 Marietje Schaake on the situation in Tunisia and Egypt

On February 3, 2011, Marietje Schaake addressed the EU parliament on the situation in the Mediterranean, in particular in Tunisia and Egypt. Schaake also called for an investigation into any corporations that might have facilitated the human rights abuses.

Video of her address:

2011-02-03 Shamir & The Guardian, Part 1: Astana & Tashkent Cables

Observations about the cables referred to in Israel's Shamir's recent CounterPunch article, Redacting Corruption: The Guardian's Political Censorship of Wikileaks raised some controversies about Shamir's legitimacy as a publisher of Wikileaks' cables. Shamir criticized The Guardian for redacting cables for political reasons, and published unredacted versions of those cables to support his case. The unredacted cables he published appeared to have slight disparities, raising the possibility, for some, that Shamir may have "gone rogue" - publishing unredacted versions of cables without prior authorization by Wikileaks, or even doctoring cables.

A close examination of the cables in question reveals most of these claims as idle speculation. It is highly unlikely that his recent article betrays journalistic foulplay of the sort alleged.

Shamir's article deals with three cables, 10ASTANA72, 06TASHKENT465 and 06TASHKENT902. The article provides links (here and here) to self-published and unredacted versions of the Tashkent cables, and reveals the passages that were redacted in the Astana cable. At the time of the publication of Shamir's article (11th, January, 2011) neither Tashkent cable had been yet released on Wikileaks site. Furthermore, the version of the 10ASTANA72 cable on Wikileaks' site was the redacted version released by The Guardian.

The "cablegate-201012200724.7z.torrent" from Jan 08th is available here, which contains the cables as they were on the date of the publication of Shamir's article. This confirms that the above details.

However, the Wikileaks site has since been updated (on January 13th. 10ASTANA72 cable is now displayed in its unredacted form. Both 06TASHKENT465 and 06TASHKENT902 have been released too, mostly unredacted.

The release of unredacted cables by Shamir, led to some speculation by bloggers, such as Neal Ungerleider, and saw headlines such as "Unredacted Wikileaks Cables Leaked to Internet," where the reader is asked to believe that it is apparently newsworthy that one news source chose to publish cables in a less redacted fashion than another one. Shamir was reputed to have been "doing an end-run" around Wikileaks, violating "internal Wikileaks decisions to censor" cables:

From: Unredacted WikiLeaks Cables Leaked to Internet, by Neal Ungerleider

One of the uncensored WikiLeaks cables he posted to CounterPunch, ASTANA 72, also appears in censored form on the WikiLeaks website itself. Two other cables posted by Shamir, TASHKENT 465 and TASHKENT 902, do not appear on the WikiLeaks website as of January 12, 2011. 902 was published as an extremely limited excerpt on The Guardian's website and 465 is not even labeled by its number. In all three cases, it appears Shamir violated an internal WikiLeaks decision to censor a cable in one case and embarked on a rogue cable release in two others.
...The fact that Shamir was doing an end-run around WikiLeaks was noted in a post on the British blog Hurry Up Harry by author “Joseph W”:

WikiLeaks’ Israel Shamir, who has in his possession all of WikiLeaks’ unredacted cables, has written a polemic in CounterPunch against The Guardian’s editorial policy. He claims that The Guardian is redacting WikiLeaks cables for political reasons. Yet The Guardian’s redacted cables match the cables you can already read on

As in all things WikiLeaks, the details of the story remain murky. Shamir has close ties to the Belarus government and recently visited Belarus, which has an infamously repressive government. Given that detail, it is seems extremely interesting that all the unredacted cables he leaked had to do with former Soviet states.

These musings are probably unfounded, since it is now well documented that Wikileaks does not excercise authority over decisions on what material to release and redact. That discretion has been outsourced to Wikileaks media partners. Media partners decide on which documents to publish, and on what redactions are necessary, and then forward those redacted documents to Wikileaks, who then publish the redacted version on their website in tandem with the media partners' own release.

With this in mind it will be clear that Shamir isn't performing an "end-run" around "internal Wikileaks decisions." As a journalist provided with access to cables pertaining to the former-Soviet bloc, he is (whether rightly or wrongly) choosing not to redact material that The Guardian chose to redact. Up until January 13th, Wikileaks' releases mirrored those of The Guardian because it received its cues as to which cables to release, and in what form, from The Guardian. Release of the Tashkent cables and of the unredacted Astana cable have occurred either because Shamir has notified Wikileaks of his own publication of these cables, or because Wikileaks have noticed that he has released them.

One further issue must be addressed which might cause confusion. A careless typo in the article leads to the dating of one of the Tashkent cables as "2005."

From: Redacting Corruption: The Guardian's Political Censorship of Wikileaks, by Israel Shamir.

Perhaps we might review other Guardian news stories for this kind of heavy-handed doctoring of newly available documents. Consider the secret cable TASHKENT 000902, sent May 5­th, 2005. Here is The Guardian’s presentation of the cable. It is censored almost completely; only two irrelevant sentences survived the self-serving butchery of Guardian editors. With editors like these, the sword hanging over Private Manning and the noose around the neck of Julian Assange become superfluous.

Shamir links to his own version of the cable too, but has apparently, for whatever reasons, removed the datestamp on it. The impression the article gives is that the TASHKENT902 cable was released May 5th, 2005. This would make the full reference ID of the cable 05TASHKENT902 - an important detail, because the Reference ID is one way of searching for a cable.

When Shamir's article came out, Wikileaks' site had not uploaded the Tashkent cables, and in order to verify the existence of this cable, I double checked the date against the Google Fast Fusion hosting of the full database of metadata for the cables, and found that no cable had been sent on May 5th, 2005, which made Shamir's mention of it look suspicious. But a glance at the datestamp of The Guardian's version of the cable, which Shamir linked to, soon set me right. The correct date that the cable was sent is May 5th, 2006. When the cable was released by Wikileaks on the 13th, this was confirmed. The 2005 date is therefore probably an unfortunate typo. The cable's full reference ID is 06TASHKENT902.

Shamir is a figure of some controversy, and there may be reason to suspect foulplay in Belarus. However, there is a harmful willingness on the part of bloggers and the mainstream media to zone in on apparent disparities, and - without adequately investigating - to infer surreptitious motives from them. As an approach to either the mainstream media, or to figures like Shamir, this is never an approach conducive to the pursuit of truth. It is instead the turning loose of the most pernicious cognitive biases to wilfully distort a field that is already complicated enough to begin with. Shamir is just as guilty of this as his critics. As I will describe in the next post in the series, he telescopes conclusions about the Guardian's redaction practices, when far more plausible conclusions are easily available. The fault is no less egregious in Shamir's critics than it is in Shamir himself.

The speculative conclusions that gave rise to this controversy are indulgences that those aspiring to serious journalism should not allow themselves. In the above quote from Neil Ungerleider's post, Ungerleider concludes that it is "extremely interesting" that Shamir is dealing only with cables from the former Soviet bloc. The above treatment addresses some of the falsehoods that funded this conclusion, but a separate falsehood - that Shamir has access to all 250,000 cables - was also operative here. An earlier post in this series explains that, apart from the fact that Shamir has a particular interest in this region, these are the only Wikileaks cables that Shamir has access to.

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2011-02-03 Shamir & The Guardian, Part 2: Censorship?

Israel Shamir's recent article on CounterPunch, Redacting Corruption: The Guardian's Political Censorship of Wikileaks, follows on from his previous piece, Paradigm in Belarus: The Minsk Election in a Wikileaks Mirror, in levelling some serious allegations against The Guardian newspaper and its journalistic practices.

The earlier piece was an odd amalgam of politically questionable apologism for the regime in Belarus and invective against The Guardian and the mainstream Western press, part of which provided valuable insight into the selection biases of newspapers (as I documented here) and part of which invoked conspiratorial motives that are unnecessary to explain those same selection biases.

Charges against The Guardian

The newest piece, published on January 11th, presents evidence that The Guardian has been engaging in strange redaction procedures on some of the cables it has been releasing, and infers from this that there is some foul play involved in The Guardian's editorial decisions. Because of Shamir's peculiar status, it is necessary to suject his claims to some scrutiny. As I will outline here, Shamir is mostly correct that The Guardian has been redacting the cables aggressively, and that the result of the redactions is, effectively, to conceal the correspondences of American diplomats writing candidly of a culture of corruption involving British corporations and high ranking officials in the former Soviet bloc. However, odious though this situation is, Shamir's inference to conspiracy or foul play in order to explain these redactions is, I believe, probably too quick.

The means by which this foul play is insinuated are not always explicit - this is not how groundless suspicion is normally inculcated. Instead, we have a series of rhetorical questions, which guide the reader past a menagerie of better explanations, and towards the one Shamir apparently wants.

From: Redacting Corruption: The Guardian's Political Censorship of Wikileaks, by Israel Shamir.

[I]t is now clear that The Guardian edits and distorts the cables in order to protect their readers from unflattering remarks about how their corporations behave overseas. The Guardian has deliberately excised portions of published cables to hide evidence of corruption....

[The Guardian's editing process] It looks like nothing so much as political self-censorship...

Why does The Guardian wish to conceal evidence of corruption in Kazakhstan? Are there Blairites ensconced in The Guardian’s editing room? It does seem like someone at The Guardian wants to save us from becoming disillusioned about free markets. Is the free market incompatible with free speech?...

Why did The Guardian choose to excise the vast majority of the cable? To protect the British go-between? To protect the connection with Chernoy, a prominent Israeli businessman? Is there an Uzbekistani criminal pulling the strings at The Guardian? There doesn’t seem to be much logic behind the move, or any real interest in publishing the cables.

Unless Shamir is being facetious, we are asked, then, variously, to humour the possibility that the one or all of the following statements is true:

  1. The Guardian is faithfully preventing distressing information about the behaviour of British companies from reaching the ears of British citizens.
  2. The Guardian is engaging in protectionism of a free market ideology by censoring unfavourable information in the Wikileaks cables.
  3. The Guardian editorial office is under the control of an Uzbekistani criminal, who wishes to conceal his own activity and the activity of his associates by censoring the Wikileaks cables.

Having laid the groundwork for it, Shamir feels confident, in the middle of the article, to state his thesis explicitly, careful to present it as the only correct inference from the data he has presented.

From: Redacting Corruption: The Guardian's Political Censorship of Wikileaks, by Israel Shamir.

Although the agreement between Wikileaks and The Guardian permits the newspaper to block out the names of innocent people who might suffer upon disclosure, the Astana cable was clearly redacted for political reasons, in order to protect the image of the kind of predatory capitalism they preach in the East.

This is not the most likely explanation of The Guardian's conduct. Before I get to that, though, it will be necessary to verify that the redactions Shamir alleges did in fact occur.

The Guardian's redactions

The bulk of Shamir's article focuses on the 10ASTANA72 cable, which was created on January 25th, 2010 in the U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan. The cable was subjectlined: KAZAKHSTAN: MONEY AND POWER. Shamir draws attention to redactions in The Guardian's version of 10ASTANA72. He compares the redacted paragraphs in The Guardian's version of the cable with (heavily edited) selections from the full cable. It was initially difficult to verify that his own extracts from the full version of 10ASTANA72 were correct, since he did not link to a source. The Astana cable available on the Wikileaks site contained the same redactions as did The Guardian's version, on the date of the publication of Shamir's article. On January 13th, however, the unredacted Astana cable was made available on the Wikileaks site. This allows us to verify whether Shamir's claims are true.

The cable describes a dinner with Maksat Idenov, the First Vice-President of a state-owned Kazakh oil and gas company, KazMunayGas, during which details emerge on a culture of corruption involving Kazakh government officials and companies involved in the energy industry. We are informed that Idenov is well connected, and has personal ties to the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The first redaction Shamir draws attention to is a short passage in the SUMMARY of the Astana cable. A perusal of the unredacted version on the Wikileaks website reveals that the text redacted in The Guardian's version was indeed, as Shamir claimed, the text I have bolded in the following extract.

From: 10ASTANA72 (Wikileaks' unredacted version with Guardian redactions bolded)

1. (S) SUMMARY: During a private dinner, KazMunaiGaz First Vice President Maksat Idenov named, in his view, the four most powerful gate-keepers around President Nursultan Nazarbayev: Chief of Administration and General Services of the President's Office Sarybai Kalmurzayev, the President's Chief of Staff Aslan Musin, State Secretary-Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev, and the tandem of Prime Minister Karim Masimov and Nazarbayev's billionaire son-in-law Timur Kulibayev. According to Idenov, in Kazakhstan, market economy means capitalism, which means big money, which means large bribes for the best connected. The following details are a single snapshot of one version of current reality. The significant point is that Nazarbayev is standing with Idenov, not Kulibayev, to maintain international standards to develop the massive Kashagan and Karachaganak hydrocarbon projects. END SUMMARY.

Another redaction obscures the allegation by Idenov that British Gas and Italian energy company, ENI, are "corrupt," and appears to imply that Idenov's proximity to President Nazarbayev is what stands in the way of Timur Kulibayev, Nazarbayev's son-in-law, seeking bribes from these companies.

From: 10ASTANA72 (Wikileaks' unredacted version with Guardian redactions bolded)

5. (S) Soon, intermediaries arranged an Idenov-Kulibayev meeting. Idenov said they both pretended to ignore the core problem -- Kulibayev's, he alleged, avarice for large bribes. Idenov averred he told Kulibayev, "Please watch your image and reputation. You have a real opportunity to improve your own image and the image of the nation." Idenov said Kulibayev was "like a Buddha with a Paris manicure," and both understood life would continue. Idenov said he believes he has, so far, the president's protection. "But the games continue," he said. Idenov alleged that both BG and Italy's ENI are corrupt-- and Kulibayev is salivating to profit from them -- but, so far, Idenov stands in the way. "So long as Nazarbayev says he wants Kashagan and Karachaganak developed according to international standards, that's what I'll do."

Shamir's remaining example of suspicious redaction is confusing. He chooses to paraphrase the passages that were unredacted in the Guardian cable, and to insert the redacted passages in boldface. Compare:

From: Redacting Corruption: The Guardian's Political Censorship of Wikileaks, by Israel Shamir.

Just before dinner, Idenov was overheard “barking into his cell phone” at British Gas (BG) Country Director Mark Rawlings “who is ‘still playing games with Mercator's James Giffin,’ the notorious AmCit fixer indicted for large-scale bribery on oil deals in the 1990s, whose case drags on in the Southern District Court of New York. Idenov tells him: ‘Mark, stop being an idiot! Stop tempting fate! Stop communicating with an indicted criminal!’ ”


From: 10ASTANA72 (The Guardian's redacted version)

When the Ambassador arrived, Idenov was barking into his cell phone, "Mark, Mark, stop the excuses! Mark, listen to me! Mark, shut up right now and do as I say! Bring the letter to my office at 10:00 pm, and we will go together to take it to (Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, MEMR) Mynbayev at his house." On ending the call, Idenov explained he was talking to British Gas (BG">BG) Country Director for Kazakhstan Mark Rawlings who had missed the deadline to deliver a letter about arbitration on the Karachaganak super-giant oil-field project (reftel). Still clearly steamed, Idenov XXXXXXXXXXXX "I tell him, 'Mark, stop being an idiot! Stop tempting fate! XXXXXXXXXXXX Idenov asked, "Do you know how much he (Rawlings) makes? $72,000 a month! A month!! Plus benefits! Plus bonuses! Lives in Switzerland but supposedly works in London. Comes here once a month to check in. Nice life, huh?"

The apparent disparity between the two versions led some readers to believe that Shamir was doctoring the Astana cable, but a close reading of the above reveals that Shamir hasn't doctored anything - only advertised the redactions in a confusing way. To set the record straight, the following is the same passage from the full cable on Wikileaks' site, with the redacted parts bolded.

From: 10ASTANA72 (Wikileaks' unredacted version)

When the Ambassador arrived, Idenov was barking into his cell phone, "Mark, Mark, stop the excuses! Mark, listen to me! Mark, shut up right now and do as I say! Bring the letter to my office at 10:00 pm, and we will go together to take it to (Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, MEMR) Mynbayev at his house." On ending the call, Idenov explained he was talking to British Gas (BG) Country Director for Kazakhstan Mark Rawlings who had missed the deadline to deliver a letter about arbitration on the Karachaganak super-giant oil-field project (reftel). Still clearly steamed, Idenov alleged, "He's still playing games with Mercator's James Giffin," the notorious AmCit fixer indicted for large-scale bribery on oil deals in the 1990s, whose case drags on in the Southern District Court of New York. "I tell him, 'Mark, stop being an idiot! Stop tempting fate! Stop communicating with an indicted criminal!'" Idenov asked, "Do you know how much he (Rawlings) makes? $72,000 a month! A month!! Plus benefits! Plus bonuses! Lives in Switzerland but supposedly works in London. Comes here once a month to check in. Nice life, huh?"

The Shamir article goes on to draw attention to the almost complete redaction of the 06TASHKENT902 cable, the full version of which apparently relates incriminating material about Uzbekistani political operative Salim Abduvaliyev, who is described here as a "crime boss" and a "top mobster." Absurdly, Shamir also finds that The Guardian "decided not to publish [06TASHKENT465] at all." Unless he has any evidence that The Guardian considered publishing 06TASHKENT465 and decided not to, this is a strange imputation - we could equally hold any media-partner with Wikileaks accountable for not having published cables the other media partners have covered. Both of these cables (hyperlinked above) have since January 13th become available on the official Wikileaks website, and are now available to confirm Shamir's claims.

Why did the Guardian redact this information?

Shamir is quite correct to find these redactions troubling. They do appear to present information of solid public interest to The Guardian's readership. The redacted parts of 10ASTANA72 add to a picture wherein the Vice President of a state-owned Kazakh oil and gas company is advising a British Gas Director to desist in apparently substantive dealings with the former head of the Mercator Corporation, James Giffen. Giffen had been charged with the bribery of Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev to secure contracts for Western companies ensuring access to the Tengiz oil fields. The affair has come to be referred to as Kazakhgate. Prior even to his arrest, Giffen had become ex-C.I.A. analyst Robert Baer's "Mr. Kazakhstan" in his book See No Evil, which in turn came to inspire this character in Steve Gaghan's movie, Syriana.

In November, Giffen was acquitted. Shamir expresses quite common doubts about the decision of the court, and about the process of justice, in the Giffen trial, on the basis that the mitigating factors explicitly recognized by the judge appear to have been that the CIA had put a stamp of approval on what otherwise would have been corrupt practices.

From: Redacting Corruption: The Guardian's Political Censorship of Wikileaks, by Israel Shamir.

Again, the bold and very relevant information of the Astana cable has been removed from publication so that British taxpayers might not learn that the regional director of a prominent British company insists on dealing with an indicted grafter. The readers of The Guardian may never know that the case of American citizen (“AmCit”) James Giffen (spelled incorrectly in the cable) was dismissed by US District Judge William H. Pauley III because the bribes he gave to the Kazakh officials were authorized by the CIA. The judge publicly lauded the “notorious fixer” as a Cold War warrior who helped the Jewish cause and stated for the record that “his business dealings were CIA-authorized operations”.

But the mention of Giffen, and the context it puts the other redactions in, actually presents us with a far more likely explanation for why The Guardian redacted as it did. The discussion in the 10ASTANA72 happened in January of 2010, nearly a year ago, and the reference to Giffen presents us with insider banter on James Giffen's "notoriety," whose trial had been ongoing since his arrest in 2003. It is apparent that harm to reputation was a substantial part of Mr Giffen's defense, and reference was again made to this in the ruling that dismissed the charges against him, in November of 2010.

From: Judge Lauds Giffen As a 'Patriot'

[Judge] Pauley said the ordeal that Giffen, 69, underwent after his March 2003 arrest at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, hurt his reputation and his business. "How do you give a 69-year-old man his reputation back?" he asked, implying that the 60-plus count Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case against Giffen and his tiny New York-based investment bank Mercator Corp. never should have been brought.

The 10ASTANA72 cable associates an American businessman's name with the same crimes for which he has very recently been acquitted. He considers the corruption charges brought against him to have been highly damaging to his own reputation and to that of his former business. These are not points that are likely to be lost on The Guardian. The U.K. paper clearly stated at the outset that it would be particularly averse to the risk of libel suits against it, and would publish according to this aversity.

From: The Guardian: Editor's Note on Wikileaks' Embassy Cables

There are some cables the Guardian will not be releasing or reporting owing to the nature of sourcing or subject matter. Our domestic libel laws impose a special burden on British publishers.

The special burden referred to here is well documented, especially by Wikileaks' own publication record. The British law of libel is one of the classic villains of Wikileaks' four-year history. To pick an example, the British press was prevented by a secret media-injunction from reporting on the the Minton report, a report detailing a mass chemical contamination accident involving the British multinational Trafigura off the Ivory Coast, in which over 100,000 people were affected. (The Minton report is available in Wikileaks' archive, available here.)

When an attempt was made by British MP Paul Farrelly to circumvent this injunction, under parliamentary privelege, by asking a parliamentary question about the report, the Carter-Ruck law firm, representing Trafigura, managed to injunct The Guardian and other papers from mentioning even Farrelly's question. The result was the following, from David Leigh, on 12th of October, 2009.

From: Guardian gagged from reporting parliament

The Guardian has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.

Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.

During an ALDE-organized EU parliamentary debate on Freedom of Expression, Assange spoke specifically about this issue, and his exchange with libel lawyer Alastair Mullis during that debate became quite popular on Youtube shortly afterwards. The full discussion can be seen here.

One issue Assange draws specific attention to is that British libel law is such that large companies can abuse legal process to force publishers into silence. Publishers often agree to out-of-court settlements in order to avoid the onerous costs of defending a libel case against deep-pocketed companies. And an even broader effect is that U.K. media organizations avoid the reportage of information that is likely to render them liable to litigation.

In the U.K. the burden of proof is on the publisher. "Have you stopped beating your wife yet? Prove it to me. See you in court..." The reason that the U.K. system is abused so much is that the burden of proof is on the writer to prove everything. That means if you're a Ukrainian investigative journalist and I know some, that write about the electricity oligarchy in Ukraine, in Ukrainian, in a Ukrainian newspaper, who was sued in London by that Ukrainian oligarch, and couldn't afford, or chose not to spend money briefing lawyers in the U.K. paying for that whole case. They instantly lost because they did not establish their proof burden. Furthermore libel cases in the U.K. on average are a hundred times the expense of libel cases in Continental Europe. Now the strategy used by Carter-Ruck and other libel firms working that sector is to do what? It is to make publishers bleed. Publisher's don't have much money. If you're working for a billionaire like Nadhmi Auchi all you've to do is keep the publisher in court, keep them bleeding with legal costs; eventually the publishers say, we cannot sustain these legal costs anymore, therefore we're just going to pull out of the case. At the moment you pull out of the case and haven't established your proof burden, under the U.K. system, youa re then liable for all your opponents costs. The result of which is you have to pay all your opponents costs. You spoke about damages but you deliberately avoided costs. Costs are normally more than damages. So that's how the whole trick works... The cases in the U.K. are just extraordinary. These are extraordinary abuses. And in a way it is not the law at the end that is the problem. It is the law at the beginning that is the problem. It is the process that is the problem and it is inequious access to justice that is the problem...

It is far more likely that the redactions to which Israel Shamir draws attention in his article were performed by a litigation-averse British publisher to ward off the prospect of either

  • settling out of court with James Giffin for further compounding the damage to his reputation that he suffered during his trial, or with Salim Abduvaliyev for publishing material alleging his criminality


  • fighting an excessively costly legal battle to avoid the censorship of the news.

If this theory is true, and I submit that it more plausible than Shamir's theory, the result is that, yes, The Guardian appears to have censored itself, and the public has thereby been deprived of one avenue of discovering suspect practices by British corporations in the former Soviet bloc. This is certainly an undesirable state of affairs - something those of us who care about the exposure of corruption and the discovery of the truth ought to lament.

But it betrays an unsophisticated appreciation of the phenomenon of corporate media censorship to lay the sole responsibility for this omission at The Guardian's feet. The chilling-effect which gives rise to a culture of self-censorship is a problem, but it is a systemic problem with branches in the state of the law, in the media culture we find ourselves in and in the regulatory regime in which corporations operate, and which define their capabilities and powers. Shamir is very eager to impute conspiratorial motives to The Guardian, but a useful mantra when addressing concerns like this is that most 'conspiracies' are just the accidental harmony of many self-interested actors, playing out. I believe that that is what we are seeing here.

None of the above necessarily excludes the prospect that there are, in fact, untoward and politically motivated editorial decisions being made in The Guardian offices, but it is intended that the above reflections raise a slightly more plausible answer to Shamir's rhetorical questions than the one he provides himself.

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2011-02-03 Sources on Israel Shamir

The sources of the Shamir controversy.

Recent writing about Shamir in connection to Wikileaks has been unduly polemical, preferring to telescope conclusions through the use of inflammatory and judgmental language. The matter at hand is certainly, and understandably, an inflammatory matter. But it will be necessary, for the sake of clarity, to examine the evidence with a certain emotional restraint. Judgment should be the consequence of critical thinking and reading, not its antecedent. In proper reportage, moral condemnation is not necessary: a deed speaks for itself.

The earliest controversy over Shamir I can trace follows on from his marginal success as an advocate of the pro-Palestine lobby, in the early years of the decade. Interestingly, at this time, he was even quoted by Christopher Hitchens, in The Nation. The discussions over this are conducted with more restraint than the recent ones, and are therefore more informative. I refer the reader to Shamir's correspondences with Ali Abunimah & Hussein Ibish over his views, compiled on Nigel Parry's site. Shamir's response is in his characteristic, ad hominem style.


In late 2000/early 2001, in the period following the beginning of the second Palestinian Intifada, articles began appearing on the Internet by a previously unknown Israeli-Russian writer called "Israel Shamir". With a powerful command of the English language, compelling anecdotes, dramatic metaphors, and a spirited opposition to the Israel's military occupation, Shamir was rapidly and warmly accepted into the pro-Palestinian activist scene, and by Spring 2001 had embarked on a speaking tour of the United States, speaking at many public events alongside leading lights of the Palestinian scene.

As his articles kept coming, however, an increasing amount of the tone and content was observed by more than a few to fall into what could -- if this hadn't been an Israeli Jew writing it -- best be described as a classic anti-Semitic repertoire. Shamir's identity as a Jew initially enabled people to excuse this, until the whole mess began to unravel as more and more questions were asked. Eventually, these questions began to be answered, and the issue errupted into a controversy. This page is an archive for some of the material that circulated, and is offered to the Palestinian community in particular as a warning to check the backgrounds and content of the message of people who claim to speak on their behalf. However worthy the cause, the end does not justify the means. Nigel Parry

CounterPunch Articles on Wikileaks by Israel Shamir

The more recent controversy, which has received more attention on the blogosphere because of the media interest in Wikileaks, followed on from a series of Shamir's articles on Wikileaks, published on CounterPunch. I list those here.

2010-08-27/29: Assange: The Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land...

2010-09-14: Making a Mockery of the Real Crime of Rape: Assange Beseiged

2010-11-29: On Board the Good Ship Cablegate: Assange in the Entrails of Empire

2010-12-31: Paradigm in Belarus: The Minsk Election in a Wikileaks Mirror

2011-01-05: The Secrets of Wikileaks: Julian Assange's Deal With the Devil

2011-01-11: Redacting Corruption: The Guardian's Political Censorship of Wikileaks

English articles on Israel Shamir and Wikileaks

In the English speaking world, the story was broken comprehensively in Reason magazine, and carried on Andrew Brown's blog, in the Guardian, and also covered by a series of blog posts by a Joseph W on the Harry's Place blog. The original Reason piece was an exposé of Shamir on account of the fact that his early articles had been taken up by a significant portion of the mainstream press to pass on rumours that one of Assange's accusers had ties with the CIA. This was quickly lost as the story became about Wikileaks' ties with this individual.

2010-12-14: "Assange's Extremist Employees" by Michael C. Moynihan

2010-12-17: The Guardian's Andrew Brown Blog: "Wikileaks & Israel Shamir" by Andrew Brown

2010-12-24: Harry's Place: Julian Assange on Israel Shamir in Belarus

2010-12-29: Harry's Place: A Tale of Two Wikis: “Israel Shamir” Gives Interview to Russian Neo-Nazi Newspaper about Wikileaks

2011-01-12: Harry's Place: Wikileaks and Fascism

2011-01-17: Harry's Place: Israel Shamir Condemns Guardian “Censoring” Wikileaks

Swedish media on Israel Shamir and Wikileaks

The primary sources for these English pieces were a feature in the Swedish tabloid, Expressen, by Magnus Ljunggren, a Gothenberg Emeritus professor of Russian Literature, and an apparently rather sensational investigatory programme on Swedish Radio, in which Herbert Snorrason (who broke contact with Wikileaks after a disagreement with Julian Assange) expressed rather vague misgivings about the publication practices of Wikileaks.

2010-12-10: SverigesRadio: Bekräftat för Medierna: ökänd antisemit jobbar med Wikileaks (Audio - Partially in English)

2010-12-10: Expressen: "Daddy's Boy" by Magnus Ljunggren

Prior coverage of Shamir's views

These features cursorily referred back to previous articles and coverage of Shamir's views for support.

2010-05-??: Searchlight Magazine: Israeli writer is Swedish anti-Semite

2010-08-11: Mohamed Omar's Blog: "The Holocaust is an Idol" Interview With Israel Shamir

Shamir has presented a series of responses to the main accusastions against him, on his website and on CounterPunch.

To the Expressen: Ljunggren the Liar

Latynina’s Fantasies

2011-01-05: The Secrets of Wikileaks: Julian Assange's Deal With the Devil

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2011-02-03 The Case of Israel Shamir

A volley of blog posts over the last two months has brought to the attention of the public a connection between Wikileaks and Israel Shamir. The connection was the source of much controversy. Among the charges against Shamir brought by the blogosphere are that of "notorious antisemitism," "holocaust denial," "Neo-Nazism," collaboration with dictatorships in the former Soviet area and the falsification of unreleased Wikileaks cables for nefarious ends.

Assuming the truth of these numerous allegations, bloggers have (rather shrilly) assumed that responsibility for all of these alleged misdeeds devolves upon Wikileaks, because of the nature of their relationship. That relationship itself has been shrouded in uncertainty. Shamir has been variously called a "Wikileaks employee," a "Wikileaks activist," "Wikileaks' spokesperson and conduit in Russia," "Wikileaks affiliate" and "Wikileaks accredited journalist." For substantiation of these characterizations of the relationship, bloggers have looked to the offhand remarks of newspaper articles in machine-translated Russian and Swedish.

These allegations have seen marginal takeup in the mainstream press. Israel Shamir has himself gotten involved in the controversy. In a sequence of articles on CounterPunch, and his personal website, he has defended himself against these allegations, distanced himself from Wikileaks, and mounted a counterattack on the mainstream press, alleging that the controversy is part of a smear campaign against Wikileaks by its commercial competitors. He has made reference to a forthcoming episode of BBC's Panorama, which appears likely to subject Shamir's relationship with Wikileaks to the closest scrutiny it has yet seen in the mainstream press, and which, claims Shamir, is unlikely to do so in a balanced way.

In anticipation of this programme, it will be useful to survey the controversy in detail here beforehand. Doing so, on the balance of evidence currently available to us, reveals that there is a fair amount of gossip and wishful thinking involved here, and that the mainstream media have not displayed investigatory diligence, preferring instead comfortable piety and the promise of yet more scandalous copy.

Shamir, however, is found to be an untrustworthy narrator, boisterous, combative, of some questionable political sympathies, and given to a pernicious form of conspiracy theoretics. Despite his protestation, Shamir's work is indicative of a sort of 'antisemitism,' although by no means does he fall comfortably into the Neo-Nazi mold into which he has been put by the blogosphere. His relationship with Wikileaks is, at best, irresponsibly exaggerated, but does bear scrutiny. Hysterical guilt-by-association arguments by various bloggers are, we find, best treated with pragmatic skepticism.

New information may always arise which will demand a reassessment of the situation, but as things stand, the Shamir case does not appear to the be the "smoking gun" against Wikileaks it has been presented as. The examination of a complicated situation, where culpability is distributed, is something we cannot expect the commercial media to do with any pretense at fidelity. A cautious reader, on the other hand, will go far.

Articles on Shamir

2011-02-03: Sources on Israel Shamir

2011-02-03: Who is Israel Shamir?

2011-02-03: Israel Shamir's Relationship with Wikileaks?

2011-02-03: Shamir & The Guardian, Part 1: Astana & Tashkent Cables

2011-02-03: Shamir & The Guardian, Part 2: Censorship?

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

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2011-02-03 Who is Israel Shamir?

Who is Israel Shamir?

The principal claims about Israel Shamir are drawn from an article by Professor Emeritus of Russian Literature at the University of Gothenburg, Magnus Ljunggren, in the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen.

From: 2010-12-10: Expressen: "Daddy's Boy" by Magnus Ljunggren

[Shamir] is in fact one of the world's most notorious anti-Semites. He has gone by at least six different names. Growing up in Soviet Novosibirsk he was Izrail Schmerler. As a Jew, he took in 1969 to Israel. 1984 he came to Sweden as Israel Shamir. He became a Swedish citizen in 1992. During the years 2001-2005, he called himself Joran Jermer, and since then he transformed himself, in the population register, into Adam Ermash. Internationally, he is still Israel Shamir. He has held a variety of addresses around the world, mostly in Israel and Russia. In the early 2000s he adopted the Orthodox faith.

As Israel Shamir, this chameleon was regularly involved in the Russian "maroon" weekly bulletin Zavtra, at once nationalist, Stalinist, and militantly anti-Jewish. He uses this to an old Soviet-left jargon as he has declared - and proved - that he is prepared to cooperate with the far right at any time, for the good anti-Jewish cause.

He appeared at Förintelseförnekarkonferensen in Tehran in 2006. There also spoke of a former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who once wrote a preface to his article on "Jewish ritual murder."

Interviewed by Mohamed Omar, he made clear last year that "it is every Muslim's and Christian's duty" to dispel gaskammarmyten.

Last spring, appearing on the Russian extreme publisher Algorithm, Shamir's book "How to Blow Up the Elders of Zion Conspiracy". This makes it clearer than ever that it is the old czarist Russian falsification "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" which is his ideological basis. The world is faced with an American-Israeli conspiracy. The Jews have conquered the international media.

The broad biographical details are apparently confirmed by the biography on Shamir's website,, although I have read more than once that the details over his having fought for Israel in the Yom-Kippur war are under dispute.

From: Biography on

A native of Novosibirsk , Siberia, he moved to Israel in 1969, served as paratrooper in the army and fought in the 1973 war. After the war, he turned to journalism and writing. In 1975, Shamir joined the BBC and moved to London . In 1977-79 he lived in Japan . After returning to Israel in 1980, Shamir wrote for the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, and was the Knesset spokesman for the Israel Socialist Party (Mapam). He translated and annotated the cryptic works of S.Y. Agnon, the only Hebrew Nobel Prize winning writer, from the original Hebrew into Russian. In 2006 his mammoth annotated translation of a medieval Hebrew classic Sefer Yohassin (The Book of Lineage) was published by Zacuto Books. Shamir also translated the Odyssey, and selected chapters of Joyce’s Ulysses.

But Palestine , its sad history and enchanting landscape remained his most important subject. His views were summed up in The Pine and the Olive, the story of Palestine/Israel, published in 1988 and republished in 2004, and became a cult book among the readers. The second Palestinian Intifada turned Shamir to his highly political and poetic pieces centred on Palestine . As the battle for Palestine spilled over into Iraq , Shamir wrote more about the deeper, philosophical and theological meaning of the war. In 2004 he was received in the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and Holy Land , being baptised Adam by Archbishop Theodosius Attalla Hanna. Shamir (60) lives in Jaffa and spends much time in Moscow and Stockholm ; he is father of three sons.

Is Israel Shamir an anti-semite?

Is Israel Shamir an anti-semite? It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that his work displays strong anti-semitic characteristics. Yet to call someone a "notorious anti-semite" as Ljunggren has done is to invite the reader to conclude that he must exemplify that category in the fullest sense, because that must be where the weight of opinion lies. Whenever notoriety is alleged, we ought to examine the evidence all the more closely. I've been careful below to accurately characterize Shamir's work, and I do believe that it is appropriately characterized by the term "anti-semitic."

Shamir's writing takes itself as addressing problems arising from the actions of "the Jews" within society. He appears to subscribe to a rather classic conspiracy theory, whereby "the Jews" are responsible, through a surreptitious bid for global influence, for many of the world's evils. The techniques allegedly employed include ownership of the media (through which perceptions of "the Jews" among the non-Jewish are shaped to Jewish advantage), the takeover of positions of influence in big business and official corridors of power, the invasion of the intelligentsia of the West, biological seperatism and internal ethnic purism, and the embellishment of the events of the Holocaust, including active promotion of its perception in history as being such an event as to demand Jewish exceptionalism as the penance of the West. Shamir is staunchly anti-Zionist, and sees the Zionist project, carried out in the Israeli state, as merely the vanguard of Jewish plans for world domination.

From: Pardes by Israel Shamir

Palestine is not the ultimate goal of the Jews; the world is. Palestine is just the place for the world state headquarters; necessary, for otherwise the people of Europe wouldn't be magetised like a rabbit in the headlights of a car.

These are some of the classical elements of the anti-semitic propagandaic efforts of Weimar Germany. The claims within them are comprehensively false, and the reasoning beleagured by cognitive bias and a fondness for defunct stereotypes. This sort of thinking does find common cause with violent xenophobic movements all over the world, looking for pretexts on which to direct hate.

One wouldn't feel the need to say any more, but for the fact that Shamir is apparently not, as we are given to believe in the wealth of recent coverage of him, someone who would agitate for the extermination of Jews - which is the immediate (but here incorrect) inference that most people are given to make from the fact that someone might be an anti-semite. There is certainly something very unseemly about all of these "anti-Jewish" conspiracy theories, but it is important to be aware of precisely why it isn't to be taken seriously, lest unconditional and misinformed outrage over it fund renewed fervour among its adherents, as often happens when people are told they can't say things. Shamir appears to actually relish the accusation of anti-semitism - it provides him with an opportunity to engage in the polemic of the persucuted. These "Jewish conspiracy" theories are ridiculous, and share company with some other unsavoury ideologies, but it is my impression that their taboo status is something that attracts those looking for something to rebel against.

Much has been made of Shamir's comment that "the Jews are a virus in human form" - originally from a Tufts lecture he gave in 2001. This easily recalls the worst excesses of Nazi genocidal theories. I imagine Shamir appropriates this sort of language in order to seek attention. He appears to thrive on controversy, but I am happy, after labouring through many pages of his work, that his substantive views are not well represented by this (rather cherry-picked) comment. Shamir has clarified his meaning on that comment himself (in a manner that does not excuse the exceptionally provocative choice of terminology). I will characterize his broader views here, while making it clear that I don't for a moment endorse any of them.

While being very certainly anti-Jewish, Shamir is not, apparently, an essentialist about Jewishness. He appears to believe that to be Jewish is a choice, a choice he reneged on during his conversion to Christianity. He doesn't pin Jewishness on physiognomic traits, nor on heredity, the way the Nazis did, but on ideology. There is no biological essentialism here. To him, it is an ethnic and religious identity the adherence to which lends tacit support to the supposed world-domination plans outlined above. In this respect, he takes part of his mission to be the conversion of adherents of the Judaic faith to Christianity, and the persuasion of, for instance, Zionists that Zionism is an objectionable world-view. For this programme, he chooses the exceptionally stupid name, given the context, of "kill a Jew" - by which he appears to mean, "killing the Jew" within oneself.

From: Israel Shamir: Kill a Jew, and everyone can

- Do you really hate the Jews?

- No, of course. I just think it is important to kill the Jew in me ... Generally the reason is that Jews see themselves as victims. This is the basis of national identity. And finding themselves with new neighbors, they immediately reproduce the usual relationship - just as torturers. This place is not the right place. A victim of anything can be that neither will do - all the protection. But you know, because you can win it in himself, to abandon petty tribal egoism. I call it: "kill a Jew." I think everyone should do it.

But it is clear that despite this extraordinarily offensive terminology, and the arguable self-loathing it divulges, his project is apparently one of self-liberation from what he perceives as a damaging cultural/religious/ethnic ideology.

From: Assange in the Entrails of Empire

Excuse me if I’m sounding like a teenager’s comic book, but this story has so many twists and plots it makes my head swim. I haven’t been this dizzy since my first days as an anti-Zionist writer, hounded and alone. One day I was approached by a venerable Hassidic man; I instinctively cringed, expecting an ugly scene. Instead of condemnation I was deluged with goodwill, and at that same moment an orchestra next door suddenly struck up an old Jewish wedding tune. This ancient blessing seemed to rocket me up, up and away from the modern nationalist cult of brutal force, up to a place where old traditions still had value and relevance. Or was that just Clark Kent doing his thing again?

Consider also, in his recent article:

From: BBC Joins Smear Campaign Against Assange and Wikileaks by Israel Shamir

I have written hundreds of pages on the topic, but for the benefit of the reader I’ll sum it up. Naturally, as a son of Jewish parents and a man who has lived in the Jewish state, deeply and intimately involved with Jewish culture, I harbour no hate to a Jew because he is a Jew. I doubt many people do. However I did and do criticise various aspects of Jewish Weltanschauung like so many Jewish and Christian thinkers before me, or even more so for I witnessed crimes of the Jewish state that originated in this worldview.

Furthermore, for Shamir, most "Jews," - that is, adherents of this ethnic-cultural social programme, are not aware of their role in this purported conspiracy. World domination plans are not conspiratorial motives that every "Jew" secretly conceals in his heart, but instead, remain the preserve of powerful people who exert their influence over "the Jews," - who harnass social consent that derives from the self-constitution of the Jewish people and direct that consent towards nefarious ends. To Shamir, even these powerful people are not the final conspirators - they are ultimately enslaved by religious programming in the Judaic faith - the ultimate responsibility for the "Jewish conspiracy" derives, for Shamir, from a religious doctrine of Jewish exceptionalism ("the chosen people") and perversion of the original Judaic theology. Most of Shamir's work is theological in nature, then, and tries to trace causal origins for his inchoate Jewish conspiracy in scriptural doctrine - an endeavour during which he presents the conversion to Christ as the only viable option.

From: Pardes by Israel Shamir - speaking of his role as an Israeli soldier in the Yom-Kippur war.

Not one of us, with the possible exception of our commander, understood the logic behind our actions. ‘Theirs was not to reason why’, soldiers do not fight on need-to know basis. We tried to do our job and survive. Only two days later, when the armoured columns of General Brenn reached us, did we learn of the General Staff plans to cut off the Egyptian Third Army on the East bank of Suez Canal, and to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Much later we learned of the man who made it possible – Henry Kissinger, the Jewish U.S. Secretary of State who gave the green light and spread the nuclear umbrella of protection over the Israeli troops. He had told a hesitant Golda Meir to break the Security Council-ordered cease-fire and to complete the encirclement. Only then did our modest action began to fit into a strategy. In a similar way, a Jew rarely knows or understands what the Jews want from themselves and from bewildered mankind. This lack of understanding causes many fine men and women to proclaim their support (or opposition) to the body politic called ‘the Jews’. Being born and raised a Jew does not help at all, just as belonging to the elite troops does not provide you with an understanding of the General Staff plans. A person of little knowledge is described in the Jewish lore as a ‘tinok shenishba’, ‘a kidnapped child’. A kidnapped Jewish child has no knowledge of Jewish customs, beyond knowing that he belongs to the Jews. Recently, Israeli President Moshe Katzav described non-religious Jews as ‘kidnapped children’, and even religious Jews have a very limited understanding of the Jewish world-organising plans. Many Israelis vented their anger at Katzav’s words, but he was right. Your average ‘Jew’ has very little knowledge and understanding of the subjects we shall be dealing with; it is highly probable he (or she) considers himself a Jew just because his grandparents were Jewish. Our goal is to understand and explain what ‘the Jews’ want. This task is a hard one, for the Jews have no obvious leaders who create a single strategy, no headquarters or central command. It is hard to swallow that the Jews can have a strategy but no strategist; and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are popular precisely because they posit such a supreme (if obscure) strategist. However, ‘the locusts have no king, yet but they attack in formation’ (Proverbs 30:27) and devastate whole countries as if by plan.

It is possible there are no (or almost no) Jews who fully understand what the Jews want. The term ‘The Jews’, as used in this article, is meant to denote a spiritual persona of higher rank, relating to individual Jews like the Catholic Church is related to an individual Catholic, or a beehive to a bee. Thus, there is no subjective personal guilt associated with individual Jews, unless their specific actions or inaction are criminal or sinful per se. Thus, this discourse should help an individual to decide whether he wants to be a Jew or not, in the same way one may choose whether one wants to be a communist or a Quaker... It is my deep conviction that to be or not to be a Jew is an act of free will. A French Jew can be just French, a Russian Jew – just a Russian, a Palestinian Jew – just a Palestinian.

Shamir's entire confused philosophy is riddled with perverse religious symbolism, possibly the root cause of its objectionable content. Nominally laudable sympathy for the plight of Palestinian civilians is bound up with spiritual metaphors and idiosyncratic collective psychoanalysis. The Holocaust, for Shamir, is a false Christ suborning the worship of non-Jews - particularly those in positions of power in the West - to the advantage of "the Jews," while the Palestinians are a true Christ, crucified relentlessly by "the Jews" - just as, in a remarkable throwback to the classical anti-semitic refrain of the Middle Ages, "the Jews crucified our Lord." It is in this context that Shamir's alleged Holocaust-denial should be interpreted. Consider the Mohamed Omar interview, in Swedish, during which Shamir said the following:

From: Mohamed Omar: "The Holocaust is an idol" - interview with Israel Shamir

MO: Should it be allowed to criticize the Zionist version of the Holocaust?

Shamir: More than that, I think it is a duty to do so. I think it is every Muslim's and Christian's duty to deny the Holocaust, to reject this belief, just as Abraham and Moses rejected the idols. Any person who confesses to God should deny the Holocaust. I think it's much more serious that people deny God, right?

MO: Today, even the Pope went out and demanded that they should believe in the Holocaust.

Shamir: It is terrible. There is only one God, the Holocaust is an idol. I refuse to worship the Holocaust.

Shamir claims here that he never made this statement, and that the interview is online for cross reference, but the above is directly from the interview, and it appears that he did in fact say these words. By "The Holocaust" he appears to mean the elevation of the Nazi genocide of the Jews to the status of religious idol, something which he believes ought to be denied as a matter of religious faith. He apparently does, following controversial figures like Robert Faurisson, challenge the historicity of specific events, and he openly doubts the testimony of eyewitnesses as to some of the excesses of the gas chambers, but does not appear to dispute that a systematic Nazi genocide of Jews (as well as homosexuals, the disabled, the Roma and others) occurred.

From: BBC Joins Smear Campaign Against Assange and Wikileaks by Israel Shamir

As for the accusation of “Holocaust denial”, my family lost too many of its sons and daughters for me to deny the facts of Jewish tragedy, but I do deny its religious salvific significance implied in the very term ‘Holocaust’; I do deny its metaphysical uniqueness, I do deny the morbid cult of Holocaust and I think every God-fearing man, a Jew, a Christian or a Muslim should reject it as Abraham rejected and smashed idols. I deny that it is good to remember or immortalize such traumatic events, and I wrote many articles against the modern obsession with massacres, be it the Jewish holocaust of the 1940s, the Armenian massacre of 1915, the Ukrainian “holodomor”, Polish Katyn, Khmer Rouge etc. Poles, Armenians, Ukrainians understood me, so did Jews – otherwise I would be charged with the crime of factual denial which is known to the Israeli law.

His imperative to deny (or "dispel") the Holocaust is apparently above all a denial of the spiritual and cultural hegemony of that event over the collective conscience of the West, as he appears to outline here (also, apparently, slurring homosexuality as a "perversion"):

From: Pardes by Israel Shamir

The total profanation of Man is physically impossible. Just as deprivation of normal sex life in jails causes perversions, a perversion of Western spirituality will come to life. The African slaves in America developed a new slave cult, mixing their old beliefs with those of their masters. Similar slave cults are growing now among the Europeans, and the cult of the Holocaust is one of them.

Theologically, this cult is an adaptation of the Jewish spiritual rule for Christian minds, as it replaces Christ with Israel, Golgotha with Auschwitz, and the Resurrection with the creation of the Jewish state. People who argue with the dogma of Holocaust are met with treatment the heretics were given in the days of yore. They are excommunicated and excluded from society.

Usually they are people of scientific mind; their arguments recall the arguments of naive atheists who were prone to say, "A whale can't swallow man, ergo, the story of Jonah is not true." In a similar vein, heritics of the Holocaust cult say: such vast amounts of Jews could not be killed, or there are no gas chambers to prove their existence. But these arguments cut no ice: people who found themselves in the Jewish universe have to invent some religious tools and dogmas.

On a subconscious level, the Americans and to lesser extent Europeans have already accepted their defeat. Claude Lanzmann sounded the challenge when he said: "If Auschwitz is true, then there is a human suffering with which that of Christ simply cannot be compared. In this case, Christ is false, and salvation will not come from him. Auschwitz is the refutation of Christ." This challenge was not met. No new Roland picked up the glove of the advancing enemy. Lanzmann was not ostracised, his films were screened in the cinemas of France, while theologians discussed "Christianity after Auschwitz." Spiritual capitulation of the West was manifested by the removal of the Cross and of a church from the grounds of Auschwitz; it was confirmed by the Pope's Canossa in Jerusalem, when the head of the Roman Catholic church asked forgiveness from the Jews.

It was a mistake. It is not a coincidence that soon afterwards, Sharon marched on the Temple Mount and started the World War Three. The Jews are no Christians, and they consider apology a sign of surrender. Our friend Paul Eisen wrote:

To the Christian and to the entire non-Jewish world, Jews say this: "You will apologise for Jewish suffering again and again and again. And, when you have finished apologizing, you will then apologize some more. When you have apologized sufficiently, we will forgive you, provided you let us do what we want in Palestine.

Eisen was too optimistic. Palestine is not the ultimate goal of the Jews; the world is. Palestine is just the place for the world state headquarters; necessary, for otherwise the people of Europe wouldn't be magetised like a rabbit in the headlights of a car. If a Jewish state would be established in say, Herzl or in Madagascar as per Hitler, it would not be able to activate deep levels of Christian consciousness. Now, appearing as a part of prophecy, it has captivated their mind.

It has captivated the mind of Israelis too. Their task in the whole setup is admittedly limited. The Jews in their drive to world domination need a base, and the Israelis are to seize and secure this base. For such a job they do not need much imagination, and Zionists are a simple-minded folk. Even average Israeli IQ is 95, below the mid-European 100 and way below the European Jewish 105. The lower IQ is not the result of Sephardi Jews being counted in, as sometimes is claimed, but of a well known fact: clever and successful Jews hardly ever immigrated to Israel. They made their career in the US or Russia, in France of Germany. They make money on Wall Street, fight antisemitism on the pages of Le Monde and The Times, rule nations and write art reviews. Israelis are the riffraff of World Jewry, sent to conquer the land for the NWO HQ.

Shamir, then, in his writing at least, is not straightforwardly an adherent of the same ideologies that provoked the Holocaust, although this is a poor excuse for much of the problematic material he is responsible for. The distinction seems an overly fine one, too. The "anti-semitic" characteristics of his work constitute a peculiar sort of anti-nationalistic, anti-racist, Christian theology married to some of the classical anti-semitic themes of Jewish world conspiracy and media ownership. He does not recommend hatred of Jews, or violence against Jews, but his philosophical tracts are belaboured with faulty inferences, defunct and erroneous cultural stereotypes, crude theological gambits and overly swift generalizations over huge groups of people, all of which are uncomfortably close to the underlying dogmas of hate-speech.

While Shamir himself appears to desire the cessation of conflict and violence in the world - laudable aspirations on their own - the flawed theoretical apparatus through which he views the world puts him in the company of, and provides endorsement for, violent Neo-Nazis and avowed racists. A "friends of Shamir," mailing list on his website contains material from a rogue's gallery of "theorists" of "Jewish hegemony," some of whom, in various iterations, treat Jews in a xenophobic fashion. Shamir is careful to criticize these writers, and there is apparently a variety of categories by which writers in this sub-literature differentiate themselves from each other. Shamir is at pains to distance himself from "racialists" - those participants in his mailing list who - distastefully - appear to believe the different ethnic groups to be sub-species of humanity, and take issue with Jews on this basis. But Shamir is also at pains to insist that these barely literate, paranoid tracts do contain valuable insights, despite their racism. He can either be seen as someone who remonstrates with straightforward anti-semites about their objectionable beliefs, or someone who, by addressing them, validates them.

His material, at any rate, does not evince a hatred of people to whom the cultural label "Jews" attaches in normal parlance, but appears to demonstrate an aversion to a specific religious cultural programme. It is certainly, to my mind, a problematic body of work. While there is quite a lot of historical precedent for writers performing collective psychoanalysis of this sort, it isn't an enterprise that can be afforded much scientific respect. Attempts to impute collective ideological traits to vast groups of people, as a method of explanatory history, has been employed with various levels of fruitfulness, by thinkers like Hegel and Marx, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, Voegelin, Arendt and Strauss, Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer and Ricouer.

It is possible that Shamir's example appears particularly objectionable because it purports to study a "Jewish Weltanschauung." But as a parting comment on this, without wishing to diminish the sense in which this way of thinking is flawed and undesirable, it would be fortunate if we could take this opportunity to consider how tacitly acceptable this manner of thinking is when applied on cable news networks, for instance, to "Arabs," or "Muslims." Where Shamir's material is rightly, and uncontroversially, considered problematic, a close relative of it enjoys endorsement in mainstream media such as FOX news, but is no less tacitly racist. It embarks on the same enterprise of cultural generalization, attributing to "Arabs" or "Muslims" (considered interchangeable) a hatred of the West, its freedoms and peoples, religious conquest of the West for Islam, and all of the flawed and hateful discourse that flows from that. It is not limited to commercially viable circus-acts like Ann Coulter, but is instead pervasive and widely accepted.

In whatever form we find it when it it rears its head, whether in the writings of fringe anti-semites, or the observations of news anchors, this sort of thinking should be repudiated in detail, and everyone should be given the appropriate intellectual resources to see its flaws for themselves.

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2011-02-03 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

ImageThe Telegraph: Sale of uranium mine blocked over Iran fears

"The US intervened in the £371 million sale of a Canadian-owned mine in Africa because of fears that uranium ore would be sold to Iran, the leaked cables show."

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The Telegraph: British firms made millions from trading with Iranians

"British companies made millions of pounds selling or leasing items to Iranian companies that were the subject of international trade sanctions, US Embassy documents show."

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The Telegraph: Vanished FBI officer Robert Levinson 'held by Iranian Revolutionary Guards'

"A former FBI officer who disappeared in mysterious circumstances in Iran four years ago has been held by the country’s Revolutionary Guard, the cables suggest."

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The Telegraph: William, Harry and the Abramovich of Azerbaijan

"Princes William and Harry are on friendly terms with a young billionaire whose family wealth has been the subject of intense scrutiny by US officials, the documents show."

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The Telegraph: Chinese weapons fall into hands of insurgents

"Chinese-made weapons have fallen into the hands of insurgents fighting Coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan because of China’s failure to enforce export controls on arms to Iran, the leaked cables show."

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The Telegraph: Prince Philip's unlikely Israeli plot

"It is a part of Jerusalem that has been controlled by the Romans, the Ottomans and the Assyrians during its turbulent history."

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The Telegraph: Poker player's unwitting hand in 747 deal

"A Poker enthusiast who lives in his grandmother's spare room played an unwitting role in a deal that saw sanctions-hit Iran acquire a Boeing 747 - to the fury of America."

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The Telegraph: Treasury 'slow to act in blocking terrorist finance'

"America accused the Treasury of blocking attempts to close down "terrorist financiers" operating in Britain and being more concerned with protecting the interests of the City, leaked documents show."

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The Telegraph: Select committee report leaked to US before publication

"A select committee report criticising US policy in Iran was leaked to the Americans before publication, in apparent breach of parliamentary rules."

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The Telegraph: Planned US missile shield blind to nuclear weapons

"US plans for a missile defence system on Czech soil ran into trouble when defence chiefs realised the proposed radar was blind to nuclear missiles, leaked diplomatic cables show."

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The Telegraph: FBI investigation into suspected 9/11 gang to be reviewed

"An FBI investigation into a previously unknown gang suspected of involvement in the September 11 attacks is to be reviewed following disclosures by the Daily Telegraph."

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The Telegraph: MI6 warns of new suicide bomb wave

"MI6 has warned that Britain faces a “unique” threat from a generation of home-grown terrorists who are not on the intelligence services’ “radar”, secret documents have disclosed."

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The Telegraph: British Muslims travelling to Somalia for 'jihadi tourism'

"British Muslims are travelling to Somalia for “jihadi tourism” to train for terrorist attacks in Britain, the secret documents reveal."

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The Telegraph: The British counter-terror programme that 'fails to stop extremists'

"The British programme to counter Islamic extremism has been widely criticised over its failure to stop home-grown terrorists."

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El País: EE UU utiliza al Che para desacreditar a Ahmadineyad (The United states uses Che Guevara to discredit Ahmadineyad)

"La Administración Bush estaba muy preocupada por que el presidente de Irán era "visto como un héroe por algunos en el mundo árabe y [por] los izquierdistas de América Latina". (The Bush administration was very worried about the President of Iran "being perceived as a hero by some in the arab world and by the leftists from Latin America".)"

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El País: El candidato a la presidencia argentina, Reutemann, rechaza la herencia de los Kirchner (A candidate to the Argentinian presidency, Reutemann, rejects Kirchner heritage)

"El senador peronista disidente asegura que la labor de los Kirchner complicará la gestión de los futuros gobiernos. (The "peronist" dissident senator affirms that the works of the Kircher couple will complicate governments in the future.)"

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Aftenposten: Scenesetter for the Vice President´s Visit to Egypt

"Embassy Cairo warmly welcomes your visit to Egypt, which comes at a critical time not only in our relations, but also in Egyptian history: the slow sunset of a quarter century of benevolent but authoritarian rule. At 77, beginning his fifth Presidential term, Hosni Mubarak is the indispensable man in the Middle East, but one so deeply rooted in the past that he communicates mainly apprehension about the future. He leads most where it matter most to us, mainly on foreign policy: he remains in front of his public in advancing Egyptian-U.S. and Egyptian-Israeli cooperation. On Iraq, Mubarak personally pressed the recent Arab League's reconciliation conference toward the positive goal of drawing Sunnis into the political process -- and may be the only Arab leader of note to have received both the Iraqi PM and President. Mubarak has repeatedly pressed Bashar Asad to cooperate with the Mehlis investigation, to stop foreign fighters from entering Iraq and to stop inciting the Palestinians against the PA. He will want to hear from you about our next steps on Syria, Iraq, and Iran, and we can exploit his anxiety on Iran to press for Egyptian help in the IAEA. He will read you very closely to measure the fall-out from Egypt,s flawed parliamentary elections and Ayman Nour,s anticipated conviction and their impact on the future of our relations. He is tepid about a Free Trade Agreement, welcoming it as a mark of U.S. confidence in Egypt. He accepts the political context of the FTA but resents what he sees as artificial U.S. "linkage" to specific political steps in Egypt."

Read cable

(Image Credit: Dali Rău)

2011-02-04 Assange in Melbourne

ImageJulian Assange spoke today to a gathering in Melbourne organized by the WikiLeaks Defence Committee and the Australian Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, who presented Assange (via his lawyer) with his membership card in the union as a journalist.

His filmed address, played to a free-speech forum at Federation Square in Melbourne, touched on a number of WikiLeaks' guiding principles as well as on immediate political pressures on the organization and on Assange himself. Repeatedly, he united those two concerns, principled and practical:

We at WikiLeaks recognize the difference between secrecy and privacy. ... We believe in transparent power, not in transparent people.

Video of the address

Via @Asher_Wolf and @joycelowenstein on Twitter, and Greg Mitchell at The Nation

2011-02-04 Cable illuminates why Yemenis engaged in "Day of Rage" [UPDATE]

While Egyptians continue to maintain their uprising against President Hosni Mubarak with a “Day of Departure" today, it is worth looking at what happened in Yemen yesterday. An opposition coalition of Yemenis mobilized in defiance of a plea from President Ali Abdullah Saleh to not protest, rally or engage in any sit-ins, and held their own "Day of Rage."

The protests were considered to be the largest anti-government demonstration that Saleh has “faced in his 32-year rule.” The Guardian reported protesters chanted, “Together we fight against poverty, corruption and injustice.” Given what has been happening in Egypt, the protesters hoped to mobilize in their Tahrir Square, but the government “beat them” to the Square and sent “hundreds of tribesmen to camp out there overnight.”

Protesters called for Saleh to “form a new government” and “let the Yemeni people decide who will rule them in clean, fair elections.”

WikiLeaks cables released on February 3 reveal why Yemenis might be mounting a revolution. In cable 05SANAA1790 from June 28, 2005, called “Priorities for Washington Visit: Saleh Needs to Be Part of the Solution.” A section on “Democratic Elections” is particularly illuminating:

Saleh touts Yemen as a leader in regional reform and has committed to democratization. Domestically, however, he has run-out of reforms he can implement at no political cost to himself. Increasingly anxious about upcoming Presidential elections, and already preoccupied with succession, it is unlikely Saleh will allow a viable opposition candidate to challenge him in 2006. The visit is an opportunity to pressure Saleh not to amend the constitution so he may run again in 2013 by praising him for bringing Yemen to the point where he can rely on the system in place to produce a legitimate successor. The inducement here might be a public show of support via a greater role in public fora such as the G-8.

The cable points to “significant progress” in the U.S. relationship with Yemen. The progress referred to seems solely contingent on Yemen’s ability to counter “terrorism” or al Qaeda elements in the country:

Significant progress has been made in our relationship with Yemen in the past four years. The ROYG has arrested and tried perpetrators of the USS Cole and VM Limburg attacks, shared GWOT-related information, collaborated in the capture of AQ suspects and helped uncover plots against U.S. and other western interests in Yemen. On the economic and political reform front, Yemen has conducted reasonably free and fair Parliamentary and local council elections, taken an active role in regional and international democratic reform efforts, including BMENA and the Community of Democracies; backed IMF/WB sponsored economic reforms, and committed to seeking MCC membership.

However, it appears the US overlooked the magnitude of poverty and state repression in the country, as there is no prediction on whether the people might rise up in opposition to Saleh.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) membership cited is “a U.S. Government agency that works with developing countries for the promotion of good governance, economic freedom and investment, in this instance, through its Millennium Challenge Threshold Program.” The program has tried for the past five years to award $20 million in grant funding to Yemen but has postponed the award at least twice because Yemen was found to not be meeting a number of “thresholds.”

According to the Center for Global Development, in Fiscal Year 2009, it failed to meet the “threshold” for five of the six “Ruling Justly” categories. It passed the “threshold” for control of corruption but failed the “thresholds” for political rights, civil liberties, government effectiveness, rule of law and voice and accountability.

It failed all six of the “Investing in People” categories: immunization rates, health expenditures, primary education expenditures, girls’ primary education completion, and natural resources management. It passed three “thresholds” in three of the “Economic Freedom” categories—land rights and access, trade policy and inflation—but failed to meet the regulatory quality, business start-up and fiscal policy “thresholds.”

The Center notes, "On November 28, 2005, Yemen became the first country suspended by the MCC for a deterioration in performance, as measured by the indicators." More than half of a decade later, Yemen is still doing an abysmal job of ruling justly and investing in its people and that is why Yemenis (like other countries in North Africa and the Middle East) are revolting against their government.

For more on cables from Yemen, here is part 2, which looks at US military aid and the Yemen government.

2011-02-04 Georgia Tech, Z.J. Chen and 'Anonymous membership'

Zhiwei (Jack) Chen's belongings were seized at a Georgia Institute of Technology dorm on Thursday Jan 27 on the basis of an FBI search warrant also issued to dozens of other individuals who remain unnamed. The FBI stated that these warrants were issued in connection with an ongoing investigation into cyber-attacks on "major companies and organizations." Wikileaks was not named but the elusive 'Anonymous group' was. The FBI writes in its press release:

A group calling itself “Anonymous” has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they conducted them in protest of the companies’ and organizations’ actions.

Chen is likely thought to be associated in some way with this 'group' of activists because he operated a chat room in which "Payback" topics were discussed. Tragically, however, the legal relevance of holding an online chat with an individual who claims to be "a member of" Anonymous has yet to be articulated. Here are some crucial considerations that must be addressed in any context in which "membership" in the "group" is alleged, for purposes of legal action.

It is immediately clear to anyone who has a passing familiarity with the group that the expression "calling itself 'Anonymous'" in the above statement by the FBI does not denote anything linguistically meaningful. By virtue of the very nature of the 'group', any attempt to define it or to assign a fixed membership list is doomed to failure. Not only are 'members' located all over the globe, but there is no fixed set of defining principles that can be used to single-out any particular group of individuals at any given point in time. There is no official set of membership criteria, no assigned governing body and no fixed meeting place.

Any prosecution will have to be directed at individuals carrying out a particular well-defined set of actions that directly violate laws like the Computer Misuse Act of 1990. This is precisely why the UK PCeU cited this violation explicitly when 5 people were arrested in connection with pro-WikiLeaks DDoS attacks.

No such charges have been brought against Zhiwei Jack Chen, but this did not deter the FBI from adding, in its official statement on the issued search warrants, that

The FBI also is reminding the public that facilitating or conducting a DDoS attack is illegal, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, as well as exposing participants to significant civil liability.

Clearly, while carrying out DDoS attacks is a crime, administrating a chat room is not. It is also legal for an American citizen to associate with any activist group, provided that the individual does not engage in protests that are not "peaceful". Freedom of peaceful assembly is guaranteed by The First Amendment, even when that group purports to be involved in activities associated with "Operation Payback." It even applies, of course, to members of the KKK.

Operation Payback is a name commonly used to refer to a cause associated with pro-WikiLeaks activists who participated in DDoS attacks against various institutions. Yet it is safe to assume that not all chat participants and chat room administrators participate in the attacks; Chen is one of many individuals who assert that they have not participated in the attacks, despite their presence on Anonymous-related IRC channels. Many journalists and academic researchers who did not also engage in DDoS attacks (or other punishable activities) have also participated in chats relating to Operation Payback.

Does any and all 'participation' warrant search and seizure from the United States? The FBI's statement would certainly have us draw a direct link between peaceful assembly with the Anonymous 'group', loosely defined, and severe punishment. Furthermore, association with Anonymous is not necessary in order to have one's privacy violated, judging from the actions taken by the US Department of Justice when subpoenas were issued to Twitter, which ordered Twitter to provide any and all information regarding any account in any way associated with WikiLeaks and others.

In the case of Zhiwei Jack Chen, we don't know yet what valid evidence will be brought against him, if any, in the event that he should be charged with a crime. We do know, however, that public statements made and other actions taken by government authorities clearly have the result of discouraging dissent and activism. Anonymous operations, many of them peaceful and fully legal (including the recent operation of faxing literature to Egyptian authorities) aim to support institutions and individuals that unmask government complicity in illegal activities and human rights violations.

As a result of actions taken to discourage dissent, individuals are harmed. In this case, Mr. Chen's electronic devices have been seized, including storage devices containing "study materials and class documents" and "it could be weeks or months before he knows anything about the investigation." Chen has not been charged with any crime and has been told by his university, The Georgia Institute of Technology, not to speak with the press.

In sum, Chen's right to freely pursue his education has been infringed upon by the FBI seizure, which is based on an alleged association with an elusive group, and Chen's right to free expression has been revoked by his university, whose administrators likely frown upon the prospect of 'negative press'. Judging from the lack of public outrage, they may be getting exactly what they want.

2011-02-04 Malware attacks strike White House

There appears to have been a Malware cyber attack on the White House e-mail system, which has just been restored after experiencing an eight-hour outage Thursday. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer announced from an official White House Twitter account at 11:45 that

WH unclassified email went down shortly before 8 AM. Verizon is working to solve the problem.Pool reports will be avail in press office

It is thought that the attack targeted UK diplomats, according to British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who spoke in Munich today at a security conference. Hague also discussed for the first time a series of cyber attacks launched on over the past year, including Zeus Trojan infections of the Foreign Office and malware purporting to be a report on a Trident missile (an intercontinental ballistic missile armed with nuclear warheads) last December.

Hague states that "the UK Government was targeted in this attack and a large number of emails bypassed some of our filters." He said that experts were able to cure the infections "but more sophisticated attacks such as these are becoming more common."

An existing national security program aimed at counteracting cyber attacks is currently being funded for £650m. He also proposed the creation of a further "Defence Cyber Operations Group" and called for global collaboration to combat cybercrime.

2011-02-04 Protesters roar back with "Day of Departure" for Mubarak

4:00pm Cairo - In the face of unrelenting violence from Mubarak's thugs, protesters have come roaring back with a massive "Day of Departure" demonstration today as the White house scrambles to work out a deal in which Mubarak would leave immediately. Waving Egyptian flags and chanting the national anthem, protesters in their thousands are filling Tahrir or Liberation Square in Cairo as Friday pray lets out. More than a million people are reported to have flooded into Liberation Square, another million are reported in Alexandria and the numbers are still growing. Thongs of protesters can still be seen crossing the Nile River at the October 6th Bridge into Liberation Square. In the face of all the death, destruction and injury cause by the Mubarak regime in the past few days, the masses remain steadfast in their demand that "Mubarak must go now!"

The peaceful protests that millions of Egyptians have participated in Cairo and other places since January 25th have been marked by violence since the massive Million Man March that turned out an estimated 4 million anti-Mubarak protesters on Tuesday as they were attacked by pro-government thugs. The festive mood that had characterized the rallies from January 25th to February 1st had changed to one of fear and anger as Liberation Square became a battleground and the peaceful protesters camped overnight had to fight off gangs of thugs made up of Mubarak's security forces and NDP hacks. Some of these thugs rode into Tahrir Square Wednesday riding horses and camels, beating protesters with clubs and whips. Later they used rebar, swords, fire bombs and Molotov cocktails, gun fire and even automatic weapons to kill at least 13 people and injure more than 800 more.

