News Archive - 2011-08 (August 2011)

2011-08-01 Alleged Lulzsec hacker Jake Davis charged [Updated]

18 year old Jake Davis was charged with five offenses under the Computer Misuse Act, the Serious Crime Act and the Criminal Law Act. He was released on bail.

Davis' lawyer admitted that his client was linked to Anonymous, but said that there was no evidence he took part in hacks.

After the court hearing, @AnonymousIRC tweeted: " | Stay strong, @atopiary. We will continue this, as your last tweet is truth. We, the people, silent no more. #AntiSec", identifying Davis as Topiary. Shortly after his arrest, @atopiary associate @AnonymouSabu had already confirmed Topiary's arrest by tweeting: "RIP Topiary Fuck the police And as for the "doxers" you proved how clueless you ALL were when you posted he was from Sweden over 9000 times."

According to the Guardian, Davis had been arrested at a residential address in Mid Yell, a tiny settlement on Yell, a part of the Shetland Islands, on Wednesday afternoon.

There are two different types of broadband on the Shetland Islands, a BT operated connection available to the residents, which appears to be inadequate, and a system called Pathfinder North that provides some key infrastructure with fast broadband access. In Mid Yell, the junior high school has such a connection. Its website does not mention any public access to these facilities.


According to a Scottish news outlet, Davis was arrested in Lerwick, where he had moved in recent months. He was staying in a council house at a mobile home park called Hoofields in the northern part of the town. Lerwick is the capital of the Shetland Islands, and has a population of around 7,000 inhabitants. He appears to have moved there from his former home in Mid Yell, a tiny settlement consisting of a few scattered houses, on the island of Yell.

Several public buildings in Lerwick are connected to the Pathfinder North network providing fast internet access, but the Hoofields estate does not have an access point.

2011-08-01 Interview with organizer of Tennessee's Day of Rage #usdor #usdorTN #aug2


Tennessee is planning a 'Day of Rage' at the state capitol on Tuesday, August 2 at 9:00 am, 600 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee.. WL Central writer, Alexa O'Brien, spoke with the organizer of the Tennessee Day of Rage, Lara Jennings, on August 1, 2011 as Jennings prepares for the protest tomorrow.


Important Information:

2011-08-01 United States Day of Rage and Occupy Wall Street #usdor #occupywallstreet

ImageOne citizen. One dollar. One vote.

The US Day of Rage, a movement launched on March 10 of this year, appears to be taking off with the anger and frustration surrounding the ongoing debt crises this week. The movement describes itself as an "assymetrical self organizing political movement of ordinary citizens", believes in non-violence and principles before parties (they are not affiliated with any political organization) and is volunteer only. They encourage individual state, city, and federal demonstrations to be autonomous, except in matters affecting the whole.

Tomorrow is the first US Day of Rage protest, in Tennessee. "I have an army of teens who will help me....good kids wanting to do something about all this," said Tennessee Organizer Lara Jennings. More states are organizing every day. Currently, Kansas, Tennessee, Idaho (September 16 Day of Rage), Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Seattle, Portland and Oregon are officially planning protests, and on September 17 the #occupywallstreet protest is scheduled to create an encampment protest at what is seen by many to be the epicentre of the problem. This is being planned here on reddit as well as Twitter. The official Twitter account is announcing all of the upcoming events and has just announced 8/2 at 4:30pm Gather at the Charging Bull (Bowling Green Park) Logistics for #Sept17 #OccupyWallStreet.

Some sites are encouraging occupation of financial districts around the world on the same day.

2011-08-01 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
New Cable(s) were released today.

05:45 PM Julian Assange is scheduled to appear at the Sydney Opera House’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas on September 30, for an hour-long discussion titled ''WikiLeaks has not gone far enough''.
The appearance is likely to happen via live video link although, if possible, Julian will travel to Australia. 1 , 2

05:10 PM Free Bradley Manning rally today in Minneapolis, outside Senator Klobuchar's Office. For more information :
Free Bradley Manning Minneapolis on facebook

04:30 PM A U.S. embassy official was told of a bribe to revoke Rio Tinto’s mining licences for the Simandou deposit in 2008, according to a report of The Times on a U.S. State Department cable, where it can be read :

"A contact at the International Finance Corporation in Washington DC said that someone had paid $US7 million to someone in the presidency as a bribe to get the Rio Tinto contract cancelled. After the contract was terminated, the $US7m cheque bounced."

The cables describe the Guinean government as ‘chaotic and highly dysfunctional’ and Moussa Dadis Camara as illogical and suspected of substance abuse. Details of a strange encounter between a Rio Tinto executive and Dadis are also part of the reports, as well as threats against Rio Tinto’s personnel :

"Misidentifying the Rio Tinto executive as a disreputable diamond dealer, Dadis proceeded to upbraid the executive for 20 minutes, shouting that he was a traitor while standing just a few inches from his face, surrounded by guards with machineguns."

"The six or seven ministers, including the Prime Minister, who were standing next to the Rio Tinto executive, never attempted to inform the President of his mistake. Dadis finished his outburst and stormed away. Immediately after, all of the ministers and government officials in attendance reportedly laughed heartily about the incident but the executive did not share their amusement."

"Information gathered from multiple sources suggests a chaotic and highly dysfunctional government. Dadis's erratic behaviour and paranoia, coupled with the camp's undisciplined environment, will likely pose significant challenges in the months ahead."

10:30 AM Diplomatic cables reveal the U.S. was in contact with military forces involved in the 2008 coup against Bolivia’s first indigenous president Evo Morales.

Federico Fuentes writes, for Green Left Weekly :

With coup plans well underway, the article reported that US embassy officials met with four retired generals and a security representative from the Santa Cruz prefecture on September 2.

Three days later, the US embassy’s head of military affairs spoke with high ranking active military officials based in Santa Cruz to “plan the handing over of military units to paramilitary groups”.

The aim was to “create the sensation that the government had lost control of the Armed Forces”, a scenario outlined in US embassy cables issued only months prior.

04:20 AM The CIA station chief who ran operations in Pakistan during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and guided operations during WikiLeaks releases resigns. Some reports say due to illness, others due to tense relations with ISI counterparts.

2011-08-02 Sol Square evicted in the morning, thousands demonstrating during the night in #Madrid #spanishrevolution #nopararemos


Image Today around 6:30 in the morning, a large police presence, consisting of national police and local police, appeared in Sol square, where the info point Sol still was present, as well as a great oil painting which some called the “new Guernika”(new version of Picasso's one at Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid) and the metal plate that read “We were asleep, we woke up, square taken”.

Since the people's assembly of Sol decided to dismantle the encampment, the info-point was a permanent stand to provide information related to the movement in the Square. Cleaning services arrived escorted by 20 riot police vans, their job was to clean everything up and leave no sign of the 15 May Revolution Movement at Sol.

Police blocking access to #Sol Square.

Reaction of people

During the day, people organized in Assemblies in Madrid to plan what to do after the eviction of Sol. It was decided to organize an attempt of re-occupation of the square at 20:00 local time.

The protest called for the late evening against the eviction of Puerta del Sol during the morning, found Sol Square closed off by a large police operation. Nobody was allowed inside unless they were authorized or are permanent residents. In the area surrounding Sol, Police performed temporary arrests (including a journalist) and demanded personal identification during the afternoon. The Metro Station, one of the largest in the city, was closed by Government orders. This caused hundreds of people to congregate around the neighboring streets, shouting their usual slogans, as well as claiming that the eviction took place because of the imminent visit by the Pope.

The outraged movement claims to feel strengthened by the actions taken by the Government to evict them, saying that once again, they are demonstrating their true face. It is not a democracy, they say, where interests such as the Pope’s visit are way above the peoples right to protest in a public square. The protest has gone on peacefully and spontaneously as a march started slowly towards Plaza Cibeles where everyone met from the different parts of the city as a larger mass which went to the front of the National Parliament and finally tried to reach Sol once more. In the process one of Madrid’s main commercial streets the Gran Via was blocked.

Demonstration held in front of the National Parliament this night in Madrid

After heading back to Sol and finding it still blocked, people decided to take Plaza Mayor - the historical square of Madrid - and created a popular assembly there, gathering thousands of people.

Solidarity marches have been called for around Spain at the same time, as activist hubs are talking about reclaiming the streets. You can follow the action live on the Twitter hashtag #nopararemos.

2011-08-02 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.

01:20 PM The Pentagon will invest up to 42 million dollars in a program that will monitor and influence social media websites, such as twitter.

The program has four specific goals:

1. Detect, classify, measure and track the (a) formation, development and spread of ideas and concepts (memes), and (b) purposeful or deceptive messaging and misinformation.
2. Recognize persuasion campaign structures and influence operations across social mediasites and communities.
3. Identify participants and intent, and measure effects of persuasion campaigns.
4. Counter messaging of detected adversary influence operations.

12:40 PM Worth reading : live tweets from today’s discussion Bradley Manning vs. the Culture of Revenge have been converted into a chirpstory by @JLLLOW.
The event took place in New South Wales, Australia, and speakers included Wendy Bacon (Centre of Independent Journalism), Dr Ben Saul (Sydney Centre for International Law) and Professor Stuart Rees (Sydney Peace Foundation).

12:10 PM A recently published cable from the U.S. embassy in Manila shows Philippine separatist movement Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) requested and relied on U.S. aid for a future ‘peaceful resolution of the Mindanao conflict’.

Muhammad Ameen, the secretariat chairperson of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, stated he is not authorized to comment on the cable, and added "Let us wait for the proper time to say on it".

In the cable, from October 2009, Murad Ebrahim, the leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is quoted as stating during a meeting with US chargé d'affaires Leslie Bassett: "You are aware of the background of the problem. The influence of America in the Philippines (is one that) no other country can match."
U.S. "political support to the peace process" was requested and U.S. embassy officials labeled 'Friends of the Bangsamoro' by the chairman of the group. A description of a encounter between rebels and US embassy officials is also provided:

"Men young and old in Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) camouflage uniforms stood at intervals in formation on the two kilometer stretch from the main road to the camp's Bangsamoro Development Agency office, with guns and rocket launchers at their sides"

Bassett, during the meeting, reminded Murad that the U.S. took the MILF's commitment to peaceful resolution of the conflict "at face value," to include a rejection of terror not just in words, but in deeds, as well.
And peace panel senior member Michael Mastura noted Indonesia, not the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, should be the target of U.S. concerns about terrorism :

Mastura noted that the MILF had a clear position against terrorism and insisted that Indonesia, not the MILF, should be the target of U.S. terrorism concerns. The issue of security and counterterrorism was, after all, separate from the MILF quest for autonomy, and had more to do with the Indonesians who came to Mindanao than with the MILF. Moreover, Mastura noted, the MILF was the only rebel group in the country to have signed an agreement with the Philippine government to pursue terrorist groups, a reference to the joint Philippine-MILF policing force.

09:15 AM Among the reasons the UN occupation of Haiti should see an end - based on diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks: "the US" relying on UN forces to keep control of the country, tried to force Haiti to reject US$100 million in aid a year ― because it came from Venezuela.
To read the complete analysis: Green Left Weekly.

05:30 AM The Australian Federal Police is in the process of investigating threats received by Prime Minister Julia Gillard but not the numerous public death threats and incitement to violence against Julian Assange.

2011-08-03 How to Start A Revolution #globalrevolution

By Willie Osterweil


A camp in Athens, Greece (via wikimedia)

The protest camp proved a central part of the revolution in Egypt. It’s impossible to say where the movements built around the camps of Spain and Greece, which closed earlier this month, will lead, but it is totally clear that their methods are capable of transforming consciousness (particularly among millenials), radicalizing participants and making a better future seem not only possible, but plausible. Camps have sprung up all across the world, and have strengthened protest movements and community activism wherever they’ve appeared. These instructions are based on personal experience from camps in Barcelona and New York City, conversations with campers from Madrid and Madison, and research of other camps around the world.

The early stages of any camp involve intensive planning. Although the camps in Tahrir and Spain were largely improvised from the ground up, they emerged from protests that had been planned for months. The first thing to do is to hold a big protest, and bring all your friends.

Choose a date, a time (a Friday will probably be ideal), and a public space centrally located to areas of political interest and with lots of foot traffic. Focus on a local political issue that can activate the community: these camps have largely been based around austerity politics, and though they have grown to encompass larger critiques of society, begin with local issues. You’ll also need a legal advisor, or at least someone who understands protest law and public use permits. Leverage your social media networks to bring out as many people as possible: you’ll probably want at least 100 serious comrades with mixed skills and full commitment. Bring tents, sleeping bags, warm clothes, and bed rolls, because you’re going to camp out.

As the protest goes along, set up your tents, beds, etc. Prepare them in such a way that you can be there a long time. You are going to be there a long time. The first 72 hours are vital- everyone is going to need to remain until the camp is well established and the police reaction has been figured out. Revolutions don’t have sick days, but jobs do.

All major decisions need to be made by the group, not by individuals – the camp can have no representatives, and no leaders. This decision making is done by the General Assembly, a meeting-based consensus process in which ideas, proposals and decisions are all made from the ground up. I’ve written more extensively on the General Assembly method for Shareable here.

Once the camp is established, you’ll want to make it a free space, a small outpost of the better world to come. Make art, placards, performance spaces, free stores and information booths. In Spain, the camps had set up generators to run computers, wi-fi, and communication stations. In Plaza Catalunya, Indignados built tree houses, a stage, a tattoo “parlor,” a free barber shop, and much more. They “hacked” statues with masks, bandanas, and colored paint. What does your city need? How can you build it? Show the people what a free society will look like while teaching yourself how to build one.

Provide free services that the city or country is taking away, to demonstrate both what is being lost and what the people can provide eachother. In Bloombergville, New York’s protest camp, we set up a free take-one leave-one library, as the budget brought huge cuts to public library funding. Show with your actions that the people sharing their efforts and their resources can build anything.

It’s also important to stay active: it’s easy to just hang out in camp with your friends, and you’ll do plenty of this, but make sure that you’re actively participating with the community. Organize protests relevant to your situation. Connect with local organizations that are working on the same issues. Gather the neighborhood on the day of the protest and march together from your camp (leaving behind enough people to hold it). Keep action happening at the camp everyday: make documentaries, give teach-ins, throw dance parties, etc. Make it a space of expanded consciousness and spontaneous possibility.


Indignados in Spain (via wikimedia)

There are a couple key principles you’ll also want to observe to make the camp successful.

No Violence

The state produces violence, the people want peace. Use civil disobedience, peaceful retaliation, and free speech, but do not employ violence or destruction. If the cops inflict violence on the campers, this will only build your support among the people and demonstrate the intentions and methods of the state.

Follow the Law

No illegal drugs, no public drinking, don’t break the law at your camp. In the US, both the media and the law are more critical of drug use and less tolerant of improvised use of public space. The cops and the media will use any excuse to marginalize you. Don’t let them. Demonstrate how power works by making the police break the laws.

Social Media for Distribution, not Discussion

Twitter and Facebook are incredible tools for dispersing information about public meetings, protests, manifestos, articles, etc. Use the hell out of them, but don’t use them to debate tactics, plans, or ideas. They’re bad for producing concensus, and besides, it’s much easier for cops to follow a hashtag than get in your tent. And the cops will be following: At Bloombergville, an undercover cop showed up claiming to be an “agent” with MSNBC. He asked for our protest plans and to speak to the “leader” (protip: anyone asking to speak with “the leader” is a cop). Plan in person, and spread the message like wildfire over the web.

Be Anonymous: No Leaders, No Heirarchy

Leaders can be jailed, disgraced, rejected, even killed. Being anonymous keeps you from being a target of the police, and lacking an obvious symbolic leadership swells your numbers in the mind of the public. If you think a movement needs leaders, ask yourself: how far have leaders taken the people up to now?

Welcome Everyone, Listen to Everyone

You will undoubtedly get crack pots and weirdos among you: if they want the megaphone, let them speak (at least once). The people will vote against them: I saw this happen on three separate occasions in Barcelona. I also saw a group of children welcomed into a general assembly and allowed to speak to the crowd. Dealing with confrontational people will build solidarity as a group and understanding of the difficulties marginalized people face in our society. And the beauty of the camp is it allows you to practice the very thing you’re fighting for- a society in which everyone is welcomed, listened to, respected and actualized.

I hope that these methods will lead to a successful revolution: we know that they have built the groundwork for a huge movement in a short time and at little cost. On September 17th an occupation is planned for Wall St in NYC and on October 6th one begins in Washington D.C.

2011-08-03 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- New Cable(s) were released today.

11:10 PM Guantanamo reporter Carol Rosenberg is providing information, via twitter, on Hurricane Emily as it approaches the Guantanamo base. She has written so far:

This just in from #Guantanamo: Navy base expecting rains and winds from Tropical Storm Emily but tracks don't portend damage...
#Guantanamo residents told to check emergsency supplies ahead of Tropical Storm Emily. Kung Fu Panda 2 still a go at base drive-in tomorrow.

04:00 PM The United Nations discussed shutting down Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal without hearing a politically sensitive case involving two former high-level Khmer Rouge cadres, a cable reveals.

02:30 PM Today Hosni Mubarak was on trial, facing charges of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters during the uprising that ousted him.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In an opinion article, Jack Hunter revisits misrepresentation of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in the media and by the political class and draws attention to the impact documents published by WikiLeaks had in Egypt.
"… the soon-to-be-ousted Egyptian president's many abuses ran everywhere, primarily thanks to WikiLeaks.", he writes.

12:35 PM WikiLeaks has recently been addressing the numerous false reports that Julian Assange has been charged with offenses:!/wikileaks/status/96973199962673152!/wikileaks/status/96977778431373312

11:30 AM The three Internal Security Act arrests in Malaysia in 2008 are described in a cable released today by Raja Petra, who remained in prison under the ISA for more 50 days, as “very successful” in achieving Malaysia’s ruling party Umno's objective of intimidating MPs who had considered joining with (opposition leader) Anwar (Ibrahim)”.

08:15 AM An unclassified Department of Homeland Security bulletin on Anonymous/LulzSec has been released.
Anonymous’ techniques and procedures are described as rudimentary and unsophisticated, yet their success to date executing operations and gaining media attention is on par with high profile incidents allegedly involving sophisticated “Advanced Persistent Threat” (APT) actors., the 6 page document reads.

The arrest of Bradley Manning is mentioned as a catalyst for Anonymous’ activity and notoriety in the following terms:

Anonymous increased its notoriety in 2010 with high-profile attacks motivated by the arrest of U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning in connection to Wikileaks, releasing several thousand classified U.S. government documents on the internet. Though Anonymous’s past actions indicate these cyber attacks should have been motivated by Anonymous’s views on freedom of speech, their public statements indicated that the intent was to retaliate against mistreatment of Pvt. Manning while he was in U.S. custody.

Anonymous' ‘future attacks’ are also predicted in the document:

Future attacks are likely to continue but will likely remain limited in scope due to a lack of advanced capabilities. These attacks are also likely to target the Federal government and critical infrastructure sectors, particularly in response to publicized events relating to civil liberties, cyber security, or allegations of censorship (online or otherwise).

05:50 AM More than 300 anti-war military veterans will be gathering this week in Oregon, Portland for the conventions of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War. ‘Efforts to free Bradley Manning’ is one of the topics that will be discussed.

04:00 AM Recently published cables from the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, reveal how the country’s government has been quietly cooperating with South Korea to transfer hundreds of refugees who arrive from North Korea seeking asylum.

03:30 AM The NSW Supreme Court has decided to freeze the family trust that holds the profits from David Hicks’ Memoir Guantanamo, My Journey.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge described the case as a ‘political show trial’ during a protest outside the Court:

"David's book is a story about the complicity of the Australian government in the so called war on terror, that's a story that the Australian people not only have a right to hear, but that they need to hear."

"What the Australian government is trying to do is to send a message out, not only to David Hicks but to send a message to any future author, that if you want to publish a political story then you are going to be silenced by the Australian government."

03:10 AM Upcoming panel on WikiLeaks, National Security and Free Speech at the ABA in Toronto, Aug. 6, from 8:30 to10 a.m. Panelists will include lawyers from the ACLU, CNN and the American University in Washington DC, for more details please visit ABA’s press release.

03:00 AM The Senate has confirmed Earl Anthony Wayne as the new United States ambassador to Mexico, after former ambassador Carlos Pascual resigned in March due to a public dispute with Mexican President Felipe Calderon over cables published by WikiLeaks.

2011-08-04 How WikiLeaks Is Helping Change Malaysia

Late last year, Malaysian Opposition Leader Dr Anwar Ibrahim was being labelled "WikiLeaks' first Malaysian victim" after the Sydney Morning Herald released a US cable suggesting he had knowingly "walked into" a sex trap. But the purported evidence quickly dissolved into hearsay when Singapore's intelligences services could not substantiate their allegations of "technical intelligence". A cable released later showed US officials pressuring the Malaysian government to drop the sex charges against Dr Anwar because they had no credibility, either at home or abroad.

Current Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak accuses Anwar Ibrahim of leading a “small group” of malcontents with the purpose of toppling his government. That "group" is a coalition of non-governmental organisations, The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, more popularly known as "Bersih" (which means "clean" in Malay). Its stated aim is to clean up the electoral system and ensure fair elections in Malaysia.

“It’s not so much about electoral reform," insists the Malaysian PM. "They want to show us as though we’re like the Arab Spring governments in the Middle East.”

The parallels are worth examining, even though Bersih campaigners insist their sole focus is clean elections, not regime overthrow.

The first "illegal" Bersih rally, in November 2007, was dispersed by Malaysian riot police with tear gas and chemical bursts. Thirteen men and two women were arrested. The government ignored continuing demands for electoral change, so a second street demonstration (Bersih 2.0) was organised for 9th July 2011. Despite extraordinary government attempts to block entrance to the capital, Kuala Lumpur, between 10,000 and 50,000 people joined the protest. The police response has been criticized as heavy-handed, with over 1,600 people arrested, including several Bersih leaders. Dr Anwar, taken to hospital after a tear gas attack, was just one among thousands of injured demonstrators. One person died during a scuffle with police, who later denied responsibility.

After the protest, 30 members of the Parti Sosialis Malaysia (Malaysian Socialist Party, or PSM) remained in extended detention, with 24 eventually charged under Societies Act for allegedly possessing and distributing banned protest pamphlets. Another 6 members (the "EO6") were held for 28 days without trial under the draconian Emergency Ordinance (EO) of 1969. They were released after a series of candle-light vigils, some of which police also dispersed with violent tactics.