They also attempt to clear the field of foreign journalists so that their crimes would not be reported. All across Egypt news people from Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, France24, Al-Arabiya, ABC News, CBS News and many more had their people beaten up by thugs, arrested by government agents and had their equipment either confiscated or damaged. More than 50 attacks on the press were reported in the past couple of days. Earlier, Al Jazeera was told that it could no longer broadcast or report in Egypt. They have managed to continue to broadcast live from Cairo and other places in Egypt but they have had to do so secretly and with inferior equipment. Many of their people have been beaten, arrested or kidnapped, and they have had equipment destroyed, seized or stolen but their live feed has continued to be the major conduit of information on Egypt's revolution for the world.

Reports at this hour from both Cairo and Alexandria are that the pro-Mubarak forces are nowhere to be found. They have all but disappeared. The army seems to have a different attitude too. Late yesterday they repositioned some tanks among the protesters as the new Vice President Omar Suleiman promised that demonstrators would not be fired on today. Today the army has set up check points at every major entrance to Tahrir Square and are carefully checking everyone entering the square for weapons or explosives. In some cases, they are working with protesters to secure the square and check people.

The question on everyone's mind going into today has been "Would the spirit of the Egyptian people hold despite the violence." So much had happened since the big rallies on Tuesday, the turnout for today's rallies was uncertain.

Tuesday was like a celebration in the park for an estimated 2 million anti-Mubarak protesters in and around Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. As the army looked on but checked people entering the square for weapons, the city center started filling up with protesters in the early morning. It was the first time in seven days of protest that many from the various neighborhoods felt able to venture to the square. By Tuesday, neighborhood patrols were in place well enough to secure their homes and possessions against roving bands of criminals and looters. Many more felt it safe to leave home and join the movement.

The numbers swelled as a result and not only in Cairo, but in Alexandria where over a million anti-government protesters turned out, in Suez where a quarter million turned out, Sinai, Mansoura, Damnhour, Arish, Tanta, el-Mahalla and el-Kubra all had mass protests as well.

In Tahrir Square the mood had been festive all day. The chants for Mubarak to leave were loud and the banners were colorful. Many people had gotten their first taste of self-organization only days before in establishing the defenses of their neighborhoods. Now they were here in the center of Cairo inventing the future of Egypt.

More than a million people in the square and yet some people said they had never seen it so litter free. Young people would circulate among the crowds collecting trash with the call "Donations for the NDP, donations for the NDP." Women said they had never felt so respected and free in Egypt. As the number of protesters swelled, some took up the tasks of food preparation and water distribution. They were protesting their tyrannical government and caring for each other, creating the future of their country while they did it. It was a historic and beautiful day. Then it turned ugly.

The Empire Struck Back: Mubarak Sent in the Thugs

Late in the evening Hosni Mubarak made a defiant speech promising to serve out the rest of this Presidential term and to "die on Egyptian soil" Then pro Mubarak forces that had been gathering up moved to violent confrontation with the pro-democracy protesters in Alexandria and Cairo. Mubarak hoped to create a climate of chaos so that fear would drive people off of the streets and back into their homes.

After the January 25th protest the police were first used to suppress the protesters in the usual manner, with intimidation and violence that left at least five people dead and 150 wounded. By the end of Friday pray a week ago it was clear that tactic wasn't working. Some of the police were starting to join the protesters.

The police were withdrawn. The army was sent in to protect selected sites but most neighborhood went without protection. Many criminals escaped from jail. Looting started to be big problem in the neighborhoods. Suddenly protesters out in the streets had to worry about the situation at home. Vandalism and looting was going on in the neighborhoods. Their families weren't safe.

After the criminals somehow got out of jail, the government hoped that the mayhem they were creating would cause the people to assent to the return of the old order. It didn't work. Since January 25th, the Egyptian people have a new sense of empowerment. They set up neighborhood patrols and road blocks. By Tuesday they were able to leave a small force behind to secure each neighborhood while the majority, men, women and children, felt safe to attend the rallies.

The regime's response to the overwhelming success of the Million Man March on Tuesday was to send in the thugs. Mubarak was able to mobilize thousands of his own supports and not all were thugs. Some were genuine Mubarak supporters or NDP Party loyalists and functionaries and not all of those were thugs. Many where there because they were promised 200 lbs and paid 50 up front, many were police or govt security personnel in plain clothes, this became clear from the volume of captured ID's, many oil workers had been told by their bosses to come, and in at least one case a company promised to make it's temp workers permanent if they joined in. Such was the 'organic' nature of the pro-Mubarak forces and explains why it took many days for them to assemble and show themselves.

For two horrific days they made mayhem and murder in Cairo and Alexandria as they went as far as hurdling fire bombs down on protesters and spraying them with machine gun fire. In Cairo, their aim was to drive the anti-Mubarak people out of Liberation Square. The protesters barricaded themselves and fought back with such weapons as they could fabricate or capture and they never left the square. Today, those pro-Mubarak forces seem to have evaporated and the people are having a glorious "Day of Departure" rally that no doubt, will send Mubarak on his way.

A struggle of wills that is incredibly important for the future of all humanity has been won. Mubarak's campaign of terror has failed. Liberation Square held. That battle has been won!

Just tweeted in 8:22pm Cairo time. Seven demand of the protesters in Tahrir Square:

1. Resignation of the president
2. End of the Emergency State
3. Dissolution of The People's Assembly and Shora Council
4. Formation of a national transitional government
5. An elected Parliament that will amend the Constitution to allow for presidential elections
6. Immediate prosecution for those responsible of the deaths of the revolution's martyrs
7. Immediate prosecution of the corrupters and those who robbed the country of its wealth.

2011-02-04 Tunisian Anonymous activists take on Egyptian cause

Al Jazeera says this about the video piece which they showed for the first time this evening and put on YouTube minutes later, describes how "Tunisian members of Anonymous, the same group of hackers that targeted anti-WikiLeaks sites" are now supporting the struggle in Egypt. The piece features an interview with the Tunisian hacker anon.m. It is less than 2 minutes long:

Social media played a crucial role in organizing the uprising in Tunisia, and now, activists there are focusing their technical skills on helping anti-government protesters in Egypt.

Tunisian hackers say they will attack website belonging to the Egyptian government in solidarity with the pro-democracy activists protesting in Cair, Alexandria and Luxor.

Nazanine Moshir reports from Tunis.

2011-02-04 UPDATE on Bloomberg reports about FBI contractor and WikiLeaks

On January 20, WL Central reported "Bloomberg discloses FBI Contractor admits to Spying on Swedish".

Yesterday, Bloomberg reporter Michael Riley 're-drafts' his flawed article as a magazine story in Bloomberg Business Week.

On the day the original Bloomberg article appeared, Andy Greenberg of Forbes reported that he interviewed Robert Boback of Tiversa about the original Bloomberg article claims:

Boback sounded distinctly less sure of his firm’s deductions than he did in the Bloomberg piece. 'What we saw were people who were searching [computers connected to filesharing networks] for .xls, .doc, .pdf, and searching for those generic terms over and over again,' says Boback. 'They had multiple Swedish IPs. Can I say that those are WikiLeaks? I can’t. But we can track the downloads of people doing that, and a short time after those files were downloaded, they’re listed on WikiLeaks.' (Source: Forbes)

Greenberg also writes that:

Boback...says that he saw downloads of documents that later were posted to WikiLeaks from other countries too, both 'in the U.S. and across Europe.' 'Many of the searches are in Sweden, many are outside,' adds Boback. 'It’s hard for us to say that any IP address was WikiLeaks.' (Source: Forbes)

Even Paul Ohm, the "expert in cyber crime at the University of Colorado in Boulder," who Riley quotes in the original Bloomberg piece, posts his own response to the quality of Riley's reportage.

On his blog, Freedom to Tinker, Ohm writes:

I have no idea whether these accusations are true, but I am interested to learn from the story that if they are true they might provide 'an alternate path for prosecuting WikiLeaks,' most importantly because the reporter [Michael Riley] attributes this claim to me. Although I wasn't misquoted in the article, I think what I said to the reporter is a few shades away from what he reported, so I wanted to clarify what I think about this.The question presented by the reporter to me (though not in these words) was: is it a violation of the CFAA to systematically crawl a p2p network like Limewire searching for and downloading files that might be mistakenly shared, like spreadsheets or word processing documents full of secrets?

I don't think so. With everything I know about the text of this statute, the legislative history surrounding its enactment, and the cases that have interpreted it, this kind of searching and downloading won't "exceed the authorized access" of the p2p network. This simply isn't a crime under the CFAA.

But although I don't think this is a viable theory, I can't unequivocally dismiss it for a few reasons, all of which I tried to convey in the interview. First, some courts have interpreted 'exceeds authorized access' broadly, especially in civil lawsuits arising under the CFAA. For example, back in 2001, one court declared it a CFAA violation to utilize a spider capable of collecting prices from a travel website by a competitor, if the defendant built the spider by taking advantage of 'proprietary information' from a former employee of the plaintiff.

Second, it seems self-evident that these confidential files are being shared on accident. The users 'leaking' these files are either misunderstanding or misconfiguring their p2p clients in ways that would horrify them, if only they knew the truth. While this doesn't translate directly into 'exceeds authorized access,' it might weigh heavily in court, especially if the government can show that a reasonable searcher/downloader would immediately and unambiguously understand that the files were shared on accident.

Third, let's be realistic: there may be judges who are so troubled by what they see as the harm caused by Wikileaks that they might be willing to read the open-textured and mostly undefined terms of the CFAA broadly if it might help throw a hurdle in Wikileaks' way. I'm not saying that judges will bend the law to the facts, but I think that with a law as vague as the CFAA, multiple interpretations are defensible.

But I restate my conclusion: I think a prosecution under the CFAA against someone for searching a p2p network should fail. The text and caselaw of the CFAA don't support such a prosecution. Maybe it's 'not a slam dunk either way,' as I am quoted saying in the story, but for the lawyers defending against such a theory, it's at worst an easy layup. (Source: Freedom To Tinker)

In the newer Bloomberg version, Riley does not add anything of substance to his original draft. He merely adds a stylistic flourish more suitable to magazine reportage. He recounts, for example, how a Tiversa analyst, "taps a few keys, and up pops the cell phone number of actress Lucy Liu along with the pseudonym she uses to check into hotels—attached to a production company document clearly labeled 'not to be made public.'"

The article then jumps into a spin cycle of logic saying, "Assange has told interviewers that his group has damaging information on pharmaceutical, energy, and financial companies, Boback confirms that confidential corporate documents are readily accessible [on file-sharing platforms]." Indeed, Tiversa told Riley that it hacks into other people's computers, and then demonstrates this fact. WL Central confirms that Riley is a 'sloppy' reporter.

Traditional media industries operate in what economists refer to as a 'dual product market'. They produce two commodities: content and audiences. Audiences are attracted to content, and those audiences are then sold to advertisers.

Media firms, like Bloomberg, fall under the traditional research and development business model - with its characteristic high production and low replication costs. Since creativity and intellectual property are both expensive and time consuming - what economists refer to as Baumol's effect, media firms, like Bloomberg L.P., have an economic imperative to control the entire supply chain and their downstream access to audiences.

What that means is that while most industries today are under pressure to flatten their business models, media firms, like Bloomberg L.P., are compelled to grow both horizontally and vertically. A natural by-product of this growth is that they have the ability to exploit their vertical and horizontal economies of scale by repurposing flawed and provocative content across multiple platforms.

The power of the press lies not merely in its capacity to express ideas. Media firms, like Bloomberg L.P., have the capacity to actually set the agenda for 'what' and 'how' the public in the United States discuss anything at all - simply by virtue of the fact that these firms can replicate, and thereby amplify, their messages across a multitude of communication platforms, which they control.

The print media landscape in the United States, for example, is dominated by 14 corporations, which own a myriad of vertically and horizontally integrated communication organs for print, TV, and film. (Source: Considering this reality, it would appear, that Bloomberg L.P., 85% of which is owned is by one man, is an example of the alternative press in the United States.

Riley ends his second draft of the Bloomberg article with a thesis set in stark relief:

The bottom line: WikiLeaks, which says it's a passive drop box for whistle-blowers, is accused of searching hard drives for classified documents.

In a like manner, we have our own thesis, set in equally sharp relief:

The bottom line: Bloomberg, which states on its ethics page that it adheres to:

  • 1. Accuracy.

    For the reader to believe our interpretations, we must start with accurate information, honestly and professionally gathered. Moreover, our interpretation must flow from the facts and be reasonable.

    Inaccurate or sloppy reporting of material that appears anywhere under the BusinessWeek name violates the spirit of this Code. The responsibility for accuracy lies with everyone who touches the editorial product. (Source: Bloomberg Business Week | Ethics

is accused of violating its own journalistic standards.

2011-02-04 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

ImageEl País: EE UU descarta el derrumbe del castrismo (The United States rules out the fall of "Castrism" in Cuba)

"Asegura que, a pesar del endeudamiento y el desabastecimiento en sectores clave, su economía "menos vulnerable" que hace 20 años. ([The United States] assures that, despite the debt and the lack of supplies in key sectors, its economy is "less vulnerable" than 20 years ago.)"

Read more (Spanish)

Aftenposten: Burma-Knu: Knu Seeks Preconditions for Talks

"Despite the Burmese regime´s offer reported in Ref A for unconditional talks with the Karen National Union (KNU), which has been waging a conflict against the regime for over 50 years, the KNU placed several conditions on its participation in future talks with the regime during its April 6 meeting with Thai FM Kasit, who has offered to be a facilitator for direct talks between the KNU and the Burmese regime. Though he characterized some of the KNU´s requests as unattainable, Kasit agreed to use them as the starting point for a discussion with Burmese PM Thein Sein he expects to have on the margins of the April 10-12 ASEAN Plus Three and East Asian Summits in Pattaya, Thailand. According to the NLDLA (National League for Democracy Liberated Areas), the exile group that claims to speak for Aung San Suu Kyi´s NLD (National League for Democracy), the FM also, at its request, agreed to explore possibilities for Thailand to serve as a facilitator for discussions between the NLD and the Burmese regime."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Burma: Struggles at the Top Affecting Relief Effort

"Pol/econ chief met with [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN], who described the latest state-of-play regarding the senior generals´ management of the Cyclone Nargis relief effort, emerging factions among the generals stemming from disagreement on how relief efforts are being handled, and speculation over Senior General Than Shwe´s plans for the future. A hard-line faction within the senior leadership, led by Vice Senior General Maung Aye, is pushing to roll back agreements the GOB made with ASEAN and the UN on access for international staff to the Delta. On June 10, the regime announced new and cumbersome access and coordination procedures for the UN and INGOs conducting relief work in the affected areas. The UN and ASEAN view the new procedures as "unacceptable," and are determining how best to push back."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Burma: Than Shwe Is The Problem

"[TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] with close ties to the regime told Emboffs that all roads lead to Senior General Than Shwe, who remains isolated and unaware of the scale of the catastrophe that has befallen his country. No one will approve visas for international humanitarian assistance workers without his direct approval. The military and bureaucracy remain paralyzed with fear. Meanwhile, in the absence of resources and capacity to address the growing humanitarian disaster, GOB ministers have ordered regime cronies to provide commodities and money for the assistance effort. The cronies are quickly draining their savings and assets, so they have put pressure on Rangoon "viceroy" Myint Swe to allow international assistance and humanitarian workers into Burma."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Ambassador Presses RTG On Burma

"I spoke separately to the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, asking them to use the occasion of the Burmese Prime Minister´s visit to advocate for genuine democratic reform in Burma. The PM said he was prepared to be a messenger for the West, but clearly has his own ideas about how to encourage positive change in Burma. The FM planned to advocate for UN SYG special representative Gambari´s return to Burma, and said he would urge Burma to release ASSK. We will continue to press the Thai to use their influence, to the extend possible, in support of democratic reform in Burma."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Burma: The Dialogue Is Dead

"PM Thein Sein told an Embassy contact that Than Shwe had dispatched him to ASEAN with two objectives: to cancel Gambari´s briefing during the Summit, and to undermine support for U.S. sanctions on Burma. Thein Sein said Than Shwe had ordered him to walk out of the Summit if ASEAN leaders refused to cancel Gambari´s briefing. Thein Sein also revealed that the Senior General is singularly focused on removing U.S. sanctions and has no plans to engage in a genuine dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi. Our contact believes Than Shwe feels the pressure of U.S. sanctions and recommends we exploit emerging differences within the top levels of the regime by tightening the sanctions against Than Shwe and other senior generals. Gambari has no visa for a follow-up visit to Burma, reportedly due to regime pique at him for issuing Aung San Suu Kyi´s statement, about which they claim Gambari failed to inform them in advance."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Aung San Suu Kyi Meets With Regime Liaison

"Aung San Suu Kyi met with newly appointed liaison Aung Kyi at the Government Guest House the afternoon of October 25. Burmese State Television announced Acting PM Thein Sein would be appointed Prime Minister and that Quarter Master General LT GEN Tin Aung Myint Oo would replace Thein Sein as Secretary 1 of the SPDC. The regime also announced Aung Kyi´s appointment as Labor Minister, in addition to his position as liaison to Aung San Suu Kyi. A coalition of ethnic cease-fire groups announced their endorsement of a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi. ICRC continues to be denied access to political prisoners and may soon embark on a public campaign for access. Activist Toe Kyaw Hlaing has taken over the leadership of 88 Generation Students since the arrest of Htay Kywe and the group is planning a boycott of businesses owned by the generals and their families."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Burma: Track II Process Trashed

"Advocates of engagement who looked to the unofficial European-led Track II process to reach key members of the GOB and offer concessions to promote further dialogue, were morose at the end of their October 2007 visit to Burma, which occurred shortly after the regime´s latest brutal crackdown. [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN], wept publicly at the delegations´ final reception in Burma and called the groups´ second visit, "a complete disaster." Delegation member [TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN] agreed with[TEXT REMOVED BY AFTENPOSTEN]´s gloomy assessment and said, "The Track II process is dead." Even before the delegation left Burma, the regime broke its promise not to publicize the visit. The delegation spent most of their visit on tours of GOB Potemkin villages or in meetings with the Information Minister and mid-ranking MOFA officials. Unlike their previous visit, when they met with senior regime leaders and were accompanied by several retired Burmese Ambassadors and senior-level MFA officials, this time they had no fellow travelers and left Burma with little to show for their efforts."

Read cable

Aftenposten: UN U/SG Gambari Visit Surpasses Expectations

"UN Under Secretary General Ibrahim Gambari visited Burma May 18-20. He did manage to see Aung San Suu Kyi for 45 minutes, although no one had expected it. He also visited the senior generals in their new capital and heard promises of greater openness. Gambari downplayed the significance of his meetings saying that the willingness of the GOB to provide greater access for humanitarian assistance, arrange a more inclusive political process, and release more political prisoners remains to be tested. He also called for the suspension of military action against the Karen, but only received complaints from the generals about the Karen in return. We should work with other interested countries to keep pushing for major substantive reforms and support UN efforts to find common ground between the regime and its pro-democracy opponents."

Read cable

Aftenposten: The SPDC´s Economic Priorities

"A sensitive GOB document has given us a rare glimpse at the economic policymaking process of the SPDC´s top leadership. From its list of 30 "guidelines," it´s clear that the SPDC is not totally ignorant of the economy´s key problems (energy shortages, budget deficits, and poor agricultural and industrial production). However, it´s also clear that the SPDC has little idea what to do about them."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Tough(er) Guys Move Up in Rangoon: Biographic Information on the New Prime Minister and S-1

"The two SPDC members promoted in the shuffle that led to Prime Minister Khin Nyunt´s "retirement" in Rangoon on October 19 have apparently been chosen primarily for their loyalty to Senior General Than Shwe and their willingness to subordinate themselves to him. They have also shown themselves to be ruthless, opportunistic operators. Biographic information on the promoted officials follows."

Read cable

Aftenposten: Burmese General Khin Nyunt as Prime Minister: Promotion or Demotion?

"PDC Chairman Senior General Than Shwe´s unexpected August 25 realignment of Burma´s military and government hierarchy may undercut SPDC Secretary-1 General Khin Nyunt, the regime´s number three leader. Khin Nyunt´s new assignment as Prime Minister is expected to be largely ceremonial and his continued control of the powerful military intelligence portfolio may be temporary. Chairman Than Shwe also ousted five cabinet members regarded as Khin Nyunt supporters, and replaced them with his own proteges, four generals and a retired colonel. The new changes are consistent with Than Shwe´s consolidation of power that began with the marginalization, and subsequent death last year, of former strongman Ne Win. We do not expect at this point that the new alignment will lead the regime to change its tune on the NLD or alter its defiance of the international community."

Read cable

Aftenposten: USA usikker på Jordans konge

"Kong Abdullah II av Jordan (49) sparket sin regjering tirsdag og oppnevnte en ny samme dag. Omstokkingen blir sett på som en reaksjon på revolusjonen i Tunis, opprøret i Egypt og de mange og langvarige demonstrasjonene som har preget Jordan de siste ukene."

Read more (Norwegian) (English by Google Translate)

The Telegraph: Nigeria pressured UK to drop charges against politician

"The Nigerian government refused to discuss a prisoner transfer agreement with Britain unless the Crown Prosecution Service dropped corruption charges against a favoured member of the ruling party, leaked documents disclose."

Read more

The Telegraph: FCO 'refused to speak with doomed British hostage'

"Foreign Office officials turned down the opportunity to speak to a British man held hostage in Mali before his execution because they did not want to be seen to negotiate with terrorists, cables obtained by WikiLeaks indicate."

Read more

The Telegraph: Britain pledged millions to lawless Somali region linked to pirate gangs

"Britain pledged millions of pounds to support the leaders of a lawless region of Somalia despite knowing that they had links to pirate gangs, cables show."

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The Telegraph: US launched anti-extremist campaign to reverse UK radicalization

"The United States launched a secret campaign to reverse the radicalisation of young Islamists in Britain, amid American fears that this country had the most hard-line Muslim communities in Europe."

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The Telegraph: Ex-SAS officers hired as 'human bait' by foreign shipping firms

"Ex-SAS officers are being used as “human bait” by foreign shipping firms who fear their vessels will be hijacked by Somali pirates, the cables indicate."

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The Telegraph: UN aid cash went to Islamist insurgents

"The United Nations was paying one of the world’s most notorious terrorist groups after getting “too close” to it, secret documents disclose."

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The Telegraph: British Muslims sending problem children 'al-Qaeda' schools

"British Muslims are sending their “problem children” to Islamic schools in Kashmir on the India-Pakistan border where they are at risk of being recruited by al-Qaeda, officials have warned."

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The Telegraph: Britain refused to shut down charity US claims is funding Hamas

"British authorities refused to close down a charity, despite America claiming it was allegedly funding terrorism in the Middle East."

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The Telegraph: We can't control Duchess of York, David Miliband told angry Turks

"The Duchess of York was disowned by David Miliband after she caused a major diplomatic row by making an undercover television documentary, leaked documents show."

Read more

The Telegraph: How America spied on the Foreign Office

"The United States ordered its diplomats to spy on Foreign Office ministers, asking them to gather gossip on their foibles and the strains in their professional relationships, leaked US cables show."

Read more

The Telegraph: US agrees to tell Russia Britain's nuclear secrets

"The US secretly agreed to give the Russians sensitive information on Britain’s nuclear deterrent to persuade them to sign a key treaty, The Daily Telegraph can disclose."

Read more

The Telegraph: Gordon Brown 'forced to scrap plan for snap election'

"Gordon Brown abandoned plans for a snap general election in May, 2009, after the row over smear emails sent by his press aide, according to cables obtained by WikiLeaks."

Read more

(Image Credit: Dali Rău)

2011-02-04 Yemen government thinks US owes the country military aid

Poverty and repression under President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government in Yemen has moved Yemenis to mount an uprising. The “Day of Rage” yesterday was another demonstration intended to force Saleh to resign.

News organizations like NPR have reported since the revolt in Tunisia that Saleh has “ordered income taxes slashed in half and instructed his government to control prices” and “deployed anti-riot police and soldiers to several key areas in the capital and its surroundings to prevent riots.” But those moves have not stopped protests from taking place.

As highlighted in a previous post, Saleh has brutally neglected the needs of his people. According to NPR, “Nearly half of Yemen's population live below the poverty line of $2 a day and doesn't have access to proper sanitation. Less then a tenth of the roads are paved. Tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes by conflict, flooding the cities.”

WikiLeaks cables released on February 3 suggest he has been primarily focused on bringing in US military aid. His focus on making his country a better partner in the global war on terrorism has led him to viciously ignore the people of Yemen.

04SANAA3023, created on December 6, 2004, shows that Saleh wanted to be the first world leader to meet President Bush after his reelection. The cable suggests he wanted to do this so he could be the first to get new deals for aid from the US:

President Saleh emphasized his desire to be among the first foreign leaders to personally congratulate President Bush on his reelection, and said he needed to meet with Secretary of State designate Dr. Rice and other newly appointed senior officials to raise new regional developments that can only be discussed "face to face." Ambassador promised to convey Saleh's message to the White House, cautioning that a visit could not be arranged before inauguration and all new cabinet posts had been filled and confirmed.

True to form, Saleh launched into a list of what he believes the U.S. owes him. "Where is the money for the Army, and what about my spare (F-5) parts?" Saleh demanded. Ambassador promise to follow up on this matter. (Note: OMC reports difficulties in getting MOD to follow through with the necessary paperwork on parts and equipment in order to spend the 17 million USD in Yemen's FMF account. End Note.)

The Wall Street Journal has reported, “U.S. military aid to Yemen in 2010 was $155 million. Congressional approval is needed for a proposed increase to $250 million in aid for 2011.” And that, “Washington reduced aid to Yemen to almost zero earlier in the decade due to the country's widespread corruption.”

Some of that corruption relates to the Yemen government's failure to meet commitments on small arms and light weapons destruction (SA/LW). The following cable 05SANAA1790 from June 28, 2005, discusses arms in Yemen and what demands should be made with Saleh before meeting with him:

Saleh has indicated to top advisors in the past that he believes he can pull the wool over the eyes of the USG. In the time leading up to his November trip, we must convince him that this is not the case by making clear that we are monitoring Yemeni SA/LW orders and shipments closely, and that a breach of the President's promise will affect the tone of the visit and, ultimately, the nature of bilateral relations. Specific steps we can take on SA/LW in the months leading up to the visit include: Stopping any illicit sales and shipments; continuing pressure on supplier nations not to sell SA/LW to Yemen; linking future USG military assistance to inventory controls and end-user monitoring; calling on Saleh to enforce UN restrictions on weapons trade to Somalia and Sudan; and, conducting joint Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIOs) with the Yemen Coast Guard (YCG).

Though, recently, the WSJ reported the Yemeni Coast Guard was “working through private companies” and “renting out servicemen and patrol boats—including vessels given to Yemen by the US—for commercial ships seeking armed escorts against piracy.” The vessels donated were not to be used for “private commercial operations,” but “high-ranking officials in the Ministry of Interior and the nation's Coast Guard Authority, which falls under the ministry,” are engaging in “for profit” operations.

The situation is precarious because the US counts on Yemen “to help choke off supply routes between Africa and Yemen used to smuggle arms and other contraband.”

US dependence on Yemen in the "global war on terror" has led the US to offer up “deliverables” that can be given to Saleh if he complies and cooperates with demands. The same cable discussing demands that should be made of Saleh says, “In return for Saleh's compliance, we should promise expanded military aid and cooperation.”

The cable goes on to say the most successful counter terrorism programs, “the training and equipping of the Yemen Coast Guard (YCG) and the Central Security Forces Counter Terrorism Unit (CSF-CTU), have been conducted in cooperation” with the Ministry of Interior. It indicates “a long-term, sustainable training program should be funded through” foreign military financing (FMF). Smuggling interdiction operations should be conducted with the YCG. And, equipment assistance for operations should come with a designed inventory system to prevent small arms or light weapons from “leaking” to the “gray market.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently indicated the US would like to launch “efforts to address the underlying causes of extremism: poverty, corruption, social inequality and political divisions that have boiled into an insurgency” and push Yemen to “stop the practice of child marriage and enact reforms.” But, it is unclear if the current regime, with or without Saleh, would actually be open to such US involvement in the country’s affairs.

Yemen’s value to the US, and the degree to which the US is interested in supplying aid, is measured by the country’s ability to be a partner in the “global war on terror.” The current uprising throws a kink in that partnership by putting the US under pressure to fix the country so Yemen can get back to hunting al Qaeda.

If the Yemen government is not open to US intervention in the country's economic and political affairs, it could put at risk the following, which is noted in the aforementioned cable:

President Saleh has logged some major CT gains and significantly improved security in Yemen since the post-9/11 forging of the U.S-Yemen GWOT partnership. Recent successes include: the round-up of an emerging al-Qa'ida cell with plans to target the U.S. Ambassador, prosecution and conviction of the USS Cole and M/V Limburg terrorists, and participating in the largest MANPADs destruction program in the region.

It would make it harder for the US to gain “access to detained known or suspected terrorists,” participate in the deportation of fugitives and the enforcement of “anti-terrorist facilitation to close off the Jihadist pipeline,” as Nabeel Khoury writes in the cable.

2011-02-05 February 14 is Revolution Day in Bahrain

ImageYesterday in Bahrain, hundreds of protesters gathered after Friday prayers in front of the Egyptian embassy in Manama to support Egypt and also to call for reform of Bahrain's own government. The request to protest was rejected by the Interior Ministry on Monday and again later in the week, but the eight political societies organizing the event managed to obtain permission late on Thursday. The request was rejected on the grounds that it is illegal to hold gatherings near diplomatic missions in Bahrain, even though the same groups were allowed to protest a few kilometres from the Tunisian embassy last month. The groups include Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, Brotherhood Society, National Democratic Action Society (Wa'ad), Islamic Action Society (Amal), Democratic Progressive Tribune, Democratic Gathering Society, National Gathering Society and Islamic Arabic Wasat Society.

Bahrain, which is currently ranked 144 out of 178 countries on Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2010, has also been looking this week at further censorship of social media in the country, particularly of Facebook. The Bureau of Information and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority are working to develop mechanisms that allow for greater government control of the movement of electronic communication sites, which they say could be used by some to "undermine the achievements of the State and the unity of their people, and this requires constant vigilance and awareness in this aspect". There are an estimated 200 thousand Facebook users in Bahrain, and approximately 70 per cent of them are young people.

This censorship has not come quickly enough to forestall a facebook call for revolution of February 14, the anniversary of the day in 2002 when the Emir of Bahrain declared his country a Kingdom and himself a King. From the facebook page:

We have been suffering the ills of corruption and brutal oppression on all levels for far too long established under an irresponsible and unaccountable regime. ... The regime has grown accustomed to creating crisis after crisis under the constructed banner of sectarianism to escape from accountability and to suppress the legitimate rights of the people. They have stolen the nation’s wealth on land and sea beyond all limits. They have not stopped there, they have used the security forces to humiliate and attack citizens and have spread endemic corruption through the state apparatus and crushed our thoughts through censorship and press control. This has lead to widespread anger and frustration among all the people.

... We are asking for a new constitution where every letter is written by the people. We also demanding that a special body is established under the complete authority of the people to hold accountable and to investigate all the violations of economic, political and social policies that have taken place, including the theft of public wealth and political naturalization, in order to reach national agreement and conciliation. ...There is no difference between sunni and shia, rich or poor, between Bahrani, Ajami, Houli or Tribes – we are Bahrain.

On behalf of the Bahraini youth to the sovereign people of Bahrian

The demands made on February 14:

1. A new constitution written by the people
2. The establishment of a new body that has authority to investigate and hold to account economic, political and social violations, including the return of stolen public wealth and reversal of political naturalistion, in order to reach national conciliation

Important next steps:

1. Forming local committees in every area to manage and direct gatherings on the day
2. Choosing a central and busy area that is easy to reach in the capital city
3. Drawing maps to guide protestors
4. Taking precautions to avoid disclosing protest strategies to officials
5. Full use of media and internet tools like facebook, twitter, and webforums

Parts of the statement also appears from Bahraini Youth for Freedom published on BahrainOnline.

Some idea of what the Bahraini people have been subjected to is documented by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and Amnesty International. Both document torture, suppression of political opposition and a host of human rights abuses. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights has documented several cases of attacks on children "to spread terror and fear amongst the Bahraini Shiite villages and especially among its children and youth in order to scare them from participating in any protest act".

Despite a horrific human rights record, the US State cables released so far from Manama show a close relationship and mutual respect between Bahrain and the US. In cable 09MANAMA442 the US Ambassador notes "King Hamad of Bahrain was unwavering in his support for United States policies in the Gulf, welcomed any new requests the U.S. may need from Bahrain, voiced strong support for U.S. actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and said he was ready to play a positive role toward Israel."

In return, the US Ambassador "noted that the U.S.-Bahraini relationship was very strong and mutually beneficial and affirmed to the King that the U.S. and Bahrain shared a similar vision in the region despite its many challenges."

The King further stated that "U.S. involvement in Afghanistan provided a golden opportunity for the Afghan people to build their country's security forces as well as their education, medical, science and trade programs and ministries. The King added that U.S. efforts should be touted more in the media. He quoted President Eisenhower, saying the "U.S. is soldiering for peace and not waging war" and he understood that the U.S. was not seeking to rule over Afghanistan or Iraq. He is convinced that the U.S. is in both places to help the Afghan and Iraqi people and he was appreciative of our armed forces personnel performing their duties in places so far from home. King Hamad noted some instability in Iraq, but thought overall, Iraq was on a positive slope. ASD Vershbow thanked the King for his comments and said it was important that the world hears his, as well as similar explanations, of U.S. policies in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Other cables show a similar level of cooperation and trust.

According to Abu Ahmad on Twitter as @bahrainboard "main reason 4 revolution is relations with Israeli enemy/cos it will remain enemy as long as it's occupying Palestinian land" and "US act towards #Egypt just like (Master & Slave)/No way..No Way..NO WAY specially after #Jan25".

Image credit: February 14 facebook group.

2011-02-05 WikiLeaks cables on Amr Moussa as possible successor to Mubarak [UPDATE:1]

Amidst reports from newspapers like the Telegraph that secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, might be someone who takes over for President Hosni Mubarak, it seems worthwhile to look at what released WikiLeaks cables reveal about the US perception of Moussa. The US has close ties with Egypt and gives much military aid to Egypt. Although the people in Egypt revolting against Mubarak have the upper hand right now, any leader appointed to lead Egypt would likely have some support from the US.

At least since 2006, the issue of who would succeed Mubarak has been a foremost issue for the US. And, as indicated by 09CAIRO874, the US has noted Moussa could be a possible candidate for taking over the presidency:

The next presidential elections are scheduled for 2011, and if Mubarak is still alive it is likely he will run again, and, inevitably, win. When asked about succession, he states that the process will follow the Egyptian constitution. Despite incessant whispered discussions, no one in Egypt has any certainty about who will eventually succeed Mubarak nor under what circumstances. The most likely contender is presidential son Gamal Mubarak (whose profile is ever-increasing at the ruling party); some suggest that intelligence chief Omar Soliman might seek the office, or dark horse Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa might run. Mubarak's ideal of a strong but fair leader would seem to discount Gamal Mubarak to some degree, given Gamal's lack of military experience, and may explain Mubarak's hands off approach to the succession question. Indeed, he seems to be trusting to God and the ubiquitous military and civilian security services to ensure an orderly transition.

There would be one problem, however, if Moussa took power: Israeli leaders would not be pleased. A cable, 09TELAVIV654 reveals that a political counselor expressed disdain for the idea that Arabs think “progress on the Palestinian track” would make it easier for Egypt to publicly engage Israel. Yacov Hadas, deputy director general for Middle East and the Peace Process, responds, “While peace with the Palestinians is an Israeli interest and important in its own right, it should not be the sum total of Israel's relations with the Arab World.”

The next sentence notes Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa “invented the ‘never-ending hurdle race’ in which Israel could never do enough to deserve a positive response,” and that “the Israeli-Palestinian track should not serve as an excuse for the Gulf to avoid action, whether against Iran or through practical steps to support the Palestinian Authority.”

09CAIRO722 called “Scenesetter for Ambassador Ross’ Visit to Egypt” make clear that Moussa does not believe the threat of Iran to be as significant as the US:

Moussa has publicly and privately minimized Iran's threat, claiming that the Arab world should strengthen its economic and cultural ties with Iran. Moussa believes that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict poses the greatest danger to the region, and has consistently pressed the U.S. to do more to stop Israeli settlement activity and advance the political process between Israelis and Palestinians. The Arab League's views on the importance of advancing a Middle East nuclear weapons free zone are similar to those of the MFA. Moussa also plays an important role in trying to manage intra-Arab squabbles, including Qatar-Syria vs. Egypt-Saudi Arabia. The Egyptians have made it clear that they consider the Qataris "nouveau riche upstarts" who are trying to buy their way to influence via big spending and posing as the "true" champions of the Palestinian cause by allying themselves with Syria and Iran. The Qatari attempt to invite Iran to the Doha Arab League summit incensed the Egyptians, many of whom blamed Moussa for mismanaging the issue.

According to a cable on Mohamed El Baradei, the leader whom media consistently mention as a possible leader of the opposition, Moussa and El Baradei do have ties. It is noted in 10CAIRO237 that Moussa once told El Baradei “all Egyptians” are “’aspiring for change’ calling it their right to do so.”

The political shuffling today, however, has demonstrated those wanting Mubarak to resign will likely not settle for a new president who is a familiar face in Egyptian politics. They want a new regime and that means a fundamental shift in the political class, one that brings social revolution.

2011-02-05 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

ImageEl País: Objetivo: matar a Osama Bin Laden (The Goal: kill Osama Bin Laden)

"Arabia Saudí propuso unir las fuerzas de seis países para capturar o asesinar al jefe de Al Qaeda, según revelan documentos secretos del Departamento de Estado de EE UU. (Saudi Arabia proposed to unify the strength of six countries to capture or assassinate the chief of Al Qaeda, according to secret documents from the State Department of the United States.)"

Read more (Spanish)

The Telegraph: Why Scots want to stay in the Union

"Scotland would remain part of the United Kingdom for “a generation” because of the economic crisis, the then Scottish secretary told US officials."

Read more

The Telegraph: Zardari is a numbskull, British told Americans

"British officials described Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, as “highly corrupt” and a “numbskull”, according to leaked documents."

Read more

The Telegraph: Tony Blair's fees the talk of Beijing

"When senior diplomats met in Beijing to discuss the burning issues of the day, one topic seemed to exercise them as much as any other – the size of Tony Blair’s lecture fees."

Read more

The Telegraph: The bear with a sore head and the fish that flew the flag

"When Saddam Hussein was toppled by Coalition forces in Iraq, great lengths were taken to expunge all traces of his oppressive regime."

Read more

The Telegraph: Thailand's royal pet

"An experienced diplomat should be able to greet anyone from a king to a despot, but nothing could prepare one US ambassador for the experience of meeting a military officer that happened to be a poodle."

Read more

The Telegraph: Millions in overseas aid to Africa was embezzled

"The true scale of the theft of overseas aid money by corrupt foreign regimes is disclosed in leaked documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph. Tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been pocketed by their ministers and officials, much of it used to buy luxury goods."

Read more

The Guardian: From Palau to Mongolia, WikiLeaks cables show loneliness of distant envoys

"Away from the high-profile embassies, the longer, untold narrative of the WikiLeaks cables is often one of triviality, inconsequence, and moments of wry, Beckettian humour. The US runs 292 diplomatic missions across 175 countries, and many of them lie within a kind of diplomatic hinterland. Cables sent from the islands of the Pacific, or the steppes of Mongolia, generally reveal not the fast-paced interaction of a global superpower, but the loneliness of the long-distance diplomat."

Read more

(Image Credit: Dali Rău)

2011-02-06 Syria and the Day of Rage that didn't happen

ImageAs predicted, Syria's day of rage did not meet with the same response as that of others in the region. "The only rage in Syria yesterday was the rage of nature," wrote Syrian journalist Ziad Haidar, in reference to a cold spell and heavy rain on the day of the protest. While the facebook group promoting the day of rage attracted many followers, there were several key differences separating Syria from Egypt or Tunisia. Facebook is banned in Syria, and the page was reportedly set up by expatriates. Although it gained 15,000 followers by Friday, most were also believed to be non-resident. The Syrian government has been extremely vigilant about quelling opposition to the forty year government of president Bashar al-Assad and his father. The country has an anti-US, anti-Israel foreign policy that is popular at home and Assad is also seen to be slightly more open to change than others in the region.

Approximately 10,000 political prisoners are currently being held in Syrian jails. A national state of emergency has been in effect in Syria continuously since 1963 and it is consistently used to suppress and punish any dissent. According to Amnesty International's report on Syria for 2010, "Critics, human rights defenders, alleged opponents of the government and others were detained, often for prolonged periods; some were sentenced to prison terms after unfair trials. Torture and other ill-treatment remained common, and were committed with impunity; there were several suspicious deaths in custody. The government failed to clarify the circumstances in which [17 prisoners and five others] were killed at Sednaya Military Prison in 2008 and, again, took no steps to account for thousands of victims of enforced disappearances in previous years. Women faced legal and other discrimination and violence. The Kurdish minority remained subject to discrimination, and thousands of Syrian Kurds were effectively stateless. At least eight prisoners were executed."

In preparation for possible dissent this month, Syria’s only two Internet carriers, MTN and SyriaTel, have begun restricting access to foreign proxies, which Syrians use to access banned websites like Facebook and YouTube. In mid-January, officials began confiscating Internet routers from coffee shops offering free wireless to customers. On February 3, Human Rights Watch reported a group of 20 people who beat and dispersed 15 demonstrators who were holding a candlelight vigil for Egyptian demonstrators while the police watched. They were told, "If you want to be with Egypt, go to Egypt." When Suheir Atassi, one of the main organizers, went to the local police station to file a complaint, a security official insulted and slapped her and accused her of being a "germ" and an agent of foreign powers. Ghassan al-Najjar, an activist in his mid 70's who had called for the protests, was arrested the day before the scheduled protest.

The Syrian government has remained highly critical of both the US and Israeli policies in the region and supportive of Hamas and Hezbollah, both positions which are popular with the Syrian people. Some Syrian media accused the foreign organized Syria protests of being a plot by the Israeli government to destabilize Syria. The Baath newspaper, ran an editorial saying the uprising in Egypt is proof that all the troubles of the Arab world stem from "the complete acquiescence of some (Arab) regimes to the U.S. and their acceptance to take Zionist dictates."

The Syrian government has taken a proactive stance to addressing some Syrian concerns in the leadup to the protests, announcing 12 billion Syrian pounds (US$250 million) for a fund to help the most needy families in Syria and doubling the heating oil allowance for about 2 million state employees and pensioners in contradiction of their previously stated policy to eliminate fuel subsidies by 2015.

Fears of the violence currently being perpetrated by pro-Mubarak thugs in Egypt and worries of further sectarian division also prevented protesters from supporting the event. Syria is home to almost one million Iraqi refugees, a daily, visible reminder of the dangers of regime collapse in a religiously divided society.

The Syrian people appear to be putting their faith in change coming from Assad's current government. The Committee to Protect Journalists has a discouraging view of the changes promised at the beginning of Assad's regime which are still undelivered at the end of ten years. Amnesty International is also reporting no progress. Human Rights Watch states "There was no significant change in Syrian human rights policy and practice in 2010.". On January 31, Assad gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal in which he talked of "stagnant water", which bred pollution and microbes, and "because you have had this stagnation for decades, let us say, especially the last decade in spite of the vast changes that are surrounding the world and some areas in the Middle East, including Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan, because we had this stagnation we were plagued with microbes. So, what you have been seeing in this region is a kind of disease. That is how we see it." The words show understanding, but the actions have not followed as yet.

2011-02-06 The Skeleton Argument of Julian Assange’s lawyers: Extradition part 5

Julian Assange appears tomorrow, 7 February, at Westminster Magistrates Court for what has been announced as a two-day hearing, but judging from past extradition hearings in the UK, it is likely (with appeals) to take much longer, even a year or more, with the second-last word being that of the Supreme Court (formerly House of Lords) and then, under certain circumstances, the last word from the Home Secretary.

Readers should note that the procedure is not to judge the actual case on its merits as a criminal procedure but to judge it according to relevant sections of the UK Extradition Act. Such evidence of the alleged offences that has surfaced is only relevant indirectly, such as to prosecutorial abuses, not to the arguable merits of that evidence and a future case in Sweden if extradition occurs.

The Skeleton Argumentbegins with a challenge to prosecutor Ms Ny’s authority to issue an European Arrest Warrant (EAW). The case of Enander v. The Swedish National Police Board [2005] EWHC 3036 (Admin) is cited; it states that only the Swedish National Police Board is the authorised authority.

Assange’s legal team will put to the court that the onus is on the Crown Prosecution Service to show that Ms Ny’s Department has the authority. They have already requested proof of the authority from the CPS so far without a reply.

Extradition for Improper purpose/Abuse of process:
A major issue is that Ms Ny Swedish prosecutor sought the EAW for the purposes of investigation and not for the purpose of prosecution, and as we know, the decision by Ms Ny has not yet made as to whether Assange will be charged. More detail on arrest for the purposes of investigation in adversarial systems here.

Arrest for the purposes of investigation is strictly curtailed in adversarial law nations and arises from the bitter historical legacy of abuses by authority that a person could be incarcerated for long periods “for investigation”. A wonderful mechanism to lock up people that the authorities don’t like, especially political dissidents. Others include people suspected of committing a crime but without sufficient proof, again, keeping such people in custody while authorities “permanently investigate” has the whiff of the jackboot all over it (and still does in various parts of the world.)

That is why defence lawyers in Australia, and in the UK etc look carefully at custody management records in the brief of evidence to ensure that legislative limits on time in custody for the purpose of investigation are adhered to. When they are not, the prosecution may be on a slippery slope to losing their case.

On this issue,(para 12) Ms Ny stated:

We have exhausted all the normal procedures for getting an interrogation (and) this investigation has gotten to a point where it is not possible to go further without interrogating Assange himself.

This does not sit well with former Swedish judge Sundberg-Weitman's question,well put by a colleage here at WLC:

The question Sundberg-Weitman raises is that of why Ny did not take the opportunity “to interview Assange whilst he was still in Sweden” and “why she did not accept Assange’s proposal to be interrogated in England,” which is a legitimate request, in accordance with “rules valid in both Sweden and Britain on Mutual Legal Assistance.”

Indeed. And the following explanation by Sundberg-Weitman sheds some light: “Possibly we see here a reflection of her view that it is a good thing to have a ”perpetrator” (!) locked up even in cases where he is subsequently acquitted in a court of law” ie bail refused as a question of policy. This is anathema to all defence lawyers in adversarial systems and most legal regimes that this writer is aware of.

(The right to bail applications ultimately is a human right, and a legal right in most jurisdictions, except Sweden it seems, where if the crime alleged is of a sexual nature, policy considerations based on gender appear to negate or seriously degrade the possibility of bail.)

It is clear that the Assange team’s argument is that the EAW is sought purely for the purposes of interrogation ie investigation and is accordingly an abuse of the EAW system. This is buttressed by citing Swedish lawyer Mr Hurtig’s statement, (para 21) “…she is just seeking Mr. Assange’s extradition to Sweden in order to hear his side of the story.”

“Mere suspicion” is not enough to justify an extradition order. The Skeleton Argument cites the decision in Re Ismail [1999] 1 AC 320, 326-327, Lord Steyn:

…it is not enough that he is in the traditional phase 'wanted by the police to help them with their inquiries.' Something more is required.

The Re Ishmael precedent will be thoroughly argued as precluding extradition, as will another precedent case from France Vey v. The Office of the Public Prosecutor of the County Court of Montluçon, France.

That case involved a lack of particulars contrary to section 2(4) of the Extradition Act 2003 which require details on the circumstances of the offences and not merely a “history of the accusation(s)” Extradition was denied in that case.

A further case of Asztaslos ) [2010] EWHC 237 (Admin) reaffirmed the principle of disallowing extradition for that particular “accusation case” warrant.

Note that in the UK and Australia, in relation to interrogation, a suspect has the right to remain silent. In the UK part of the caution given on arrest is that a tribunal of fact may take an adverse inference from that silence. In Australia no such caution is given and no such inference can be made.

(Inquisitorial systems differ, as does Sweden’s but it is noted that Assange volunteered one interview session with Swedish police before he sought permission to leave Sweden, and clearly stated his account of events contrary to the victim’s account put to him by police.)

Particulars of the alleged offences.
Particulars of Assange’s case on the warrant are still (to this writers knowledge) shrouded in mystery, apart from the four allegations, so it will be of great interest to see whether s.2(4) lack of particulars are sufficient to deny extradition by itself.
The particulars required are:

4(c)particulars of the circumstances in which the person is alleged to have committed the offence, including the conduct alleged to constitute the offence, the time and place at which he is alleged to have committed the offence and any provision of the law of the category 1 territory under which the conduct is alleged to constitute an offence;

Abuse of Process/particulars:
There is much legal precedent for denying extradition when abuse of process is demonstrated and Assange’s legal team have particularised it as follows, and submit it “is capable of amounting to an abuse of process”:

(I) She has not yet decided whether to prosecute him;
(II) She is seeking extradition for the purposes merely of questioning him in order to further her investigation;
(III) Arrest for the purposes of questioning would have been, and remains, unnecessary given that repeated offers have made on Mr. Assange’s behalf for him to be questioned by her, which she has rebuffed; and
(IV) The proper, proportionate and legal means of requesting a person’s questioning in the UK in these circumstances is through Mutual Legal Assistance

Accordingly the argument is, among others, that Ms Ny’s assertion that the Swedish procedures were exhausted to question Assange is false, that the method of questioning by the European regime of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA--meaning questioning in the UK) had never been formally requested (and if so please prove it): amounts to an abuse of process, and the presiding judge must make a ruling that abuse did not occur if the decision is for extradition.

The next issue in the Skeleton Argument relates to the extradition law, section 2 requiring a statement within the extradition warrant, that shows the person is accused of an offence “with a view to his arrest and extradition…for the purpose of being prosecuted…”

Apparently no such statement exists in the warrant apart from the standard Preamble requesting extradition “for the purposes of conducting a criminal prosecution or executing a custodial sentence or detention order.

Mr Assange is not referred to anywhere in the EAW as an “accused” and the upshot is that the court must decide whether he is an “accused” within the meaning of the Act. If there is ambivalence, secondary evidence, ie “extrinsic” can be examined in exceptional circumstances, and is admissible (as argued by the legal team) as it is “relevant to a potential abuse of process.”

This extrinsic evidence relates of course to the various statements of Ms Ny to the media, a letter to the Australian High Commissioner and as documented in the statement of Mr Hurtig on what Ms Ny said to him (although that is hearsay one must say and might be inadmissible).

Even if those exceptional circumstances did not allow extrinsic evidence to be allowed in, (para 70) the argument is, in any event, that the warrant does not state it is unequivocally for the purposes of prosecution of Mr Assange and therefore it should be rejected anyway.

The argument of prosecutorial abuse in not disclosing all the evidence.
The duty of prosecutors to make all evidence available to the defence is well known across all jurisdictions and enshrined in Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights “ECHR”. Strictly speaking Ms Ny must disclose all the evidence (including the highly contentious SMS messages) if Assange is charged, the normal course of events.

The “horns” of Ms Ny’s “dilemma” are that if she does disclose, the prosecution case might well be seen as utterly hopeless (and the legal team appear to be of that view—issue being abuse of prosecutorial powers) so that is the reason (I assume) that disclosure has not been made and why he has not been charged.

So, if the intention is to prosecute, then under Sweden’s laws and the Convention, Assange is entitled to all the evidence—not giving it is a prosecutorial abuse (and an abuse of his human rights.)

If the intention of extradition is NOT to prosecute then this is also an abuse of the EAW warrant and the prosecution should never have been brought in the first place.

(It is no wonder, given the strange nature of the case, that many people have a suspicion that there is a third possible reason for extradition, that this is all a ploy, a holding charge so that the USA can unseal an indictment and apply to Sweden to have Assange extradited to the US on charges related to their Espionage Act or conspiracy therof.)

Ms Ny is nonetheless caught between a rock and a hard place, and if extradition occurs, either of the three outcomes or combination: prosecution; no prosecution; extradition to the USA will likely not reflect well on the Swedish Prosecution Service.

Illegal and corrupt behaviour.
The Skeleton Argument reflects upon “illegal and/or corrupt behaviour” of the Prosecuting Authority in Sweden, namely the release of Assange’s name initially to the media; the prosecutorial forum shopping (ie the political input of Claes Borgstrom); the refusal by Ms Ny to interview Assange in Sweden; the refusal to provide all the evidence of the case to Assange in English; leaking parts of the prosecutors case to the UK media (fair trial issues arising); allowing the lawyer for the complainants to besmirch the suspects’s character before he is actually charged (prejudice, perverting the course of justice, contempt of court).

I don’t necessarily agree that it could (in an adversarial system sense) be contempt of court as Assange has not been charged and therefore, technically, there is no ongoing court case in Sweden (ie no listing for trial.) If Borgstrom commented after Assange was charged, that would be sub judice in the UK and elsewhere and then subject to contempt of court.

That he has commented at all adversely to Assange’s interests, is still reprehensible and risks prejudicing a fair trail. If this happened in Australia, he would be pilloried by the respective Law Society at least for professional misconduct, and it could likely result in a successful application by the defence for a permanent stay of proceedings

Whether the alleged offences are extraditable s10 offences.
Sweden has not provided an “Opening Note” stating which offences per the warrant parallel offences in English law. There is much conjecture on this topic and I will not address it here except to say that this is a grey area of Swedish law which may well not translate well to UK law. We await the CPS to produce its Opening Note.

Mens Rea-Guilty Mind
The issue of Mens Rea, mental elements of crime absent apparently with sexual offences in Sweden I have covered in detail here.

Human Rights s21 of the Extradition Act.
It is sufficient to summarise that if this section is triggered, an extradition must be compatible with the EHRC as interpreted through the UK’s Human Rights Act, and especially that the extradition is not for “gender specific” or “political” crimes.

Onward Extradition to the USA.
As Sweden has a recent poor record in allowing renditions to Egypt at the behest of the USA, (issue-breach of the Convention Against Torture “CAT”) the argument is that there is a danger of Sweden allowing a further extradition to the US where he would (it is argued) be likely to be subjected to some form of torture. (Readers might contemplate the treatment of Bradley Manning, a US citizen in assessing that risk for a non citizen.)

There is also the risk of a death penalty in the USA, especially given the statements of various political figures/commentariat in the USA.

Final Analysis.
It is this writers legal opinion that the Swedish case is weak and contains many issues, any of which could result in extradition being refused. Accordingly my view is it will be refused, but it might take an appeal or two before it is finally settled.

For some more details on a possible Sweden to USA extradition, another post here by a colleague at WLC.

Correction: Hearing is at Woolwich Crown Court, Belmarsh, not Westminster Magistrates Court--thanks to those who have pointed out the error.

Peter H Kemp
Solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW.

2011-02-06 Tunisia's Revolution Continues

Even though Tunisia's dictator for 23 years, President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali has been forced to flee the country and is currently a fugitive from an Interpol international arrest warrant with his assets frozen in Tunisia and Europe, the very difficult task of thoroughly rooting out the old regime and building a new Tunisia continues.

While many are still troubled by the fact that long time Ben Ali crony Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi remains the head of government, there haven't been many street protests in recent days. After a major government reshuffle purged it of Ben Ali loyalists, most people seem to have adopted a wait and see attitude and started to get back to normal life.

“I think the pressure that was put on the government has borne its fruit, meaning that we have obtained good concessions,” was the way Kamel Ben Hamida, a resident of Tunis, put it. “It would be more reasonable to stop asking for the government to fall.”

However, in the past week the Tunisian government has been struggling with a wave of counter revolutionary violence that appears to be coming from some members of the government's own security forces. On Monday, youths armed with sticks and knives ran through the streets of Gassrine burning government buildings and terrorizing people according to the state news agency. A group of 2000 attacked the interior ministry. On Tuesday gangs rampaged through schools in the capital Tunis terrorizing the students. In the southern city of Gabes a synagogue was attacked. The police began a strike on Monday which didn't help matters. That was ended on Tuesday when a deal was reached to allow the security forces to form a union.

The army made a visible presence throughout the country to stop the violence and calm the fears of chaos that might create a longing for the old order. In Carthage, the army fired into the air to disperse gangs that raided two schools. Tunisia's new interior minister said on Tuesday that he thought that this violence was part of an organized plot to bring back the old regime:

"These people who came yesterday to the ministry... are the same people who went out today to scare people," Farhat Rajhi told privately-owned Hannibal TV. "There is a conspiracy against state security and there is a conspiracy in the security forces."

Peres Trabeisi, the spokesman for Tunisia's Jewish Community said he didn't know who was behind the attack on the synagogue but,

"I condemn this action and I believe those who did it want to create divisions between Jews and Muslims in Tunisia who have lived for decades in peace,"

The Interior Minister replace 34 senior security officials that he charged were involved in a "conspiracy" to undermine the state. This is seen as the first step in dealing with the network of police agents, security personnel and spies that Ben Ali had built up in two decades of running a police state. Until they are completely rooted out they can be expect to continue to make mischief in an effort to overthrow the revolution and bring back the old regime.

The UN also called for a security overhaul. Bacre Waly Ndiaye, leading an eight-member team sent to Tunisia by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Tunisia's security forces must be overhauled to stop them from working against the people as they did during the uprising, in which 147 people were killed and 510 people were wounded.

Al Jazeera report on current situation in Tunisa

There was more trouble on Saturday in the northwestern town of El Kef as police fired on an angry crowd of a thousand people who were attacking the police station. The police killed 4 protesters and wounded 17 others. The crowd had turned on police after the police chief “abused” a member of the community, the official Tunisian news agency said.

A local journalist said the police chief slapped a woman during a demonstration and that triggered the violence in which the people attacked the police station with stones and small firebombs according to the interior ministry. Two cars were burned, one a police vehicle. The police first used tear gas, then fired into the air in a vain attempt to dispense the crowd before firing into it the ministry said. It also said the police chief that started the incident was under arrest and said investigators had been sent to El Kef.


A protester was also killed Saturday in the southern town of Kebili when he was hit by a tear gas canister in a clash with security forces. Several other people were hospitalized with injuries. The official TAP news agency said that security forces intervened after protesters attempted to set fire to a national guard post.

Sunday Fahrat Rajhi, the new interior minister, suspended all activities of Ben Ali's old ruling RCD Party according to a statement carried by TAP. Rajhi said he would seek the party's dissolution. Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri said that the move was made for what the government is terming "security reasons", as many "people are blaming RCD members for violence ... and looting".

Clearing out the old regime is not an easy matter. There are some 10,000 civil servants that are RCD members. The new agricultural minister Mokhtar Jalleli told AFP "People were obliged to join the party, to pay to have a job." A wholesale dismissal of that many people would further hurt the already damaged economy. The agriculture ministry accounts for 10% of Tunisian GDP and Jalleli is scrambling to get on top of the situation there. He told AFP:

"We have occupied farms, milk distribution problems: in some departments of the ministry, people are on strike for bonuses promised by Ben Ali," he said.

"In others, they are willing to resume work if their boss, from the RCD is fired...,"

According to economist Adbeljelil Bedoui for stability to return "the State has to take control or nationalize business of the Ben Ali clan." He said they would also have to tackle the black economy, which he estimates at between 10 and 15 percent of the GDP and as much as 40% of the non-farm employment.

The government has already nationalized two banks, the Zitouna and Central Bank of Tunisia, that were facing collapse and linked to the Ben Ali clan.

The European Union agreed to freeze the assets of the former Tunisian president, his wife and their associates on Monday France24 reported. On Tuesday French authorities seized a small aircraft belonging to the Ben Ali family. Ben Ali is estimate to have amassed a $50 billion USD fortune that includes banks, tuna export, hotels, construction, newspapers and pharmaceuticals during his two decade dictatorship.

Tunisia is a former French colony and France is still it's major trading partner and the seven billion USD in trade a year is crucial to the Tunisian economy. Habib Gaida, president of the Franco-Tunisia chamber of commerce, said nearly all French businesses operating in the country had gotten back to business within two days of Ben Ali's fall.

Finally free of the corruption and control of the Ben Ali mob, the mood in the business community is determinedly upbeat. Zied Lahbib, who is number two at the agency promoting foreign investment said "The Ben Ali regime was a lead jacket for the business environment."

Another thing propelling the post-Ben Ali business environment is the return of expats. "Businessmen from the diaspora are already contacting us to return, because they are Tunisians but also because they want to be the first into the markets, most of all in new technology and computer engineering," Lahbib added.

There has been a new freedom of the press since the government restrictions have been lifted. Those rules required running a picture of the ruling family on the front-page everyday for example. Interim PM Ghannouchi has lifted all restrictions on the press and abolished the hated Information Ministry. “Finally the Deliverance” ran the front page headline in the French-language daily Le Quotidien a week ago.

This North African nation is now celebrating three weeks of freedom from the iron fist of a dictator that rule them for more than two decades. They still have many challenges ahead and the forces of counter revolution are by no means spent, but the Tunisian people are now well on the way to consolidating their revolution.

Tunisia - posted by @Gsquare86 from Twitter Feb. 6, 2011

2011-02-06 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

ImageEl País: El Arma es la Red (The Weapon is the Web)

"Los papeles de Wikileaks revelan cómo los blogueros de Egipto iniciaron su rebelión en 2005, se inspiraron en la revuelta de Irán y usaron Facebook para enfrentarse a la dictadura. (The Wikileaks documents unveil how bloggers from Egypt started their insurrection in 2005, got inspired by the one in Iran and used Facebook to face the dictatorship.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: Guatemala's congress reinstates data protection: the end of the problem that refused to go away

"Guatemala's Congress passed legislation by an overwhelming majority to reinstate data protection for drugs and agrochemicals, paving the way for consideration of the CAFTA in the U.S. Congress. This was the end of a drama played out over years that was fraught with misinformation, conflict of interest, partisan politics, and a pronounced lack of decisiveness by top political leaders. It has consumed in aggregate more of our full-time attention than any other issue in recent months. Most of what follows has been reported in e-mails and, to a lesser extent, cables as we have moved from one operational crisis to the next. Here, we lay out more systematically the extent of the problem, the forces at play, and the efforts of many to succeed on an issue where the easy arguments lie on the other side."

Read cable

El País: Next steps for Thailand's compulsory license bid

"On November 29, the RTG Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) issued a statement announcing a compulsory license (CL) on efavirenz, a Merck-patented medicine used to treat HIV/AIDS patients. The Ministry's statement cited the high price of the drug as a barrier to access to effective HIV drugs, and declared its intention to import generic versions of the drug and also produce domestically. Supply issues may also have been a factor in MoPH's decision. Merck was not notified prior to the announcement and to date has not had the opportunity to meet with decision makers at the Ministry. While Thailand probably has complied with both its own law and the WTO in its action, the lack of prior consultation with Merck and the absence of any attempt to negotiate pricing with the U.S. firm weaken MoPH's arguments and suggest the MoPH is being heavily influenced by activist NGOs. We do not believe the major RTG economic ministries are aware of either the details or the implications of the MoPH decision, something we hope to remedy. Although many believe we are facing a fait accompli, it may yet be possible to avoid CL implementation: Merck plans to counter MoPH's announcement with a price reduction and, with USG help, hopes to salvage its patent. However, increasing numbers of HIV-positive patients and spiraling treatment costs may bring about further RTG moves on compulsory licenses. Embassy action request is contained in para 28."

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El País: RTG open to discussions with Pharma "after CL's are issued"

"On January 29, Minister of Public Health Mongkol na Songhkla issued a statement officially announcing compulsory licenses (CL) on Abbott Labs' HIV medicine Kaletra, and the heart medication Plavix, distributed by Sanofi-Aventis. The official notification for Kaletra was signed on January 24, and for Plavix the following day. According to the statement, the CL on Kaletra will be effective for five years, but for Plavix will have no expiration date."

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""April 6" movement leader Ahmed Saleh told us July 26 that the group has ejected Islamist and Nasserist members to try to preserve its secular, western orientation."

Read cable


"Human rights attorney Gamal Eid, who represents all of Egypt's detained bloggers, told us September 15 he had learned through third party sources that prison officials have tortured jailed Coptic blogger Hany Nazir to pressure him to convert to Islam. The prison has not allowed Eid access to Nazir since his October 2008 arrest under the Emergency Law."

Read cable


"The GOE arrested and detained a group of about 30 activists and bloggers the morning of January 15 as they arrived in Naga Hamadi to visit the families of those killed in the January 6 sectarian shootings (ref A)."

Read cable


"Egypt has witnessed two recent cases related to protection and expansion of freedom of speech. In the first case, State Security in Alexandria has arrested and detained a young blogger, Abdul Karim Nabil Soliman, apparently because his recent blog entries have carried strongly-worded attacks on Islam. While few in the Egyptian blogosphere have chosen to defend the substance of Abdul Karim's writings, and some analysts argue that Abdul Karim is engaging in hate-speech, many bloggers have argued that his detention is nevertheless a blow to freedom of speech in Egypt. In the second case, the Islamic Research Council of Al-Azhar has banned the import by the American University in Cairo Press of a new study by a Georgetown scholar of the origins and evolution of Wahhabi Islam, on the grounds that it is offensive to Islam. AUC is seeking to have the ban undone."

Read cable


"After a year in prison, Mohamed Abbou, jailed after posting two Internet articles critical of the GOT, President Ben Ali and his family, continues to receive attention and support from local and international human rights groups. The Tunisian Human Rights League head calls Abbou "the most flagrant example of Tunisia's poor human rights record." Abbou started his second hunger strike March 11 to protest harassment and restrictions on family visits. According to his wife, Samia Abbou, family members have in recent weeks been prevented from conducting normal weekly prison visits, and Samia herself was reportedly detained at length at Tunis' international airport while traveling to and from Geneva to drum up support for her husband's cause. Abbou, a lawyer without a history of political opposition and without known ideological ties to Islamists, continues to represent a rallying point for activists across the board who support freedom of expression."

Read cable


"In a meeting with the Ambassador, Prime Minister Nazif said that it is essential that the GOE continue with its economic reform program, including privatization, and maintain high growth levels. He said that Egypt has been able to "weather a difficult year" but that "we can't take a second blow." He said inflation was the biggest challenge, and would prevent further subsidy adjustments in the near term, but was also concerned about developments in international financial markets. On ESF, Nazif appears to distance himself from the Ministry of International Cooperation's (MIC) position of "no new projects" after FY 2008 (ref a), and called ESF a "symbol of friendship and partnership." He reitereated earlier comments that the level per se was not as important as the fact that it is "a way to bring in know-how that we couldn't get any other way." The prime minister downplayed concerns about the draft media law (ref b) and observed that efforts to censor the internet would not be effective. "As long as I am prime minister, we will not censor the internet, or remove Facebook." In a discussion about Ayman Nour, he repeated the GOE position that Ayman Nour's case is a criminal one, not a human rights case, and that mention of Nour by POTUS was very upsetting to President Mubarak."

Read cable

(Image Credit: Dali Rău)

2011-02-07 Protests and humanitarian crises in the Gaza Strip and West Bank

ImageHundreds of Hamas supporters in Gaza City protested in the streets on February 3 in support of the Eyptian revolutions and against Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak with the apparent tolerance or encouragement of the Hamas government. But later this week, a group of journalists and bloggers who organized their own protest had their protest broken up. Six women and eight men were arrested, and two of the women were beaten.

In Ramallah rallies were also broken up before they started. The Palestinian Authority police beat protesters with clubs and arrested two at a rally for Egypt in front of the Egyptian embassy on Sunday. "Our rally was simply in support of Egypt," one protester told Ma'an by phone, "we said nothing against the PA, we were not even out in the street." Earlier the same day, the Palestinian Authority had organized a rally in support of Mubarak which accused Egyptian opposition leader Mohammed El Baradei of being a CIA agent. The pro-Mubarak rally attracted a few dozen, the rally for the Egyptian people hundreds.

The rallies now appear to have changed from simply supporting Egypt to including calls for reform in Gaza. A Facebook page appeared on January 28 calling for a revolution in Gaza and naming February 11 a day of protest against the Hamas government. Four days later, another page was set up on Facebook, calling for a revolution in Ramallah and the ouster of President Mahmoud Abbas.

As shown in the US state cables, Egypt has been accused by both the Emir of Qatar and the president of Syria of having no desire for the 'peace process' between Palestine and Israel to come to a conclusion, as that would also conclude his important role as a mediator. "The Egyptians' goal is to stay in the game and maintain their relationship with the U.S., which is built around brokering Middle East peace, for as long as possible." Between January 23 and 26th Al Jazeera released 1,684 files of confidential documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These documents also inflamed Palestinian opinions against the Palestinian Authority who were shown as acquiescing to almost all Israeli demands. "Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials said after a meeting of several groups that all were agreed that deals made with Israel by president Mahmud Abbas's western-backed Palestinian Authority and his Fatah movement were invalid."

The current situation in Egypt is having a potentially disastrous impact on residents of the Gaza Strip. The border between Gaza and Egypt is sealed shut, fuel imports have been cut off, and hundreds of people cannot reach medical care or separated family members. Egyptian workers who normally smuggle in fuel have fled to their homes or to fight Egyptian forces. According to Mahmoud al-Shawa, president of the board of directors of the Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority in the Strip, "Gaza needs 800,000 litres of diesel (200,000 for the main power station) and 300,000 litres of petrol daily. Only half of that requirement was available even before the Egyptian uprising. Most of Gaza’s supply must be smuggled through the tunnels from Egypt, since fuel from Israel is not only limited in quantity but too expensive for most residents."

The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza closed on January 30, leaving stranded many people who needed to cross for medical treatment, school, supplies or to be with family and causing the prices of many consumer goods to skyrocket. Although there have been recent reports of the Gaza underground tunnels, or 'feeding tubes', which were used to bring basic goods from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, now working in the opposite direction, the most recent reports say the tunnels are now closed.