Protestors turned to social media to tell their stories and maintain the Bersih movement's momentum. The #BersihStories tag became popular on Twitter, with people eager to share their own experiences of the July 9th protest. Police responded by releasing selective videos, encouraging citizens to report on protestors, and charging individuals who made "false reports against the force".

A former US ambassador to Malaysia, John Malott, is one of many outspoken critics of the Malaysian government's heavy-handed Bersih 2.0 crackdown.

“Malaysia is certainly not Libya or Syria or Yemen. Najib is not a Qaddafi. But still, I was surprised to see that Najib is still saying that the Bersih movement is a veiled attempt to topple his administration through street demonstrations, like those that are now claiming Middle Eastern despots,” Malott told the Malaysia Chronicle newspaper.

“Well, if that is Bersih’s goal, then why did Najib act like an Arab Spring government? It’s only a question of degree. The Malaysian police did not use lethal force, but the mentality is the same. Suppress whoever disagrees with you. Maybe you don’t use tanks, but you use water cannon. It’s not bullets, it’s tear gas. But the authoritarian mindset is exactly the same as the leaders of the Arab Spring governments.”

Government defenders dismiss such talk as further evidence of US meddling in Malaysian affairs. They point to a WikiLeaks cable where US officials warn Washington against being seen as too closely allied with Dr Anwar's opposition, lest he be perceived as a US puppet. In another leaked cable, however, a former US ambassador warns that the ruling UMNO party are "willing to blacken Malaysia’s reputation to ensure the end to opposition leader (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim’s political challenge."

“Malaysia has seen Operasi Lalang, it has seen the Sedition Act and ISA used liberally, and more recently it has seen denial of service attacks on the alternative media to keep people from reading what the Government doesn’t want them to know," said Malott, when asked about the potential for a more wide-spread violent crack-down.

“What is the probability of it happening? I don’t know. But if it does happen, then as you said, it will come as a great shock to everyone who has been holding a very different image of Malaysia."

The next General Election could be held as soon as October. PM Najib's ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (National Front), which has been in power since 1957, must now decide whether to keep cracking down hard on Bersih protests, or placate opponents by moving towards more transparent elections.

With allegations by Dr Anwar that overseas votes are being manipulated, and despite Najib's lip service on electoral reform, the signs are not promising.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks has so far released only 37 cables from the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, including 13 in the last month. Another 957 cables are apparently yet to be released. The run-up to the next election promises to remain interesting, and the world is watching.


You can can follow the Bersih movement on Twitter using the #Bersih or #Bersih2 hashtags, or see a collection of #BersihStories tweets at:

Official Bersih Website:

Bersih Stories on Facebook:

2011-08-04 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.

04:40 PM A top-secret document obtained by The Guardian reveals information was extracted through illegal torture of prisoners overseas by the MI5 and MI6 with authorization from Tony Blair's government.
The allegations echo evidence of torture by Iraqi forces that had been exposed by WikiLeaks last year. (via thinq_)

12:40 AM A ‘Conversation with Mark Stephens’, Julian Assange’s former lawyer, is to take place in Glasgow, on the 1st September. Topics will include the law surrounding freedom of information and the European arrest warrant, and possibly ‘the increasing prevalence of denial of service attacks’. For more details: An Interview with Mark Stephens at Strathclyde university

06:00 AM Legislation that could keep Guantanamo open indefinitely will be voted on by the U.S. Senate in early September. This legislation has already been passed by the House of Representatives.
To prevent this from happening, please call your two Senators and and urge them to take a stand against Guantanamo!

To do this you can either

* call the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senators
* or look up your Senators' direct phone lines here

Visit this page for more information and suggestions on what to say.

05:10 AM McClatchy report on cables revealing how the Bush and Obama administrations refused to impose sanctions on Syrian officials Ali Mamluk (chief of intelligence for Syrian President Assad) and Mohammad Suleiman (then a special Assad adviser for arms procurement and strategic weapons, now deceased) and other men who form President Assad's inner circle.
The role of Mamluk in ‘suppressing internal dissent’ was publicly known and mentioned in the cables where the U.S. State Department was asked by a top diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus to impose sanctions. No action was taken against Mamluk until this April, writes Kevin G. Hall for McClatchy, after security forces had killed scores of civilians in the Syrian town of Deraa in protests that have since spread to much of the country.

01:55 AM Frontline Club founder Vaughan Smith, who has been Julian Assange's host for almost a year, in an interview for The Times about his houseguest:

"...If one believes that WikiLeaks is a good thing, it is no refuge to say ‘I like WikiLeaks but I don’t like Julian’. At some point you’ve got to credit Julian for WikiLeaks."

01:30 AM Adelaide Friends of WikiLeaks is hosting a public forum on the topic "Wikileaks: The Future of Media?" on 12th of August 2011 at the University of Adelaide (North Terrace, Napier LG14), starting at 5 PM.

“With the mass media in turmoil as a result of declining readerships and falling standards the sincerity of non-profit independent organisations like Wikileaks is more relevant than ever. We have invited academics, politicians and our fellow citizens to this discussion on Wikileaks’ work and its future role in the media and our minds.” (reads their flyer)

01:05 AM A speech at the University of Colombia in Bogotá during which former Liberal Senator Piedad Córdoba publicly encouraged rebellion against the Uribe government is the subject of a diplomatic cable dating from 2008. Following the speech, Piedad Córdoba was accused by Juan Manuel Santos, then Colombia’s Defense Minister, currently the country’s president, of promoting the FARC. FARC recruitment in Colombian universities is described in the cable as a ‘growing reality’ countered by the presence of undercover agents.

2011-08-05 In Spain, defiant indignados receive blows, solidarity from police #nopararemos #europeanrevolution

Image In just two days, the Spanish police have spoken out against the government and in support of the indignados — while at the same time beating them up. (Photo: Iker Etxarte)

Either the police have lost it, or the government has lost the police. Or both. Whatever way it may be, the predicted summer lull in Spain’s 3-month youth uprising has failed to materialize. So far, the holiday month of august has proven to be sizzling hot in the Spanish capital.

For the past three days, the streets of Madrid have been in the hands of the protesters — while a small army of riot police desperately cling on to Puerta del Sol and Parliament. Instead of subsiding in the wake of Tuesday’s eviction of the info booth at Puerta del Sol, the protests have rapidly and spontaneously intensified (pictures here!).

Yesterday, during the second day of mass demonstrations against the eviction, Spain’s largest police union (SUP) released a communiqué criticizing the government’s decision to evict the indignados from Sol and expressing solidarity with the 15-M movement. The police union argued that the orders by the delegation of the government to clear the square required the police to break the law (!).

For the police, “these instructions, apart from being pathetic, are also illegal, and the delegate of the government should be the first to obey the law, to avoid a situation that is worse than it was under Franco.” The message to the arrogant politicians is clear: the Spanish police will not serve as a tool for oppression anymore. Thirty-five years of dictatorship was enough.

Apart from criticism of the government, the police also issued support to the 15-M movement: “We express our solidarity with the true indignados, because they are rightfully protesting. We also ask for their comprehension for our sometimes ungrateful work, and that they turn their criticism to those who are truly responsible, the politicians.” In another press release today, the SUP further stated that “the indignant are right in everything they say and ask.”

But despite these heart-warming messages of solidarity, the reality on the ground tonight was different. A small group of exhausted and exasperated policemen met with tsunami of peaceful indignados and apparently became overwhelmed with animal instincts. They lost their heads. Entirely unprovoked, a few dozen riot police charged straight into a crowd of thousands of indignados, beating indiscriminately and without any apparent reason.

One middle-aged man was badly hit in the head and left in the street with a gaping head wound. According to eye witnesses, police subsequently blocked access to medics. A number of arrests were made and at least five other people were injured, marking the first outbreak of real violence in Madrid since the initial attempt to evict Puerta del Sol in mid-May. Back then, the violence actually caused the protests to escalate, directly resulting in the permanent occupation of the square.

If the Spanish police force really refuses to be co-opted as a force for oppression, and if it really sympathizes with the 15-M movement as its largest union claims to, it should not only allow for peaceful protest and prevent unnecessary violence — but it should join the protests and direct their anger and frustration directly towards the people who are responsible for this lamentable escalation of violence: the municipality of Madrid and the government of Spain.

After all, it was their illegal order to clear the square that triggered the backlash. It was their denial of three crucial articles of Spanish law (article 21 of the Carta Magna on the right to popular assembly; article 23 on the right to political participation; and article 33 on the right to the protection of private property) that brought the people out into the streets in such outrage. Subsequently, it was their denial of access to Sol that forced the people to air their voices elsewhere, bringing most of Madrid to a standstill.

Whatever might have happened until now, if the Spanish police still respect the law, their officers should be fighting side-by-side with the people who are defending it — and arrest those who seek to overturn it. In other words: join the people and arrest the crooks in power. Otherwise Spain might shortly find itself on a slippery slope back to Franco’s days.

2011-08-05 Violent police repression of student protests in #Chile


Over 800 arrested during running street battles, as student protesters defy official protest ban to demonstrate for equal access to education.

For two months now, young Chileans have been taking to the streets to protest against neoliberal reforms in education spearheaded by the country’s right-wing government. Yesterday, the protracted youth uprising culminated in the public defiance by thousands of high school and university students of an official protest ban. Riot police responded with tear gas, water canons, baton charges and mass arrests.

The city’s central square, Plaza Italia, was entirely blocked off by riot police and containment fences in an attempt to forestall a Tahrir or Sol-style occupation. According to El País, this move itself was an “unprecedented event since the advent of democracy, one which only occurred during the dictatorship.” Furthermore, over a thousand riot police were concentrated around the Alameda, the city’s main thoroughfare, to discourage demonstrations.

According to the same report, the students, who have been protesting with university occupations, mass rallies and hunger strikes for almost two months, used a strategy of “dispersion”. From seven in the morning, they installed barricades of tires, poles and garbage bins in over a dozen crucial city avenues to block traffic at the peak of the rush hour. When police arrived, the students would run away and set up other blockades elsewhere.

The students were later joined in their mass rally by Professors and other university personnel. The president of the Student Federation of the University of Chile, the well-spoken Camila Vallejo (an anarchist friend of mine in Syntagma joked he wouldn’t actually mind having her as his President), who leads the protests, has called on people to hold a cacerolazo (a typical Latin pot-and-pan-banging demonstration) to protest against the repression of the youth.

“This seems like a state of siege. I imagine it must have been like this 30 years ago,” Al Jazeera quoted Vallejo as saying, in a reference to the country’s 1973-90 military dictatorship. ”Even the right to congregate in public places isn’t assured.” According to the same AJE report:

Students, teachers and other education workers have participated in huge street demonstrations in recent weeks, with as many as 100,000 people joining their call for more government funding and a fundamental change in a system set up under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet that largely left public schools at the mercy of underfunded municipalities.

Chile is by far the richest and most-developed country in South America, and enjoys living standards on a par with many Western countries. The country’s multi-billionaire right-wing President, Sebastián Piñera, has seen his ratings drop to 26 percent in recent months as a result of the unrest — the worst evaluation of any Chilean President since the return to democracy. This record low comes after a record high just a year ago, following the telegenic rescue of dozens of Chilean miners.

Over the past year, Piñera has presided over some Pinochet-style neoliberal reforms in the economy, including a series of wide-ranging spending cuts for higher education, despite the country having some of the highest growth rates in the region and a notoriously underfunded education sector (total spending is less than 5 percent of GDP, compared to the 7 percent minimum recommended by the OECD).

According to a report by the Guardian, “Piñera, who took power a year and a half ago and appointed a cabinet filled with technocrats in a perceived bid to make government run like a business, has alienated many Chileans with his policies.” He further invoked the ire of students and the Chilean Left when he derogatorily referred to education as a “consumer good” and subsequently cracked down on the students’ democratic right to protest his policies.

“I think the government has committed a grave mistake,” Al Jazeera quoted Camilla Vallejo as saying. “They wanted to wipe out and make invisible this demonstration. With this the people will only come out in greater force because there’s huge discontent.”

A group of 20+ leading international intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, has just signed a letter of support to Chile’s protesting students.

2011-08-05 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- New Cable(s) were released today.

06:30 PM War veteran Ben Griffin will be joining peace campaigners tomorrow for a vigil in solidarity with Michael Lyons, outside Colchester Military Prison.
Michael Lyons, a Royal Navy medic, took a moral position against war in Afghanistan, having refused to undergo rifle training after reading material released by WikiLeaks. As a result he was sentenced to seven months' detention.

05:40 PM A fake list of Indian black money holder names purporting to have been published by WikiLeaks has been circulating on facebook and twitter.

WikiLeaks tweeted about this fake list:
WARNING: WikiLeaks and Indian black money: The following is a FAKE image and never appeared on WikiLeaks

10:55 AM Kevin Gosztola analyses recently released White House strategy to 'counter violent extremism in the United States' and whether this strategy will make calls for the murder of Julian Assange less permissible.

'How violent extremism is addressed depends on Foreign Policy', he writes.
'None of the individuals who are calling for murder will be criminalized or sanctioned. And that’s because their calls for violence are not necessarily in conflict with any US policy toward WikiLeaks or groups/individuals that conspire to commit espionage (which the US government considers to be the commitment of WikiLeaks).'

Update: On the subject of public calls for the assassination of Julian Assange and use of diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks by the Washigton Times - as mentioned below - @WLLegal tweets:

Speaking of Washington Times & classified info, will they apologize for this atrocious "Assassinate Assange" op-ed now?

07:05 AM A cable published by WikiLeaks offers insight into Russia’s intelligence service intimidation campaign against U.S. officials and diplomats in the country, the Washington Times reports.

According to the cable, from January 2009, USAID (United States Agency for International Development) employees received an email with a doctored photo of a senior U.S. official in the Moscow office of the National Democratic Institute (NDI). In the image he was shown reclining with an underage girl, the message accused him of having raped the minor.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) was thought by the embassy to have been behind the smear attack at the time.
NDI’s director of public affairs Kathy Gest denied all allegations and added "We consider the matter closed and NDI, which is legally registered in Russia, continues its programs."

04:00 AM WikiLeaks is among the websites targeted by the U.S. National Operations Center for systemic monitoring of publicly available data, according to a report from January, obtained two weeks ago by Mexican newspaper El Milenio through a U.S. Freedom of Information Act request. The report reveals plans for a program that would monitor a number of websites, including facebook and twitter for threats.

"NOC agents are authorized to “establish user names and passwords to form profiles and follow relevant government, media, and subject matter experts on social media sites.” Social networking sites are premised on the concept of “interacting with others.” Distinctions such as ‘following’ a user on Twitter and ‘connecting’ with such a user are not clear-cut.", writes Katitza Rodriguez for UpsideDownWorld.

The report reminds individuals that if they do not want the NOC to collect their public data, they should not make it public in the first place ('Information posted to social media websites is publicly accessible and voluntarily generated', the report reads) and states personally identifiable information will inadvertently be collected and shared.
The full document can be found here, full list of websites to be monitored under this program starts on page 14.

2011-08-06 Historic protest in #Israel: over 300,000 demand social justice

Image Largest rally in Israeli history sees four percent of the population out in the streets — that would be 12 million people in the streets of the US! (Photo: ActiveStills)

The Israeli social justice movement has just gone into orbit and exploded into previously unchartered territories. According to police estimates (which tend to be conservative), 300,000 protesters took to the streets across the country in what constitutes the largest-ever protest in the country’s history. And still no coverage in the mainstream media!

The stellar growth of the J14 movement, which was sparked when a young Israeli woman named Daphni Leef pitched a tent in Tel Aviv three weeks ago to protest against the unaffordable cost of housing in the country, has put immense pressure on the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu. In just three weeks, the Prime Minister has seen his approval rating tumble nearly 20 percent, to a dismal 32 percent.

The protests, while feeding on the widespread anger in the middle class about the unbearable cost of living, have since matured to take up a number of other progressive issues — and have now morphed into a full-blown social justice movement, contesting the free-market zealotry of Benjamin Netanyahu and the crony capitalist system that lurks behind the neoliberal edifice his government is trying to keep intact.

According to Haaretz, Netanyahu immediately tried to play down the protests, saying the media had inflated the numbers. But the only numbers that are being inflated appear to be the economic data from Netanyahu’s government, according to which Israel is doing great. In reality, the country experienced home prices jumping some 35 percent between 2008 and 2010. Because wages remained stagnant, many families have simply been priced out of their homes.

Years ago, current President Shimon Peres warned that Netanyahu’s economic polices would lead to “6,000 millionaires and 6 million beggars.” In recent years, his gloomy predictions appear to have materialized. Israel is now the second most unequal country in the developed world — behind only the United States. And with many middle class families spending half their income on their rent or mortgage, it was just a matter of time for the outrage to surface.

After three weeks, there are signs that the internal cohesion of the protest movement (which is broadly representative of the Israeli middle class) might be fracturing into progressive and nationalistic cores. In the protest camps, Jewish supremacists increasingly clash with left-wing protesters demanding more attention for the Palestinian question. Some progressives are demanding the removal of racist and fascist elements within the movement.

The swelling of the protests comes at the same time as anti-neoliberal protests in Spain and Chile have reached new heights. From Latin America to Europe and the Middle East, there is something in the air. 2011 is still in full swing.

Photo collection: 972 Magazine.

2011-08-06 In Light of WikiLeaks Documents, U.S. Diplomats May See Opportunity in Chávez’s Illness

By Nikolas Kozloff

With a big question mark hanging over the health of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, many in Washington may see opportunity. Though Chávez initially claimed that he was merely suffering from a "pelvic abscess," the firebrand leader subsequently conceded that he had cancer. In a shock to the nation, Chávez announced that he had a tumor removed during a sojourn in Cuba, and that he would "continue battling."

Reporting over the past several weeks suggests that Chávez might be in worse shape than has been commonly let on. Though he returned to Venezuela after his operation in Cuba, Chávez recently announced that he would pay yet another visit to Cuba in order to undergo chemotherapy. The firebrand leader, however, still refuses to reveal what kind of cancer he has or its severity. Ominously, one medical source reported to Reuters that Chávez's cancer had spread to the rest of his body and was in an advanced stage.

It's unclear how the president's shaky health might factor in the nation's upcoming 2012 election. The populist leader, who has closely identified himself with the so-called "Bolivarian Revolution," has never shown much interest in grooming a successor within his own United Socialist Party of Venezuela or PSUV, and so if Chávez should falter it is easy to imagine a scenario in which much of his political project could unravel or be derailed by the right.

The Caracas Cables

Judging from U.S. State Department cables recently declassified by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks, many American diplomats, including former ambassador in Caracas Charles Shapiro, would view this outcome as highly desirable. In 2004, two years after the Bush administration aided the rightist opposition in its short-lived coup attempt against Chávez, Shapiro sat down with Alí Rodríguez, the head of Venezuela's state-run oil company
PdVSA. In light of Washington's meddling, Rodríguez might have assumed a bellicose attitude but according to correspondence the Venezuelan was courteous and unassuming. Seeking to calm tensions, he urged a "dose of pragmatism." Shapiro, however, shot back and complained of Chávez's alleged authoritarian streak as well as the president's verbal attacks against Bush and threats to suspend oil shipments to the U.S. Two months later, a "troubled" Shapiro warned his superiors that PdVSA, which had been involved in Chávez social programs, was in danger of becoming a "social welfare agency."

If another 2006 cable is any indication, there was no love lost between the U.S. embassy and Chávez. In a lengthy rant, one diplomat noted "We have to maintain our careful restraint to the rhetorical provocations as well as a steady public diplomacy effort to offset Chávez' insidious effort to teach Venezuelans to hate us."

A full three years later, by now in the Obama era, U.S. officials openly complained of harassment. The Venezuelans, claimed one diplomat, had called for new procedures which compromised the ability of embassy staff to receive classified escorted diplomatic pouches. Things got so bad that at one point Venezuelan officials denied an embassy officer access to a classified diplomatic pouch at the airport.

The Americans responded hotly that "we were no longer in the 18th century and diplomatic correspondence required machines such as computers that would be compromised if they were at any time out of the control of our diplomatic personnel." The Venezuelans countered that "the US did not extend privileges such as planeside access to foreign diplomatic couriers in the U.S." After a tense "standoff," the Venezuelans finally agreed to return the pouch uninspected.

The Kirchner Connection

Elsewhere in South America, U.S. diplomats monitored Venezuelan influence with relentless zeal. "Chávez's outsized ambition," noted one official, "backed by petrodollars makes Venezuela an active and intractable U.S. competitor in the region." In 2007, the Americans openly fretted that Chávez might upstage an upcoming Bush visit to Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia. The Venezuelan, it was feared, could stir up anti-American sentiment by flying to Buenos Aires where he could count on sympathetic allies.

"Venezuela's embassies abroad actively promote, fund, and guide left-wing Bolivarian circles of persons sympathetic to Chávez' anti-American foreign policy," noted one diplomat, adding that "Chávez has almost certainly asked Venezuelan embassies in the region to generate protests against the President's visit, just as his government organizes such protests at home." According to "sensitive reporting," the Caracas embassy believed that Chávez was "providing direct support to organize anti-American protests in Buenos Aires."

Argentina, under the stewardship of President Néstor Kirchner, was of particular concern to the Americans. Though Kirchner had sought out a "more independent line," the peronist politician nevertheless followed an economic strategy that envisioned closer commercial and financial ties to Chávez. Also worrying was Kirchner's growing military collaboration with Chávez, with Venezuelan officers having a "presence" in the Argentine Army and Air War Colleges. What is more, the Venezuelans even briefed the Argentines on the concept of "asymmetric warfare."

Southern Cone Conundrum

Over in neighboring Brazil, the Americans were also paranoid about Chávez's rising influence. In response to a detailed questionnaire sent by the State Department, U.S. ambassador to Brazil John Danilovich warned his superiors that Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva's Workers' Party had organized a "Simon Bolívar Action Group" in solidarity with Venezuela. Moreover, members of Brazil's landless movement, known by the Portuguese acronym MST, traveled to Venezuela where they reportedly met with Chávez personally.