Around 60 Palestinians, attempting to return home via Cairo when Gaza's southern border closed, are still being held at Cairo airport. Among them are six children and several critically ill patients who are running out of medication. "The children don't know what's happening. Sometimes they're crying. It's very, very cold here; it's crowded and there is nowhere for us to wash," said one of the being detainees.

The biggest hospital, Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, has less than a week's fuel supply in reserve. Around 500 Gazan patients were referred to Egypt every month before the Rafah crossing closed. The UN is now looking into the possibility of transferring medical cases from Gaza through Israel, although the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs predicts at least 20 percent of patients will be refused on security grounds.

2011-02-07 Egypt’s new VP Omar Suleiman: willing to serve Israel

Egyptian VP Omar SuleimanThe Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has published a set of cables that shed light on Omar Suleiman’s willingness to serve the interests of Israel. The man recently appointed as vice-president of Egypt, according to a cable from 2005, was willing to help former head of security in the Israeli Defense Ministry Amos Gilad by guaranteeing there would be no democratic elections in Gaza in 2006. He was also willing to help Israel better manage the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Cables released also reveal that a key motive for opposing Hamas was a fear that the Muslim Brotherhood would be emboldened. 05TELAVIV5864 details a meeting that Gilad wanted kept secret. Gilad talked about his fear of the Palestinian uprising movement Hamas, which was expected to get a large amount of the vote in the democratic elections in January 2006. Gilad was afraid that Hamas would win the election and that a Hamas win would "destroy everything."

Perhaps surprisingly, Suleiman was also fearful of Hamas. In a discussion of the upcoming Palestinian elections, Suleiman claimed he could intervene so there would be no elections:

Gilad said he warned Suleiman that if Hamas participates in the January 2006 Palestinian elections "it will destroy everything, as Hamas will take over and start a new process." According to Gilad, Suleiman and his deputy told him, "There will be no elections in January. We will take care of it." Gilad requested that the USG closely hold this information and strictly protect the sources. He clarified that neither Suleiman nor his deputy explained how Egypt would stop the elections or elaborated further on the subject. Gilad admitted that he does not know how the Egyptians could prevent the elections from taking place, but said, "The only people the Palestinians can trust now are the Egyptians."

Also, from the same cable on the “secret” meeting, Gilad told US ambassador to Israel Richard Jones what Suleiman said about the Syrian president’s recent visit to Cairo:

In a September 26 meeting with the Ambassador, Israeli MOD Political-Military Bureau Chief Amos Gilad indicated that his September 25 meetings in Egypt to discuss the Rafah passage on the Egypt-Gaza border yielded no breakthroughs. Gilad said the Israelis prefer to open Rafah passage after six months, while the Egyptians prefer to open it by mid-January -- before Palestinian elections and the Haj. Gilad said the Egyptians are controlling the Egypt-Gaza border better than before, and praised them for quickly sealing the border when asked by Israel to do so. Requesting that his information and sources be strictly protected, Gilad said Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman recounted to him the details of a recent visit to Cairo by Syrian President Al-Asad. Gilad cited Suleiman as saying that Al-Asad "threatened" Egypt not to yield to U.S. pressure to isolate Syria, or suffer Syria´s playing the "Palestinian card." [emphasis added]

Suleiman’s objection to Hamas comes from his scorn for the Muslim Brotherhood. In a meeting between then-assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch and then-Jordanian intelligence chief Muhammad Dhahabi detailed in the cable 06AMMAN2541, the issue of Hamas is raised. Dhahabi goes along with Welch’s thought that Hamas will need to be isolated if stability is to be maintained.

Dhahabi agrees, saying "we need to squeeze" Hamas and "make sure it fails." Dhahabi suggests he "won’t allow" an "Islamic movement with regional ambitions" and will ensure the government of Jordan makes certain funds and weapons do not reach the West Bank or Gaza through Jordan. And then, he says Egypt can be relied on to "isolate Hamas because Omar Suleiman [does] not want Egypt´s Muslim Brotherhood to see a successful Islamist government in Palestine."

Really, the fact that Suleiman would want to treat Hamas like the Muslim Brotherhood is not surprising if you’ve seen 10CAIRO179, titled “Scenesetter for FBI Director Mueller.” The more surprising aspect of this section is that Dhahabi "agreed" because Dhahabi was fired in 2009 for allegedly being too pro-Hamas.

Image a screenshot from Christiane Amanpour's interview with Suleiman on ABC News.

2011-02-07 Extradition hearing: Day one

From the Guardian's timeline, rewritten for chronology and with legal terminology:

The hearing opened with Clare Montgomery QC, for the Crown Prosecution Service on behalf of the Swedish authorities. Opening submissions are that the Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, is asserted to be an issuing authority for the purposes of a European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

In relation to the offences, the court decides that the alleged victims are to be called Woman A (three counts of sexual assault alleged) and Woman B (one count of r*pe alleged)

Ms Montgomery says the matters are extraditable offences because the definitions in the two countries are the same. "Mr Assange had sexual intercourse with her and exploited the fact that she was asleep." This is submitted to be an offence under English law. In relation to Woman A there are three counts of sexual assault "without consent" and again contrary to English law.

"Interrogation before prosecution is how the Swedish system proceeds in such cases, she says."

Addressing the defence's argument that extradition should not be for the purposes of questioning, she submits that the EAW "clearly denotes a sufficient intention to prosecute" and that questioning does not detract from its main purpose. Ms Montgomery indicates that Swedish lawyer Björn Hurtig will be cross examined tomorrow in relation to the defence claim that the Swedish prosecutors have not provided the evidence against Mr Assange and on the issue of his offers to be interviewed.

On the issue of a fair trial Ms Montgomery's submission is that Mr Assange will get one in Sweden and the possibility he will be extradited to the USA is a "hypothesis" with the "risk" of it not yet established. Such an extradition she submits has to have the consent of the UK in any event.

Geoffrey Robertson QC opens for the defence case with submissions. He says that Assange would not get a fair trial in Sweden because such trials for r*pe are held in a closed court, ie without press or public attendance. Such a trial creates a "risk of flagrant violation of his rights".

On this point the Guardian quotes a Press association Report.

Mr Robertson argued that the huge amount of press coverage of events created a risk that Assange would receive a "trial by media".

Front-page newspaper articles have described his client as a coward for refusing to return to Sweden and face justice, he said, adding: "There's a danger this kind of media campaign, media vilification, will prejudice this secret trial."

He pointed out that rape trials in Sweden are often held behind closed doors and that, unless the public and press were allowed to witness proceedings, Assange would not receive a fair trial. "That's a compelling argument that there's a real risk of a flagrant violation of his rights," he said.

"Given the amount of vilification throughout the world that Mr Assange has faced - he's been accused of being a coward and of vicious behaviour - it's obviously unfair he should be taken under this warrant and then ushered into a secret court and then convicted or even acquitted. Even if he's acquitted, the stigma will remain."

Butressing his argument of Julian Assange not getting a fair trial, in his submissions, Robertson describes Claes Borgström, the Swedish lawyer representing the two complainants as "a politician who has been retained by these women"... this man Borgström" has villified Assange and would be in jail for contempt of court if he was in the UK." Robertson asserts that it was Borgström who leaked information on the allegations to the Swedish press.

Robertson submits that that Assange would be refused bail in Sweden and be held "incommunicado", this likely intended to "soften him up for interrogation".

In relation to the charges Robertson submits that in relation to woman A, she "admits she did consent" and it all occurred within the context of consensual sex. Woman A had asked Assange to put on a condom and he did so. Robertson further submits that "it was hyperbolic and irrational to suggest there was wickedness involved." Police are not "entitled to slip under the bedclothes".

In relation to the rape allegations of woman B. Robertson submits that the prosecution description of this is "minor r*pe" which is "...a contradiction in terms. R*pe is not a minor charge." What Swedish law calls minor r*pe is not r*pe in other jurisdictions, as it does not involve coercion, force or a lack of consent. "It's not natural to call this r*pe."

Continuing on the woman B allegations Robertson submits there were "three utterly consensual acts" and then a fourth without a condom "but she let him continue". After that Assange and woman B made a "jokey" conversation.

On the issue of prosecutorial conduct Robertson submits that Assange was willing to be interviewed using Skype either at the Swedish embassy in London or Scotland Yard however that offer was not accepted, so the EAW issued by Sweden lacked "proportionality". Assange also offered to be available for interview while he was in Sweden.

Robertson's further submission is that Ms Ny is not authorised to issue an EAW.

The four key points of Robertson's submissions to this point are – "unfair trial, double criminality, minor rape and proportionality."

Former Swedish judge Brita Sundberg-Weitman is the first witness for the defence and gives evidence in examination in chief questioned by Robertson.

A Press Association report states that Sundberg-Weitman is critical of the Swedish authorities, the case was "extremely peculiar" from the beginning and she accused the chief prosecutor of having a "rather biased view against men":

I honestly cannot understand her attitude here, it looks malicious. It would have been so simple to have him heard while he was in Sweden. After he left Sweden it would also have been very easy to have him questioned by telephone, video link or at an embassy.

Sundberg-Weitman is cross examined by Montgomery and a translator is brought in to assist her to understand Montgomery's questions. Sundberg-Weitman is questioned on whether the EAW is proportional and she answers that she does not believe it is, however she concedes that a Swedish District court and an Appeal Court have held that it was proportional.

Tweets from the court indicate that the former judge does not seem to have a very high opinion of the Swedish justice system: the "rule of law" has been "decaying" since the mid 1970s.

Sundberg-Weitman is cross examined on her evidence in chief namely that Swedish prosecutor's actions were "malicious".

Robertson re-examines Sundberg-Weitman and refers to some English-language press releases from the Swedish prosecutor on the Assange matter and asks "Is this normal?" She answers "No." To the question was Ny was communicating with the press during the investigation period Sundberg-Weitman states that she saw Ny on TV.

Sundberg-Weitman's evidence is completed and the second witness Göran Rudling is sworn. He is a blogger and campaigner on Swedish r*pe laws.

Rudling is questioned (in examination in chief) by Robertson on woman A's tweets. His evidence is that he contacted police after he observed online that she had erased her tweets from 14 and 15 August, those tweets had indicated that she had been happy with Assange. They were in relation to a "crayfish party." Woman A had tweeted that she was with "the coolest people in the world". Rudling states that he is not a supporter of Assange or WikiLeaks.

Rudling continues his evidence in chief and describes the 7 Point Plan (update: for revenge) of woman A posted online in January 2010 and translates those points from Swedish.

Montgomery cross examines and asks him how much of the police file has he read. He answers "100 pages." She puts to him that what he has seen are statements of witnesses served on Assange's lawyer. She asks him if he knows why woman A erased the tweets. She puts to Rudling that woman A said she erased the tweets to avoid media attention.

Cross-examination of this witness ends and the hearing is adjourned to 10am tomorrow.

Outside the court the Guardian reports a statement by Julian Assange:

For the past five-and-a-half months we have been in a condition where a black box has been applied to my life. On the outside of that black box has been written the word 'rape'. That box is now, thanks to an open court process, been opened.

I hope over the next day we will see that that box is in fact empty and has nothing to do with the words that are on the outside of it. We have seen that today and I would like to thank my supporters and my lawyers for continuing to help me. A process like this surely lets you understand who your friends are.

2011-02-07 Julian Assange hearing Q&A

What are the charges raised against Julian Assange?

  • Contrary to popular belief, there are no charges against Julian Assange at the moment. In his hearing, he will be fighting an attempt by Swedish authorities to have him extradited to Sweden from the UK for further questioning on allegations.

When is the extradition hearing?

  • Today, Feb. 7, at 5:00am Eastern time. It is set to last 2 days.

Why is Mr. Assange in the UK, anyway? Was he running from the law by leaving Sweden?

  • No. As former Swedish judge points out in a published criticism of how Mr. Assange has been treated by law enforcement in Sweden, the chief Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, did not take the opportunity “to interview Assange whilst he was still in Sweden.” So the question is raised as to “why she did not accept Assange’s proposal to be interrogated in England,” which is a legitimate request, in accordance with “rules valid in both Sweden and Britain on Mutual Legal Assistance.” Read more

Why doesn't Mr. Assange want to be extradited to Sweden?

  • For one thing, he and his lawyer believe (as do many lawyers and other authorities familiar with European law) that Sweden is not within its right to extradite Mr. Assange. International European law does not support extraditing someone on the basis that they are merely suspected of having committed a crime. So the extradition request appears illegitimate.

  • Secondly: It is believed that he can more easily be extradited to the US from Sweden than from the UK. But this doesn't mean that his main argument in court will be about US extradition or fear of the death penalty in the US, as many media organizations have said.

    Despite having access to the complete list of arguments from Mr. Assange's lawyer, "various media have headlined [fear of the death penalty in the US] as if it were the primary or even only" argument against extradition. Read more

    But this doesn't mean that extradition to the US is irrelevant in this hearing. In fact, there are though to be "extremely strong interests in US who want him delivered because of Wikileaks" and "reports from the US embassy in Stockholm published by Wikileaks have revealed that the Swedish Government has gone out of its way to be helpful to US in various controversial matters." This might also explain why Mr. Assange is not enthusiastic about returning to Sweden at the moment. Read More

How can I stay up-to-date on this hearing?

  • You can bookmark and watch this Twitter list for real-time teeting from the courtroom. You don't need a Twitter account and you don't have to "follow" the list to see the feed.

My question isn't in this list. How do I get answers?

  • Leave a comment with your question and we will do our best to answer it!

2011-02-07 UPDATE Google Executive Wael Ghonim in Tahrir Square & the Mubarak Regime's Repression of Bloggers

Google Executive Wael Ghonim
For many in Tahrir Square, his presence was why they had come out February 8. Ghonim, who was released on February 7 by authorities, played a key role in organization demonstrations against the regime before being arrested in late January.

He was seized in the Egyptian capital when he was with tens of thousands of protesters in the Square. Al Jazeera reported Ghonim was "picked up by three plainclothes men on the street, pushed into a car and taken off for interrogation by state security members."

Ghonim has tried to minimize his role in the revolution. He said after his release, "Please don't make me a hero. I'm not a hero. I have been asleep for 12 days." 

But, for a revolution that might not be as far along as it is if it did not have social media, it is no surprise that an "explosive response from supporters, bloggers and pro-democracy activists on the internet" happened on February 7.

On stage, Ghonim declared, "I've observed that we are all brothers. Yesterday, I met with the minister of interior. He was addressing me as an equal. He said, I got your message. You are the youth of Facebook. You are the youth of Egypt."

There is no doubt that many would have come out to the square today regardless of Ghonim's release. But, the techno-revolutionary has caught the attention of news media and his appearance on State TV after being released has touched many Egyptians, leading them to want to join the movement for real democracy in Egypt.

The spark Ghonim is providing really is not surprising. Many Egyptians who are part of the revolution were initially moved to action when Khaled Said, a blogger, was beaten to death by police in an internet café in Alexandria in June of 2010.
Bloggers are and have, when they are most effective at stirring people to political or social action, been treated as enemies of the state by police or security forces in Egypts. They have been explicitly targeted by the Mubarak regime.

A cable that was appropriately released on the same day of Ghonim’s release details an incident involving the arrest and detention of a group of thirty activists and bloggers on the morning of January 15, 2010. 10CAIRO99 notes the group was on the way to “Naga Hamadi to visit the families of those killed in the January 6 sectarian shootings.” The families were Coptic Christians.

The group was released the day after and the cable indicates U.S. officials played a role in ensuring the group was released.

Politicians Osama Ghazali Harb of the liberal Democratic Front Party, Kifaya leader Georg Ishaaq and Cairo University professor and opposition leader Mohamed Abul Ghar were among those arrested. Al-Masry Al-Youm covered the incident reporting that when arrested the group had “cell phones and identification cards taken away from them.” It also reported that “Abdel Salam, Mohamed Khaled known by his alias 'Demagh Mak' and human rights activist Paula Abdo -- himself an eyewitness to some of the clashes that occured earlier in Naga Hammadi following the shooting” were among the group detained.

Abbas is quoted in the cable saying “police beat and lightly injured" blogger Ahmed Bedawi during the arrests “for no apparent reason.”

Abbas has been a target ever since he began to post videos of police torture. He was arrested and released by the Egyptian Army on February 4. That day he tweeted that he “was being stopped [at] every single checkpoint” and “we are getting arrested every five minutes now for looking like foreigners and having a camera and a laptop.”

The week of his arrest, a November 2008 cable, 08CAIRO2371, which was covered nicely by Foreign Policy, was believed to show how US diplomats had worked to get Abbas’ YouTube account reinstated by Google. Although his name is redacted in the cable, CNET said it thought the redacted name was Abbas’:

Prominent Egyptian blogger XXXXXXXXXXXXX, contacted us November 17 to report that YouTube removed from his website two videos exposing police abuses -- one of Sinai bedouin allegedly shot by police and thrown in a garbage dump during the past week's violence (ref A), and the other of a woman being tortured in a police station. XXXXXXXXXXXXX told us that YouTube is also preventing XXXXXXXXXXXX from posting new videos, and asked us for assistance in urging YouTube to re-post his removed videos and reinstate his access to uploading new material. XXXXXXXXXXXXX said XXXXXXXXXXXXXX has tried to contact Google, but has not received a response.

In December 2007, DRL and Embassy Cairo worked to convince Google to restore XXXXXXXXXXXXX' YouTube access after a similar incident. We believe that a similar Department intervention with Google representatives could help in restoring XXXXXXXXXXXXX' access again. XXXXXXXXXXXXis an influential blogger and human rights activist, and we want to do everything we can to assist him in exposing police abuse. XXXXXXXXXXXXX' post of a video showing two policemen sodomizing a bus driver was used as the main evidence to convict the officers in November 2007 (ref C).

The most interesting part of 08CAIRO2371 is perhaps this section:

(SBU) The group included bloggers, journalists, activists from secular opposition parties such as El-Ghad and the Democratic Front Party and movements such as "Kifaya" and "April 6. A lawyer for the group confirmed that a French activist was among the detainees. Some of the detainees are participants in Freedom House's "New Generation" program which provides training for young activists. One member of the group departed for Washington January 18 to participate in a Project on Middle East Democracy program. Contacts confirmed that activist and El-Ghad party member Israa Abdel Fattah was also part of the group. (Note: Abdel Fattah was the subject of headlines in April 2008 when she was arrested and detained for 17 days after her call for an April 6 general strike on Facebook attracted almost 70,000 members (ref B). Following her release, she renounced her activities in a television interview, and has remained out of public view until now. End note.)

The “New Generation” program is “supported by funds from the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).” It has provided Egyptian fellows the opportunity to work with Americans and “hone” skills so they can become “social and political reformers.”

The program is essentially a pro-democracy initiative, the kind of initiative that Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed was behind the “green revolution” which almost prevented him from staying in power after a possibly fraudulent election.

The Mubarak regime is no doubt aware of human rights organizations and initiatives supported by the US to promote political and social reform within Egypt. The toleration of such US programs probably takes place because of the billions of dollars in military aid that Mubarak receives annually—about $1.3 billion annually. [See 10CAIRO64 shows Egypt’s State of Emergency laws make it possible for the Egypt government to “place restrictions on personal freedom of assembly, movement, residence, traffic in specific areas at specific times,” “arrest suspects or individuals threatening public security and order,” conduct “arrests and searches without implementation of the law of criminal procedures” and authorize “surveillance of personal messages and confiscation of publications." The laws are why the government has been able to shut down blogs or websites like it did last week as state police beat and arrested Sandmonkey, a blogger known in right wing blog circles in the US as someone who has assured conservatives the Muslim Brotherhood is not behind the uprising. (And that is why one of the protesters in Tahrir Square's demands is an end to the Emergency laws.)

Bloggers are inseparable from the revolution. Their persecution lays bare and calls attention to all the brutality and human rights abuses the Mubarak regime has committed. When they speak out on their blogs or websites and are targeted, they show how authoritarian and undemocratic Egyptian society happens to be. And, they and anyone effectively using social media to organize and push the revolution in Egypt along is guaranteed from this point forward to become a bigger nightmare for the Mubarak regime if the regime beats, arrests, detains and/or imprisons a blogger.

Photo credit: Dream TV interview with Wael Ghonim after his release on February 7.

2011-02-07 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

ImageThe Telegraph: Israel's secret hotline to the man tipped to replace Mubarak

"The new vice-president of Egypt, Omar Suleiman, is a long-standing favourite of Israel's who spoke daily to the Tel Aviv government via a secret "hotline" to Cairo, leaked documents disclose."

Read more

El País: Estados Unidos cree que nunca se sabrá si el expresidente chileno Eduardo Frei fue asesinado (The United States believe it will never be known if the Chilean ex-president Eduardo Frei was assassinated)

"El que fuera máximo mandatario entre 1964 y 1970 murió tras someterse a una operación rutinaria de hernia en la que contrajo una infección bacteriológica. (The one who was maximum leader of Chile between 1964 and 1970 died after a routine hernia surgery in which he got a bacteriologic infection.)"

Read more (Spanish)


"Special Envoy Mitchell, Embassy Damascus is looking forward to your prospective visit. In your initial meeting, it is unlikely that the Syrians will put forward any new ideas. They will rely on your team to present ideas that they can consider and possibly negotiate. Asad and his FM Walid al-Muallim will undoubtedly recount that Syria and Israel were "words away" from a deal in late December. The details of the story often change, however, in the retelling. In the wake of President Obama's speech, the Syrians will be testing you to see if the USG is sincere in its position against Israeli settlement growth."

Read cable


"Three months after the SARG cut fuel subsidies by 50 percent, the consequent 350 percent increase in the price of diesel has been reflected across the spectrum of goods and services. Official SARG statistics indicate inflation has increased by 15 percent since summer 2007, but many economists estimate the actual figure to be closer to 25 percent. Economic reformers praise the SARG's decision to reduce subsidies but note the decision was not accompanied by adjustments in SARG monetary policy that could have better mitigated the resulting inflation. While reformers claim that short-term inflation is an inevitable side effect of the transition to a market economy, critics argue that decreased consumer purchasing power is evidence that reforms hurt Syria's majority poor. Meanwhile, Syrian consumers are bracing for additional, seasonal price hikes with the onset of Ramadan in early September."

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El País: Presiones contra los genéricos (Pressure against the medicaments)

"Los intentos de países pobres por conseguir medicamentos asequibles se enfrentan a la defensa de EE UU de los intereses de los grandes laboratorios. (The poor countries intentions of getting affordable medicines face the United States defense of the big laboratories interests.)"

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Aftenposten: A/S Welch´s Meeting with Israeli Mod´s Gilad Focuses on Border Guard Agreement, Developing Relations

"Israeli Defense Ministry Political Security Director Amos Gilad confirmed to visiting NEA A/S Welch and Ambassador Kurtzer August 16 that Egypt and Israel had reached a general agreement on the deployment of 750 Egyptian Border Guards along the Egypt-Gaza border. Israeli DefMin Mofaz is expected to present the draft agreement to the Israeli cabinet for approval next week. Though not legally required, PM Sharon has elected to present it to the Knesset for approval as well. Gilad said that, as a result of the negotiations on the agreement with the Egyptians over the last 15 months, relations between the two countries have improved somewhat."

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Aftenposten: Nea Das Dibble´s 9/20 Meeting with Israeli Mod´s Amos Gilad Focuses on Gaza, Post-Disengagement

"Israeli MOD Political-Military Affairs Bureau Chief Amos Gilad told NEA DAS Elizabeth Dibble September 19 that the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) is a pillar of the recently-concluded Egypt-Israel agreement on the Egypt-Gaza border and performs a vital role monitoring changes along the Egypt-Gaza border. Gilad urged that the USG do nothing to diminish the MFO´s capabilities or undercut its role in the region. On Egypt, Gilad said Israel wants to develop a strategic dialogue that would serve as the basis for further developing relations, including cultural and military ties. He cited both the future of Gaza and Egyptian military and terrorist activities in the Sinai as reasons why such a dialogue is necessary. Gilad said Egypt´s disbelief about how quickly the IDF would evacuate Philadelphi ensured that the Egyptians were not prepared when the IDF withdrew. He described the situation along the Egypt-Gaza border as "anarchy" and alleged that people and weapons -- including RPGs and Strela missiles -- have crossed the border into Gaza. (NOTE: IDF and security officials briefing the Knesset September 21 claimed that no such weaponry was smuggled into the Gaza Strip after Israel´s withdrawal. END NOTE.) Gilad said that as long as the situation in the Philadelphi corridor is unresolved, it will affect the entire Egypt-Israel relationship, and impede resolution of the Rafah passage issue. Gilad described PA Civil Affairs Minister Dahlan as physically sick and emotionally run down, citing as evidence Dahlan´s recent hospitalization in Israel -- and subsequent flight to the Czech Republic."

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Aftenposten: Amb. Jones´ 9/26 Meeting with Israeli Mod´s Gilad Focuses on Egypt, Gaza, Hamas Activity and PA Elections

"In a September 26 meeting with the Ambassador, Israeli MOD Political-Military Bureau Chief Amos Gilad indicated that his September 25 meetings in Egypt to discuss the Rafah passage on the Egypt-Gaza border yielded no breakthroughs. Gilad said the Israelis prefer to open Rafah passage after six months, while the Egyptians prefer to open it by mid-January -- before Palestinian elections and the Haj. Gilad said the Egyptians are controlling the Egypt-Gaza border better than before, and praised them for quickly sealing the border when asked by Israel to do so. Requesting that his information and sources be strictly protected, Gilad said Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman recounted to him the details of a recent visit to Cairo by Syrian President Al-Asad. Gilad cited Suleiman as saying that Al-Asad "threatened" Egypt not to yield to U.S. pressure to isolate Syria, or suffer Syria´s playing the 'Palestinian card.'"

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Aftenposten: Ambassador´s Meeting with Min Info and Egis Chief on Radio Sawa and Al-Manar

"On April 20th, the Ambassador pressed MOI Al-Fiqqi on the GOE´s media portrayal of issues important to the US-Egyptian relationship, including Iran, Hamas, and Iraq. He also again raised the issues of Radio Sawa and Al-Manar. The Ambassador argued that if the GOE values its relationship with the US as a strategic asset it should not, in Al-Fiqqi´s own words, "compromise with anti-American public opinion,"but rather seek to lead and shape it with more factual information. Al-Fiqqi took the point and said he had, for example, conveyed to the editors-in-chief of the top state-owned dailies the true facts of increased US assistance to the Palestinians (Ref A)."

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Aftenposten: A/S Welch´s Meeting with Intelligence Chief

"A/S Welch and Jordanian intelligence chief Dhahabi discussed Iran´s ambitions in the region, and how to deal with Hamas."

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Aftenposten: Codel Ackerman Meetings with Mubarak, Suleiman, and Aboul Gheit

"In separate June 28 meetings with President Hosni Mubarak, EGIS Director Omar Suleiman, and FM Ahmed Aboul Gheit, CODEL Ackerman and the Ambassador discussed Israeli-Palestinian developments (focusing on Egypt´s goals for building upon the current "calming period"), Egypt´s regional relations, and various human rights criticisms of Egypt. CODEL Ackerman was composed of Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI), Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Rep. Al Green (D-TX), and professional staff members David Adams, Jamie McCormick and Howard Diamond."

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Aftenposten: Deng Alor on NCP Intrigue, Egyptian President Mubarak´s Visit

"Foreign Minister Deng Alor said Egyptian President Mubarak, worried about Sudanese instability, delivered a grim message to President Bashir on November 10 counseling full and rapid compliance with ICC and Darfur issues. Both the Egyptians and Alor see increasing signs of an incipient power shift in Sudan which could force Bashir out of power, replace him with VP Taha and a group of civilian Islamists or lead to preventive action by a cornered Sudanese President against his internal foes."

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(Image Credit: Dali Rău)

2011-02-08 Five US Senators Refuse to Answer, "Did you kill the Whistleblower Protection Act?"

Our 'Did you kill the bill?' twitter list eliminated six United States Senators and confirmed that the mystery Senator, who placed an anonymous hold on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act Bill S.372 is a Republican.

Now five Senators remain. They are:

Jon Kyl R-AZ (@SenJonKyl)
Mitch McConnell R-KY (@MitchMcConnel)
James Risch R-ID (@JamesRisch)
Jeff Sessions R-AL (@SenatorSessions)
David Vitter R-LA (@DavidVitter)

Alex Goldman, Producer at WNYC's On the Media, told us that some Senators are refusing to answer:

"James Risch's office has been most explicit in refusing to answer. Sessions' office has been a little more obtuse, but have generally said things like 'I couldn't tell you this unless Senator Sessions comments on it.' 'Could you ask him for a comment on it?' 'No I can't. If he comments on it, it will appear on our website.' Vitter has just not responded at all, really (Their office phone goes directly to voice mail!), and we've left messages for McConnell's and Kyl's press people in the past day or two but haven't heard anything back.

Click the image and RT


On December 22, 2010, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act Bill S.372) was killed by an unknown United States Senator, who placed an anonymous hold on the bill (reported here and here on WL Central).

WNYC, On the Media and the Government Accountability Project have joined forces to uncover the identity of the mystery senator.

WL Central contributor@carwinb compiled a list of Senators, who are on Twitter, and who have not yet responded to: "Did you place an anonymous hold on the Whistleblower Protection Act?" Now you can tweet them, and ask them yourself.

2011-02-08 Algeria Protest on February 12

ImageAlgerian municipal government authorities announced Monday that they had banned an opposition rally calling for an end to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's rule. WL Central reported on the planned rally and the unrest in Algeria here. The authorities said the protest could be held in an indoor venue instead of being a march, but the opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) said it would defy the order and go ahead with the march.

Today sixteen people were injured, including eleven police, during a violent protest in Skikda, eastern Algeria. Protesters succeeded in closing the National Road No. 3, the link between the major cities east of Algeria (the provinces of Constantine and Annaba) in the face of traffic for several hours by stones and barricades. They also set fire to rubber wheels in protest of a lack of clean water and social problems in their village. The violence began when the police attempted to clear the road.

Zohra Drif Bitat, a vice-president of Algeria's upper house of parliament who was appointed by Bouteflika, has strongly criticized the government, saying it had been unable to translate the country's huge energy wealth into a better life for the average citizen. "Are we going to continue to tackle our problems with the same actors who have failed? Don't we need new blood? I hope and expect a radical change in the mode of governance," she said on state radio.

Algerian President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika promised variety of reforms last week including more jobs, more democratic freedoms and the lifting of the 19 year state of emergency in the country. He also pushed through a $225 million package of price cuts on types of fuel and goods at government run stores after food riots had killed five people at the beginning of January, and pledged to spend $286 billion by 2014 to modernize the economy and build new infrastructure. There were local media reports last week that Bouteflika was preparing to reshuffle his government, and possibly fire Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, but this has not been confirmed by any officials.

The rally on the 12th is being organized by the RCD which is part of the National Coordination for Change and Democracy (CNCD), composed of opposition parties and civil society groups. They intend to proceed with the rally and demanding the immediate end of Bouteflika's rule. "Algeria needs a revolution, not just the lifting of the state of emergency," Hocine Zehouane, the chairman of the Algerian League for Human Rights told Reuters. "Bouteflika's decision (to lift the state of emergency) is a non-event. We need to rebuild our institutions, we need a transitional phase of 18 months, and free and fair presidential and legislative elections."

The planned protest is not supported by Algeria's main trade unions or the biggest opposition forces, which were banned in the early 1990's but still have influence. A revolution in Algeria could have world wide economic impact because of the country's energy resources, but it may also be possible for the country to stave off a revolution by using those resources to meet the demands of the protesters.

Geoff D. Porter predicts in the Daily Star that Algeria will not revolt, and has a good analysis supporting his opinion. "A more nuanced explanation of why Algeria is different than other states in the Middle East is that Algeria effectively had its revolution, and has no stomach for another. In 1991, Algeria’s first multiparty elections were leading toward a triumph for the Islamic Salvation Front. The military stepped in and the country plunged into the Dark Decade – 10 years of violence and horrific bloodletting. The experience left many Algerians wary of abrupt change. They still seek change, but not if this means risking descending into another decade of chaos."

2011-02-08 Cable: Israel pressures Suleiman to close Gaza's 'feeding tube' tunnels

Today, Wikileaks released two more cables detailing Israeli pressure on the residents of Gaza Strip. As reported by WL Central here, the closure of tunnels bringing basic supplies into the Gaza Strip from Egypt have caused an urgent humanitarian crises for the people of Gaza. But US state cables show Israel pressuring the US to link aid to Egypt with the complete closure of those tunnels and the prevention of any supplies reaching Gaza through Egypt. Egypt's new vice president's involvement is also discussed.

In November of 2007, Israel Security Agency (ISA) Director Yuval Diskin met with US officials to discuss the 'problem' of supplies moving from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. In 07TELAVIV3258 Diskin outlines "a growing crisis in Israeli-Egyptian relations over smuggling across the Gaza border". Diskin told the US representatives that the ISA had, on several occasions, provided Omar Suleiman, Chief of Egyptian Intelligence Services, with detailed intelligence on the names of smugglers. In 2005, Diskin said he met personally with Suleiman in Egypt, at which time Suleiman promised personally to take responsibility for "cleansing the Sinai." Despite these promises, and Israeli offers to initiate joint operations, Diskin said Egypt has not acted to eliminate the smuggling networks. In Diskin's view, there is a core policy problem, in that the Egyptians view themselves as the primary mediator between the Israelis and Palestinians, and are careful not to alienate either side. "This is not possible with Hamas in Gaza," insisted Diskin.

Diskin noted that the Egyptians do act promptly when they receive tangible information on imminent terrorist attacks and seek out tunnel openings in the Philedelphi corridor. In Diskin's view, however, the tunnels are only a symptom of the more systemic smuggling problem. Goods are also transferred by sea and above ground by bribing Egyptian soldiers and officers, said Diskin. The tunnels themselves are designed with multiple openings, he continued, and remain operational even after the Egyptians seal up one or another.

Diskin shared that sources among the smugglers have told the ISA that Egypt permits their activities as long as they do not result in terror attacks within Egyptian territory. This shows that they can crack down on the smugglers if they have the will, said Diskin.

Suleiman recently sent a delegation to Israel to ask the ISA for help in blocking Congressional efforts to link aid to Egypt with security measures on the Gaza border. ... The ISA believes that cooperation would be greatly improved by direct links to Egypt's "Administration for National Security Investigations," the domestic security agency operated within the Ministry of Interior. According to Diskin, Suleiman is blocking such discussions out of a desire to remain the sole point of contact for foreign intelligence. Such a relationship could be established if Mubarak were to support it directly, said Diskin, who suggested that USG assistance in facilitating contact between the agencies might be helpful.

2011-02-08 Cables suggest Suleiman handling Egyptians as he has handled Palestinians

Congressional delegation meeting in June 2008 detailed in cable

Egypt VP Omar Suleiman A recently released cable describes three congressional delegation meetings with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman and Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit. The congressional delegation present at the meetings included Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI), Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Rep. Al Green (D-TX), and professional staff members David Adams, Jamie McCormick and Howard Diamond.

The meetings described in 08CAIRO1416, on CODEL Ackerman (“congressional delegation”) posted by Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten focused on Israeli-Palestinian developments (the building of a “calming period”), Egypt’s regional relations, and human rights criticisms of Egypt.

The past twenty four hours make the description of the delegation meeting with Suleiman particularly noteworthy. Suleiman, who just announced the formation of a constitutional committee, has come under increased scrutiny as cables are released revealing how friendly he is to Israel.

From the cable:

In a subsequent meeting, EGIS Director Suleiman asserted that the "real threat" is extremism, and underlined what the Egyptians plan to do to combat it - (1) strengthen relations and coordination with the Israelis, (2) support Mahmoud Abbas, and (3) bring the Palestinian Authority (PA) back to Gaza. He opined that Hamas is under pressure, as the Gazan population is very poor and "becoming wild." Suleiman enumerated the benefits of the "calming" period that he engineered as the lack of violence preventing which prevents a further inflaming of Palestinian emotions (and the resultant increase in Hamas´ popularity) due to TV footage of Palestinians injured and killed by Israelis. He also said the "calming" allows for Israeli cities near Gaza to not be threatened. Ultimately, Suleiman hopes that if the quiet period persists, jobs can be found for Gazans, and thus their hope for the future will return. Outlining an overall three-stage vision for the future, Suleiman said first, calm in Gaza must be achieved, to be followed within weeks by talks regarding Shalit´s release. After that, a dialogue will be started about returning the PA to Gaza, using as an incentive the "sweetener" that Rafah will be re-opened, under Israeli and European observation, with the PA in control…

Notice there is nothing specific about easing the blockade of Gaza, which had begun in 2007. Egypt’s role, to Suleiman, is primarily to help keep Palestinians from getting “wild."Suleiman presents himself as someone Israel can depend on to work to develop Palestinian security forces so that the Gazan population can be controlled. [See this document posted as part of the “Palestine Papers” for more on Egypt’s role in the Palestinian security sector.]

Suleiman is keenly aware of how he can mediate conflict in the region because he is part of the Egyptian government.

Throughout the meeting, it seems Suleiman is interested in providing aid to Palestinians but not really interested in advocating for reforms that would afford Palestinians greater civil and political rights. He repeats “throughout the meeting his goal of creating a ‘new atmosphere’ that can "build confidence, keep the region quieter, and give Abbas and Israel a better chance of achieving agreement on final status issues." He said that before the end of the year, the Palestinians and Israelis need to reach some sort of understanding – ‘not necessarily a final agreement, but something tangible’ - on border issues, Palestinian refugees, and Jerusalem.”

Suleiman understands the need to make “family unification” possible and allow Palestinians the right to return. He urges enhanced economic support for Palestinians from the international community. And, he asks that the delegation put great faith in Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority itself.

The recent fifteen percent pay raise for government employees suggest this might be how Suleiman and others in government plan to “calm” Egypt. Compromise skewed to maintain Egyptian government control over the people looks like a tactic that will be employed. Unfortunately for Suleiman, it does not, at this point, seem that the demonstrators are going to be pacified by minor concessions, which don’t really fundamentally change anything.

During the meeting with President Mubarak, it is clear that Suleiman is a man capable of bringing groups together to engage in discussion and come to agreements. Mubarak tells the delegation that “Hamas cannot be trusted, but at least we can try to make them calm for the time being” and observes “‘Gaza is not only Hamas,’ and therefore, he had asked EGIS Director Omar Suleiman to bring the leaders of at least ten Palestinian factions to Cairo for discussions.”

Of the leaders present, two, Rep. Ackerman and Rep. McCotter, are well-known defenders of Israel in the United States. In 2007, Rep. Ackerman condemned the Bush Administration for increasing assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Rep. McCotter criticized the Obama Administration in 2010 for “admonishing the Israeli government” for saying the approval of further settlements was “regrettable.” He and many others in Congress defended Israel saying it has been willing to “advance the peace process—even when its concessions have led to decreased security.

The meetings detailed here (and details on Suleiman in other cables released thus far) all further demonstrate Suleiman would likely do nothing to get in the way of Israeli or US interests if president. Suleiman is a favorable candidate for taking control of Egypt. The problem, however, is the protesters will never settle for Suleiman, no matter how much Congress or the State Department works to get him elected.

Image a screen shot from Al Jazeera English report on Suleiman's appointment to vice presidency.

2011-02-08 Eyewitness account from Belmarsh trial - February 7

After the positive feedback on the report I did last time - I decided to go once more to London. A different journey: Last time was spur of the moment and very intuitive. If Gallilei lived today, I would have wanted to go to THAT process and this is about the biggest thing to happen in my profession (archiving) for the coming 100 years!!! I think Wikileaks is also a sign of a lot of other things that will start shifting.

This time my decision is more controlled. I have less to 'do' for myself and one of my purposes is definitely pure support. I feel that at this time consistent, levelheaded support is very needed.

I was again early and noticed that there was slightly less press and slightly less security. The latter probably because the police now put a fence round the entrance and the road throughout and felt more in control that way. I walked straight to the entrance to queue for the public and at 8:30 could proceed to the court room without further ado.

On the public gallery the security was one policeman up - but it was possible to wait there. Courtroom staff were less itchy than they were the last time. There were now two women in charge. Despite supporting Wikileaks, I have frowned my eyebrows at remarks that a pink cashmere sweater is apparently not appropriate on official occasions. The eyes of the people making that remark would have popped out here. Belmarsh Crown Court female staff loves high, very high (!) heels and I saw several people in fishnet stockings!

I had a nice conversation with one of the police who perfectly understood the importance of this particular process. To leave space for the public, the court had decided to be very strict with press (I heard a rumour that there were 300 journalists on a waiting list!!) and consequently they were very strict with writing things down. It was going to be considered as contempt of court and people were going to be thrown out (which actually happened once). Tweeting is allowed though - but my phone doesn't work here. Sorry guys!

At about a quarter to ten the public gallery had completely filled up (only 24 places - given out on a first come, first served basis). As WL staff and the people who put bail money down were late - extra space was needed to fit everybody in. In the end I offered my place if really needed and I let John Pilger decide. Once a Member of Parliament almost had no seat I gave up mine. Mr. Pilger said he was going to leave at 12.00 - so I decided I would wait outside till then. I find it annoying that there are only a few places available and I find it downright shocking that defendants cannot claim space for their family-members and loved ones!! After my last visit I mailed the court to ask if they could create an extra facility for the public - where to watch onscreen. It turns out they did that for the press (media center) but not for the public.

Once outside, other courts were doing business as usual and I saw a couple of judges etc. with the funny wigs. One of them said: 'Look at this, look at this bloody fun fair. When I come back on Wednesday I hope they'll have stopped messing around my court'. Another quote from someone going to another process: 'I feel like I am on the red carpet walking through Belmarsh'. Many people in other processes seemed poor to me and badly prepared for a day in court. A lady who turned up in a big pink oversized jogging suit being a good example.

Another simple observation: At most court cases staff were carrying one or two cardboard boxes. I saw the legal team from Assange carting round complete trollies with about 4 or 5 boxes. If you relate that to hours of work from lawyers - you can literally see that this is an expensive court case!!!

From my position behind the glass windows of the court, I see my fellow supporters. There are about 30 of them - despite the remoteness of the location and the freezing cold. Two of them are wearing orange 'Guantanamo' outfits. A voice is calling through a megaphone in a rhythmic, clear and systematic way - still the words cannot be understood.

At about 12:20 there is indeed place becoming available. I come in the court at the time the witnesses will take a stand. The first witness is a very bright and energetic elderly lady. She wears a beautiful dark green outfit and has spikey hair: she turns out to be a former Swedish judge & professor of law. Her main observation is that there are many things that strike her as highly unusual.

As the process unfolds it turns out that she is specialized in deciding if the violence the state exercises in bringing someone to court is proportionate to the relevance of the accusation. Her main point: there are clear rules how you can decide that, but many lawyers in Sweden don't apply these rules. They go by 'intuition'. On top of that, those lawyers who want to make a career rush cases; they don't rule well on the finer points. If she were ever accused in any process, she would prefer a less ambitious official from a lower court make the decisions.

What I notice during the interrogation of this lady by Assange's lawyer is that communication is not always fluent. There are three blockades: she has a slight hearing problem, the language is not always clear for someone who doesn't master it (and they don't use a stict process for the translations) and then sometimes the language/ questions themselves are very tricky..

This becomes more apparent when the prosecution starts their interrogation - the lady prosecutor is (I think) pretty calculating. As if she has this whole list of arguments that she all wants decided in a certain way and is just planning and playing to get them one by one. One of the means she uses are these remarks that are questions at the same time: 'So would you argue that your statement that Swedish law is currently not very precise - is in general supported by lawyers in your country?'

I find the process here very dangerous: There is a translator and sometimes the lady answers questions directly. This while we, on the gallery, believe that she may have heard/ understood them wrong. It is compensated a bit by the English lawyer repeating some of the stuff and making her clarify again. But in general I found the quality of the process poor. To me, they should translate everything and record the Swedish for future reference!! (Later someone told me that things were recorded - I really hope that they can review this part of the process. To check if everything came out correct).

The judge/witness made a statement that Marianne Ny wanted to keep women and children safe and - because of that - wanted to take men of the street as a prevention. Another trick from the prosecution: reading only the first half of this statement and then asking the witness: do you agree with this purpose?? The witness pointed out to her that the fist line got a completely different meaning when connected to the second line!!

A lot of confusion in the paperwork - everybody has copies without page numbers and from the public gallery I can see that Assange's lawyer, the prosecutor and the witness are all the time all on a different page when discussing stuff (the 'picture on the page', how many blanks, length of text etc. looks completely different.)

Nice to know: the court has its own canteen which is called Dick Wittington and is full of drawings and photographs of black cats. I think they choose this name because the velvety black appearance of this cat looks so much like the velvety black appearance of legal council.

The second witness is a man who runs a website that specializes in the rights of rape victims. He is very strongly motivated for this as his own mother was a victim and as a child he saw the consequences. He told the court that he voluntarily approached them when he noticed that witness A. had removed some 'happy tweets' from her encounter with Assange. Either just before or during lodging the complaint. He also wanted to introduce the police to some other relevant witnesses.

Funny: I think that victim A. gave away to the police that she is actually the person who brought this rape case in the news!! The witness for the defense said that he found out A. erased her tweets just before or during her visit to the police. The prosecutor then says to the witness: did you hear A.'s own explanation for that - the explanation she gave to the police??

Witness: no.

Prosecutor: Anna explained that she deleted these tweets because the was afraid that when the case came in the news people would guess that she is the complainant - because they will associate her with Assange.

My opinion: a normal complainant would not have started to take all these precautions, because they would not have expected their case to go in the news. But Anna took precautions because she KNEW the case would come in the news. Which is consistent with the very first article in the Expressen which states that the paper heard about the accusations from a source very close to the complainants!!

The witness reads the 7 steps to legal revenge and says that Anna has now deleted all of them from her website - apart from step 1: Consider really carefully if you really need to take revenge.

It becomes very quiet in court during this reading - and I have to admit that I am shocked by the text. Glancing over it is a totally different experience than someone saying these threats aloud to you. Being in a setting that proves that someone may actually have carried them out makes it even more grim. The witness even excuses himself and assures us that 'it will be only one more line.'

The same witness further says that he doesn't understand what happened with the testimony of the two complainants. Normally such important evidence should either have been video-taped or recorded. In this case the police wrote summaries of what the complainants said. He literally says: they do such summaries for when your bicycle is stolen - I would have expected them to take these interviews more seriously. And now the authentic, original statements are gone for ever!

Last important remark: in Sweden there are no two different words for want and consent. The only word they have is 'want'. This is important because the Swedes cannot say that they agreed with something, though it was not there heart's desire. Eg. I consent to go to be a witness in this court and to be grilled by the questions from the prosecution - though I may not want it!!.

I won't do an eye-witness account on the second day. I was early in court - but they were very short of places. I decided to give up my place to someone from Assange's 'core-team'. Salient detail - even Vaughan Smith is not guaranteed a place on this gallery, despite the fact that he has to decide if he will continue to support Julian any further (not that I doubt he will).

So - I'll be off to enjoy the sunshine in London!! For people who want to read more: I heard that the skeleton argument for Sweden is now also up on the website of

Previously by Mirjam Eikelboom: 2011-01-14 Eyewitness Account from Belmarsh Court

2011-02-08 Public health disaster looms in Gaza

On Sunday, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza warned of an impending 'public health disaster', reported first on WL Central here. In a press release on the organization's Web site, the Ministry states that the situation could include the death of hundreds of people, including cancer patients, those with tumors, and those in need of both kidney dialysis and intensive care.

Gaza War

Gaza's long-suffering has increased exponentially since Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, when Israel launched air attacks on Gaza in response to rocket and mortar fire by Hamas. The incident was preceded by an Israeli incursion into Gaza in November 2008 "to destroy what Israel said was a tunnel on the Gaza-Israel border dug by militants to infiltrate into Israel and abduct soldiers." (Source: Wikipedia)

Oxfam reports that the offensive brought Gaza's infrastructure to the brink of collapse. Most of the 1.5 million inhabitants were already vulnerable from Israel's previously existing blockade of the territory. Approximately 80 per cent of Gaza families were already receiving some form of humanitarian assistance before the conflict began, which was severely disrupted as a result. (Source: Oxfam: Gaza Stip, A Humanitarian Implosion)

Israeli Blockade

A Wikileaks cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv in 2008 reveals that Israeli officials wanted Gaza's economy "functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis." US state cables reviewed on WL Central here and here show the pressure brought on Egypt's new vice president Suleiman to close Gaza's 'feeding tube' tunnels.

The extreme restrictions on the movement of people and goods has created severe shortages in fuel and medical supplies. The lack of fuel has left hospitals without electricity to "keep lifesaving equipment working or to generate oxygen, while 40-50 million litres of sewage continues to pour into the sea daily." (Source: Oxfam: Gaza Stip, A Humanitarian Implosion).

De-development in Gaza

In Dec 2010, Oxfam remarks that while the blockade may exists as a security measure for Israel, the growing devastation to Gaza's public health, education, water, and sanitation runs counter to the basic human rights of the Palestinians living there:

For Israel, the blockade is a security measure - as is the so-called buffer zone on the inner perimeter of Gaza. But seeing the reality of ‘de-development’ on the ground (with social and economic structures and standards of living jumping backwards), it’s hard to see how effectively locking up a whole population within a small territory and blocking the means whereby the economy can grow and prosper within that territory can promote security or meet any basic human rights or international humanitarian law criteria. (Source: Oxfam: De-Development in Gaza)

Human Rights Issue

The EU and international agencies have called the Israeli measures 'collective punishment', which is banned under the Geneva Conventions. (Source: National Post)

Human Rights Watch also regards the exacerbated crisis in Gaza with the same lens. Their May 2010 report emphasizes the responsibility that 'occupying powers' have Under Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which places duties on an occupying power to ensure food and medical supplies to the population, and to permit and facilitate the provision of humanitarian relief.

The report continues: "These obligations also apply to specific Israeli forces wherever in Gaza they exercise effective control. Israel's continuing blockade of the Gaza Strip, a measure that is depriving its population of food, fuel, and other necessities, constitutes a form of collective punishment in violation of article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention."

Fatah vs. Hamas

The continued delay of supply shipments this month that were promised by the Health Ministry in Ramallah, which is run by the Palistinian Authority, has exacerbated the existing deprivation of Gaza inhabitants, according to the Palestinian News Network (PNN): "The health ministry [in Gaza] says it ran out of 170 kinds of medicine and 140 kinds of medical supplies."

According to, "The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has refused to answer to appeals by interveners to resolve the more than month long crisis and release essential medicines it was withholding from Gaza." According the a statement by the Health Ministry in Gaza, the organization has reached out the the World Health Organization and other international parties to search for a solution to the worsening crisis.

"Gaza is currently lacking about 40 percent of basic medicines, the Hamas Health Minister, Bassem Naim, said in January, accusing the Palestinian Authority of withholding key stocks." The charge was rejected by his Fatah counterpart, Fathi Abu Mughli, who said the shortages were a result of "mismanagement." (Source: Asharq Alawsat)

The Hamas Health Minister told AFP, that "The health situation in Gaza is very difficult, if there is any new Israeli war the situation will be catastrophic," , saying the health services were missing 182 out of 450 basic types of medicine. (Source: Asharq Alawsat)

2011-02-08 Suleiman is Israel's preferred successor in Egypt

Cable 08TELAVIV1984, released by Wikileaks today, is headlined at Uruknet "New Wikileaks cable shows 2008 war on Gaza was unprovoked: Israel knew Hamas was enforcing ceasefire" referring to the 2008 massacre that resulted in approximately 1,400 Palestinians killed in 22 days, an operation in which Israeli soldiers had orders to "cleanse" entire neighbourhoods, orders which they carried out. That is evident in the first part of the cable, where MOD Arab Affairs Adviser David Hacham, says Suleiman was keeping the pressure on Hamas, but the Israelis were frustrated at Hamas' 'stalling tactics' - Hamas was demanding Egyptian guarantees that Israel would not attack Gaza once Shalit was released. Regarding the Tahdiya, Hacham said Barak stressed that while it was not permanent, for the time being it was holding. There have been a number of violations of the ceasefire on the Gaza side, but Palestinian factions other than Hamas were responsible. Hacham said the Israelis assess that Hamas is making a serious effort to convince the other factions not to launch rockets or mortars.

The cable also returns to Egypt's anti-smuggling efforts, enforced by Israel and the US, and this time Israel has "decided to praise Egypt's performance publicly both in genuine acknowledgement of some improvements in destroying tunnels and in order to show the Egyptians that Israel was capable of praising as well as criticizing them. In private, however, Barak also pushed the Egyptians to do more, particularly in terms of stopping the smuggling well before the arms reach the Gaza border."

"Hacham also said the Israeli delegation was "shocked" by Mubarak's aged appearance and slurred speech. Hacham was full of praise for Suleiman, however, and noted that a "hot line" set up between the MOD and Egyptian General Intelligence Service is now in daily use. Hacham said he sometimes speaks to Soliman's deputy Mohammed Ibrahim several times a day. Hacham noted that the Israelis believe Soliman is likely to serve as at least an interim President if Mubarak dies or is incapacitated. (Note: We defer to Embassy Cairo for analysis of Egyptian succession scenarios, but there is no question that Israel is most comfortable with the prospect of Omar Suleiman.)"

2011-02-08 Syria unblocks social media

ImageSyria is reportedly set to unblock facebook, youtube and twitter today. Syria’s state-owned fixed line operator ISP, the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE) requested its licensed distributors to permit access. Syrian censorship of the internet has been seen as among the worst in the world, and it has targeted social media in particular. The relaxing of access appears to be a part of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's commitment to progress and communication with the Syrian people.

As reviewed earlier on WL Central, that commitment has been primarily verbal in a country that has a long way to go to meet standards requested by such authorities as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists. Syria escaped a scheduled protest on February 5 through a combination of suppression, threats and bribes to the Syrian people, and it was hoped at that point that the promised reforms would be substantial enough to reward the Syrian people's restraint. In a country with a reported 10,000 political prisoners, where bloggers are routinely jailed, tortured, and 'disappeared', more substantial reforms are required.

2011-02-08 The New Egyptian Normal: Thousands Demonstrate in Cairo, Alexandria

More Egyptians than ever turned out demand an end to the Mubarak regime today, putting to rest speculation that the protest movement was running out of steam. Thousands of new faces were to be seen among the protesters that turned out for massive Tuesday demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria and many other Egyptian cities. Many observers said the crowds in Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo were even larger than they were for last Friday's protests. And they turned out not only in Liberation Square but in other areas of Cairo and all over Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathered again in Alexandria and thousands protested outside the parliament building a short distance from Tahrir.

Vice President Omar Soleiman warned ominously that his government "can't put up with continued protests" and then added emphatically that there would be no resignation of Mubarak and "no ending of the regime." For three decades the Egyptian people lived in fear of the Mubarak regime and especially the police state apparatus that [EGIS] Egyptian General Intelligence Service Chief Omar Soleiman constructed and then headed. Now the fear is gone. So the struggle between a growing number of Egyptian people and the Mubarak regime settles into a siege on this the 16th continuous day of demonstrations with protesters still holding Liberation Square.

The atmosphere in Liberation Square is again one of celebration. The center of the square has become a tent city were a core group have taken up residency. They have set up medical stations, food distribution, sanitation crews, all of the facilities of a small community. They even held a wedding earlier this week. One slogan that became popular in Liberation Square this week is "We are not Cairo. We are the New Egypt." They have been inventing the new Egypt in that square and the excitement they have generated has helped the movement to grow. Tuesday was another day for the really big crowds to return and they were bigger and more festive than ever. Many new people have joined the movement. In spite of the governments announcement of a 15% pay increase for government worker, many civil servants joined the protests for the first time today.

One of the things being celebrated is the release yesterday after 12 days of detention of Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who's Facebook page inspired the Egyptian protests. Many people saw the interview he did with Al Jazeera after he was released and a lot of the new people said they were inspired by him to come to Tahrir (Liberation) Square today. The centerpiece of the day was his speech to the people there.

Mubarak has promised a lot of reforms since the protests started.

While many see these as hard won concessions of the struggle so far, others see it has the latest Mubarak ploy to subvert the movement and avoid any real change in the status quo. History, both long term and recent, would appear to support that view.

The massive Tuesday, January 25th "Day of Rage" protests against poverty, unemployment, government corruption and the rule of Hosni Mubarak were largely peaceful. In Cairo people went into the streets in large numbers and headed for the NDP headquarters, the foreign ministry and state TV. Peaceful mass demonstrations also took place in Alexandria, Suez and through Egypt. This was unprecedented! This had never happened in Egypt before. Already the spell of fear had been broken. They had to get it back. After a few hours of relative calm, the Mubarak regime responded in it's usual manner, with massive police violence, using clubs, tear gas and water cannons against Egyptians crying "Down with Mubarak." In response to the crackdown, more protests broke out in the Nile delta cities of Mansura and Tanta and in Aswan and Assiut in the south. The movement spread.

This protest movement has been organized and led by the young people of Egypt. The April 6th Youth Movement and “We are all Khaled Said” group put up a Facebook page calling for a protest on January 25th and when that got more than 87 thousand 'likes' it was a signal that things had changed forever. Wael Ghonim, was the administrator of that page. According to this pre-demonstration announcement:

A large number of political parties and forces will participate in the protests, including the Democratic Front, the Labor Party, Al Ghad, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Socialist Renewal Movement, Prospects for Socialism, the Popular Democratic Movement for Democratic Change (Hashd), Al-Kefaya, Youth for Justice and Freedom, the Free Front for Peaceful Change, ElBaradei's campaign, and the National Association for Change.

Two weeks ago this announcement went on to say,

The 2011 demonstration is a huge event organized by the “We are all Khaled Said” group and is supported by other opposition political parties and groups. There are great hopes that this event will change Egypt forever especially after what happened in Tunisia.

The Muslim Brotherhood opposed the January 25th protests and stated very publicly that they would not be participating. That did not stop the Egyptian government from blaming the Muslim Brotherhood for fomenting the unrest a few hours after the protests started. Fear of a Islamic takeover in Egypt has been a cow that the Mubarak regime has milked for years and they weren't going to let the facts stand in the way this time either. As Cablegate memo 06CAIRO2933 noted about Mubarak.

He clearly hopes that his elder statesman value, combined with the implicit threat of the Muslim Brotherhood's rise, will temper foreign pressure for more and faster democratic reforms.

Once the police attacked, the protesters they fought back with everything they could find including rocks and fire bombs. They built barricades in the streets. The protesters were undeterred. They took these blows and adopted tactics that worn down the police, all the while, extending to them the hand of friendship as fellow Egyptians that shared many of the same grievances as the protesters. The cost was high. Thirteen people were killed, hundreds were wounded and thousands were arrested. But by the end of Friday prayer, these tactics were beginning to show signs of success. In Alexandria, the police made peace with the demonstrators and many joined the protest movement. In other cities, many police just went home and changed into civilian clothes.

By the time Mubarak saw the massive turnout for the protest rallies on Friday 28 January, he must have realized that just using the stick wasn't going to work this time and so began to growing list of promises and concessions. He announced that day that he was dismissing his cabinet. The next day, while his party headquarters was burning to the ground, he appointed his first vice president in 30 years, Omar Soleiman, the much feared head of the EGIS and considered by some the most powerful intelligence chief in the middle east. Cablegate memo 09CAIRO874 characterized the relationship between Mubarak and Soleiman this way:

EGIS Chief Omar Soliman and Interior Minister al-Adly keep the domestic beasts at bay, and Mubarak is not one to lose sleep over their tactics

Now those "domestic beasts" were awake and roaring and Soleiman had been promoted to dictator-in-waiting. The regime's other response was to withdraw the police and send in the army.

The army is one of conscripts at the bottom and it is much loved and respected by the people. Mubarak hasn't tried to use the army to directly suppress the people with violence and it is likely that neither he nor anyone else knows exactly how the chips will fall should he attempt to do so. The army has promised not to fire on the people and has played a seemingly neutral role. Using the army to directly put down the rebellion with massive violence was not a option, for a multitude of reasons, including the fact the United States was already getting bad press because some of the weapons used on the people were clearly marked 'made in the US.' Still, Egyptian air force planes and helicopters flew menacingly low over the crowds in Liberation Square for a number of days. People were not scared away. After a while and without comment from the government, the over flights stopped.

The government imposed a curfew. The curfew has been defied ever since. Troops fired shots into the air to disperse the people in Tahrir Square but the people stayed and said Mubarak would have to go. So the new VP and head of state security Soleiman promised a new dialogue on constitutional reforms.

The next tactic the Mubarak regime used to break the rebellion was to disrupt the normal life of Egyptians and blame it on the protests. The banks were closed. the ATM's didn't work. People couldn't get their money. Schools also were closed and so were many businesses. It is unclear why these steps had to be taken because of thousands of people in Tahrir Square but they were, and they were blamed on the protests.

In an effort to cut communications and stem the tide of protests, the regime cut all cell phone service and Internet access to the extent it could. These disruptions were blamed on the rebellion too. Their most formidable tactic in this period may have been allowing massive jail breaks after the police were withdrawn from patrolling cities. This was followed by a lot of looting and mayhem making by criminals and police agents. This was blamed on the protests too, even though some of criminals were revealed to be members of the state security force when they were caught.

The looting and vandalism forced many of the protesters to return to their neighborhoods to defend their homes. It was designed to do this and also create an atmosphere of chaos and a willingness to return to the old order. It didn't work. People returned to their neighborhoods and secured them. They setup road blocks and neighborhood watch committees. All over Cairo, the city was being policed by newly formed citizen's militias. The vandalism and looting came to an end and by Tuesday people felt safe enough to leave their neighborhoods and return to mass protests in Liberation Square and throughout Egypt in unprecedented numbers. The opposition had called for a "Million Man March" on Tuesday. The turnout was overwhelming with an estimated 6 million people marching nationwide. Mubarak when on state TV and announced that he wouldn't run for president again at the end of his term. The resounding response from the square was that his term needed to end now.

Then he sent in the thugs, or rather Soleiman did, because all of the levers of state security are in the hands of this Mubarak loyalist. For two days and nights the violence perpetrated by these pro-Mubarak forces was horrific as they battled to force the protesters from Liberation Square. While the army looked on and failed to intervene, this collection of NDP loyalists, police out of uniform, and paid thugs, used Molotov cocktails, guns, and automatic weapons on the protesters in the square and throughout Egypt. The pro-democracy masses waged pitched battles against these forces and suffered heavy losses, the UN estimates 300 have been killed since the protests began, but they never gave up the square.

The next Friday 4 February, was termed the "Day of Departure" and it revealed to all that Mubarak's and Soleiman's latest terror campaign had been a big failure. The crowds in Liberation Square and throughout Egypt were bigger still. The demand that the regime with so much fresh Egyptian blood on its hands must go was stronger than ever on the eleventh day of protest. The next day, more government concessions were forthcoming. The leadership of the ruling NDP resigned including Gamal Mubarak, the son of Hosni Mubarak and expected successor.

Since his thugs failed to scare people off the streets and break the back of the revolution with terror, Soleiman began talks with a carefully selected group of opposition leaders, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Although Soleiman's hatred for the Muslim Brotherhood is well known, he knows that giving the Muslim Brotherhood a prominent place in negotiations will be troubling to many in the west and in Egypt and make them more likely to support the regime's persistence. This angle was played to the hilt by the major media in the United States that can't stop talking about the Muslim Brotherhood but never mentions any of the groups that called the protests in the beginning.

After two weeks the disruptions of normal life caused by the struggle were really starting to wear on people. There was a real feeling that things needed to get back to normal but people didn't want the old normal. Still, they needed to get back to work and to school. Mubarak and company supported these sentiments by re-opening banks and schools. Small business got back to business but the protests continued. A new normal has been settling in. Many Egyptians were saying that the protests needed to end and the media has been giving that opinion a loud voice.

While most Egyptians have been supportive of the struggle, as it moves into its third week, many are starting to question its continuation. They have grown tired of the disruption of normal life and have suffered a loss of income as banks and other businesses have been closed. The protests have already achieved a great deal they argue. President Mubarak has named a vice-president and promised to step down at the end of his term. Vice President Soleiman is talking to some members of the opposition, even the hated Muslim Brotherhood. There have already been some economic concessions made and the regime has promised to ease restrictions on the Internet and press. Now let's give them a chance to implement these reforms and we can get back to some sort of normalcy they plead. This attitude is understandable after all the trauma and hardship people have been through. The UN estimates that over 300 Egyptians have been killed. Thousands more have been wounded, imprisoned or tortured in the past few weeks of rebellion.

History has shown that as long as a tyrant remains in power all the promises made remain an illusion. The testimony of those that have been released from the state's custody about the mistreatment and torture perpetrated on protesters that have been arrested and remain in custody put the lie to the regime's promises of reform. So does the wanton disregard for human life and the welfare of Egypt shown by the regime in the brutal methods it has used in it's attempts to suppress this rebellion. All of this can be taken as a window into the horror that will befall Egypt if these protests should die down and a regime headed by either Mubarak or Soleiman be allowed to consolidate its rule.

That is why the massive turnout and especially all the new faces were so important today. Another massive protest is planned for Friday. The protesters say they will remain in Liberation Square until Mubarak and his cronies are gone. The fear is gone!

2011-02-08 UPDATE Australian attorney general responds to open letter to PM Gillard re Assange

The Australian attorney general's response to an open letter to the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard re Julian Assange

Australian Attorney General

[2011-02-02 Open letter to the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard re Julian Assange]

Dear Prime Minister

The world notes again your comments on Julian Assange reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, February 2nd 2011.

It is pleasing that you would welcome him back to Australia but your statement that the government cannot do anything to assist him in that regard is not strictly correct and springs from a factual error in you saying “They are charges and they've got to be worked through proper process.” Prime Minister, in brief these are the relevant facts and applicable law:

1) Mr Assange has not ever been charged by Sweden or anybody else.
2) The Swedish authorities have initiated an extradition process which is contrary to the European Arrest Warrant (“EAW”) system in that they want him back in Sweden for the purposes of investigation, not explicitly to charge him.
3) The EAW is a fast track extradition process between EU member states brought into effect to allow decisions to be made between EU judicial systems, not between politicians.

The European arrest warrant is a judicial decision issued by a Member State with a view to the arrest and surrender by another Member State of a requested person, for the purposes of conducting a criminal prosecution or executing a custodial sentence or detention order.

Note Prime Minister, that UK explanatory document above extracted from EAW law says criminal prosecution, not criminal investigation, and you may recall that in Australian law, and in many other parts of the world, police can only hold a suspect for a limited time (eg NSW four hours plus time-outs) for the purposes of investigation only.

Extradition for the stated purpose of investigation only is not only an abuse of the EAW system, it is also an abuse of Mr Assange’s human rights and brings in an arguable political dimension to the prosecution itself, contrary to the EAW’s legal prohibitions.

You will also note the political dimensions of prosecutorial forum shopping in Mr Assange’s case: what one Swedish prosecutor dropped, another was pursuaded to reopen by a Swedish politician, Mr Claes Borgström.

Sweden’s prosecutor Ms Ny, according to Mr Assange’s counsel, has apparently indicated that her intention is to hold Mr Assange in Sweden for the purposes of investigation, incommunicado, which means no bail allowed and Mr Assange would be without access to visitors legal or otherwise: this apparently is a matter of her own stated policy in sexual allegation matters.

This is an intended breach of Mr Assanges’s human rights, should he be extradited, on top of another, the original breach of Swedish law, of their prosecutors releasing/confirming his name and the allegations to the Swedish media in 2010.

Prime Minister, when an Australian national’s human rights are being trampled upon abroad, citizens expect our government to say or do something about it. It is not simply a matter of letting another nation’s legal processes continue when clearly they are abusive.

It is likewise no longer a matter of pandering to the interests of the USA and allowing Australian citizens to be tortured as was Mamdouh Habib, by the recently promoted Vice President of Egypt no less, a matter that on legal suit by Mr Habib it is noted that the Australian government settled out of court recently with Commonwealth taxpayers money.

While Sweden is by no means North Korea, would the Australian government keep silent on abuse of human rights, of an Australian citizen, prepetrated by the latter?

Lastly, Prime Minister, you drew a distinction between the “moral force” of whistleblowing and indicated that Wikileaks was “not about making a moral case.”

Wikileaks supporters would invite you Prime Minister, for example, to view the video “Collateral Murder” and consider whether or not Wikileaks was making a moral case against prima facie war crimes and/or crimes against humanity.

We urge you Prime Minister to make the appropriate complaints to the Swedish government of their prosecutorial abusive treatment of Julian Assange, contrary to Swedish and European Human Rights law.

Yours Faithfully
Peter H Kemp
Solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW.

The Prime Minister can be contacted here:

2011-02-08 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

ImageThe Telegraph: No 10 urged commander to play down Afghanistan failures

"A senior adviser to Gordon Brown put pressure on the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan to play down the “bleak and deteriorating” situation to reduce criticism of his government, leaked documents disclose."

Read more

The Guardian: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices

"US diplomat convinced by Saudi expert that reserves of world's biggest oil exporter have been overstated by nearly 40%.

The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show."

Read more

El País: EE UU, preocupado por la corrupción oficial en Argentina (The United States worry about the official corruption in Argentina)

"El fenómeno de la corrupción oficial en Argentina preocupa a Estados Unidos, cuya embajada en Buenos Aires envió al Departamento de Estado más de cien despachos confidenciales, a lo largo de varios años, alertando sobre la fragilidad del sistema judicial en el país sudamericano y, consecuentemente, sobre la impunidad de quienes delinquen. (The phenomenon of the official corruption in Argentina worries the United States, whose embassy in Buenos Aires sent to the State Department more than a hundred confidential cables, through several years, warning about the fragility of the judicial system in the South American country and, consequently, about the impunity of those who break the law.)"

Read more (Spanish)

(Image Credit: Dali Rău)

2011-02-08 Witness statement of Bjorn Hurtig - Summary

The Witness Statement of Bjorn Hurtig, Swedish counsel for the defense of Julian Assange - Summary

The original statement is available here, and the supporting documents are here, here, and here. In this document, Mr Hurtig describes the case against Mr Assange to the London defense team as one of the weakest he has ever seen in his entire fifteen year career. In this document London defense Mark Stephens asserts that the Swedish prosecutor sought not just to have Mr Assange imprisoned while under investigation, but also placed in solitary confinement. The key points of Mr Assange's skeleton argument were summarized here.

Mr Hurtig states that the manner in which Ms Ny (the Swedish Prosecutor) has handled Mr Assange's case is not in compliance with the concept of a fair trial.

Mr Assange will most certainly be brought to trial behind closed doors, initially and in the Court of Appeal. Mr Assange, who has endured an avalanche of bad publicity, will be heard with no witnesses to view the weaknesses of the case and thus no opportunity to clear his name. Prosecution witnesses will not be refuted by any new witnesses coming forward, because no one will hear their testimony.

The trial will be heard by a judge and three laypersons who are appointed by, and often members of, a political party.

The trial may be affected by media prejudice caused by the unfair conduct of police and prosecutors. Before the complainants were properly interviewed, and thus before an investigation ought to have begun, a prosecutor told the Expressen newspaper that Mr Assange was being investigated for rape, a serious breach of Swedish anonymity law. Despite this breach, the prosecutor has not been disciplined and the Justice Ombudsman has refused to accept a complaint made against her.

In Sweden, victims can have their lawyer paid by the state, even before charges are brought or confirmed. After the charges against Mr Assange were thrown out by a senior prosecutor, Claes Borgstrom, as lawyer for the complainants, appealed the decision. Ms Ny both upheld his appeal and decided to take over the case herself. Overturning the senior prosecutor's decision and deciding to take over that decision herself is in contravention of a well known principle in Swedish law. The decision to overturn the senior prosecutors decision was taken with no hearing from Mr Assange, his legal counsel, or anyone representing the senior prosecutor, in breach of the rule that everyone is entitled to be heard in matters affecting their liberty or civil rights.

It is stated in the Prosecution Manual and is the received wisdom of prosecutors, that rape cases must be investigated quickly. Despite this, Ms Ny made absolutely no effort to contact or interview Mr Assange after she took over the case, and in fact refused to speak with him, from September 1 onward. On September 27, after Ms Ny stated that she had no objection to him leaving Sweden, Mr Assange left Sweden.

On September 27, Ms Ny testifies that she arrested Mr Assange in absentia. On September 30, Mr Hurtig spoke with the assistant prosecutor to arrange a time for Mr Assange to be interviewed and was told that Mr Assange did not risk being taken into custody.

Mr Hurtig states that he has been in fairly continuous communication with Ms Ny since September 30 and he has offered to answer questions by telephone, video link, skype, attendance at Scotland Yard, or the Swedish Embassy in London, and he has never been given a sensible reason for the rejection of these offers. On January 11, Ms Ny texted Mr Hurtig saying she could not interview Mr Assange in England because of "investigative technique requirements". She has told the media that she is prevented from doing so by law. Mr Hurtig asserts that this is not true, there is no such law. Mr Hurtig states that these methods are specifically mandated by the Prosecutor Manual, the Manual on European Warrants, and the Manual on International Legal Assistance.

The assistant prosecutor told Mr. Hurtig that they only wanted Mr Assange to answer questions and if he did not say anything detrimental it was more than likely that the whole matter would be dropped.

Mr Hurtig has not been provided with all the evidence against Mr Assange including important exculpatory evidence. Goran Rudling provided a lengthy statement to the police investigator, including important information beneficial to Mr Assange's case, which Mr Hurtig was not informed existed and was unaware of until Mr Rudling contacted the defense. The new interviews with the complainants have also been concealed from the defense. Other exculpatory evidence was shown to him briefly, but he was not allowed to make copies or show his client. This evidence includes text messages between the complainants in which they discuss receiving payment for making the complaint, contacting the tabloid Expressen, and refer to 'revenge'.

The prosecutor refuses to provide any material in English. Mr Hurtig received a 98 page file containing vital evidence which had to be translated in London at Mr Assange's expense.

Ms Ny told Mr Hurtig that he could reveal the contents of the remand warrant, but ethical guidelines prevented him from revealing what he knew of the contents of the text messages. He has since contacted the Swedish Bar Association who refuted this.

Mr Hurtig has been refused access to Mr Assange's file on the grounds that it would prejudice her investigation at the same time that Ms Ny knew that the police had provided the file to the media. The media had access to information months before the defense.

The European Arrest Warrant contains the Swedish term for the entire investigation, not simply prosecution, as a reason for issuance. (There is another Swedish term which refers to prosecution.) Ms Ny has repeatedly stated that she only wants Mr assange for questioning and has not decided whether to prosecute. The warrant is only to be issued for the purposes of prosecution, not questioning.

There is no reasonable possibility of Ms Ny having gathered further incriminating evidence against Mr Assange since the last time he was questioned by the prosecutor's office. They have, in fact, received evidence from Mr Rudling and two other witnesses that helped Mr Assange's defense.

There is no allegation in the arrest warrant that Mr Assange did not reasonably believe that all conduct was consensual, which there would need to be for the alleged acts to be indictable under English law.

Mr Hurtig also stated a correction to Ms Ny's title as it appears on the European Arrest Warrant. On the warrant she is styled as a Director of Public Prosecutions, a position held by another. Ms Ny is one of several Senior Prosecutors.

2011-02-09 February 17 A Day of Rage to protest against 'The Revolution'

ImageIn Libya, the Revolution (Al-Thawra) refers not to the protests happening today, but to the revolution over 41 years ago which installed Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution Muammar al-Gaddafi in power. The National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO) and Libyan activists are calling for a Libyan Day of Rage on February 17 against the abuses of 'the Revolution'. The NCLO has called for mass protests both in and outside of Libya to fall on the anniversary of the February 17, 2006 mass demonstrations in Benghazi against Gaddafi and his regime, which resulted in the deaths of dozens of protestors and the injury of many more.

Gaddafi issued the first official response in private meetings over the last few days with Libyan political activists, journalists, and media figures. He issued severe warnings that they and their professions would be held responsible should they participate in any way in "disturbing the peace or creating chaos" in Libya. WL Central coverage of recent protests told of the fears which were sparked in Gaddafi by the Tunisian revolution. Gaddafi has spoken out against the revolution in Tunisia, and blamed the internet and Al Jazeera news for spreading 'lies' against former Tunisian president Ben Ali. He has also defended Egyptian president Mubarak, saying that the Mubarak family, estimated to be worth US$70 billion, is poor and cannot afford their clothes. He said that Libya is providing the Mubarak family with financial support and accused Israeli intelligence of instigating the Egyptian revolution.

The website Enough! (Khalas!), started by second generation Libyan expatriates in the US, is a home for all who support the "overwhelming need for change in Libya", while bloggers continue to speak out within the country. Human Rights Watch compiled a 78 page report on Libya in 2009 entitled "Truth and Justice Can't Wait" which details repressive laws which continue to stifle speech and abuses by the Internal Security Agency which remain the norm. Amnesty International's 2010 report on Libya states "Freedom of expression, association and assembly continued to be severely curtailed and the authorities showed little tolerance of dissent. Critics of the government’s human rights record were punished. ... Hundreds of cases of enforced disappearance and other serious human rights violations committed in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s remained unresolved, and the Internal Security Agency (ISA), implicated in those violations, continued to operate with impunity."

Recently, Libyan activists have claimed that the Libyan intelligence service has been carrying out a large-scale campaign to shut down Libyan websites based outside of the country due to their ongoing coverage of the situation in Libya. According to a recent statement from Amnesty International, it is their belief that Jamal al-Hajji, a former prisoner of conscience who was detained on February 1 and accused of hitting a man with his car, is being detained for his political activity. His arrest came shortly after he made a call on the internet for demonstrations for greater freedoms in Libya.

Libyan Law No. 71 of 1972 on the Criminalization of Parties bans any form of group activity that is based on a political ideology deemed contrary to the principles of the al-Fateh Revolution of September 1, 1969, and there are many legal restrictions to freedom of speech and political dissent. Speech which is "insulting public officials" or "opposing the goals of the Revolution" is criminal.

In December, Libya Press announced that it has closed its Tripoli office and will resume work from several foreign capitals. Libya Press is a part of al-Ghad Media Group, owned by Muammar Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Qaddafi. Saif al-Islam has some reformist views and has disagreed with the governing power repeatedly. Until Libya Press was established, the government owned Jamahiriya News Agency enjoyed a 40 year monopoly on the news in Libya. Libya Press began reporting in July 2010, after six months of delays in obtaining licenses, and was in operation just five months. Two other newspapers Oae and Quryna, both also part of al-Ghad Media Group, were earlier suspended after publishing articles critical of the government. Both newspapers returned to the newsstands in July. Oae was suspended again in November. "Libya Press' decision to leave the country because of arrests and harassment illustrates the difficulties of conducting reporting that is not in lockstep with the government's official positions," said the Committee to Protect Journalists Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.

2011-02-09 February 20 is Morocco's Day of Rage

ImageA February 20 protest has been planned to restore "the dignity of the Moroccan people and for democratic and constitutional reform and the dissolution of parliament." One of Morocco’s leading Islamist movements, Justice and Charity, which has an estimated 200,000 members and is banned from politics but tolerated, has called for “urgent democratic change.” It’s website states “It is unjust that the country’s riches should be monopolised by a minority.”

Abdesslam Yassine, leader of Justice and Charity does not challenge the monarchy itself, but refuses to recognise Mohammed’s religious title of Commander of the Faithful. He was put under house arrest for several years under King Hassan, but King Mohammed VI lifted the restriction shortly after coming to power in 1999. Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament, but the constitution allows the king to dissolve the legislature, impose a state of emergency and have a key say on the appointment of sensitive government portfolios, including the prime minister. Justice and Charity would like to replace the constitution with "a democratic one to mark a break with all aspects of autocracy ... and monopolisation of authority and national wealth and preserves the human dignity of the Moroccan citizen". “It’s an Islamism that is anti-establishment that is pushing for peaceful change,” said Islam expert Mohamed Darif of Justice and Charity. “It doesn’t talk about abolishing the monarchy.”

Economist Najib Akesbi calls Morocco “A young, largely idle population facing problems of lack of training, employment and prospects and a fairly closed political horizon,” and further says the country is plagued by corruption and nepotism. According to Human rights Watch in 2009, “Human rights conditions deteriorated overall in 2009 in Morocco, although the country continued to have a lively civil society and independent press. The government, aided by complaisant courts, used repressive legislation to punish and imprison peaceful opponents, especially those who violate taboos against criticizing the king or the monarchy, questioning the "Moroccanness" of Western Sahara, or "denigrating" Islam. ... Police are rarely held accountable for violating human rights. In cases with political overtones, courts seldom provide fair trials; judges routinely ignore requests for medical examinations lodged by defendants who claim to have been tortured, refuse to summon exculpatory witnesses, and convict defendants on the basis of apparently coerced confessions.” The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern in a November 9, 2010 report over an “increasing climate of hostility for Spanish journalists in Morocco, highlighted by official measures to prevent Spanish journalists from covering clashes in the Western Sahara.”

The Moroccan Minister of Communication, Khalid Naciri, said on February 3 that the government felt "serene" about the calls for protests. "Morocco ... has embarked a long time ago on an irreversible process of democracy and widening of public freedoms. That citizens are able to express themselves freely does not disturb us in any way." He warned, however, that such protests must not harm national interests and constitutional values, but "Nothing suggests to us that it will be otherwise."

"We intend to reassure those who are organizing protests on the internet that this is an entirely normal thing and is part of the democratic life of Morocco," Telecommunications Minister Khaled al-Nasiri told newspaper Hespress. "We are used to such initiatives growing up and have for years been open to freedom of opinion and expression.”

Menouar Alem, ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the EU, said his country was stable because they had put in place a multi-party system, given workers freedom to unionise and enshrined people's right to protest. Moreover, he said that the country had a consistent policy of promoting women's rights, family planning and investing in human resources. King Mohammed VI has tried to reduce poverty and cut what was one of the highest illiteracy rates in the Arab world while developing infrastructure to attract foreign investment and create jobs. Rating agencies Standard & Poor's and Fitch have said the North African country of 32 million people is the least likely in the region to be affected by the wave of popular unrest.

2011-02-09 The Google Search for Wael Ghonim

When Google Marketing Executive for Middle East and North Africa [MENA] Wael Ghonim went missing amidst the chaos that was enveloping Cairo in the first week of the uprising in Egypt, Google started a search. So did friends and family.

He took six days off from Google, saying he had to take care of some "personal business." The day before the big January 25th protest he tweeted "Heading to Tahrir square now. Sleeping on the streets of Cairo, trying to feel the pain of millions of my fellow Egyptians. #Jan25"

His last tweet, before he went missing was on Thursday, 27 January. He was helping another Internet user get around Egypt's web censorship:

@Ghonim how can you tweet when its blocked??

He responded:

@SweetOwl proxy servers

At first Google refused to confirm that Wael was missing, In an email, a spokeswomen said "We care deeply about the safety of our employees, but to protect their privacy, we don't comment on them individually."

A few days later the company was asking for help in locating him. On Tuesday, 1 February, Google issued the following statement from it's Mountain View, CA headquarters:

"A Googler, Wael Ghonim, is missing in Egypt. He has not been seen since late Thursday evening in central Cairo. The safety of our employees is very important to Google, so if anyone has any information please call the following U.K. number: 44 20 7031 3008."

I have already blogged how other Googlers worked the weekend after Wael went missing to give Egyptians more options in accessing Twitter.

This Open Source Software site reported:

Arabic to English translation (Google Translation + my own corrections)

'Dustur al-Asli' (the site) has received confirmed information indicating that Wael Ghonim, president of marketing for Google Middle-East, and who disappeared since last Thursday, January 27, is the admin for the group "Khale Saeed" along with the groups "6th October" and "Popular Movement for the Support of Baradaie" which called for the organization of popular protests to depose of president Husni Mubarak, starting on January 25th.

Sources told 'Dustur al-Asli' that there is information indicating that the security services have kidnapped Ghanim on Thursday and he may have been killed on its hands, such as happened with Khalid Saeed, who also founded a group.

The U.S-based Internet company, Google, has launched Tuesday an appealed asking for help to find Wael Ghoneim missing since nearly a week.

Boston technology entrepreneur and friend Habib Haddad also started a search going. He asked for volunteers to comb Cairo looking for him.

"We are asking for people to take the old-school approach and walk around and ask about him," Haddad said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "We are sure that with the number of people there on the ground, someone somehow must have seen him and must know where he is."

The LA Times reported:

A friend, Habib Haddad, told CNN that Ghonim was in touch with his wife and brother on Friday before disappearing over the weekend. Haddad said his concerns for his friend were growing bigger "by the day."

"He would do whatever he could to reach out, and he wouldn't put himself in a stupid situation," Haddad said.

In the meantime, Twitter users are teaming up to track down people reported as missing by family and friends.

A Twitter user in Beirut, Samer Karam, and another in Canada, Tamer Salama, created a Google Docs spreadsheet to list missing people and update the world as they are found. Hundreds of people have gone missing during the protests, but few as high profile as Ghonim.

Probably the most important step in protecting Wael Ghonim and insuring his safe return was taken by the people in Liberation Square on Thursday, 3 February when they elected him official spokesman for the April 6th Movement group. The Mubarak regime still hadn't confirmed that they were holding him but they had expressed an interest in opening talks with the opposition. The people in the square sent the government a resounding message. You want to talk to us? You talk to Wael!

Four days later he was released.

As you might expect, the post-release interviews with Wael Ghonim that so raised the level of the struggle are in Arabic. I have found these versions with English sub-titles on Alive in Egypt. The videos are hosted on YouTube, but since they use JavaScript for the sub-titles, I can't embed them and you'll have to watch them on their site:

Exclusive: Wael Ghonim’s First Interview With English Subtitles.
Dream TV Interview With Wael Ghonim: Part 1 – With English Subtitles
Dream TV interview with Wael Ghonim – Part 2 – With English subtitles
Dream TV interview with Wael Ghonim – Part 3 – With English subtitles
Dream TV interview with Wael Ghonim – Part 4 – With English subtitles
Dream TV interview with Wael Ghonim – Part (last) 5 – With English subtitles

My Google Search for Wael Ghonim

I did my own Google search for Wael Ghonim this morning. Like everyone else since he's come to the world's attention in the last few days, I wanted to know more about him. I know he is a Google marketing executive that is now being seen as a leader in the Egyptian revolution. I wanted to know about his past. Was he possibly someone I could have cross paths with in my own history in the Free Software Movement? Is he more than a marketing guy, is he a geek, a nerd, a computer hacker that is also a political activist, what the media has taken to calling a hactivist? [a term I dislike and reject] Is he an anonymous member of that club? In short, is he one of us? I had to know. So my search began.

Googling for info about the past of someone after they have come to the attention of the world is a daunting task. You have to filter out the zillions of fresh references to find the few needles at the bottom of the pile. But there are ways..

I found the answers to my question in a posting that Wael Ghonim made to a forum on open source software, alt.php.sql, on Oct. 3, 2001 at 1:51am (nerd time). In his post he is trying to help someone move from a proprietary Microsoft database to a free open source database by answering the question Which is easier to convert to MySQL? Access or SQL2000? Here is what he posted:

Wael Ghonim View profile


I've experienced the same problem 6 months ago, It was a headeche for me however I guess now I would know the solution. Acess allows you to dump the database, make a table structure in your Mysql the same as the one that you have for the Access Database. Dump all the data putting : "" between every field ( you can choose that ) ( Ex.: "1","John","Woow" )

After that you can easily create your Mysql Database and dump the files to it.


Islam = Terrorism ?!

We can see his political side showing even then in his signature.

I was using PHP and Mysql and posting on forums like that back in those days. In fact I did a Google search to see if I ever discussed those subjects on that forum and instead turned up this gem from my past. In 2007 did a story on me and wrote:

His current main project is a Vietnam War retrospective video based on thousands of TV and film clips taken while the Vietnam War was still going strong, all filed and catalogued in a PHP/MySQL system Clay wrote for himself that runs on his personal MythTV box. The amount of time he's putting into this video project has severely curtailed his business activities; he's still building and supporting Linux computers, but he says that he is currently "dipping into savings" since he cut back his work hours to make more time for anti-war activities.

I finished the documentary Vietnam: American Holocaust, and got Martin Sheen to narrate it. I recently upgraded my PHP/MySql based system for work on the sequel, Vietnam: People's Victory, work that has been so rudely interrupted by current revolutions. Thanks Wael.

Anyway back in 2001 Google was only 3 years old and barely out of the dorm room but they were running the free software LAMP system [the Linux OS, the Apache webserever, MySql database, and the PHP web scripting language, and so was I and apparently so was Wael. So I feel a strong connection. A decade ago he was one of us.

Wael Ghonim went to Cairo University from Sept. 1998 to June 2004 and graduated with a BS in Computer Science. Then he spent two years at the American University in Cairo to get an MBA. He worked while going to school in marketing at from Aug 2002 til Aug 2005. He started his present job with Google in November 2008.

In September 2009 he spoke at a conference in Dubai on how Companies Turn to Social Media to Survive Global Crisis hosted by IQPC Middle East. The announcement says,

Wael Ghonim, Regional Product Marketing Manager MENA, Google will discuss how social media is being utilised during the downturn and how to target users in social networks.

I wonder if he told them much about how he personally was using social media to combat the "downturn."

Another item my Google search turned up was much more recent, from December 21, 2010, just about a month before the revolution in Egypt kicked off. It gives us a clue as to just what a MENA marketing executive for Google does when he is not administering subversive webpages. It also gives us a window into how Google and other Open Source companies do business. In an email on that day Khaled Mokhtar, the Project Manager for the Google/Wikipedia Health Speaks Initative in Egypt writes:

Hello Health Speaks Arabic,

Please visit our blog post to read about the final results of Health Speaks. We had 177 Arabic articles translated, published and reviewed by the deadline, including 3 articles on important reproductive health issues (safe sex, gonorrhea and birth control) that have already been viewed over 20,000 times.

As you know, pledged to donate 3 US cents per English word translated to Children Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357. Now, as a special thank you to all of you for your incredible hard work and patience with us as we tested things for the first time, we've also pledged an additional $10,000. That's a total of $26,611 that will be donated to the hospital as a direct result of this group.

It has been a privilege to work with all of you and I hope you feel very proud of yourselves! I must also give special congratulations to our top contributors (below), to Mido and Hexacoder from Wikipedia, to Noura for our daily updates, and of course to Khaled for his wonderful reviewing skills and amazing enthusiasm!

Competition for Arabic translators has been especially fierce in the past decade. I wonder if the CIA or Pentagon ever thought of this approach? Khaled Moktar added to the top of her email:

Also we can't forget the wonderful Wael Ghonim for his strategic guidance, and for giving me the opportunity to do this great initiative.

Today there are thousands in Cairo's Liberation Square that might echo that thanks to Wael in quite a different context.

2011-02-09 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

ImageThe Telegraph: Suleiman told Israel he would 'cleanse' Sinai of arms runners to Gaza

"Omar Suleiman, the new vice-president of Egypt, told the Israelis he wanted to start “cleansing the Sinai” of Palestinian arms smugglers, according to leaked cables."

Read more

The Telegraph: Egyptian 'torturers' trained by FBI

"The US provided officers from the Egyptian secret police with training at the FBI, despite allegations that they routinely tortured detainees and suppressed political opposition."

Read more

The Telegraph: Mohamed ElBaradei was 'too soft on Tehran’

"The United States and Israel warned that Mohamed ElBaradei, a key leader of the Egyptian opposition, was soft on Iran and was becoming “part of the problem” in the Middle East, according to leaked diplomatic cables."

Read more

The Telegraph: Hosni Mubarak told US not to topple Saddam Hussein

"Hosni Mubarak told Dick Cheney, the former US vice-president, “three or four times” not to depose Saddam Hussein, according to leaked cables."

Read more

El País: Frei, un perdedor con cara de perdedor (Frei, a loser with the face of a loser)

"El exmandatario chileno era visto por EE UU como un candidato presidencial sin ideas que solo se interesaba en resolver el supuesto asesinato de su padre. (The Chilean ex-president was viewed by the United States as a presidential candidate without ideas who was only interested on solving his father's murder.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: Boeing acusa a Airbus de ofrecer sobornos para ganar un contrato de 1.000 millones de dólares en Rumanía (Boeing accuses Airbus of offering bribes in order to obtain a contract of a billion dollars in Rumania)

"La empresa estadounidense pidió a la embajada que intercediera contra los europeos, que ofrecían una 'mordida' del 3%. (The American company asked to the embassy to intercede against the Europeans, who [allegedly] offered bribes of 3%.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: Gadafi mima a sus dirigentes y a otros países con los contratos más jugosos (Gadafi spoils his leaders and other countries with juicy contracts)

"El régimen de Trípoli es "una cleptocracia", según los diplomáticos de EE UU. (The regime of Tripoli is a "kleptocracy", according to the American diplomats.)"

Read more (Spanish)

(Image Credit: Dali Rău)

2011-02-09 WikiLeaks response to a WikiLeaks 'tell all' book

WikiLeaks released the following statement in response to excerpts from a book that were leaked to on Wednesday. The response from WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson was posted at Forbes.

WikiLeaks has been taking legal action against former employee Daniel Domscheit-Berg who was suspended from the organisation in September. The reasons for these actions will gradually become clear, but some are hinted at by extracts from Domscheit-Berg's book.

In the book Domscheit-Berg confesses to various acts of sabotage against the organisation. The former WikiLeaks staffer admits to having damaged the site's primary submission system and stolen material.

The sabotage and concern over motives led to an overhaul of the entire submission system, an ongoing project that is not being expedited due to its complex nature and the organisation's need to focus its resources on publication and defence.

It should be noted that Domscheit-Berg's roles within WikiLeaks were limited and started to diminish almost a year ago as his integrity and stability were questioned. He has falsely misrepresented himself in the press as a programmer, computer scientist, security expert, architect, editor, founder, director, and spokesman. He is not a founder or cofounder, nor was there any contact with him during the founding years. He did not even have an email address with the organisation until 2008 (we launched in December 2006). He cannot program and wrote not a single program for the organisation, at any time.

Domschiet-Berg was never an architect for the organisation, technically or in matters of policy. He was a spokesperson for WikiLeaks in Germany at various times, but he was never the spokesman for WikiLeaks, nor was he ever WikiLeaks editor, although he subedited some articles. He was also never a computer scientist or computer security expert, although he was a computer science student many years ago. His accounts of the crucial times in WikiLeaks history since April last year are therefore based upon limited information or malicious falsifications.

2011-02-10 Mubarak Expected to Step Down!

Egypt's Supreme Military Council has had only three public meetings in it's history. The first one was in 1967, the second was in 1973 and the third took place today. In it they announced that they had convened the meeting in response to the current political turmoil and that they would continue to convene such meetings. It is most significant that Mubarak didn't chair the meeting as he normally would have. Instead the meeting was chaired by Defense Minister Mohamed Tantawi. The statement says

"Based on the responsibility of the armed forces and its commitment to protect the people and its keenness to protect the nation... and in support of the legitimate demands of the people [the army] will continue meeting on a continuous basis to examine measures to be taken to protect the nation and its gains and the ambitions of the great Egyptian people,"

Mubarak has stepped down as Commander-in-Chief of the Army!

This meeting took place amidst growing rumors from multiple sources that President Mubarak will step down from the presidency this evening and turn power over to his new Vice President and Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman. Other rumors have the army or taking over.

The government has announce that President Mubarak will make a major speech live to the nation from his palace this evening. This is amidst rumors that he has already fled to the Red Sea.

Stay Tuned! This is a fast moving story that we will be updating often today.

Here are some of the most recent tweets we are receiving at WL Central:

Greg Mitchell: Well, Mubarak live speech will get biggest audience ever for any program worldwide, I would guess...

matthew cassel:Tahrir is absolutely packed, I think if people get any more excited all of central Cairo could explode

RT @AJELive: NDP chief reportedly stopped Mubarak making speech, handing power in #Egypt to VP Suleiman.

DailyNewsEgypt: Armed Forces Council says in first statement it will continue convening, reiterates support of Egyptian people and their demands

Reuters: NBC reporting Mubarak will step down tonight

Reuters FLASH: Senior military officer in Tahrir tells protesters demanding Mubarak leave: "Everything you want will be realized"

The army is meeting has not ended! They Supreme Military Council is on continuing meeting. A former NDP member on AJ thinks this means that Mubarak will turn over power to the military.

This is the latest from Al Jazeera at this hour: [7:50pm Cairo]

Hassam Badrawi, the secretary general of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), told the BBC and Channel 4 News on that he expected Mubarak to hand over his powers to Omar Suleiman, the vice-president.

"I think the right thing to do now is to take the action that would satisfy ... protesters," Badrawi told BBC television in a live interview.

Ahmed Shafiq, the country's prime minister, also told the BBC that the president may step down on Thursday evening, and that the situation would be "clarified soon". He told the Reuters news agency, however, that Mubarak remained in control, and that "everything is still in the hands of the president".

However, Anas el-Fekky, Egypt's information minister, denied all reports of Mubarak resigning.

"The president is still in power and he is not stepping down," el-Fekky told Reuters. "The president is not stepping down and everything you heard in the media is a rumor."

10:40am pst US President Obama just called for an "orderly and genuine transition in Egypt." No clue as to what is happening.

2011-02-10 Mubarak is Defiant

Defying the will of the people that have come out in their millions throughout Egypt in premature celebration of President Mubarak's widely rumored resignation.

Mubarak announced in his speech on Egyptian state TV tonight that we would not step down as president as the people have been demanding.

"I will not relent in punishing those responsible for the violence."
"The blood of those killed in the violence will not be wasted."
"I will not bow to outside pressure"
"I will remain in office until elections."

The tyrant remains! They have changed nothing! They have learned nothing!
The anger of the people in the streets is incredible.
The Revolution starts tomorrow! The turn out of Egyptian people this Friday will be awesome!

But what will the army do?

He plans on making reforms and is calling for amendments to six sections of the constitution.

He will remain on as president but transfer his powers to his new vice president and longtime intelligence chief Omar Soleiman.

He repeated many time that he would not bow to outside powers which sound like a direct response to earlier reports that US officials had told him to resign.

Egyptian Vice President Suleiman spoke next on Egyptian state TV at 11:34pm Cairo time.

Suleiman request the help of one and all in restoring normal life.
He commented to an orderly transfer of power under the constitution.
He calls on all his citizens to look forward to the future.
We cannot allow those plotting intimidation ..
"I call on the youth of Egypt. Go back home. Go back to to your work. Let us hold hands and build the new Egypt. do not listen to the foreign satellite TV stations. They will only mislead you."

More, later...

2011-02-10 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

ImageThe Telegraph: Lord Dannatt wrong on troop numbers, civil servant told US

"The senior civil servant organising the Iraq Inquiry secretly briefed against Britain’s top general after he called for more troops to counter a surge of deaths in Afghanistan."

Read more


"Embassy Beirut´s consular section has obtained, through the Lebanese commercial registry, the listing of the 38 shareholders of the Lebanese Media Group, aka Lebanese Communication Group, Hizballah´s parent company for Al-ManarTelevision and Al-Nour Radio. As is required under Lebanese law for all media companies, the shareholders are drawn from across Lebanon´s confessional spectrum. We understand that, in some cases, Christians were given shares in the company for free, so that Hizballah would be able to maintain the appearance of complying with the requirements of confessional balance."

Read cable


"During their January 31st stop in Paris, Senators Smith, Biden, Leahy, Chambliss, Shelby and Hatch discussed the status of the bilateral relationship, Iraq, Iran proliferation, Afghanistan, the EU´s arms embargo on China, and anti-Semitism in France in separate meetings with French President Chirac, Interior Minister Dominque de Villepin, Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, UMP Party President Nicholas Sarkozy, and a group of local Jewish leaders. As explained by Chirac, France is looking forward to the President´s visit to Europe as an opportunity to strengthen transatlantic ties. France and the U.S. share common values and experiences, which argues for closer ties in order to deal with global problems and regional issues. The French confirmed their ongoing commitment to fighting terrorism, the common EU approach to dealing with Iran´s nuclear acquisition program, as well as their willingness to help Iraqis and Afghans. Chirac reiterated French redlines against sending personnel into Iraq, but noted the French offer to provide gendarme training outside Iraq for up to 1500 Iraqis. The French are hopeful that recent middle-east developments will help facilitate a closer relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Local Jewish community leaders acknowledged French Government efforts to combat anti-semitism, but said that France could do more. UMP President Sarkozy took the opportunity to affirm his warm friendship towards the United States. Senators Smith and Hatch extended an invitation to Sarkozy to attend a conference on civil society themes in Provo, Utah in October 2005."

Read cable


"In a July 16 meeting, NEA Assistant Secretary David Welch asked Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit to agree to the installation of a FM transmitter in Egypt to facilitate Radio Sawa broadcasts. Until this is done, A/S Welch underscored, $227 million in ESF money will not be released. He further asked that GOE officials agree to meet with members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors here in Egypt to approve the transmitter proposal as soon as possible. By way of background, A/S Welch reminded Aboul Gheit that this issue has been pending since 2001 and that he had discussed the matter personally with successive Ministers of Information during his tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Egypt. Although AM transmitters may cause disruption to Egyptian broadcasting, an FM transmitter would not, A/S Welch explained."

Read cable


"Charge and PAC met with Information Minister Anas Al Fekki on July 26 to urge that GOE allow Radio Sawa to create a broadcast facility in Egypt and to relay the complaint from foreign correspondents stationed here that they lack on-the-record access to GOE officials. The Minister agreed to meet with Broadcasting Board of Governors´ (BBG) representatives to explain his plan for revising the law that prohibits non-government ownership of broadcasting and thus to enable Sawa to broadcast within Egypt. But he firmly rejected linking Sawa with aid to Egypt, saying that the GOE would rather forfeit the aid than look like it was leapfrogging the law in response to U.S. pressure. Such an approach, he said, would badly damage the public image of the U.S.-Egyptian partnership and destroy any chance of getting a broadcast facility for Sawa. Portraying himself as a liberal reformer who favors a free media climate, the Minister pointed to sweeping changes in the Information Ministry, which controls the pervasive state TV and radio. He highlighted the real-time and unfettered coverage by Egyptian TV of the Sharm el Sheikh bombings and his own efforts to ensure free and balanced access by all Presidential candidates to the broadcast media."

Read cable


"During their meeting with Information Minister El Fekki and other broadcast officials, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) team headed by Executive Director Brian Conniff found no Egyptian willingness to find a quick solution that will enable Radio SAWA to build a broadcast tower in Egypt. In contrast to a more upbeat-sounding approach in his July 26 discussion with the Charge and PAO (reftel), the Minister -- as BBG Director Conniff put it -- seemed "unconcerned" by the prospect of $227 million being withheld from Egypt´s ESF if there is no progress towards a local SAWA FM broadcast. Both the Minister and his Deputy, whom the BBG group met later, stressed that a total overhaul of Broadcasting Law 13 is the only way forward for SAWA or any other non-GOE broadcasters. They admit that this process, which must wait for the November parliamentary elections and the subsequent legislative process, could take three to five years. Executive Director Conniff made his disappointment clear to the Minister and his Deputy and informed them that he would have to report this response to staffers working on the appropriations bill. If Egypt had to pay $227 million to uphold the integrity of its legal processes, so be it, was the Minister´s response."

Read cable


"NEA Assistant Secretary Welch met with Egyptian Prime Minister Nazif on August 18 to discuss bilateral and regional issues. Welch pointed out that the U.S. had delivered on its promise of greater engagement on the peace process and would engage further as both sides made progress. The international community would be carefully examining the upcoming elections in Egypt. Although the U.S. Administration was confident of the GOE´s handling of reform, Congress was more skeptical. Movement on the issue of QIZs could be affected by Congress´ perceptions of Egypt´s elections. Moreover, the issue of a license for Radio Sawa was an irritant in the bilateral relationship. The U.S. needed assistance in combating terrorism, particularly in Iraq. The U.S. would try to be fair and accurate in its advisory regarding the recent terrorist incidents in Sinai. Nazif stated that the message he wanted to convey about the elections was that the GOE had tried to make them as free and fair as possible. His staff was working on reform of the media reform and the Radio Sawa issue could be resolved in that context. He was hoping for greater reform of U.S. assistance to Egypt, and hoped to have issues in the Sinai sorted out soon."

Read cable


"Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes met with Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif on September 26. Hughes asked Nazif what could be done to improve understanding of America in the Middle East. Nazif said that Gaza presented an opportuntity to changes perceptions of the U.S. in the region. Nazifthanked Hughes for the positive USG response to Egypt´s recent presidential election, which had been relatively successful. Hughes agreed that the election was a positive initial step but urged Nazif to build on the momentum and improve the electoral process before parliamentary elections in November. Nazif explained Egypt´s agenda for continued reform and noted that announcement of an FTA would be a strong signal of support for Egypt. Hughes urged Nazif to drop Al Manar from NileSat and provide a timetable for allowing Radio Sawa to broadcast in Egypt. Both of these steps were important to Congress and the Administration. Nazif proposed a fund for graduate level study by Egyptians in the U.S."

Read cable


"Embassy Cairo has been engaging the GOE, the Arab League, and Cairo-based foreign diplomats, to take action to remove Hizballah´s Al-Manar TV from the GOE-owned Nilesat. Building on efforts already made by Embassy Beirut, and drawing from materials compiled by the U.S. Foundation for the Defense of Democracy (FDD), we have been arguing to the GOE that Al-Manar´s inflammatory programming, which glorifies acts of terror and spreads disinformation, poses an unacceptable threat to the security of the region and the wider world. To date GOE and other interlocutors have been responding positively but we have detected no effective action. We believe a sustained regional approach could produce better results. We suggest that Washington agencies report interagency action on Al-Manar to NEA posts, provide us needed technical and legal expertise, and set up formal monitoring of Al-Manar and other broadcasters inciting hatred and terror. Our ensuing regional advocacy work could also target local advertisers or banks dealing with Al-Manar, complementing efforts by Embassies Cairo and Riyadh to persuade the GOE and the SAG to take Hizballah TV off Nilesat and Arabsat."

Read cable


"During a December 7 meeting, Minister of Information Dr. Anas Al-Rasheed told the Ambassador that he was very pleased by the progress of the revised press law and he believes it has a very good chance of being approved by the National Assembly in the near future. Al-Rasheed said that PM Shaykh Sabah had been key to pushing the bill through the Council of Ministers in an acceptable form. The Ambassador used the occasion to request elimination of Al-Manar from ARABSAT. On other topics, the Minister indicated cautious optimism about the proposal to reduce the number of electoral districts. The Ambassador and the Minister discussed issues surrounding the decline in the number of Kuwaitis studying in U.S. universities. The Minister dismissed the importance of a recent court case against Al-Watan newspaper. PAO accompanied the Ambassador to determine areas of possible cooperation and support."

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"Although its audience in Egypt appears to be modest, Al-Manar TV recently gained notoriety in Cairo for broadcasting a program deemed to be insulting to President Mubarak. Al Manar´s hostility to the United States and endorsement of conspiracy theories make the station a perfect fit for Egyptian journalist Mahmoud Bakry, Al-Manar´s Cairo Bureau Chief. Al-Manar TV is currently broadcasting through the Egypt-owned satellite service, Nilesat. The future fate of Al-Manar´s broadcasts in Egypt is uncertain - rumors are circulating that the GOE will terminate its contract. Senior GOE officials tell us they abhor Al-Manar´s programming and the Minister of Information has told us he supports in principle removing the station from Nilesat. That said, Egypt will look for Arab cover, especially removal from Saudi Arabia´s Arab Sat."

Read cable


"In a lengthy meeting with visiting Rep. Berman on February 20, Mubarak emphasized that Egypt does not trust Hamas but will work with the organization´s leadership in order to moderate its positions. Mubarak counseled strongly against a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and dismissed criticism of the GOE´s handling of the Ayman Nour case. Only half joking, Mubarak told Rep. Berman that Egypt´s relations with Israel are better today than Egypt´s relations with the U.S. Separately, Gameela Ismail, wife of political opposition leader Ayman Nour, thanked Rep. Berman for Congress´ ongoing interest in her husband´s case. Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit agreed that Iran´s nuclear program posed serious concerns, but cautioned the U.S. against resorting to military action against Iran. Information Minister Al Fikki told Rep. Berman that getting Al Manar off the air would require negotiation with ArabSat, the Saudi government, the Arab League, and possibly Lebanon."

Read cable


"In a preliminary response to U.S. designation of Al-Manar, senior Elysee officials reaffirmed GoF resolve in banning Al-Manar broadcasts in France due to hate speech concerns, while reiterating the GoF´s desire for continued contact with, and opposition to EU designation of, Hizballah. MFA DAS-equivalent for Egypt/Levant Herve Besancenot reiterated that France will not follow the U.S. example of listing Al-Manar or freezing its assets, and questioned the timing of the U.S. designation, viewing it as potentially undermining Lebanese PM Siniora and Lebanon´s ongoing national dialogue. Besancenot stressed that the GoF banned Al-Manar due to its diffusion of hate speech contrary to French law, not a determination that Hizballah is a terrorist organization. At the same time, MFA contacts responsible for CT issues suggested that the GOF might work to seek an EU-wide ban on Al-Manar, based on hate speech concerns, once the EU formulates a legal foundation on which to ban such broadcasts. Given this initial response, it appears that the best argument to seek greater GoF activism against Al-Manar in the EU is the hate speech angle, in the face of continued French opposition to listing Hizballah as a terrorist organization."

Read cable


"On April 20th, the Ambassador pressed MOI Al-Fiqqi on the GOE´s media portrayal of issues important to the US-Egyptian relationship, including Iran, Hamas, and Iraq. He also again raised the issues of Radio Sawa and Al-Manar. The Ambassador argued that if the GOE values its relationship with the US as a strategic asset it should not, in Al-Fiqqi´s own words, "compromise with anti-American public opinion,"but rather seek to lead and shape it with more factual information. Al-Fiqqi took the point and said he had, for example, conveyed to the editors-in-chief of the top state-owned dailies the true facts of increased US assistance to the Palestinians (Ref A)."

Read cable


"Israeli counterterrorism (CT) officials were anxious to convince visiting S/CT Deputy Coordinator Virginia Palmer that Israel´s 34-day war with Hizballah in July and August had weakened the terrorist group and given Lebanese PM Siniora greater political will to take on Hizballah, but Israeli NSC CT Coordinator General Danny Arditi was candid about his fears that Siniora would be assassinated and that "even the Golan Heights would be insufficient to wean Syria away from Iran." Israeli MFA CT officials urged increased U.S. pressure on Syria to ensure compliance with UNSCR 1559 and UNSCR 1373´s provisions on terrorist safe haven, but offered no concrete suggestions for how to do so. They acknowledged that efforts to have Europeans designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization would probably be unsuccessful "at least through 2007." They agreed that S/CT would host the next (CT) Joint Working Group in February 2007."

Read cable


"Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Townsend met on February 6 with Crown Prince Sultan at the Crown Prince´s offices in Jeddah. Both parties reiterated the positive cooperation between the U.S. and Saudi governments, and the Crown Prince expressed satisfaction with the improvement in the visa situation for Saudi visitors to the U.S. The Crown Prince discussed Iraq, commenting that any outside influence should serve Iraq as a united nation and not open the door for Iranian interference. The Crown Prince urged the U.S. to pay attention to the Yemen-Saudi border due to Al-Qaeda activity in Yemen but emphasized that Yemen was cooperating well with the SAG. The Crown Prince said "we will not hesitate" to cooperate on working with Arabsat to block Al-Manar television broadcasting. He requested that the U.S. fully support the Siniora government in Lebanon, noting said that "positive and rational" steps should be taken to lessen Persian influence over Syria, and confirmed Saudi support for Afghanistan´s President Karzai as a "wise and strong man.""

Read cable


"Norway is increasingly a land of immigrants, with over twenty three percent of the capital city,s population now designated as non-Norwegian,. The largest non-Western group is Pakistani, a population that has established deep roots in the country since the 1960s, but which continues to face many hurdles to integration and has shown signs of radicalism. Some hurdles are self-inflicted as some Pakistanis send their children to Pakistan for elementary and high school education. The almost exclusive intermarrying is also self-imposed and causes significant cultural conflict. There are brazen criminal elements in the Pakistani populations that until recently the police have been reluctant to confront. This combined with well-knownpower struggles among leaders of religious and secular institutionsthat suggest a risk of radicalization. Following Norway,s first ever terror arrest in September 2006, which was of Pakistani-Norwegian Afran Bhatti, and last year,s cartoon controversy, Norway should be considered a possible risk for home-grown terrorism. This cable is the first in a series examining different Muslim communities in Norway. The following cables will cover the Iraqi, Somali, Turkish/Kurdish and other significant Muslim communities in Norway."

Read cable


"Based on initial meetings with Government of Indonesia officials, it appears there are three possible routes for ending the broadcast of al-Manar television in Indonesia: 1) a formal U.S. complaint to the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (IBC) and the Department of Foreign Affairs based on violations of Indonesian law and possible damage to our bilateral relations, 2) a regulatory solution as al-Manar may not have the required permit to broadcast in Indonesia and 3) an independent decision by Indosat to avoid reputational risk by ending broadcasts of al-Manar. The Embassy has met with Ministry of Communication and Information Acting Director General for Information and Communication Facilities Freddy Tulung, Deputy Minister of State Owned Enterprises and Indosat Commissioner Roes Aryawijaya, Foreign Ministry Deputy Director of Information and Media Services Sam Marentek, Singapore Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Lim Hong Huai and Telkom Executive Vice President David Burke. We have requested additional meetings with the head of the Indonesian Broadcast Commission, the president director of Indosat and an independent commissioner of Indosat."

Read cable


"Based on meetings with Indosat and Government of Indonesia (GOI) officials, they are not inclined to stop broadcasting Al-Manar in Indonesia without a legal basis. While Indosat responded positively towards our arguments, they said they would not cancel their contract with Al-Manar until the GOI determined that Al-Manar violated broadcasting regulation. However, the GOI says Al-Manar has not violated broadcasting regulation. The Embassy met with Indosat Deputy President Director Dr. Kaizad B. Heerjee and his staff, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology Director General of Posts and Telecommunications Basuki Yusuf Iskandar and his colleague at the Ministry Deputy Director General for International Affairs Ikhsan Baidirus and PT Asia Global Media Head of Programming Brad Cox. PDAS Gerald Feierstein S/CT also raised the issue with Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Director of International Security and Disarmament Desra Percaya. We did not get a requested meeting with Chairman of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (IBC) Sasa Djuarsa Sendjaja, but we did receive a letter from him."

Read cable


"Minister of Information Tareq Mitri told the Ambassador on September 16 that there is a possibility that the 2009 elections could be delayed because mutual suspicion and mistrust continue to plague the national unity government. Mitri cautioned that recent events touted as "reconciliation" (i.e., in Tripoli and between rival Druze factions) were better described as "treaties" engineered to keep further violence at bay, rather than as a form of forgiveness. He expressed concern that the parliament was being replaced as the appropriate forum for discussion and law making; and complained the cabinet was spending far too many hours discussing issues that should fall under the purview of the parliament. The media, Mitri believed, has exacerbated some of the political conflicts and said he is focused on crafting a new "code of conduct" for the media. The ministry also is exploring ideas to improve Lebanon´s public television programming, he said. Mitri was clearly not enthralled by his new portfolio and was counting the days."

Read cable


"After several days of negotiations with fellow March 14 Christians Michel Murr and Amine Gemayel on the Metn district, candidate Nassib Lahoud pulled out of the race on April 17, telling Ambassador that his two fellow coalition leaders had not "given him what he needed" to contest the election. Lahoud also reported that President Sleiman had (unsuccessfully) tried to change Lahoud´s mind. Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Geagea assured us that the March 14 alliance is close to finalizing its candidate lists for the June 7 parliamentary elections. Pointing out that differences between his party and Amine Gemayel´s Kataeb party have been entirely resolved ("at LF´s expense"), Geagea said that March 14´s prospects were good in Batroun, Koura, and Metn districts, but it faced challenges in Keserwan, Zahle, and Baabda. Praising the firm U.S. policy on Hizballah, Geagea noted that Hizballah was "behaving" in its stronghold Baalbeck, but had violated state sovereignty by sending Hizballah members illegally into Egypt. Looking ahead to the next government, Geagea suggested that March 14 think hard about whether incumbent Speaker Nabih Berri should stay on and also whether prospective candidate Saad Hariri should become the prime minister, arguing that March 14 should condition Berri´s appointment, and could convince March 8 to give up its demand for a blocking third in the cabinet if independent figure Najib Mikati were instead the next PM."

Read cable


"In recent months, Embassy Muscat has worked, in formal meetings and behind the scenes, to discern current Omani thinking on the possibility of Radio Sawa being permitted to broadcast on the Sultanate´s FM spectrum. Most recently, the Ambassador´s first call on the Minister of Information provided what is likely as decisive (albeit not encouraging) a response as will be given."

Read cable


"National Security Advisor General Jim Jones explained to President Michel Sleiman, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander General Jean Kahwagi January 15 the U.S. administration,s intention to pursue additional sanctions against Iran at the United Nations after its failure to respond to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) outreach. He stressed President Obama,s commitment to peace in the Middle East, while assuring that no engagement would come at Lebanon´s expense. In addition, he highlighted U.S. support for Lebanese state institutions, particularly the LAF."

Read cable


"Saida Chtoui, one of two de facto deputy ministers in Tunisia´s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told visiting DAS Sanderson on January 26 that the U.S. and Tunisia "have a lot of work to do together," that Tunisia´s new Foreign Minister is "open minded," and that Tunisia wants to "build stronger political relations" with the U.S. Chtoui maintained that Tunisia was striving to find the right balance among security, development, and democratic process, and insisted Tunisia deserved more credit for its social achievements. Responding to DAS Sanderson´s expression of concern about human rights and a recent crackdown against independent journalism, Chtoui dismissed dissident journalists as poseurs and profiteers and complained, relatively mildly, about Tunisia´s mention in the Secretary´s January 21 speech on Internet freedom. This prompted a spirited exchange on freedom of expression, in which Chtoui linked moves in the U.S. to ban Al-Manar TV to Tunisia´s censorship of "dangerous" websites. The Ambassador openly wondered what threat was posed by sites such as Freedom House. At the close of what remained throughout a friendly discussion, Chtoui pledged Tunisia´s full support for U.S. efforts to revive Middle East peace talks (reftel)."

Read cable


"Minister of Information Tareq Mitri informed the Ambassador on January 27 that President Sleiman continues to be personally interested in the issue of House Resolution 2278 regarding satellite providers broadcasting channels carrying anti-American incitement to violence. Mitri said that most Arab League Information Ministers fear that such a bill would only serve to strengthen the radicals in their calls to violence. Mitri revealed that he has been pressured by Hizballah to take a more active, public role in attacking the resolution. Mitri also offered insights to the workings of the new Lebanese cabinet, but said that its true tests remain in front of it."

Read cable


"Ambassador met with MFA U/S Abdullah Rashid al-Noaimi March 22 to inform him of the USG´s intent to designate domestically al-Manar Television, the Lebanese Media Group, and al-Nour Radio as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Executive Order 13224. Ambassador noted that the designation will take place on or about March 23 and left copies of the non-papers and E.O."

Read cable

El País: La familia Frei pide a EE UU que aclare si envió a Chile elementos para elaborar venenos (The Frei family asks to the United States if they sent elements to Chile to elaborate poisons)

"Reclama mayor colaboración con la investigación de la muerte del expresidente. (Demands major collaboration with the investigation of the ex-president's death.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: El "benevolente autoritarismo" del régimen de Obiang (The "benevolent authoritarianism" of the Obiang's regime)

"EE UU busca privilegiar las relaciones con Guinea Ecuatorial por encima de consideraciones sobre el respeto de los derechos humanos. (The United States tries to favor its relations with Equatorial Guinea on top of any considerations in favor of human rights.)"

Read more (Spanish)

(Image Credit: Dali Rău)

2011-02-10 [UPDATE No. 2] Iran Day of Rage (Feb 14), Regime Continues Crackdown: Jams BBC Coverage of Egypt

[UPDATE No. 2 2011-02-10 8:49 EST]

Guardian reports that the BBC confirms its Persian TV service is being jammed tonight inside Iran, following its coverage of events in Egypt. BBC technicians have traced that interference and have confirmed it is coming from Iran. (Source: Guardian)

Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC's World Service says:

"This jamming should stop immediately. The events in Egypt are being viewed by the entire world and it is wrong that our significant Iranian audience is being denied impartial news and information from BBC Persian TV. This is a regional story that Persian TV have been covering thoroughly and it is clear from our audience feedback that Iranian people want to know what is happening in Egypt. The BBC will not stop covering Egypt and it will continue to broadcast to the Iranian people." (Source: Guardian)

[UPDATE No. 1 2011-02-10 Iran Day of Rage (Feb 14), Regime Continues Crackdown: Karroubi and more Detained or Arrested, Opposition Websites Down (Developing) 6:52pm EST]

The Iranian regime continues its crackdown on the opposition on the eve of the 32nd anniversary of the Iranian revolution. Friday, Feb. 11, is the annual government-sponsored rally celebrating the Islamic revolution of 1979.

The crackdown is a response to Iranian opposition leaders, Mehdi Karroubi, former Parliament speaker, and Mir Hossein Mousavi, former prime minister, request to hold an alternative rally on Monday, February 14. See below.

In the past 24 hours:

  • HerdictWeb tweets that "#blogger and #wordpress reportedly blocked in #iran, report to @Herdict"
  • CNN Reports that "Iranian authorities have detained Saleh Noghrekar, the former head of Moussavi's election campaign and the nephew of Karrubi's wife. Agents detained him and spent four hours searching his home. Also detained, were journalists Omid Mohaddess and Maysam Mohammadi, both arrested Wednesday night. (Source: CNN)
  • According to reports from Radio Amanheh, Tehran Bureau, and Washington Post, Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi has been placed under house arrest.
  • Opposition member, Taghi Rahmani, has been arrested. A member of the outlawed Freedom Movement of Iran, he had campaigned for reformist cleric Karroubi ahead of the disputed 2009 presidential vote, and has spent a third of his life in jail. (Source: Saham News)
  • On January 9, Anonymous Iran Issued a Press Release (also in < a href="">French), including a video for Operation Iran

[2011-02-10 Iran Day of Rage (Feb 14), Regime Crackdown: Karroubi under House Arrest (Developing) 10:01am EST]

On Saturday, Iranian opposition leaders, Mehdi Karroubi, former Parliament speaker, and Mir Hossein Mousavi, former prime minister, issued an open letter to Iran's interior minister requesting a permit for a rally on Monday, February 14. (Source: CNN and

"In order to show solidarity with the popular movements in the region, particularly the freedom-seeking movement of the Tunisian and Egyptian people against their autocratic governments, we hereby request permit to call for a rally –- as Article 27 of the constitution authorizes – on Monday, 25 Bahman [February 14] at 3 p.m. from Imam Hossein to Azadi Square." (Translation Source: Radio Free Europe)

Messrs. Karroubi and Mousavi have been labeled by Iran's hard-liners as the leaders of a 'conspiracy' to overthrow the Islamic Republic, since they claimed election fraud after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the 2009 presidential election. (Source: NYT)

The opposition leaders have requested a rally permit on several occasions, and each time the government has turned them down.

Challenging Regime Rhetoric

Karroubi's and Mousavi's statement comes on the eve of the 32nd anniversary of the Iranian revolution. Friday, Feb. 11, is the annual government-sponsored rally celebrating the Islamic revolution of 1979.

Observers note that the request is a maneuver to rally opposition and encourage the kind of mass protest which were violently crushed by the government in 2009. (Source: AFP) Commentator, Muhammad Sahimi remarks on Tehran Bureau:

It is also a shrewd tactic to put Tehran's hardliners in a tough position. If the hardliners oppose the demonstrations, their supposed support for the two revolutions will ring hollow. If they permit the demonstrations, the day may mark a show of strength for a movement that they do not fail to declare dead on a daily basis.

In a joint statement posted on their respective websites ( and, Karroubi and Mousavi issued a scathing attack of the regime:

[T]he regime is hiding behind this concern that if it does not exist, religion will vanish and, by repeatedly voicing alarms, it tries to rally and organize the religious strata behind itself...But in reality what has hurt the religious atmosphere of society the most is the anti-religion and oppressive behavior of the regime itself.(Source: Al Arabiya)

Iranian Authorities Warn Opposition

Iranian authorities have warned against any attempt by Iran's opposition movement to hold the rally.

"We definitely see them as enemies of the revolution and spies, and we will confront them with force," said Hossein Hamedani, Revolutionary Guard Cmdr, according to IRNA news agency. (Source: CNN)

Hamedani also told the official IRNA news agency, "The seditionists are nothing but a dead corpse and we will strongly confront any of their movements.” (Source: Radio Free Europe)

Kayhan, spokesman for the security and intelligence forces has said, "The reformist leaders know that they cannot revive their sedition and chaos, and their request [for a demonstration permit] is to show that they are not totally powerless." (Source: Tehran Bureau)

"This is a political act. These people have separated their path from that of the people and they want to divide the people of Iran," Mohseni Ejeie, Iran's prosecutor general and spokesman for the judiciary, was quoted as saying by ILNA news agency. (Source: AFP)

The prosecutor general added, "If anybody wants to side with the wishes of people of Egypt and Tunisia, they should come along with the establishment and people on 22 Bahman (February 11) and take part in the rally," which marks the anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution of 1979. (Source: AFP)

Iranian Crackdown Developing

As Iran gets ready for its state-sponsored demonstration on February 11, commemorating the 1979 revolution, it has also begun its crackdown on Monday's unsanctioned rally.

In the past 24 hours, opposition member, Taghi Rahmani, has been arrested. A member of the outlawed Freedom Movement of Iran, he had campaigned for reformist cleric Karroubi ahead of the disputed 2009 presidential vote, and has spent a third of his life in jail. (Source: Saham News)

Butannewsclaims Rahmani had a “major role” in the “illegal gatherings”. (Source: Radio Free Europe)

Today, Radio Amanheh reports that Karroubi has been prohibited from having his family visit him until 25 Baham [February 14]. Tehran Bureau reports that according to his Web site, he is, in fact, under house arrest. (Source: AP)

[UPDATE] Minutes after publishing this article Mousavi's Web site went down. See here for current status.

Regime Talking Points: 'Things Never Better'

Iranian Interior Minister, Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, said today that "Iran is at the peak of spirit, unity and solidarity nationally," and that the "Islamic Republic of Iran is at the peak of potency and strength at national, regional and international levels," according to a report from the government owned Press TV.

He said that social and political movements in other countries, including African states, were inspired by the Islamic Revolution in Iran, adding that the current developments in Tunisia and Egypt indicate that the Islamic Revolution was moving forward progressively to inspire the entire world. (Source: Press TV)

North African Model: 'Islamic Awakening' or 'Green Movement'

In late January, Mir Hossein Mousavi issued a statement linking the events in Tunisia and Egypt to the aftermath of the Iranian presidential election in 2009:

Today the slogan of "Where is my vote?" of the Iranian people is echoed in the slogan of "The people demand the overthrow of the regime" in Cairo, Suez, and Alexandria. To find the roots of these connections and similarities we need not go too far afield. It suffices to compare the manner of the recent elections in Egypt with that of our own, where the head of the "Guardian Council" blithely states that there is no need for the votes of millions of "Green" citizens. If we monitor the collapsing regimes of the Arab world and the Middle East, we will see that in all these regimes social networks, the press, and the virtual space have been assaulted and that the Internet, the messaging, and mobile systems are shut down. Everywhere pens are broken and dissidents are imprisoned. (Source: Tehran Bureau)

On Saturday, Ikhwanweb, the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English website editor in chief, Khaled Hamza, "denounced claims by the Iranian Supreme Leader Mr. Khamenai that the protests are a sign of an Islamic Awakening inspired by the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran."

President of the National Council of Resistance in Iran, Maryam Rajavi, also criticized Khamenai's comments, "describing it as a desperate attempt to advocate support of fundamentalism and terrorism, describing them as the worst enemy of Islam and Muslims adding, 'The day will come when they will be forced to let go of the name of Islam.'" (Source: Ikhwanweb)

Rally Organization

Tehran Bureau reports that university students around Iran have called on people across the country to take place in the demonstrations: including those at the University of Ashrafi Esfahani, the University of Tehran, and the Islamic Azad University campuses in Qazvin, Khoramabad, Tehran. (Source: Tehran Bureau)

Cyber space has also been abuzz with support:

There is also a wave of support in cyberspace. There are pages on Facebook and Twitter calling on everybody both to take part in the demonstrations and to spread the word about them. All sorts of banners have already been designed for the occasion and posted on the Internet...People have been asked to bring posters and placards in different languages to the demonstrations. There is a call to demonstrate until "victory is achieved." YouTube is buzzing with all sorts of video clips of last year's demonstrations and summons to the ones next Monday. There is even a post that excitedly predicts "good weather for Tehran" on February 14. (Source: Tehran Bureau)

Related Information:

2011-02-11 Extradition hearing: Day three

The following is a reconstruction of the Julian Assange extradition proceedings on 11 February 2011 based primarily on the tweets of @federicacocco (Federica Cocco) and in much smaller part from the tweets of @channel4news. WL Central acknowledges those sources. The tweets have been preserved as much as possible and combined but are rewritten in parts for clarity, and legal terminology has been inserted where appropriate. Clarifying additions are generally in italics and may be assumptions within the legal context.

SC Robertson’s Submissions.
Robertson QC opens submissions with an account of the attack on Julian Assange by Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister of Sweden; Robertson says that Reinfeldt's comments earlier this week amount to his labelling Assange an "enemy of the people" in Sweden.

"This will influence a fair trial,” says Robertson, who quotes the prime minister as claiming that Assange and his lawyers are “sexist and condescending to Sweden."

The Swedish chancellor added to the prime minister's remarks, which Robertson says is an intolerable development; he adds that it is unprecedented for a government minister to comment in that way.

There is evidence of a 'toxic nature' of antagonism in those statements, all the more extraordinary as the Swedish Prime Minister said in January that he'd be wrong to comment. This is a complete contempt of the principle of presumption of innocence and Robertson requests an adjournment

Montgomery argues against adjournment. Even if Robertson was right (that the trial wouldn't be fair) the defence has spoken to media as well, the PM simply reacted to statements made by the defence. Robertson replies “That's a very cynical comment.”

Robertson says “We're talking about the head of government, descending into the public arena and making statements in regard to the evidence.”

Clare Montgomery QC opposes an adjournment, saying: “Those who seek to fan the flames of a media firestorm cannot complain when they are burnt.”

Robertson replies that the "Prime Minister of Sweden is painting Assange with a very venomous picture." The presumption of innocence is essential and the PM's statements will prejudice Assange at trial. The fact he made the statement now means the defence need more time to bring fresh evidence.

The Judge says that he will come back to the nature of that application in a moment and notes that the hearing meant to last two days has already been extended.

The Judge says that he’s been given the PM's statement by Assange's legal team and notes that the application is opposed by Montgomery. In a case of this type, it is likely there will be further developments but there has to be an element of finality. Robertson replies that “finality is less important than justice.”

The Judge notes that he’s very aware that any decision he makes in these proceedings will be the subject of an appeal. Even though Robertson has made a very strong application for an adjournment he proposes to refuse it, saying that The High Court can make a decision on appeal on this point but he wants the submissions finalised today.

Robertson presses the point and requests at least “a proper and idiomatic translation of the PM's statements” The Judge refuses an adjournment, saying there is “not enough time.”

Robertson continues his submissions saying that the burden of proof is on the prosecution, the standard of proof is “beyond any reasonable doubt.”

Robertson says there is a real risk of an unfair trial and questions the credit credibility applicable, if any, to Ms Ny's statement. The proper and fair way of dealing with this situation is to get Ms Ny in the witness box. “It is not appropriate to smuggle in a witness statement under the pretext that it's simply to supply useful information.” There are cases the defence has cited where prosecutors have come to testify. If statements are to be given in an evidential way, then she should come and testify…that is a fundamental principle of criminal law that proceedings become unfair if one side is not allowed to challenge statements of evidential weight.

Robertson continues that it's not fair for one side to be able to stay out of the witness box. If she doesn't come, his submission is that her written statement should be disregarded.

Robertson goes on to address the issue of unfair trials, that some people have said that the defence shouldn't worry about unfair trials since Sweden’s decisions can be appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. The problem with that is there are 139,000 cases pending before the European Court of Human Rights and on appeal there, it would take years before Strasbourg heard the matter and a decision was made. While that Court has a rule on urgent procedures it’s limited to cases in which the suspect risks torture.

Robertson reiterates, there is no evidence from prosecution other than the warrant, which was issued by the wrong entity, the issuing authority for the EAW should not be the public prosecutor, but the Swedish prosecution authority, and this is especially so because this is not a conviction warrant.

Robertson asserts: "Ny is absolutely, totally wrong to have issued the EAW. They may have thought the point was strictly technical, but it’s very significant" and points out that this was not an issue that was before the "Svea Court of Appeal which" Sven-Erik "Alhem confirmed in his evidence."

There is also the question of where the dividing line is between prosecuting and questioning relevant to the issuance of an EAW.

Robertson addresses proportionality asking “Is a European Arrest Warrant valid, under the principle of proportionality, for mere questioning as opposed to prosecution?”

“Was this warrant issued to commence a prosecution?” The answer is “No, it was issued for a preliminary investigation.”

“It has been said that Assange would be defined as suspect only after the preliminary investigation had ended.”

“This is the law, if we're being cosmopolitan we need to look at other systems. This is the system in Sweden.”

“You can't consider prosecution until preliminary investigations are closed. Ms Ny wrongly described Assange as a suspect.”

Roberston says that Assange was not formally notified of the charges against him and was not given the opportunity to organise witnesses and their evidence supporting him in his defence. It follows that no prosecution commenced and therefore the warrant is invalid.

The EAW issued was disproportionate in that Mutual Legal Assistance provisions should have been applied first. The prosecution said DNA test was necessary and Robertson questions why was that not necessary in August? In any event Mutual Legal Assistance allows for DNA tests.

On the subject of DNA Robertson says at some stage in his submissions that questions over whether Julian Assange would have to attend in person to give DNA sample "is a bum point."

On the issue of questioning/interrogation, Robertson says that Assange volunteered to be questioned but the Prosecutor refused to interview him. It wasn't until the 22nd that she asked Assange to attend an interview for the 28th. His luggage was stolen on the 27th, when he left to attend that prearranged meeting.

Robertson says that Assange offered to return but Ms Ny said it would have been too late. The Deputy prosecutor told Hurtig Assange’s defence lawyer in Sweden that Assange could come in and would be allowed to leave. “This evidence is extraordinary.”

Robertson’s point on proportionality is that there has been no “sensible explanation” as to why Mutual Legal Assistance or interviews via Skype were refused.

As for the dual criminality, (a crime must be equivalent in both jurisdictions) the onus of proof is on the prosecution and the EAW warrant system requires for these to be disclosed.

Going into finer detail on applying a dual criminality claim, Robertson submits that two elements are crucial in cases of sexual assault but the crucial one is “Did the victim consent?”

Robertson’s point is that there is nothing in the warrant's description saying the complainant(s) did not consent.

At about this time in his submissions Robertson says it is “‘crystal clear’ that non-consent element of rape is not present in case of complainant A.”

Robertson then gives a detailed description of the sexual act(s) including the positions of the complainant and Assange.

On the issue of the Swedish prosecutors method of complainant interview, Robertson says that Miss A was interrogated by phone and remarks “Isn't that interesting?”

At about this point in proceedings Robertson also says: “What is plain from interrogation of woman A, by phone, is that when she asked Assange to let go he did and put on a condom.”

“She was squeezing her legs together, he asked her why, she said ‘I want you to wear a condom’”.

The Judge interjects saying that Robertson has already made the point, get on with it.

Robertson proceeds on the issue of one of the allegations listed in the EAW saying that there is no such thing as 'minor rape' outside of Sweden and that is a misuse of terminology.

One the issue of a fair trial Robertson says: “The evidence is all one way.” All trials in Sweden are held in secret which distinguishes Sweden from every other country in Europe. Accordingly there is a “risk of flagrant denial of justice.”

Robertson returns to the issue of the Swedish Prime Minister attacking Assange and accusing the defence of lying, which is “outrageous” and demonstrates beyond a doubt that Assange “won’t get a fair trial.” This by “our authorities and our standards” which constitutes a denial of justice for Julian Assange.

SC Montgomery's Submissions
There are six brief points:
1) Marianne Ny's authority is “certifiable.”
2) The Framework decision and notification by Sweden makes the claim-Ny is authorised to issue an EAW
3) “Points of translation in regards to the prosecution role are mischievous”
4) The prosecution suggests that the easiest way of disposing of this point is (confirmed from) what the witness Sven-Erik Alhem said: “…everything was lawful and proper. Ny is authorised…clear material showing authorisation.
5) As for the Purpose of the warrant--It's clear that the Framework directive (allows it.)
6) …?

Montomery submits that “There is no reference to domestic phase because it's meant to be read generically, it's meant to be read in an EU context.”

Montgomery continues and says that Robertson is wrong to say he has a 'cosmopolitan approach.' The contents of the warrant plainly state the purpose is prosecution of Assange. It is not a conviction case, nor is it a post conviction sentence, the charges are clearly specified and it's clear the matter is for prosecution.

There is “no exceptionality test” and in Montgomery’s submissions the case could be decided on that point alone.

In relation to Ny's statements serving as evidence there is no defence submission stating or requiring that the prosecution statement is to take evidential form. Furthermore, the statements' purpose was not to serve as evidence. It should be “easier for a judicial authority to gather evidence” per part 2.”

Montgomery submits, regarding Robertson's plea to fairness and the suggestion that it is unfair that his witnesses have been cross examined but not Ms Ny: that "Fairness is not decided in a vacuum. Context is king."

“In every single case this court has acted on material” in an EAW “and any supplementary material, without supposing the material was…not valid.” It was never argued by the defence that an evidential form is required.

“It is the” view “of the judicial authority issuing the warrant that have the greatest weight.” Robertson did not tell the court that the warrant was issued by request of the competent authority.

To the question “Is the purpose of Ms Ny prosecution?” Montgomery says: “That's simply not dealt with by the defence

Julian Assange’s presence is a requirement for interrogation in Sweden and the primary purpose is prosecution.

Montgomery addresses on dual criminality: “Does the offence call for a EAW?” and states that “an offence of rape will qualify if it is defined as rape by the issuing state per Article 2.2.”

At about this time: “…The position in law re EAW is that if Sweden says it's rape, it's rape.”

Montgomery concedes that proceedings had not reached the “technical Swedish stage of ‘prosecution’” which may turn out to be a significant issue. “There's no recourse to any pan-European authorities ie case law. Even if there were, it is clear the Swedish offence of rape falls within the definition of rape of pan-European approach.”

On the issue of the complainant’s evidence, the defence’s “attempt to play down minor rape as a not very serious offence, doesn't take into account that what Ms B describes... i.e. penetration whilst asleep, which would also be considered rape in the UK.”

“This not a case of the police ‘slipping under the bedclothes’”

Montgomery submits that Robertson is wrong, violence is relevant, it’s not simply a question of "rough consensual sex." Montgomery says of Robertson: "No doubt rough consensual sex is something on which he able to give some useful information to the court."

There is a “Bit of a gasp in media room” at this assertion of Robertson’s personal knowledge of rough consensual sex.

On the issue of proportionality, “even if Robertson was right to say minor rape is a trivial offence, triviality does not render extradition disproportionate.”

“Proportionality requires that the complainants have the right to a trial.” (Or: “Complainant has a right to be heard in a court.”)

Montgomery asserts that she has demonstrated that “the claim that Julian Assange was not asked to attend hearing whilst in Sweden was false.”

On the issue of Mutual Legal Assistance a person cannot be compelled to provide a DNA sample under that provision. “Assange provided DNA only because he was compelled under an inspector's order.”

In relation to “secrecy, no one suggested the Swedish Court is indifferent to this issue… calling it a'secret trial' is a parody. It's just that the evidence is considered in private.”

“Montgomery dismisses ‘secret trial’ fears as a ‘parody.’”

Montgomery concedes that Swedish authorities disclosed material concerning the investigation to the media but the impact on the fairness trial should be considered not by this court but by a Swedish court.

Some evidence is now in the public domain such as the “texts, the tweets.. that's for a Swedish Court to consider, not this one…There's nothing in this case now that suggests abuse or that the trial would reach a level of fragrancy.”