In addition, Danilovich and his associates were concerned about the Venezuelan ambassador in Brazil, a diplomat who was involved in drumming up support for Chávez's Bolivarian Revolution. In 2003, Danilovich devoted considerable time in tracking the Venezuelan's movements and activities in and around Brasilia. The paranoia over Chávez was so pronounced that Danilovich even saw fit to draw his superiors' attention to a University of São Paulo conference which discussed the Bolivarian Revolution.

Chávez however faced a very different political reception elsewhere in the Southern Cone. In theory, noted U.S. diplomats, Chilean socialist president Michele Bachelet had "a certain ideological sympathy" for Chávez, but on the other hand she was "also a pragmatist who recognizes that Chile's successful free market economic policies and stable democratic political model is preferable to what Chávez offers." In 2007, U.S. diplomats reported that Chilean Army Intelligence was actively monitoring the Venezuelan Embassy in Santiago and keeping tabs on Chávez's funding of Bolivarian and leftist groups.

In Chile, however, the Americans were worried about Venezuelan influence. They were in fact so concerned that they followed the arrival in Santiago of one Aram Aharonian, the executive vice president of TV channel Telesur. In 2005 Aharonian [who I discuss in more detail in my book] traveled to Chile to promote his station, which had received funding from the Venezuelan government. In other cables, U.S. officials clearly saw themselves in a media and propaganda war with Chávez who they viewed as an ideological threat.

Even in tiny Uruguay, U.S. diplomats intently monitored what Chávez was up to. Though Venezuela's influence was "not yet great," officials fretted that Chávez "shouldn't be underestimated. Money talks [and] democratic institutions in the region are still weak and free market economics have yet to provide consistent solutions to the Southern Cones social and political ills." In a paranoid aside designed no doubt to raise the red flag in Washington, the Americans noted that President Tabaré Vázquez's security detail was run by his brother Jorge, himself a former guerrilla fighter who allegedly recruited leftists from a local labor union. The service agents were then trained in Caracas or Havana.

Diplomats added that "it is clear we need more (and more flexible) resources and tools to counter Chávez's efforts to assume greater dominion over Latin America at the expense of U.S. leadership and interests." Though Uruguayan president Tabaré Vázquez was a centrist, Chávez was poised to make political inroads in the country because Uruguay had a heavy debt burden and no known hydrocarbon deposits. "As such," diplomats explained, "Venezuelan oil and money could prove tempting as part of a bid to boost the economy."

Glossy Propaganda Tools

Even as Danilovich and his colleagues sought to monitor Chávez in the Southern Cone, other American diplomats were following suit. Take, for example, U.S. ambassador in Lima Curtis Struble, who went so far as to request a one-on-one meeting with Peru's Foreign Minister in order "to discuss the Venezuelan government's involvement with violent, extremist Peruvian organizations." In a cable dating from 2005, perhaps the high point of Chávez's regional popularity, Struble had grown concerned about the activities of the Venezuelan ambassador to Lima.

In dealing with the Alejandro Toledo regime, Struble could count on a much more sympathetic audience than he would have encountered in, say, Argentina or Brazil. Speaking to government officials, Struble claimed that Venezuela had sought to organize Bolivarian sympathizers amongst radical groups. The Peruvian Foreign Minister said he was aware of the issue, and had already consulted with the Ministry of Interior about the Venezuelan threat. According to him, Venezuela had sent a "5-6 person advance team" to Peru in advance of a South American summit. In the city of Ayacucho, the Venezuelans had met with a group called Patria Roja and provided their collaborators with money to print anti-Toledo and pro-Chávez placards. Even more worryingly, the Foreign Minister believed Chávez might be trying to stir things up in the dirt-poor provincial department of Puno.

So obsessed was Struble that shortly after his meeting with the Peruvians the diplomat sent a cable to Washington dealing with pro-Chávez publications. Recently, Struble noted, a leftist magazine entitled Wankar [or "Song of the People" in the indigenous language of Quechua] had surfaced in Lima. Struble went into great detail about the magazine, noting that the first issue had "a slick paper cover with a dramatic color photo of Chávez sporting his commando cap, his fist raised in the air. The masthead of the magazine as well as the subjects and/or authors of most of the articles are members of the Peruvian Communist Party-Patria Roja (PCP-PR)." Struble believed that the glossy publication must have relied on outside financing.

Three years later, in the twilight of the Bush administration, diplomats were still frantically monitoring supposed Chávez subversion in Peru. During a general strike held in the city of Cusco, the Americans analyzed protest leaders' ties to Venezuela. One strike leader, U.S. officials claimed, was linked to Chávez's so-called ALBA initiative designed to promote reciprocity and barter exchanges amongst Latin American nations. In Cusco, diplomats noted, several "ALBA houses" coordinated a Venezuelan program called "Misión Milagro" to provide eye surgeries to poor people.

Across the border from Puno in Bolivia, the United States had perhaps more to be worried about. There, Washington could not count on sympathetic allies and indigenous president Evo Morales openly courted Chávez as a friend and ally. In 2007, American diplomats fretted that "at least one hundred if not several hundred Venezuelan military advisors and intelligence operators" might have been scattered throughout Bolivia. Raising the alarm bell, the Americans added that Chávez's military personnel were thought to be "conducting intelligence and counterintelligence activities in La Paz and Santa Cruz in coordination with Cuban intelligence agents."

Paraguay Paranoia

One would think that the U.S. would not view Paraguay, a poor and tiny South American nation, as worthy of too much political attention. Yet WikiLeaks cables show that even here, Washington was paranoid about Chávez infiltration and devoted significant time and resources toward monitoring Venezuelan activities. This, despite the fact that Paraguayan President Óscar Nicanor Duarte maintained "lukewarm" relations with Chávez during the Bush years.

In late 2005 the U.S. embassy in Asunción cabled Washington, warning that its "sensitive reporting" had uncovered links between Venezuela and several Paraguayan social, political and religious organizations. Even more seriously, diplomats added, it was possible that Bolivarian groups were "behind the spread of blatantly false rumors of U.S. plans to build a base in Paraguay, deploy 400 troops to Paraguay to protect oil and natural gas reserves in Bolivia, and steal the region's fresh water supplies from the Guarani Aquifer."

Two years later, in the midst of leftist Fernando Lugo's bid for the presidency, U.S. officials sought out local municipal officials who claimed that Venezuela had provided leadership training to peasant leaders. And, still unable to break free of their broken record, the Americans honed in on "Misión Milagro" once again, noting that hundreds of poor Paraguayans had flown to Cuba and Venezuela in what appeared to be an effort at "winning converts at the mass levels while the elites are increasingly nervous."
Meanwhile, the Bush administration suspected that Venezuela had offered material support to leftist groups along the Paraguayan-Bolivian border which had raised tensions. Ridiculously, diplomats then noted that "there is a Venezuelan student at the Paraguayan War College. It is unclear what his status or activities are at this point."

Lugo's win at the polls seems to have further alarmed the U.S. embassy in Asunción, and in 2008 diplomats sent a lengthy cable to Washington analyzing the Misión Milagro program. In truth, the Americans suspected that the initiative was secretly a propaganda tool. "Many, perhaps a majority, of the program's participants," U.S. diplomats explained, "... are students who do not need eye surgeries but rather travel to Venezuela for long-term training to expand the 'Bolivarian Revolution.'"

Moving From the Venezuelan to Brazilian Threat

Though it's no secret that the Bush administration was an implacable foe of the Chávez regime, WikiLeaks cables reveal the true extent of U.S. paranoia.
Though Chávez was arguably more of a nationalist politician than a true revolutionary, Washington was nonetheless fearful of leftist contagion and, in an insufferable waste of U.S. taxpayer money, made sure to monitor Venezuelan activities throughout the region, even in remote and economically disadvantaged countries.

Now that Chávez finds himself in a state of ailing health, some within the U.S. State Department may heave a sigh of relief. At the very least, they will not have to absurdly chase after Venezuelan military students at the Paraguayan War College, tail the head of the Uruguayan President's security detail in search of Chávez infiltrators, analyze Quechua-inspired publications in Peru, or shadow the movements of journalists associated with South American news network Telesur.

Yet, no sooner than Venezuela fades from the political scene, U.S. diplomats will no doubt find other "bogeymen" to report on. Most likely, the next focal point of State Department attention will be rising star Brazil. Though the South American juggernaut hasn't been nearly as confrontational toward Washington as Venezuela, WikiLeaks cables reveal U.S. diplomats' fearful concerns.

Take, for example, American ambassador to Lima Curtis Struble, who, as early as 2005, warned his superiors that Washington was now embroiled "in an undeclared contest" with Brazil to see which country could preserve the most influence in Peru. "We are winning on most issues that count," Struble explained, "but the government of Brazil is still very much in the game."

If they are not doing so by now already, American diplomats are probably monitoring Brazil in an effort to preserve U.S. hegemony in the wider region. In the not too distant future, State Department officials may believe it is imperative to sit down with their counterparts in Peru, Bolivia, or Paraguay in an effort to thwart not Caracas but Brasilia, and thus the Machiavellian game will start all over again.

Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave, 2008). Visit his website,

2011-08-06 The ugly face of austerity? Massive riots in #Tottenham

Massive riots have turned North London into an “absolute war zone”, with a bus, three patrol cars and numerous buildings set on fire.

North London has erupted in violence tonight following the shooting dead of a 29-year old father of four by police on Thursday. Earlier tonight, a peaceful protest was held to demand answers about the circumstances of the lethal shooting. As night fell, the protests turned to violence.

A bus, three patrol cars and numerous buildings were set on fire, with looting going on too. Police were seen to be in heated clashes and running street battles with rioters who threw stones and firebombs at the officers. According to one witness cited by the BBC, the scene looked like “an absolute war zone.”

Another witness reports that “the whole of the police station is surrounded by… about 100 police officers in riot gear and they threw a wheelie bin into it and then started throwing bricks, street signs, anything they could get their hands on, straight at them.” Police have brought in horses, dogs and even a helicopter.

The Tottenham disturbances instantly raised memories of the Broadwater Farm riots that rocked the neighborhood 26 years ago. While an early report claimed tonight’s violence to have been much more limited, Twitter is currently ablaze with live reporting. At one point, BBC reporter @rickin_majithia tweeted that he was being pulled out by the BBC because the situation was getting too dangerous, after one man was allegedly beaten up for taking pictures.

The violence was not entirely unpredicted. Earlier this year, the Guardian published a report with the following message: “after Haringey council shuts eight of its 13 youth clubs, local teenagers fear boredom will fuel violence between young gang members on the streets of north London.” At the end of the video clip, one man can be heard saying, with near-frightening conviction in his voice, “there’ll be riots, there’ll be riots.”

Is this a troubling early sign of what lies ahead in the coming years? As Martin Luther King put it, “a riot is at bottom the language of the unheard.” The UK already was one of the most unequal societies in the Western world, but the dismantling of social services will only further accentuate these economic inequities. As social cohesion unravels, violence and disturbance will become an increasingly common feature in everyday life.

Tonight, Tottenham showed the world the new face of austerity England — and it certainly wasn’t pretty.

2011-08-06 WikiLeaks: Fissures over South American Left Integration

By Nikolas Kozloff

Over the past few years, the international left has derived much satisfaction from the course of South American political and economic integration. The novelty of such integration is that it has proceeded along progressive lines and has been pushed by regional leaders associated with the so-called "Pink Tide." With so many leftist leaders in power, it is plausible to surmise that a left bloc of countries might challenge Washington's long-term hemispheric agenda. Yet, behind all of the lofty rhetoric and idealism, serious fissures remain within South America's leftist movement, both within individual countries and within the larger regional milieu.

That, at least, is the impression I got from reading U.S. State Department cables recently declassified by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks. Take, for example, the Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva administration in Brazil, which at times encouraged a "hostile" climate against the Free Trade Area of the Americas or FTAA, a corporately-sponsored plan backed by Washington, while on other occasions encouraging "public doubt and confusion through its own often-conflicting statements" about the accord. Behind the scenes, the Brazilian government was much more divided on the matter than commonly portrayed, torn between its South American loyalties on the one hand and the desire to gain access to the lucrative U.S. market for agricultural and industrial goods on the other.

In 2003, the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia noted that "Brazil's political goals, which include a leadership role in South America along with a strong focus on development and the social agenda, sometimes clash in its pursuit of certain national economic interests." Cautiously, Brazil conducted sensitive negotiations with Washington over the FTAA. Lula's position was somewhat delicate: while the president needed a substantial export boost to fund his social agenda, producers were fearful about facing increased competition.

Across the border in Argentina, Lula could count on political ally Néstor Kirchner, and as a result the prospects for further integration through South American trade bloc Mercosur looked bright. On the other hand, however, Mercosur remained "more important as a political project than an economic one," and virtually all Brazilians recognized that, in the long term, Mercosur would not offer a viable long-term solution to Brazil's export needs.

Itamaraty vs. Other Agencies

In addition to the economic contradictions, Lula faced serious political fissures within his very own cabinet over the FTAA. In other pieces, I have noted the open U.S. disdain for Brazil's Foreign Ministry, known as Itamaraty. A den of suspicious leftists, Itamaraty and its diplomats proved frustrating to Bush administration officials time and again. Particularly irksome to the Brasilia embassy was Itamaraty's "rigid perspective" (read "opposition") on FTAA policy. Specifically, the Americans fretted that Itamaraty Secretary General Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães and his ideological clique was driving anti-FTAA sentiment.

In the long-term, however, such leftist sentiment within Brazilian foreign policy circles may be shunted aside by powerful interests. Writing to the State Department, U.S. diplomats noted that "not everyone within the diplomatic corps nor within the government agrees with Itamaraty's current FTAA policy." Specifically, Itamaraty faced opposition from the ministries of Agriculture, Development and Finance, and such divisions offered up a tempting target for Washington.

Ultimately, the U.S. embassy decided that it would not seek to "exploit differences among ministers," but further WikiLeaks cables suggest that the Americans continued to gauge such fissures. Airing dirty laundry before U.S. officials, Paulo Venturelli of the Ministry of Agriculture remarked that Itamaraty negotiators were "paranoid" and had even lied to Lula about the status of FTAA deal making. Venting yet further, Venturelli said that "top level officials" at the foreign ministry were "formulating policy based totally of 1960's North-South ideology and without real economic consideration." In a jarring break from normal diplomatic protocol, Venturelli himself advised the Americans to take a "hard line" with his own government, and to either "tell Brazil to take the FTAA as is, or be left behind as the U.S. and the other countries proceed to form the FTAA."

The story was much the same during a meeting with Arno Mayer of the Finance Ministry who advised the Americans how to outflank and strengthen rival Brazilian agencies favoring the FTAA. Mayer noted that Finance was supportive of FTAA but unfortunately Itamaraty was responsible for formulating trade policy. Within Itamaraty, Mayer continued, officials believed that the U.S. was "out to isolate Brazil." In an effort to "personalize" the FTAA issue, Itamaraty diplomats portrayed U.S. trade policy as "aggressive" and aimed at "encircling Brazil" by cutting deals with other Latin American countries.

Tensions within Brazilian-Venezuelan Dynamic

In the event, Lula did not conclude an FTAA deal with the United States, and as a result the path was cleared for greater South American political integration along progressive lines. Yet, even so, WikiLeaks documents reveal great fissures within the Mercosur bloc of nations. Take, for example, the whole issue of Venezuela's admission to Mercosur, a development which stood to destabilize the delicate geopolitical balance. Publicly, the Lula administration supported Venezuela's bid to join the large South American trade bloc. President Hugo Chávez was, after all, a kindred political spirit and represented a key force driving the region's "Pink Tide" to the left.

On the other hand, Lula's team and even Itamaraty did not "seem to be going out of their way to actively promote" Venezuelan membership. Indeed, during a private meeting the Brazilian Vice-Minister of Development, Industry and Trade implied that Brazil "lacked enthusiasm" when it came to wider integration. What is more, the Brazilian private sector was divided about Venezuela's bid. While one group favored greater export opportunities, another "worried that Venezuela's admission to Mercosur will further complicate Brazil/Mercosur's trade negotiations with other partners."

These businesspeople were concerned about Venezuela's more avowed anti-imperialist stances, particularly Chávez's opposition to the FTAA. Moreover, they fretted that Brazil could be tainted through its association with Venezuela, and Chávez could "undermine" key efforts to establish trading links with the European Union. In the long run, however, the Brazilian political elite seems to have calculated that it would be more worthwhile to bring Venezuela into the Mercosur fold, thereby constraining and moderating Chávez and not leaving him "to his own devices on the outside."

Still, the insufferable Chávez was difficult to take as he had "frequently stolen the stage at Mercosur gatherings from Brazil's President Lula," and openly challenged Brazilian leadership by supporting Bolivian President Evo Morales's moves to grab assets belonging to state Brazilian energy company Petrobras. Speaking to influential members of the Brazilian political elite, U.S. diplomats picked up on some skittishness. Take, for example, one Senator Heraclito Fortes, who told the Americans that Chávez's behavior during a summit held in the Brazilian city of Manaus was "not normal."

During the proceedings, the firebrand Venezuelan leader reportedly insulted the conservative Brazilian Congress, thus leading the Chamber of Deputies to postpone a bill dealing with Venezuela's accession to Mercosur. Expressing concern, Fortes remarked that Chávez was intent on garnering veto power within Mercosur, which would be "too much power for someone so unstable."

Southern Cone Skittishness

The Brazilians weren't the only ones who expressed skittishness on Venezuela. In Brasilia, U.S. diplomats met with their Argentine counterparts who said that Chávez's membership in Mercosur would be "problematic." Traditionally, the Argentines and Brazilians had dominated Mercosur with "Paraguay and Uruguay trailing along behind." If oil-rich Venezuela were to join Mercosur, however, this would introduce a "destabilizing element, with Caracas playing the Brazilians against the Argentines and vice versa to increase Venezuelan influence."

Elsewhere within the Southern Cone, regional leaders were "suspicious of his [Chávez's] motives and objectives." Indeed, Mercosur members gave second thought to their pro-Chávez leanings once it became clear that Venezuela was intent on pushing an assertive agenda. Take for example Chilean President Michele Bachelet, who reportedly stated her "firm dislike" of Chávez in private. The only reason the socialist leader supported Venezuela in the first place was that she was "under great internal pressure from pro-Chávez members of her administration who want her to publicly support Chávez."

Montevideo Intrigue

Even as Brazil and Argentina grew leery about Venezuela's entry into Mercosur, other smaller countries became concerned about being eclipsed by powerful neighbors. Take, for example, tiny Paraguay which "chafed" under the Mercosur "yoke." According to U.S. diplomats, Brazil withheld or delayed its electricity payments to Paraguay if its smaller neighbor refused to go along with Brasilia's strategic objectives.

Uruguay, too, found itself in a geopolitical quandary. A tiny nation sandwiched between Brazil and Argentina, the country formed part of Mercosur and the region's pink tide to the left but simultaneously embarked on a high stakes double game with the Bush administration. Fearing that its political and economic interests might not be served by Mercosur, Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez flirted with the notion of signing a free trade agreement with Washington.

In Montevideo, U.S. diplomats sought to parse the diplomatic tea leaves. In early 2006, U.S. Chargé d'Affaires James Nealon wrote that Uruguay might have been prompted to seek a free trade agreement with Washington due to the country's soured relations with Argentina. Specifically, Uruguay had grown embittered over a bilateral dispute involving a paper mill. On the economic front meanwhile, some Uruguayans blamed Argentina for dragging their tiny nation into a terrible financial crisis following the 2002 "corralito" bank run.

By openly questioning the underlying validity of Mercosur, however, Vázquez risked alienating not only his leftist regional partners but also "hardened lefties" within his own Frente Amplio coalition. The Uruguay government was "navigating a fine line" by seeking to expand its trade relations with the rest of the world while simultaneously remaining a part of Mercosur. Vázquez himself, wrote U.S. diplomats, was more of "a pragmatist than an ideologue."
A sly fox, the president sent conflicting signals over his country's economic and political loyalties. Speaking in Caracas, Vázquez derided free trade with the United States, but backed a faction within his own coalition to keep the option open. By openly traveling to Venezuela and standing with Chávez, Vázquez angered the U.S. But WikiLeaks cables also reveal a fawning and deferential Uruguayan president who sought to appease Washington. In an attempt to "allay U.S. fears" over Vázquez's rambling press conference with Chávez, obsequious Uruguay Minister of Industry and Energy Jorge Lepra called upon Nealon for a one-to-one meeting.

Never fear, Lepra declared: his boss knew "how to manage the radicals within his governing Frente Amplio coalition." Sometimes, the minister added, Vázquez needed to "placate that crowd," but rest assured internal politics would "have little effect on his [the president's] foreign policy overtures towards the United States." Far from being a reluctant partner, Uruguay strenuously pursued the free trade matter behind closed doors. In a follow up meeting, a very worried Lepra expressed grave concern over the fate of the trade deal, which unfortunately for Montevideo failed to materialize in the final analysis.

Bank of the South Imbroglio

WikiLeaks reveal yet further fissures within the left coalition, even when it came to hallmark initiatives designed to challenge the U.S. Take, for example, the much heralded Bank of the South, a new financial institution aimed at counteracting the nefarious International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Formed in late 2007, the bank was expected to contribute to regional integration, poverty alleviation, and investment. During a ceremony, Chávez as well as Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador made "forceful comments" criticizing large financial institutions which had imposed lending conditionality and offered "bad advice" to their clients.

During the ceremony, Brazil's Lula as well as Argentine president-elect Cristina Fernández de Kirchner lauded the creation of the new bank. Privately, however, both leaders were more circumspect. According to U.S. diplomats, "Argentine and Brazilian officials are working behind the scenes to moderate Venezuela's influence in the organization of the bank in order to avoid the overt politicization of the Bank's lending policies." In Montevideo meanwhile, Uruguayan Finance Minister Danilo Astori said he did not believe that Bank of the South was particularly useful and moreover Uruguay only agreed to participate "so as not to be isolated."

The Fraught Path to South American Integration

In the long run, the so-called Union of South American Nations or UNASUR may replace Mercosur as the guiding mechanism for regional integration along progressive lines, which could represent a blow to Washington's hegemony. Yet, if WikiLeaks cables are again any indication, UNASUR has had difficulty getting off the ground amidst internal fissures. Though Venezuela and Bolivia would have surely liked to see UNASUR strike a combative stance towards the U.S., there was little agreement about how to deal with Washington.