Montgomery finishes her submissions on the point that as “no soundbites on Guantanamo have been mentioned, I'm guessing we all agree extradition to the US is not a factor.”

Robertson QC gives a short reply to the CPS prosecutor’s submissions and says: “I never said rape was a trivial offence…we just said the terminology was improper for a serious offence. What matters for the open justice principle is the trial, the evidence, the conduct of the judges and the cross examination.”

Responding to Montgomery’s submission: “If Sweden says it's rape it's rape, is like saying if Sweden says sucking toes without washing them is rape, it's rape.”

Robertson states a point of extradition law, on dual criminality, that the “court has a right to check whether the offence actually amounts to rape”. And in relation to that: “Not only there was a consent to sex, the articulated wish for the sex to be protected was respected by Assange….The actions described are not criminal in this country.”

On sex and what appeared to be the issue of consent: "What may be wanted at some moment can with further empathy become desired."

Robertson also says at about this point that “There has been no answer to secret trial concerns, nor to issue of lack of bail.”

Robertson finishes with the statement: “It is clear the issuing authority is not legitimate under European law.”

Submissions are completed and the Judge advises that his judicial decision will be delivered on February the 24th.

UPDATE: The Guardian reports

Geoffrey Robertson QC told the extradition hearing,...that any resistance had been "unarticulated" on the part of Miss A, who has accused the WikiLeaks founder of ripping off her clothes, snapping a necklace, pinning her down and trying to force himself on her without wearing a condom.

"In so far as Mr Assange held her arms and there was a forceful spreading of her legs, there's no allegation that this was without her consent," he said....

The argument that Assange used the weight of his body to pin her down "describes what is usually termed the missionary position," he said.

Clare Montgomery QC, for the Swedish prosecutor, said of Miss A's account: "In popular language, that's violence." The account given by Miss B, meanwhile, "would undoubtedly be rape here. If you penetrate a sleeping woman there's an evidential assumption that she did not consent."

(Note: Link to be provided if Ms Cocco posts a twitter page as before on days 1 and 2)

2011-02-11 The problems of the presidential succession in Egypt

The struggle for democracy, unleashed indirectly in Egypt by the leaking of thousands of secret documents from the U.S. Diplomatic service, is particularly complicated due to Egypt’s political situation in the Middle East. The necessary succession of the Mubarak regime results in a very fragile state of affairs, as the important players in area, Israel and the U.S. on one hand, and Palestine, Syria and Iran on the other, all know how important it is to count the future Egyptian president as an ally. Precisely because of this, in a 2007 cable 07CAIRO1417 the U.S. ambassador in Cairo says that “Presidential succession is the elephant in the room of Egyptian politics. Despite incessant whispered discussions, no one in Egypt has any certainty about who will succeed Mubarak, or how the succession will happen”.

As of now, Egypt is entering its third week of paralysis; protests and riots are still widespread across the country and without a sign of relent. President Mubarak has hidden himself and even though he has come out to assure the nation that he will not run for President again, the government’s stance on the matter indicates that he does not want to step down from his office, but rather that he prefers to stall and see if the situation calms down. To relieve some tension he shifted power toward Omar Suleiman, the vice-president and the strong arm currently in charge of running the country. This political maneuver is revealing after taking into account the strategic interest from Egypt’s allies, Israel and the U.S. It is obvious that even though the Obama administration has publicly asked Mubarak to step down and allow a democratic transition, they did this knowing that they could never permit a figure such as Amre Moussa’s, the secretary of the Arab League, to lead the country.

The nature of this three-way alliance has been revealed in recently published cables, which show the motivations behind it in numbers: cable 09CAIRO874, for example, states: “peace with Israel has cemented Egypt’s moderate role in Middle East peace efforts and provided a political basis for continued U.S. military and economic assistance ($1.3 billion and $250 million, respectively)”. Adding to this feeling, cable 07CAIRO3503 reveals the submissive nature of Suleiman towards Israel, as he is said to have stated “that the Israeli Defence Force would be "welcome" to re-invade Philadelphi, if the IDF thought that would stop the smuggling”, and went as far as to affirm that, “Egypt wants Gaza to go "hungry" but not "starve”. More significantly, a cable from 2008 also points out significantly the benefits of a calming period for the people of Gaza, after which the Israelis could start to build institutions against Hamas, a plan alarmingly reminiscent to the recent populist measure of raising government salaries by 15%, as if he was precisely trying to calm the population down to his benefit. This man, the former head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service, has also been identified personally as a torturer and has strong ties with the C.I.A, accusations that have been corroborated by the leaked cables.

Therefore, succession in Egypt is clearly a matter of international interest, something that does not only affect the Egyptian people but also the delicate balance of powers in Middle East, especially concerning the Gaza siege. If things go as planned, the U.S. and Israel will have succeeded in placing their preferred candidate and there will not be, as there has never been up until now, a real peace negotiation in Gaza. Also, this strong external pressure means that the battered Egyptian people will have to fight hard to achieve a real democratic transition, luckily, however, after Mubarak’s defiant speech on Thursday it seems the crowd in Tahrir square will just continue to grow day after day.

Read this article in arabic.

2011-02-11 Two Firms That Plotted Against WikiLeaks Apologize, Anonymous Launches AnonLeaks

ImageTwo data intelligence firms that decided to cooperate with HBGary’s plot to sabotage WikiLeaks have severed ties. Berico Technologies severed ties in the afternoon on February 11 and early in the morning on February 11 Palantir Technologies severed all ties and issued an apology.

Dr. Alex Karp, co-founder and CEO of Palantir Technologies, apologized, saying according to the Tech Herald:

“I have made clear in no uncertain terms that Palantir Technologies will not be involved in such activities. Moreover, we as a company, and I as an individual, always have been deeply involved in supporting progressive values and causes. We plan to continue these efforts in the future…

…The right to free speech and the right to privacy are critical to a flourishing democracy. From its inception, Palantir Technologies has supported these ideals and demonstrated a commitment to building software that protects privacy and civil liberties. Furthermore, personally and on behalf of the entire company, I want to publicly apologize to progressive organizations in general, and Mr. Greenwald in particular, for any involvement that we may have had in these matters.”

Karp contacted Greenwald and apologized to him. According to Greenwald, he “vowed any Palantir employees involved would be dealt with” the way HBGary had been dealt with. And, as Greenwald indicated in his post on the campaign to target WikiLeaks, he said Karp committed to telling Greenwald by the end of the week whether Bank of America or Hunton & Williams had retained these firms to carry out the proposal.

Tech Herald notes that HBGary has refused to address the WikiLeaks proposal that was uncovered. That could be because another plot was reported and shared widely yesterday—Think Progress reported a plan supported by the Chamber of Commerce to target progressive unions.

Greenwald writes, “The real issue highlighted by this episode is just how lawless and unrestrained is the unified axis of government and corporate power…The full-scale merger between public and private spheres” is what becomes most glaring when examining this episode.

Further down in Greenwald’s post, he highlights:

After Anonymous imposed some very minimal cyber disruptions on Paypal, Master Card and Amazon, the DOJ flamboyantly vowed to arrest the culprits, and several individuals were just arrested as part of those attacks. But weeks earlier, a far more damaging and serious cyber-attack was launched at WikiLeaks, knocking them offline. Those attacks were sophisticated and dangerous. Whoever did that was quite likely part of either a government agency or a large private entity acting at its behest. Yet the DOJ has never announced any investigation into those attacks or vowed to apprehend the culprits, and it's impossible to imagine that ever happening.

John Cole on Balloon Juice posted the following comment:

One thing that even the dim bulbs in the media should understand by now is that there is in fact a class war going on, and it is the rich and powerful who are waging it. Anyone who does anything that empowers the little people or that threatens the wealth and power of the plutocracy must be destroyed. There is a reason for these clowns going after Think Progress and unions, just like there is a reason they are targeting wikileaks and Glenn Greenwald, Planned Parenthood, and Acorn. To a lesser extent the fail parade that was the Daily Caller expose on Journolist was more of the same.

You have to understand the mindset- they are playing for keeps. The vast majority of the wealth isn’t enough. They want it all. Anything that gets in their way must be destroyed. They don’t care if they poison every stream or crack the foundation to your house or if your daughter dies getting a back alley abortion or if every one in your mining town has an inoperable tumor. They just don’t give a shit…

Dan Kaplan of Secure Computing Magazine reacted to the targeting of Greenwald. He was “offended and insulted” and in the headline he accused the firms involved of making a mockery of the First Amendment. He, too, noted “federal law enforcement only seems interested in going after those cybercriminals engaged in pro-WikiLeaks conduct.”

Right now, Anonymous members or those suspected of being linked to Anonymous are being rounded up and are being told they will have to go before a grand jury. People like this student from Georgia Tech who only went into the chat room and talked with members are having their property seized and their lives ruined.

Anonymous plans to release 27,000 emails from the server of Greg Hoglund, chief executive of the software security firm HBGary. It has posted 50,000 emails of Aaron Barr from the CEO of its sister organization, HP Gary Federal. They obtained the emails by hacking into Hoglund's email.

The Anonymous members are working on a web viewer so the public can read the emails. The new front for this group is being called AnonLeaks.

Stay tuned for more developments.

Photo by Henk de Vries

2011-02-11 US Senator from Hawaii confirms 'Republican placed Anonymous Hold on Whistleblower Protection Act'

The U.S. Senator from Hawaii, Daniel Inouye, has confirmed that a Republican Senator placed an anonymous hold on The Whistleblower Protection Act.


On December 22, 2010, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act Bill (S.372) was killed by an unknown United States Senator, who placed an anonymous hold on the bill (reported here and here on WL Central).

WNYC, On the Media and the Government Accountability Project have joined forces to uncover the identity of the mystery senator.

I created a list of Senators, who are on Twitter, and who have not yet responded to: "Did you place an anonymous hold on the Whistleblower Protection Act?" Both U.S. Senator Inouye of Hawaii and U.S. Senator Stabenow of Michigan responded to the Twitter campaign directly from their official accounts.


Ten Senators Remain

There are twelve Senators who have not yet responded, but two are Democrats, Harry Reid of Nevada and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. That means ten Senators remain. Two additional Republican Senators, as yet unconfirmed, were said to have responded "no" to a follower of the Twitter list.

Wikileaks Fears

The Washington Post reports that the Wikileaks publication of classified U.S. information was the cause of controversy over the bill, which led to a compromise in the legislation that removed national security and intelligence employees protections:

"The Obama administration initially sought to include national security and intelligence employees and won bipartisan Senate support for doing so, but the part of the bill that covered them was stripped by supporters in recent days after House Republicans expressed concern that it might encourage disclosures comparable to the WikiLeaks publication of U.S. diplomatic cables." (Source: Washington Post)

"Democrats countered that the bill would inhibit such breaches by specifically opening confidential, protected and legal channels for reporting classified abuse." (Source: Washington Post)

Angela Cantebury of the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington-based government watchdog group, posted an article titled "How a Red Herring about WikiLeaks Killed Whistleblower Protections":

"After an unbelievable roller coaster of fear and fallacies, votes on and off, and a flurry of activity, when the lights went out in the Capitol Building on December 22, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act was dead...It may be one of the few times in history when legislation has passed both chambers unanimously within two weeks and still failed to get to the president's desk" (Source: Pogo)

Cantebury also asserts that "[A] few Republicans tried to connect the bill to the WikiLeaks controversy. There was no real connection—just an opportunity for a media platform to possibly embarrass the president and kill a bill he supported in the process." (Source: Pogo)

The Government Accountability Project responded to the anonymous hold on their Web site:

"This was of tremendous disappointment to us. For twelve years, GAP and an expanding coalition of 400 citizen organizations and companies with some 80 million combined members, of all ideologies, have been fighting to restore credible whistleblower rights for federal government employees and contractors. During the past decade, this was by far the closest that real federal whistleblower protections came to passage."

Other Opposition within Whistleblower Community

Other opposition to the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act exists within the whistleblower advocacy community.

The National Whistleblower Center spoke out against the legislation in a letter to Senators:

"Although we have other concerns with S. 372, the Congressional reversal of the Drake decision will constitute a tragic setback for taxpayers. It will have significant adverse consequences on the ability of employees to report violations of law and political corruption. We understand that those in high-ranking political offices are reluctant to support whistleblowers, but stripping employees of their current right to blow the whistle on any violation of law is simply intolerable" (Source: NWC)

Fred Whitehurst, the former FBI Supervisory Special Agent who blew the whistle in 1993 on forensic fraud in the FBI crime lab, also lobbied against the bill:

"[L]ike every other whistleblower and most Americans I was looking forward to seeing President Obama and Congress fulfill their promise to strengthen these whistleblower rights. However, I was horrified to discover that the Senate whistleblower bill does not do this. For national security whistleblowers it does the exact opposite. S. 372 repeals the FBI whistleblower protections that I sacrificed my career for. I am not only a whistleblower, I am also an attorney who personally read the law and can tell you that S. 372 sets back whistleblower rights 30 years." (Source: NWC)

"The Senate bill enhances the state secrets privilege, which allows the government to unilaterally dismiss a case on national security grounds." (Source: NWC)

"The Senate bill is proceeding under a rule known as "unanimous consent." This means that your Senator can personally withhold his or her support for the law and insist that the current FBI protections not be repealed. Every Senator has the authority and power prevent passage of the law in its current form, and can ensure that the FBI whistleblower protections I risked my career to obtain are not repealed! We need your help!" (Source: NWC)

2011-02-11 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

ImageThe Telegraph: Charles Taylor may have $400 million out of reach

"Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, could have as much as $400 million hidden away out of reach of prosecutors, according to leaked US diplomatic cables."

Read more


"A usually reliable source on January 5 conveyed additional details to us about NATO SYG Anders Fogh Rasmussen,s December 17 interactions in Moscow with President Medvedev and PM Putin that were not reflected in the SYG,s report on the visit (reftel). Based on information from someone present at the Moscow meetings, the source reported that while Russian President Medvedev was polite, neither he nor PM Putin had expressed any real interest in cooperating with NATO. Putin allegedly told Rasmussen that NATO no longer has a purpose and it was in Russias interest that NATO no longer exist. 2. (S) The source claimed that in the SYG meeting with the PM, Putin had not let Rasmussen sit down before challenging him with the allegation that NATO planned to put missiles in Bulgaria, and demanding further information. This reporter threw the SYG off balance, although the source did not indicate how he responded."

Read cable


"Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen dropped a bombshell in a NATO-UAE Conference attended by the NAC and senior UAE officials this morning. At the end of his public address to the conference, the SYG announced a five-point plan for Middle East peace (in para 5), leaving Perm Reps and Conference participants stunned. NATO has no official position on, nor a role in, the Middle East peace process and it is unprecedented for the Secretary General to wade into the issue ) let alone in this detail. None of the NATO Ambassadors or Missions had any advance warning of the statement. Many reacted with incredulity to his statement. The Danish Perm Rep, dean of the ambassadors, said "this time, he has gone too far."

Read cable


"Secretary General Rasmussen has drafted a letter to Afghan President Karzai expressing concerns about the Law on Personal Affairs of the Followers of Shia Jurisprudence. The letter is now with NATOs Senior Civilian Representative in Kabul for delivery, although it is not clear when delivery would actually take place. The text of the letter is reproduced in para 6 below. The Shia law was discussed at the August 19 meeting of the North Atlantic Council, with most Allies expressing grave concerns -- both about the law itself and about the likely negative impact the law will have on the ability to maintain public support for NATOs Afghanistan mission. While most Allies argued in favor of a NATO reaction to the law, most had also agreed that it was best to not react until after the August 20 Afghan elections. The fact that the Secretary General decided to go ahead with a letter now provides insights into his leadership style. After the elections--and after the law has been further studied--Allies may seek an even stronger Allied reaction to the law, consistent with the position taken by the EU and Norway in a letter they sent privately to Karzai."

Read cable


"The following document was provided to us unofficially by a staffer in the Private Office of NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer (strictly protect). According to the Private Office, the document was initially provided by the Russians to the EU-3. Germany, in turn, shared it with the Secretary General only. It is not in circulation at NATO formally."

Read cable


"As part of his efforts to revitalize NATO-Russia relations, NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen intends to deliver a major speech on Russia September 18 at the Carnegie Europe Center. There are concerns that SecGen intends to announce Alliance initiatives that have yet to be agreed upon by Allies and go beyond most Allies comfort zones, including possible official NATO engagement with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)" (ref A). By unilaterally announcing new initiatives on behalf of the Alliance, SecGen risks undermining the Alliances consensus-driven approach to policy in an area where we have taken great pains to find a delicate balance. Department requests that Ambassador Daalder raise privately with SecGen the concerns outlined in paragraph 3 prior to SecGens speech, while emphasizing U.S. support for several areas of NATO-Russia cooperation (additional thoughts on NRC cooperation coming septel)."

Read cable


"NATO Secretary General Rasmussen may be planning to take improved NATO-Russia relations to a new level by proposing that NATO engage with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The SecGen recently indicated that he has an "open mind" to such a course of action, has been in contact with the head of the CSTO, and plans to make a speech on NATO-Russia relations that would go beyond most Allies comfort zones. Engaging with an organization initiated by Moscow to counter NATO and U.S. influence would be counterproductive at a time when we should focus on enhancing relations with Russia bilaterally and as an alliance. NATO-CSTO engagement would likely lead to the same bloc-on-bloc dynamic that manifested during the Cold War, and further increase Moscows influence over our Central Asian partners, countries we should actively court through NATOs Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC)."

Read cable


"NATO Secretary General Rasmussen proposed during his September 18, 2009, speech on NATO-Russia relations that NATO and Russia undertake a "joint threat assessment" and that the NATO Russia Council (NRC) serve as a forum to discuss the European Security Treaty (reftel)."

Read cable


"Below is a written summary provided by Secretary General Rasmussen of his December 15-17 visit to Moscow. The SecGens schedule included meetings with President Medvedev, Premier Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, and Russian Parliamentarians. He also visited NATOs Information Office and Military Liaison Mission in Moscow and gave a speech at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). We will report septel regarding how Allies will follow-up on the SecGens visit."

Read cable

(Image Credit: Dali Rău)

2011-02-12 Algeria Protesters Defy Ban, Demand Change

Pro-democracy protesters defying a ban on demonstrations scuffled with riot police in Algiers, the capital city of Algeria on Saturday. Opposition figures in Algeria told Reuters that about 2000 people protested in the center of Algiers, and 800 people were arrested. Some anti-government activists made it thorough police cordons to make it to May First Square in the center of the city.

There has been a growing protest movement in Algeria against unemployment, rising food prices, lack for freedoms and the twelve year rule of 74 year old President Abdelaziz Botuefilka. Algeria has been under a state of emergency under which demonstrations have been banned since 1992 when the military canceled free elections and sparked a brutal civil war. They have also taken inspiration from the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

Last week the President announced that he would lift the state of emergency "in the very near future". Protesters are not satisfied with that promise. They are calling for an immediate end to the state of siege and for Bouteflika to step down. Fodil Boumala, a writer and member of the CNCD (National Coordination for Change and Democracy) the umbrella group organizing Saturday’s demonstration, told France24 that the purpose of the march was to achieve “a rupture, the departure of the current government and the establishment of genuine democracy”.

Saturday protesters held signs saying “After Mubarak, it will be Bouteflika” and chanted “Free and democratic Algeria.” This march was organized by a coalition of human rights activists, trade unionists, lawyers and political parties, including the opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) party. 64 RCD members were among those arrested, including four senior RCD officials. Earlier Saturday, the RCD headquarters on the main Didouche Mourad Street had been “surrounded by police”. The security forces were so on edge that they charge at and arrested 10 people that were having a spontaneous celebration of Mubarak's downfall outside of RCD Party headquarters RCD leader Said Sadi told the AFP.

Blogger and activist Elias Filali told Al Jazeera that "People are being arrested and are heavily guarded by the police." Filali said the protesters were determined to remain peaceful, but that the police "want the crowd to go violent and then get them portrayed as a violent crowd". The security forces turn Algiers into a "city of blue" with police blocking access to the capital. 35,000 police were deployed according to opposition groups. They even brought in police from other areas.

Hundreds also gathered in the historic Place de la République in Paris Saturday to show solidarity with the protesters in Algeria They called for a "Free and democratic Algeria" and held signs demanding that Bouteflika “Get out!.” From the bed of a truck, people were invited to speak on a megaphone, while others danced and chanted to the music blaring over the PA. Egyptian and Tunisian flags flew along side the emblematic green, white and red flag of Algeria in a proud show of Arab solidarity.

France24 Report on Pro Democracy Protesters in Algeria 2011 -02-12

NEW VIDEO Algerian protesting 12/02/2011

Police clashing with protesters in Algeria uploaded feb12 2011

2011-02-12 IRAN 25 Bahman [Feb. 14]: Regime Executes 1 Person, Every 9 Hours Since January


On Friday, the Iranian state commemorated the 32nd anniversary of its Islamic Revolution with victory parades, while simultaneously applying force in an attempt to crush any impetus by Iranians to take part in demonstrations planned across the country on Monday.

On Thursday, WL Central reported on the Iranian regime's continuing crackdown in response to Mehdi Karroubi's and Mir Hossein Mousavi's call to rally on Monday, 25 Bahman [February 14] "to show solidarity with the popular movements in the region, particularly the freedom-seeking movement of the Tunisian and Egyptian people against their autocratic governments." (Translation Source: Radio Free Europe)

ImageThe crackdown has placed Karroubi under house arrest; detained or arrested numerous opposition leaders and journalists, disabled Web sites and platforms, and even jammed BBC Persian TV's transmission of the Egyptian revolution and deposition of Mubarak in Egypt.

Web Site and Platforms Disabled

The Green Voice of Freedom reports that the "Iran's telecommunications company has filtered out the word “Bahman” from the results of internet search engine Google." (Source: GVF)

Also reported, "[T]he WordPress website has been inaccessible to internet users in Iran since Wednesday after authorities blocked the weblog hosting provider altogether." (Source: GVF)

Dozens Arrested and Detained

On Friday, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran demanded the "immediate release of dozens of journalists and dissidents who have been arbitrarily detained in an apparent effort to intimidate Iranians from participating in the February 14 demonstration":

“'The government is doing all it can to intimidate Iranians and deny their right to peaceful assembly. With recent events in Egypt, we see another round of repression in Iran aimed at silencing a people frustrated and dissatisfied by the denial of their human rights,' said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson.'" (Source: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran)

"Since the evening of 8 February, plainclothes security forces stormed the houses and offices of at least thirty activists, journalists, and dissidents, detaining most of them in the middle of the night and taking them to unknown locations. The agents did not provide any summons or judicial warrants for their actions. (Source: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran)"

The organizations says, that it has received information regarding the detention of at least 30 people, 13 of whom are listed on their Web site.

'Seditionists Nothing But a Dead Corpse'

WL Central reported on Thursday, that Hossein Hamedani, Revolutionary Guard Cmdr, told the official IRNA news agency, "The seditionists are nothing but a dead corpse and we will strongly confront any of their movements.” (Source: Radio Free Europe)

The Washington Post reports that since "uprisings swept across the Middle East last month, Iran's government has taken extraordinary measures to suppress dissent. It has executed one person every nine hours since January 1."

The number of executions "breaks the per-capita world record, human rights groups say. In January alone, Iran executed 87 people, the state media reported. That one-month tally is higher than the total annual executions in 2005, the year President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power" (Source: Washington Post)

Hadi Ghaemi, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran spokesperson says, "The executions are a political message to the population: 'don't even think about unrest, we are in control and this is your punishment.'" (Source: WSJ)

Global Revolution and the 12th imam

Several hours before Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak stepped down, The Washington Post reported, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "urged Egyptians to continue their protests and to 'free' themselves and choose their own leaders and their own form of government."

Mr. Ahmadinejad said: “It is your right to be free. It is your right to exercise your will and sovereignty." (Source: NYT)

When President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed people gathered in Tehran’s Azadi Square to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the Iranian revolution, he framed the recent revolutions through the lens of a “new Middle East, without the Zionist regime and U.S. interference.” (Source: NYT)

He predicted the formation of a world government, ruled by the 12th imam: "This is a global revolution, managed by the imam of the ages." He said, "Hearts and beliefs are swiftly leaning toward forming a global governance and the necessity of the rule of the perfect human, linked to the heavens." (Source: NYT)

According to the same report, he stopped short of asserting that the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt had been directly inspired by Iran’s Islamic Revolution. (Source: NYT)

Challenging the Regime Rhetoric

In challenging the regime's accountability to human rights, Mousavi's and Karroubi's have sought to show the hypocrisy of the regime's rhetoric.

“'If they are not going to allow their own people to protest, it goes against everything they are saying, and all they are doing to welcome the protests in Egypt,' Mr. Karroubi said in an interview with The New York Times earlier this week via an online video link." (Source: NYT)

North African Model: 'Islamic Awakening' or 'Green Movement'

In late January, Mir Hossein Mousavi issued a statement linking the events in Tunisia and Egypt to the aftermath of the Iranian presidential election in 2009:

"Today the slogan of 'Where is my vote?' of the Iranian people is echoed in the slogan of 'The people demand the overthrow of the regime' in Cairo, Suez, and Alexandria. To find the roots of these connections and similarities we need not go too far afield. It suffices to compare the manner of the recent elections in Egypt with that of our own, where the head of the 'Guardian Council' blithely states that there is no need for the votes of millions of 'Green' citizens. If we monitor the collapsing regimes of the Arab world and the Middle East, we will see that in all these regimes social networks, the press, and the virtual space have been assaulted and that the Internet, the messaging, and mobile systems are shut down. Everywhere pens are broken and dissidents are imprisoned." (Source: Tehran Bureau)

On Saturday, Ikhwanweb, the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English website editor in chief, Khaled Hamza, "denounced claims by the Iranian Supreme Leader Mr. Khamenai that the protests [in Egypt] are a sign of an Islamic Awakening inspired by the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran."

President of the National Council of Resistance in Iran, Maryam Rajavi, also criticized Khamenai's comments, "describing it as a desperate attempt to advocate support of fundamentalism and terrorism, describing them as the worst enemy of Islam and Muslims adding, 'The day will come when they will be forced to let go of the name of Islam.'" (Source: Ikhwanweb)

Currency of Words

ImageThe Wall Street Journal reports that residents of Tehran and other big Iranian cities scribbled on paper money, "End executions, stop dictatorship," and spray painted 'Tahrir Square' - the central location of recent Egyptian protests - on traffic signs on Tehran's Azadi square, the site of Iran's anti-government protests in 2009." (Source: WSJ)

On Tuesday, Dr. Ardeshir Amir Arjomand, senior legal advisor to Mousavi, declared, "There is no plan to cancel the demonstrations. The government should comply with its duty.... Do they not claim that the Green Movement is dead? Do they not claim that they support the people of Egypt and Tunisia against dictatorship? This is their chance to demonstrate their honesty in supporting those who are protesting dictatorships and their claim that the Green Movement is dead." (Source: Deutsche Welle)

2011-02-12 Obama overrules Amnesty International & President of Yemen, Journalist remains imprisoned

ImageProtesters in south Yemen called for the secession of the once independent south today. Security forces were out early in the day with tanks and police to force protesters back inside. Scores of protesters were moved off of the streets of Aden, but dozens managed to get out in Crater, Khor Maksar, and Al-Mansura, and several hundred people in Zinjibar. Police in Al-Masura, fired warning shots and tear gas. Some reports say thousands of protesters were out in all provinces.

As WL Central reported on February 1, President Ali Abdullah Saleh had announced that he would step down after his second presidential term expires in 2013. Subsequent cables released by Wikileaks indicate that may have been more of a prearranged concession to the US than to the protesters. Cable 05SANAA1790 from June 2005 says regarding Saleh, "Domestically, however, he has run-out of reforms he can implement at no political cost to himself. Increasingly anxious about upcoming Presidential elections, and already preoccupied with succession, it is unlikely Saleh will allow a viable opposition candidate to challenge him in 2006. The visit is an opportunity to pressure Saleh not to amend the constitution so he may run again in 2013 by praising him for bringing Yemen to the point where he can rely on the system in place to produce a legitimate successor. The inducement here might be a public show of support via a greater role in public fora such as the G-8."

Abdul Ilah Shayi

WL Central also reviewed a report on January 19 of a Yemeni journalist jailed after alleging US involvement in missile attack. Abdul Ilah Shayi had accused the US of being involved in an attack on the community of al-Ma’jalah in the Abyan area, southern Yemen, which took place on 17 December 2009 and killed 55 people, including 14 women and 21 children. Shayi had written articles accusing the US government of involvement and had been interviewed by Al Jazeera. He was sentenced on January 18 to five years in prison by the Specialized Criminal Court in the capital Sana’a, for his purported links to al-Qa’ida. His acquaintance, Abdul Kareem al-Shami, was jailed for two years on similar charges. He "appears to have been targeted for his work uncovering information on US complicity in attacks in the country," Amnesty International has said.

As Yemen Times reports, President Saleh issued a decree of pardon to Shayi, as part of the concessions he was offering to protesters. But on February 2, according to a statement from the White House, US President Barack Obama expressed his ‘concern’ over the proposed release and the promised release has since been ignored.

Lawyer and activist Khaled Al-Anesi told the Yemen Times that there were suspicions from the beginning that the US wanted him jailed and it was an American demand to arrest him. “This American interference insures that Yemen’s dealing with terrorism is run by the US. If they wanted to release him they would have released him immediately straight after the pardon was announced. This is a sign that they don’t want to set him free.”

Hamoud Hazza’a from the Committee to Protect Journalists said if Shayi is not released soon it will confirm that “the Yemeni government has no power in the country and they are only a follower of the US. We only want to make sure they release him, although the way he was arrested was wrong, the trial was wrong and the way he is being pardoned is also wrong.” The fact that the US president can cancel a Yemen judge’s verdict shows that the judicial system in Yemen is not independent and that the US president controls everything, according to Hazza’a. “The US and the NGO’s supported by the US are taking a negative stand against Shaye’ as he exposed what happened in Al-Ma’jala.”

“This is an internal issue and we don’t care what Obama or anyone else has to say. This is a gift from the President and we should respect our internal affairs,” Sinan Al-Ajji, a member of the Yemen ruling party, told the Yemen Times.

As shown in cable 09SANAA2251 the government of Yemen was lying to the Yemeni people and claiming responsibility themselves for attacks on the people which were carried out by the US. The cable complains that Saleh "appears not overly concerned about unauthorized leaks regarding the U.S. role and negative media attention to civilian deaths."

Cable 04SANAA3023 documents Saleh casually agreeing to keep 28 people imprisoned that were meant to be released in 2004 under a Ramadan amnesty "based on US government objections". Saleh told the US Ambassador that the 28 were arrested under suspicion of al-Qaeda membership, having returned to Yemen from Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan, but that after investigation there was no evidence they were involved in terrorist acts. "We are waiting for information from you," said Saleh. Despite being offered no indication of guilt from the US, Saleh agreed to continue imprisoning the 28 people, deemed a violation of the country’s constitution by a Yemeni parliamentary report, and asked in return, “Where is the money for the Army? And what about my spare [F-5] parts?” The Yemen government received USD 155 million in US military aid last year.

2011-02-12 The Gabonese Revolution on February 21

ImageOn January 25, as Egypt began the first day of its revolution, Andre Mba Obame declared himself president of Gabon and set up his own government, stating "We have information that Obame got 42% and Ali Bongo 37%, and that the results were practically inverted.". The incumbent president, Ali Ben Bongo, the late president's son, came to power after a widely criticized election in August 30, 2009 which was followed by days of riots. Gabon was further inflamed in December when the parliament adopted a constitutional amendment allowing the president to extend his mandate in the case of an emergency. Opposition leader Zacharie Myboto at that time objected that "This leaves the door open to dictatorship."

On December 28, Wikileaks released a July 2009 US US state cable which showed senior Gabonese officials in the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) accused of embezzling more than 18.3 billion CFA (about US$36 million) from the pooled reserves of the six states of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) over the past five years. "According to the Embassy source, senior Gabonese political`leadership, including the late President Omar Bongo and his son, Defense Minister and presidential hopeful, Ali Bongo benefited from the embezzlement. The source said Gabonese officials used the proceeds for their own enrichment and, at Bongo's direction, funneled funds to French political parties, including in support of French President Nicholas Sarkozy. Asked who received the funds, the BEAC official responded, "both sides, but mostly the right; especially Chirac and including Sarkozy." The BEAC official said "Bongo was France's favorite President in Africa," and "this is classic France Afrique." The BEAC official said his own government and others would seek jail time for some of the officials, but that there would be pressure to deal delicately with the new Gabonese Government. Ali Bongo, he said, is close personal friends with BEAC Governor Anzembe."

On February 2, IQ4News noted that although some 5,000 opposition supporters took to the street in support of Obame calling for President Odimba to step down, and riot police fired tear gas in the country’s capital, Libreville injuring reportedly twenty people, these protests have gone largely unnoticed by the media because of the focus on Egypt. Julie Owono wrote in GlobalVoices of a demonstration organised at Carrefour Rio in Libreville, on January 29, where more than 2,000 of opposition leader Mba Obame's supporters went to protest against Ali Bongo's government and faced public security forces including an attack on the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP) building in Libreville, where Mba Obame and his Government sought asylum. Voice of the Gabonese People reported 2,000 people demonstrated in Bitam, on January 31, 2011 and riots in many districts of Libreville on February 2.

On February 5, Gabon opposition politician Bruno Ben Moubamba announced demonstrations in Paris to denounce the Bongo presidency:

On February 8, Direct Scoop.netdescribed thousands of young people claiming victory for Andre Mba Obame through a peaceful march were violently dispersed by security forces.

Julie Owono reports that "self proclaimed ‘President' Obame has sought asylum in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) building in Libreville, along with other members of his ‘government' for two weeks now. National Union, Gabon's main opposition party, was dissolved on the order of Ali Bongo at the beginning of the political crisis."

Jean-pierre Rougou, a source reputed to be close to the unofficial ‘government' wrote on his facebook profile "Tension has gone up a notch here with the UN officials. The Algerian representative was quite embarrassed to tell us that his superiors in NY were wondering if we could willingly depart the premises because they cannot force us to leave. Additionally, they asked that we let go of all our communication devices and only use the fixed line in the only office that we can access."

Òwono reports, "The unofficial opposition Gabonese government accused the United States' ambassador in Gabon of keeping a guilty silence on violations by Ali Bongo and his regime against civil liberties."

La Révolution Gabonaise

Lately, the protests against the election seem to be gaining momentum and are becoming more widespread. La Voice Du People Gabonais documents the latest stories. On February 10 LVDPG reports that students at the University Omar Bongo (UOB) held a protest demanding:

1 Payment of their monthly scholarship which they have not received since July 2010.

2 The return of three teachers removed because they are part of the current "unofficial" government in hiding in the UNDP building.

3 Remedy of overcrowded classrooms.

4 Toilets within the University (currently only available for the minority of residence students).

5 Reverse the action taken by the Government of Ali Bongo on the relocation of UOB.

6 Opening of the university canteen.

Violent clashes later broke out between students and army to prevent them from protesting.

On February 12, LVDPG published a series of articles calling for revolution in Gabon. La Révolution Gabonaise demands the immediate departure of Ali Bongo, the creation of a new republic, and a new constitution with two presidential terms. They are asking for a 100,000 people to protest on February 21. They ask why they should continue to live in misery, "dying like dogs", when their country is rich. LVDPG received another letter from the Membre du Collectif pour la libération Totale du Gabon demanding the punishment of the people who murdered at least 9 people in Port-Gentil and the freeing of General Jean Philippe Ntoumpa Lebans and accusing the Bongo government of launching, since January 25, 2011 "a true death squad against the worthy son and daughters of the nation of Gabon, who want to live free in a country freed from the dictatorial sham Bongoïste". This group and several others call for the people of Gabon to follow the examples of Tunisia and Egypt.

2011-02-12 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

ImageThe Jerusalem Post: Suleiman promised to stop Gaza elections

"Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman promised Israel in 2005 that he would prevent Hamas from gaining control over Gaza, according to a US diplomatic cable released on Friday.

According to the cable, which was leaked to WikiLeaks and published by Norweigan newspaper Aftenposten, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, secretly visited Suleiman, then the head of Egyptian intelligence, in September 2005. Gilad then reported on the visit to US diplomats in Tel Aviv."

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"At the August 11 NATO Political Committee meeting on the fighting in Georgia, Allies unanimously deplored the Aug 8-11 developments but differed on how these events should affect NATOs relations with Russia. The Balts and Poland would like to suspend the NATO-Russia Council, but Germany, France, and other traditionally cautious Allies argued that this channel of communication should be kept open to help bring an end to the fighting. The NAC will meet August 12 to examine the crisis in Georgia, immediately before meeting with the Georgian Foreign Minister (since cancelled - now with the Georgian Ambassador). While most Allies seem inclined to issue a North Atlantic Council (NAC) Statement on the crisis, there are divisions along traditional lines on whether that statement should contain strong criticism of Russia or simply be "balanced." Many European Allies are concerned that a NAC statement not diverge from the EUs internal consensus-building efforts to be undertaken in Brussels April 12-13. France is also concerned that a NATO statement would undermine President Sarkozys August 12 trip to Moscow."

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"Discussion of Ukrainian and Georgia MAP prospects at NATO remains highly charged and polarized. Germany leads the "Gang of Five" critics (France, the Netherlands, Spain and Norway plus sometimes Portugal), while the U.S. and Canada champion the pro-camp otherwise comprised of the Poles, Balts, Czechs, Romanians and Bulgarians. The UK, Denmark and Italy lead off the "wavering West" of on-again, off-again Allies who are fence-sitting in most meetings. Greece and Turkey expend energy trying to avoid being pinned down here, but show skeptical colors when pressed. We welcome lateral post perspectives on Georgian and Ukrainian MAP prospects as seen in capital and any "soft spots" on advocacy which we should explore."

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"Political Counselor raised Ref (A) points with MFA NATO Office Director Dirk Brengelmann and NSC-director-equivalent Detlef Waechter at the Chancellery. Their positions were essentially identical and appeared to be coordinated: Germany does not support a North Atlantic Council visit to Georgia in October. Brengelmann said September 10 that this remained Germanys position after discussions between Political Director Volker Stanzel and EUR A/S Dan Fried."

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"At a September 4 informal discussion among NATO Perm Reps, there was significant movement towards consensus in favor of the proposed October 3-4 visit of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) to Tbilisi. However, several Allies -- Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, and Belgium -- remained opposed and several more -- France, Spain, and the Netherlands -- were non-committal. Perm Reps agree to revisit the issue on Tuesday, September 11 for a final decision on whether the NAC would make the trip to Georgia or the Secretary-General (SYG) would travel alone. In light of the importance of a positive decision both to the integrity of NATOs Intensified Dialogue process and to Georgias ambitions to move to NATO Membership Action Plan, post requests the Department instruct Embassies Berlin, Athens, Madrid, Luxembourg, Brussels, Paris and The Hague to demarche host governments on U.S. support for a NAC visit to Tbilisi, in order to recognize NATO appreciation for the government of Georgias progress on reforms, which are integral to Georgias Intensified Dialogue with NATO."

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"AFGHANISTAN: ISAF Senior Civilian Representative Gentilini said the Afghans were eager for NATO to respond to its proposal for a military technical agreement, sent to NATO in early January. The SCR and several Perm Reps stressed that a MTA with the Afghans could help address the issue of civilian casualties, but many cautioned that the legal difficulties involved in negotiating such an agreement called for the Alliance to proceed with caution. Saying it needed more time to seek instructions, Hungary blocked consensus on a decision that fully filling the Elections Support Force (ESF) should take priority over filling the NATO Response Force (NRF), which would have allowed nations to pull NRF components for use in the ESF. The NAC will revisit the issue next week."

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"Implementation coordination for 2009 dominated discussions in the 5 February 2009 VCC and Experts, with Turkey raising unexpectedly strong objections to provisions that dictate which Ally loses in the event a non-Ally preempts an Allied verification activity. Turkeys objections seemed linked to the fact that under the draft, which most other Allies understood would be agreed, Turkey would lose its passive quota for an inspection to the Russian Federation as a result of a recent notification of intent to inspect Russia by Switzerland. Turkey finally consented to move the draft along, but resumed its opposition in the VCC. The paper has since been placed under silence which ends close of business, 16 February."

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"During the August 13 North Atlantic Council (NAC) meeting, the U.S., Poland, the Balts, UK, and Czech Republic, and Canada, giving teeth to the "no business-as-usual" approach to NATO relations with Russia, opposed participation of the Russian ship Ladniy in Operation Active Endeavor (OAE). As a result, the NAC did not reach consensus. Russia will be informed of the NAC decision through both political and military channels, and SHAPE will return operational control of the Ladniy to the Russian navy. Leading those opposed to Russian participation, Ambassador Volker argued that NATO would send the wrong signal if the NAC allowed Russian participation. Germany, however, as the standard bearer for pro-Russia camp, expressed its dismay over the negative decision and urged Allies to reconsider it in light of the effect on NATOs long-term relationship with Russia. The NAC also decided to take no action on the Russian request for a Russian proposed NATO-Russia Council meeting, pending discussion by NATO Foreign Ministers at an extraordinary session on August 19. The discussion on OAE provides an insightful preview on how Allies will approach NATOs future relationship with Russia at the Ministerial meeting."

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"Farewell to the Permanent Representative from France: In his farewell address to the NAC, departing French PermRep Richard Duque said the greatest threat facing the Alliance was the danger of being pulled into disunity, particularly on the issue of Russia where he encouraged Allies to see a future of cooperation."

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"This is the first high-level NATO-Russia Council (NRC) meeting since the August 2008 Georgia crisis, when NATO suspended meetings of the Council. During the Foreign Ministerial last March, you succeeded in convincing your NATO colleagues to resume NRC deliberations - a decision subsequently reaffirmed at the April Summit. The Corfu meeting comes at a critical time in our attempt to rebuild relations with Russia - just one week before the Moscow Summit. A major objective of this meeting is to ensure that the improvements in bilateral relations are reflected in the NATO-Russia relationship as well. Moscow has yet to match its more positive attitude towards the United States in its attitude towards NATO. This gap is worrying to many Allies, and we should seek to close it. Indeed, if we ignore it, Allies may come to fear that we are willing to sacrifice their interests in order to advance our bilateral relations with Moscow."

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"The Alliance has made great strides in overcoming internal divisions over Russia and Europes East leading to an emerging consensus on how to take NATO-Russia relations forward. USNATO is working with Germany and the Czech Republic on non-papers that provide a roadmap for re-engagement with Russia. We plan to circulate these non-papers prior to the April 29 NATO-Russia Council (NRC) Ambassadorial meeting with the intent of seeking approval by Ministers at the upcoming NRC Foreign Ministerial meeting (proposed for May 19). Russian pressure to cancel Partnership for Peace (PfP) exercises in Georgia will test the shaky emerging consensus within the Alliance on NATO-Russia. Moreover, Russian Ambassador Rogozin may slow down or reverse Russias stated goal of re-engagement in the NRC and seek to distort our proposals. That said, our strategic approach -- of seeking to cooperate with Russia in specific areas of common interest, while pushing back in areas where we disagree -- remains valid and serves as a basis in keeping NATO united, even when Russia seeks to pressure NATO, as it is doing with the PfP exercises."

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"The two-week long communique drafting session for the December 2-3 NATO Foreign Ministerial was a difficult and, at times, contentious affair. Two issues cast a long shadow over the negotiations: how to handle the Membership Action Plan applications of Georgia and Ukraine and how to address NATO-Russia relations. Ukraine and Georgia was discussed by PermReps outside the framework of the rest of the communique and was only finally settled by ministers. NATO-Russia was discussed by the communique drafters, but the inability to agree a way forward meant that it too was only resolved following a ministerial discussion. The negotiations also highlighted ongoing problems in our relationships with two key Allies: Germany and France. Germany demonstrated once again that it is strategically in a different place than the U.S. (and the UK) on a wide range of issues. These differences are further exacerbated by German FM Steinmeiers efforts to appeal to the German domestic audience as he gears up for his election challenge to Chancellor Merkel. While the French were more pragmatic than the Germans on some issues, two interrelated trends--their need to defend to the end statements by their mercurial president and their need to defend (and try to get NATO to accept unconditionally) decisions of the EU presidency--meant that they had extremely rigid and unhelpful instructions on issues such as NATO-Russia, Kosovo, piracy, and comprehensive approach. While the birthing was difficult and often painful, we believe the resulting communique (reftels) represents significant progress on a number of U.S. initiatives, such as missile defense. Equally important, the willingness of Allies to eventually compromise and find diplomatically ambiguous language for the Ukraine/Georgia and NATO-Russia sections shows that Allies are finally ready to move past our differences for now on these issues."

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"Top German government officials emphasized to visiting USNATO Ambassador Kurt Volker November 10-11 that Germany remains strongly opposed to granting Ukraine and Georgia member action plan (MAP) status at the December 2-3 meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers. While open to giving the applicant countries a "navigation aid" or action plan to help guide their reforms, Germany is not ready at this point to substitute this "navigation aid" for MAP -- it wants to keep open the option of still requiring MAP at some later date before membership. Volker warned that adding an additional hurdle to the accession process would give the impression that the Alliance was stepping back from its Bucharest commitment and capitulating to Russian pressure. German officials also stressed that over the next year, they had little political flexibility for increasing the number of German troops in Afghanistan or for expanding their area of deployment beyond what was provided for in the ISAF parliamentary mandate approved last month. In response to MFAs view that the April 2009 NATO Strasbourg/Kehl Summit should be primarily an anniversary meeting and avoid "confrontational issues," Volker emphasized the need to address key questions like Afghanistan and NATOs relations with Russia and the east. The Germans are disdainful of Medvedevs European security proposal, but they believe they have to "deal with it" and are hopeful that discussing it can "improve the atmosphere" with Russia. While warning against "cornering" Russia in regards to MAP and the conflict with Georgia, Germans have been very critical of Medvedevs announcement about stationing short-range missiles in Kaliningrad."

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"At the September 11 NATO High Level Task Force (HLTF) and related meetings Allies discussed potential next steps on CFE in the context of Russian actions in Georgia and Russias continued "suspension" of CFE, based largely on the options advanced by the U.S. (ref a). There was general agreement on the need for a unified, measured CFE response that was "not business as usual," and which visibly demonstrated NATOs continued solidarity."

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"The EAPCs first meeting after the summer break featured Georgian protests about Russian action and a Russian response made memorable by a claim that, if the Russian response had been proportionate, "Tbilisi would now lie in ruins." Russia announced it has withdrawn from the PfP SOFA. The Russian delegate followed the meeting by making hallway threats to the Georgian political counselor. Spain moved beyond Germany to become the Ally most sympathetic to Russian versions of the August conflict."

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"During the August 13 North Atlantic Council (NAC) meeting, the U.S., Poland, the Balts, UK, and Czech Republic, and Canada, giving teeth to the "no business-as-usual" approach to NATO relations with Russia, opposed participation of the Russian ship Ladniy in Operation Active Endeavor (OAE). As a result, the NAC did not reach consensus. Russia will be informed of the NAC decision through both political and military channels, and SHAPE will return operational control of the Ladniy to the Russian navy. Leading those opposed to Russian participation, Ambassador Volker argued that NATO would send the wrong signal if the NAC allowed Russian participation. Germany, however, as the standard bearer for pro-Russia camp, expressed its dismay over the negative decision and urged Allies to reconsider it in light of the effect on NATOs long-term relationship with Russia. The NAC also decided to take no action on the Russian request for a Russian proposed NATO-Russia Council meeting, pending discussion by NATO Foreign Ministers at an extraordinary session on August 19. The discussion on OAE provides an insightful preview on how Allies will approach NATOs future relationship with Russia at the Ministerial meeting."

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"The North Atlantic Council (NAC) met August 12 in emergency session to discuss a NAC statement on the Georgia crisis and to discuss whether to agree to Russias request for a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). Although Allies agreed in principle to begin drafting a formal statement for subsequent NAC approval, consensus broke down over timing. The NAC authorized the SYG to engage the press after the NAC meeting with Georgia scheduled for later in the day to give an assessment of todays meetings and Allies positions. Discussions over the text of a statement will continue in the Political Committee. Allies also discussed whether to agree to a meeting of the NRC, as Russia has requested. Nearly all Allies spoke in favor of having the meeting, while stressing that there could not be "business as usual." The United States and others reserved and NATO agreed for today to say there is no agreement on timing of a possible NRC meeting. De Hoop Scheffer and several Allies also stressed that NATO would need a strong, unified message for Russia before such a meeting."

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"At an August 12 North Atlantic Council meeting with Georgia, Georgian Permanent Representative to NATO Beshidze (substituting for the Georgian FM who at the last minute could not attend) characterized the Russian action as open aggression and occupation of a sovereign, democratic state. Beshidze focused on the Russian air strikes against Georgian urban and civilian areas, Russian escalation through ground assaults outside of the conflict area into Georgia proper, and the unfolding humanitarian crises. Georgia tabled eight requests for NATO assistance in helping to end hostilities and to ensure the stability of the region (see below). Allies unanimously supported Georgian independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, with some (Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, and Czech Republic) expressing strong solidarity with Georgia. All Allies recognized Russia,s disproportionate response to the crises and reiterated their call for an end to hostilities as well as support for ongoing ceasefire efforts led by the EU/OSCE. For now, Allies supported consideration in NATO,s Political Committee of Georgia,s eight requests, citing the need for further discussion. Only Germany sounded a somewhat sour note on this issue, saying that NATO has no actual role in ongoing efforts and that NATO,s direct involvement through Georgia,s request could escalate the conflict."

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"Assistant Secretary Dan Fried met with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer July 22 in Brussels and later informally briefed PermReps, delivering a warning in both meetings about the dangers of continued delay in UNMIK reconfiguration and EULEX deployment throughout Kosovo and calling attention to the need for immediate progress in deescalating the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict to reverse the deterioration on the ground. In their private meeting, the SYG expressed concern about the potential for a divisive debate within the Alliance in December over whether to grant Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Ukraine and Georgia in light of what he saw as unwavering German and French opposition. He floated the idea, which he said German Chancellor Merkel has hinted at, of agreeing in December to extend MAP to the two countries in 2010, assuming continue progress in their reforms (and "unless something horrible happens"). Fried said such a decision would give perverse incentives to Russia to instigate "something horrible," e.g., a war. Fried also told the SYG and PermReps the U.S. is willing to listen to details about Russian President Medvedevs proposal for a new security architecture for Euro-Atlantic relations, but for now the proposal recalled Soviet proposals from the 1970s. Fried briefed the SYG on progress in U.S.-Polish missile defense talks and the SYG expressed concern about the deterioration in atmospherica between Macedonia and Greece over the name issue."

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"AFGHANISTAN: NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer noted that SG(2008)0746: &Employment of NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force for ISAF8 is under silence until 1800, Oct 8. If this document is agreed, the Military Committee (MC) will be able to take forward its work on this issue. SHAPE,s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Maj Gen Wright, cited a slight reduction in Opposing Militant Forces (OMF) activity compared to the previous week and reported that there has been a 33 percent decrease in attacks on the ring road since August 4. PermReps focused on the future assessment of the Comprehensive Strategic Pol-Mil Plan (CSPMP) and Pakistan,s operations in the border area."

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"Assistant Secretary Dan Fried met with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer July 22 in Brussels and later informally briefed PermReps, delivering a warning in both meetings about the dangers of continued delay in UNMIK reconfiguration and EULEX deployment throughout Kosovo and calling attention to the need for immediate progress in deescalating the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict to reverse the deterioration on the ground. In their private meeting, the SYG expressed concern about the potential for a divisive debate within the Alliance in December over whether to grant Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Ukraine and Georgia in light of what he saw as unwavering German and French opposition. He floated the idea, which he said German Chancellor Merkel has hinted at, of agreeing in December to extend MAP to the two countries in 2010, assuming continue progress in their reforms (and "unless something horrible happens"). Fried said such a decision would give perverse incentives to Russia to instigate "something horrible," e.g., a war. Fried also told the SYG and PermReps the U.S. is willing to listen to details about Russian President Medvedevs proposal for a new security architecture for Euro-Atlantic relations, but for now the proposal recalled Soviet proposals from the 1970s. Fried briefed the SYG on progress in U.S.-Polish missile defense talks and the SYG expressed concern about the deterioration in atmospherica between Macedonia and Greece over the name issue."

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"Key Points:
-- Since your last visit, the U.S. and Egypt initiated a senior-level Strategic Dialogue that built upon the improved bilateral atmosphere following President Obama´s June 2009 speech in Cairo. We have seen improved cooperation in multilateral fora, in addition to close cooperation on regional issues including Arab-Israeli peace and Sudan.
-- While the U.S.-Egypt military relationship remains strong, the Egyptian military has been resistant to our efforts to adjust its focus to reflect new regional and transnational threats. -- While Egyptian leadership continues to view Iran as the greatest strategic threat to the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Sudanese instability are immediate concerns for Egypt. -- Egypt has increased counter smuggling efforts, including the construction of a subterranean steel wall along the Egypt-Gaza border that has provoked intense domestic and regional criticism of perceived complicity in the Israeli blockade of Gaza."

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La Jornada: Embajador en Colombia, informante de Washington ([Mexican] Ambassador in Colombia, Washington informer)

"México fungió como fallido "facilitador" en las negociaciones para el desarme del colombiano Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) durante el sexenio de Vicente Fox, cuyo gobierno se caracterizó por hacer esfuerzos sin precedente para posicionar a México en política exterior. (Mexico acted as a failed facilitator in the negotiations for the disarmament of the Colombian "Army of National Liberation" during the Vicente Fox administration, whose government was noted by the unprecedented efforts to improve Mexico's position in foreign policy.)"

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La Jornada: Ganar la elección en 2000, "único" logro de Fox: EU (To win the 2000 election, the "only" achievement of Fox: United States)

"La embajada de Estados Unidos despidió el sexenio de Vicente Fox describiéndolo como "lejos de la perfección". Se trata de un amplio documento de evaluación, en el que además de las opiniones de los funcionarios de la representación diplomática se citan las de observadores políticos mexicanos y estadounidenses. Algunos coinciden en señalar que el "mayor y único logro" de Fox fue ganar la elección de 2000. (The American Embassy said goodbye to the administration of Vicente Fox describing him as "far from perfection" in a long document that evaluates opinions from government employees and includes quotations of political analysts from Mexico and the United States. Some of them agree on pointing out that the major and only achievement of Fox was to win the 2000 election.)"

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La Jornada: EU buscó la firma de pacto antiterrorista (The United States wanted the [Mexican] signature in the Anti-Terrorism Pact)

"Estados Unidos vio en abril de 2008 la oportunidad de introducir en el contexto de la Iniciativa Mérida un acuerdo contraterrorista, alegando la posibilidad de que grupos del crimen organizado que ya utilizaban "tácticas terroristas" pudieran ser instrumentalizados por las "organizaciones terroristas globales". (The United States saw in April 2008 a chance to introduce in the context of the Mérida Initiative an agreement [with Mexico] against terrorism, arguing the possibility of several armed groups, which already have used "terrorist tactics", being utilized by "global terrorist organizations".)"

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El País: Kirchner y los piqueteros, "un matrimonio de conveniencia" (Kirchner and the "piqueteros", a convenient marriage)

"La relación desarrollada por los piqueteros y los sindicatos de trabajadores con Néstor Kirchner, fallecido el pasado año, y su esposa, Cristina Fernández, fue definida por la embajada norteamericana en Buenos Aires como "un matrimonio de conveniencia", una alianza de intereses: apoyo político a cambio de subsidios oficiales. (The relation developed by the "piqueteros" and other unions of workers with Néstor Kirchner, who died last year, and his wife Cristina Frnández was defined by the American Embassy in Buenos Aires as a "marriage of convenience", an alliance of interests: political support in exchange of official subsidies.)"

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El País: Los bancos pactaron con los Kirchner antes de las elecciones, según EE UU (The banks made an agreement with the Kirchner before the elections, according with the United States)

"La Embajada en Buenos Aires asegura que las entidades aceptaron dar créditos baratos para aumentar la popularidad de Cristina Fernández. (The [American] Embassy in Buenos Aires assures that the entities accepted to give cheap credits to increase the popularity od Cristina Fernández.)"

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El País: El Gobierno de Arabia Saudí teme que Al Qaeda controle la Meca y La Medina (The Government of Saudi Arabia fears Al Qaeda controlling Meca and Medina)

"El Gobierno de Arabia Saudí estudia limitar el número de visitas y los días de permanencia de los peregrinos en la Meca y la Medina, los santos lugares, para evitar que sean controlados por Al Qaeda, según asegura un cable secreto del Departamento de Estado de los EE UU. (The Government of Saudi Arabia studies to establish limits for pilgrims on the number of visits and days of staying in Meca and Medina, the sacred places, to prevent them of being controled by Al Qaeda, according with a secret cable from the State Department of the United States.)"

Read more (Spanish)

(Image Credit: Dali Rău)

2011-02-13 Cable: Ordinary Algerians Losing Confidence in Bouteflika Regime [UPDATE:1]

Image(update below)

Thousands of demonstrators came out to demonstrate against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s regime in Algeria on February 12. Security forces arrested hundreds of protesters, including human rights activists and syndicate members of the General Union of Algerian Workers. The Internet was also shut down.

A peaceful sit-in led to 100 being detained.

Al Jazeera reported Algerians, inspired by the success of the popular revolution in Egypt, were “heavily outnumbered by riot police,” but “2,000 protesters were able to overcome a security cordon enforced around the city's May First Square” and join others calling for reform.

Rachi Salem of the Co-ordination for Democratic Change told the press, "The government doesn't want us forming crowds through the internet. Security forces are armed to the teeth out on the street, and they're also doing everything to crush our uprising on the internet. Journalists, and especially those with cameras, are being taken away by the police."

Initially, security forces closed all entrances to the capital city of Algiers. And, according to Al Jazeera, early in the day, “Police charged at demonstrators and arrested 10 people outside the Algiers offices of the opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), as they celebrated Mubarak's downfall, Said Sadi, RCD leader, told the AFP news agency.”

Sadi found the police presence to be “unbelievable.” Al Jazeera described the presence: 40 police vans, jeeps and buses lined up at May First Square, starting point of the protesters’ march; small military-style armoured vehicles which are rarely seen in the city, were parked at several junctions; police outside of fuel stations were wearing anti-riot body armor.

RCD activist Sadi and Algerian opposition to Bouteflika are actually the subject of part of a cable released by WikiLeaks. 07ALGIERS1806 from December 2007 shows that opposition to Bouteflika has been brewing for years. It paints a picture of an “ailing and fragile” regime:

On December 3, opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) leader Said Sadi presented a somber overview of the Algerian regime, saying it insisted on continued control but lacked vision and capacity. Sadi warned that in the context of current stagnation in economic and political reform, Algeria's institutions were corroding from within, losing many of their best cadres of workers and civil servants. The former leader of the Islamist al-Islah party, Abdallah Djaballah, who was ousted from the party's leadership with active help from the Interior Ministry, pointed out to us on December 17 that the harraga phenomenon (ref A), in which youth flee on makeshift crafts to Europe, was no longer limited only to poor, unemployed youth. Djaballah viewed Algerian youth as having a choice "between death at sea and a slow, gradual death at home" given the profound lack of opportunities in the country's stagnant economy. Sadi told us he was shocked to find so many educated, middle-class Algerians in Quebec and parts of the U.S. on a recent visit. "Those people are the future of Algeria," Sadi said.

The cable goes on to say, ordinary Algerians “have already lost confidence in the economic and political reform agenda, are now losing faith in the ability of the regime to protect them” from terrorism. It describes how “there is a growing gap between what ordinary Algerians see as their key needs and what they perceive the government is offering in terms of wages and quality of life.” And, it suggests that “fewer Algerians are willing to help the government” so if Algerians have to do business in a government office they will go but then “leave promptly and stay out of the way.”

Interestingly, a women’s rights activist named Laila Aslaoui is mentioned explaining how the Bouteflika regime asked her to help organize a march condemning terrorism. She said she would have helped in the 1990s but now had no interest in helping “the Algerian government justify its approach to security.”

The Bouteflika regime has been weary over the possibility that they might meet the same fate that the Mubarak regime just faced. The Guardian reported, "In an effort to stop mass protests, Bouteflika said he would use the country's vast oil and gas wealth to lower the prices of key foods. He also promised to allow more democratic freedoms, create jobs and lift a 19-year-old state of emergency that still hangs over the country.

Despite concessions, coalitions or organizations like the National Co-ordination for Change and Democracy (CNCD) have been defying the regime. Inspired by other uprisings in the region and the growing impact of unemployment, high food costs, poor housing and corruption, issues that many north African nations are finding themselves faced with, have fueled pro-democracy actions.

The human rights organization Amnesty International urged the Bouteflika regime on February 11 to not crack down on planned anti-government protests. It called on the regime to let the protesters “express themselves freely” and highlighted the fact that during riots in January three people were killed and eight hundred were injured. The organization along with CNCD called for the release of prisoners of conscience and other detainees arrested during other protests.

This not the first time in recent months that the Internet has been shut down. When food riots broke out, fearing the use of social media to show the world what was has happening during the riots and how the government was cracking down, the Bouteflika regime blocked Facebook and Twitter. At one point, according to The Next Web, videos were being posted to YouTube demonstrating how users could unblock Facebook in Algeria.

Algerians trying to share what is happening are using Google’s Speak to Tweet service, which became available during the Egypt revolution.

The demonstrations in Algeria garnered a hashtag: #Feb12. The last time a day of demonstrations earned a hashtag a revolution unfolded and a leader that had been in power for over three decades quickly became illegitimate and fled the country for a Red Sea resort.

Al Jazeera undoubtedly played a key role in getting information out on the Egypt revolution in its early stages. The news organizations has launched a live blog on Algeria. It also has put together this slick presentation showing a "timeline of opposition" in Algeria:

Is the world witnessing a 21st Century development where those desiring reforms and democracy take control of their countries from repressive dictators? Is this a new model for revolution that is peaceful and bent on bringing social democracy? Should this be called the Tunisia or the Egypt model?

Stay tuned.

Update - 1:32 AM ET

Renesys is debunking rumors that the Internet was shut down in Algeria:

Early reports from Algeria tonight suggested that another Internet takedown may be underway, similar to the one that affected Egypt. So far, however, we don't see confirming evidence for it.

Here's the link to the post, which explains why it is hard for Algeria to apply a "kill switch" to the Internet.

2011-02-13 Iranian Green Opposition Seeks to Re-Ignite Spirit of Revolution

Image Cable Indicates the Green Movement May Not Be Capable of Launching Uprising

On the twenty-fifth of Bahman on the Iranian calendar or February 14, the Green Path Opposition (GPO) or “Green Wave” plans to mobilize people and hold demonstrations in Iran. Organizers inspired by recent events in Egypt and Tunisia are hoping to see many turn out and defy an Iranian regime that has rhetorically indicated its support for the Egypt revolution but yet refused for some time to permit public demonstrations in Iran.

The upcoming day is something WL Central has been following closely. On February 10, WL Central looked at plans for the upcoming “Day of Rage,” the Iranian regime’s pre-emptive crackdown on activists planning demonstrations, and how Iran was jamming BBC’s Persian TV so Iranians could not witness what was happening in Egypt.

February 12 WL Central covered the arrests and detentions of journalist and dissidents, how “Iran’s telecommunications company” was filtering out the word “Bahman” ahead of the planned “Day of Rage,” the house arrest of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi (two political leaders urging demonstrations), and the simultaneous celebration of the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in the midst of state repression designed to prevent something similar to events in Tunisia or Egypt from unfolding.

Hours away from the beginning of demonstrations, the key question is whether the GPO will have a huge demonstration and whether the people of Iran have truly been moved by what has unfolded in Tunisia and Egypt. The Tehranbureau, based in the US, reports, “It is interesting to note that beyond the publicly announced goal of solidarity with the Egyptian people, there is no other specific demand. There are a number of slogans for on the web, but beyond that there is no goal, at least no publicly stated goal. Right now it seems the question is not what the strategy is, it is if the crowds will gather in the streets of Tehran on Monday.”

Many within the Green opposition believe their actions in 2009 in the aftermath of what was largely regarded as a fixed election have been part of what has moved people to act in countries like Tunisia and Egypt. Spokesman for the former presidential candidates Mousavi and Karroubi, Amir-Arjomand, according to The Guardian said, “The green movement influenced the movements in Egypt and Tunisia, and now we can learn from their movements, this shows that there is a historical desire for democracy in our region.” But, that may not be accurate. Most of the unrest was came from the escalation of food prices coupled with increased unemployment.

Cables from the Iran Regional Press Office (IRPO), which were released when WikiLeaks and news organizations first began to publish the US Embassy Cables, show reason to the GPO might not have what it takes to turn out demonstrators. A cable specifically focused on “Iran Domestic Politics” as they pertain to the GPO from January 2010 indicates the regime has an unwavering commitment to “using force and repression against the GPO as necessary to both incapacitate its first- and second-tier leadership (primarily through detention) and its rank and file (through detention and violence, to include deadly force).”

The regime is described as having a strategy of a “pre-emptive ‘rolling round-up’ of not just active GPO elements but also sympathizers.” Reformist reporters, feminists, human rights advocates, labor organizers, aging “National Front” sympathizers, and others not active in GPO are targets. The strategy likely means thousands if not tens of thousands of people have been detained since 2009.

Furthermore, the cable describes how the regime is working to make it possible for “broader use of lethal force at the popular level” and what the impact of state repression is on the media press environment:

Indications are that the regime is laying the groundwork for using even more violence, to include the broader use of lethal force at the popular level if necessary. This could include executions of those found guilty of 'warring against God,' a term which the regime is prone to define somewhat expansively. And while there is certainly a limit to the regime's willingness to use violence against its own people, there are no indications that it is anywhere near it. One former IRGC officer told an Iranwatcher that the IRGC wants to avoid killing more than a 'few dozen' protestors in any one location on any one day, partially to avoid associations with 'Black Friday' -September 8, 1978 - when mass fatalities in a demonstration turned many against the Shah). The Ashura-day murder of Mousavi's nephew, in addition to the January 7 incident where security officials seemed to have coordinated shots being fired at a car carrying Karrubi [sic] indicate a regime intent to calibrate its level of violence to intimidate the opposition and its leadership.

The media press environment is also expected to become far more restrictive, with one prominent reformist newsman telling IRPO that he expects all reformist papers to be shut down in the short-term. The regime continues to block 'subversive' websites, while also stepping up it jamming of satellite broadcasts from both VOA and BBC.

The Tehranbureau notes that the government is a “fast learner.” When the GPO “called for demonstrations on the anniversary of the Revolution last year, government forces were well prepared to prevent crowds from assembling. In many cases, people were dispersed as they exited metro stations. Any small gathering was attacked and the mass demonstration did not take place.”

A Washington Post shows the Iranian government is fulfilling expectations. The country has opened a prosecutor’s office “for offenses related to media and culture.” The move will make it possible to further restrict journalists and artists in Iran and deter them from fueling unrest like they did during protests in 2009.

The entire cable provides a key illumination of the GPO. There are more excerpts worth citing, but the most key section is likely the following:

No one knows or can know what will happen next. While Iran is not North Korea, since June 12 and the subsequent crackdown it has become harder to follow significant events there, both at the popular and elite level. Foreign media presence has been severely curtailed and domestic media is increasingly censored. And Iran's hardline intelligence-security cabal's 'soft overthrow' fixation has reduced the number and type of Iranians willing to talk frankly to the press (and to Iranwatchers) about domestic events.

Against that backdrop one must note the 'selective perception' bias that tends to over-emphasize the GPO's potency. Some pro-GPO bias stems from their being the (relative) 'good guys' in this drama, to the extent that their agenda encompasses principles dear to Western democracies. Additionally, Western media's Iran contacts tend to be pro-reformist, with Western press quoting pro-GPO activists and analysts almost exclusively. Also USG officials' interactions with Iranians tend to be largely limited to Iranians willing and able to talk with us, with a disproportionate number of them being those seeking USG assistance in helping fight the regime. Finally and in many ways most importantly 'if it bleeds it leads,' so there are no 'Youtube' uploads on demonstration days of the millions of ordinary Iranians who are going about their business.

Although the GPO will, as they have done prior to previous days of protest, cite Article 27 of the Constitution to remind Iranians the demonstrations should be permitted or allowed, there is no guarantee the Iranian population will be out to protest. The GPO does not have a vision, it lacks plans, which isn’t entirely different than Egypt, but, unlike the Mubarak regime, the Iranian government seems to be much more prepared for an uprising.

The GPO will be working to escalate opposition to the Iranian government weeks before the fifth birthday of Twitter. The protests in the aftermath of the 2009 election became known in many reports on the events as something that was part of a “Twitter Revolution.” The GPO is a group that has worked to use services like Twitter to expand efforts to, as the aforementioned cable says, “create a virtual space in which it can disseminate information to Iranians inside Iran.”

But, this “cyber-utopianism” is often hyperbolically emphasized in Western media. Evgeny Morozov, author of The Net Delusion points out, “There were only 19,235 registered Twitter accounts in Iran (0.027% of the population) on the eve of the protests. The biggest night of protests in Egypt came amid an internet blackout after the government pulled the plug for most users.” He adds, “Social media works as well for tech-savvy dictators and government spooks as for pro-democracy advocates. The Twitter revolution in Iran ended in a violent crackdown and 2,000 new political prisoners.”

Thus, it seems it is imperative for those planning the demonstrations to actually get millions into the streets tomorrow and show they have been inspired. They cannot rely on a social media presence or sympathetic coverage from news media. If they do not get a huge portion of the population out, a portion that is willing to return periodically over the next days and face a crackdown from the regime, there may be little chance of a revolution picking up momentum as the revolution did in Egypt.

*Photo a screenshot from promotional Iran Anger Day video posted on YouTube.

2011-02-13 Saudi Arabia Protests on February 18

ImageOn February 2, WL Central asked Will Saudi Arabia protest? and showed a video with Saudi Arabians doing just that, despite all protests and public assemblies being illegal in Saudi Arabia. Now another video has surfaced (below) along with a facebook page calling for a protest day on February 18th for "those who are unemployed, who demand better work conditions and better civil rights." The facebook page is calling for:

- automobile factories to be opened in every major area and industrial training for young people.
- open factories and provide better training in the world of technology, programming and maintenance
- electrical plants in each region
- electric appliance factories to be opened.
- video game factories (like Playstation) to be opened in every area.
- food and dessert factories to be open in every region and jobs allocated for women.
- factories providing children's clothing, shoes, mattresses and other works to provide jobs for women.
- an increase in minimum wage to 6,000 Rials and more employment of young people.
- open more schools
- election of the Shura Council
- an independent judiciary
- an electoral district governors of the people
- have no one above the law

The facebook page also notes that there are unemployed people in every home in Saudi Arabia and 76% of the population does not have affordable housing.

The following protest shows women protesting in front of interior ministry last week, start @ 1:00. From youtube user mmayof via _x40 and Saudiwoman.

2011-02-13 Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman

Many mysteries remain and questions still go unanswered about what just happen in Egypt last week, particularly with regards to Mubarak and Sulieman. Who even knows where they are and what they're doing now?

It is now well established that Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak was suppose to have stepped down when he spoke on state TV, 45 minutes after the announced time, late Thursday evening. That's why NBC News reported the 'scoop' early in the day, why various U.S. government sources were making assurances and even the supreme council of the Egyptian army, and that is where the power really lies anyway, all but proclaimed it.

The fix was in. Mubarak had promised to resign and turn his powers over to his new Vice President Omar Suleiman. Then at the last moment he threw the hook again. This was the third time that he had spoken publicly since the mass protests began on January 25th and it is being said that on each of the previous occasions be had been expected to resign but twice, on Jan. 27th & Feb. 1st, he had failed to do so but this time it was for sure.

He surprised almost everyone. Instead of resigning, he announced that he was staying on as president but giving some of those powers over to Mr. Rendition, Omar Suleiman, he chastised his children, promised punishment, said he would serve out his term and hoped to die in Egypt. The people were outraged!

The next morning Omar Suleiman gave Mubarak's resignation speech for him. It took all of 20 seconds. Hosni Mubarak is now reported to be at home at Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea but hasn't been seen or heard from publicly since he was so unceremoniously removed from office. All ministers from his government are forbidden to leave the country. There is talk of criminal proceedings. Suleiman has also been very quiet lately, keeping a very low profile.

Most observers who know anything about Suleiman's history know that a change in leadership from Mubarak to Suleiman is not much change at all. So what's Suleiman up to now? What's his exact position? Is he the Commander-in-Chief of the military? Do they even have a Commander-In-Chief now? We know Mubarak had turned some of his powers over to Suleiman. Nobody seems to know exactly which powers through. What is going on?

In light of these questions the announcement made on Sunday by Egypt's prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, was quite significant. He said "The role of Omar Suleiman will be defined by the Higher Military Council." That is welcome news. IMHO the "role of Omar Suleiman" should be that of cell-mate to Hosni Mubarak.

As to what transpired between Mubarak and Suleiman in those last hours of his presidency, time will certainly tell the tale. Meanwhile we can take as a possible template, the last hours of Tunisian Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's presidency.

Thanks to the French publication, Nouvel Observateur , we now have the juicy details. It seems that Mubarak wasn't the first North African dictator to express a wish to die in his country before leaving:

He refused to board the plane. On the tarmac of the airport of Tunis, he resists, wrings his hands he shakes his little black briefcase, his only luggage, trying to turn back toward the black Mercedes he had just come from. He pleads, "Leave me, I do not want to go, I want to die here in my country." [...]

It is Friday, January 14 about 5pm, while resistance is growing in the streets of the capital, Ben Ali is still refusing to leave. Seriate Ali, Ben Ali's feared secret police chief and companion of thirty years is haggard and groaning as he pushes Ben Ali up the stairs of the aircraft that will take him to Saudi Arabia, "God Damn! You will go up!"

None of the soldiers who form a circle around the small group composed of the president, his wife Leila, their son Mohammed, his daughter, Halima, her fiance, the butler Mustafa, and two Filipino domestic employees is offering to help. Leila is exasperated as she bullies the dazed and whinning Ben Ali with the flowery language she loves "Go up Monte, you idiot, all my life, I've had to support your bullshit!" ...

Le Nouvel Observateur reported this week that Seriate Ali and Ben Ali's diabolical wife Leila worked together to get Ben Ali to leave by promising him that it was only temporary and he could return soon. As if!

I don't imagine that he will want to return anytime soon now that Tunisia has put out an Interpol international arrest warrant for him. They just might help him fulfill his desire to die on Tunisian soil.

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak is a criminal too.

It is good that Hosni Mubarak hasn't left Egypt and they should not let him leave because he has some very serious charges to face. We now know that on the night of January 30th, at one of the most critical junctures for the Egyptian Revolution, that President Mubarak ordered the army tank command to massacre the people in Tahrir Square and the tank commanders refused. As Robert Fisk reported on Friday:

The critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.

Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.

Later we could see some tank commanders in Tahrir Square striping off their uniforms and joining the protesters. The revolution and Tahrir Square had yet to endure the horrific violence that Mubarak's thugs were to unleash on February 2nd and 3rd but already his most powerful tool of violent suppression had abandoned him.

Although the army took a neutral position when Mubarak's thugs came riding horses and camels into the crowds and then ended up my employing Molotov cocktails and machine guns on them, while the army stood by, those thugs didn't have tanks and artillery and Mubarak already knew that they weren't going to be in this fight. So once this thug assault failed to drive pro-democracy activists from the square and the people came back even stronger on the Friday, Mubarak was out of options. His fate was all but sealed.

So soldiers with cell phones stopped the massacre. This is yet another way that new technology has played a surprising role in this new wave of revolutions. A lot of armies, including the U.S. army, allow their people to carry cell phones. Now an army in the field has used cell phones to organize a mutiny. Will they be re-thinking that?

Please note also something else that can be deduced from Robert Fisk's description of these events. Namely that it was the low level officers in the tanks, the ones that got their orders over headsets, that refused to carry out the mass murder in Tahrir Square. Had the top brass refused Mubarak, those orders never would have been heard over headsets.

This should give all some insight into the true character of the supreme military council, show that this revolution is not safe in their hands, indicate the importance of the people building strong ties with the lower ranks of the army and most importantly, not letting down their guard or abandoning Liberation Square.

While there are still many questions and problems in the road going forward and the success of the Egyptian Revolution is by no means assured simply because Mubarak has finally been forced from office, the Egyptian people have shown a good account of themselves so far and the future looks bright.

2011-02-13 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

ImageEl País: Las aerolíneas protestan ante las trabas para repatriar de Venezuela sus ingresos (The airlines protest due to the lock to take their profits from Venezuela)

"La irritación de las aerolíneas hacia los usos y costumbres de la administración venezolana estaba a punto de explotar el año pasado. La Asociación Internacional de Transporte Aéreo (IATA, por sus siglas en inglés) protestaba ante la embajada de EE UU en Caracas a finales de 2009 porque las aerolíneas internacionales tenían que esperar cada vez más tiempo en recibir el dinero que le retenía el Gobierno venezolano por la emisión de billetes. (The irritation of the airlines against the Venezuelan administration's habits was about to explode last year. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) protested in front of the American Embassy in Caracas at the end of 2009 because the international airlines had to wait longer each time to receive their money retained by the Venezuelan government due to the currency emission.)"

Read more (Spanish)

La Jornada: Los Zetas colapsan estado de derecho en Guatemala ("The [drug gang] Zetas" collapse the rule of law in Guatemala)

"Cobán, capital del departamento de Alta Verapaz, cayó en manos del cártel de Los Zetas en 2008. Con este territorio las organizaciones de narcotraficantes que se expandieron hacia el sur de México a partir de 2007 tenían ya bajo su control, según un cálculo oficial estadunidense, siete de los 22 departamentos que constituyen Guatemala; los más grandes, más poblados y de mayor importancia económica. (Cobán, capital of the region Alta Verapaz, fell on the hands of 'The Zetas' in 2008. With this territory, the drug organizations that had already expanded over the south of Mexico since 2007, got under control, according with American official calculations, seven of the twenty two regions that constitute Guatemala; the seven biggest, most populated and with most economic importance.)"

Read more (Spanish)

La Jornada: Estudiantes caídos durante ataque en Ecuador no eran de las FARC (Dead students during attack in Ecuador were not part of FARC)

"Carecen de base las acusaciones de que Lucía Morett y los estudiantes mexicanos asesinados el 1º de marzo de 2008 por militares colombianos en Sucumbíos, Ecuador, fueran contactos de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) en México o que recibieran entrenamiento por parte de esa guerrilla, se afirma en un cable diplomático emitido por la embajada de Estados Unidos aquí, fechado el 28 de marzo de 2008. (There is no base for the accusations against Lucía Morett and the students murdered the first of March of 2008 by Colombian military in Sucumbíos, Ecuador, which alleged they were Mexican contacts of the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC [Spanish acronym]) and alleged they received training by such guerilla, according with a diplomatic cable sent by the American Embassy in Mexico of March 28th, 2008.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El Comercio: Del Castillo pidió apoyo a embajada de EE.UU. para que Lourdes Flores admita derrota ([Jorge] Del Castillo asked the American Embassy for support, looking for Lourdes Flores' concession of her own defeat)

"Se reunió en 2006 con un consejero político estadounidense. Buscaba formar una alianza para derrotar a Ollanta Humala en segunda vuelta. (He met in 2006 with an American political advisor. He tried to establish an alliance to defeat Ollanta Humala in the second term of elections.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El Comercio: Funcionaria chavista se reunió con Humala para organizar anticumbre 2008 ([Hugo] Chavez Government employee met with Humala to organize a 2008 Anti-Latin American Summit)

"Sin embargo, esta mañana el líder de Gana Perú negó que se haya reunido en la embajada de Venezuela en Lima con Virly Torres. (Nevertheless, this morning the leader of "Gana Perú" denied such meetings in the Venezuelan Embassy i nLima with Virly Torres.)"

Read more (Spanish)


"In a conversation on NATO-Russia relations, Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to NATO Nikolai Korchunov said "transparency is a tool of the weak" during a January 27 lunch hosted by DCM Heffern. Korchunov made this statement in response to the DCM urging Russia to be more transparent about its intentions and actions, such as its recent military exercises held on NATOs border. Korchunov admitted that Russia and the U.S. did need to understand one another, but did not extend this need to other Allies. He claimed that his statement about the weak referred to those countries that "acted like babies" and were afraid of Russia."

Read cable


"At the December 4 NATO-Russia Council Ministerial, Russia presented to NATO a draft treaty that would commit the Alliance to use the NRC to address threats to Allies security and prevent NATO from stationing armed forces on the territory of its Central and Eastern European members. The treaty avoids mentioning the OSCE and differs from Russias proposed European Security Treaty mainly in specifying the NRC as the forum for discussion. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov asked ministers that Allies consider discussing the new treaty with Russia at subsequent NRC meetings. After reviewing the document, Allies initial response has centered on the need for the NRC to focus instead on the ministers decisions to work on agreed areas of practical cooperation and start a Joint Review of common security threats. The U.S. should respond by urging Russia to comply with existing treaties before suggesting new ones, and by keeping the NRC focused on initiatives already agreed."

Read cable


"Madam Secretary: This ministerial may be one of ) if not the ) most important of the Presidents first term. As you outlined in your Council on Foreign Relations speech last July, a revitalized NATO must provide us with strong and capable partners to address issues of common concern. This ministerial will be a critical test of whether NATO is a reliable partner in achieving our top foreign policy priorities, including Afghanistan, Missile Defense, and Russia. If we can forge a consensus around our positions on these critical issues, NATO will have demonstrated that it remains the place where we can count on strong partners to address common threats through concerted actions."

Read cable


"During the December 9 Ministerial meeting of the North Atlantic Council, Foreign Ministers noted the completion of the Longer-Term Analysis of Ballistic Missile Risks and Threats. The fruit of more than 18 months of negotiations, the Analysis fulfills in part a 2002 Prague Summit tasking to examine options for addressing ballistic missile threats to the Alliance. At 180 pages, it provides the most comprehensive assessment of WMD and ballistic missile (BM) proliferation trends the Alliance has ever produced. Among the documents key findings are that some countries currently have the capability to launch a ballistic missile attack on NATOs southeastern flank and U.S. forces in the Pacific, and that the risk of a ballistic missile attack on any Alliance territory, population centers or NATO forces, while moderate, will remain a concern in the decade to come. The Analysis contains unprecedented consensus positions on the intentions, capabilities and proliferation record of Iran, Syria and North Korea as well as Russia and China. It also addresses the contributions of non-proliferation instruments, including new approaches such as PSI and UNSCR 1540, as well as the implications of the A.Q. Khan network."

Read cable


"Leaders in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are pressing hard for NATO Article 5 contingency planning for the Baltic states. President Obama and Secretary Clinton are on record supporting such contingency planning for Allies. At the same time, however, NATO internal processes and politics make it difficult to openly carry out such planning, particularly if it would require specifying Russia as a potential threat. Nevertheless, there are possible ways to meet the substance of Baltic demands. The existing contingency plan for Poland, for example, might be modified to include the Baltics or generic plans for the use of the NATO Response Force could be exercised and certified in a manner consistent with Baltic defense. We request high-level interagency discussion of the issue to develop the substance and NATO tactics of Baltic planning and exercises."

Read cable


"At the October 28 meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), Allies were briefed on the draft 2010 Work Plan for the NATO Special Committee. The Special Committee serves as an advisory body on espionage and terrorist-related matters. The incoming Chair of the Committee said that the Committee was an important link for NATO to the civilian intelligence services of member nations, but that it had not changed to keep up with the recent transformations seen elsewhere in the Alliance. He said the Committee needed guidance from the NAC on the types of information and advice it wanted from the Committee. Allies differed over whether the Special Committee should focus its efforts only on traditional subjects, such as the threat to NATO from Russian intelligence services, or should expand its reach to look at issues such as the threat to NATO forces in Afghanistan from Al Qaeda. The French PermRep argued that the Special Committee should not engage in an assessment of the threat from Russian security services, stating that these proposed topics appeared to have been drafted with a "Cold War" viewpoint -- despite the fact that NATO recently expelled two Russian diplomats for activities inconsistent with their status. The NAC also discussed the broader issue of NATO intelligence reform, with the UK PermRep arguing for the appointment of an outside civilian to come in and look at the issue with "fresh eyes." The Italian PermRep disagreed, appearing to bristle at the recent proliferation of outside experts being brought in to solve Alliance problems. While welcoming the recently reconstituted NATO Headquarters Intelligence Steering Committee, Ambassador Daalder suggested that it needed a single chair who could bring together both the civilian and military sides of NATO intelligence -- such as the Deputy Secretary General. Allies were also briefed on a Special Committee assessment of the Chinese intelligence threat to NATO and NATO member states."

Read cable


"Russia harshly criticized NATO and individual Allies during a NATO-Russia Council meeting on the Russian military exercises Zapad and Ladoga, while managing to avoid giving any details on the exercises themselves. The Russian Ambassador to NATO did not discuss the provocative scenario for the exercises and criticized NATO for holding its own exercises in the former Soviet space. He complained that the response to the Russian exercises by some Allies smacked of Cold War rhetoric. Allies asked that Russia use "common sense" when planning its exercises and took exception to the Russian Ambassadors tone, prompting an even harsher Russian rebuke. The NATO Secretary General asked the Russian Ambassador to convey to Moscow Allied concern over the exercises, the size and nature of which were contrary to the spirit of NATO-Russia cooperation."

Read cable


"NATO Allies expressed concern during a November 18 North Atlantic Council meeting over the message Russia intended to send by using a provocative scenario for its largest military exercises since the Soviet era, and structuring events to avoid inviting observers. The exercise centered on repelling an attack launched from Poland and Lithuania, and included the simulated use of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. The Secretary General called the Russian action "provocative and inappropriate," and said the information provided by Russia on the exercises had been unsatisfactory. Several Allies criticized NATOs "failure" to respond adequately to the Russian moves, which some felt had shaken Allied solidarity. The U.S. objected to Russias failure to allow observers at the exercises, and advised NATO to remain transparent when holding its own exercises. Lithuania and Norway said that the Russian activity should be reflected in NATO military planning. Many Allies reacted strongly to the exercises, both the execution and the lack of transparency, and to NATOs slow response. As the U.S. navigates the differences within NATO regarding Russia, it must also be prepared to respond forcefully to such Russian provocations."

Read cable

(Image Credit: Dali Rău)

2011-02-14 Kuwait Shaikh Jaber, investigated for death by torture, in the state cables - protests on March 8

ImageTwitter and Gulf News reported a Kuwaiti group called Fifth Fence (AlSour AlKhamis) using Twitter to attempt to organize a mass rally outside parliament on February 8. That protest has since been rescheduled to March 8. "We at the Fifth Fence call on the Kuwaiti people to assemble at parliament ... on Tuesday at 11am (0800 GMT) to press for our legitimate right of holding sessions and to declare our rejection of the continuity of this government and its undemocratic practices." the group wrote, inviting opposition MPs to join them.

The protests were, by some accounts, related to an investigation into Minister of the Interior Shaikh Jaber al-Khalid Al Sabah about the death by torture of a 35 year old Kuwaiti citizen, Mohammad Gazzai Al Mutairi, at a police station after he was arrested for possessing alcohol. The government and parliament postponed sessions for six weeks which was described as unconstitutional by the opposition. The death occurred on January 11 after six days of torture, and resulted in the arrest of sixteen policemen and the resignation of the Shaikh Jaber, a member of the family that has ruled Kuwait since 1756, but the cabinet asked Jaber to stay on.

US state cable 09KUWAIT110 details a meeting between the US ambassador and Shaikh Jaber. The US ambassador deplored "the ongoing deficiencies in Kuwait's legal system that stymie effective prosecution and restraint of ... individuals once captured." They discussed the Kuwaiti prisoners still at Guantanamo, who the ambassador described as "nasty, unrepentant individuals" and she said that "Kuwait's record had been tarnished by the example of former GTMO detainee al-Ajmi, who'd allegedly blown himself up in Mosul following his release to the Kuwaiti authorities." Kuwait "had to take steps to show its seriousness in changing and controlling the behaviors of extremists within its society."

Jaber told the Ambassador: "You know better than I that we cannot deal with these people (i.e. the GTMO detainees). I can't detain them. If I take their passports, they will sue to get them back (Note: as happened with Al-Ajmi. End note.) I can talk to you into next week about building a rehabilitation center, but it won't happen. We are not Saudi Arabia; we cannot isolate these people in desert camps or somewhere on an island. We cannot compel them to stay. If they are rotten, they are rotten and the best thing to do is get rid of them. You picked them up in Afghanistan; you should drop them off in Afghanistan, in the middle of the war zone."

They went on to discuss the recent rescue by US NAVCENT forces in the northern Gulf of seven Iranian smugglers whose boat was foundering while engaged in smuggling hashish. The ambassador said they needed to think about dealing with similar episodes in future in "expeditious fashion". Smiling broadly, the Interior Minister deflected the question, saying "God wished to punish them for smuggling drugs by drowning them, and then you saved them. So they're your problem! You should have let them drown."

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Information ordered the Al Jazeera station in Kuwait closed on December 13, 2010 after they aired live footage of Kuwaiti police cracking down on an opposition gathering and broadcast an interview with an opposition member of parliament.

Since the announcement of the protests (originally scheduled for an earlier date) there have been a number of government reforms announced. Yesterday the Kuwait Human Rights Society (KHRS) issued a press release on "positive developments in the country’s political terrain ... to strengthen the values of leniency, sublimation and accepting others’ opinion" and announced their intention to continue pressing for amendment to the law on peaceful gathering and meetings, in line with Article 44 of the Constitution which permits such meetings. They are also asking for the government to stop any attempt to amend the Audio-Visual, Print and Publication Laws to suppress opinion to be in accordance with Article 36 of the Constitution which states that the freedom of opinion and scientific research is guaranteed for everyone, and article 37 which states that freedom of press and publication is guaranteed.

The Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah agreed yesterday to withdraw the request to the Constitutional Court on the interpretation of articles 50, 100, 101, 111 and 163 in the Constitution to help diffuse the current hostility, and the Amir ordered all lawsuits against the media to be thrown out.

2011-02-14 Team Themis - HBGary, Palantir, Berico's ambitious joint team mentions 'bots' and 'custom software'

According to newly released emails. of HBGary through the work of Anonymous, HBGary, Palantir Technology, Berico Technology formed a team and submitted a report to win a contract of the law firm Hunton & Williams,whose client is Bank of America. The final report written in Nov.4, 2010 is here, titled "Corporate Information Reconnaissance Cell". What they assert in there is providing technological/traditional way of spying targeted entities, whatever that may be. To enumerate some of their 'tactics':

Threat intelligence
Social media exploitation
Influence operation
Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance(ISR)
Custom software development

Among them, what would the last category, 'Custom software development' include? On page 9 of the document discussing explicit timeline of the planned phases, 'Develop customized bots and helpers' is listed as one of the major tactics. One can only guess about what kind of 'bots' that would explicitly be, but an article on Crowdleaks can give some hints on the kind of 'bots' or, 'custom software'. Following is an excerpt:

In the new emails released by Anonymous we discover that HBGary Inc. may have been working on the development of a new type of Windows rootkit » that was undetectable and almost impossible to remove. ... When Activated, the Magenta rootkit will be capable of searching for and executing imbedded command and control messages by finding them wherever they may exist in physical memory on the compromised host. This is ideal because it’s trivial to remotely seed C&C messages into any networked windows host – even if the host in question has full windows firewalling enabled. The Magenta payload will also contain imbedded capabilities for injecting these C&C payloads directly into user-mode processes. This will allow injectable C&C payloads to be written to perform user-mode tasks on the compromised host.

Verifying the exact relationship between 'Magenta' and 'bots' appeared in the document needs more researches.

For WL Central coverage on Anonymous, HB Gary and the Stuxnet worm, go here.

2011-02-14 HBGary & the Stuxnet Worm: What Emails Leaked By Anonymous Reveal

ImageThe group of hacktivists known as Anonymous has released tens of thousands of emails from HBGary, a provider of classified cybersecurity services to the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community and other US government agencies. Anonymous leaked the emails after HBGary’s CEO Aaron Barr plotted to infiltrate Anonymous and uncover the identities of individuals within the group and after it was found out that HBGary and two other firms had been actively plotting to sabotage and target WikiLeaks.

Additionally, it has been reported that Anonymous has obtained Stuxnet access. That is because the emails, now public, were improperly secured. A cybersecurity service did not protect itself from the possibility of infiltration from hackers. has made it possible for the tens of thousands of emails to be searched. The search engine allows one to see how HBGary executives have been going back and forth discussing the malware Stuxnet worm and tracking news stories related to the worm attack that took place in Iran for the past months.

Stuxnet, according to a dossier put together by Symantec, is a complex threat to computer systems that has the capacity to reprogram industrial control systems. It’s “a large, complex piece of malware” and it can self-replicate itself through removable drives, spread in LAN, update itself through peer-to-peer mechanisms in LAN, and contact a command and control server that allows a hacker to download and execute the code, etc.

The emails show HBGary had a copy of the Stuxnet and was willing to share it upon request between those working in the firm. They show the firm was conducting research of interest to the National Security Agency (NSA). The emails do not indicate the firm was doing the research for company fearing Stuxnet would attack the firm.

According to Crowdleaks, the emails show that HBGary might have been planning to use Stuxnet "for their own purposes."

HBGary Federal Chief Operating Officer Greg Hoglund, Martin Pillion, President CEO of HBGary Federal President, and executive Phil Wallisch were sent an email from Barr on August 9, 2010:

Hey Guys,

Can I please get 1 or 2 copies of the Stuxnet malware?


He received a reply from Pillion, which included an attachment, the code for Stuxnet.

Another employee, Charles Copeland, asks in an email on September 26, 2010, “Does anyone have a dropper I have been unable to find it." Phil Wallisch responds, “I’ve got this from July.” A “dropper” is program or malware designed to install some sort of malware (virus, backdoor, etc) to a target system.

Another exchange takes place in August 2010:


Can I get the Stuxnet samples you and Phil have? There are some interesting things happening and I have been asked if I could provide samples to a certain government organization (not one of the ones you might think - an oversight group).

On August 6, Stuxnet data is presumably sent as a file attachment.

Thomas Conroy of Northrop Grumman Corporation was contacted by Barr on November 18, 2010. He asked Conroy if had more insight on the Stuxnet being the biggest threat to industry and included this link.

Conroy responded, “Not really. But if the article is correct, there may be an unintended beneficial consequence.”

Conroy, the vice president of national security programs for Northrop Grumman, has extensive contrats with the NSA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which, according to CorpWatch, was formally inaugurated in 2003, provides overhead imagery and mapping tools that allow intelligence and military analysts to monitor events from the skies and space. Conroy is someone who has been in high echelon meetings working with government to develop domestic cybersecurity infrastructure.

What seems to be a “joke” about HBGary possibly helping Iran after it was attacked by Stuxnet circulated in December 2010. An email from Brian R. Varine, Chief of the ICE Security Operations Center, wrote, “I think you guys have a potential customer.” The email was forwarded. A link to the Fox News story on the worm causing havoc was shared and the words “new business” appeared in the email. Varine wrote, “Assuming you can get the State Department to give you a license to sell.”

Wallisch responded, “You can tell Brian the only way we'd sell software to a terrorist state would be if it shipped backdoored. Now that would be hilarious.”

“You know he knows that... ;)” replied someone connected to the firm, Rich Cummings.

“It would be so bad-ass,” replied Wallisch.

“Someone has asked for that in the past,” added Cummings. What that final statement meant is unclear.

Emails related to Stuxnet show the firm’s policy and attitude on coverage of Stuxnet and the firm by journalists. An email from September 26, 2010, shows that Hoglund wanted all employees to not comment to the press on Stuxnet because, "We know nothing about Stuxnet."

*For previous coverage of AnonLeaks, click here. And, for more on Stuxnet and HBGary, see this post on Crowdleaks.

2011-02-14 How HBGary & Other Firms Could Have Falsified WikiLeaks Documents

The release of tens of thousands of emails from executives working for the classified cybersecurity services firm HBGary, which was found to have proposed plans to target WikiLeaks last week, shows exactly what members of the firm meant when they discussed using fake documents to sabotage or target WikiLeaks.

(If you are unaware of the story that has been unfolding, here is previous coverage, which has appeared on WL Central.)

A search through the database for emails that discuss “WikiLeaks” reveals one email on “stopping WikiLeaks.” It links to a Wordpress blog called “Godel’s Lost Letter and P=NP,” which covers stories related to technology and theories of computing.

The post sent around clearly indicates how one might “stop” WikiLeaks. The author rjlipton writes “leaks are like gravity, it is impossible to turn them off. No matter how terrific your security is, there will continue to be leaks of all kinds. What I do think is there is a mitigation strategy that can make leaks less damaging.”

The mitigation strategy is explained as follows:

Suppose that Alice runs an agency that handles very sensitive information. The thousands of people in her agency have access to millions of documents that would be potentially interesting to WL. Alice does nothing special until a leak occurs—although see a later section for a more “on-line” approach.

Suppose that WL gets documents {D = D_1,\dots,D_m} from some source inside Alice’s agency. They publish them on their web site, and then Alice is faced with a major problem.

Today she can do nothing to stop the leak. She can try to find the insider who made the leak, and use the legal system to deal with them. But that does nothing to mitigate the damage that is already done. There is an American idiom that says:

close the barn door after the horse has bolted.

This means: “Trying to take action when it is too late.” Today this is where Alice is—the horse is gone—the documents have been leaked. Closing the source of the leak does not help get the horse back.

However, she can do something to stop the leak. Here is the mitigation strategy: She runs a special program over the documents {D} and creates new ones {F = F_1,\dots,F_n}. These new documents are similar to the ones leaked, but they are different in many ways. Alice then “leaks” her fake documents {F}.

What is the point of this? Now the media and the public are confused. Is {D} right or {F}? If {F} is cleverly constructed, it should contain some “bad” information, but will differ from {D} in important ways. For example, if {D} has a passage that says:

Let’s pay X ten million dollars to do Y.

The documents {F} could have a passage:

Let’s not pay X ten million dollars to do Y.

If Alice is smart she may even make some of the passages in {F} worse than those in {D}. Thus she could have a passage:

Let’s pay X fifty million dollars to do Y.

The critical point is {D} and {F} will look alike, but will differ in many places.

The existence of {F} will increase everyone’s uncertainty. What are the correct facts, what is true, and what is not? This increase in uncertainty will muffle the effectiveness of the released documents {D}. Consider the dilemma facing a media outlet: would they feel comfortable in stating something if there is great uncertainty? Not clear.

Alice can do more to increase the uncertainty. She could, and probably should, release multiple versions of {F}. These versions would flood the media system. It could take a long time for them to unravel, if ever, which are “real” and which are not. She can even release information that is more damaging than the real documents. She can denounce all of them as fake, or claim some of them as fake.

The “mathematical theory” for “mitigating” the leaks was seriously considered. In a slide presentation prepared for law firm Hunton & Williams, HBGary (along with Berico and Palantir Technologies) planned to “feed the fuel between the feuding groups.” Use “disinformation.” And, “create messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization” and “submit fake documents and then call out the error.”

The post is likey what led Aaron Barr to include the tactic of creating "fake documents" in the slide presentation.

Now, how might this have been done?

The blogger’s "colleagues" suggest using “automatic language translators":

…take a document and translate it to another language and back. Since translators are not perfect, this will change the document. I used this method previously here. There are theory ideas based on methods to protect database information that could perhaps be used—especially for numerical data.”

An “on-line” system approach is also suggested:

…a more “on-line” system approach might be better. The advantage of this is that the alternative documents could be created even by the authors of the originals. Or they could be created automatically, but would be available for immediate release when needed. Patrick even suggested, in some situations, there could be a stream of constant “leaks” that would be more proactive in protecting Alice’s agency.

2011-02-14 Iraq Protest on February 25

Abdulmunir Mohammed from Mosul, a married man with four children, died yesterday after setting himself on fire in what is being reported as a continuation of Iraqi protests against unemployment. Today several hundred Iraqis held a Valentine's Day demonstration at Baghdad's Tahrir Square to call on their leaders to love Iraq rather than rob its resources, an organiser, Karnas Ali, a young engineer told AFP. "We do not want Valentine's Day to be only one day of love but a celebration for reform, democracy, citizenship and freedom."

On February 11 hundreds of lawyers marched in the streets of Baghdad, Karbala, Kut, Ramadi and Amara to protest corruption and unemployment, and call for open scrutiny of secret prisons and access to legal advice for prisoners. On the 10th, an anti corruption official had made a statement saying that ministerial coverup of corruption was frequent. Around 500 people marched in Baghdad that day. Media representatives had already marched in protest against high usage fees.

In an Al Jazeera video on February 9 (below) a government official states, "We know the suffering of the citizens. But we cannot deal with that by a decree. Electricity cannot come back by a ruling from the minister's cabinet saying tomorrow electricity should be running 24 hours a day." However, the government did just that on Saturday the 12th, promising Iraqi citizens their first 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each month free of charge, courtesy of the Ministry of Electricity. In October the government had doubled the price of electicity. The government has promised to increase power imports from Iran and they are also talking with Syria and Turkey and planning to improve their own electrical output.

The most well publicized protest is being organized primarily by The Revolution of Iraqi Rage and advertised on many facebook pages and on twitter leaflets at universities and appeals through the internet, including to army and police officials. They are asking people to gather in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on February 25th to protest the corruption and poverty.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has agreed to cut his $360,000 annual salary in half to help "reduce the gap in the living standards for the different classes. ... High salaries may create unrest in society and lead to the creation of two classes, the rich and the disadvantaged.” Maliki has also ordered that all Iraqis would receive cash handouts of almost $13 each and promised he would not run for a third term in 2014.

Some protesters say they want a new government and some don't. The Digital Journal has a very good article today titled "What the Iraq war logs have revealed", which provides a brief summary of what was the Iraqi people have recently been through. A reminder of the extra hardships they are going through now, not just unemployed with no electricity or clean water, but permanent occupation, nation wide post traumatic stress, care giving to unprecedented amounts of children with birth defects and wounded adults, and dead and missing family members have all created a society where an elected government is not going to cure all ills.

2011-02-14 Omar Suleiman and Canadian complicity in torture

Ahmad Abou El Maati is one of four Canadian citizens of dual nationality who became loosely linked together, incidentally and accidentally, by botched police and intelligence investigations in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the US.* All four were either apprehended in or kidnapped and transferred to Syria, where they were tortured.** Because El Maati’s country of origin was Egypt (born in Kuwait to an Egyptian father), he alone was transferred from Syria to Egypt months after he was detained, and survived another two years of torture in a succession of Egyptian prisons.

These four cases have received decisive if not finished judicial investigation in Canada. The first and best-known of the four, the case of Maher Arar, was the subject of Justice Dennis O’Connor’s inquiry in 2004-06, which led to an official apology to Mr Arar from the Canadian government and compensation of $10 million. Although the O’Connor inquiry was able to investigate the behaviour of Canadian agents and officials thoroughly, it remains unfinished because the governments of the United States, Jordan, and Syria refused to co-operate with the inquiry.

The cases of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin were investigated by the Hon. Frank Iacobucci QC, a retired Supreme Court justice, in 2006-08. The scope of his inquiry was much narrower than Justice O’Connor’s had been. Iacobucci himself and, in civil cases, the attorneys for the three victimized men have had disputes with the Canadian government over evidence that the government continues to wish to suppress, apparently because the government believes its publication could cause damage to international relations.

The published findings of both inquiries are not in dispute, however. They show that all four men were tortured in illegal detention in Syria, that El Maati was tortured in illegal detention in Egypt, that information from Canadian sources sometimes played a part in their interrogations, and that various Canadian agents and officials had some degree of knowledge of their treatment. It seems clear as well, from government objections to releasing classified material in the civil cases arising from the Iacobucci inquiry, that agents and officials of the United States, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt played a part in the illegal detention and torture of the victimized men.

We know from US State cables originating in Cairo and Tel Aviv (and released by WikiLeaks and its publishing partners) that Omar Suleiman, former head of military intelligence in Egypt, was highly regarded by the US government as an effective partner in what may sometimes have been counterintelligence but may also have been simple suppression of opposition of various kinds. From CABLE 09CAIRO874:

EGIS [Egyptian General Intelligence Service, or Mukhabarat el-Aama] Chief Omar Soliman and Interior Minister al-Adly keep the domestic beasts at bay, and Mubarak is not one to lose sleep over their tactics.

We know from journalists like Jane Mayer and Stephen Grey that Suleiman was considered “the CIA’s point man in Egypt for renditions” and apparently respected by a former US ambassador for being “not squeamish.” We read worse from Grey, that while Suleiman may not have sullied his own hands with physical abuse or murder, he was “not squeamish” about ordering others to torture or kill. (See full citations at WL Central 2011-01-29.)

Because Suleiman’s profile was suddenly raised internationally in the last two weeks by the revolution in Egypt and for one other notable reason, Colin Freeze of the Globe and Mail was prompted to check back to the testimony of Ahmad Abou El Maati before the Iacobucci inquiry and his memory of this passage:

101. In the 10 days that Mr. Elmaati remained at Nasr City in March 2003, he
was subject to further interrogation. At some point after the first interrogation
with the electric shock, he endured an interrogation session that lasted for
about 10 hours. Mr. Elmaati was taken to an interrogation room, allowed to
sit in a chair, and the hood was removed from his head, although he remained
handcuffed from the front. A man, in plain clothes, sat across the desk from
Mr. Elmaati, asking him questions “from the beginning.” Mr. Elmaati felt as
though this man was reviewing the whole file and whole history of the interrogation.
Mr. Elmaati thought that he recognized his interrogator from the
news and that he might be Omar Soleiman, the head of Egyptian Intelligence.
The interrogator had a pile of papers in front of him and wrote down the
answers that Mr. Elmaati gave. On one side of the room there was one-way
glass; Mr. Elmaati assumed there were people observing from the other side. It
was also very significant that they brought him tea during this interrogation. He
assumed that the tea was provided only because there were people watching
from behind the one-way glass. Periodically they would send Mr. Elmaati back
to his cell for 15-minute breaks, and then bring him back for more questioning.
By the end of the 10 hours he was exhausted. Mr. Elmaati does not think
that the guards placed the hood back on his head when he was returned to
his cell.

Internal Inquiry, p 292/455

Freeze’s other reason for going back to El Maati’s testimony would have been a recent decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Mr El Maati’s civil suit:

The suit suffered a setback last week when the Ontario Court of Appeal supported some state-secrecy procedures surrounding the case.

Federal lawyers argue Canada can’t afford to embarrass allies by releasing classified intelligence information. The government has sought to blot out any public mention of the CIA and related agencies.

Relatively few of the cases of illegal kidnapping, torture, indefinite detention, and sometimes murder that have been rationalized as part of a “global war on terror” have reached Western courts outside of the closed and frequently shifting structures of US military and civilian legal systems. In most cases, the governments of Western US allies have intervened to suppress evidence of violations of international law by arguing on grounds of national security, damage to international relations, or executive privilege.

There have been cases where courts have refused to allow such claims to be used to cover up violations of international or constitutional law, most notably the decisions of the UK High Court in the case of Binyam Mohamed, but those have been rare. A full review of inquiries that have gone on in a number of European countries is beyond the scope of this note, although a few have led to satisfactory settlements with victims like Maher Arar. More commonly, even victims like El Maati, Almalki, and Nureddin -- who have been exonerated by judicial reviews and whose claims against agents and officials of their own governments have been confirmed -- are left fighting lengthy and expensive civil cases for some form of compensation. In no case has an innocent victim of the illegal kidnapping and torture regime been successful in gaining justice from the US government, although Maher Arar’s suit in the US gained considerable political support and reached an advanced stage before it was suppressed. (The dissent in Arar v Ashcroft remains an eloquent and important part of the record; Judge Calabresi wrote: “ …I believe that when the history of this distinguished court is written, today's majority decision will be viewed with dismay …”)

Ahmad El Maati’s suit will go on, as will others, swimming against the current of wilful official evasion and censorship. In Canada and in Europe, claimants against governments guilty of complicity in heinous violations of human rights commonly fight with one hand tied behind their backs, given claims of state privilege and an induced climate of paranoia surrounding the “war on terror.”

Somewhere in the testimony that Judge Iacobucci was not allowed to publish, however, there is almost certainly at least one statement from a CSIS agent or an official from DFAIT describing El Maati’s ten-hour interview with a man who wanted to be seen – by Canadian officials on the other side of that glass, maybe the odd American as well – to be taking a full and fair history of El Maati’s treatment in Syria and Egypt. That statement could confirm El Maati’s educated guess that his interrogator was Omar Suleiman.

But Canadians cannot be allowed to see that statement, as they cannot see any testimony concerning US agencies like the CIA. The public admission that representatives of the government of Canada co-operated with Omar Suleiman in the interrogation of a Canadian citizen – without actively attempting to protect and repatriate him – could, after all, damage Canada’s relations with the government of Hosni Mubarak.

Or that was, at least, the official excuse, as it remains a convincing argument to the Ontario Court of Appeal with any testimony about liaisons between Canadian and US authorities in the illegal detention and torture of a Canadian citizen.

The Parliament of Canada has called by majority vote for an official apology and compensation for El Maati, Almalki, and Nureddin. That expression of the will of Parliament has thus far had no practical effect.


* There are a number of other Canadian citizens of dual nationality, legal residents, or legitimate refugee claimants whose treatment abroad and in Canada has been murky. The four cases mentioned in this note are remarkable for having received thorough review by an impartial judge, and in the single case of Maher Arar, satisfactory public admission of the role played by agents and officials of the Canadian government in his illegal kidnapping, torture, and imprisonment.

** We do not use US government euphemisms for illegal kidnapping, torture, or murder.

2011-02-14 Senior Egyptian army officers ordered massacre

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has resigned and is said to be in a coma or "psychologically devastated". His appointed replacement, Omar Suleiman, is nowhere to be found and the Egyptian army has taken over. There has been wild celebration in the streets of Cairo but there is good reason to think that all is not well and the danger is far from over. Thanks to the reporting of Robert Fisk, we now have the information upon which to arrive at the terrible conclusion of the title. Senior Egyptian army officers, the very ones that are exercising a military dictatorship now, where quite willing only two weeks ago, to carry out a wholesale slaughter of the thousands of protesters in Liberation Square.

Reporting in the Independent on Friday, Robert Fisk tells us that Hosni Mubarak had ordered the massacre of the people in Tahrir Square:

the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.

Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.

Fisk's report was raised near the end of 2011-02-13 Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman yesterday but we feel it is important enough to bear repeating and elaboration:

Please note also something else that can be deduced from Robert Fisk's description of these events. Namely that it was the low level officers in the tanks, the ones that got their orders over headsets, that refused to carry out the mass murder in Tahrir Square. Had the top brass refused Mubarak, those orders never would have been heard over headsets.

That was on Sunday, January 30th. The very next day, the NY Times reported :

Within hours on Monday, the political landscape of the country shifted as decisively as it had at any moment in Mr. Mubarak’s three decades in power.

Was this in response to these events of the day before?

It was soldiers with cell phones that stopped the slaughter. It was the low level officers and tank commanders that organized a mutiny and refused to carry out the massacre. We now know that when an army spokesman announced on state TV the day after the refused massacre, that “the armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people.” He was not speaking of the will or morality of the supreme military council, he was speaking of their limitations. He was referring to a power they had attempted to exercise but failed to exercise the night before.

We can now also conclude that that public announcement was directed as much at avoiding a full scale mutiny from below within the army as it was was about reassuring the protesters. It also explains why they made this announcement in spite of the fact, as noted by many commentators at the time, that it clearly would embolden and enlarge the protests. They were in danger of losing control of their army.

We can compare what apparently happened in Egypt to what happened in Tunisia. In Tunisia, when embattled President Ben Ali ordered the army to fire on protesters those orders were never heard over headsets because it was General Rashid Ammar, the chief of staff, later named hero of the revolution, that refused Den Ali's orders.

Even the night of the aborted army assault, some tank commanders in Tahrir Square were reported to be stripping off their uniforms while protesters swarmed over their tanks, and in the report cited above Robert Fisk says:

Last night, a military officer guarding the tens of thousands celebrating in Cairo threw down his rifle and joined the demonstrators, yet another sign of the ordinary Egyptian soldier's growing sympathy for the democracy demonstrators. We had witnessed many similar sentiments from the army over the past two weeks.

Now the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is consolidating it's control over Egypt. On Sunday it issued " Communique No 5 in which it made the head of the council the head of state, suspended the constitution, dissolved Mubarak's parliament and called for an end to strikes.

It vowed to rewrite the constitution within 10 days and put it to a vote within two months. It has promised to limit it's military rule to 6 months and it has included two young on-line activists, Google executive Wael Ghonim and blogger Amr Salama in the group of opposition leaders it is meeting with. These are hopeful measures.

But it has also failed to lift the state of emergency, failed to release the majority of the protesters it has arrested. It has also been using increasing force to remove pro-democracy activists from Liberation Square and today it made it very clear that it wanted all foreign reporters out of the way. These are the ways of a military dictatorship.

While everyone, including former supporters of the Mubarak regime like U.S. President Obama, is celebrating the victory of the Egyptian revolution, the same top brass that is ruling Egypt today were willing to pass down the orders to slaughter thousands of Egyptians for demanding democracy two weeks ago. Obviously the Egyptian Revolution will never be realized and the Egyptian people will never be safe as long as this senior officers corp controls the army. They must be systematically replaced. New leadership from among the officers who refused such orders must be found. No reprisals can be allowed against the rebellious soldiers. The state of emergency must be lifted and all protesters in custody must be freed. All this must be done while the people are still mobilized and strikes are still going on.

Otherwise the military dictatorship will quietly discipline and replace the mutinous officers and soldiers. They will roll up the networks of activists, clamp down again on free speech and protest and plunge Egypt again into the darkness.

Don't let your guard down! The Rebellion is still in danger.

2011-02-14 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

ImageThe Guardian: Egyptian military head is 'old and resistant to change'

"US ambassador to Cairo gives his opinion on Muhammad Tantawi and number two general, Sami Enan.

Nothing Egypt's military council has done in its past suggests it has the capacity or inclination to introduce speedy and radical change. Guaranteed its $1.3bn (£812m) annual grant from the US — a dividend from the Camp David peace accord with Israel – it has gained the reputation as a hidebound institution with little appetite for reform."

Read more

The Guardian: UK 'threatened to pull out of Open Skies deal', leaked US cables show

"Senior British civil servant warned that UK could pull out if the US did not approve BA's proposed tie-up with American Airlines, according to US embassy cables obtained via WikiLeaks.

Britain threatened to pull out of the controversial trans-Atlantic Open Skies aviation agreement if the US government did not approve British Airways's proposed alliance with American Airlines, a senior British civil servant warned US embassy officials, according to a leaked cable obtained via WikiLeaks."

Read more

El País: España aportará a EE UU pruebas que ayuden a condenar al cerebro del 11-S (Spain will contribute with proof to help the United States to condemn the brain behind 9-11)

"La fiscalía ofrece al Gobierno norteamericano numerosas evidencias incriminatorias contra Khalih Seikh Mohamed y Ramzi Binalshibh. La fase final del ataque contra las Torres Gemelas se ultimó en Tarragona. (The attorney's office offers to the American government several incriminatory proofs against Khalih Seikh Mohamed and Ramzi Binalshibh. The last stage of the plot against the Twin Towers was elaborated in Tarragona.)"

Read more (Spanish)

El País: Drogas: Rabat culpa a Ceuta y Melilla (Drugs: Rabat blames Ceuta and Melilla)

"Funcionarios del Gobierno de Rabat han señalado reiteradamente a Estados Unidos el papel que Ceuta y Melilla cumplen como puntos "de destino" para una parte del narcotráfico que circula por territorio marroquí. No solo del comercio de hachís sino de crecientes cantidades de cocaína sudamericana llevada hasta los "débiles" Estados de África occidental por traficantes que buscan rutas hacia Europa, según documentos disponibles a través de Wikileaks. (Rabat Government employees have pointed out continuously to the United States the rol that Ceuta and Melilla play as "destination" spots for some of the drug trafficking that circulates over Moroccan territory. Not only the sale of hashish but also the increasing amounts of South American cocaine, drove to the "week" states of Western Africa by drug dealers who look for routes towards Europe, according with the documents available through wikileaks.)"

Read more (Spanish)

La Jornada: Calderón y partidos pactaron ocultar cifras sobre pobreza ([President] Calderón and political parties agreed on hiding the real numbers on poverty)

"Calderón y partidos ocultaron información sobre pobreza. Pactaron no divulgar esas cifras antes de los comicios de 2009, revela cable de embajada estadunidense. Eran datos "políticamente delicados" en 2009; se divulgaron tras los comicios. (Calderón and political parties hid information about poverty. They agreed on not spreading those numbers before the 2009 elections, unveils a cable from the American Embassy. The data was "politically sensitive" in 2009; it was spread after the elections.)"

Read more (Spanish)

La Jornada: El auge de multimillonarios en México, gracias a Salinas (The sudden increase of Mexican millionaires, thanks to [former President] Salinas)

EU evaluó fortunas de mexicanos que consolidaron sus riquezas con Salinas. Se beneficiaron de privatización de empresas públicas, concluye legación del país vecino. La concentración de esa riqueza atasca al país, señala. (The Unites States evaluated the fortunes of Mexicans who obtained their richness with Salinas. They got benefits from privatization of public companies, says the neighbor country's analysis. The concentration of such wealth stops the country, it adds.)"

Read more (Spanish)

(Image Credit: Dali Rău)

2011-02-14 WikiLeaks on the WikiLeaks Twitter case

Wikileaks has released the following in response to the Wikileaks Twitter case covered by WL Central here, here and here.

Mon Feb 14 18:28:37 2011 GMT

Tomorrow (Tuesday morning), a federal magistrates court in Virginia's national security heartland will be the scene of the first round in the US government's legal battle against Julian Assange. The US Attorney-General has brought an action against Twitter, demanding that it disclose the names, dates and locations of all persons who have used its services to receive messages from Wikileaks or Mr Assange. It is understood that Twitter will resist the order, so as to protect the privacy of its customers.

Assange said today "This is an outrageous attack by the Obama administration on the privacy and free speech rights of Twitter's customers - many of them American citizens. More shocking, at this time, is that it amounts to an attack on the right to freedom of association, a freedom that the people of Tunisia and Egypt, for example, spurred on by the information released by Wikileaks, have found so valuable".

On December 14, 2010, the US Department of Justice obtained an Order requiring Twitter turn over records of all communications between Wikileaks and its followers. This Order was acquired through the use of the "Patriot Act", which establishes procedures whereby the Government can acquire information about users of electronic communication networks without a Search Warrant, without Probable Cause, without particularizing the records that relate to a proper investigatory objective—and with without any public scrutiny. The basis for the Order remains sealed and secret.

Whilst happy that Twitter plans to resist the subpoena, Wikileaks said it was confirmed that other service providers like Google and Facebook and Yahoo may also have been served with a production order back in December, at the same time as Twitter, and may already have provided information to the government by way of a deal under the secrecy provisions introduced by the Patriot Act. "We are all asking all service providers to explain whether they too have been served with a similar order, and whether, they have caved into it" said Mr Assange.

Tuesday’s case in Virginia, involves the United States government seeking to obtain vast amounts of private information that would jeopardize and chill First Amendment rights of association, of expression, of political assembly, of speech. At its essence it seeks information that can be converted into a list of individuals, across the globe, who have followed, communicated with, and received messages from WikiLeaks – the very sort of government intrusion into basic freedoms that the Supreme Court ruled was prohibited by the First Amendment. WikiLeaks will not participate directly in that proceeding because it believes that the US lacks jurisdiction over expressive activities beyond its borders, but it strongly supports the associational rights of its followers and all who work toward a more open society.

Mr Assange will not himself be intervening in the action against Twitter because as an Australian who has committed no criminal act on US territory, he claims that the American courts have no jurisdiction over him. The head of his UK legal team, Geoffrey Robertson QC, has brought in Alan Dershowitz, the distinguished Harvard Law Professor, as part of the team to advise on the US Attorney General's actions.


2011-02-15 Live blog for #Libya #Feb17 from February 15 - 28

Image WL Central will be updating news on Libya, with new items added at the top. You can contact me on twitter @GeorgieBC or by email at

Current time and date in Tripoli:

MONDAY, February 28

11:00 PM The US Treasury has said that US$30 billion in Libyan assets have been blocked and US naval ships and planes are being moved closer to Libya, "planning and preparing" for missions, "whether humanitarian or otherwise". Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, would not discuss military options but said that the US would consider a range of responses against Gaddafi if he continued to attack his own people. David Cameron said the UK did not rule out the use of force against Muammar Gaddafi and he has asked colleagues to work on plans for a no-fly zone and would consider arming the Libyan opposition.

France is sending two planes with humanitarian aid, including medicine and doctors, to Benghazi – the first direct western aid to the uprising.

9:00 PM Muammar Gaddafi tells BBC that no one is protesting against him, no one is against him, all the Libyan people love him and would die for him. He says the people protesting are Al Qaeda.

8:20 PM Al Arabiya reports an interview with a Revolutionary Guards Corps colonel who said Iran has "several military bases" in Libya, mostly along Libya’s borders with the African countries of Chad and Niger. He said that Iran and Libya have been collaborating on these bases since 2006, and "with the current unrest in Libya, over 500 Guards have been unable to evacuate and are under orders to destroy all documents".

Saif al Islam Gaddafi holding a machine gun and shouting slogans to supporters. Yesterday said in interviews that everything was calm, the Gaddafis were "in high spirits" and "laughing" at reports of unrest.

Carne Ross, a former British diplomat who resigned in 2004 after giving then-secret evidence to a British inquiry into the Iraq war, wrote on his blog about the UN recommendation to the ICC.

Paragraphs 22-23 invite states to nominate regime members (inc military, police etc) who are responsible for human rights abuses and attacks on civilians. These individuals will be added to the list of those subject - immediately - to the assets freeze and travel ban: the sanctions imposed in other paras of the resolution. I don't claim that this will bring about the immediate end of the Gadhaffi regime, but it's something, and may have some deterrent effect.

The invitation to states to nominate these criminals is all very well, but with no diplomats in situ I don't see how outside states can know who these people might be. Instead, how about providing a channel for Libyans on the ground observing the crimes of the regime to nominate people? Perhaps Human Rights Watch, Amnesty and others could think about this. Why don't they invite nominations? Why don't some right-thinking states including those who drafted and pushed this resolution do so too? I'm thinking perhaps of an email address where Libyans can nominate people for sanctions, or as others like Richard Robbins have suggested more imaginatively, what about a wiki which people on the ground could contribute evidence of crimes and abuses? Wouldn't it be great if the UN itself - and quickly -were to set up such a site? But it needs to happen fast!

The Telegraph reports that when the UN Security Council called Saturday night for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the killings of demonstrators, the US insisted that the UN resolution was worded so that no one from an outside country that is not a member of the ICC could be prosecuted for their actions in Libya. Algeria, Ethiopia and Tunisia were all pointed out by the Telegraph as being states which were ported to have mercenaries in Libya, but were not members of the ICC.

The move was seen as an attempt to prevent a precedent that could see Americans prosecuted by the ICC for alleged crimes in other conflicts. While the US was once among the signatories to the court, George W. Bush withdrew from it in 2002 and declared that it did not have power over Washington.

The demonstrations in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan have both involved unidentified, possibly US, security forces shooting protesters.

More from Al Jazeera on the provisional Libyan government with the temporary capital to be in Benghazi until Tripoli is liberated. The interim president is Abud Ajleil, and the government will undertake the development of a new constitution, flag and anthem once all of Libya has been liberated. Former Libyan justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abdel Jalil told Al Jazeera the provisional government "will lead for no more than three months - and then there will be fair elections and the people will choose their leader." About the provisional president, he said, "He is a very honest man. He was in charge of the justice issue in the eastern part of Libya when the regime asked him to hang an innocent Libyan citizen and he refused. I am sure he will gain support of all Libyans and of the international community." He repeated many times that the capital will be in Tripoli.

Al Jazeera reports 2000 Gaddafi troops have surrounded the city of Zawiyah where the protesters say more than 2000 police had defected and were now with the protesters. The protesters also say they have seized weapons and even tanks to defend themselves.

SUNDAY, February 27

A good description of Benghazi's interim government headquarters from Al Jazeera includes more information on the underground prisoners of Benghazi. First reported as 2-300, the number swelled within hours to 1500 and stayed there, but according to Al Jazeera's interview "false reports spread that protesters in Benghazi had found hundreds of political prisoners held underground for decades (in fact, a dozen or so were released, and their internment was several times smaller than had been reported, Sanalla said.)"

From Al JazeeraThe UN Security Council has unanimously imposed travel bans and asset freezes on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, members of his family and inner circle.

A lawyer and member of a local committee told AFP "The towns of Rhibat, Kabaw, Jado, Rogban, Zentan, Yefren, Kekla, Gherien and Hawamed have also been free for days. In all these towns, Gaddafi's forces have gone and a revolutionary committee put in place. We have placed ourselves under the authority of the interim government in Benghazi." The reporter also found that in Nalut, 24km west of Tripoli, Gaddafi's security forces had entirely disappeared from the streets.

UN Resolution (The full text)

26 February 2011

Security Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6491st Meeting* (PM)

In Swift, Decisive Action, Security Council Imposes Tough Measures on Libyan Regime, Adopting Resolution 1970 in Wake of Crackdown on Protesters

Situation Referred to International Criminal Court;

Secretary-General Expresses Hope Message ‘Heard and Heeded’ in Libya

Deploring what it called “the gross and systematic violation of human rights” in strife-torn Libya, the Security Council this evening demanded an end to the violence and decided to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court while imposing an arms embargo on the country and a travel ban and assets freeze on the family of Muammar Al-Qadhafi and certain Government officials.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1970 (2011) under Article 41 of the Charter’s Chapter VII, the Council authorized all Member States to seize and dispose of military-related materiel banned by the text and adopt “all measures necessary” to secure the prompt and safe delivery of humanitarian assistance to those in need.

Through the text, the Council also decided to establish a new committee to monitor sanctions, to liaison with Member States on compliance and to respond to violations and to designate the individuals subject to the targeted measures. Individuals and entities immediately subjected to the targeted sanctions were listed in an Annex to the resolution.

Regarding its referral of the situation in Libya since 15 February 2011 to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the Council recognized that States not party to the Rome Statute that established the Court had no obligations to it, but urged all States and concerned organizations to cooperate fully with the Court’s Prosecutor.

The Council affirmed it would keep the actions of the Libyan authorities under continuous review and would be prepared to strengthen, modify, suspend or lift the prescribed measures in light of compliance or non-compliance with the resolution.

Following the adoption of the text, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the Council’s “decisive” action. “While it cannot, by itself, end the violence and the repression, it is a vital step — a clear expression of the will of a united community of nations,” he said.

He expressed hope that the message that “gross violations of basic human rights will not be tolerated and that those responsible for grave crimes will be held accountable” would be “heard and heeded” by the Libyan regime and that it would bring hope and relief to those still at risk. He looked for similar action from the General Assembly and the international community as a whole, and warned that even bolder steps might be necessary.

In their explanations of vote, Council members welcomed the unanimity of the action and expressed solidarity with the people of Libya, hoping that their “swift and decisive” intervention would help bring them relief. Many expressed hope that the resolution was a strong step in affirming the responsibility of States to protect their people as well as the legitimate role of the Council to step in when they failed to meet that responsibility.

With the referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court, France’s representative hoped the vote would open a new era in commitment to the protection of populations. Further to that goal, Brazil’s representative expressed strong reservations to the provision in the resolution allowing for exemptions from jurisdiction of nationals from non-States parties, saying those were not helpful to advance the cause of justice and accountability.

Noting that five Council members were not parties to the Rome Statute that set up the International Criminal Court, including India, that country’s representative said he would have preferred a “calibrated approach” to the issue. However, he was convinced that the referral would help to bring about the end of violence and he heeded the call of the Secretary-General on the issue, while stressing the importance of the provisions in the resolution regarding non-States parties to the Statute.

Some speakers, such as the representatives of Lebanon and the Russian Federation, stressed the importance of affirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya. The Chinese representative said he had supported the resolution taking into account the special circumstances in Libya.

Speaking last, Libya’s representative said that the Council’s action represented moral support for his people and was a signal that an end must be put to the fascist regime in Tripoli. He launched an appeal to all the officers of the Libyan armed forces to support their own people, and welcomed the referral to the International Criminal Court, as well as the decision not to impose sanctions on those who might abandon Mr. Al-Qadhafi in the end.

Also speaking this evening were the representatives of the United Kingdom, South Africa, Nigeria, United States, Colombia, Portugal, Germany, and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Gabon.

The meeting was opened at 8:10 p.m. and closed at 8:55 p.m.


The full text of resolution 1970 (2011) reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Expressing grave concern at the situation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and condemning the violence and use of force against civilians,

“Deploring the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including the repression of peaceful demonstrators, expressing deep concern at the deaths of civilians, and rejecting unequivocally the incitement to hostility and violence against the civilian population made from the highest level of the Libyan government,

“Welcoming the condemnation by the Arab League, the African Union, and the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference of the serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that are being committed in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,

“Taking note of the letter to the President of the Security Council from the Permanent Representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya dated 26 February 2011,

“Welcoming the Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/S-15/2 of 25 February 2011, including the decision to urgently dispatch an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, to establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes perpetrated, and where possible identify those responsible,

“Considering that the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity,

“Expressing concern at the plight of refugees forced to flee the violence in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,

“Expressing concern also at the reports of shortages of medical supplies to treat the wounded,

“Recalling the Libyan authorities’ responsibility to protect its population,

“Underlining the need to respect the freedoms of peaceful assembly and of expression, including freedom of the media,

“Stressing the need to hold to account those responsible for attacks, including by forces under their control, on civilians,

“Recalling article 16 of the Rome Statute under which no investigation or prosecution may be commenced or proceeded with by the International Criminal Court for a period of 12 months after a Security Council request to that effect,

“Expressing concern for the safety of foreign nationals and their rights in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,

“Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

“Mindful of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security under the Charter of the United Nations,

“Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, and taking measures under its Article 41,

“1. Demands an immediate end to the violence and calls for steps to fulfil the legitimate demands of the population;

“2. Urges the Libyan authorities to:

(a) Act with the utmost restraint, respect human rights and international humanitarian law, and allow immediate access for international human rights monitors;

(b) Ensure the safety of all foreign nationals and their assets and facilitate the departure of those wishing to leave the country;

(c) Ensure the safe passage of humanitarian and medical supplies, and humanitarian agencies and workers, into the country; and

(d) Immediately lift restrictions on all forms of media;

“3. Requests all Member States, to the extent possible, to cooperate in the evacuation of those foreign nationals wishing to leave the country;

ICC referral

“4. Decides to refer the situation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya since 15 February 2011 to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court;

“5. Decides that the Libyan authorities shall cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosecutor pursuant to this resolution and, while recognizing that States not party to the Rome Statute have no obligation under the Statute, urges all States and concerned regional and other international organizations to cooperate fully with the Court and the Prosecutor;

“6. Decides that nationals, current or former officials or personnel from a State outside the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that State for all alleged acts or omissions arising out of or related to operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya established or authorized by the Council, unless such exclusive jurisdiction has been expressly waived by the State;

“7. Invites the Prosecutor to address the Security Council within two months of the adoption of this resolution and every six months thereafter on actions taken pursuant to this resolution;

“8. Recognizes that none of the expenses incurred in connection with the referral, including expenses related to investigations or prosecutions in connection with that referral, shall be borne by the United Nations and that such costs shall be borne by the parties to the Rome Statute and those States that wish to contribute voluntarily;

Arms embargo

“9. Decides that all Member States shall immediately take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, from or through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, and technical assistance, training, financial or other assistance, related to military activities or the provision, maintenance or use of any arms and related materiel, including the provision of armed mercenary personnel whether or not originating in their territories, and decides further that this measure shall not apply to:

(a) Supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use, and related technical assistance or training, as approved in advance by the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 24 below;

(b) Protective clothing, including flak jackets and military helmets, temporarily exported to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya by United Nations personnel, representatives of the media and humanitarian and development works and associated personnel, for their personal use only; or

(c) Other sales or supply of arms and related materiel, or provision of assistance or personnel, as approved in advance by the Committee;

“10. Decides that the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya shall cease the export of all arms and related materiel and that all Member States shall prohibit the procurement of such items from the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya by their nationals, or using their flagged vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in the territory of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya;

“11. Calls upon all States, in particular States neighbouring the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, to inspect, in accordance with their national authorities and legislation and consistent with international law, in particular the law of the sea and relevant international civil aviation agreements, all cargo to and from the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, in their territory, including seaports and airports, if the State concerned has information that provides reasonable grounds to believe the cargo contains items the supply, sale, transfer, or export of which is prohibited by paragraphs 9 or 10 of this resolution for the purpose of ensuring strict implementation of those provisions;

“12. Decides to authorize all Member States to, and that all Member States shall, upon discovery of items prohibited by paragraph 9 or 10 of this resolution, seize and dispose (such as through destruction, rendering inoperable, storage or transferring to a State other than the originating or destination States for disposal) items the supply, sale, transfer or export of which is prohibited by paragraph 9 or 10 of this resolution and decides further that all Member States shall cooperate in such efforts;

“13. Requires any Member State when it undertakes an inspection pursuant to paragraph 11 above, to submit promptly an initial written report to the Committee containing, in particular, explanation of the grounds for the inspections, the results of such inspections, and whether or not cooperation was provided, and, if prohibited items for transfer are found, further requires such Member States to submit to the Committee, at a later stage, a subsequent written report containing relevant details on the inspection, seizure, and disposal, and relevant details of the transfer, including a description of the items, their origin and intended destination, if this information is not in the initial report;

“14. Encourages Member States to take steps to strongly discourage their nationals from travelling to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to participate in activities on behalf of the Libyan authorities that could reasonably contribute to the violation of human rights;

Travel ban

“15. Decides that all Member States shall take the necessary measures to prevent the entry into or transit through their territories of individuals listed in Annex I of this resolution or designated by the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 24 below, provided that nothing in this paragraph shall oblige a State to refuse its own nationals entry into its territory;

“16. Decides that the measures imposed by paragraph 15 above shall not apply:

(a) Where the Committee determines on a case-by-case basis that such travel is justified on the grounds of humanitarian need, including religious obligation;

(b) Where entry or transit is necessary for the fulfilment of a judicial process;

(c) Where the Committee determines on a case-by-case basis that an exemption would further the objectives of peace and national reconciliation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and stability in the region; or

(d) Where a State determines on a case-by-case basis that such entry or transit is required to advance peace and stability in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the States subsequently notifies the Committee within forty-eight hours after making such a determination;

Asset freeze

“17. Decides that all Member States shall freeze without delay all funds, other financial assets and economic resources which are on their territories, which are owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the individuals or entities listed in Annex II of this resolution or designated by the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 24 below, or by individuals or entities acting on their behalf or at their direction, or by entities owned or controlled by them, and decides further that all Member States shall ensure that any funds, financial assets or economic resources are prevented from being made available by their nationals or by any individuals or entities within their territories, to or for the benefit of the individuals or entities listed in Annex II of this resolution or individuals designated by the Committee;

“18. Expresses its intention to ensure that assets frozen pursuant to paragraph 17 shall at a later stage be made available to and for the benefit of the people of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya;

“19. Decides that the measures imposed by paragraph 17 above do not apply to funds, other financial assets or economic resources that have been determined by relevant Member States:

(a) To be necessary for basic expenses, including payment for foodstuffs, rent or mortgage, medicines and medical treatment, taxes, insurance premiums, and public utility charges or exclusively for payment of reasonable professional fees and reimbursement of incurred expenses associated with the provision of legal services in accordance with national laws, or fees or service charges, in accordance with national laws, for routine holding or maintenance of frozen funds, other financial assets and economic resources, after notification by the relevant State to the Committee of the intention to authorize, where appropriate, access to such funds, other financial assets or economic resources and in the absence of a negative decision by the Committee within five working days of such notification;

(b) To be necessary for extraordinary expenses, provided that such determination has been notified by the relevant State or Member States to the Committee and has been approved by the Committee; or

(c) To be the subject of a judicial, administrative or arbitral lien or judgment, in which case the funds, other financial assets and economic resources may be used to satisfy that lien or judgment provided that the lien or judgment was entered into prior to the date of the present resolution, is not for the benefit of a person or entity designated pursuant to paragraph 17 above, and has been notified by the relevant State or Member States to the Committee;

“20. Decides that Member States may permit the addition to the accounts frozen pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 17 above of interests or other earnings due on those accounts or payments due under contracts, agreements or obligations that arose prior to the date on which those accounts became subject to the provisions of this resolution, provided that any such interest, other earnings and payments continue to be subject to these provisions and are frozen;

“21. Decides that the measures in paragraph 17 above shall not prevent a designated person or entity from making payment due under a contract entered into prior to the listing of such a person or entity, provided that the relevant States have determined that the payment is not directly or indirectly received by a person or entity designated pursuant to paragraph 17 above, and after notification by the relevant States to the Committee of the intention to make or receive such payments or to authorize, where appropriate, the unfreezing of funds, other financial assets or economic resources for this purpose, 10 working days prior to such authorization;

Designation criteria

“22. Decides that the measures contained in paragraphs 15 and 17 shall apply to the individuals and entities designated by the Committee, pursuant to paragraph 24 (b) and (c), respectively;

(a) Involved in or complicit in ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission of serious human rights abuses against persons in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including by being involved in or complicit in planning, commanding, ordering or conducting attacks, in violation of international law, including aerial bombardments, on civilian populations and facilities; or

(b) Acting for or on behalf of or at the direction of individuals or entities identified in subparagraph (a).

“23. Strongly encourages Member States to submit to the Committee names of individuals who meet the criteria set out in paragraph 22 above;

New Sanctions Committee

“24. Decides to establish, in accordance with rule 28 of its provisional rules of procedure, a Committee of the Security Council consisting of all the members of the Council (herein "the Committee"), to undertake to following tasks:

(a) To monitor implementation of the measures imposed in paragraphs 9, 10, 15, and 17;

(b) To designate those individuals subject to the measures imposed by paragraphs 15 and to consider requests for exemptions in accordance with paragraph 16 above;

(c) To designate those individuals subject to the measures imposed by paragraph 17 above and to consider requests for exemptions in accordance with paragraphs 19 and 20 above;

(d) To establish such guidelines as may be necessary to facilitate the implementation of the measures imposed above;

(e) To report within thirty days to the Security Council on its work for the first report and thereafter to report as deemed necessary by the Committee;

(f) To encourage a dialogue between the Committee and interested Member States, in particular those in the region, including by inviting representatives of such States to meet with the Committee to discuss implementation of the measures;

(g) To seek from all States whatever information it may consider useful regarding the actions taken by them to implement effectively the measures imposed above;

(h) To examine and take appropriate action on information regarding alleged violations or non-compliance with the measures contained in this resolution;

“25. Calls upon all Member States to report to the Committee within 120 days of the adoption of this resolution on the steps they have taken with a view to implementing effectively paragraphs 9, 10, 15 and 17 above;

Humanitarian assistance

“26. Calls upon all Member States, working together and acting in cooperation with the Secretary General, to facilitate and support the return of humanitarian agencies and make available humanitarian and related assistance in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, and requests the States concerned to keep the Security Council regularly informed on the progress of actions undertaken pursuant to this paragraph, and expresses its readiness to consider taking additional appropriate measures, as necessary, to achieve this;

Commitment to review

“27. Affirms that it shall keep the Libyan authorities’ actions under continuous review and that it shall be prepared to review the appropriateness of the measures contained in this resolution, including the strengthening, modification, suspension or lifting of the measures, as may be needed at any time in light of the Libyan authorities’ compliance with relevant provisions of this resolution;

“28. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

Annex I

Travel ban

1. Al-Baghdadi, Dr Abdulqader Mohammed

Passport number: B010574. Date of birth: 01/07/1950.