Not to worry, the Chileans related to U.S. diplomats in Asunción: Santiago had already spoken to Paraguayan officials who had "all agreed that the UNASUR declaration should not be anti-U.S." Indeed, during an UNASUR meeting the ostensibly leftist Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo had steadfastly "held that line." Moreover, Chilean diplomats claimed that Chávez, who had delivered a feisty anti-imperialist speech at the UNASUR summit, annoyed most other heads of state.

Behind the scenes, Venezuela reportedly lobbied Paraguay to cancel an upcoming meeting between Lugo and Bush, but that effort had failed. Moreover, if WikiLeaks cables are to be believed, Paraguay is just as shifty a player as Uruguay. Confiding in the U.S. ambassador in Asunción, Lugo remarked that he had reached out to the rightist opposition in Bolivia. In addition, the Paraguayan leader believed that indigenous president Morales had "a complex" about race. In a report to Washington, the Americans noted that Lugo continued to "walk a fine, pragmatic line on regional politics."

Counteracting the Leftist Pink Tide

Whatever the shortcomings and weakness of the leftist "pink tide" in South America, however, the pace of regional integration seems to have seriously alarmed U.S. diplomats. Speaking to their superiors at the State Department, Americans officials noted that "the entry of Venezuela into Mercosur clearly altered the power balance and dynamics of the organization. Mercosur has increasingly devolved from an imperfect customs union into a more restrictive and anti-American political organization ... It is clear that we need better resources and tools to counter Venezuela's political efforts ... [and] politicization of MERCOSUR expansion."

Furthermore, if Mercosur was merely worrying, then UNASUR would seem to represent an even greater ideological challenge for Washington. In a cable sent to Washington, U.S. ambassador in Quito Heather Hodges expressed concern that Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa might take advantage of an UNASUR ceremony to raise the issue of destabilizing U.S.-Colombian military cooperation. "We can be sure," Hodges explained, that Correa "will emphasize the importance of deepening South American integration, and he may well put this in the context of seeking to minimize the influence of and dependence on the United States in the region."

Faced with such ideological pushback, U.S. diplomats soberly assessed the geopolitical milieu and looked for internal weaknesses to exploit. Throughout the Bush years, American officials focused their attention on Venezuela, but cables suggest that small countries like Uruguay and Paraguay were particularly susceptible to U.S. pressure. A shrewd diplomat, U.S. ambassador in Montevideo Nealon wrote his superiors that "it is ... probably in our interest to lend a helping hand to government of Uruguay that is struggling to emulate a moderate Chile rather than a Bolivarian Venezuela."

Moving From the Venezuelan to Brazilian Threat

Surely the greatest nightmare for U.S. diplomats is that Venezuela, with its populist anti-imperialism, might steer the course of South American integration. Shrewdly, however, American officials have been able to deal with Brazil, which in turn acts as a moderating force on Chávez. True Machiavellians, U.S. diplomats have even noted that the friction between Venezuela and Brazil "provides an opportunity." Though the WikiLeaks cables leave off in early 2010, it would not be surprising if the Obama administration continues to pursue such a divide and rule strategy to this day.

With Chávez's health now fading fast and Venezuela looking like a rather spent force politically, it would seem natural that Washington will eventually turn its sights upon Brazil. Judging from WikiLeaks cables, the U.S. doesn't have much to fear from this South American juggernaut in an ideological sense, and indeed leftist Itamaraty may be outmaneuvered by more pragmatic forces in the long run. Nevertheless, Brazil is a rising player in the region and U.S. diplomats are keenly aware of this fact.

Take, for example, American ambassador to Lima Curtis Struble, who in 2005 wrote Washington that the U.S. was in an "undeclared contest" with Brazil for political influence in Peru. "We are winning on most issues that count," Struble added, remarking that negotiations over a U.S.-Peru free trade deal had remained positive. However, the ambassador noted ominously, "the government of Brazil is still very much in the game" and had met with some success in pushing for UNASUR which would diminish U.S. influence.

If they are not doing so by now already, American diplomats are probably monitoring Brazil in an effort to preserve U.S. hegemony in the wider region. In the not too distant future, State Department officials may believe it is imperative to sit down with their counterparts in Peru, Bolivia, or Paraguay in an effort to thwart not Caracas but Brasilia, and thus the Machiavellian game will start all over again.

Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave, 2008). Visit his website,

2011-08-07 Somali pirates, fish and cablegate

Authored by David Adler

This Video from 2009 sparked my interest in modern piracy. It starts off with local fishermen celebrating their ample catch in Malindi, Kenya. The abundance is attributed to Somali pirates, keeping foreign trawlers out of the area.

A transcript of the video is available here.

Local fisherman celebrate Somali pirates from Sam Farmar on Vimeo.


The footage is from Kenya – presumably mainly because journalists are more likely to report from this comparably safe country. Supposedly the effect is present in Somalia as well. Having the continent’s longest coast line of 3,330 km, some of the 9.36 Million people in this famine stricken country are most likely benefiting similarly. Wikipedia provides a Map of the area under threat of Somali pirates that gives a hint on the scale of influence. However, this positive effect might just have been of short duration. Illegal fishing reportedly continues to date, and local Somali fishermen face several piracy-related threats impeding their business.

Piracy at the Horn of Africa

Piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden became an international issue around 2005. The World Food Program (WFP) reports on hijackings of two vessels carrying relief food in March of that year, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) started warning the Security Council about piracy in the region in November 2005.

In the following years incidents steadily became more frequent, until in 2008 the number of attacks in the region rocketed by 200%. [UNCTAD 2009, p. 134]

While no scientific research seems to exist on the cause of the increase in fish stock, it is a striking coincidence and until someone comes up with a very good argument for another reason, it seems reasonable to agree with marine biologist Steve Trott who appears in the video, naming the pirates as a cause.

Surprising is the speed of recovery. This gives some hope towards general recoverability of marine environments and at the same time leaves a devastating image of industrial fishery, managing to hold stock at dangerous low levels almost anywhere else despite this ability to recover.

There is some debate regarding the motivation driving piracy in Somalia. Some view them as a voluntary “coast guard“, set out to prevent illegal fishing and toxic/nuclear waste dumps; on the other end of the spectrum they are named “terrorists“.

Terrorist pirates?

It is easy to rule out the “terrorist” term, abused to villainise even non-violent and perfectly legal publishing activity. “Piracy” is reasonably well defined since ages and it certainly covers violent seizure of ships for a ransom (rather than for political reasons, which would be a prerequisite for “terrorism” to apply) – no need for buzzword-marketing here.

As of 2009, Somali pirates had killed 11 people, 21 were missing and 32 injured, [UNCTAD 2009, p. 134] thus they are obviously not angels fulfilling solely their humble duty as an informal coast guard. However, since state-run coastguards are often just as far from being humble angels, it is only fair to put this into perspective:

According to Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), casualties of attacks by Somali pirates sum up to 1.3 per 100,000 seafarers passing the region. [OBP 2011, p. 4] According to Fortress Europe, 17,738 refugees died along the European borders between 1988 and 2009, most of them by drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. Sure, there is no one literally pulling the trigger in those latter cases, but this is what happens when the inevitable refugees are driven towards more and more dangerous methods of border-crossing by an increasingly armed border control. These are accepted casualties, in many cases it is even worse: reputable German TV magazine “Report Mainz” reports in its issue from 5 October 2009 (in German – alternatively a Google translation of the transcript) that Frontex repeatedly refuses to rescue refugees in distress at sea, thereby violating international maritime law. In its 2008 statistics, Frontex counts 5969 refugees “diverted back” at sea.

Voluntary coast guard?

Given the fish stock increase mentioned in the video, to some extent the pirates obviously do achieve what a proper coast guard’s goal would be. Compare that to squalidly poor performance of the EU common fisheries policy, claiming to: [... bring] together a range of measures designed to achieve a thriving and sustainable European fishing industry.

Now here is what the reality of European fishery looks like. In that sense the pirates are doing a better job, at least this was the case in 2009.

There seem to be some good arguments towards the “coast guard”-incentive, though once big money enters the picture, the business surely attracts a heterogenious lot of venturers. Instead of discussing this topic here in more detail, I’ll refer to three other publications:
Somalia Piracy: The Two Faces - The shipping piracy & the invasion of the Somali seas an essay by Mohamed Abshir Waldo; How Somalia’s Fishermen Became Pirates, an article the Time Magazine, and Johann Hari: You are being lied to about pirates, an article in The Independent.

Efforts to combat piracy

An incomplete list of International military efforts in response to piracy follows, for more details see Wikipedia.

The European Union launched the EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation Atalanta in 2008, a joint effort of 26 countries, with 13 EU member states contributing military “hardware”.

The Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) and CTF-151. The former is part of the larger Operation Enduring Freedom and also engages in anti piracy operations, the latter was started in January 2009 and specifically targets piracy off Somalia.

These operations are covered by a series of UN resolutions originating from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), currently UNSCR 1950 from 2010.


Within the next sections, I’ll go through the US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks to see what insight they can provide on the subject. To begin with, a cable from Canada, August 2009, dealing with opinions from the Somali population in Toronto/Ontario towards the subject. Consul General Kevin Johnson reports:

All Consulate contacts agree that the majority of the Somali-Canadian community is against Somali piracy. However, some sympathize with the acts out of concern for the poverty under which most people in Somalia live. In addition, many consider that some of the pirates are actually protecting their local fisheries from foreign ships that have exploited the Gulf of Aden in the past. There was also particular sympathy for Abduhl Wal-i-Musi, brought to New York in April 2009 to face charges connected with the taking of the Maersk Alabama, who many see as a gullible youth.

Who benefits from the “war on piracy”?

Clearly, the weapons industry benefits from 2 billion US$ spending on naval forces in counter-piracy operation. [OBP 2010, p. 25] Private security firms like Blackwater Worldwide are benefiting, as well as insurance companies. The latter increased their rates for coverage of piracy attacks more than tenfold in 2008, [UNCTAD 2009, p. 99] altogether between 460 million and 3.2 billion US$. [OBP 2010, p. 25]

Who would benefit if the “war on piracy” was to be successful?

The sailors not being under threat any more, and sea borne trade, for sure. After the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the Gulf of Aden became part of a major route for global seaborne trade, over 80% of which is trade with Europe nowadays. [UNCTAD 2009, p. 9]

In response to the threat, some shipping companies are routing their vessels around Cape of Good Hope – like in the old times of the Tea Clippers – increasing shipping costs and affecting the economy of the bypassed regions: “Re-routing via the Cape of Good Hope will likely affect the Egyptian authorities (e.g. foreign currency earnings, GDP), the Suez Canal Authority (e.g. operation earnings, unemployment). Mediterranean port authorities and terminals (e.g. reduced vessel calls and transhipments), and also industry and consumers because of additional costs.” [UNCTAD 2009, p. 9]

A number of cables confirm the obvious fact that several countries have interest in combating piracy for uninterrupted trade routes. Starting with a cable from Cairo, 2008-12-15 that mentions exactly the above Suez Canal issue: The stakes for Egypt are particularly high because piracy could affect the “credibility of the Suez Canal as a transport route.”

A few days earlier, on 2008-12-08, it says under the heading “Piracy: Ready to Contribute to United Nation’s Force”: During a general discussion on combating piracy, Ambassador [Margaret Scobey] expressed USG [United States Government] support for deepening cooperation with the international community to counter piracy in the Horn of Africa region. [...] Tantawi also shared Egypt’s willingness to contribute naval assets to combating piracy under the “United Nation’s flag.” Ambassador also applauded Egypt’s leadership on bringing together Red Sea states to coordinate counter piracy efforts.

Panama, being the by far largest shipping flag, certainly has a “natural interest” in combating piracy. A cable from March 2008: “Panama is very interested in working through the UN Security Council to combat piracy, not only in Somalia, but also throughout the world,” Panamanian DG for External Affairs Javier Bonagas told POLCOUNS [Political Counsil Brian R. Naranjo] on March 5. Bonagas noted that Panama had the world’s largest maritime fleet, with an estimated 7,000 Panamanian-flagged vessels, crossing the world’s oceans at any time. “Our vessels have been the victims of piracy off of Somalia and in the Straits of Malacca. Bonagas said that Panama had contemplated focusing on piracy during its February UNSC presidency, but decided against doing so as Panama did not want to “draw special attention to Panama or Panamanian-flagged vessels.” Post believes that Panama would be highly interested in joining a UNSC effort to combat piracy that is specific to Somalia as it provides an opportunity to enhance protection for its extensive fleet without having to draw a spotlight to itself.

In an April 2009 cable from Beijing, China, under the heading “Somali Pirates” it says: China is working to “support and take part in” the fight against pirates. China has sent vessels to the region and will follow UN resolutions and “strengthen cooperation.”

To finish this, a 2007 cable from Seoul, showing the positions of South Korea and Spain: [...] Park In-kook, Deputy Foreign Minister for International Organizations and Global Issues, agreed on the need for stronger multilateral enforcement mechanisms against piracy. In a November 6 meeting with the DCM [Deputy Chief of Mission Bill Stanton], Park asked in particular about the U.S. view of the Government of Spain’s proposal to address piracy off the east coast of Africa through an international coalition of countries whose shipping was most at risk of Somali piracy. [...]

According to an article in the Telegraph from February 2011, piracy causes a loss of over 16 billion US$ annually to world trade (no source is given). According to [...] the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that the operation of merchant ships contributes about US$380 billion in freight rates within the global economy.

Given these numbers, piracy causes an average four per cent increase in shipping cost. Since sea transport is cheap nowadays and since people benefiting from this fact are mostly the ones being comparably wealthy, I’d call this increase insignificant. Relying on global trade for essential goods like basic food and and energy supply is bad design anyway.

Notwithstanding the above number of 16 Billion (world trade only); in early 2011, OBP estimates total piracy related cost (including spending on military operation and prosecution) being seven to twelve billion US$ per year. [OBP 2010, p. 25]

Whichever numbers are more accurate, in both cases possible benefits for the local population are not considered. But how to reasonably compare rich and tasty fish meals for coastal Somali communities to military expenses of wealthy countries? No way.

It is unlikely that a “successful war on piracy” would improve the situation regarding illegal fishing and waste dumping: Allegations against foreign vessels of illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping are still being made in Somalia and continue to provide justification, in the eyes of many Somalis, for the crime of piracy. These allegations have never been adequately addressed. [OBP 2011, p. 24]

Who benefits from piracy?

Somali pirates, in a way, having collected 176 million US$ in ransom. [OBP 2010, p. 25] On the other hand they live in danger of being killed or injured. Unfortunately no reliable reporting exists on this topic. [OBP 2011, p. 11]

Given the increased fish stock, there is probably some benefit for coastal communities and the overall marine environment. For fishermen though, the situation is ambiguous, as they face threats from multiple sides:

  • From foreign trawlers or trading vessels, having attacked fishermen by simply overriding their boats or spraying them with boiling water from cannons.
  • From the foreign navies or private security guards: “Even the traditional Somali trading dhows are in panic of being mistaken for pirates.” Mohamed A. Waldo reports.
  • From the pirates themselves: Bar-kulan reports an incident where pirates steal a boat from Bargal Fishermen, leaving two people injured. Somalia Report mentions more alike cases.

Concessions and negotiations

Negotiations with pirates appear not to be a favoured option for most countries, except for acute necessity. Citing the 2007 cable from Seoul again: Park said the ROKG [Government of the Republic of Korea] was actively seeking multilateral enforcement mechanisms against piracy after recent incidents requiring direct negotiations with pirates. In an apparent reference to alleged concessions the Koreans might have made to win the return of their citizens, Park noted that the ultimate goal for Korea was a no-concessions policy, but meanwhile the ROKG was forced to take into account “national sentiment” on ensuring the safe return of Korean citizens. As the International Maritime Organization (IMO) would require a referral to the UNSC in order to implement effective action, Park did not believe the IMO was an effective mechanism by itself.

The infamous Muammar al-Gaddafi is the only one mentioned in the cables who is somewhat supportive of Somali pirates. From a Tripoli cable, 2009: [...] he has already defended Somali pirates, saying they were acting in part to protect Somalia against foreign intervention [...]

Once more, the subject of concessions or negotiations occurs: during a meeting with General William Ward, Commander of U.S. Africa Command, Gadaffi offers himself as a middleman. Tripoli, 2009-05-26:

On the topic of Somali piracy, al-Qadhafi asserted that “foreign entities” had violated Somalia’s territorial waters. The solution to the problem of Somali piracy was therefore to forge an agreement between the countries exploiting Somali waters and the pirates. Al-Qadhafi offered to identify a pirate spokesman and broker this agreement.

Al-Qadhafi emphasized that as Libya now presides over the AU [African Union], there was a possibility for cooperation with AFRICOM in combating terrorism in the Sahara and piracy. He said that he could deal with “the new America without reservation”, now that the United States was governed by “a new spirit of change.”

While there are very good reasons not to put Gaddafi in any crucial position, generally speaking, the option to negotiate and to get African institutions involved in this matter does not sound too bad. Regarding oil, Gaddafi obviously was good enough to be dealt with. Wha’ever, next section.

Handling of detainees

Rather than the issue of protecting Somalia’s coastal waters from illegal exploitation, one of the United States’ main concerns – next to securing trade routes – appears to be the issue of handling pirate detainees, a subject regularly reoccurring in the cables released so far. Probably they are eager to avoid the bad publicity received in another well known case, and in this less well known case.

Occurrences of that subject in the cables, in chronological order:

2007-11-06, Seoul: Also at the meeting, Lee Kyoo-ho, Assistant Director for Disarmament and Nonproliferation, stated that the ROK [Republic of Korea] claimed the right to protect its citizens worldwide, and would theoretically have the jurisdiction to prosecute the pirates who had taken the Golden Nori. MOFAT [Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade] had not yet considered in detail, however, how the ROKG would handle pirates involved in seizing the Golden Nori if they were captured, but Lee emphasized that the ROKG would want to coordinate with the USG in that event.

2008-12-08, Cairo: ...] Tantawi expressed confidence that the United Nations could find a solution to the question of handling the detention and prosecution of pirates captured at sea. [...]

2008-12-15, Cairo: [...] Dr. Gordon [Director of Policy Planning Dr. David Gordon] asked if Egypt would be willing to take custody of the pirates for trial. He said that it is not clear whether the U.S. would have a legal basis on which to try the pirates, unless they attacked U.S. persons, or a U.S. vessel.

2008-12-22, Panama: Mr. Kieserman [Brad Kieserman, Chief of the U.S. Coast Guard Operations Law Group and NSC Director of Maritime Threat Reduction] then noted the UN Security Council’s recent approval of Resolution 1851 and inquired if Panama would be willing to prosecute acts of piracy against Panamanian flagged vessels in the Indian Ocean [...]. He said as more naval vessels were deployed in the area, the likelihood of pirates being captured would increase. Noting the jurisdictional difficulties involved in such prosecutions, Mr. Kieserman asked that Panama show support by taking on some of these prosecutions. He explained that there would probably not be more than one or two cases a year, and that the USG would provide logistical support for such prosecutions. He also noted that SBA [Salas-Becker Agreement] could be used to authorize U.S. boarding of Panamanian flagged ships in piracy cases, as the agreement refers to maritime law enforcement, not just counter-drug operations. While noting there were serious logistical issues for Panama to prosecute such cases, including translation issues, and the availability of prosecutors and staff, Ahumada said he was sympathetic about the issue, and would push the issue within the GOP [Government of Panama] to secure agreement to prosecute a limited number of cases to support UN anti-piracy efforts.

While I am no lawyer, it seems not hard to imagine that if e.g. a crew of Philippine nationality on a vessel owned by German citizens travelling under Panama’s flag is kidnapped in international waters, that this is not an overall simple legal case. This article, a report from the 2010 African Maritime Safety and Security Conference in Stuttgart, Germany, gives some more insight.

But what about fishing?

Considering the cables released until now, the two issues being addressed with regard to piracy are those of protecting trade routes and prosecuting detainees. Neither illegal waste dumps nor illegal fishing seem to be a concern.

The subject of fishery in relation to piracy occurs only once, in the aforementioned cable from Seoul, November 2007. But – big surprise – the incentive there is not to inhibit illegal fishing around the Horn of Africa, but rather to protect Spanish fishing vessels in that area from being harassed:

Park asked in particular about the U.S. view of the Government of Spain’s proposal to address piracy off the east coast of Africa through an international coalition of countries whose shipping was most at risk of Somali piracy. Spanish fishing fleets based in the Seychelles, for example, faced harassment from pirates in that area. Spain had therefore invited the PRC [People's Republic of China], Japan, and the ROK to join existing EU coalitions against piracy, Park said. Denmark and possibly Portugal would also be interested in such an effort, Park said. While the ROK was open to this possibility, it wanted to consult first with the U.S. to hear USG views on the initiative. The ROK, Park added, would participate in any USG-supported International effort against piracy.

Officially, it is part of the EUNAVFORs mission to “[...] contribute to the monitoring of fishing activities off the coast of Somalia.” Nevertheless, Spain – one of the countries providing operational contribution – whines about its fishing fleet being disturbed. But note the diction of the sentence above: to “contribute to the monitoring of fishing activities” is not the same as to inhibit illegal fishing activities. There might be a reason they chose this abstract phrase.

Now there is one last “piracy cable” not cited yet, a report from the North Atlantic Council’s meeting in October 2008, dealing with questions of NATO support for the EU NAVFOR mission. To be fair, I won’t conceal it mentions “[...] the immediate need of providing protection to the World Food Program (WFP)[...]“, the only case I found anything somewhat altruistic in those cables.

Some thoughts

Please do not get me wrong: I am by no means supportive of pirates threatening lives of sailors, I condemn all physical harm that has been done to anyone and I agree that the crews’ lives need to be protected. It is just that, over the years, all that happens is continuously fighting symptoms with weapons. Given the giant wealth gap and the obvious ignorance towards illegal exploitation of resources in front of poor people’s eyes, a reaction such as this piracy phenomenon does not really surprise.

Piracy will not be stopped by fighting piracy, just as terrorism will not be stopped by a war on terror. As Al Jazeera Director Wadah Khanfar rightfully states in his recent Ted Talk, a change beneficial to the people will never come from the outside, even less if enforced by a multinational high-tech army.

Related blog posts

Alexandria – Crossroads of Civilization
Somalia: “pirates” or struggling fishermen?
Somali Pirates Fighting To Stop Further Destruction of Somali Seas

Further viewing

Democracy Now! – part of the issue from Tuesday, April 14, 2009

part one

part two

2011-08-08 Joint Solidarity Statement by US Day of Rage and the October2011 Movement

The following statement was cross-published on the sites of US Day of Rage and the October2011 Movement.

Our struggles are interconnected and so we organize in mutual support and solidarity with each other.

The October2011 Movement is planning an occupation and nonviolent resistance actions in Washington, DC starting on October 6, 2011. This date marks the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and the first week of the new federal budget which provides unlimited funding for war, tax breaks for the wealthy and austerity for human services.

Thousands of people have pledged to gather in Freedom Plaza beginning on that day to nonviolently disrupt the disloyal, incompetent, and corrupt special interests which have usurped our nation’s civil and military power, spawning a host of threats to our liberty, lives and national security.

The October2011 Movement protests corporatism and militarism because they prevent solutions to our current crises which would create a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world from being implemented. Instead concentrated corporate interests rule our elections and political process so that wealth continues to be funneled to the top 1%.

US Day of Rage is calling for free and fair elections, not elections manipulated by the economic elite, special interests, or corporate media, where choices are limited to bought candidates and two corrupt parties. US Day of Rage is organizing with OccupyWallStreet to create a tent city in the financial district of New York beginning on September 17. October2011 and OccupyWallStreet have endorsed each others’ actions.

Legitimate government is born of the people expressed by its citizens in free and fair elections. It does not spring from a tyranny of special interests, crony capitalism, or a system or ideology that runs counter to the aims of life.

Free and fair elections inspire good citizenship and public service, because they engage the intelligence and genuine good will of the American people. They produce the kind of stewardship our nation desperately needs, because they ensure that citizens can influence their destiny, and make genuine contributions to society unlike our present system where the government moves in directions the majority of Americans oppose putting the profits of campaign donors ahead of the wishes of the American people.

Free and fair elections are steps towards remediating the myriad ills and abuses of a corrupt and illegitimate government, which preys on the resources and spirits of citizens, and violates rights of the other peoples and nations.

The October2011 Movement and US Day of Rage know that abuses of the people and planet will end when we take unified and persistent action. We stand in solidarity with each other and with the growing nonviolent movements around the nation and world to call for democratization of our society.

October2011 Movement,
Margaret Flowers, 202-688-2444

Kevin Zeese 301-996-6582/ 518-543-6920

US Day of Rage,
Alexa O'Brien, 917-568-3966

2011-08-08 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- New Cable(s) were released today.

09:35 PM Bank of America ‘implodes’ after being sued by the American International Group (AIG) for $10 billion over an alleged "massive fraud" on mortgage debt.

WikiLeaks on the abrupt fall of BoA’s shares (via twitter):

"Did you know that VISA card used to be "Bank of AmeriCard"? That's the same Bank of America that looked at a $2M/month smear campaign

The same Bank of America, that admits to blocking, along with VISA any suspected donation to WikiLeaks from its customers and other banks.

The same Bank of America that formed an emergency team of people to clean up before a future WikiLeaks exposure of it.

The same Bank of America that has just now crashed 15%
Correction: Crashed 17.5%
Bank of America has now lost 50% of its value in the last year.
Bank of America trading closes -20.32%"

06:00 PM Alan Moore, author of V For Vendetta, releases statement in support of Bradley Manning:

“With any legitimate trial of whistle-blower Bradley Manning still being at an unspecified date in the future, it would seem that what is presently on trial here is Western culture itself. When the persecution of an individual who has exposed an evil is pursued so ruthlessly and yet the evil itself is studiedly ignored, all of us know that there is something very wrong with the way that our society is conducting itself. And if we do not protest in the strongest terms about what is being done in our name, then we become complicit. There is no third option. Bradley Manning and others like him everywhere are vital to our continued moral health and well-being as a people, and unless we offer them our full support in their often dire and isolated circumstances, it is we, as a people, who will end up the losers.”

04:00 PM Cables obtained by El Nuevo Herald detail how Hugo Chavez controlled Venezuelan media through threats of closure, financial ruin and even violence.

03:00 PM "Adrian Lamo, Bradley Manning & the 'Hackers Wanted' Documentary – An Investigation":

Gregory Foster, after viewing the "Hackers Wanted" documentary, which was leaked to BitTorrent just before the Manning-Lamo chats allegedly began, proceeds to investigate what role the documentary might have played in the turn of events that ultimately ended in Pfc. Bradley Manning's arrest. (compiled by Kevin Gosztola)

02:10 PM "According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, the release of the pirated Italian flagged tug Buccaneer may have been due to the payment of US$18.5 million to the Somali transitional government." via defenceWeb

09:20 AM Spanish edition of ‘Underground’ (book authored by Suelette Dreyfus and researched by Julian Assange) will include a chapter on the impact of the material published by WikiLeaks concerning the Couso case. (Interview with Suelette Dreyfus on the subject, in spanish.)

06:30 AM A Coast Guard officer, technically a counter-drug specialist is key official in the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana. The official has been consulted by Cuban authorities on matters such as migration negotiations and Washington offers of aid in the wake of hurricanes, and has been the recipient of their criticism of U.S. policies and practices, according to a diplomatic cable obtained by McClatchy:

One cable noted that a top Interior Ministry counter-drug official had complained that U.S. cooperation on drug interdictions was "often one-sided" and that Cuba wanted to work more closely with U.S. officials in sharing information about trafficking in the region.

Another reported in 2009 that the drug interdiction specialist had received a tongue-lashing from five top Interior Ministry officers at a meeting to discuss an alleged U.S. Coast Guard violation of Cuban waters during the emergency assistance of a U.S.-registered sailboat.

05:55 AM WikiLeaks Liberty Victoria Voltaire Award Ceremony took place on Saturday. A video of the event will be up in a few days at
For a lighthearted take on the ceremony, a chirpstory compiling twitter live updates.

2011-08-09 #UKRiots spread and intensify, one person dead and one seriously injured

Image After three days and nights, on Monday night the main riots in London have spread from the suburbs into the areas of Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham and even Liverpool. In South London a man has been found dead from gunshot wounds in his car. The police have released no more details and have yet to find suspects. At the same time crowds of around a hundred rioters have gathered in the evening to vandalise the streets, loot stores and burn anything from buildings to police cars.

In Birmingham there have been 133 arrests overnight after repeated looting and a police station being set on fire, 28 people were injured.

In Liverpool there has been reports of shops and bars being attacked with people inside them, windows have been smashed and severe looting has taken place. Police have been attacked by gangs carrying flammable missiles. Here is a map of all confirmed incidents of violence.

Of the many London suburbs under attack, Croydon (South London) has had the worst as the community woke up to buildings on fire and closed roads. Helicopter images of the fires are truly astounding.

Probably the worst registered fire was in a Sony Warehouse in North London. Sony has confirmed that there were no victims. On Monday night the London fire brigade received 15 times more calls than average.

The police have confirmed that over 450 arrests have been made, making detention cells so full that they have been forced to transport the prisoners to surrounding facilities. Forty four policemen have been injured after trying to contain gangs from their criminal activities, the video below shows the kind of aggression they have suffered nationwide:

The wild U.K. streets have left images such as the ones below, in which an injured boy is helped to his feet and then robbed by the mob.

People nationwide have decided to close up businesses early and board up their homes, protecting themselves as best they can.

Official Reaction

Government condemnation of the events has been unanimous. In an attempt to regain control of the country Prime Minister David Cameron has returned from his vacations in Italy early calling for all members Parliament to a special meeting on Thursday. He has already, along with police forces and mayor Boris Johnson, adopted a tough stance on the rioters. Upon his arrival in London he stated that "people should expect to see more, many more, arrests in the days to come, if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishments."

He also stated that “compared with the 6,000 police on the streets last night in London, there will be some 16,000 officers tonight”, in prevision of Tuesday night’s looting and destruction. They have pondered the use of rubber bullets on the mainland for the first time, however, they are frightful of the violent mob’s possible reaction.

The Metropolitan Police has also released what it said would be "the first of many" CCTV images of suspected looters Tuesday morning, focusing on incidents in London's Lambeth borough and Croydon. They have released this webpage, urging citizens to cooperate in identifying potential criminals. They have also created the hashtag #tweetalooter encouraging civilians to send in pictures and videos from criminal activitie.

Citizen's Response

As a response to the appalling looting and destruction of the city various citizen-led initiatives have popped up over the Internet. In Facebook a group advocating for a post-riot clean up has received massive popular support after calling for Londoners who love their city to form a civil rebuilding task-force.

Their job started with collecting broken glass and wiping graffiti off walls, the larger damage will be harder to rebuild as many stores have been completely destroyed. The hashtag #riotcleanup is becoming more and more popular along the day, as communities are demonstrating their compromise against the situation. This Tumblr blog has been created to as an unofficial watchdog. With the same idea in mind, citizen journalism site has also called for citizens to help identify looters.

Latest news on Tuesday’s riots

The clashes have intensified in certain areas, after local groups men have organized to protect their community as vigilantes. A man from Ealing, West London, was seriously injured after trying to put out a fire rioters had started. His condition is reported to be grave but is still unknown. Below is a picture of the police helping him.

Riots and widespread violence has been confirmed in Manchester, Wolverhampton and Salford. They looted and burned various stores and confronted the police. Police reported that their HQ in Northampton were firebombed by a group of radical youths.

In the West Midlands, still greater Manchester, 109 people were arrested according to the local police department. As warned business nationwide were forced to close earlier than usual.

A man in West London who went to the streets to protect his neighborhood from rioters was seriously injured.

BBC reported that two men injured when they were hit by a car in Birmingham have died and a third is in a critical condition.

Mark Duggan

On August 4th, London’s Independent Police Complaints Commission reported a shooting in Tottenham Yale in which a man was killed and a policeman injured. This man was a 29 years-old head of a family in the area of Ferry Lane, suburbs of London. After his death, Mark was announced as an alleged drug dealer and gangster locally. On that day, IPCC said it understood the dead man had been shot by police and in the same event an officer had been shot and wounded. "It is understood that the shooting followed a [Metropolitan police service] operation. (..)"The IPCC can confirm that a firearm has been recovered from the scene. (...)” announced IPCC on last Thursday. Today, the same police commission announced there is no evidence that Mark shot police.

2011-08-09 How to protest, a letter from Egypt

Authored by Ahmed Sabry (@A_M_Sabry)

1. Don't go directly to the destination, organize marches from several areas. Marches are like a bus it collects people on the way. Poor areas and affected areas get more supporters

2. Get volunteers in needed professions: lawyers and doctors and set up an SMS system for support (needed medicine, legal representation, etc.)

3. Unify your slogans and demands before you start. Everyone should know before hand why he/she is joining.

4. To make sure it is peaceful, organizers should be around the demonstrations at all times, if anyone gets out of hand arrest him and deliver him to the police yourselves

5. People should meet at an exact time not before or after. Getting a crowd at an exact time doesn't leave room for the government to react as they don't know the exact number.

6. Organizers should not be visible or different (no marks) plain clothes police will always be in your middle taking pictures so do not make it easy for them.

7. Cheerleaders, men or woman can chant routines to fire up the march are very important, silent marches are no no.

8. Start recruiting NOW.

9. Most important, keep it peaceful whatever happens, you will get much more supporters that way.

10. Start adding pictures with signs of people coming. Start youtube videos explaining why you are doing this and what are your demands.

11. Believe in yourself and don't worry about how many will come, everyone who was hurt by the system is on your side.

12. Sit ins are not for everyone, make sure that whoever goes home joins later with food water medicine for others. Never accept money, twitter your needs so people can bring them to you everyday.

Good luck from Egypt

2011-08-09 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- New Cable(s) were released today.

11:10 PM Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki’s turn to centralized authority and strong-arm security tactics is said to be ‘in the interests of the U.S.’ in a cable written by Ryan Crocker, recently appointed Ambassador to Afghanistan.

09:30 PM WikiLeaks cables identifies four men said to be involved in financing, hiding and moving funds for the Assad Regime.

09:10 PM "Bulgarian and American officials discussed two years ago the construction of a new, mid-sized oil refinery to compete with Neftochim, controlled by Russia's giant Lukoil, diplomatic cables, revealed by WikiLeaks, show." via Novinite

08:50 PM Spanish war photojournalist Gervasio Sánchez praised Bradley Manning and pronounced himself on the subject of WikiLeaks during a public appearance: ‘WikiLeaks has shown journalists haven’t done their job’, he said.

05:00 PM According to the Russian Ambassador to NATO, Dmitrij Rogozin, the U.S. may move forward with plans of placing missile defense systems in Norwegian waters, as outlined in diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks in January.

06:30 AM The presidential candidate for the Dominican Liberation Party Danilo Medina claimed members of the party were using drug money as funds, in a conversation with U.S. ambassador Robert Fannin documented in a newly released cable from 2008. Additionally, he was critical of Dominican Republic’s current president and member of the same party Leonel Fernández.

2011-08-10 A Battle 115ft Above the Ground, part 2: Dismissal Is Murder

Dismissal Is Murder: The united battle for labour rights as mass dismissals and violent police crackdown storm in South Korea


Candles in balloons with the hope for a 'World With No Layoffs' in the festival-demonstration 'The Hope Riders'

A total of 742 people participated in the first Hope Riders. Then the second Hope Riders had above 10,000 people gathering, which ended up being 15,000 people in the third Hope Riders on 31st of July, this year.

Slowly and reluctantly, opposition party politicians started to ride the bus together. Tireless protests have been planned across the country by other victims of unfair mass dismissals to show solidarity with the battle 115ft above the ground. The scale and range of participants grew to a huge movement which no one had previously anticipated. Some mainstream media and politicians coined the term ‘The Violent Third Party’ to collectively refer to the protesters showing solidarity to Kim Jinsuk, who now has stayed over 200 days on top of the 85th crane of Hanjin’s Youngdo shipyard in Busan.

In fact, the ‘Violent Third Party’ was not the third party player at all; the battle 115ft above the ground doesn’t merely expose the persecution of labor rights nor is it solely a fight against the decision of the Hanjin labor union leaders in June, who signed an agreement to accept the mass dismissal with provisions.

Dismissal Is Murder: the Beginning -
The protest of Ssangyong Motors laid-off workers and the bloodshed in the name of public authority

1. Outline : 77 days of fighting against mass dismissal

In May 2009, Ssangyong Motors, one of the largest auto companies of South Korea with over 100 multinational agencies abroad, submitted application forms on laying off 2,405 workers. The trade union declared a general strike against the unilateral mass dismissal in the name of 'financial difficulties'.

Ssangyong hit back with a lockout and sending blackmail to the workers to get them to register as a voluntary resignation. Several workers died from cerebral hemorrhage and heart attack.

Workers occupied a main factory in Pyeongtaek and started a sit-in demonstration, which would become a 77 days of a harsh fight and one of the bloodiest persecutions of workers in South Korea's labor history.

On the 15th of July, Ssangyong started to completely block journalists from reporting the scene.

On the 16th of July, MBC news agency exposed a shocking joint plan of Ssangyong-police to 'hunt out' the workers demonstrating inside the Pyeongtaek factory. The leaked documents revealed that the two considered spraying incapacitating agents and flying helicopters all-night to deprive the workers of sleep.

Ssangyong blocked food and water entering into the factory, which it confirmed in the press conference in 20th July. It also blocked doctors from entering into the factory to cure the rotting foot of a worker suffering from diabetes and other workers wounded from liquid teargas poured from helicopters.

The battles started to become deadly fights, with armed police and Ssangyong's hired private thugs in police uniform jointly acting in unrestrained violence to the demonstrators to 'repress the deforcement' beginning in 5th August, 4:00 a.m.

2. Police crackdown: The War



Armed police landing on the roof of the Pyeongtaek factory.



Armed police beating defenseless workers on the 5th of August. The police force resorted to unrestrained violence in arresting the workers including stabbing with blades of police shields and kicking and beating with batons while police helicopters sprayed liquid teargas and water cannons.


Injured worker fell off of the factory due to the violent crackdown

According to the inspection report by Korean Federation of Medical Groups for Health Rights, liquid teargas widely poured on the laid-off protesters by police helicopters contained a high concentration of dichloromethane. Dichloromethane is recorded as a second level carcinogen which is readily absorbed through the skin, an asphyxiant, and it causes CNS(Central Nervous System) depression according to MSDS (material safety data sheets), a globally used system categorizing safety information on chemicals. The report also noted that one sample taken from the 'battleground' was able to melt styrofoam and vinyl, and some protestors showed signs of burns.

The police arrested 96 workers among the 'hunted out' from the factory, despite the severe wounds of some workers, including broken bones and fatal cuts.

3. How the Dismissal becomes Murder: Fifteen laid-off workers have died since the repression

Fifteen laid-off workers have died since the deadly battle. Among them six committed suicide. According to a report published by Workers' Institution for Occupational and Environmental Health(WIOEH) in 2011, more than half of the laid-off workers showed PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). 80% of the participants turned out to have been suffering from major depression after the event.

Ssangyong refused to compensate, and filed a damage suit against the trade union members. It also showed no sign of meeting the formal agreement that it had with the trade union in August of 2009, which promises reinstatements of the workers who are on 'unpaid leave of absence', as soon as the company revives and enough production supplies are secured.

"Dismissal Is Murder" has become a universal slogan since the 'war', whenever workers fight against unfair mass layoffs and corporations' blunt crushing of labor rights.


Hanjin is not an exception, and the number of its victims of mass dismissal in the name of 'financial difficulties' since 2007 totaled over 3,000 in South Korea, while the number of deaths due to industrial accidents since 2007 totaled over 30 in the Philippines' Subic Bay.

Press Conference at the return of CEO Cho from 'Traveling abroad'

Cho Namho, the CEO of Hanjin (HHIC, Hanjin Heavy Industries and Constructions) was absent at a hearing conducted in the National Assembly opened to question the unfair layoffs and allegations of tax evasion at the time he constructed the Subic shipyard. The official cause for the absence was that he was ‘traveling abroad’. He finally arrived in South Korea yesterday, and held a press conference in which he arrived with a helicopter. Police blocked the demonstrators comprised of people and laid-off workers from the press conference site.

Cho stated that Hanjin would donate billions of wons to the Busan (where Youngdo shipyard is located) and to the education of the children of the laid-off workers, restricted to those who would accept the dismissal and 'voluntarily resign'. Despite the promise of the huge donation, he still insisted that the layoff was inevitable due to the 'financial difficulties'.

Peaceful progress of the 3rd Hope Riders and planning the 4th Hope Riders

The 3rd Hope Riders, a third festival in which people around the country ride down to the Youngdo shipyard to show solidarity and support to the crane protester Kim Jinsuk, ended peacefully with less violence compared to the 2nd. Although armed police blocked people from reaching the 85th crane, people gathered in a place not far from there and started the festival. The all-night festival composed of public remarks of workers exposing misconduct from various corporations to famous labor rights activists' speeches. Small rock concerts held as well.

As soon as the press conference announced the official plan of the 4th Hope Riders, arrest warrants were quickly filed to the project team. The official tweeter tweeted the right answer to it: "The Hope Bus not the project team; it's fueled with the will of people."


The 4th Hope Riders launches in Seoul, 27th August.

2011-08-10 London calling: a haunting glimpse into our future? #UKRiots

The riots spreading through London are a terrifying reminder of what lies ahead as the austerity-obsessed West nosedives into economic collapse.

The markets plummet and London burns. Whatever your political inclinations may be, there’s no denying the apocalyptic quality to the headlines coming out of Europe’s largest city right now. What we are witnessing is financial meltdown and social meltdown in tandem. And, while there is no direct causal relationship between the two historical moments, there’s a connecting theme that unites them in a complex dialectic of collapse.

So this is what things have come to: a societal tragedy of unfathomable proportions. What the UK is experiencing right now is the total breakdown of social cohesion into utter lawlessness and indiscriminate violence. On the third consecutive day of unrest, rioting and looting spread throughout the capital and — for the first time — to other UK cities as well. And while I hate to be gloomy, I have to remind you once again that this is only just the beginning.

With over 20 poorer neighborhoods in London convulsing in the flames of rage, and with the unrest spreading to disadvantaged areas in Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds and Bristol, this total breakdown of law and order has an undeniable structural quality to it. The explosion of anger and cynicism may have come as a complete surprise to the authorities, but locals have known this to be simmering beneath the surface for years — if not decades.

So when Boris Johnson, as Mayor of London, refers to the social unrest as ”nothing more than wanton criminality,” he engages in an extremely dangerous simplification. After all, violence is a complex phenomenon that arises from an intricate dialectic between behavioral/psychological (individual) factors on the one hand, and cultural/socio-economic (structural) factors on the other. It is in their complex interplay that we must look for answers.

The Structural Component

The United Kingdom has always been one of the most unequal and least socially-mobile societies in the Western world. Among continental Europeans, it is notorious for tolerating the existence of what Oscar Lewis has called an “underclass“, and what Marx referred to as the “lumpenproletariat“, or the “refuse of all classes” that continues to live an unproductive existence at the margins of society, excluded for all practical purposes from the basic functioning of the market system.

The numbers, in this respect, are telling. In 2003 and 2004, a whopping 21 percent of children in the UK grew up in households below the poverty line (after housing costs are taken into account, this rises to an incredible 28 percent). One EU study this year found that 17 percent of UK youths qualify as “NEETs” — Not in Employment, Education or Training, “in other words high-school dropouts with no prospects of employment.” The same study found that over 600,000 people under the age of 25 have never had a day of work.

While it would be ridiculous to use such statistics as a justification for the dangerous, irresponsible and anti-social behavior of the rioters, it would be just as foolish to simply ignore this crucial social context and only focus on the “aberrant behavior” of “deviant individuals.” The violence and thievery may be entirely indiscriminate and a-political, but the root causes of it are profoundly political and carry a very clear discriminatory component.

A society where an hour’s bus ride from Kensington to Newham takes you across a six year reduction in male life expectancy – from 78.5 years to 72.4 – is a profoundly sick society. The gap is actually bigger than the one between the US and Nicaragua, with the latter being the second poorest country in Latin America. London, in other words, may be the most expensive city in the world, but it literally contains a developing country within its city boundaries.

Even the pro-market Financial Times last year warned that “Britain must mind the gap”. Referring to a landmark government report, it wrote that “the UK suffers from high inequality,” and “saw a surge in its Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality, between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. Since then, increased redistribution has managed to slow this process. But British inequality is a problem that will not disappear. It has deep roots and cannot be ignored.”