Head of the Liaison Office of the Revolutionary Committees. Revolutionary Committees involved in violence against demonstrators.

2. Dibri, Abdulqader Yusef

Date of birth: 1946. Place of birth: Houn, Libya.

Head of Muammar Qadhafi’s personal security. Responsibility for regime security. History of directing violence against dissidents.

3. Dorda, Abu Zayd Umar

Director, External Security Organisation. Regime loyalist. Head of external intelligence agency.

4. Jabir, Major General Abu Bakr Yunis

Date of birth: 1952. Place of birth: Jalo, Libya.

Defence Minister. Overall responsibility for actions of armed forces.

5. Matuq, Matuq Mohammed

Date of birth: 1956. Place of birth: Khoms.

Secretary for Utilities. Senior member of regime. Involvement with Revolutionary Committees. Past history of involvement in suppression of dissent and violence.

6. Qadhaf Al-dam, Sayyid Mohammed

Date of birth: 1948. Place of birth: Sirte, Libya.

Cousin of Muammar Qadhafi. In the 1980s, Sayyid was involved in the dissident assassination campaign and allegedly responsible for several deaths in Europe. He is also thought to have been involved in arms procurement.

7. Qadhafi, Aisha Muammar

Date of birth: 1978. Place of birth: Tripoli, Libya.

Daughter of Muammar Qadhafi. Closeness of association with regime.

8. Qadhafi, Hannibal Muammar

Passport number: B/002210. Date of birth: 20/09/1975. Place of birth: Tripoli, Libya. Son of Muammar Qadhafi. Closeness of association with regime.

9. Qadhafi, Khamis Muammar

Date of birth: 1978. Place of birth: Tripoli, Libya.

Son of Muammar Qadhafi. Closeness of association with regime. Command of military units involved in repression of demonstrations.

10. Qadhafi, Mohammed Muammar

Date of birth: 1970. Place of birth: Tripoli, Libya.

Son of Muammar Qadhafi. Closeness of association with regime.

11. Qadhafi, Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar

Date of birth: 1942. Place of birth: Sirte, Libya.

Leader of the Revolution, Supreme Commander of Armed Forces. Responsibility for ordering repression of demonstrations, human rights abuses.

12. Qadhafi, Mutassim

Date of birth: 1976. Place of birth: Tripoli, Libya.

National Security Adviser. Son of Muammar Qadhafi. Closeness of association with regime.

13. Qadhafi, Saadi

Passport number: 014797. Date of birth: 25/05/1973. Place of birth: Tripoli, Libya.

Commander Special Forces. Son of Muammar Qadhafi. Closeness of association with regime. Command of military units involved in repression of demonstrations.

14. Qadhafi, Saif al-Arab

Date of birth: 1982. Place of birth: Tripoli, Libya.

Son of Muammar Qadhafi. Closeness of association with regime.

15. Qadhafi, Saif al-Islam

Passport number: B014995. Date of birth: 25/06/1972. Place of birth: Tripoli, Libya.

Director, Qadhafi Foundation. Son of Muammar Qadhafi. Closeness of association with regime. Inflammatory public statements encouraging violence against demonstrators.

16. Al-Senussi, Colonel Abdullah

Date of birth: 1949. Place of birth: Sudan.

Director Military Intelligence. Military Intelligence involvement in suppression of demonstrations. Past history includes suspicion of involvement in Abu Selim prison massacre. Convicted in absentia for bombing of UTA flight. Brother-in-law of Muammar Qadhafi.

Annex II

Asset freeze

1. Qadhafi, Aisha Muammar

Date of birth: 1978. Place of birth: Tripoli, Libya.

Daughter of Muammar Qadhafi. Closeness of association with regime.

2. Qadhafi, Hannibal Muammar

Passport number: B/002210. Date of birth: 20/09/1975. Place of birth: Tripoli, Libya. Son of Muammar Qadhafi. Closeness of association with regime.

3. Qadhafi, Khamis Muammar

Date of birth: 1978. Place of birth: Tripoli, Libya.

Son of Muammar Qadhafi. Closeness of association with regime. Command of military units involved in repression of demonstrations.

4. Qadhafi, Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar

Date of birth: 1942. Place of birth: Sirte, Libya.

Leader of the Revolution, Supreme Commander of Armed Forces. Responsibility for ordering repression of demonstrations, human rights abuses.

5. Qadhafi, Mutassim

Date of birth: 1976. Place of birth: Tripoli, Libya.

National Security Adviser. Son of Muammar Qadhafi. Closeness of association with regime.

6. Qadhafi, Saif al-Islam

Passport number: B014995. Date of birth: 25/06/1972. Place of birth: Tripoli, Libya.

Director, Qadhafi Foundation. Son of Muammar Qadhafi. Closeness of association with regime. Inflammatory public statements encouraging violence against demonstrators.


MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) welcomed the adoption, noting that his country was gravely concerned over the violence and had condemned the actions of the Libyan leadership. The text, he said, was a powerful signal of the determination of the international community to stand with the Libyan people as they charted their future.

HARDEEP SINGH PURI ( India) hoped that calm and stability were restored without further violence and called for measures to ensure the safety of the Indian population in Libya, as well as those attempting to leave. Noting that five Council members were not parties to the Rome Statute, including India, he said he would have preferred a “calibrated approach” to the issue. However, he was convinced that the referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court would help to bring about the end of violence, and he heeded the call of the Secretary-General on the issue. He, therefore, had voted in favour of the resolution, while stressing the importance of its provisions regarding non-States parties to the Rome Statute.

BASO SANGQU (South Africa) said his country was deeply concerned about the situation in Libya. The resolution adopted by the Security Council sent a clear and unambiguous message to Libya to stop the indiscriminate use of force in that country, and the measures it contained could contribute to the long-term objective of bringing peace and stability to the nation.

U. JOY OGWU (Nigeria) said that she was deeply concerned about the inflammatory rhetoric and loss of life occurring in Libya. As many had been calling for swift action, it was fitting that the Council had taken decisive action today. Nigeria supported the resolution and its “comprehensive” targeted sanctions. It was convinced that the text would deter individuals from supporting the regime and would provide for the protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian and human rights law. The delegation believed that the resolution would swiftly address the ongoing violence.

SUSAN RICE ( United States) welcomed the fact that the Council had spoken with one voice this evening, in a clear warning to the Libyan Government that it must stop the killing. Calling the text a strong resolution, she said that this was about people’s ability to shape their own future. Their rights were not negotiable and could not be denied.

NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon), noting the denunciation by the League of Arab States of the crimes committed against Libyan civilians, said he concurred with its opinion, as well as its support for the right of Libyan citizens to express their opinion. That was why he had voted in favour of the resolution. He stressed the importance of reaffirming the territorial unity of Libya and expressed deep sorrow over the lives lost.

VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said he supported the resolution because of his country’s deep concern over the situation, its sorrow over the lives lost and its condemnation of the Libyan Government’s actions. He opposed counterproductive interventions, but he said that the purpose of the resolution was to end the violence and to preserve the united sovereign State of Libya with its territorial integrity. Security for foreign citizens, including Russian citizens, must be ensured.

LI BAODONG ( China) said that China was very much concerned about the situation in Libya. The greatest urgency was to cease the violence, to end the bloodshed and civilian casualties, and to resolve the crisis through peaceful means, such as dialogue. The safety and interest of the foreign nationals in Libya must be assured. Taking into account the special circumstances in Libya, the Chinese delegation had voted in favour of the resolution.

NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) said the Colombian Government was pleased with the resolution, which had emerged as a result of a “timely process of consultation”, in tune with the sense of urgency demanded by the international community. The resolution sent the “direct and solid message” that the violence in Libya must cease and that those responsible for it must answer for their crimes. Moreover, the decision to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court was an appropriate one. Colombia clearly rejected the calls for violence from official sectors in Libya, and condemned the violation of basic rights and freedoms of that country’s citizens, including the right to life and to peaceful assembly. Colombia had co-sponsored yesterday’s Human Rights Council resolution on the situation. Libya must find a way to respond legitimately to its people’s demands, and the international community must remain united to bring an end to the violence there.

JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL (Portugal) welcomed the unanimous adoption of the resolution, which he said sent a clear, united message against the crimes being committed against civilians in Libya. He expressed deep concern over the plight of refugees and other humanitarian issues, including the safety of foreigners. Impunity would not be tolerated and serious crimes would be prosecuted.

GÉRARD ARAUD (France) welcomed the fact that the Council had unanimously answered yesterday’s appeal by the Libyan representative. The referral of the matter to the International Criminal Court might ensure that those responsible for the crimes were brought to justice. The Court had once again showed the rationale for its existence. The resolution recalled the accountability of each State for the protection of its population and the role of the international community when that responsibility was not met. He hoped the vote would open a new era for the international community as a whole.

PETER WITTIG ( Germany) welcomed what he called the Council’s swift, decisive, united and strong message that the violation of the rights of the Libyan people would not be tolerated. The referral to the International Criminal Court demonstrated the determination not to allow impunity. It should be clear to all that the Council would continue to follow the situation closely.

IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that in the current situation time was of the essence, and that the Security Council had to react “unanimously and urgently” to end the violence and prevent further escalation of the situation in Libya. His delegation had closely followed the popular movement in Libya, and was appalled at the “unacceptable level of violence” targeted at civilians there. Bosnia and Herzegovina condemned in the strongest possible terms the violence and loss of life, and therefore fully supported the decision to refer those responsible to the International Criminal Court. He called for an immediate stop to the violence. Worried about the outflow of refugees and the high number of internally displaced persons there, he called on international organizations to provide humanitarian aid and services to those affected by the violence.

ALFRED ALEXIS MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI (Gabon) said that the situation existing in Libya over the last two weeks required an answer and a “strong, clear message” from the Security Council. Gabon had decided to add its voice to the resolution, not only to end the violence, but also to advise the Libyan regime of the consequences of its actions. Gabon was also ready to support other measures that the Council might adopt in support of the Libyan people and their right to life and free speech.

MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said that her delegation was deeply disturbed by the dramatic situation in Libya. The measures adopted today were meant to halt the violence, ensure the protection of civilians and promote respect for international law. The resolution was a “clear signal” of the Council’s readiness to respond to the situation in a manner consistent with its responsibilities. Brazil was a long-standing supporter of the integrity and universalization of the Rome Statute, and opposed the exemption from jurisdiction of nationals of those countries not parties to it. Brazil, therefore, expressed its strong reservation to the resolution’s operative paragraph 6, and reiterated its firm conviction that initiatives aimed at establishing those exemptions were not helpful to advance the cause of justice and accountability.

IBRAHIM DABBASHI ( Libya) expressed his condolences to the martyrs who had fallen under the repression of the Libyan regime, and thanked Council Members for their unanimous action, which represented moral support for his people, who were resisting the attacks. The resolution would be a signal that an end must be put to the fascist regime in Tripoli.

He launched an appeal to all the officers of the Libyan armed forces to support their own people and renounce their support for Muammar Al-Qadhafi, whom he called “criminal” and whom he said was prepared to go to extremes to keep up the repression. He appealed also to the Libyan people to keep up their struggle to restore the State to the people. He welcomed, in addition, the referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court and the fact that sanctions were not being imposed on those who might abandon Mr. Al-Qadhafi in the end.

BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General, welcomed the resolution. “While it cannot, by itself, end the violence and the repression, it is a vital step — a clear expression of the will of a united community of nations,” he said. Calling the events in Libya “clear-cut violations of all norms governing international behaviour and serious transgressions of international human rights and humanitarian law”, he said it was of great importance that the Council was determined to reach consensus and uphold its responsibilities.

He hoped that the strong message that “gross violations of basic human rights will not be tolerated and that those responsible for grave crimes will be held accountable” would be heeded by the regime in Libya and that it would bring hope and relief to those still at risk. The sanctions were a necessary step to speed the transition to a new system of governance that had the people’s consent and participation.

He pledged to monitor the situation closely and remain in touch with world and regional leaders to support swift and concrete action. Expressing solidarity with the Libyan people in coping with the humanitarian impacts, he hoped that the new future for which they yearned would soon be theirs. Commending the Council for its decisive action, he looked for similar determination from the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.

“Today’s measures are tough. In the coming days even bolder action may be necessary,” he said.

SATURDAY, February 26

11:30 PM Saif Gaddafi's London School of Economics examiner, economist Lord Desai, responded to acusations of plagiarism by Saif, saying that Saif earned the PhD, and "I read the thesis, I examined him along with an examiner, he defended his thesis very, very thoroughly, he had nobody else present there, and I don't think there's any reason to think he didn't do it himself. This is over-egging the pudding. The man is evil enough - you don't have to add that he's a plagiarist as well." The 1.5 million pounds he subsequently donated to the university had nothing to do with it.

7:30 Al Arabiya reports that the Tajoura district is now clear of security forces. "The residents said troops opened fire on demonstrators who tried to march from Tajoura to central Green Square overnight, killing at least five people. ... Gaddafi's strongest European ally, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said at a political rally in Rome on Saturday that Gaddafi appears to be no longer in control of the situation in his country. ..."It seems that effectively Gaddafi no longer controls the situation in Libya... If we can all come to an agreement, we can end this bloodbath and support the Libyan people," Berlusconi said.

"Peace is coming back to our country," Saif al-Islam Gaddafi told reporters flown into Libya under close government supervision. "If you hear fireworks don't mistake it for shooting. Hopefully there will be no more bloodshed. By tomorrow we will solve this."

7:10 PM From Al Jazeera: The situation is very dangerous - every day there are more than a hundred who die - every day - every day there are shootings - the most dangerous situation is for foreigners like us - and also us black people - Because Gaddafi brought soldiers from Chad from Niger - they are black and they are killing Arabs.

7:00 PM Saif al-Islam Gaddafi continues round of interviews to persuade international community that the Gaddafis are fighting Al Qaeda.

Meanwhile, the London School of Economics is distancing themselves from their former PhD student. Saif al=Islam had given the school 1.5 million pounds (2.4 million) from his Gadhafi International Charity and Development Foundation. The school said the money was used to fund a North African research program, which has now been suspended.

7:00 PM Saif al_islam to C4 News: "The Libyan people woke up and they have seen the danger." What spirit is your father in? "Very good. Morals are very high."

6:00 AM We at WL Central have been publishing horrifying videos of carnage in Libya since February 15, in an attempt to show the world that what the rest of the media were calling "unconfirmed deaths" and "alleged accounts" were in fact real. There is only so much we can take, and the rest of the media has caught on to what is happening in Libya, so we are no longer showing all of the graphic videos and eyewitness accounts. That does not mean they are not still happening, see Libya February 17 for the latest.

According to Al JazeeraWashington is finalising sanctions against Libya; the precise plan will be outlined in "the near future" according to Washington spokesperson, Jay Carney. "The mechanics of the sanctions have not been finalised." Still no word at all on how this would benefit the Libyan people. Meanwhile, The UAE will send two plane loads of humanitarian aid to Libya, where protesters are battling the regime. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan was quoted as saying "two planes carrying humanitarian aid will leave Saturday from the UAE to Libya via Turkey in order to meet the urgent needs of the Libyan people in the circumstances they are facing." Qatar sent a relief plane to Libya on Friday that Qatar Airways said will land in Libya's second city Benghazi, which is in the hands of the protesters.

The Ottawa Citizen reports defecting generals from Gadhafi’s eastern army units said Friday that they’d moved 1,000 troops toward Tripoli, as well as assigned a special unit to hunt down the Libyan leader. Reserve soldiers are also being called up either to defend cities or march on Tripoli.

The United Nations Security Council is discussing sanctions, including a total arms embargo, freezing of assets and travel bans on Libyan government officials. The European Union is also looking at sanctions. U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order imposing sanctions against the Gadhafi regime, and had not ruled out military action. There is even some suggestion the International Criminal Court might investigate the Libyan government’s attacks on protesters, with a view to indicting senior officials for crimes against humanity.

However, the notion of using western military forces to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent Gadhafi from using warplanes and helicopter gunships against his own people has been stymied by China and Russia, even though both countries have large numbers of nationals in Libya. So far, the only serious military response on the part of western countries has been to use planes and warships to help evacuate nationals stranded in Libya. Western politicians fear their citizens will be used as pawns if Gadhafi should seek reprisals for any sanctions or military interventions.

FRIDAY, February 25

9:00 PM Saif al-Islam explains "terrorists attacking the government."

9:00 PM Mercenary protected from and by protesters thank you to @TasnimQ.

9:00 PM Democracy Now has a report from Al Bayda:

We saw signs in different places saying, "Protect Libya. Don’t loot. Don’t damage anything. We want a country that’s not going to be ripped apart by sectarianism, by tribalism. We’re going to stand together as Libyans." People are very excited about having this chance for freedom. ... Some of the doctors we met, we asked them, you know, what it is that they want from the international community at this point. And, you know, I think they were all very hesitant to make any sort of call for international intervention, quite aware of the history of international intervention in the region and quite wary of it. But they did say that they did want a no-fly zone imposed over Libyan cities in order to protect civilians from these devastating air raids. They also said they were dead against the kind of sanctions that the citizens of Libya, the residents of Libya, had suffered under for decades, economic sanctions. Instead, they wanted targeted sanctions, targeting Muammar Gaddafi and his family. But, you know, one of the doctors we spoke to said, "In the end, we want Libya to be freed by the Libyans themselves. We don’t want outside help. We just need to make sure that this kind of carnage doesn’t continue."

8:20 PM Here is the speech from Muammar Gaddafi via Al Jazeera.

7:00 PM Gaddafi just appeared in green square in Tripoli, standing on a roof, telling his supporters to dance and sing and stay up all night, "Muammer Gaddafi is one of you." "Life without green banners hoisted is worthless."

Currently there is reported heavy fighting in many parts of Tripoli, including Fashloum, Ashour, Jumhouria and Souq Al, and the Associated Press reports at least six killed. The east is still largely free of Gaddafi control, but the elite and well armed Khamis brigade, under the command of younger brother Khamis Gaddafi, is reportedly still loyal to Gaddafi.

Two important new articles are posted on WL Central, one, via clayclai, explores the background of arms trading between Libya and its suppliers, and the other, via kgosztola, investigates the possibility of an Islamic Emirate in eastern Libya. "Despite the fact that this may not be true, prepare for this latest report from a Libyan official to become a self-perpetuating thread in the story of the Libyan revolution." Previously kgosztola explored How US Businesses in Libya Made Certain They Could Operate in the Rogue State, and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi Speaks: What Libyan Cables Say About His Address, WikileaksWorld asked Libya, a Republic for the Masses? and Peter Kemp asked Libya, Bahrain & others: Crimes against humanity, what can we do?

2:30 AM PressTV is reporting that Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, youngest son of Muammar Gaddafi, has joined the protesters in Benghazi. They have included no information regarding their source, neither have there been any recent reports of a "massive crackdown" in Benghazi.

According to the reports, Saif al-Arab, Gaddafi's youngest son, who was sent by his father to cooperate with Libyan security forces in the massive crackdown on pro-democracy protesters joined forces with the demonstrators in the eastern city of Benghazi on Thursday. Saif al-Arab, who is widely regarded as the most low-profile of Gaddafi's sons have also hinted that his father would commit suicide or flee to Latin America in the face of rising public outcry over his tyrannical rule. Saif al-Arab is said to have had the backing of combat troops and had military equipment that was dispatched to the eastern parts of turmoil-hit Libya.

12:30 AM The Telegraph reports that the British government is expected to seize billions of assets belonging to Gaddafi "within days".

12:30 AM The underground prison reported to have held 1500 prisoners in secret in Benghazi.

THURSDAY, February 24

11:30 PM Gaddafi gave his third speech this morning. Translated by Al Jazeera. In his speech he again blames the revolution on "children on drugs" and tells parents to keep their children at home. He says no one over the age of 20 would take part in these acts, there is no reason for a revolution in Libya as there was reason in Egypt and Tunisia, and the whole thing was run by al-Qaeda. He described his position in the government as mostly symbolic "like Queen Elizabeth of England."

9:30 PM Mustafa Abdel Galil, who resigned three days ago from his post as the country's justice minister, spoke to Al Jazeera and warned that Gaddafi has biological and chemical weapons, and will not hesitate to use them against civilians, particularly in the case of the capital. "We call on the international community and the UN to prevent Gaddafi from going on with his plans in Tripoli," he said. "At the end when he's really pressured, he can do anything. I think Gaddafi will burn everything left behind him."

Multiple witnesses told Al Jazeera that protesters were being shot in the town of Az Zawiyah by a Libyan army unit led by Gaddafi's ally, Naji Shifsha. Ali, an eyewitness to the shooting, told Al Jazeera by phone that soldiers began shooting at peaceful protesters on Martyrs' Square with heavy artillery at around 6am and had continued for 5 hours. He estimated as many as 100 protesters had been killed. Approximately 400 people had been injured and were now in the town's hospital. In his speech, Gaddafi refered specifically to the protesters in Az Zawiyah, claiming they had been infiltrated by al-Qaeda.

There have been reports that pro-Gaddafi forces attacked Misrata, which was under the control of protesters, as well as Sabha in the south, and Sabratha, near Tripoli, which is in the west. Anti-government protesters appeared to be in control of the country's eastern coastline, running from the Egyptian border through to the cities of Tobruk and Benghazi.

3:30 AM All week, Youtube has been removing videos from Libyan protesters as fast as they are put up. For days Twitter will only give you one page for the fast moving and well spammed hashtags #Libya and #Feb17, so if you don't know who to follow there is no information there. Now Wikipedia refuses to display the flag that is flying over most of the country. Update: There is now a compromise.

2:00 AM Things have been very quiet in Tripoli since yesterday, after the speech dozens of people were very scared, even if they were anti government they went into the street and raised up the green flag. The Libya channel is telling people nothing is going on, the streets have been cleaned up, anti-Gaddafi graffiti is painted over, streets have been cleaned up and bodies taken away so even families don't know where they are, we heard gunshots last night we don't know whether it was his people celebrating or to put people in fear, he announced in a text message saying the schools were open and everyone should go back to their ordinary lives. ... Benghazi said there is supposed to be a march of dozens of people coming our way and they want to start protesting, we don't know how that is going to be. He announced in his speech that whoever wears green fabric or bandana or whatever on their arm with red writing that they are part of his regime and they are pro government, those people would be given weapons ... and there were here six people, we saw them in the streets today.via feb17voices.

2:00 AM There are checkpoints on every street in Tripoli looking for suspicious anti-government people, everyone is living in fear, we have a neighbour that had two sons killed and they go out and wave the green flag out of fear, in my house we are split, one side wants to go back to Gaddafi out of fear of retribution, just giving up. via feb17voices.

2:00 AM Foreign journalists report from Benghazi.

WEDNESDAY, February 23

11:30 PM Saadi Gaddafi told the Financial Times by telephone that his brother Saif al-Islam, was working on a new constitution and would make an announcement about it soon and “My father would stay as the big father who advises.” He also said as much as 85 per cent of the country was now “very calm and very safe. It is now 2pm in Tripoli and it is very calm and quiet – 50 or 60 per cent of the people are working normally,” and the Financial Times said he sounded "relaxed". “The army is still very strong,” he said. “If we hear anything, we will send some battalions. When people see the army, they will be afraid.” Asked about all of the diplomats who have resigned this week he said, “I don’t care about these guys. My diplomacy is to be honest and tell the truth.” He blamed the revolution on "thousands" of al-Qaeda and people on “very powerful” drugs, such as amphetamines or ecstasy. “We have tonnes of the pills they were given.”

11:30 PM Reports continue of mercenaries headed to Libya from other African countries.

11:30 PM AFP reports that the African Union has finally condemned "the disproportionate use of force" against civilians in Libya and expressed regret at the loss of life there. AU Commission chief Jean Ping was following the situation in Libya "with great concern" and "condemns the disproportionate use of force against civilians and deeply deplores the many human lives lost so far, is in contact with the Libyan authorities and other actors, and will pursue his efforts for an end to the spilling of blood." He also asked for "an immediate end of the repression and violence", stressed "that only dialogue and consultation will enable the Libyans to find appropriate solutions to the challenges facing their country and to embark upon the necessary reforms," and asked "all the actors concerned to favour dialogue in order to open new prospects for Libya in peace, security and democracy."

The African Union, which Gaddafi helped create and is populated by dictators he has supported with Libyan money, has been silent all week as the Arab League and the UN have both issued statements condemning the violence in Libya. Calls to the international community to end the violence have also not been directed at the African Union whose authority might be thought to be responsible for its member states. Speculation that Gaddafi may seek refuge in Venezuela seems odd when states that he has bankrolled are so much closer.

10:40 PM Reuters reports that a plane sent by Gaddafi to bomb Benghazi on Wednesday crash landed after the crew bailed out of it rather than bomb the city. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said that as many as 1000 Libyans have been killed in the last week. "I would like the suspension of economic, commercial and financial relations with Libya until further notice," President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said, and US President Barack Obama also said they would look at U.N. sanctions. Neither commented on how this would be of any assistance to the Libyan people.

10:00 PM "CONFIRMED: at least 2 tanks have pulled up in Tajurah seems they are put in strategic locations - earlier also confirmed 2 tanks in BayView area also in #tripoli Also we have reports that there are approximately 22-24 tanks dotted around different areas in #tripoli #libya this number is UNCONFIRMED" via @libyansrevolt

10:00 PM BREAKING: Soldiers in Derna massacred for not firing at Libyans (GRAPHIC) via libyafeb17

10:00 PM Mass burial in Tripoli via libyafeb17

9:30 PM Reports of 1500 (some reports of 300) young men found trapped in an underground prison in Benghazi, left without food or water from the 15th of February to the 22nd. Reportedly still all alive.

9:30 PM Protesters have taken control of Kufra.

8:30 PM From SultanAlQassemi "Next tweets will the be the names of the three army generals to keep an eye out for in #Libya for a possible military coup against Gaddafi. 1- Abu Bakr Younis Jaber, Chief of Libyan Army since the late 1970's, long time Gaddafi ally, now rumoured to be under house arrest. 2- Lieutenant Abdel Fatah Younis El Obeidi, Minister of Public Security, rumoured to have joined the protests. Whereabouts unknown. 3- Al Mahdi Al Arabi, Deputy Chief of Staff, rumoured to be under house arrest, also rumoured to have lead a failed coup attempt.

Report of a plane supposedly carrying Aisha Gaddafi refused permission to land in Malta.

Report of a plane supposedly carrying Hannibal Gaddafi's wife and several other Gaddafi family members refused permission to land in Lebanon.

9:00 AM Protesters in Tripoli.

9:00 AM Old Libyan flag raised over Tripoli.

9:00 AM Man saved by Quran.

9:00 AM Mother of Tunisian fruitseller Mohamed Bouazizi, the young man from Sidi Bouzid whose act of self-immolation triggered the Tunisian Uprising, speaks to Libyan mothers.

3:20 AM "Warfalla Cheif Libya's most largest tribe said he backed the protesters & wud send his people 2 Tripoli to assist in the final battle" via @ShababLibya

3:00 AM "violence is still going on right now in #tripoli - few last pockets but cannot see it lasting too long" via @libyansrevolt

1:45 AM There are Gaddafi supporters and some police in about 50 cars going around Tripoli making a lot of noise and celebrating as if they won. Caller is not sure what they won. Caller thinks the regime has already fallen. He also thinks the supporters may still be some from African nations or tribes from the south or Iraq, not from Tripoli. They do not have enough manpower to harass people in the street. Caller estimates Gaddafi may have a couple thousand supporters left, mostly surrounding Gaddafi homes. He thinks there may have been defections, there are less than yesterday. "It's hilarious. It's very obvious Gaddafi has been defeated, and he has lost his mind." Caller has heard people were given 17,000 dinars to participate in demonstrations, not fighting. A lot of people are still very afraid, some have been paid, and if even 1% of the population supports him, he will have a couple thousand supporters. Source.

1:30 AM Al Jabal Al Akhdar battalion joins protesters

1:30 AM Gaddafi's speech via Times of Malta (and others):

  • 'Cowards' were trying to distort the truth and giving a wrong picture of what was happening in Libya. Libyans, he said, were being shown as being 'bad people'.
  • The Libyan people should hold their heads high against the leaders of the world who were conspiring against them and wanted to tarnish the reputation of the people and the country.
  • He would not give up and would resist to the end of his life because this was his country, watered by the Libyan people's blood.
  • The Libyan people would defy the tyranny of the United States and other countries.
  • "I am a warrior" fighting to give dignity to the country against a bunch of rats who were paid to disfigure the country.
  • "I am not going to leave this land, and I will die here as a martyr'.
  • The enemies knew that Col Gaddafi was not an ordinary person. His house had been bombed, his children had been killed. And the rats were with the United States.
  • But the Libyan people would not give up, Africa would not give up. Libya had defeated the colonialist Italy, the US and Britain, and would remain defiant.
  • Innocent people had been attacked in their homes and the streets by youths who had been manipulated and drugged. This was a small, paid group used by others who stayed at home.
  • He, as the head of the revolution, had liberated Benghazi and Tobruk, ousting the American and British bases. The current generation should remember the high price which their fathers had paid for Libyan liberation, and their honour would not be tarnished.
  • The administration of the country was in the hands of the people through their committees and congresses. He was calling on the people to administer the oil resources of the country through new municipal committees.
  • He was calling on the people to liberate and purify Benghazi and let it be run by its own people, not others. The young people in Benghazi should know that they had been duped and did not know what they were doing.
  • Tripoli was free and should be administered by its people.
  • The masses should take to the streets and form new committees and municipalities for local administration.
  • Those who sided with Gaddafi and the revolution should secure the streets and remember the evacuation of the Americans and the return of oil assets to the Libyan people, he added.
  • Since he was not president, since he had no position, he would not resign. But he had his gun and he would fight for Libya.
  • The people should not let their young get drunk and be misled. The gangs, like cockroaches, did not represent anyone, they were nothing, just a handful trying to imitate what had happened in Egypt and Tunisia after being drugged.
  • From tomorrow the police and the army would impose security. If these cockroaches were allowed to prevail, Libya would slide into darkness and lose its oil.
  • He had rebuilt Benghazi but they had destroyed it. They had also destroyed its airport. Other cities such as Derna had also been attacked.
  • But they had to be repulsed and the US should not be allowed to occupy Libya like Afghanistan. The enemy had to be chased and the terrorists had to be hanged. Anybody who took arms against Libya would be executed. Those who waged war against Libya would be put to death. Those who facilitated entry of the enemy into Libya or handed over Libyan cities would be executed.
  • Reading from the green book, all those who used force against the people would be punished by death. The same applied for those who took part in or instigated civil war.
  • He had not ordered anyone to start firing yet, because had he done so, everything would be set ablaze and Libya would end up like Somalia.
  • The millions of Libyans should restore order, take back their oil assets and do what they liked with it.
  • Rebellion in Waco in the US , the coup in the Soviet Union and in Tiananmen Square had been repulsed with tanks because unity was more important. Libya would also do whatever it takes not to allow part of the country (Benghazi and Derna) to be taken away.
  • Opponents should give up their weapons, their drugs and their ring leaders, and shops should reopen as normal.
  • It was unacceptable for the country to be torn apart or handed to the crazy people who did not know their history.

1:00 AM UN Security Council statement from Al Jazeera:

The members of the Security Council expressed grave concern at the situation in Libya. They condemned the violence and use of force against civilians, deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators, and expressed deep regret at the deaths of hundreds of civilians. They called for an immediate end to the violence and for steps to address the legitimate demands of the population, including through national dialogue.

The members of the Security Council called on the Government of Libya to meet its responsibility to protect its population. They called upon the Libyan authorities to act with restraint, to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, and to allow immediate access for international human rights monitors and humanitarian agencies.

The members of the Security Council called for international humanitarian assistance to the people of Libya and expressed concern at the reports of shortages of medical supplies to treat the wounded. They strongly urged the Libyan authorities to ensure the safe passage of humanitarian and medical supplies and humanitarian workers into the country.

The members of the Security Council underlined the need for the government of Libya to respect the freedom of peaceful assembly and of expression, including freedom of the press. They called for the immediate lifting of restrictions on all forms of the media.

The members of the Security Council stressed the importance of accountability. They underscored the need to hold to account those responsible for attacks, including by forces under their control, on civilians.

The members of the Security Council expressed deep concern about the safety of foreign nationals in Libya. They urged the Libyan authorities and all relevant parties to ensure the safety of all foreign nationals and facilitate the departure of those wishing to leave the country. The members of the Security Council will continue to follow the situation closely.

1:00 AM "AJE: One Libyan Navy ship is in the waters off Malta. Italy scrambled 5 fighter jets to investigate intentions." via @feb17voices

TUESDAY, February 22

Tripoli at night

10:30 PM From Al Jazeera:

  • Abdul-Fatah Younis, the interior minister and an army general, announced his renunciation of his post and support for the "February 17 revolution" and urged the Libyan army to "join the people and respond to their legitimate demands".
  • Amr Moussa, the Arab League chief, had decided to discontinue the participation of the Libya delegation in the meetings of the council and all its institutions.
  • Ali al-Essawi, who resigned as Libyan ambassador to India, said fighter jets had been used by the government to bomb civilians, live fire was being used against protesters, and that foreigners had been hired to fight on behalf of the government. He called the violence "a massacre", and urged the UN to block Libyan airspace in order to "protect the people".
  • Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, accused Gaddafi of launching a "genocide against the Libyan people".
  • A group of Libyan army officers have issued a statement urging fellow soldiers to "join the people" and help remove Muammar Gaddafi.
  • Ali Aujali, the Libyan ambassador to the United States, called for the Gaddafi's resignation, saying he must step down and give Libyans a chance "to make their future".
  • A.H. Elimam, Libya's ambassador to Bangladesh, resigned to protest against the killing of his family members by government soldiers.
  • The deputy chief and other staff at Libya's mission to the United Nations sided with the revolt against their country's leader and called on the Libyan army to help overthrow "the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi." They said they were serving the Libyan people, demanded "the removal of the regime immediately" and urged other Libyan embassies to follow suit.
  • The Libyan ambassasador to Australia, Musbah Allafi, cut its ties with Gaddafi
  • The embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, cut ties with Gaddafi's government, with ambassador Bubaker al-Mansori telling AFP: "We are not loyal to him, we are loyal to the Libyan people."

10:10 PM "BREAKING: Libyan ministor of interior has announced he has joined the CITIZENS REVOLUTION BREAKING CONFIRMED" via @ShababiLibya

10:00 PM Human Rights Watch reports: Statements from doctors working in two Tripoli hospitals obtained by Human Rights Watch by email confirmed that at least 62 people have been killed since February 20 but these are figures from only two hospitals. Other witnesses told Human Rights Watch there were at least 50 bodies in the morgue at Abu Salim Hospital, all casualties of clashes over the weekend. A doctor said that Tripoli's Central Hospital had received 12 dead, brought in by emergency services from the area around Green Square, the site of anti-government protests on February 21.

9:30 PM Very interesting map from the Globe and Mail showing where Gaddafi money has been used to prop up other fragile governments in the already unrestful central Africa. Eyes on Mali, Liberia, Niger, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

8:00 PM "he threatened to cleanse Libya house by house.. we have excess youth gaddafi, all ready to die for our homeland" via @ShababiLibya

8:00 PM "We are all a bit upset tonight, not because we feel defeated, but because we know gaddafi, he will try to kill anyone and everyone " via @ShababiLibya

8:00 PM "Situation in tripoli we hear helicopters overheard no firing just yet, benghazi is free" via @ShababiLibya

7:00 PM "BREAKING: Helicopters circling Tripoli now. Gaddafi's soldiers are armed with machine guns with ammo." via @ShababiLibya

7:00 PM Muammar Gaddafi gave a speech on state TV in which he threatened the Libyan people for an hour and a half, alluding favourably to Tiananmen Square and threatening to cleanse Libya of protesters house by house. Will have more soon.

6:00 PM "Gaddafi speech: 'I have no intentions to step down like others have I want to die here as a martyr libya is the tree, and we have watered this tree with our blood' He orders the police and army to crush the uprising, let me translate, he orders for the crush of a nation i think he is going to cause a huge massacre and then lose the country.." via @ShababiLibya

6:00 PM "@AJArabic confirms the air strikes over Tripoli #Libya #Feb17 will explain more they say" via @ShababiLibya

8:15 AM Al Arabiya reports

  • The headquarters of al-Jamahiriya 2 TV and al-Shababia radio in Tripoli, the state controlled media, have been sacked, and several government buildings set on fire. State broadcasts were interrupted, but resumed this morning.
  • The Austrian Army announced that airspace over the Libyan capital Tripoli has been closed until further notice, and retracted later in the day.
  • A coalition of over 50 Libyan Islamic leaders, the Network of Free Ulema of Libya, has issued a fatwa telling all Muslims it is their duty to rebel against the Libyan leadership and demanding the release of all jailed protesters, Islamic scholar Sadiq al-Ghriani, who was arrested after criticizing the government, and "all imprisoned demonstrators, including many of our young students". They have thereby demonstrated total infidelity to the guidance of God and his beloved Prophet. They said Gaddafi's government "have demonstrated total arrogant impunity and continued, and even intensified, their bloody crimes against humanity. They have thereby demonstrated total infidelity to the guidance of God and his beloved Prophet (peace be upon him). This renders them undeserving of any obedience or support, and makes rebelling against them by all means possible a divinely ordained duty."
  • Libya's justice minister Mustapha Abdeljalil resigned in objection to "the excessive use of force" against demonstrators Quryna newspaper reported on Monday. The country’s ambassadors to the UK, Indian and Indonesia have also resigned to protest against the crackdown on protesters and the staff of Libyan U.N. mission has said they would now represent only the people of Libya.
  • The U.N. Security Council will meet Tuesday to discuss the crisis in Libya, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. He had spoken to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi "I urged him that the human rights and freedom of assembly and freedom of speech must be fully protected. I forcefully urged him to stop the violence against demonstrators and I again strongly underlined the importance of respecting human rights of those demonstrators. The aspirations and concerns of the people should be fully respected and heard by the authorities of the countries concerned." Ban stressed the need to "ensure the protection of the civilian population under any circumstances."

3:30 AM Guardian's blog reports an interview with a man in Benghazi who told them more than 350 people have been killed, not including the discovery made inside the Birka Barracks by those who entered it following its surrender. "We found 150 corpses burning and we believe they were the bodies of officers and soldiers who refused to follow orders to fire on the the people." We posted a video of this yesterday.

2:30 AM Al Jazeera's live stream reports that Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations has gone from being "deeply concerned" to "outraged" IF reports of Gaddafi firing on protesters from helicopters, etc. are true. There are indications that in a few hours we may have word that there may be discussion of a meeting.

2:30 AM Gaddafi appeared on Libyan TV with a giant umbrella and said "To prove I am not in Venezuela" and nothing else.

MONDAY, February 21

10:15 PM Extremely graphic pictures from hospital - these are not regular bullets.

10:00 PM Petition to the UN: "Stop the Massacre - Save the Libyans"

8:15 PM From the audioboo account of Feb17voices:

  • We need help, we need support, we need medical aid, we need someone to stop this guy. It's really bad out here, everyone's getting killed, it's getting worse and worse right now. Source
  • There are 5 or 6 fires all around Tripoli, people are getting shot wherever they are in the street, people go to the hospitals and are sent back because people are killing doctors and people in the hospitals, people are grabbing bits of metal from their yards, and kitchens, whatever they can find to protect their homes. Source
  • We had to change locations and we see 5 or 6 fires all around Tripoli, we see two cars filled with Africans ... they were shooting doctors and people in the hospital.Source
  • Yesterday: The number of people injured and killed is about 900. As far the army division, from 5:00 up until 10 minutes ago, young people were throwing hand bombs at the army. ... there are cars spread in the region and every car carries four people armed with handguns and they are going through the streets shooting young people, and they are still here. As for Tripoli, I have called Tripoli, and I was told there is an airplane coming to Benghazi filled with the African mercenaries ... I passed by 1200 beds ... the number of people injured or killed is totaling 900 and the majority of them are in critical condition because the few who are not hit by regular bullets are being hit by bullets usually used to bring down aircraft.... I hear the sound of bullets used to bring down airplanes again .... and young people are not willing to stop because they know if they stop that will be the end of the in Benghazi, they are still in the streets waiting in different places and also there is a shortage in blood supply, in particular O-negative. There is also another thing, the special forces they are attacking hospitals and executing the doctors there.. Source

8:00 PM WL Central has received a video said to be of the remains of soldiers burned alive for refusing to kill protesters.

7:40 PM Two senior colonels from Libya flew jets to Malta and landed without authorization because they were ordered to bomb protesters in Benghazi The colonels defected and made an emergency request to land. They were detained.

It is believed that they flew to Malta because it is only an hour away and on European soil. The speculation also is that they did not go to Italy, as they could have, because they would likely have been repatriated.


This defection raises questions about the military. Correspondents on AJE talked about the role of the military saying that it is important but not as important as the military is in Egypt or Algeria. The defections show why Qadhafi is likely hiring mercenaries to stop protests.

SUNDAY, February 20

Below is a video of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the popular choice of Muammar Gaddafi's ten children (eight sons), giving a speech today. He says the revolutionaries are children on drugs, things will go back to the way they were, they are in high spirits, there are tens of thousands of people behind them. This is the intelligent reformer son, as compared to the alternatives, Saadi, Hannibal, Mutassim, daughter Ayesha al-Gaddafi, a lawyer who served on Saddam Hussein's defense team, Saif al-Arab, and Khamis, whose private military is reputedly the most terrifying in Libya.

Translation of Saif's speech from Uruknet.

I saw that I had to speak to you. Many Libyans asked me to speak. I don't have a paper or a document to read from.I will not speak in classical Arabic, I will speak in Libyan, I don't have any papers, this is a talk from the heart & mind. We all know that the region is passing through an earthquake, a hurricane or change. If this change does not come from the govts it will come from the people, we have seen this in other Arab countries. Today I will tell you only truth only. We know that there are opposition figures living abroad who have support in Libya. There people try to use Facebook for a revolution to copy Egypt. These people want to bring Libya to what happened in Egypt & Tunisia. We saw this on facebook and on emails. The country did a pre-emptive move by arresting some people before the protests, shots were fired, people died. The anger was directed at the police in Benghazi. People wanted to storm the police stations, people died, funerals occurred. This is a summary of what happened in Bengazi, now there is a major Fitna and a threat to the unity of Libya. Of course there were many deaths, which angered many people in Benghazi, but why were there people killed? The army was under stress, it is not used to crowd control so they shot, but I called them. The army said that some protesters were drunk, others were on hallucinogens or drugs. The army has to defend its weapons. And the people were angry. So there were deaths, but in the end Libyans were killed.

There are thee parts behind this

1- Political Activists whom we agree with,
2- What happened in Bayda are Islamic elements. Bayda is my town, my mother is from there. People called me. They stole weapons and killed soldiers. They want to establish an Islamic Emirate in Bayda. Some people took drugs & were used by these protesters.
3. The third part are these children who took the drugs and were used. These are facts like it or not.

We have arrested tens of Arabs and Africans, poor people, millions were spent on them to use them by millionaire businessmen. There are people who want to establish a countries in parts of Libya to rule, Like the Islamic Emirate. One person said he is the Emir of Islamic Emirate of Darna. The Arabic Media is manipulating these events. This Arabic media is owned by Arabs who are distorting the facts but also our media failed to cover the events.

Then there are the Baltagiya who destroyed public property, they fled jails. There are our brothers who sit and drink coffee and watch TV and laugh at us when they see us burn our country.

It is no lie that the protesters are in control of the streets now. Libya is not Tunis or Egypt. Libya is different, if there was disturbance it will split to several states. It was three states before 60 years. Libya are Tribes not like Egypt. There are no political parties, it is made of tribes. Everyone knows each other. We will have a civil war like in 1936. American Oil Companies played a big part in unifying Libya. Who will manage this oil? How will we divide this oil amongst us? Who will spend on our hospitals? All this oil will be burnt by the Baltagiya (Thugs) they will burn it. There are no people there. 3/4s of our people live in the East in Benghazi, there is no oil there, who will spend on them? Your children will not go to schools or universities. There will be chaos, we will have to leave Libya if we can't share oil. Everyone wants to become a Sheikh and an Emir, we are not Egypt or Tunisia so we are in front of a major challenge.

We all now have arms. At this time drunks are driving tanks in central Benghazi. So we all now have weapons. The powers who want to destroy Libya have weapons. There will be a war & no future. All the firms will leave, we have 500 housing units being built, they won't be completed. Remember my words. 200 billion dollars of projects are now underway, they won't be finished.

You can say we want democracy & rights, we can talk about it, we should have talked about it before. It's this or war. Instead of crying over 200 deaths we will cry over 100,000s of deaths. You will all leave Libya, there will be nothing here. There will be no bread in Libya, it will be more expensive than gold.

Before we let weapons come between us, from tomorrow, in 48 hours, we will call or a new conference for new laws. We will call for new media laws, civil rights, lift the stupid punishments, we will have a constitution. Even the LEader Gaddafi said he wants a constitution. We can even have autonomous rule, with limited central govt powers. Brothers there are 200 billion dollars of projects at stake now. We will agree to all these issues immediately. We will then be able to keep our country, unlike our neighbors. We will do that without the problems of Egypt & Tunisia who are now suffering. There is no tourism there. We will have a new Libya, new flag, new anthem. Or else, be ready to start a civil war and chaos and forget oil and petrol.

What is happening in Bayda and Benghazi is very sad. How do you who live in Benghazi, will you visit Tripoli with a visa? The country will be divided like North and South Korea we will see each other through a fence. You will wait in line for months for a visa. If we don't do the first scenario be ready for the second scenario:

The British FM called me. Be ready for a new colonial period from American and Britain. ou think they will accept an Islamic Emirate here, 30 minutes from Crete? The West will come and occupy you. Europe & the West will not agree to chaos in Libya, to export chaos and drugs so they will occupy us.

In any case, I have spoken to you, we uncovered cells from Egypt and Tunisia and Arabs. The Libyans who live in Europe and USA, their children go to school and they want you to fight. They are comfortable. They then want to come and rule us and Libya. They want us to kill each other then come, like in Iraq. The Tunisians and Egyptians who are here also have weapons, they want to divide Libya and take over the country.

We are in front of two choices, we can reform now, this is an historic moment, without it there will be nothing for decades. You will see worse than Yugoslavia if we don't choose the first option. Gaddafi is not Mubarak or Ben Ali, a classical ruler, he is a leader of a people. 10,000s of Libyans are coming to defend him. Over coastline Libyans are coming to support Gaddafi. The army is also there, it will play a big part whatever the cost. The army will play a big role, it is not the army of Tunisia or Egypt. It will support Gaddafi to the last minute. Now in the Green Square people shoot so that they show the world that the army is shooting. We must be awake.

Now comes the role of the National Guard and the Army, we will not lose one inch of this land. 60 years ago they defended Libya from the colonialists, now they will defend it from drug addicts. Most of he Libyans are intelligent, they are not Baltagiya (thugs) Benghazi is a million and a half not the few thousands who are in the streets. We will flight to the last man and woman and bullet. We will not lose Libya. We will not let Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and BBC trick us.

We will live in Libya and die in Libya.

2:45 AM "After #Seif's speech the city of #Tripoli turned to a battlefield. Please #God protect them." via @ShababiLibya

2:45 AM "BREAKING CONFIRMED: Tarhuna is out in the streets! The army has joined the protesters! Heading to Tripoli now!!" via @ShababiLibya

2:45 AM "BREAKING - Snipers fire in Saha Al Khadra" via @ShababiLibya

2:45 AM "BREAKING: Call with eyewitnesses in Tripoli - IT IS GOING TO BE A BLOODBATH!" via @ShababiLibya


2:45 AM "BREAKING: Forget what Saif said, we still need to work in Tripoli. We will be free!" via @ShababiLibya

1:45 AM Saif Al Islam Gaddafi made a speech. Will try to get a transcript.

12:45 AM "BREAKING CONFIRMED: Benghazi Hospital today 60 dead. confirmed" via @ShababiLibya

12:45 AM "We are getting reports parts of Tripoli are now celebrating and taken over by protesters?!" via @ShababiLibya

12:45 AM "if saif talks tonight i think he will dismiss his father and assume control, but its way too late" via @ShababiLibya

12:45 AM "AlJaz talking about Gaddafi's son getting shot by his brother, as well as Gaddafi fleeing to S. America. NONE OF THIS IS CONFIRMED." via @ShababiLibya

12:45 AM "Unconfirmed: Muamar Al Gaddafi headed to Venezuela. pls note this is unconfirmed and received from lots of ppl on the ground" via @ShababiLibya

12:45 AM "Reports left right and center then Muammar Al Gaddafi has now left #Libya - we can not confirm this. libya has gone maglooba" via @ShababiLibya

12:45 AM "why do dictators delay their speech until the 11th hour? advise to all dictators, if your ppl start a protest, do a quick speech and leave" via @ShababiLibya

12:45 AM "BREAKING: abdalla sanussi will be put on trial!!! #Libya #Feb17 BREAKING" via @ShababiLibya

12:45 AM "somebody asked me earlier will he go tonight, I said only when the ministers resign like dominoes - they must know something, its started" via @ShababiLibya

12:45 AM "BREAKING: libyan ambassador to china has resigned" via @ShababiLibya

12:45 AM "the first online radio of a free benghazi (free libya channel) is announcing the free cyrenaica and soon to be a free libya" via @ShababiLibya

12:45 AM "all pro gaddafi only walked the streets by spreading fear, that is no more, they can not walk in #libya ever again, the tables are turning" via @ShababiLibya

12:45 AM "one thing to note about #libya, when #gaddafi goes, all who supported him will have to go, we will be the first to have a full revolution" via @ShababiLibya

12:45 AM "BREAKING: huge number in #tripoli protesting! We'll have a Free Libya soon" via @ShababiLibya

11:30 PM Al Jazeera English reports clashes between pro- and anti-government Libyans in "Green Square" in Tripoli

11:20 PM Al Jazeera English interviews Azeldin El-Sharif, a Libyan activist whose brother was shot. He talks about mercenaries being used to kill Libyans. Says, “I don’t believe Gaddafi is a Libyan root man.”

On reports of demonstrations between Gaddafi loyalists and the opposition, “The loyalists are people who’ve got bloodshed on their hands. They are people who believe he can get away as he has doen before." He talks about Gaddafi escaping crimes against humanity and not being held accountable and now the loyalists think they can get the "whole world" to "shut up" and be silent again.

El-Sharif ends the interview saying he thinks Libyans are going to make it."I believe we are going to make it very very soon.”

ZDNet with a report on Libyan Internet and sites like Facebook being blocked.

BREAKING CONFIRMED: Tripoli protesters are OUT marching and chanting: La ilaha ila Allah Gadaffi 3adoo Allah!! #feb17 #gaddaficrimes #libya (@ShababiLibya)

BREAKING CONFIRMED: Protesters in Tripoli marching towards the Green Square chanting: No God but God and Gaddafi is the Enemy of God #feb17 (@ShababiLibya)

11:10 PM


7:00 PM "Al saika brigade 236 now in control of benghazi joint with the people, sorry i forgot form the call the officer incharge" via @ShababLibya

7:00 PM "Al saika brigade 236 now in control of benghazi joint with the people, sorry i forgot form the call the officer incharge" via @ShababLibya

7:00 PM "getting reports of abdalla sanussi gaddafis main man for security is reported to be arrested he was in the barracks" via @ShababLibya

7:00 PM "al saika brigade marched in and helped the people and the mercenaries in birka barracks 'fled like rats' CONFIRMED" via @ShababLibya


7:00 PM "i was told, you have missed out u did not see them run out of birka like rats all foreign mercenaries" via @ShababLibya

6:30 PM "Confirmed: benghazi now free, with surrender of birka barracks moments ago but misrata now hearing gun fire" via @ShababLibya

6:30 PM "BREAKING CONFIRMED: City of Misratah is protesting. EVERYONE is in the streets." via @ShababLibya

6:30 PM "just received a call from birka area, barracks fallen and the youth are not letting them leave without a fight" via @ShababLibya

6:30 PM "Birka barracks fallen: benghazi have refused to let them leave towards airport without a fight #Libya #Feb17 they asked to leave confirmed" via @ShababLibya

6:30 PM "Birka barracks have sent a text to all benghazi and asked them in the area if they can leave to buatni near airport, and take weapons" via @ShababLibya

6:30 PM "Confirmed: BIRKA barracks has now fallen, conformation birka barracks nowo fallen they have asked benghazi if they can leave peacefully" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "More and more reports of a major commandos and army uprising/coup within the libyan army.. I CANNOT confirm this right now" via @ChangeInLibya

6:00 PM "FB sources mention that 1 of the most renowned commandos units in #libya is going to help #benghazi against mercenaries..cnt confirm " via @ChangeInLibya

6:00 PM "#Gaddafi is treating #tripoli as a series of "pockets", extremely hard to get from one to another and can be easily contained" via @ChangeInLibya

6:00 PM "Name of martyr, died last night in Tajura: Mohamed Alhatimi, RIP" via @EnoughGaddafi

6:00 PM "Lawyers and judges conducting sit-in at the courts complex in #tripoli" via @EnoughGaddafi

6:00 PM "Huge crowds out in Misurata." via @EnoughGaddafi

6:00 PM "Talked to many in misrata today. Est. Of 15,000 demonstrators. Live ammo used against demonstr " via @EnoughGaddafi

6:00 PM "In #Tripoli protests are quick, dspersed by police, but protestors gather elsewhere...similar to first days in #benghazi" via @EnoughGaddafi

6:00 PM "Protests last night in Mansura, which is very close to gaddafi's central command, bab alaziziya in #tripoli" via @EnoughGaddafi

6:00 PM "from eyewitness, clashes most day in Fashloom, #Tripoli, no 1 reported dead. Some police reported 2 not disturb protestors" via @EnoughGaddafi

6:00 PM "Tripolitanian on Aljaz called on Gaddafi to hand over power to ra'is al-ma7kama al-3ulia and leave the country immediately" via @Cyrenaican

6:00 PM "Radio Benghazi swearing cryptically that a surprise is in store for Gaddafi over in the next 24 hours" via @Cyrenaican

6:00 PM "Massacres reported in front of maktabat al-sha3b in Tripoli" via @Cyrenaican

6:00 PM "Radio Benghazi reporting that large numbers of protesters have poured onto the streets in Tripoli, being attacked by police" via @Cyrenaican

6:00 PM "BREAKING CONFIRMED: Fate of Benghazi and Libya unknown, death toll rising by the second. WORLD INTERVENTION IMPERATIVE NOW!" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "BREAKING: Large numbers of people dead in Benghazi today. Amount to be confirmed." via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Please, we need people to contact the Obama administration and the United Nations to demand they do something about Libya" via @Cyrenaican

6:00 PM "BREAKING CONFIRMED: All protesters out in Zawia burning down Gaddafi's house!#gaddaficrimes ZAWIA IS OFFICIALLY FREE!" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "CONFIRMED: Aljazeera reports youngst martyr in Libya: 1 and a half years old!!!!" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Confirmed: tripoli are out in numbers they are chanting they are with benghazi, heart warming..." via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "more reports from more sources, there is killing ongoing in benghazi, how long can we just tweet this for? until someone says something?" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "confirmed: brika barracks, they are firing at anyone and everyone regardless of age etc, anyone they see (these ppl being paid)" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "if anyone can get in contact with benghazi, call them and tell them to stay indoors do not approach birka barracks (fadheel camp) please" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "From now there will be no oil exported from Libya CONFIRMED no oil from libya, now the world will wake up" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Brega company in libya, their export field pipes in various areas such as tobrok etc have been burnt, no libya from oil officially" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "now we feel really helpless..." via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "in humaytha confirmed, if u open window to look at barracks they shoot you, people dying, i wish i could call them to warn them" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "news coming in from humaytha (opposite birka barracks) ppl being killed now.. my fam live in humaytha......" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "we are getting, pharmacies are opening doors to everyone in benghazi, but also that those mercenaries have landed in benghazi?" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "yes reported high profile people in birka barracks, also if he completely loses ben, he lost more then half of #libya" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "the latest people now to confirm that 200 died in one hospital in benghazi is sky news, there is no question now it was a massacre" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Breaking: 3 sources claim, foreign mercenaries have just landed in benina airport god help benghazi god help benghazi" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "the problem with birka (barracks) is there are important people inside, that the regime is trying to rescue these people so it seems " via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "i would also like to confirm benghazi is in the hands of the protesters the problem is only in the birka region" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Al birka benghazi has still not fallen in benghazi, more gunfire coming from this area, reports say abdalla sanussi inside" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "also confirming else where in the absence of police in east libya we seem to only be seeming a mercenary problem" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "please also note population of benghazi is under 1 million, libyan population about 6.5 million" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "also we now have word that there are 100,000s on the streets of benghazi.. its easy to forget about the ongoing protests" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "eyewitness in western libya says he has seen military units being flown towards east libya since yesterday" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "our brothers in the historic town of cyrene, according to AJ have now overtaken the mercenary barracks but 50 died so far" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "youtube are removing our videos one by one, we will keep mirroring i am sorry for this, our account is being watched" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "the eyewitnesses told me, youth ran towards the antitank gun fire (someone give me a name for it) they did not care what happened to them" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "200 died in benghazi in one go by automatic anti tank weaponry from the barracks in birka, this was confirmed by many sources" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Libya is not in civil war, libya is one and united, #libya has one common enemy a man who has killed libyans and sucked libya's money" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM There is now very little reason for anyone to be ignorant of what is happening in Libya. Besides Twitter and Youtube, for those that did not see them at the bottom of this post, @Arasmus is still updating a googlemap and live update of the protests, Feb17Voices has continuously updated audio from Libya that they frequently translate, the protester controlled Benghazi radio station is still broadcasting and here is a spreadsheet which attempts to list all of the deaths of protesters along with their identities. There was a live stream set up earlier today, and protesters have made themselves available, at huge risk, to talk to international media on skype.

Message from Libya to the world

5:00 AM: Gaddafi's special forces are reportedly going into hospitals and executing doctors. Unarmed teenagers and children are trying to take Green Square in Tripoli from armed mercenaries, army secret police and the Revolutionary Guard. Helicopters are again firing on protesters, this time in Tripoli. A wall exploded on Birka Barracks (reportedly with TNT), killing a nephew of Gaddafi along with 55 others in Benghazi.

5:00 AM "what started with so much optimism is now incredibly depressing, we have seen something worthy of headlines for the next 3years today" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "independent confirms 200 dead in benghazi, we have around 400 mark confirmed by eye witness in benghazi" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "European sources confirmed that a C130 plane from Austria will land in Malta heading towards Libya with military supplies" via @libyanfsl

5:00 AM "Gheryan eye witness just now, 2 dead, we would urge all from gheryan to try to make contact and @mention with further info" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "Major protest currently taking place in Gheryan confirmed by phone call in the city just now" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "World: It is Libyan blood on your hands that you let shed today. Death toll rising, unimaginable conditions in Libya! WE NEED HELP!" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "Confirmed and heard on CNN: MASSACRE IN BENGHAZI TODAY! 200 shot with machine guns in one go! PLEASE STOP THIS!" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "Dear Libya: Help Benghazi! Random shootings in the streets confirmed. PLEASE HELP BENGHAZI" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "BREAKIN|G Confirmed via many reliable sources 200 shoot with machine fire in Birka" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "Confirmed: 200 people dead in one go in Benghazi eye witness, when attacking the albirka barracks" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "Confirmed: 1000 people now out in fashloom area of Tripoli, gun fire reported and confirmed by other sources" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "Dear media and aid abroad, where there's a will, there's a way this is an extreme situation. You need to act!" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "Libyans are calling on the world to be strong and support. send aid. How are visas a problem? the border is opened by the protesters." via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "Libya also has foreigners living inside, has the world forgotten, if you don't care about Libyanswhat about theother citizens?" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "What the hell is happening .. Heavy artillery , mercenaries , gunships what the hell is this moron up 2 now he's burning libya now!!!" via @mohamed_wasfy

5:00 AM "Please help Libya. Please." via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "BREAKING CONFIRMED: eyewitness is that unfortunatley 700-750 (dead+injured) the barracks is on fire in Benghazi. HELP!!" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "BREAKING CONFIRMED: Libya needs blood types A- and B- the most. PLEASE HELP! RT!!!" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "BREAKING, CONFIRMED:Nalut's youth are out in the square tearing down Gaddafi's pictures." via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "URGENT:PLEASE EMAIL AT if you are an aidorganization we have drs inside willing to come to the border please email" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "Please call for international intervention in Libya please stop Gaddafi's tyranny. End the violence" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "Radio Libya report: Fashloom in Tripoli is under heavy gun fire. .people are dying. WAITING ON WORLD TO ACT!" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "Confirmed: Shahat camp free, now heading towards Benghazi with weapons to aid people." via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "well done gaddafi you have just made mubarak look human" via @ShababLibya

5:00 AM "how is it in the 21st cent, a leader can massacre their people, a hospital out of beds and blood, and the world is silent?" via @ShababLibya

SATURDAY, February 19

12:08 AM Feb17Voices with this Audioboo update on Libya from Tripoli


11:30 PM Feb17Voices Audioboo update: Libyans believe their phones are being tapped. When talking about government, some are having are experiencing losses of connection.


9:22 PM Abdurahman Warsame or @abdu reports on Twitter in the past eight hours:

BREAKING: Al-Fadhil Brigade building in #Benghazi has fallen. This is the last base and the ppl are in control of Benghazi. #Libya

“Al Fadhil base was the residence of Gaddafi when he comes to #Benghazi. People protected important buildings like the courts. #Libya”

9:21 PM Renesys confirms that Libya Internet is coming back to life

9:19 PM: Tweet from LaylaMarafie saying people of Libya “did not see the tear gas, did not sprinkle with water did not feel the beat of rubber bullets, the Libyan revolutionary face live bullets only.”

9:18 PM NickKristof sends these tweets: “In the absence of int'l journalists in #Libya, thank God for brave Libyans who risk all to get the word out” and “Reports from Libya are horrific. It shld be getting more attention, but we journalists can't get visas. I'll keep trying.”

9:10 PM Sky News report on death toll in Libya hitting at least 120 in the past three days

6:00 PM Graphic videos are being posted of dead foreign mercenaries. Libyans have been saying that mercenaries were brought in by Gaddafi last week from Chad (and some report Korea) in preparation for the protests. In the beginning, protesters were reporting threats from Gaddafi that he would kill everyone in the cities and fill them with Africans (no source). Protesters have been reporting mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa speaking French.

6:00 PM "Breaking news: All of Eastern Libya is now secured and waving the flag of independence (The Kingdom Flag)" via @ShababLibya
" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Breaking: now every city in the east of libya has the true flag (my pic) now waving over its city, this is very historic" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Aljazeera now has more frequencies for libya as it has been blocked if anyone has them please tweet at me and i will retweet" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Confirmed: benghazi faced the biggest fight as it is the capital of the east and could not be lost, but now has been proved secure" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Now breaking from #bayda they fought and beat the mercenaries and hanged them in the valleys surrounding bayda. now %100 secure" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "now breaking, historic town of tobrok now %100 secure and have renamed jamahiriya square to square of the martyrs" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "now breaking, historic town of tobrok now %100 secure and have renamed jamahiriya square to square of the martyrs" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Confirmation now, that various brigades of the libyan army is now joining protesters to fight" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "@AJArabic caller confirms what we are all tweeting, aj corrispon in tripoli is hiding alot and agent for gaddafi" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "@AJArabic caller confirms khoms town and many many others surrounding tripoli are out on streets protesting" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "@AJArabic caller confirms over 700 now injured" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "@AJArabic BREAKiNG Caller confirmed over 200 dead in BENGHAZI, this has just come in now from @AJArabic caller on air now" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "More reports coming in from the army siding with the protesters in more and more places in #Libya, benghazi is confirmed" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "we had reports that khamis' brigade was in benghazi al brika barracks area but situation now calm and protesters in control confirmed" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Confirmed reports from the ground: Benghazi is NOT under siege, no helicopters in sight" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "CONFIRMED Report: 2000 demonstrators in center of #Misurata demonstrating against regime Getting closer and closer to Tripoli " via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Just in from a call benghazi youth control the city but clashes in birka area with khamis brigade spread now" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "it is believed AbdulQader al gaddafi who joined protesters (from gaddafi familiy) was killed by khamis' brigade" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Breaking: funeral today in bayda for abdulqader sultan al gaddafi from the gaddafi family who refused to fire on protesters" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "getting more reports of khamis gaddafi's brigade active in benghazi, they are the most brutal in #Libya" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "The UK and France suspend weapons export to Libya in protest to the violent suppression of protesters by the regime." via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "More conformations of events in Tripoli, Prior to #Feb17 Gaddafi has dispatched most of his tribe to the city" via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "International calls out of Libya are blocked. They can only receive calls." via @ShababLibya

6:00 PM "Benghazi. Gadafi's son's deadliest brigade has started launching rockets on the city. It is declared a war zone" via @MangasFreeKicks

6:00 PM Google Transparency chart shows internet traffic for Libya, dropping to almost nothing earlier and now coming back.

Video of army in Benghazi joining protesters.

9:00 AM Renesys posted earlier Renesys confirms that the 13 globally routed Libyan network prefixes were withdrawn at 23:18 GMT (Friday night, 1:18am Saturday local time), and Libya is off the Internet. One Libyan route originated by Telecom Italia directly is still BGP-reachable, but inbound traceroutes appear to die in Palermo. A minority of our peers report some surviving paths through the peering connection between Level3 and Telecom Italia, but traceroutes into those prefixes fail, suggesting that the Libyan cutoff is complete.

And then: Update 06:39 UTC Two-thirds of Libyan routes came back to life at 6:01 UTC (8:01 local time), and the remainder were restored nine minutes later. At the moment, spot checks of Libyan domains and traceroutes into affected networks indicate that connectivity has been restored, and Libya is back on the Internet.

7:00 AM Adding to all the reported shutdown of social media and internet in Libya, Al Jazeera reports its signal being jammed on several frequencies and its website being blocked in Libya.

7:00 AM Human Rights watch report on Libya for February 18 says that government security forces have killed at least 84 people in three days of protests in several cities in Libya.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in the eastern Libyan cities of Benghazi, Baida, Ajdabiya, Zawiya, and Derna on February 18, 2011, following violent attacks against peaceful protests the day before that killed 20 people in Benghazi, 23 in Baida, three in Ajdabiya, and three in Derna. Hospital sources told Human Rights Watch that security forces killed 35 people in Benghazi on February 18, almost all with live ammunition.

The protests in Benghazi on February 18 began during funerals for the 20 demonstrators killed by security forces the day before. Eyewitnesses told Human Rights Watch that security forces with distinctive yellow uniforms opened fire on protesters near the Fadil Bu Omar Katiba, a security force base in the center of Benghazi. One protester told Human Rights Watch he witnessed four men shot dead.

By 11 p.m. on February 18, Al Jalaa Hospital in Benghazi had received the bodies of 35 people killed that day, a senior hospital official told Human Rights Watch. He said the deaths had been caused by gunshot wounds to the chest, neck, and head. Two sources at the hospital confirmed to Human Rights Watch that the death toll for February 17 was 20, and that at least 45 people had been wounded by bullets.

The senior hospital official told Human Rights Watch, "We put out a call to all the doctors in Benghazi to come to the hospital and for everyone to contribute blood because I've never seen anything like this before."

Witnesses said that after the February 18 shootings, protesters in Benghazi continued on to the courthouse and gathered there throughout the evening, the crowd swelling to thousands.

In Baida, further to the east, protesters on February 18 buried the 23 people who had been shot dead the day before. One protester told Human Rights Watch that police were patrolling the streets but he had seen no further clashes.

In Ajdabiya, to the south of Benghazi, one protester told Human Rights Watch that early on February 18 people had gathered to bury the three protesters shot dead the day before. He said that on February 17, Revolutionary Guard officers fired upon peaceful protesters who were calling for a change in government. He said the protests were ongoing as of 9:30 p.m. on February 18 but that he had seen no further violence.

Tripoli, Libya's political and economic capital, remained quiet compared to the east of the country.

4:00 AM "Derna caller, he says 8 have been killed in the situation, but they have no gaddafi influence there now and lots are wounded" via @ShababLibya

4:00 AM "caller from derna, situation seems to be good, they seem to be happier with the situation then benghazi, it seems they have secured the city" via @ShababLibya

4:00 AM "if you contact anyone in benghazi tonight, please tell them water supply poisoning is scare tactics" via @ShababLibya

4:00 AM "we are not a news agency and neither are the people, they are fearing for their lives, we are relaying information as it happens " via @ShababLibya

4:00 AM "people in Libya are calling franticly each has a story to share, this is because of the lack of media on the ground" via @ShababLibya

4:00 AM "caller from egypt to explain water situation - poisoned water is scare tactics which was spread on streets of egypt, they want you to be scared and stay at home" via @ShababLibya

4:00 AM "@Cyrenaican called a contact, he says water poisoned, thats 4 different people in #Benghazi " via @ShababLibya

4:00 AM "people we now have a few callers from benghazi including the dr saying water poisoned so il leave it to you guys to decide" via @ShababLibya

4:00 AM "the caller in benghazi also says Saadi escaped " via @ShababLibya

4:00 AM "more messages being received now of mercenaries entering homes in benghazi... intimidating women while men out guarding " via @ShababLibya

4:00 AM "I am getting messages now, saying saadi is %100 not captures, ok thanks, right lets not mention him again please" via @ShababLibya

4:00 AM "Some say no saadi caught, its going to be one of those guys... but they say they will send pics, so i would ignore until pics" via @ShababLibya

4:00 AM "ok light on the saadi situation, someone called his bro they said they nearly did but he escaped in a helicopter from benghazi " via @ShababLibya

4:00 AM "Names of #Benghazi's martyrs: Moid Fathi Bujlawi 26 yrs old, Rami Salih Almaghrbi 18 yrs old, Idris Ali Raslan Almaghrbi 13 yrs old, Mohamed Salem Bu Jnah 21 yrs old, Marwan Al-ShatShat 20 yrs old, Fawzi Hussein As-Sabri 36 yrs old, Hmad Al-Ilam 27 yrs old, Mutaz Abdel-Ati Al-Droki 19 yrs old, Ibrahim Mohamed Al-Irfi 19 yrs old" via @EnoughGaddafi

4:00 AM "CONFIRMED: Zawiyyah protestors pushing out mercenaries #Feb17 #Libya but in #Benghazi mercenaries attacking citizens" via @EnoughGaddafi

4:00 AM "CONFIRMED: office of Gaddafi's Vanguard Lijan Thawriyya burnt down in Zawiyyah and city hall-like building in Zawiyyah" via @EnoughGaddafi

4:00 AM "Audioboo: LPC: #Tripoli wman: Korean&African mercenaries let loose on people in #Benghazi" via @feb17voices

4:00 AM "LPC: #Tripoli wman: gov. giving out weapons,tore up runway@ Bayda airport, sound of explosion" via @feb17voices

4:00 AM "Man from #Tripoli says Gaddafi's guys have been given guns and cars, they are at every corner" via @feb17voices

4:00 AM "LPC: #Tripoli wman: 10,000 prisoners let out 2night after prison in Ayn Zarah burned down" via @feb17voices

4:00 AM "#Tripoli wman: cops "shooting at the innocent," 5 protesters arrested" via @feb17voices

4:00 AM "#Benghazi man: gov destroying property" via @feb17voices

4:00 AM "#Benghazi man: army killng prtstrs n sum places,standng w/them n othrs. motives unclear." via @feb17voices

4:00 AM "#Benghazi man: army saying they are w/the ppl but there is "something fishy about it."" via @feb17voices

4:00 AM "#Benghazi man:elec&intnet cut, sound of live gunshts, pleading4internat community 4relief" via @feb17voices

3:30 AM A picture reportedly of a Benghazi hospital set on fire by thugs.