In their crucial book, The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better for Everyone, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett provide a wide array of statistical evidence to back up their claim that unequal societies tend to produce (in addition to a range of other social and medical problems) more violence and more crime. As a result of this, the UK prison population nearly doubled from 46,000 to 80,000 in the two short decades between 1990 and 2007.

The Individual Component

So how does this social reality affect the individual? The Guardian quoted criminologist John Pitts as saying that ”many of the people involved are likely to have been from low-income, high-unemployment estates, and many, if not most, do not have much of a legitimate future … Those things that normally constrain people are not there. Much of this was opportunism but in the middle of it there is a social question to be asked about young people with nothing to lose.”

While there is never any justification for selfish theft and wanton violence against innocent individuals, the looters find ways to justify their actions. “They feel they can rationalise it by targeting big corporations. There is a sense that the companies have lots of money, while they have very little.” Indeed, in a fascinating conversation caught on tape by the BBC, a couple of girls boasted that the riots are about “showing the rich we can do what we want.”

There are two crucial components to this seemingly simple sentence. First of all, there’s the powerful assertion of “doing what we want.” As Lukács put it, under the ruthless logic of the market, “the personality can do no more than look on helpless while its own resistance is reduced to an isolated particle fed into an alien system.” Violence becomes a psychological tool for breaking out of that hostile universe and reclaiming a sense of agency. In Pitts’ words, looting makes “powerless people suddenly feel powerful,” which is “very intoxicating”.

Secondly, there’s the overt class component that the BBC is still so desperately trying to hide. One doesn’t need to be a Marxist to follow this line of reasoning: class-based exclusion is closely tied to its cultural manifestation, what the anti-Marxist sociologist Pierre Bourdieu famously called symbolic violence. By this he referred to the patterns of speech, dress, consumption, etc., by which dominant groups express their cultural “superiority” over subordinate ones.

The psychological consequence of this symbolic violence is to produce a profound sense of social alienation within the individual — a sense that one has absolutely no stake in society’s dominant value system. This leads to a situation where the subversion of societal norms suddenly becomes a deceptively joyous act of “liberation”. Ironically, this process may have been further fueled by endless marketing campaigns promising “salvation through consumption“.

As Pitts puts it, this is a generation bred on a diet of excessive consumerism and bombarded by advertising. “Where we used to be defined by what we did, now we are defined by what we buy. These big stores are in the business of tempting [the consumer] and then suddenly these people find they can just walk into the shop and have it all.” As @DominicKavakeb tweeted, “if you keep telling people who can’t afford stuff to buy stuff, they might just end up taking stuff.”

A Regression — Not a Revolution

But that said, one thing needs to be made very clear: anyone who is still under the impression that this is a “protest” is gravely mistaken. This is not a revolution. If anything, it’s a major regression; a breakdown into mob rule. No one will benefit from this, except, perhaps, for the government itself. After all, the unfortunate fact that many of Britain’s poor tend to be ethnic minorities will allow Cameron to once again play the “death of multiculturalism” card.

Furthermore, as this brave West Indian woman pointed out, people don’t fight for a cause. The disturbances have long ceased to be protests against police brutality — they have descended into total chaos. In this environment, there is no hope of building a constructive movement for progressive social change. This was bound to happen, though. As a Greek friend predicted at Syntagma last month, “when the UK goes into revolt, it will be ugly.”

These riots are particularly ugly because the principal victims so far have been the hard-working shop-keepers and average people who have become the innocent targets of indiscriminate aggression — the people who had to jump from their homes to escape the blaze, the people who lost their houses and their livelihoods through arson, theft and destruction. Why in heaven’s name would these angry youths target their own neighborhoods, instead of the rich ones?

While many people responded with shock and horror to a video displaying a bunch of thugs stealing from an injured man while pretending to assist him, psychologists have long had an explanation for this “inexplicable” behavior. As Wilkinson & Pickett write, ”when people react to a provocation from someone with higher status by redirecting their aggression onto someone of lower status, psychologists label it displaced aggression,” (The Spirit Level, p. 167).

The greatest tragedy is that this displaced aggression leaves the peaceful majority doubly affected: first by the economic exclusion and symbolic violence of the ruling social groups, and secondly by the displaced aggression of the disaffected youth in their own neighborhoods. And sadly, this pattern is likely to intensify over the coming years and decades, as financial collapse and fiscal austerity will combine to squeeze millions of Britons into poverty.

As the New York Times correctly pointed out, “for a society already under severe economic strain, the rioting raised new questions about the political sustainability of the Cameron government’s spending cuts, particularly the deep cutbacks in social programs.” After all, austerity measures “have hit the country’s poor especially hard, including large numbers of the minority youths who have been at the forefront of the unrest.”

In December 2010 we made a gloomy prediction for the new year: “The rage is spreading, and the legitimation crisis of global capitalism is only going to deepen in 2011 as austerity measures aggravate inequality, insecurity and unemployment. The question is not so much if there will be renewed violence, but where and when it will take place.” Austerity may not be the root cause of these riots — but it will be fuel on the fire of Britain’s ongoing social meltdown.

2011-08-10 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- New Cable(s) were released today.

06:15 PM ‘Government secrecy, the media and the impact of WikiLeaks’ was the theme of a dicussion by a panel of legal experts at the American Bar Association’s Annual Meeting.

To prosecute WikiLeaks under the Espionage act ‘would be to cross a constitutional Rubicon’, said Professor Steve Vladeck during the event, as there is ‘not much of a legal distinction’ between WikiLeaks and the New York Times, that has published material obtained from WikiLeaks.

05:50 PM "Wikileaks and the First Amendment": balance between freedom of the press and national security to be discussed by University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey P. Stone, Judge Richard A. Posner, journalist Judith Miller, and author Gabriel Schoenfeld, at the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, November 12.

05:30 PM David House, friend of Bradley Manning and founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network was interviewed on The Alyona Show, on the 4th of August:

"The U.S. Government is scared right now of computer scientists and they will stop at nothing to make policy so they can crack down these computer scientists, and others, as they travel abroad.", he stated.

02:35 PM Leaking platform OpenLeaks has announced it will be open during the next four days with the purpose of having its system tested for vulnerabilities.
Contrary to WikiLeaks and other whistleblower platforms, OpenLeaks will not release, or read any source material received in the future.
In an interview published today in der Freitag, one of their five current media partners, the role of OpenLeaks is defined as follows:
‘We are not journalists, but rather technical service providers who provide for the secure transfer of data.’

WL Central, as always, makes no recommendations for the safety of whistleblowing outlets.

Update: It appears OpenLeaks is having technical problems and not operational at all.

10:45 AM Director Alex Gibney, currently working on a WikiLeaks documentary, reveals Julian Assange is cooperating with him on the project.

…I'm doing a film about WikiLeaks. And that has certain cultural issues attached to it. I'm trying to disentangle that from the myth and the reality. What has changed and what has not changed…

Is Julian Assange working with you on this? Do you have his cooperation?
I would say it's both. I went to him early on. This film is commissioned. I have complete editorial control and I went to him early on and said to him: I'm doing this whether you're in or you're out and I hope you'll cooperate. Since then, we spent a lot of time on the phone and a lot of time in person. I went to his 40th birthday party.

09:10 AM A video of the panel "Is WikiLeaks a force for good ?" can now be seen on the ABC Big Ideas website. The event took place in June and had the participation of WikiLeaks’ spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson, Suelette Dreyfus, Prof. Stuart Rees, Australia’s former foreign minister Gareth Evans, Michael Fullilove, Tom Switzer and Simon Longstaff.

A poll conducted after the debate showed two-thirds of the audience were convinced WikiLeaks is a force for good.

2011-08-11 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- New Cable(s) were released today.

04:30 PM Kim Ives, editor of Haiti Liberté interviewed on Democracy Now! on WikiLeaks Haiti: The Aristide Files, documenting U.S. cooperation with France, Canada, the UN and the Vatican to vilify and keep Haiti’s ousted President Aristide exiled in South Africa.

03:35 PM Cables show the UN and the United States oversaw the integration of ex-army paramilitaries into the country’s police force in 2004 and 2005, who had for years prior violently targeted Haiti’s working class and democratically elected governments.
Jeb Sprague writes in an article published in the newspaper Haiti Liberté : "For a year and a half following the ouster of Haiti’s elected government on Feb. 29, 2004, UN, OAS, and U.S. officials, in conjunction with post-coup Haitian authorities, vetted the country’s police force – officer by officer – integrating paramilitaries with the goal of both strengthening the force and providing an alternative “career path” for paramilitaries."
"Just as Washington recycled part of the military force that carried out the 1991 coup, it (along with the UN and the IGOH) recycled part of the paramilitary force that carried out violence leading up to the 2004 coup."

02:50 PM Boris Boillon, the adviser on Middle East affairs to President Sarkozy, is reported in a cable to have attributed the assassination of Syrian General Muhammad Suleiman to a rival within the Syrian leadership, rejecting the idea the General was murdered by an Israeli sniper.

Boillon described the assassination as an 'inside job', motivated by an internal rivalry within Syrian President Assad’s entourage. He insisted in the possibility that the President’s brother Maher Assad may have been behind the killing, possibly under the President’s orders, and insinuated Suleiman may have been assassinated for knowing "too much" about the clandestine nuclear program.

01:10 PM A cable from 2004 reveals Dominican Republic’s President Hipólito Mejía Administration’s attempts to control the Supreme Court by pressuring some of its members to step down, namely Chief justice Jorge Subero.

According to the cable, Hipólito Mejía’s party PRD (Dominican Revolutionary Party), appeared ‘to be positioning itself to fill the Supreme Court with members of the PRD, less than three months prior to the presidential elections.’

01:30 PM A list of events Julian Assange is to speak at, likely from England:

INFO@TRENDS 2011, São Paulo, 1 September.

MEDIENWOCHE@IFA International Media Congress, Berlin, September 5-6.

APME's 2011 Conference, Denver, September 15.

Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Sydney, September 30.

New Media Order Conference 2011, Istanbul, October 5.

1º Encontro Internacional de Blogueiros Progressistas, Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil), 28-30 October.

(Please do let me know if there is anything missing.)

01:30 AM Sweden-based Professor Ferrada-Noli explains how political aspects and the “duck-pond” phenomenon of Swedish journalism are contributing towards Sweden's hostile reporting of the Assange case and compromising the judiciary process.

2011-08-12 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- New Cable(s) were released today.

09:30 PM In The Patriot Act and the End of the Rule of Law, Charles Lugosi of Lugosi Law Firm PLC explains how ‘the Patriot Act and criminal sanctions placed on whistleblowers violates the Constitution and fundamentally challenges the legitimacy of the rule of law and American democracy’.

"Outdated assumptions of media power and wealth no longer apply today. Profit and the desire to influence may still motivate organized institutional media controlled by magnates like Rupert Murdoch, but unorganized individuals, through websites and social networking, can expose injustice and raise the conscious awareness of the public to worthy causes and crusades. To attain this end, access to information is critical, yet it is often not legally available. This is why Private Bradley Manning chose to break the law by giving WikiLeaks information that the government refused to release in the name of national security.", he writes.

Lugosi also cites editor of the Advocate, Christopher Harvey:

"We are of the view that Assange, love him, loathe him or remain indifferent to him, deserves the protections guaranteed by the rule of law. Anything less undermines the very foundation of the Western society."

09:10 PM According to diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks dating from 2008, United States Ambassador Ronald Spogli raised concerns with Silvio Berlusconi over suspicions that Italy paid the Taliban not to attack its troops in Afghanistan:

In an October 2008 message to Washington, ambassador Ronald Spogli praised Italy's decision to send troops to western Afghanistan under the NATO-led International Security Assistance (ISAF) mission.
"Unfortunately, the significance of this contribution has been undermined by Italy's growing reputation for avoiding combat and paying ransom and protection money.
"This reputation is based in part on rumors, in part on intelligence which we have not been fully able to corroborate," he said.

08:45 PM The Obama Administration is putting the finishing touches on a new executive order in response to WikiLeaks.

The order aims to prevent unauthorized releases of classified U.S. government information and is "expected to be issued within a matter of weeks".

07:55 PM Nigerian families of meningitis drug trial victims are finally going to be compensated by Pfizer after a 15 year legal battle. Pfizer was sued after 11 children died in 1996 after being subjected to unauthorized experimental drug testing.
A cable released by WikiLeaks last year exposed Pfizer’s attempts to find evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general in an effort to persuade him to drop the legal action.

05:30 PM A cable from 2006 shows John Howard, then Australia’s Prime Minister, declined Fijian Prime Minister Qarase’s request for a military intervention to prevent the 2006 military coup.
The same cable also reveals the United States were reluctant to refer to the takeover of the Fiji government by the military as a ‘coup’, prefering instead to describe it as "an unlawful or unconstitutional change of government", in order to ‘allow flexibility in ending assistance to coup perpetrators while maintaining assistance to the civilian population’.

2011-08-13 Human Rights News

Current news of any violations, legal progress, setbacks or other news in human rights as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Syria: Assad continues to ignore the UN security council, the Arab League, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and almost everyone else, killing at least 90 civilians this week, for a total of almost 2000 since the protests began in March.

United States: A US federal appeals court ruled on August 8 that former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld had no immunity against being sued personally by US citizens Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel who allege torture at the hands of US troops. Last week, a US district judge in Washington ruled separately that a former American military contractor who also claims he was tortured in Iraq could sue Mr Rumsfeld. A lawyer for Mr Rumsfeld said the decision "puts American soldiers at risk". Further appeals by the US justice department to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals or to the US Supreme Court are possible.

On July 12, Human Rights Watch produced an extensive report entitled Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees.

Carol Rosenberg covers the rehearsals for Guantanamo trials.

Cageprisoners reports A New York judge has declined to force an investigation into whether an Army psychologist developed abusive interrogation techniques for Guantánamo Bay detainees and should be stripped of his license.

Charles Graner, who was convicted of leading his six-member team in the sexual humiliation of naked prisoners as documented in the Abu Ghraib photos, was released after serving more than six-and-a-half years of a 10-year sentence.

Kyrgyzstan: Osmonjon Khalmurzaev, a Russian citizen, died two days after being released from police custody where he was allegedly tortured, Human Rights Watch reports. “Khalmurzaev’s torture and death show the chilling consequences that can result from total impunity for law enforcement officials who use torture for investigation or personal enrichment.” the family's lawyer stated.

England: UK Prime Minister David Cameron supports plans by estate councils to evict familes from council housing if one member was involved in rioting, in addition to imposing harsh sentencing within the legal system. There are reports of an eviction which has already been served to a family which includes an 18 year old who has been only charged (not convicted) of burglary and violent disorder. The family also includes an eight year old girl. Other evictions reportedly include the family of a 12-year-old boy photographed stealing a £7.49 bottle of wine.

Cameron is also considering restrictions on social media websites, disrupting the use of cell phones services, messaging services or social networking tools, banning or removing face coverings, using the army to help quell riots and the use of water cannon and dye sprays.

Iran: The Committee to Protect Journalists reports "In recent days, Iranian authorities increased a prominent journalist's prison term by two years and arrested a critical journalist who had just finished serving a prison sentence. Other journalists have suffered from declining health as a result of substandard conditions, extended periods in solitary confinement, and intentional abuse, according to news reports.

2011-08-13 Murder as foreign policy: assassination of Syrian General could have been an inside job

On the 1st of August 2008 Syrian General Muhammad Suleiman, who also bore the title of Special Presidential Advisor for Arms Procurement and Strategic Weapons for President Bashar al-Assad, was murdered in highly mysterious circumstances. General Suleiman was shot three times in the head, neck and stomach at his home in the exclusive Rimal al-Zahabieh resort in the Mediterranean city of Tartous. It was speculated then that the shots came from a sniper located on a boat, which explained how the top level security forces surrounding Suleiman were avoided. At this time relations between Syria and Israel were at their worst and the talk of war was in the air, particularly due to Syria’s intent on upgrading its nuclear and chemical weapons facilities, a strategy headed by Suleiman. Therefore, most of the international press, most notably The Sunday Times, stated as a fact that it was Israeli intelligence agency Mossad who was to blame.

An inside job

Recent cables published by Wikileaks, however, shed a new light on the assassination, revealing a very delicate multi-lateral diplomatic situation. The fact that this information came from the U.S. embassy in Paris is particularly revealing. In cable #08PARIS1717 Ambassador Stapleton, says that Boris Boillon, adviser at the French presidency, asserted to him that “the killing seemed to be some sort of inside job”.

He also “flatly rejected the notion that the Israelis had taken out Sleiman”, arguing that it was “more "classic" and "mafia-like" with police stopping traffic in the immediate vicinity, bodyguards looking the other way, and the assailant pumping a slug into Sleiman's head.” On a significant note Ambassador Stapleton pointed out that “Boillon's rundown of the various theories sounded like he had recently read a finished French intelligence assessment of the situation.”

Mahir al-Assad, main suspect

As for possible culprits, Boillon seems to be quite sure that the order came from the chains of command high up in the regime’s hierarchy, close to Bashar al-Assad. He pointed his finger particularly at Bashar’s brother, Mahir. The cable says that Boillon “described Mahir as ambitious, a bit of a wild man, and determined to increase his power and influence within the inner circle.” On a side note, the informer also hinted that Mahir was to blame for the assassination of Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyah. This description of Mahir seems true enough because from the beginning of the Syrian uprising of 2011, he has been one of the top military leaders involved in the killings of peaceful protesters. A defecting sniper from Mahir’s troops told Al Jazeera that he was “ordered to aim for the head or heart from the beginning." He also stated that he was “not given specific numbers but told to kill as many as possible as long as there were protests."

Murder as foreign policy

As for the possible motivations, Boillon states that it probably had to do “with the notion of cleaning house as Syria needed to present a more respectable image while it pursued its rapprochement with France and/or needed to remove those who "knew too much" (in the case of Sleiman, about the clandestine nuclear program)”. He also stated, however, that it could have to do with “a bloody struggle over control of lucrative criminal activities.” This last theory fits in well with cable 09DAMASCUS275 which reveals that Sueliman had 80 million dollars in cash stashed in his basement: “The subsequent investigation into Sulayman's slaying reportedly uncovered USD 80 million cash in a basement room of the general's home." This also supports the inside job theory, as President Bashar, thinking himself betrayed, immediately “redirected the investigation from solving his murder to finding out how the general had acquired so much money.”

The French Government accepts the gesture

In the traditional comment at the end of the report, Ambassador Stapleton coldly reflects that this information is more useful for discerning French motives for foreign policy than for solving Suleiman’s murder. In the end he states that this move to eliminate Suleiman was made, as Boillon had told him, to help Syria straighten relationships with the Western powers and Israel. It is also his belief that this strategy “could partly account for Sarkozy's decision to move so quickly to cultivate his personal relationship with Bashar and to "gamble" (as the French media have put it) on Bashar's willingness to change course on Lebanon, peace with Israel, and even Syria's relationship with Iran.”

2011-08-13 Protests around the world


  • The Local Co-ordination Committees say 7-8 people have been killed across Syria so far today: 4 in Homs, 1 in Hama, 1 in Daraya and 1 or 2 in Latakia. Shooting continues.
  • This video reportedly shows Bashar al Assad's picture taken down and destroyed at Syrian Airlines international sites.
  • Friday's death toll is being reported as 23.
  • This video shows a funeral in Douma, where five people, including a young woman, were reported killed by government forces on Friday. The crowd is being estimated at "tens of thousands" by Al Jazeera.
  • Thousands are still being arrested.
  • Tanks entered Lataika and heavy artillery was being reported there.
  • Turkey isn’t ruling out international intervention in Syria if the Bashar al-Assad regime doesn’t stop using violence against its own people, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News on Friday.

Israel: 25,000 assemble in Haifa, 20,000 people fill Rager Boulevard in Be’er Sheva, in Afula, some 15,000 people gather, more than 1,500 people march down the city’s main street in Eilat. Haaretz reports. It was the first time in nearly a month that Tel Aviv did not hold a march. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in other cities throughout Israel, with 8,000 demonstrating in Modi'in, 7,000 in Netanya, 5,000 in Petah Tikva, 3,500 in Hod Hasharon, 2,500 in Ramat Hasharon, 2,000 in Rosh Pina, 1,500 in Rishon Letzion, 1,500 in Eilat, 1,500 in Dimona and 1,500 in Nahariya.

Yemen: Hundreds of thousands protested in Sana, and at least 17 other cities and towns, the largest turnout since President Ali Abdullah Saleh left a hospital in Saudi Arabia, where he was recovering from wounds suffered in a June attack on his palace compound, and signaled he intends to return home soon.

South Korea: Continuing the labour protests related to the mass layoffs at Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, the 4th Hope Riders, a festival in which people around the country ride down to the Youngdo shipyard to show solidarity and support to the crane protester Kim Jinsuk, launches in Seoul on the 27th August. The protest of Kim Jinsuk enters its 219th day.

United States: Anonymous has a message for the people of San Francisco. "The Bay Area Rapid Transit has made the conscious decision of ordering various cell phone companies to terminate services for the downtown area inhibiting those in the area from using cell phones - even in the case of an emergency." They are organizing a peaceful protest at Civic Center station on Monday, August 15th at 5pm. They are calling for non-violence and requesting that people bring and use cameras. They are requesting that people outside of San Francisco, show solidarity by using black fax, email bombs, and phone calls to the BART Board of Directors. Tomorrow, Sunday - August 14, 2011 at High Noon Pacific Time we, Anonymous - will remove from the internet the web site of BART located at for exactly six hours. That's twice as long as they shut off the cell phones for. BART decided to cut off your communications and now we will flood theirs. Follow #OpBart on Twitter.

US Day of Rage is posting video guidelines for non-violent civil disobedience in the leadup to their September 17 protests.

Chile: In response to the ongoing student led protests for free and equal education in Chile, Government spokesman Andres Chadwick says Chile "is not going to be governed from the street." Students have been marching for over two months and are asking for a referendum.

China: Thousands of people in Qianxi County, Guizhou province smashed ten vehicles and torched another five, said Xinhua, China's state news agency. According to Reuters, "China saw almost 90,000 such "mass incidents" of riots, protests, mass petitions and other acts of unrest in 2009, according to a 2011 study by two scholars from Nankai University in north China. Some estimates go even higher." "In fact, China has riots more serious than England's every week," said one Weibo comment.