3:30 AM Over 40 videos from Libya via @AliLePointe

3:30 AM "my last tweet of the night, i have tried to add up deaths total from various people across Libya, looks like its around 71" via @ShababLibya

3:30 AM "#Libya, tonight, teetering between hope and terror...the violence as staggering as the courage" via @EnoughGaddafi

3:30 AM "CONFIRMED: foreign mercenaries attacking people in #Benghazi #Feb17 #Libya, eye witness account, just got off the phone" via @EnoughGaddafi

3:30 AM "Saadi escaping? Yes, I got it from those on the ground" via @der_bluthund

3:30 AM "Reports that Saadi #Gaddafi left #Benghazi with convoy." via @LibyanDictator

3:30 AM "@EnoughGaddafi Is Saadi captured?!" via @LibyanDictator

1:00 AM "benghazi is now like Cairo, where youth are organising traffic and guarding property" via @ShababLibya

1:00 AM "Mercenaries still walking the streets of Benghazi and scaring people, citizen committees being organized to protect people " via @ShababLibya

1:00 AM "TUNIS EGYPT and half of LIBYA are now free #Feb17 #Libya %100 confirmed" via @ShababLibya

1:00 AM "Aljazeera just confirmed over 100,000 demonstrators in #Benghazi, a city of 600,000" via @ShababLibya

1:00 AM "Mercenaries still walking the streets of Benghazi and scaring people, citizen committees being organized to protect people" via @libyanfsl

1:00 AM "again from fellow tweeter: mercenaries are entering homes of libyans while males are out #Libya #Feb17 (as expected city is now lawless)" via @ShababLibya

12:30 AM "Almanara: Libyan protesters hang two policemen (who shot protesters) in #Bayda" via @Tripolitanian

12:30 AM "Just heard it on radio from Benghazi!", "This in just from the Radio: Benghazi residents have arrested Saa'di al-Gaddafi!" via @Cyrenaican

12:30 AM "Benghazi resident says no army, police presence on streets, except 3 tanks outside courthouse, tank crews speaking with protesters." via @bencnn

12:30 AM "The army has turned over 4 tanks to the people in Benghazi infront of the courthouse." via @EANewsFeed

12:30 AM "Aljazeera live from #Benghazi: More than 40 buried today in the city; some as young as 12 years old " via @iyad_elbaghdadi

12:30 AM "The Libyan city of #Benghazi is in the hands of the revolutionaries now. Not a single security person there" via @AhmadFahmy

12:30 AM "we are seeing the worst in libya from the troops belonging to the children of Muamar al #gaddafi " via @ShababLibya

12:30 AM "Confirmed Zintan: gas cut petrol cut net and coms, please pray for those in Zintan" via @ShababLibya

12:30 AM "Confirmed: ladies men and children are out in Zawia facing tear gas" via @ShababLibya

12:30 AM "Confirmed: revolutionary guard building now up in flames in Zawia" via @ShababLibya

12:30 AM "@AJArabic caller confirms none of #gaddafi security left in benghazi" via @ShababLibya

12:30 AM "@AJArabic sheikh from benghazi on the line, they killed kids 10 years old and 12 years old etc" via @ShababLibya

12:30 AM "@AJArabic Obama finally speaks asks #Gaddafi not to use violence against protesters" via @ShababLibya

12:30 AM "ok, people still spread the fact we need blood in #Benghazi and #bayda please do not forget" via @ShababLibya

12:30 AM feb17voicesis an Audioboo site broadcasting eyewitness accounts from Libya.

Benghazi protesters taking Jilyana Bridge.

FRIDAY, February 18


9:20 PM "ZAWYA IS OUT ZAWYA is OUT they have no net they have to coms they are on their own sabratha go out now now now now" via @ShababLibya


9:20 PM "BENGHAZI HAS FALLEN BENGHAZI HAS FALLEN only 2 tanks in the salmani REGION LEFT PLEASE SPREAD" via @ShababLibya

9:20 PM "Benghazi is free except for Salmani area: CONFIRMED BREAKING NEWS" via @ShababLibya

9:20 PM "CONFIRMED foreign mercenaries are being treated in bayda hospitals pics will be available by libyans tonight BREAKING" via @ShababLibya

8:20 PM Benghazi now


8:20 PM Benghazi radio station now broadcasts very angry Libyan protesters.

8:20 PM A very graphic compilation video of Libyan martyrs.

8:20 PM Derna, Al Baieda and Benghazi have all reported police officers joining the protesters.

8:20 PM LibyaFeb17 have a translation of an interview between Al Jazeera and political activist Aamir Saad.

Aamir: …Their cousin, their family and neighbours. How would you feel if you were to find your brother or son have been killed by African mercenaries? The protesters in Al Bayda have been able to seize control of the military airbase in the city and have executed 50 African mercenaries and 2 Libyan conspirators. Even in Darnah today, a number of conspirators were executed, they were locked up in the holding cells of a police station because they resisted, and some died burning inside the building. This will be the end of every oppressor who stands with Gaddafi. Gaddafi is over, that’s it, he has no presence here anymore. The eastern regions of Libya are now free regions. If he wants to reclaim it, he will need to bomb us with nuclear or chemical bombs. This is his only option. The people have stood and said they will not go back. And we in Darnah today are standing and camping in AsSahabah square.

Aamir: Those are conspirators and thugs that the regime set free, and gave them 5000 dinars. The regime also promised them another 5000 dinars. But even though they are conspirators and thugs, they remain Libyans. And I know very well that they will NOT side with Gaddafi’s regime. Impossible. Only one of them fully declared his allegiance with the regime and his name is RAJAB AL ADOOLI and he was executed yesterday, he was killed, and it was over! And the things AsSaadi Al Gaddafi said yesterday on Libya’s state channel is rubbish, saying he will return to Benghazi. Benghazi does not belong to his father, for his father to give it to him to rule. Did not his father say that the RULE is in the hands of the people? WE ARE THE PEOPLE! And we tell you Gaddafi one word: LEAVE! You are an oppressor! We do not want you. I am the child of a free police officer, and I am benefitting from your regime, and I still benefit from it, and I still have money in your regime that I am entitled to due to my being the son of a police officer, but I don’t want this money. I want one thing, I want FREEDOM FOR MY COUNTRY. I want to see the flag of Islam fluttering over my country, I want to see you leave! Get out! Game over! Go hide your ugly face! What do you want me to say to him? Please go ahead Ms Khadijah.

Full translation at LibyaFeb17

7:00 PM Facebook group has an unconfirmed report of Gaddafi leaving for Sabha "in the center of a large convoy of cars and in tight security, with the closure of all the main streets of the capital until it passed."

7:45 AM Massive demonstrations now.

7:45 AM "tomorrow day of (Libya Pride) after prayer we will take it to the road men and women, dress accordingly" via @Odarhobi

7:45 AM "It's been reported from #Benghazi that internal police are killing the injured in Jala Hospital " via @Cyrenaican

7:45 AM Human Rights Watch produces an extensive report on the protests, confirms many of the "unconfirmed deaths" and reports the rest.

Some of the worst violence was in the eastern city of Baida. At around 1 p.m. on February 17, according to sources in Libya, hospital staff put out a call for additional medical supplies, as they became overwhelmed with the medical needs of 70 injured protesters, half of them in critical condition due to gunshot wounds. On the night of February 16, security forces had attacked peaceful protesters with teargas and live ammunition, shooting dead two protesters, according to protesters who spoke to Human Rights Watch. Geneva-based Libya Human Rights Solidarity has confirmed three of the names of those shot dead so far: Safwan Attiya, Nasser Al Juweigi, and Ahmad El Qabili.

One injured protester in a hospital in Baida told Human Rights Watch that he was sitting near the intensive care unit there and had confirmed that security forces had shot dead 16 people and wounded dozens of others. He said that Special Forces and armed men in street clothes fired live ammunition to deter protesters.

The protester told Human Rights Watch that he believed security forces had shot dead at least 17 protesters during the day, mostly near Abdel Nasser Street. Human Rights Watch was able to confirm eight of those deaths.

7:45 AM Interview with Ibrahim Sahad, secretary general of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya:

"President Gaddafi enlisted military forces from Chad to help in the crackdown a week before the protests began. ...

Gaddafi sent gangs to Europe to kill Libyans who choose to live away from Libya and Gaddafi. He killed Libyans in London, in Rome, Milan, in Athens. He tried to kill others in other cities. ...

One of the crimes is killing 1200 prisoners in three hours ... I expected that to hear the European governments, United States of America as they are talking about human rights and talking about democracy type of freedom to see them come forward to support the Libyan people. Unfortunately that is not taking place. ...

I don't know why. Is the oil, the Libyan oil is, there are some other deals with Gaddafi. I don't know why the White House they did not include Libya. We are seeing that they come always forward talking about human rights and democracy in other areas in the world. Why Libya, why Libyan people, why the Libyan people's rights not been supported and helped from this administration?

This is very, very, very, very disappointing.

7:45 AM "Pray for Libya, tomorrow's a big day. Big protests following Friday Prayer!" via @ShababLibya

7:45 AM "Report from ground: Benghazi and Ajdabiya said to be surrounded by troops. Nothing yet confirmed." via @ShababLibya

7:45 AM "All of Libya will be out after Friday Prayer! DOWN DOWN GADDAFI!" via @ShababLibya

7:45 AM "Police in #Derna refuse to open fire on protesters. Tomorrow will be renewed effort in the streets. #Derna will be unleashed." via @ShababLibya

7:45 AM "Tents Have been placed for Protesters in #Bengahzi" via @ShababLibya

7:45 AM "we hear the situation in rajban is dire, need any info as possible, the net and phones are down, we can not expect vids or pics" via @ShababLibya

7:45 AM "wonderful scenes through out the day in tobrok shahat (cyrene) ajdabia zintan and graphic scenes from benghazi," via @ShababLibya

Ambulances arrive in Al Baieda.

6:30 AM A lot more of the "unconfirmed dead" in pictures and video taken at a morgue.

3:30 AM "Zintan city, reports of it being surrounded by khamis gaddfis brutal troops, gaddafi's son, what on gods earth is he planning? " via @ShababLibya

3:30 AM "hey guys, to update you, we have conformation that 50 have died in #Benghazi alone tonight" via @ShababLibya

3:30 AM "Doctors confirm via Videos sent, that 50 were killed today in #Benghazi #Libya #Feb17 does this translate as a massacre?" via @ShababLibya

2:45 AM Pictures of what news outlets are calling the "unconfirmed dead".

2:45 AM "Saadi Gaddafi speech: he is committing himself to pampering #Benghazi, all the protesters should go home" via @OmarAlmu5tar

2:45 AM "@cnnbrk the "unconfirmed deaths" are only unconfirmed because YOU GUYS are not covering it adequately! DO YOUR JOB! @AJELive" via @AliLePointe

2:45 AM "Lots of unconfirmed deaths in libya, for us the are confirmed, but no independent media on the ground we libyans have our families tell us" via @ShababLibya

2:45 AM "Reports, of up to 150k LYD offered to people in Zintan to return to their homes #Libya #Feb17 LYD is double £" via @ShababLibya

2:45 AM "Saadi has asked his dad to let him develop #benghazi #yeahright #wrongplacewrongtime" via @ShababLibya

2:45 AM "saadi your speech is late, too much blood has been shed tonight and there is only one way to satisfy us." via @ShababLibya

2:45 AM "I watched it, wasn't really a speech, more of a ramble on. Just Saadi. I'm trying to tweet what I can remember, there was nothing relevant apart him brown-nosing." via @LibyanDictator

2:45 AM "I'm thinking Saadi #Gaddafi was sent to #Benghazi by his father to calm things down. Freedom is close." via @LibyanDictator

2:45 AM "Saadi #Gaddafi: I'll be staying in #Benghazi to get to know it street by street, name by name. I'll meet with the people tmrw." via @LibyanDictator

2:45 AM "Saadi #Gaddafi: There's nothing wrong with #Libyans being billionaires, if you have 10mil you can invest 10mil in Tunis and 10mil in #Libya." via @LibyanDictator

2:45 AM "Saadi #Gaddafi: #Benghazi is a great city, I have asked the leader to let me develop it. Nobody will touch it unless it's through me." via @LibyanDictator

2:45 AM "There is nothing to type out, [Saadi] rambles on worse than his father, but i'll get some points down." via @LibyanDictator

2:05 AM "Confirmed, Mercenaries killing protesters across Libya DO NOT speak Libyan, and are from subsaharan Africa speaking french" via @ShababLibya

1:30 AM Derna: Snipers on rooftops shooting at protesters with rocks

12:01 AM "2 different SMS messages sent to Libyans saying Saif & Saadi will address Libyans " via @libyanfsl

Libyan state TV Saif Gaddafi and possibly also Saadi to address Libya soon.

12:01 AM Huge protest in Benghazi

12:01 AM Protests in Tobruk

THURSDAY, February 17

11:25 LibyaFeb17 have a translation of an article from Tripoli protesters sent to, They are protesting in Al Zawiya Street and in Al Jomhoreeya Street near to the National Security building and in Fashloom and in Tajura. "The situation in Tripoli is very charged and people are calling for the masses to come out tomorrow after Friday prayer God-Willing in a modern and respectable demonstration that will demand the toppling of the regime and making reforms. It will also call for holding the corrupt to trial. The demonstrators are chanting: The blood of the martyrs will not go in vain! God is greater!" Full translation at LibyaFeb17

11:25 Protester shot in Benghazi WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC.

11:25 Protests in Tripoli

10:40 PM Al Jazeera reports Libyan students in the US say the Libyan government is threatening to withdraw scholarship funding unless they attend pro-government rallies in Washington this weekend.Source: Al Jazeera

10:20 PM Protester shot in Derna

8:50 PM "BREAKING: security belonging to the sons of #gaddafi in baida (where they live) have opened fire injuring 100s &killing 3" via @ShababLibya

8:50 PM "One boy was killed in the mosque after it was raided in Bayda (Safwan Atiyah Saleh his name)" via @rimakaLUSH

7:50PM Two people shot, reportedly dead, in Benghazi

7:30 PM Death toll hits 19 in Libya’s "Day of Rage" Source: Al Arabiya

7:30 PM "an estimated 1000 people currently out in #Tripoli (Dahra and Fashloom) also crowded with traffic via @amtfoto

7:30 PM "shocking account from a resident in #Benghazi we just spoke to #Libya #Feb17 #gaddafi crimes: as follows Contact: I spoke to my friend in central Benghazi, he said so many were arrested, and trapped in the corners of central Benghazi they caught a lot of us who appeared on videos from the night before, there are ppl undercover between us hiding in between cars and arrest us one by one when we turn away, they beat you first so you are unconscious, then take them to tripoli and elsewhere they are doing their best to kill our spirits and the motivation, we know we can not stop, coz if he remains we are first in the black list but god help us, it was limited to central benghazi but now its spreading all over, mainly through deprived areas, there is helicopters and some of the airforce in the skies, we in libya go out late afternoon and sunset, so this is when protesters are coming out and this is what has happened for the past two days (going out evening) but I hear the numbers are increasing" via @ShababLibya

7:30 PM "confirmed: 400 in the streets of #Tripoli, come on guys let it snowball " via @ShababLibya

7:30 PM "#Tripoli is making it clear: "it's crazy here" people are out and no longer have fear. confirming numbers soon" via @amtfoto

7:30 PM "Plz keep in mind #Libya has a small population living in clusters, its easy for them to trap us body, but not mind or spirit!" via @Libyan4life

7:00 PM "#Baida has been totally surrounded by the #Gaddafi regime's police and snipers are firing at unarmed protesters from rooftops." via @Jnoubiyeh

7:00 PM "BREAKING, according to Almanara, 10,000 people have taken the streets in #Benghazi asking for the downfall of the regime!!!!!! " via @ShababLibya

7:00 PM "the last we have from Ajdabiya is 4 ppl killed by sniper fire, we need info from there asap #Libya #Feb17 #Libya is at war with its regime" via @ShababLibya

7:00 PM "urgent: guys this has just gotten a whole lot more serious, please make contact with those in Ajdabiya urgently" via @ShababLibya

7:00 PM "URGENT URGENT URGENT, reports coming in of a massacre in AJDABIYA CITY, please try to make contact with those you know " via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "@BBC @AJENGLISH @CNN People are getting shot during prayers in #Benghazi #Libya. We dont have many people spreading the word about #libya via @Shergawia

5:00 PM "@AJArabic we need you guys to show smiler to your sister channel the libyans need to see whats going on" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "African mercenaries now in #Benghazi #Libya sources in Libya say they're chasing and killing people with knives and swords. We only fear God" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "#Qaddafi has threatened to flatten #Benghazi and rebuild it, and place in it African Migrants" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "As libyans we expected this from #gaddafi, recruiting protesters to fight us from Africa namely Chad #Libya #Feb17 he warned us about this" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Abdallah: yes there are pro gaddafi protests: but they are not Libyan, they are Africans they are killing everybody" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Abdallah: they are killing everybody, i am running now, they have released people from the prisons" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Abdallah (caller from benghazi) they are killing us, they just killed 6, they have swords and knifes " via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "People in Tripoli and Misrata saying they agreed to go out after Asr, perhaps that's why there is little movement so far." via @LibyanDictator

5:00 PM "is it just me, or has no world leader mentioned #Libya?" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "our population in #Libya is just over 6 million, country twice the size of egypt who are 85 mil, we need your help guys" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Confirmed Reports from #Benghazi, 6 people killed today in the city #Libya #Feb17 and the news still show pro #gaddafi protests.. shocking" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "@BBCKimGhattas BBC news needs to update the videos we are sending lots please update situation is much worse" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Benghazi,, mass protest in 20 street underway (very busy road in #Benghazi " via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "unconfirmed reports from #Tripoli protests against #gaddafi have begun, will try to confirm shortly" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Amazing none of this is on the major news, bbc, aljeez,etc. keep the news coming" via @malabobioko

5:00 PM "reports in #benghazi alot of women are taking to the streets (very good sign) #Libya #Feb17 noway back for benghazi now " via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "CONFIRMED: a military building is burnt down in AJDABIYA (East #Libya)" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "AL Bayda in full crisis, need medical supplies urgently, more security forces are being sent in we need help in bayda fast" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "#tripoli gather your friends, keep quiet and walk anywhere initially, numbers will grow, we need you now more then ever" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "@AJEnglish @AJArabic Please include these vids you are showing pro qaddafi protesters & ppl are dying " via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "just spoke to someone in #benghazi 'we are dying here' please tell AJ to air this VID we need them to NOW " via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "please urge @AJEnglish @AJArabic to broadcast, will make a world of difference to the libyans" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "most Protests happening in #Tripoli are pro-regime protests" via @amtfoto

5:00 PM "#Benghazi #Shahat (cyrene) #AlBayda #Zintan #rajban and unconfirmed from #derna are all protesting, expecting nationwide soon" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "all journalists banned from #Benghazi, most journalists based in #Benghazi have been detained" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "for the second day in a row, #Benghazi lawyers are protesting in front of the court house demanding a constitution" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "guys in #Tripoli, just get in small groups with friends and walk anywhere, it will start don't worry" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "you got it right, but #Tripoli is not on board yet, kind of frustrating do not know what they R waiting for" via @Odarhobi

5:00 PM "Benghazi is crawling with Police still waiting on news from #Tripoli seems to be rather tense" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Eye witness: saw the current pro #gaddaficrimes protesters arrive from #tripoli late last night" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "BREAKING: PRO #gaddaficrimes protesters now gathering in AL Keesh area of #Benghazi preparing to clash with anti regime protersters" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Net is up again in #Benghazi, what are they playing at? expect some new vids soon inshala" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Zintan (west libya) electricity cut off, net down, people have set up a generator for essentials" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "#Benghazi: protests gaining numbers by the min heading for maydan al shajara once more, scene of gun fire and petrol bombs last night " via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Al Bayda asking for URGENT help, running out of medical supplies #Libya #Feb17 Media need to pass this on ASAP" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Contact: looks as though the protesters are headed to the Security HQ in #Benghazi, cant make out the chants at the min" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Contact in the center of #Benghazi, & now protests officially begun, also being fed from smaller streets, heading to Jamal st" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Omar Al Mokhtar st and Amr BinAl'as st both closed ahead of huge planned protests in #Benghazi " via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Libyans abroad scrambling for any information as the net begins to go down across the country, if you hear anything post it" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "Reports in Al Bayda, security are now hunting a man who contacted Jazeera last night" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "sorry didn't translate the SMS' sent in libya, if you protest in squares or streets, you will be shot at with live fire" via @ShababLibya

5:00 PM "doctors not allowed to talk to media in Bayda, supplies are very low, 3 confirmed dead yesterday, no confirmation for today" via @EnoughGaddafi

5:00 PM "situation #Libya critical, brutal repression of demos in #Benghazi 6 confirmed dead & #Bayda no conf on death toll" via @EnoughGaddafi

5:00 PM "CONFIRMED Doctors in Bayda, east of #Benghazi , #Libya being threatened, warned against talking to media" via @EnoughGaddafi

5:00 PM It was impossible to contact witnesses in Benghazi because telephone connections to the city appeared to be out of order. Source: Haaretz

5:00 PM Head of the Libyan Committee for Truth and Justice, said two more people were killed in another city, Zentana, on Thursday while one protester was killed in Rijban, a town about 120 kilometers southwest of Tripoli.Source: Haaretz

5:00 PM Libyan activist Fathi al-Warfali said 11 protesters were killed in Beyida on Wednesday night, and scores were wounded.Source: Haaretz

5:00 PM "Confirmed from leaked correspondence, some security officers refuse 2 fight protestoers & support change Regime." via @EnoughGaddafi

5:00 PM Website Libya Al-Youm said four protesters were slain by snipers from the Internal Security Forces in the eastern city of BeyidaSource: Haaretz

5:00 PM Zintan and Rujban have been taken over by citizens. Need med suplies via Red Crescent and WHO can get in with UN protection via @Abdullah_Fadhli

5:00 PM @AJEnglish 40 years ago #Libya wasn't much of a country?Do not be the mouthpiece of dictatorship. You are insulting Libya and its history. via @Abdullah_Fadhli

5:00 PM @AJEnglish 40 years ago #Libya wasn't much of a country. Well Gaddafis been in power for nearly 42 years now. Cant even get propaganda right via @Abdullah_Fadhli

5:00 PM @AJEnglish How about doing some coverage on the human rights violations that are ravaging the people of #Libya now? via @Abdullah_Fadhli

5:00 PM @AJEnglish Your coverage of Libya is inconsistent. The people are demanding Gaddafis removal and are dying for doing so. via @Abdullah_Fadhli

5:00 PM @AJEnglish Libyans are incredibly repressed and you are aiding that repression. via @Abdullah_Fadhli

5:00 PM @AJEnglish Do you have bipolar? Your recent segment was a disgrace to journalism and freedom in general. You must hate #Libya and its people via @Abdullah_Fadhli

5:00 PM The people of #Benghazi will be slaughtered if journalists do not cover the ongoing sturggle. @AJEnglish @jazeeraportal @AP via @Abdullah_Fadhli

9:30 AM Updated map and blog stream of protests via @Arasmus.

7:30 AM A video from Zintan from youtube user MeddiTV.

7:30 AM Another video from Albeida from youtube user MeddiTV.

7:15 AM Al Jazeera announces a live blog for Libya. It so far contains two entries, neither newsworthy.

7:15 AM Protesters in Albeida shout "Gaddafi you dictator! The turn has come for you, the turn has come for you!" Translation from LibyaFeb17.

7:15 AM Benghazi eyewitness account on Al Jazeera translated on LibyaFeb17. The eyewiness says there is no Libyan government presence for negotiation, they brought thugs to Benghazi from outside but they all fled from the protesters. Snipers are positioned atop buildings in all parts of the city with the primary aim to kill the Libyan youth. [Men with what appear to be rifles on top of buildings can be seen in the video below.] While I speak to you now there is a heavy exchange of fire. Our demand is one and that is to topple the regime! Removing Mu’ammar Al Gaddafi! Removing him and his children! We want to change the regime! We are fed up! We have become tired, that’s it, we’ve had enough as the Arabs say! Too much has happened. 1200 murdered in the prison of Abu Sleem, 500 HIV infected children in Benghazi. Full translation at LibyaFeb17.

4:02 AM: Al Jazeera reports that the names of the two people killed in Al-Beida were Khaled ElNaji Khanfar and Ahmad Shoushaniya. They say at least 38 other people were injured in Al-Beida.
3:40 AM: Protesters burn Gadaffi pictures and a building in Al-Beida

  • 1:10 AM: "CONFIRMED: Demonstrations in #Benghazi on Gamel AbduNasr St., over 5000 demonstrators" via @EnoughGaddafi
  • 1:10 AM: "CONFIRMED: Demonstrations in #Derna, chantin "Ya sa7afa, waynkum waynkum" "Media! Where are you? Where are you?" via @EnoughGaddafi
  • 1:10 AM: "Gunfire in the street Amr ibn al-Aas in #Benghazi" via @DJMeddi
  • 1:10 AM: "CONFIRMED: Helicopters used to shoot demonstrators in #Bayda, 3 CONFIRMED dead" via @EnoughGaddafi
  • 1:10 AM: "CONFIRMED: Demonstrations in #Benghazi on Gamel AbduNasr St., security forces using teargas & water cannons on protestors " via @EnoughGaddafi
  • 1:10 AM: "Confirmed: 13 Dead in #Bayda" via @Libya17Feb
  • 12:30 AM: "UPDATE: 2 protesters are confirmed dead after being shot by police east of #Benghazi and several #Libyans have been wounded." via @Jnoubiyeh
  • 12:30 AM: "URGENT: Shots fired in downtown Benghazi killing at least 1 person" via @SumayyahG

  • WEDNESDAY, February 16

  • "can we rely on our army like #Tunisia and #Egypt? I very much doubt it" | "Confirmed, at least 800 soldiers are now in #Benghazi from #Tripoli, same old #gaddafi mixing the country so no relations" | "Revolutionary guard are usually well paid and have a relatively good standard of living, and will die for #gaddafi" via @bintlibya
  • Gunfire in video from Albeida via @bintlibya
  • "3 protestors dead and 4 injured in Albayda #Libya they are using live ammo" via @bintlibya
  • "Please note: reports of 4 to 7 deaths in Al-baida in #benghazi and 14 injured, inc a 12 year old today." via @ChangeInLibya
  • British Libya Solidarity Campaign asks for protests on Thursday, 17th February 2011 at the Libyan Embassy - London
  • Demonstrations in Al-Bayda (police station burning in background)

  • "Massive protests against Gaddafi"


  • TUESDAY, February 15

  • Troops raided the home of rights advocate Fathi Tarbel and took him away for questioning, causing protests in Benghazi which lasted until around 4 a.m. Wednesday. Atlanta Jouurnal-Constitution
  • Saif al-Islam Gadhafi ochestrated the release of 110 members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group leaving only 30 members of the group in prison.
  • Protesters chanted: "No God but Allah. Moammar is the enemy of Allah," and "Down, down to corruption and to the corrupt."
  • Police and security fired rubber bullets and hot water cannons. A video showed people running away from gunfire while shots are heard. A young man in a white, bloodstained robe was seen being carried by protesters.
  • A Libyan security official said 14 people, including 10 policemen, were injured.
  • In Zentan hundreds marched through the streets and set fire to security headquarters and a police station, then set up tents in the heart of the town.
  • In Beyida hundreds set fire to police stations while chanting, "The people want the ouster of the regime".
  • Security forces in Beyida have rounded up many activists in the run up to the February 17 protest date.

  • Benghazi protests on February 15 via EnoughLibya2011

  • Benghazi protests on February 15 via EnoughLibya2011

  • Benghazi protests on February 15 via EnoughLibya2011

  • WL Central Live Blog of Libya for March

    Other WL Central Coverage of Libya:

    2011-03-05 Cables: The Vulnerability of Black African Migrant Workers in Libya

    2011-02-24 Former Guantanamo Detainee Denies Islamic Emirate Has Been Set Up in Eastern Libya [UPDATE:1]

    2011-02-24 Arming Gaddfi

    2011-02-22 How US Businesses in Libya Made Certain They Could Operate in the Rogue State

    2011-02-21 Saif al-Islam Gaddafi Speaks: What Libyan Cables Say About His Address

    2011-02-19: Libya, Bahrain & others: Crimes against humanity, what can we do?

    2011-02-19 - #Libya, a Republic for the Masses?

    2011-02-19 "This Week in WikiLeaks Podcast" on MENA Protests & WikiLeaks

    2011-02-18 The Abu Salim Massacre: Cables on Libya's Continued Impunity for 1996 Killings

    2011-02-17 Cables Show Repression Has Effectively Limited Libyans' Vision for Reform

    2011-02-09 February 17 A Day of Rage to protest against 'The Revolution'

    2011-01-31 Cables: Libya threatened to seize assets of Petro-Canada

    2011-01-27 Libya is in revolt as Gaddafi worries

    2011-01-16 Early reports of unrest in Libya [UPDATE 1]

    Other Related News Sources:

    2011-02-15 Cameroon's rumoured protests

    ImageDespite all search engines showing nothing but football for news in Cameroon, Twitter insists they are having a revolution, beginning with protests on February 23. The hashtags are being used, but there is very little under them. The Cameroon Tribune reports “Thousands of youths last Thursday, February 10 marched in the streets of Yaounde to demonstrate their patriotism and commitment to preserve peace, stability and development in Cameroon. The march in support of President Paul Biya and the institution he incarnates was in reaction to the wind of violence and destabilisation of State institutions blowing across some African countries.”

    There are three pictures circulating online that say they depict “Youngsters from Cameroon protest against the government and the president Biya, willing to stay in power by changing the Constitution. The crowd was also protesting against the unemployment and the inflation. They burnt public building, cars, and even a bus.” But the pictures are from the February 2008 riots which killed between 40 and 139 people. Those riots broke out when 78 year old Biya , who has been president for 29 years, brought in a constitutional change that did away with presidential term limits and enabled him to run again. There is another presidential election due in October, but Cameroon’s elections, always regarded as some of the most corrupt in the world, received a new blow in March 2010 when parliament passed a bill giving the government oversight of poll preparations, supplanting the previous independent electoral body.

    "This law is the worst law we've ever had because it brings back the administration and members of the judiciary into the electoral process in full force," said Afany Ngeh, executive president of the Foundation for Human Rights and Development. "These are two very corrupt groups in this country that have paralysed elections in the past."

    Cameroonian Presidential candidate and women's rights activist Kah Walla has warned Cameroon President Paul Biya that protests could come to Cameroon in an open letter on February 12. "It is a very bad season for presidents who have been in power for over 20 years, maintaining their power through dubious, ritualistic elections, which have credibility neither with their own people nor with the global community," she wrote.

    According to US state cable 09YAOUNDE369 from 2009, “Cameroon's ability to track its own budget is among the worst in Africa. ... The Embassy believes there is significant variance between the projected budget and the budget as it is actually executed. Embassy contacts tell us that the GRC does not have the capacity to track its own budget execution because there is no interface among various computer programs used by the Office of the Budget (which plans the budget) and the Office of the Treasury (which spends the money), meaning even the Minister of Finance is incapable of giving a detailed account for how funds were spent. Additionally, numerous civil society organizations have reported difficulty in obtaining detailed expenditure information for their efforts to track budget execution in certain localities or in certain sectors. For many years, the GRC was engaging in off-budget spending, including especially use of oil revenues to finance security and defense projects. This practice was increasingly reduced during the GRC's participation in the IMF program, but recent reports indicate the GRC is again spending substantial sums "off-budget."

    Amnesty international describes Cameroon as routinely using killings and torture to repress political dissent,and says of the victims of the 2008 riot killings, “Amnesty International has received photographs and testimonies suggesting that some of the victims were shot at point blank range, without any effort made to arrest them.”

    2011-02-15 Four allegations against Julian Assange & ‘dual criminality’: Extradition Part 6

    At the final day of the extradition hearing on 11th February 2011 SC Montgomery from the Crown Prosecution Service, acting for the Swedish prosecution authorities, made what this writer considers to be some extraordinary submissions. One of them was directed personally at Robertson and was simply unacceptable, if, and I believe it to be so, that the tweeter @federicacocco correctly recorded it:

    No doubt rough consensual sex is something on which he [is] able to give some useful information to the court.

    Robertson SC has every right to report her to the Bar Council of England and Wales. It was uncalled for and unhelpful to the case and one can’t help thinking of automatic adverse inferences on both counsel and his client, the respondent/defendant Julian Assange which would have been aggravated if there had been a jury involved.

    Perhaps I’m wrong and the English bar allows practitioners to insult each other at the bar table in such fashion but I rather doubt it.

    The other submission that stood out to this writer was this assertion of Ms Montgomery QC from the Guardian:

    Clare Montgomery QC, for the Swedish prosecutor, said of Miss A's account: "In popular language, that's violence." The account given by Miss B, meanwhile, "would undoubtedly be rape here. If you penetrate a sleeping woman there's an evidential assumption that she did not consent."

    There are never any evidential “assumptions” in any matter, in any evidence Act that I am aware of, especially pertaining to criminal law. There may be presumptions in law, for example, that a woman with children removed and in out of home care, having a newborn child may be subject to a presumption that that newborn child is in need of care and protection , but such presumptions are uncommon and are always rebuttable. Another example, there is a presumption in my country that a child 10 to 14 is incapable of committing acrime, rebuttable by the prosecution on evidence advanced.

    If as Montgomery claims there is an evidential assumption that there is no consent in the circumstances of a sleeping woman, then it follows that there would be an automatic assumption of guilt on such sexual intercourse occurring: assumed non consent plus victim asleep plus penetration would be automatic rape under Montgomery’s novel dictum. That's what happens when the prosecution does not have to prove lack of consent.

    Assumption or presumption of guilt is of course contrary to Article 6(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Context is of course the key here. If a stranger breaks into a house and penetrates a sleeping woman then of course non consent could be ‘assumed’ as a starting point. Those particular circumstances on a complaint would make the burden of proof as to non consent much less difficult for the prosecution given that people do not ordinarily consent to uninvited strangers in their bed.

    If it was the partner of some period of time who “penetrated” under ongoing consensual arrangements that’s a different story altogether, as Robertson put it this way:

    Sexual enounters have their ebbs & flows. What may be unwanted one minute can with further empathy become desired.

    But the crucial point, in the case of the break and enter merchant above, in adversarial systems, is that the onus is still on the prosecution to prove lack of consent, but not in (inquisitorial system) Sweden.

    Montgomery’s “assumption” in view of the evidence of a short but consensual sexual relationship (up to the time of the allegation by all accounts) between Assange and complainant “B” (European Arrest Warrant-EAW- alleged offence 4) is an arrant nonsense. It is an assumption that many might make but it is one that has not a shred of substance in law as we know it, in adversarial systems of criminal justice. One wonders what instructions the Swedish authority gave Montgomery SC on this point, if at all.

    Leaving aside the arguments against the authority of prosecutor Ny to issue an arrest warrant, a technical knockout point if ever there was one (which I will leave to the judgement but suspect it will be rejected), a major issue is not the strength of the prosecution case as such, but the particulars of the alleged offences, which are, for rather various reasons highly relevant to the case. Of course those particulars when analysed cannot help but reflect on the strength of the prosecution case, but the Extradition Act does not require the strength of the prosecution case to reach a minimum threshhold for extradition to be granted. That may be a question for the EU Framework Agreement establishing the EAW system that may be subject to revision in future as a result of this case.

    The EAW warrant can be found as the last Pdf file on this page at Finers Stephens Innocent. It gives the particulars of the alleged offences (which need to be examined in detail) as follows:

    This warrant relates to in total: 4 offence(s) was (were) committed
    Including the time, place and degree of participation in the offence(s) by the requested Person.

    1) Unlawful coercion
    On 13-14 August 2010, in the home of the injured party [AA] in Stockholm, Assange, by using violence, forced the injured party to endure his restricting her freedom of movement. The violence consisted in a firm hold of the injured party’s arms and a forceful spreading of her legs while lying on top of her and with his body weight preventing her from moving or shifting.
    2) Sexual molestation
    On 13-14 August 2010, in the in the home of the injured party [AA] in Stockholm, Assange deliberately molested the injured party by acting in a manner designed to violate her sexual integrity. Assange who was aware that it was the expressed wish of the injured party and a prerequisite of sexual intercourse that a condom be used, consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her without her knowledge.
    3) Sexual molestation
    On 18th August 2010 or on any of the days before or after that date, in the home of the injured party [AA] in Stockholm, Assange deliberately molested the injured party by acting in a manner designed to violate her sexual integrity ie lying next to her and pressing his naked, erect penis to her body.
    4) Rape
    On 17th August 2010, in the home of the injured party [SW] in Enkoping, Assange deliberately consummated sexual intercourse with with her by improperly exploiting that she, due to sleep, was in a helpless state.
    It is an aggravating circumstance that Assange, who was aware that it was the express wish of the injured party and a prerequisite of sexual intercourse that a condom be used, still consummated the unprotected sexual intercourse with her. The sexual act was designed to violate the injured party’s sexual integrity.

    Firstly it has to be noted that immediately after this, in the warrant, only the box “rape” is ticked. Extraditable offences are stated in Article 2 of the Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States and of course “rape” is there, however, the problem is whether or not the above first 3 sequences at least constitute “rape”.

    Secondly it has to be noted that these Article 2 (para 2) offences do not have to be of a “dual criminality” nature:

    2. The following offences, if they are punishable in the issuing Member State by a custodial sentence or a detention order for a maximum period of at least three years and as they are defined by the law of the issuing Member State, shall, under the terms of this Framework Decision and without verification of the double criminality of the act, give rise to surrender pursuant to a European arrest warrant:

    Double criminality being offences which have direct equivalents in both states. Article 2 Para1 also has the 12 month sentence requirement for an accusatory warrant as distinct from a sentence warrant in the case of a convicted person (4 months).

    Unlawful coercion above might at its highest constitute attempted “rape” but that is not included in the Article 2 para 2 list, it could therefore be part of para 4 where dual criminality (I prefer that term as “double” infers more criminality) applies ie there is an equivalent offence:

    [Art2 Para4] For offences other than those covered by [Art 2] paragraph 2, surrender may be subject to the condition that the acts for which the European arrest warrant has been issued constitute an offence under the law of the executing Member State, whatever the constituent elements or however it is described.

    Also another relevant part:

    Article 4: Grounds for optional non-execution of the European
    arrest warrant.
    The executing judicial authority may refuse to execute the European arrest
    1. if, in one of the cases referred to in Article 2(4), the act on which the European arrest warrant is based does not constitute an offence under the law of the executing
    Member State;…

    So, back to alleged offence 1. Note that the particulars do not have ‘lack of consent’ as an element. If the warrant specified “without consent” on the conduct alleged, it could for example be a common law offence of common assault, intentionally causing fear or apprehension of violence. As the box ‘rape’ is ticked and the UK has no apparent equivalent of “unlawful coercion” it falls within Article 2(4) and should be excluded.

    Robertson described this as the "missionary position" which on the particulars is essentially what it is.

    Alleged offence 2. This is clumsily worded, obviously missing clarity due to the likely differences in sentence structure. It should read “consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her without her knowledge of non condom use. This is apparently the “broken condom” incident, but no mention of that in the warrant, which probably explains why it’s an allegation of ‘molestation’ and not a sexual assault matter which it would be under UK law provided the prosecution had a prima facie case with evidence that the accused knew that the condom was broken. Again it should be excluded per Article 2(4).

    Alleged offence 3 in this writer’s legal opinion is ridiculous. As there is no allegation that Assange was in the complainant’s bed without her consent, the argument here, apart from rejection again per Article 2(4), could have been for His Honour to be invited by Robertson to take judicial notice of involuntary tumescence in males, especially in the early hours of the morning with a full bladder.

    Robertson has argued all these 3 alleged offences should be rejected, for the Article 2(4) reasons above and this writer has not seen any prosecuting ‘opening note’ upon which the prosecution has the onus to demonstrate equivalencies in UK law.

    The terminology used by Ms Ny in her statement, ie “minor rape” (Finers Stephens Innocent link as above), was said by Robertson on Day 3 to be “a misuse of terminology.” It is represented apparently by the two allegations of sexual molestation in the warrant. I ask readers to consider this: imagine a crime “minor murder”? Using terminology such as “minor rape” is again, arrant nonsense that says more about Swedish policy framing that it says about justice.

    But the real problem for the defence is alleged offence 4, (complainant B), for which there is no dual criminality applicable. It is the most serious of the four offences alleged. It is the one for which Montgomery QC made the submission at the beginning of this article on ‘assumed’ lack of consent, a recognition perhaps of its importance to the judicial outcome. On all external accounts Ms B did earlier have consensual sex with Assange, but even if that was in evidence, it has little to no relevance to the extradition proceedings.

    The argument that Robertson apparently made for dual criminality here, including the cosmopolitan interpretation argument (along with pointing out the missing ‘lack of consent’ element), may not be sufficient to overcome the letter of the EAW law. He also said:

    If Sweden says it's rape it's rape, is like saying if Sweden says sucking toes without washing them is rape, it's rape.

    Again more of a problem with the EAW system rather than a convincing argument against extradition, but still rather relevant to sequences 1 to 3.

    For the purposes of extradition, as Montgomery submitted in effect, simply by ticking the box and alleging “rape” with particulars sufficient to qualify for what is generally regarded on the face of it to be rape: may be Article 2 paragraph 2 sufficient for that part of the extradition process to succeed for Sweden, (if the missing non-consent element is held not to be relevant). But that does not mean that sequence 4 alone passing the test will necessarily determine the outcome.

    To be continued…Fair trial/prosecutorial conduct; human rights.

    2011-02-15 Renewed Patriot Act provisions and forthcoming extensions

    Renewed Items

    On February 14, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives had an opportunity to reject or approve an extension of governmental authority to use surveillance methods deemed permissible under the current Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Protection Act (pdf) and the USA Patriot Act, whose stated goal is "to deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and other purposes," including:

    • To strengthen U.S. measures to prevent, detect and prosecute international money laundering and financing of terrorism;

    • To subject to special scrutiny foreign jurisdictions, foreign financial institutions and classes of international transactions or types of accounts that are susceptible to criminal abuse;

    • To require all appropriate elements of the financial services industry to report potential money laundering;

    • To strengthen measures to prevent use of the U.S. financial system for personal gain by corrupt foreign officials and facilitate repatriation of stolen assets to the citizens of countries to whom such assets belong.

    The nine-month renewal of three Patriot Act provisions cruised to approval today, with a vote of 275 to 144. There were 27 Republican no votes and 65 Democratic yes votes for the extension. The full voting breakdown can be seen here.

    Here are the three renewed items from the original Foreign Intelligence
    Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments, an html copy of which can be found here:

    • Section 6001(a) of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Protection Act (IRTPA), also known as the “lone wolf” provision, which simplifies the evidentiary showing needed to obtain a FISA court order to target non-U.S. persons who engage in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor, specifically by authorizing such orders in the absence of a proven link between a targeted individual and a foreign power;

    • Section 206 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which permits multipoint, or “roving,” wiretaps—i.e., wiretaps which may follow a target even when he or she changes phones—by adding flexibility to the manner in which the subject of a FISA court order is specified; and

    • Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which broadens the types of records and other tangible things that can be made accessible to the government under FISA.

    As Research fellow Julian Sanches points out in an excellent analysis of these provisions, the "lone wolf" authority allows for the monitoring of non- U.S. citizens in the U.S. "who are suspected of involvement in terrorist activities ... under the broad powers afforded by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), even if they are not connected to any overseas terror group or other 'foreign power.'"

    It was passed after FBI claimed the absence of “lone wolf” authority stymied efforts to monitor the infamous “20th 9/11 Hijacker”--but a bipartisan Senate report found that this failure was actually the result of a series of gross errors by the FBI, not any gap in government surveillance powers.

    Lone Wolf also blurs the traditional distinction between foreign intelligence and investigations involving domestic national security.

    The way the statute is written, Lone Wolf authority is only available in circumstances where investigators would already be able to obtain a criminal terrorism wiretap. Given of the sweeping nature of FISA surveillance, that more narrow criminal surveillance authority should be employed when the special needs imposed by the involvement of a “foreign power” are not present.

    Roving wiretap authority, the second item, allows wiretapping court orders to apply to multiple phone lines, in the event that a suspect is using more than one. Traditional wiretap authority in criminal cases only applied to one phone line. This is significant because the traditional requirement for identifying uniquely named targets does not allow for “John Doe” wiretap warrants "that name neither a person nor a specific 'place' or facility--disturbingly similar to the 'general warrants' the Founders were concerned to prohibit when they crafted the Fourth Amendment."

    The third item, Section 215, is also troubling in that it grants the FISA court the power to order the production of both business records and any other “tangible thing” on the basis of "reasonable grounds" and a belief that the records are in some sense "relevant" to an investigation. As it stands, there is no "probable cause" requirement and there is no requirement of any connection to terrorism at all.

    These concerns may explain why the extension for the provisions failed to pass last week, when it fell 7 votes short of approval after being brought to the floor under "fast-track rules" that require a two-thirds vote--a process usually reserved for less controversial proposals. As the Washington Post and others had predicted after the failed first attempt, however, the extension was very unlikely to be rejected under "normal rules" the second time around.

    Congressman Justin Amash, who voted against the extension, posted the following objection on Facebook:

    The U.S. House just debated and voted on H.R. 514, To Extend Expiring Provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. This renewal allows the government to obtain a broad production order to confiscate your business records without disclosing to you the purposes of the investigation while prohibiting you from discussing it with anyone. It failed 277-148 (needed 2/3 majority).

    Congressman Amash also expressed his concerns in an e-mailed statement last week:

    “Like many Republicans and Democrats concerned with protecting civil liberties, I have serious reservations about the USA PATRIOT Act provisions up for renewal. The business records provision allows the government to order the production of ‘any tangible things’ — e-mails, phone logs, and even library records. Worse still, the company turning over the records to the government is forbidden from telling the records’ owner of the order. Likewise, the Act’s roving wiretap provision goes far beyond a similar provision in criminal law. It may allow the government continuously to monitor pay phones or public computers, even when a suspect is not using the devices. The breadth of the provisions raises serious Fourth Amendment concerns in my mind, and I cannot support them as currently written.”

    Further Possible Extensions and Revisions Coming in February

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked U.S. citizens to take action toward a reform of the Patriot Act--a reform that was promised by Congress itself. Interestingly, when Congress extended the Patriot Act in February 2010, the decision was defended with the justification that Congress needed more time "to fully consider a range of PATRIOT reform proposals." However, the Patriot Act extension bill does not contain any reform aimed at promoting human rights.

    Conversely, at the end of this month, Senate Democrats and Republicans will decide on an approach to extend the legal authority articulated in the Patriot Act. Three bills have been introduced to approach the issue.

    1. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and Senator Patrick Leahy's Bill is the most modest of the three and proposes extending three surveillance authorities until the end of 2013; it also promises some overseeing of the U.S. government's surveillance activities.

    2. New Judiciary ranking member Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has introduced a bill to extend the Patriot Act's authorities permanently. Both Grassley and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said that temporary extensions and Leahy's promise of "oversight" would not be beneficial to U.S. intelligence: "The threat of terrorism isn't going away so we must provide our agents with the tools they need to get the job done," Grassley said.
      "Given that terrorist threats, including those from self-radicalized individuals, continue to evolve, we must ensure that our law enforcement agents are not burdened with new restrictions on existing authorities."

    3. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California seeks to extend the bill through to 2013 without the oversights proposed by Grassley.

    2011-02-15 Saudi Arabia warned of revolution as protests continue and King Abdullah rumoured dead

    ImageSaudi Arabian Mufti Sheikh Yusof al-Ahmad warned that Saudi Arabia could also face a revolution unless steps are taken to fight widespread unemployment and poverty. He criticized government spending as wasteful and called for supervision over public spending. In particular, he criticized a recent USD 29.8 billion spent on King Abdullah University. The unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia is 10.5% (official) or as much as 20% (unofficial) and parliament recently announced that 22% of the population live below the poverty line.

    WL Central has already reported one Saudi Arabian protest in an article on February 2 and another reported on February 13 along with a protest scheduled for February 18.

    Islam Times has been reporting since February 10 that Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is dead, a report vociferously denied by government officials who say he is in good spirits. Islam Times reports that the king suffered a heart attack after a heated argument with US president Obama over the future of Egypt's ousted president Mubarak who the king supports. Oil prices jumped as much as US$1 per barrel at the rumour of the death of the 86 year old king who was recovering from two back operations he underwent in New York in December. Now others are claiming inside sources who confirm the king's death, while some report a "major setback" and "signs of mental deterioration".

    It was reported today that Saudi Arabia was sending troops to Bahrain to help King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. King Abdullah, who has provided a home for exiled Tunisian president Ben Ali, has expressed strong disapproval of the protests.

    Research credit: @_x40

    2011-02-15 Syria and teen blogger Tal al-Mallouhi!/SirkkuAsheesh/status/37740988084523008

    Tal al-Mallouhi was arrested in Syria in December 2009, and yesterday, at 20 years old, was sentenced to five years in prison for spying, an action condemned by the Committee to Protect Journalists. She had written blog articles saying she wished to play a role in shaping the future of Syria, and asking US president Barack Obama to do more to support Palestine. She was charged with "revealing information that should remain hushed to a foreign country". An official told Al Jazeera she "deserved 15 years in prison but her sentence was commuted considering her age".

    PJ Crowley, of the US state department, "sharply criticized" Syria's handling of this case. Obama recently interfered in a similar case in Yemen, that time demanding that a Yemeni journalist remain in prison for reporting the truth about a US attack in Yemen that killed 55 civilians.

    Syria's reaction to the threat of protests was covered by WL Central here. It was noted at that time, that despite a well publicized and lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal touting change in his regime, president Bashar al-Assad actions have not yet matched his words on any level. In his interview he advocated "the people participating in the decisions of their country" said "real reform is about how to open up the society, and how to start dialogue," and of the Syrian people, "They want to criticize you, let them criticize and do not worry. Just be transparent with your people and tell them this is the reality."

    He was very confident that there would be no protests in Syria, (a country with approximately 10,000 political prisoners) and said "I do not think it is about time, it is about the hope, because if I say that in five years time or ten years time may be, if the situation is going to be better, people are patient in our region." Patient, perhaps. But as WL Central pointed out previously, there is very little to be hopeful for and very little change to be seen, and as Assad also said, "The problem is if you tell them I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel."

    2011-02-15 WikiLeaks Vindicates Those Behind Unfolding Revolutions

    ImageFor those in countries that are working to topple brutal and oppressive regimes, there is a power that WikiLeaks cables have, one that can be tremendously beneficial. Cables from Tunisia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Algeria, Bahrain, Libya, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia all illuminate why the people of those countries would rise up against their governments. They compel people to acknowledge the magnitude of abuses and suffering that the people have been experiencing under autocratic regimes.

    The planned “Day of Rage” protests being met with security forces and violence in Algeria, Iran and Yemen can be further understood thanks to the cables. The clashes in Bahrain and the brewing unrest in Syria can be illuminated because of the analysis from US diplomats in the cables. And, what continues to unfold in Egypt and Tunisia and inspire people in countries like Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Libya, whose people intend to hold their own “Day of Rage” on February 17.

    The current events are not a result of WikiLeaks. They are not more important because of WikiLeaks. But, the context surrounding the uprisings are easier to understand because of released cables.


    The spread of unrest being witnessed is believed to have begun in Tunisia in January. Tunisians were aware of the level of corruption of the Tunisia family of their now-former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. But, after a Lebanese newspaper released cables further illuminating the workings of Tunisia government, after WikiLeaks drew attention to a specific cable, Tunisians could now be grateful because everyone was now “whispering” what Tunisians had always known.

    One of the cables that is widely believed to have been what empowered Tunisians is the cable titled, “Corruption in Tunisia: What’s Yours is Mine,” from June 23, 2008.

    Another cable on a site that popped up in the first month of Cablegate called TuniLeaks 08TUNIS679 highlights the corruption in Tunsia:

    …the excesses of President Ben Ali's family that inspire outrage among Tunisians. With Tunisians facing rising inflation and high unemployment, the conspicuous displays of wealth and persistent rumors of corruption have added fuel to the fire.

    The recent protests in the mining region of Gafsa provide a potent reminder of the discontent that remains largely beneath the surface. This government has based its legitimacy on its ability to deliver economic growth, but a growing number of Tunisians believe those as the top are keeping the benefits for themselves.

    14. (S) Corruption is a problem that is at once both political and economic. The lack of transparency and accountability that characterize Tunisia's political system similarly plague the economy, damaging the investment climate and fueling a culture of corruption. For all the talk of a Tunisian economic miracle and all the positive statistics, the fact that Tunisia's own investors are steering clear speaks volumes. Corruption is the elephant in the room; it is the problem everyone knows about, but no one can publicly acknowledge.

    Another cable on Ben Ali taking over a bank, 08TUNIS568, suggests, “Tunisians are unable to complain publicly, but do so loudly in private about crony capitalism and ill-gotten gains. Rumors of familial corruption have become widespread in Tunisia, with Banque de Tunisie just one of many examples.” And adds, “Faced with high unemployment and high prices, Tunisians are simultaneously confronted with obvious corruption and conspicuous displays of wealth. The frustration is palpable, but it appears there is no end in sight.”

    It is the “crony capitalism” and the unemployment and the inability for Tunisians to express their discontent that ultimately erupted into a revolution that led President Ben Ali to flee. WikiLeaks, in addition to Mohamed Bouzizi self-immolating to call attention to the need for opposition to Ben Ali, toppled a regime.


    The popular revolution in Egypt, which drove President Hosni Mubarak out of power around three weeks after a “Day of Rage” on January 25, maintained a lot of its momentum by communicating through Twitter. Much of the world paid attention to the unfolding events by following the hashtag “#jan25.” It is hard to gauge how the cables on Egypt played a role in the uprising, but, for people outside of the country, it provided much needed context as events were unfolding.

    Cables showed how Egyptians were routinely victims of police brutality and how bloggers and activists were often targeted. At least one cable illuminated how members of political opposition groups were rounded up ahead of elections in 2010.

    09CAIRO874 shows why Mubarak was averse to reforming his regime. Part of that cable reads:

    … No issue demonstrates Mubarak,s worldview more than his reaction to demands that he open Egypt to genuine political competition and loosen the pervasive control of the security services. Certainly the public "name and shame" approach in recent years strengthened his determination not to accommodate our views. However, even though he will be more willing to consider ideas and steps he might take pursuant to a less public dialogue, his basic understanding of his country and the region predisposes him toward extreme caution…

    … As with regional issues, Mubarak, seeks to avoid conflict and spare his people from the violence he predicts would emerge from unleashed personal and civil liberties. In Mubarak’s mind, it is far better to let a few individuals suffer than risk chaos for society as a whole…

    When Omar Suleiman was appointed vice president to possibly help contain the revolution, it became known quickly why Egyptians were not going to be pacified by the appointment. They revealed Suleiman despises the Muslim Brotherhood, was willing to help Israel by interfering in elections in Palestine to prevent Hamas from winning, and that he helped maintain the blockade on the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza and actively engaged in anti-smuggling efforts.

    This, in addition to key information on how Suleiman had been someone who helped the CIA with rendition and torture in Egypt, made clear the revolution would never let him take control of Egypt.

    Now, as the military seeks to transfer the country from a military to a civilian government, cables on General Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, revealing that he has traditionally been resistant to change—context that can help the world understand why the military is working to prevent protests and strikes from taking place that might influence what happens in Egypt’s transition period.


    Perhaps, it is no surprise that an uprising would be brewing to get rid of President Omar al-Bashir. The South just seceded and earned recognition from the United Nations.

    The Sudanese people held their “Day of Rage” on January 30. It has not led to the success that Egypt had (but then again, the world’s eyes were on Egypt, which no doubt had a huge influence on the success of the Egypt uprising).

    The day was particularly deadly for students. One student beaten by police during demonstrations died from his wounds. That day hundreds of student protesters, according to Al Jazeera pushed past security forces to get on to the streets and shout, “Revolution against dictatorship!”

    The growing unrest is organic and inspired by what has happened in Tunisia and Egypt. To better understand why President Omar al-Bashir, one might consult a November 2008 cable, which involves a meeting between Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor and former Egypt president Hosni Mubarak, describes a “volatile political situation” that Islamists in the country might try to exploit to their advantage.

    The cable shows Bashir facing an increased crisis of legitimacy. The meeting in Egypt focused on “worries about the unity and stability of Sudan.” Mubarak and Suleiman are quoted saying, “Progress comes about as a result of quarrels which leave greater bitterness behind." It is noted that unity had not been made “attractive,” as the country’s regime has not “invested in the South even though it has oil money,” which leads them both to ask, “Why would anyone want to stay in such a country?"

    Suleiman describes how Bashir is becoming more politically isolated:

    … The Egyptians told Deng that Bashir is increasingly isolated with only some of the senior professional officers in SAF loyal to the President, but they are not really in charge of most of the military. Alor and Murbarak commiserated about the recent Fateh Arwa incident when Bashir attempted to replace the powerful Ghosh with retired Army General Arwa, issuing a decree reinstating Arwa as a Lieutenant General in preparation for placing him as head of State Security. Bashir was confronted by Taha, Nafie, Al-Jaz, MOD Abdurahim Hussein and Presidential Affairs Minister Bakri Salih (the last two frequently seen as Bashir loyalists) and told that appointing Arwa was a party "red line" for them. Bashir was forced to humiliatingly reverse his order after 24 hours…

    The isolation and recent secession of southern Sudan leaves Bashir desperate, so desperate he recently called for government to “expand rural electrification efforts “so that the younger citizens can use computers and Internet to combat opposition through social networking sites such as Facebook.”


    Finally, the state-sponsored violence against Yemenis protesting the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh has greatly intensified. Thousands of Yemenis have continued to return to the streets since the planned “Day of Rage” on February 3.

    Pro-government thugs are using batons to disperse crowds. The regime is making it impossible for journalists to operate and report on state repression. A BBC journalist was brutalized on February 14 and a CNN reporter had his camera taken away making it difficult to file a report with footage from the protests. (The camera was later returned.)

    Even though Saleh has pledge to not run for another term in 2013, the protesters are not taking any chances. Like with other countries, rising food prices, unemployment and a disregard for human rights has pushed individuals to revolt. But, in Yemen, the unrest has deeper consequences for the regime as it complicates the regime’s ability to confront a militant secessionist movement in southern Yemen.

    Cables reveal the US, as with Egypt, has a significant military to military or close partnership on security that is viewed as necessary to success in the “global war on terrorism.” A cable, 09SANAA1669, on a meeting held in September 2009 between then-Deputy National Security National Security Advisor John Brennan and President Ali Abdullah Saleh illuminates Saleh and the Yemen government’s large inability and unwillingness to address socioeconomic problems in the country:

    Saleh welcomed the letter from President Obama that Brennan hand-carried, and expressed appreciation for U.S. concern over the stability and economic hardships facing the country. He agreed to move forward with the 10-point plan outlining necessary economic reforms (reftel) but did not provide details regarding dates or implementation goals. Responding to Brennan's concerns that economic and other assistance might be diverted through corrupt officials to other purposes, Saleh urged the U.S. to donate supplies and hardware rather than liquid funds in order to curb corruption's reach. Saleh also told US officials that they could have full access to financial records to ensure proper usage of donor funding. (COMMENT. Saleh's preference for infrastructure and equipment over cash displays a lack of confidence in his own regime's ability to handle liquid assets and hardly provides a viable solution for stemming the curb of corruption in the long run. END COMMENT.)… [emphasis added]

    At the end of the cable, the cable reads, “Not surprisingly, Saleh was far less animated when Brennan attempted to focus his attention on the need for immediate action to relieve Yemen's deteriorating socio-economic situation, largely limiting his response to a pitch that the USG persuade recalcitrant donors to speed up and increase their assistance to Yemen.” His disdain for addressing the socio-economic situation leads him to suggest he is “no longer interested in an invitation to the White House,” a visit he had been seeking since President Bush’s re-election.

    The United States government is in the process of finalizing a deal that would give $75 million to Yemen to fund a “special Yemeni counter-terrorism unit.” The funds, according to Raw Story, would be invested in a special Yemeni counter-terrorism unit that is operated under Yemen's interior ministry and now totals around 300 people.” And, they would be “unrelated to another $120 million earmarked for Yemen in President Barack Obama's 2012 budget request unveiled on Monday. Right now, the request includes “$35 million in additional military assistance for Yemen and $69 million in economic assistance.”)

    The US could make additional funding contingent on political or economic reforms. The reforms could possibly help restoring. Instead, funding looks like it will move ahead. The money, going to the country’s interior ministry, will no doubt end up aiding the Saleh regime in its ability to repress Yemenis seeking revolution.

    Photo by jorge dragon on Flickr.

    That concludes Part 1. Look for Part 2 of this two-part feature story will be posted later in the week.

    2011-02-15 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

    ImageThe Telegraph: Egypt’s new man at the top 'was against reform'

    "The military leader charged with transforming Egypt opposed political reform because he believed that it “eroded central government power”, according to leaked US diplomatic cables."

    Read more

    The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables show no evidence of Iran's hand in Bahrain unrest

    "US sources dismissive of Bahraini allegation, and as early as 2008 noted tensions between its Shia majority and Sunni rulers.

    The United States has repeatedly dismissed claims by the Bahraini government that Shia Muslim unrest in the Gulf island state is backed by Iran."

    Read more

    El País: Guatemala, un país controlado en un 60% por el narcotráfico, según el fiscal Castresana (60% of Guatemala is controlled by drug sales, according with the attorney Castresana)

    "El 60% de Guatemala está controlado por el narcotráfico, fundamentalmente mexicano, que recluta a pandilleros de la Mara Salvatrucha y corrompió a los cuerpos de seguridad y judicatura del país centroamericano, según comunicó a Estados Unidos el fiscal español Carlos Castresana , director de Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG), dependiente de la ONU, entre los años 2007 y 2010. (60% of Guatemala is controlled by drug traffickers, mainly Mexicans, which recruit "Mara Salvatrucha" gangs and have co-opted the security and judicial organizations of the Middle American country, according to communications between the United States and the Spaniard attorney Carlos Castresana, director of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG, Spanish acronym) and former assistant in the United Nations, between 2007 and 2010.)"

    Read more

    (Image Credit: Dali Rău)

    2011-02-15 Yemen protests turn violent

    Yemen protests started in mid January with a self immolation and the arrest and release of Yemeni activist Tawakel Karman, and they have not really stopped since. A Day of Rage was organized for February 3 but tens of thousands were in the streets on January 27 as well as many smaller protests, throughout the time period. The last five days have seen a huge increase in the numbers in the streets, as well as the violence directed at them. According to Human Rights Watch, president Ali Abdallah Saleh’s security forces have attacked demonstrators, activists, lawyers, and journalists in Yemen capital city Sanaa without justification. An estimated 3000 people protested from Sana'a University, clashing with police and pro-Saleh demonstators using batons, rocks, and occasionally knives. Today in Taiz, over 2500 people are refusing to leave and are forming committees and buying tents to continue occupying their protests grounds.

    The videos below show the current size and emotion of some of the protests.

    January 27, 2011

    February 14, 2011

    February 15, 2011

    February 15, 2011 in Taiz

    What Al Jazeera keeps calling “huge concessions” given by president Saleh that he would not run again in 2013, may actually have just been an agreement already reached between Saleh and the US as indicated by a US state cable. They are, in any case, simply a repeat of promises made and broken in 2006 when instead of resigning he asked for an amendment to the constitution to allow him to be appointed for life. None of the "concessions" seem to be placating the protestors. The US, which contributed over $150 million in military aid to Yemen in 2010, announced yesterday, during the fourth day of vicious attacks on demonstrators by Saleh’s security forces, that they would be spending US$75 million to double the size of a “special Yemeni counter-terrorism unit”. This is in addition to US$120 million for Yemen in Obama's 2012 budget request on Monday. In 2006, the US gave only US$5 million to Yemen and in 2009, US$67 million. The special relationship between Saleh and the US as depicted in the US state cables has been explored on WL Central here, here and here. Journalist Abdul Ilah Shayi who revealed the US military attack that killed 55 civilians is also discussed along with Obama’s interference in his release.

    2011-02-16 A Forum in South Korea: “WikiLeaks, Revolutionary Media or a Threat to Nation States”

    A Forum entitled ‘WikiLeaks, Revolutionary Media or a Threat to Nation States’ opened in South Korea on January 6th, hosted by an NGO ‘Institute for Public Media’ discussing various issues including what WikiLeaks means to South Korea and the world, current state of freedom of expression and the right to know in South Korea, and the future of all of them.

    Pending ‘Korean Fox News Effect’ and the age of WikiLeaks

    “What would have happened if the cablegate coverage had first leaked by the New York Times?” The forum started with the interesting question asked by Choi Jinbong, a professor in Texas University and one of public participants of the forum. “Then it might have not been possible for the U.S. government to criminalize the Times under the Espionage Act,” he assumed. Choi pointed out the fact that “although it’s clear that what WikiLeaks does are standard works of a general media organization”, 68% of the U.S. citizens replied in the Washington Post-ABC News poll( that its works are against public interest. He attributed this ‘strange bias’ to the media effects of the Fox News, and remarked on how the Fox News framed the leaks as causes of damage to the U.S. diplomacy, which led to the negative public view toward WikiLeaks.


    Choi suggested a worrisome view that controversial new media laws allowing the three mainstream media and corporations to take 50% of the stake of IPTV, which was rushed through the South Korean parliament by the ruling party in 2009 in the swirl of denouncement, can be the driving force of ‘Korean Fox News’, which throws journalism to be consumed as ‘entertainment’ and sway public opinions by low-quality news lacking proper fact-checking. Enactment of the media laws aroused wide apprehension among the South Korean press during the process of specifying the laws in the direction of giving huge incentives to major corporations like Samsung and granting preferential treatment to three mainstream media.

    WikiLeaks initiated “full-scale battles between civil rights and government powers”

    “We need to emphasize the fact that what WikiLeaks publishes are civil voices free from corporate power, voices with maximized volumes,” spoke Lee Tackgwang, a professor of Kyunghee University. “What government presents is often merely a veneer of public voices, neatly gathered which make it a lot easier to silence the real diverse opinions without much defiance. What WikiLeaks does is exactly the opposite of that.”

    Lee recalled the time when Kim Yongcheol, one of major lawyers working for Samsung, became a high-profile whistleblower by writing a book exposing infamous business management practices of the multinational corporation publically. “Although he was praised for his courage, a lot of media and ‘intellectuals’ steered clear of him,” he said. He insisted the importance of independent voices that can withstand the abusive pressure of major corporations.

    Samsung, a world-leading provider of semiconductors and famous for its mobile phone brand ‘Anycall’, has been under tremendous criticism for illegally blocking the formation of any labor union, lobbying the justice department for the trials of its alleged crimes, declining the submission of official reports of its workplace conditions regarding various chemical materials which have been strongly pointed out as main causes of the mass occurrence of rare diseases to its workers, e.g. brain tumor, breast cancer, lymphoma, leukemia ∙∙∙ etc. Source.

    South Korea with full potential to create its own ‘WikiLeaks Effect’

    “Any kind of governmental power has the tendency to control sensitive information, regardless of its political stance,” said Jeon Jinhan, a secretary-general of an NGO ‘Freedom of Information Center for Transparent Society'. His organization is renowned for working actively to activate the right to know, by constantly proposing public petitions to various governmental institutions to make important information open to the public. “This is all true with us, too.” He presented one of his experiences, an answer he got from the Seoul Metropolitan Government. “We petitioned it continuously for the release of information of the ad rates it assigned to each media, and it replied later in written form that our organization frequently ‘exploits public information in condemning government institutions’, which it regards as a ‘misuse of the right to know’.” With this case as an example, Jeon agreed the point of view that actualizing the right to know is a process littered with ‘battles’ between civil liberty and governmental power.

    The forum ended full of hope. “South Korea is prevalent with internet public spheres which have the capacity to form influential public opinions.” Lee said. “It is a much more dynamic country that defies what our commonsense can predict now. There’s no proof that the ‘WikiLeaks effect’ cannot break out in this country. In this respect, the message WikiLeaks gives us is very important in its nature; the real live spirit of democracy.”

    Source: “세계권력에 대항한 위키리크스, 혁명의 언론”
    Source:위키리크스가 아닌 뉴욕타임즈가 기밀문건을 폭로했다면? 공공미디어연구소 포럼, 위키리크스 사태 진단 "시민권력vs국가권력"

    2011-02-16 Cablegate to Date: 32 Major Revelations (and Counting)

    A little more than two months ago, as in some previous cases, Greg Mitchell sta