Egypt: Brief clashes between protesters and security broke out in an otherwise peaceful demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square where a few hundred people gathered on Friday to protest the continuing military rule.

2011-08-13 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- New Cable(s) were released today.

10:10 PM Join the upcoming global dinner party in support of Bradley Manning, on the weekend of September 9th and 10th. Learn how you can host a dinner party by visiting

09:45 PM Julian Assange spoke to newspaper Star about the riots that took place in the UK this week.

"Great Britain has turned itself into an Orwellian 1984 during the last decade, yet all those cameras and anti-terror laws could not prevent this recent chaos", he said.
"The naive public often is ready to sacrifice its privacy, and laws safeguarding basic freedom and rights in exchange for safety, guaranteed by the state. Now it is clear that governments cannot keep their promises."

According to Julian, the British government is currently paying the price "for creating a society that denies young people both responsibility, trust and proper challenges. It is time to rethink rather than restrict things even more. The real problems, which led up to the riots, can only be solved by the whole community, not the government or police."

09:17 PM Murder as foreign policy: assassination of Syrian General could have been an inside job.
An analysis of the information contained in U.S. State Department cables regarding Syrian President al-Assad's brother Mahir al-Assad's possible role in the assassination of General Muhammad Suleiman.

08:00 PM Christine Assange has been honored with the Toastmasters’ Golden Gavel award for great achievements in public speaking, in recognition of her public support for her son Julian.

In the past few months Christine has spoken publicly in several occasions, such as last month’s Splendour in the Grass festival, where she headed a panel on internet control and secrecy, or her speech in front of the High Court of London back in December, where she addressed the media after it was decided her son was to be released on bail.

Christine’s advice on how to speak in front of large audiences: ‘Try to just get the truth out as simply and as honestly and with as much heart as possible.’

07:15 PM ‘Brazilian media is in service of the U.S.’, cables show.
During a meeting in 2005, Jewish leader in São Paulo Abraham Goldstein promised U.S. Ambassador John Danilovich a ‘positive’ press coverage of Israel, prior to the Summit of South American and Arab Countries.

The cables also reveal how prominent figures of the Brazilian media provided U.S. diplomats with information on Brazil's 2010 elections and other political and economic issues in the country in several occasions.
For instance, a conference organized by Piauí’s Governor Wellington Dias that was attended by U.S. representatives who requested information concerning on the implementation of infraestructures to facilitate the exploitation of natural resources by U.S. monopolies in Piauí, the second poorest state in the Brazilian Northeast region.

06:30 PM A Dominican diplomat in Hong Kong, Casado Alcántara de Cheung, is accused of human trafficking in a diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks and made public by Noticias SIN.

Cheung is accused of having sold Dominican visas for approximately $10,000, which reportedly allowed between four to twenty individuals of Chinese nationality into the Dominican Republic each week.

Upon their arrival in the country, a large number of females is said to have been trafficked as ‘lovers’ to men of the Dominican elite.

2011-08-13 WikiLeaks: U.S. and Brazil Vie for Power in Peru

Authored by Nikolas Kozloff

In their correspondence with the State Department, U.S. diplomats in South America have been exceptionally paranoid about the activities of Hugo Chávez and the possibility of a leftist regional alignment centered upon Venezuela. That, at least, is the unmistakable impression that one is left with by reading U.S. cables recently disclosed by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks, and it's a topic about which I have written widely in recent months. Yet, with President Hugo Chávez's health now fading fast and Venezuela looking like a rather spent force politically, it would seem natural that Washington will eventually turn its sights upon other rising powers --- countries like Brazil, for instance.

Judging from WikiLeaks cables, the U.S. doesn't have much to fear from this South American juggernaut in an ideological sense, and indeed leftist diplomats within Brazil's Ministry of Foreign Affairs are regarded as outmoded and anachronistic relics of the past. Nevertheless, Brazil is a rising player in the region and U.S. diplomats are keenly aware of this fact. For the time being, Brazil and the United States maintain a cordial, if not exactly stellar diplomatic relationship. As Venezuela fades and Washington struggles to maintain its crumbling hegemony in the wider region, however, Brazil and the U.S. will inevitably develop rivalries.

This geopolitical competition has fallen somewhat under the radar, but a close reading of WikiLeaks cables lays bare Washington's secret agenda. As far back as 2005 American ambassador to Lima Curtis Struble wrote that the U.S. was enmeshed in an "undeclared contest" with Brazil for political influence in Peru. "We are winning on most issues that count," Struble added, remarking that negotiations over a U.S.-Peru free trade deal had remained positive. However, the ambassador noted ominously, "the government of Brazil is still very much in the game" and had met with some success in pushing for the so-called South American Community of Nations or UNASUR which would diminish U.S. influence.

Run-Up to 2006 Election

Further cables indicate that the Brazilian administration of Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva pursued narrow-minded self interest in order to advance Machiavellian geopolitical and economic goals. In the run-up to the Peruvian presidential election in 2006, Brazilian foreign policy advisor Marco Aurelio García visited Peru where he met with members of the Alejandro Toledo administration. During his discussions, García sought to spearhead moves to establish the South American Community of Nations in the face of internal difficulties.

Chief amongst those "difficulties" was none other than Hugo Chávez, a regional rival. In order for the South American Community of Nations to progress, its two constituent parts, namely trading blocs Mercosur and Andean Community, would have to be "stabilized." According to García, however, the Andean Community was in "crisis" due to Chávez's "antics." Speaking to the Peruvians, García recommended that the Toledo government simply "ignore his [Chávez's] diatribes" [privately, the Brazilian added, Lula had helped to "rein in" the Venezuelan leader].

Meanwhile, García opposed Chávez's so-called Bank of the South, an institution designed to counter large financial entities like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. According to a WikiLeaks cable, the Peruvians agreed that Bank of the South would not be suitable for the new South American Community of Nations. Like García, Toledo officials saw the more conservative Andean Development Fund as a more appropriate mechanism to enhance regional integration.

Handling Humala

García also met with nationalist presidential candidate Ollanta Humala, a kind of Chávez protégé. During the campaign, the Venezuelan leader had provocatively backed Humala while attacking the candidate's chief opponents. At campaign events, Humala had taken a leaf from his political mentor by sporting red T-shirts, calling himself "comandante" and boasting of plans to assert greater state control over energy resources.

None too pleased by Humala's tilt toward Venezuela, García reportedly told the candidate that Brazil disapproved of Chávez's actions which promoted "intranquility" in the region. Moreover, the diplomat remarked that he did not agree with Chávez's notion of countries belonging to different "axes" of powers. García added that he was very concerned about social, political and economic tensions in the Andean region and Brazil was intent on playing a larger stabilizing role.

The meeting took place at Humala's own house and the candidate's wife, Nadine Heredia, took great pains to graciously entertain the Brazilians [perhaps Heredia wanted to reassure her guests in light of her own reported links to Venezuela]. Humala meanwhile "was very polite, upright and not at all a firebrand." The candidate added that he wanted Peru to peacefully co-exist with both the U.S. and Brazil.

A More Assertive Brazil

In the event, Humala must have surely regretted his political associations with Chávez. During the campaign, the Peruvian was widely criticized for his ties to Venezuela, and the connection may have even cost him the election. The man who edged out Humala, former president Alan García, had a previous incarnation as a fiery nationalist. However, García was extremely critical of Chávez during the campaign and as he succeeded to the presidency the veteran politician went out of his way to court Brazil.

According to WikiLeaks cables, Brazil viewed the election as a necessary corrective which would help to restore "regional equilibrium" and to curb Chávez's increased geopolitical profile. In the wake of the contest, Lula met personally with García in Brasilia in what insiders termed a "love-fest." Though both leaders had political origins on the left, García and Lula had long since jettisoned such ideals in pursuit of their respective careers.

Perhaps, Lula sensed that Chávez's star had waned and that it was now time for Brazil to press its own strategic advantage. The Brazilian president stressed the need for greater physical integration between Peru and Brazil, including the dreaded Inter-Oceanic Highway which stood to exacerbate deforestation in the Amazon (for more on this, see my book No Rain in the Amazon: How South America's Climate Change Affects the Entire Planet). The project, which is being carried out by Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, will ship Brazilian exports to China via Peruvian ports.

Lula also spoke of the need for a regional, military, and political alliance between Peru and Brazil. Lest García get the wrong idea about Brazilian intentions, Lula stressed that his country did not seek regional "hegemony" but merely wanted to transform South America into "a global actor on a par with China and India." Responding to Lula, García candidly admitted that he preferred Brazilian regional hegemony to that of the United States. Peru, the new president added, would surely be interested in forming joint ventures with Brazil and benefiting from Brazilian technological know-how.

Judging from other cables, García sought to extend cooperation in yet other areas. In 2009, U.S. diplomats reported that Lima was interested in purchasing a dozen Super Tucano combat support aircraft manufactured by Brazilian aerospace giant Embraer. Details of the deal were discussed during a Lula visit to Lima, "with a large commercial delegation in tow." The Peruvians may have been prompted to turn to Brazil out of pure frustration with the United States. According to leaked documents, the García government was dissatisfied with the "slow and complicated U.S. defense procurement process and high price tags for U.S. equipment."

Humala Act II

Perhaps recognizing that Chávez's star was on the wane, Humala saw fit to remake himself politically by cultivating greater ties to Brazil. Reporting on Peru's recent presidential election, the New York Times remarked, "in a transformation this year that points to the eclipse of Venezuela by Brazil, Mr. Humala has swapped the red shirts for dark suits, explicitly rejected talk of seizing private companies and celebrated Brazil's market-oriented economic model, while distancing himself from Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez." In addition, Humala even hired campaign advisers tied to Lula's Workers' Party and paid a whopping four visits to Brazil. Then, Humala went out of his way to praise Brazilian companies invested in Peru's mines, steel industry and hydroelectric projects, adding that the new boondoggle Interoceanic Highway connecting western Brazil to Peru's Pacific coast was a landmark achievement. Toning down the rhetoric, Humala started to refer to himself simply as Ollanta instead of "comandante." Perhaps, the more moderate image helped Humala, who edged out conservative challenger Keiko Fujimori. As soon as he was elected president, Humala flew to Brazil and met with Lula protégé Dilma Rousseff. It was Humala's first official trip abroad in his new office and sent a clear sign of Peru's geopolitical priorities moving forward.

Vying for Power in Peru

Though Humala continues to forge a partnership with the United States, Brazil could overtake Washington in the Andes. To be sure, Peru has an important free trade agreement with the U.S. and both countries collaborate on combating drug trafficking. However, Humala sees Peru as a crucial Pacific gateway and strategic link between the two mammoth economies of Brazil and China. For years, Brazil and Peru ignored each other diplomatically but now trade has mushroomed into the billions of dollars.

A voracious energy consumer, Brazil is keen on building hydroelectric projects in Peru which would allow the South American juggernaut to stop importing diesel fuel and produce electrical power instead. A proposed 600 mile natural gas pipeline meanwhile is due to connect Peru's Camisea field with a petrochemical plant proposed by Odebrecht. additional firms are operating port concessions and even steel operations. The owner of Brazilian company Gerdau, which acquired Peru's largest steel plant, is a friend to both Lula and Rousseff. What is more, an additional Brazilian operation has purchased Peru's largest metal refinery, Cajarmarquilla, which produces indium, a material used to manufacture flat-screen televisions and computer monitors.

In time, might Peruvian nationalists turn against Brazil? The more Brazil inserts its tentacles into the Andean region, the greater the risk that the South American giant will ruffle feathers and local sensibilities. Already, one hydro-electric project has led to major opposition and some fear that Humala might favor the Brazilians excessively as 80 percent of the operation's 2,000 megawatt output would be allocated to its giant South American neighbor.

Moreover, Brazil hardly has a sterling record when it comes to hydro-electric power (for more on this, recall the controversy swirling around Hollywood director James Cameron), and one proposed Peruvian dam on the Inambari River would flood 158 square miles of rain forest, displacing some 7,000 people in the process. Old foreign policy hand Marco Aurelio García, who now serves as Rousseff's top foreign policy adviser, and who had earlier warned Humala about cozying up too much to Chávez, has declared that the project is "very important" for Brazil. Humala meanwhile says that locals' needs will be respected when it comes to deciding whether to move ahead with the project. That is, for the time being.

Christ Statue of Lima

Overlooking the Pacific cliffs of Lima hangs a potent symbol of Brazil's rise on the world stage: a towering statue of Jesus which at first glance looks remarkably similar to Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer, a famous icon lying on the Atlantic side of the continent. The statue, which rises 118 feet into the air, was sculpted in Brazil at a cost of $1 million and the cost was footed almost entirely by Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht.

The "Christ of the Pacific" statue was erected even before Humala came into power by outgoing president Alan García, and there was no public consultation surrounding its construction. For Lima Mayor Susana Villarán, the donated Christ statute is a tasteless eyesore, while Humala has diplomatically remarked that the structure "would improve the Lima panorama." Odebrecht told the Associated Press defensively that it funded the statue because it "contributes to the diffusion of artistic expression" wherever it does business and because the statue could promote tourism for the poor who live in the vicinity.

In a tweet, Peruvian playwright César de María exclaimed, "I have nightmares in which I see that Peru's president is Odebrecht and all we do every five years is elect its representative." Speaking to Caretas magazine, outgoing Brazilian ambassador to Peru Jorge Taunay remarked "there is not the least risk of Peru becoming a satellite. It's not in Brazil's nature." Others, including Guillermo Vásquez, a retired professor at Peru's Center for Advanced National Studies, is alarmed by Brazil's presence but is resigned to his country's fate. "Brazil is coming," he told the Associated Press. "What are we going to do about it?"

Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left and No Rain in the Amazon: How South America's Climate Affects the Entire Planet. Visit his website,

2011-08-14 Orwell’s Big Brother Coming to Roost in the Land of Free Speech #OpBart

ImageToday, the force of censorship is increasing. In response to the recent riots in London, the British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that social media should be controlled by the police.

This order came from the man who in his February Kuwait speech acknowledged the crucial role of social media in the Middle East revolutions, saying how the freedom of speech and access to the Internet are “the entitlement of people everywhere; of people in Tahrir Square as much as Trafalgar Square”.

Welcome to Orwell’s 1984. Big Brother is watching. The threat against the free flow of communication is the start of a slippery slope toward a police state. We have seen the same thing happening in Egypt under Mubarak and this seems to be occurring now in the Western world.

Armchair observers in the US who saw the revolts against censorship overseas are apparently not immune. Electronic Frontier Foundation's Eva Galperin’s article titled “BART Pulls a Mubarak in San Francisco” reported that this virus is spreading to the self professed home base of freedom of speech, the United States.

It was a bright sunny day in August, and the clocks were striking five. An agency in San Francisco called the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) shut down cell phone services in the central part of the system to prevent a planned protest of a fatal shooting by the BART police.

BART spokesman Linton Johnson told a KTVU reporter that the public relations department had suggested the phone service be shut down. This was unprecedented in the US. The social media was immediately buzzing to notify the world of the incident. One noted activist shouted out the last words of Galperin’s article:

@ioerror Jacob Appelbaum "Censorship is not okay in Tahrir Square or Trafalgar Square, and it’s still not okay in Powell Street Station."…

Another tweeted:

@pkstatic Pkstatic "Congratulations, #BART By grossly disrespecting the 1st amendment, you've turned a local issue into a national one." #muBARTek

How is this different than Tahrir Square? How is it different than China? or those corporations who are trying to block donations to WikiLeaks and the Obama administration’s all out war on whistle-blowers?

It is fundamentally no different.

These acts of censorship are always conveniently justified as necessary for ‘security’. The Bart decision was no exception. BART Deputy Police Chief Benson Fairrow on Friday told KTVU-TV that "It all boils down to the safety of the public," Fairow said. "It wasn't a decision made lightly. This wasn't about free speech. It was about safety."

But, let us always recall the words of a certain founding father of the US:

"Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve either one." - Thomas Jefferson

The fact that the public sector in the US is using power in a way that violates the US First Amendment reveals that something is fundamentally ill in society. This incident is an example of bureaucracy gone too far. Public transportation is meant to serve the people. Instead BART is acting as if they are an arm of an authoritarian State rather than part of democratic society.


Now "Security Is Freedom."

George Orwell saw this coming. His prophecy of a future controlled society hit Britain and now is coming to roost in the US.

Is this inevitable?

Nothing is truly inevitable. Whenever force of censorship is found, there is its counter force. The global online collective Anonymous responded quickly as they consistently have done on many recent occasions of censorship and made the following declaration to BART:

We will not tolerate censorship. We will do everything in our power (we are legion) to parallel the actions of censorship that you have chosen to engage in. We will be free to speak out against you when you try to cover up crimes, namely on behalf of those who have engaged in violence against a mostly unarmed public. We will set those who have been censored free from their silence. That’s a promise.

The group is calling for a peaceful protest at Civic Center Station on August 15th at 5pm to stand up for the rights of people for free speech.

This choice that BART officials made on August 12 is all the more poignant considering that the Bay Area is the birthplace of the free speech movement back in the 60’s. The assault on the Constitution that free speech activists faced during those years has apparently not abated.

As the force of censorship and authoritarian government expands around the globe, so does this fight. Now people of China and Iran are not alone because those in the West are being called to fight against their own government’s suppression of dissent.

Freedom of speech is more and more recognized as a universal human right, not just for a particular nation. The new movement toward unfiltered open communication and transparency of governments has brought this issue forward on a global scale.

The BART incident revealed how the actions of those who prevent people's communication are based on the same fear that dictators in the Middle East have shown for people rising up against them.

Now people have a choice to go beyond the paranoia of control and unite for shared universal human rights instead of allowing irrational fear to prevail. Those who choose to fight are not alone and in the end it will be clear who is on the right side of history.

Image Credit - @exiledsurfer

2011-08-14 Protests around the world


  • In Latakia, warships and tanks open fire killing at least 21 civilians and injuring many others in two residential districts of its city. Article describing carnage
  • Activists and the Local Co-ordination Committee (LCC) have reported this assault continuing into Sunday, with a curfew ordered on the residents. Information is sketchy and at times hard to verify because Syrian authorities have expelled most independent journalists since the five-month-old uprising against Assad began.
  • A local resident reported to Reuters news service, "I can see the silhouettes of two grey vessels. They are firing their guns and the impact is landing on al-Ramel al-Filistini and al-Shaab neighbourhoods."
  • Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets this weekend across the country in fresh protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. This video shows some of the protests.


  • The effects of Israel's recent economic "Boom" for some, seems not to be benefiting the middle and lower clases, so say the protestors that have held demonstrations all over the country in recent months.
  • Newspapers said these are some of the largest nationwide protests ever seen in Israel over social issues.
  • Over 20 thousand protestors turned up at Be’er Sheva, but so wide spread is the discontent, that many more were expected to show. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday pledged to establish a task force to examine economic reforms and hear the demands of the protesters.
  • 25,000 demonstrators arrived for a downtown protest in Haifa, that historically already had a strong workers movement.


  • 12,000 residents took part in a protest against possible local pollution from recent storm damage to a local factory in the north-eastern Chinese city of Dalian. Some of the protesters marched across the city chanting slogans and waving banners in what is called a "group stroll." Chinese protesters use the tactic of "Group strolls" to circumvent rules against demontrating discontent with the government.
  • The protesters successfully got their demands met when Officials ordered the plant's closure "immediately" and pledged to relocate it, state news agency Xinhua said.


  • Egypt deploys thousands of troops and tanks in Sinai, in coordination with Israel on Friday.
  • Prosecutors briefly detained 26-year-old activist and blogger Asmaa Mahfouz on Sunday for writing "If the judiciary doesn't give us our rights, nobody should be surprised if militant groups appear and conduct a series of assassinations because there is no law and there is no judiciary," on Facebook.


  • Reports of 20 people killed in Yemen fighting today in and around Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province.

United States


  • King Abdullah II has responded to protester's demands by supporting proposals for constitutional reforms. Plans to enhance civil liberties and share powers by decentralizing some to parliament was announced Sunday August 14th.
  • Activists have rejected the proposals and protests continue outside of the Jordanian capital in Karak, where 4 were injured while meeting up with government loyalists.


  • Around 200 Iranian students held a demonstration outside the British embassy in Tehran on Sunday to protest the “savage” police treatment of people involved in street unrest in London last week.


  • Around 1,000 women’s rights supporters rallied in Tunis on Saturday on the anniversary of a key equal rights bill amid fears gender equality may suffer if political Islam rises in post-revolution Tunisia."

2011-08-14 Reports: Rudolf Elmer released from custody

Swiss online portal reports that Rudolf Elmer has been released from custody, quoting Swiss weekly Der Sonntag and Corinne Bouvard, the spokesperson of Zürich prosecutor's office, as sources. He is said to have left Winterthur prison on the 25th of July and to be on vacation in Greece. Bouvard refused to comment on whether the investigation was continuing.

Elmer had been held on remand without charge since the 19th of January, which grossly exceeds the average detention period of 56 days. He was arrested upon return from a London press conference, where he handed two CDs to Wikileaks' Julian Assange, claiming they contain evidence of tax evasion. In mid July, Elmer changed his story, stating these CDs were in fact empty. His detention was extended nonetheless.

Yesterday, German daily newspaper Süddeutsche published an article on an essay by Rudolf Elmer, which it had recently obtained. It was written over the past months, and Elmer was prevented from passing it on to others by the prosecutor. Elmer's lawyer refused to comment on whether Elmer was still in jail when the essay reached the newspaper.

In the essay, Elmer criticizes a new agreement between Germany and Switzerland on tax evaders, stating that it would only punish the middle and lower classes. The agreement, which is currently being ratified, is in effect an amnesty for Germans with Swiss bank accounts not declared to the German tax authorities.

This agreement between the Swiss and German government has been criticised by German police who recently bought a CD containing details of illegal accounts at a major Swiss bank. The name of the bank has not been released. The investigation is said to be advanced, with prosecutors already planning raids.

2011-08-14 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.

07:40 PM Alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Rudolf Elmer is reported to have been released from custody on the 25th of July, after spending 187 days in detention without charges. According to an article that appeared originally in der Sonntag, his release was initally confirmed by Corinne Bouvard, spokeswoman for the chief prosecutor of the canton of Zurich.
Rudolf Elmer’s current location is unknown and it’s still unclear whether or not he will charged.

07:15 PM Information from Sweden versus Assange :

A judgment on Julian’s extradition appeal is likely to be delivered in October, as the legal year begins in October 3rd.
Julian Assange has been under house arrest without charges since January.

02:35 PM OpenLeaks founder Daniel Domscheit-Berg was expelled from the Computer Chaos Club (CCC), after his presentation of the leaking platform was deemed inconsistent and exploitative and harmful to the reputation of the association by spokesman Andy Müller-Maguhn.
Domscheit-Berg declared in an interview with news agency dpa that the real reason for the expulsion was his refusal to agree to a mediation in the dispute over documents belonging to WikiLeaks that are currently in his possession.
He is the second person to have been expelled from the CCC in its 30 years of existence. The decision was voted on unanimously by the club's Board.

2011-08-15 Announcing the WikiLeaks Central Cable Analysis Competition Winner

The second monthly WikiLeaks Central Competition 2011 focused on soliciting analysis of one or more of the US State Department cables released by WikiLeaks.

The winner is:

Syria: the canary in the coal mine

by JP Orient

What we liked most about the winning essay was the writer's ability to directly cite cables, and his thorough study of the issue.

We give a special mention to the other finalist: WikiLeaks: Can the Venezuelan Opposition Benefit from Chávez’s Illness? The quality of these two pieces were far superior to the other entries submitted to the competition.

All the submissions were judged on (i) newsworthiness; (ii) supporting research; and (iii) organization and writing style. (iv) We also considered the submission's capacity to engender online discourse in the form of comments and retweets.

2011-08-15 Anonymous on the Rails for Justice #OpBart

ImageFirst it was Scientology, then Paypal and WikiLeaks, Tunisia and Egypt, aiding the free flow of communication. The online collective Anonymous never seems to sleep. Its allegiance goes beyond any nationality or political ideology.

Their track record shows effectiveness. The recent HB Gary Federal incident is still fresh, showing they are not afraid to hack when the cause to their minds is just. Whether it is a corporation, individual or government, whoever sticks their neck into the hornets nest gets to experience the full fury of Anonymous.

This time, the Anonymous radar detected an unexpected target, the Bay Area Rapid Transit in liberal San Francisco, a city that is proudly the center of many progressive ideas.

On August 11th the BART authorities shut down cell phone services in the central part of the system to prevent a plan to protest a fatal shooting by the BART police.

This incident went unnoticed. None of the major national news media covered this unprecedented event in the US. Yet, Anonymous did not allow this to slip by unnoticed. They swiftly responded with a Press Release that declared #Opbart to condemn the censorship that the agency engaged in. The group called for a peaceful protest at Civic Center Station on August 15th at 5pm to stand up for the basic rights to free speech.

Anonymous doesn’t need mainstream media attention. The fury of Anonymous moves by way of a worldwide buzz through social media. Twitter hashtags "#muBARTek" and #opbart created a stream of news that interrupted the mundane Sunday activity.

YourAnonNews tweeted: #OpBART has started... For the next 35 hours @SFBART will feel the wrath of #Anonymous

Anonymous hacked BART’s external website, and defaced the page. They urged supporters on Twitter to bombard BART's email and fax machines in the name of #Opbart. Once this fire is lit, there is little one can do to stop it. Then they released user information as a way to reveal BART’s lax security of their customers information.

They are inviting people to join a ride toward freedom today to protest the Mubarrak type actions of this government bureaucracy.

The group is known to work primarily in the digital world with DDOS attacks and hacking. Today’s peaceful protest rally in downtown San Francisco will be a test for them to take online activism to a new level.

Image Credit - @exiledsurfer

2011-08-15 Chaos Computer Club expels Daniel Domscheit-Berg [UPDATE]

Openleaks founder Daniel Domscheit-Berg has been expelled from the Chaos Computer Club on grounds of damaging the reputation of the club. Following a meeting of the board members, he was handed a written notice at the Chaos Communication Camp in Finowfurt. According § 5 of the club statutes, this decision is not final, as he can now request to be heard by the board of the club; its members can also ask for the topic to be discussed in a plenary meeting.

The reason given for this decision was that Domscheit-Berg had used the reputation of the CCC to promote his new online submission platform. During his talk, he asked the attendees to test Openleaks, but refused to release the full source code. The club states explicitly on its homepage that it does not perform such tests. Board member Andy Müller Maguhn subsequently described his conduct as "impertinent" (Spiegel interview, Nr. 33, page 81). Openleaks spokesperson Jan Michael Ihl later denied Domscheit-Berg had asked the CCC to test its submission platform. Insofar, only one review of Openleaks by CCCamp11 delegate Hanno Böck has been made public. It lists several SSL vulnerabilities.

The decision caused substantial controversy amongst the members of the club. One board member has reportedly resigned.

It was not the first time Domscheit-Berg had clashed with the club. Since his well publicised suspension from Wikileaks, Müller Maguhn had been trying to mediate between him and his former employer regarding the return of data he admits to have taken with him. Eleven months later, these negotiations are still ongoing. Finally, Müller Maguhn became suspicious when Domscheit-Berg explicitly stated in a newspaper interview that he didn't take any documents with him when he left Wikileaks, whereas he told Müller Maguhn he had to survey the documents one by one before returning them to Wikileaks. According to Linus Neumann, there were also suspicions Domscheit-Berg collaborated with the secret service.


In February 2012, Daniel Domscheit Berg was re-admitted to the CCC. See this press release:

2011-08-15 Some oddities about Openleaks

The recent controversy surrounding Openleaks and its founder Daniel Domscheit-Berg prompted us to have a closer look on the project. At first glance, the main media partner of the project appears to be TAZ, a well respected leftist publication, who granted Openleaks a subdomain during the initial test phase of the system. It can be accessed under There, one finds a brief outline of the project:

"Vom 11. bis 14. August 2011 bieten unter der Schirmherrschaft der deutschen Zeitung taz die tageszeitung, die deutsche Wochenzeitung Der Freitag, die portugisische Zeitung Expresso, die dänische Zeitung Information, sowie die NGO Foodwatch in Kooperation mit OpenLeaks diese öffentliche Plattform an. In dieser Zeit können Sie hier Dokumente hochladen, die im Anschluss durch die beteiligten Organisationen verarbeitet werden.

Ziel dieser Phase ist eine Sicherheitsüberprüfung des Systems während des Chaos Communication Camps 2011. "

It lists the media partners of the project and invites the public to submit documents, which will then be sent on to be processed by these media partners. It goes on to say: "The aim of this phase is to test the security of the system during the Chaos Communication Camp 2011".

To a reader, these statements appear strangely contradictory, as one is left wondering whether the public is indeed invited to submit genuine documents, or whether this is just a test run. In fact, as a brief search of older TAZ articles reveals, the present interface is merely an alpha version of Openleaks. In the light of these facts, the project would have been better advised to make it absolutely clear that the public should only submit test files.

This brief blurb also reveals also the second major news partner on German soil, weekly newspaper Der Freitag, which recently changed ownership and is now expanding its online presence. As TAZ, it is rather leftist. In a recent contribution, editor in chief Jakob Augstein discusses the concept of Openleaks and describes his motives for joining the project. He also mentions Wikileaks as an example for a flawed submission platform.

Of particular interest about this newspaper are its business associates. In 2009, Der Freitag set up a partnership with The Guardian, and is now publishing a few of its articles per month in German translation. Thus, there is an indirect connection between two parties who had a rather public fall out with Wikileaks, The Guardian, and Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the founder of Openleaks.

2011-08-16 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- New Cables were released yesterday and today.

06:45 PM Newspaper El Comercio reports on a cable dating from 2006 revealing how then Ecuatorian Presidential candidate Xavier Neira’s visa was revoked by the United States as he was involved in a legal battle against Pfizer.

06:35 PM Hacktivism’s Global Reach: Peter Fein of activist group Telecomix and Gabriella Coleman interviewed on Democracy Now!.

05:50 PM Macbeth is quoted in a cable regarding Dominican Republic’s 2004 Presidential election, titled ‘Balaguer’s ghost’. The passage refers to Joaquin Balaguer’s ‘repeated manipulation of elections to ensure his own continuation’ (he was elected President in three different occasions) in comparison to then president Hipolito Mejia who was trying to lift the constitution ban on reelection and undertook similar efforts to stay in power.

According to the cable, ‘influential, sophisticated business executives’ warned the U.S. Ambassador that if the ruling party PRD (Meija’s Dominican Revolutionary Party) won the 2004 elections there would be ‘civil war’.

04:30 PM A U.S. State Department cable from 2009, shows the United States attempted to stop a shipment of unmanned aerial vehicles that was expected to arrive in Venezuela from Iran, via Turkey.

03:00 PM The winner of WL Central's monthly competition, this time with focus on cable analysis, has been chosen:

"Syria: the canary in the coal mine", authored by JP Orient.

This month's competition will center on 'the root causes of the global economic crisis'. You can read more about it here.

12:30 PM Suelette Dreyfus, who co-authored ‘Undeground’ with Julian Assange will be on Australian tv show Q&A next Monday, 22 August. To send her a question (from within Australia only) please visit Q&A’s website.

10:15 AM Writing for Antiwar, John Glaser raises an important question concerning the upcoming Obama administration executive order aiming to prevent leaks of government information:

why craft an executive order specifically with the purpose of preventing the release of government secrets which have been shown to be safely made public?

We are to be spectators merely of the partisan show put on by PR consultants for public consumption. What the government is actually up to…that’s none of our business.

2011-08-17 If today is Wednesday and you are in #Belarus, join the protest! #europeanrevolution

First published in spanish at Written by Claudia Ciobanu.

Hundreds of young people in Belarus take the streets weekly, bonding through social networking sites. They are protesting against the lack of free speech and the iron fist of the regime.

At 7:00 pm every Wednesday, hundreds of citizens from Belarus applaud or make their cell phones ring simultaneously in the country’s main squares. It is the Revolution Through Social Networks movement, created nine weeks ago by a group of students. The phenomenon has grown in the Russian equivalent to Facebook, Vkontakte, creating a new threat to President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.

“This is not a traditional movement of Belarus’ opposition. Participants are people that were never involved in politics and that had never protested before”, explained one of the five founding members, Mikita Krasnou. “The citizens of Belarus were looking for new organizers, new representatives”, he added. “Traditional political opposition is also interested in participating in this movement, something that has brought it closer together”, Krasnou added.

The group’s strategy is confusing to local authorities. For example, hoping to stop any interruptions, on the 3rd of August, with the occasion of Belarus' Independence day, police announced strict applause restrictions: you could only do so if you were an ex-solider or a veteran. Whoever disobeyed would be arrested. Authorities have also limited access to Internet use. Over 40% of the population has access to social networks, but they use them from their work space, and if they work for a public company they cannot access independent sites.

Since last year, whoever wants to use cyber-cafes have to present their passports. And since last June, every e site in the country are forced to use the national domain (.by), making them easier to control. Plus, every Internet provider belongs to the state, and connection is expensive and ineffective. In the last few months, access to Vkontackte has been blocked on Wednesdays.

But still, the KGB (security agency) has employed even more repressive and brutal tactics against cyberactivists. On August 3rd there were many arrests; others, whose cell phones were tracked down because they were used in the public squares during the protests, were interrogated.

Since the beginning of the protests, around 1.500 people have been arrested, some for a couple of days, some have been sentenced to year-long terms.

"Fifteen years ago, if someone belonged to the opposition, one was either a politician or a combatant, now you simply have to be a combatant", said Aliaksey Shydlovski, one of the first political prisoners of the post-independence era and co-founder of Juvenile Front and Bizon, two movements involved in the current political actions. Exiled in Prague two years ago, he thinks that "people that are marching these days in Belarus are braver than us, especially women". " The regime has become insecure, and therefore tougher with resistance", he said.

This new weakness Shydlovski detects in the regime stems mostly from the economic crisis that has crippled the country since last year, even more so after Russia shot up gas prices in the end of 2009. Only last year the national currency devaluated 50%, making prices of basic goods so high that the population started a process of accumulation to survive.

As Belarus does not count with the support of the IMF, they turned to a stabilization loan of 3.000 million dollars, given by the Eurasian Economic Community, controlled by Russia. The conditions for this loan imply the privatization of state enterprises. Half of Beltransgaz, the national gas company already belongs to Gazprom, and the rest of the shares could go in their direction shortly. Around one fifth of Russian gas sold in Europe goes through Belarus.

"What Russia is doing is using economic sanctions to weaken Lukashenko so they can obtain control of Belarus' economy for Russian oligarchs", said Raman Kavalchuk, another opposition leader from the Juvenile Front generation. "Lukashenko will fall in time. And our movement will definitely continue, more mobilizations will come from the Web. We will need the help of the Unions and other independent initiatives to get more people on the street. But this can also go slowly: most of the population will not accept not eating meat because of the high prices", Kavalchuk declared.

Selling important shares of the State to Russia will definitely weaken Lukashenko further, but without doing so he would not have a way out of an economic crisis that is turning even his supporters against him. These are the same supporters that saw economic stability as one of his virtues.

"The three most important political events of the year were the revelation that KGB tortured political prisoners, the auto union's protest against the increasing gas prices and the Revolution Through Social Networks", said Alex Michalevic, a politician exiled in Czech Republic, who spent two months in jail after being a candidate to the Presidential Elections of last December.

Mikita Krasnou suggested that "there are different ways of making Lukashenko fall: first we tried it the legal way, so that the regime has no excuse to arrest and beat us. Now we have many more supporters and people who are telling us through the Web that they are ready to join us and solve problems, we will try to pass from massive support to organized groups that are ready to work all the time".

2011-08-17 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- New Cable(s) were released today.

10:05 PM In a diplomatic cable dated October 10 2006, the large concentration of native Filipinos in the Malaysian state of Sabah - described as ‘especially troublesome’ - is attributed to a scheme implemented in the 1990s by Malaysia’s dominant party UMNO under which Malaysian citizenship and voting rights were given to over 600,000 foreigners, predominantly Muslims from Mindanao and Indonesia, in return for their votes in Sabah's state assembly elections.

08:40 PM The first report on Guatemala cables obtained by newspaper Plaza Pública exposes revelations made during a meeting in 2007 between presidential candidate of the Patriotic Party Otto Pérez Molina and U.S. representatives.
His funding sources were then revealed to be Guatemala’s four wealthiest families, among them the Mendoza family, accused of being involved in drug-trafficking and allegedly hired in 1999 by U.S. banana marketer Del Monte to intimidate and murder members of SITRABI banana union.

08:30 PM A campaign to qualify James Spione’s documentary film on Collateral Murder, ‘Incident in New Baghdad’, for an Academy Award has been launched:
Spione has put together a Kickstarter project for those who believe in the broader goal of the film, which is to show the “real meaning of war.”, writes Kevin Gosztola for FireDogLake.

The film needs to see a theatrical release in order to qualify for an Academy Award. You can contribute towards this goal either by pledging a donation* or spreading information about this campaign widely !
Keep in mind even the smallest contribution is important.

*"Whether you can give $500 (and get a signed DVD, LA premiere tickets, and an “Associate Producer” credit plus a private dinner with Spione and McCord) or $5 (which will get you a heartfelt thank you and your name listed on a page on the film’s website), every little bit helps." via FireDogLake

07:20 PM Renata Ávila analyses the implications of Internet Service Provider blocking of Argentinian websites and following a judge’s orders.

04:40 PM Autralian Channel Ten has announced it will air a dramatization of the book Underground, co-written by Julian Assange, next year:

Underground - The Julian Assange Story will be based on the Wikileaks founder when he was an 18-year-old computer hacker, an "edgy, provocative drama".

No other details are known at the moment.

03:55 PM The Bradley Manning Support Network has put together a list of significant WikiLeaks’ revelations.

07:50 AM WikiLeaks Guatemala launches today. Plaza Pública has so far published a piece by journalist Martín Rodríguez Pellecer on the acquisition of Guatemala’s diplomatic cables.

07:20 AM Human rights lawyer Renata Ávila writes a letter to WikiLeaks supporters where she addresses some of the rumors regarding Julian Assange, OpenLeaks’ theft of WikiLeaks’ documents and, more importantly, suggests a shift in focus towards the material released by WikiLeaks.

The purpose of this letter goes beyond clarifying Mr. Assange’s behavior., she writes.It is a reflection and an invitation to move the conversation to what is relevant, what is urgent and how to behave accordingly.

2011-08-18 Daniel Domscheit-Berg and the missing WikiLeaks documents [Update]

The recent clash between Daniel Domscheit-Berg and the Chaos Computer Club brought an important matter back into the focus of the mainstream press, a larger number of leaked documents, which Domscheit-Berg took with him after he left Wikileaks almost one year ago.

Andy Müller Maguhn, a board member of the CCC had been trying to mediate between Domscheit-Berg and Wikileaks ever since. In a recent Spiegel interview, he says that Domscheit-Berg recently told him he would have to survey the documents one by one before returning them to Wikileaks, which implies he has these documents in his possession.

This is very much in accordance with what Domscheit-Berg said in his own book. When an excerpt of the English translation of his work was leaked to Cryptome, he insisted that they contained translation errors. He later posted the passage in question on a German news site in the original language.

This is the crucial sentence:

"Wir warten bis heute darauf, dass Julian die Sicherheit wiederherstellt, damit wir ihm auch das Material zurückgeben können, das auf der Submission-Plattform lag."

It translates to:

"To this day, we are waiting for Julian to restore security, so that we can return the material to him, which was on the submission platform." [Translated by icon]

Recently, however, and a few days before the launch of his own submission platform, he said exactly the opposite in an interview with Der Freitag:

"Q: Sie sind ja bei Wikileaks im Streit ausgestiegen. Haben Sie damals unveröffentlichte Dokumente mitgenommen, von denen Openleaks jetzt profitieren kann?

A: Nein, ich habe keine Dokumente von Wikileaks mitgenommen. Und wir haben auch sonst keine Schatzkiste, aus der wir uns jetzt bedienen könnten. Das würde auch unserem Test verfälschen: Wir wollen ja einen realistischen Eindruck bekommen, wieviel Material da so hereinkommt."

This interview then appeared in English translation:

"Q: You left Wikileaks in conflict. Did you at that time take unpublished documents with you from which Openleaks could now profit from?

A: No, I didn't take any documents from Wikileaks. We don't have a treasure chest we can just dip into. That would also falsify the results of our test: we want to get a realistic view of how much material comes in."

A few days later, Der Freitag asked him to comment on the matter:

"Auf Nachfrage bestätigt Domscheit-Berg, die entsprechende Formulierung im Freitag-Interview sei unpräzise und ihm bei der Autorisierung „durchgerutscht“. In der Tat hätten einige der Aktivisten theoretisch Zugriff auf die Daten, allerdings werde Openleaks die Daten nicht nutzen. Das wollten die Aktivisten auch öffentlich demonstrieren – und nun alle bei Openleaks vorhandenen elektronischen Schlüssel zu dem Datenschatz in den nächsten Tagen „endgültig vernichten“. Da solche Schlüssel allerdings beliebig oft kopiert werden können, lässt sich die Zerstörung aller Schlüssel nicht beweisen. Er überlege daher, eine eidesstattliche Versicherung abzugeben, sagte Domscheit-Berg: „Versprechen will ich das aber noch nicht. Dafür muss ich zuerst mit einem Anwalt sprechen.“"

"When we approached Domscheit-Berg, he confirmed that the way the passage in question was phrased in the Freitag interview was not precise, and that he overlooked it when he authorized the text (for publication). In fact, a few activists had in theory access to the data, but Openleaks had no intention to use it. The activists wanted to demonstrate this publicly and are going to "destroy" all electronic keys to the data, which are held at Openleaks, "once and for all". However, since such keys can be copied as many times as one wants, it cannot be proven whether all keys have been destroyed. Therefore, Domscheit-Berg says, he is considering an affidavit: "But I do not want to promise this at this point. For this, I have to talk to my lawyer first.""

By all means, the sentence "Nein, ich habe keine Dokumente von Wikileaks mitgenommen." and its (correct) translation "No, I didn't take any documents from Wikileaks." is perfectly clear and precise, and it contradicts the account given in Domscheit-Berg's book where he admits to having retained documents.

How and where the data is stored, and whether this issue also involves the code of Wikileaks' submission platform itself is unclear. According to Heise, both the CCC and Openleaks also mentioned a physical drive.

Wikileaks responded to the threat to delete the keys a short time after the new Freitag article appeared:

"DDB spits on every courageous whistleblower who leaked data if they destroy the keys and refuse to return it. This is not acceptable."

Yet, there appears to be more involved than just digital copies that reached Wikileaks through its online submission form. Renata Avila, a human rights lawyer from Guatemala, writes that she entrusted Domscheit-Berg with hard copy documents, which have insofar not appeared on Wikileaks. In her very sensible and well written open letter she also responds to other claims made by Domscheit-Berg in his book, and casts doubt on the credibility of his account.


Spiegel reporter Holger Stark tweets: "I just spoke to #Assange. The only keys 4 the unreleased #Wikileaks docs are in the hands of #DDB and his partner. Why do they destroy it?"

2011-08-18 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- New Cable(s) were released today.

»» A diplomatic cable published last week, dated November 11 2005, shows the United States were targeting overseas Bank accounts of leaders of Philippines Islamist separatist group Abu Sayyaf as part of an investigation on the group’s financing.

A cable released earlier revealed possible ties between the Abu Sayyaf Group and Nur Misuari, founder of the Moro National Liberation Front were being investigated by Malaysian authorities.

»» Julian Assange will speak at APME's 2011 Conference in Denver, on the 15th September – from England.

For an updated list of upcoming events with the participation of Julian Assange, please visit this link.

»» ‘Brandeis on WikiLeaks: An argument for truth’, is a new academic paper defending the work of the whistleblowing organization falls under First Amendment protection.

»» Recent Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) bill, that grants ASIO the power to surveil Australian citizens overseas, could possibly be used to target WikiLeaks and Julian Assange as ‘a danger to "security" or "economic well-being"’, says Law Professor Michael Head.

»» Via Dawn Paley : ‘US Government deploysdeploys reference to purse snatchings to balance police massacre of pro-Lavalas demonstrators in Haiti’.

»» Guatemalan press is yet to report on the first WikiLeaks cable published by online newspaper ‘Plaza Pública’ containing significant information on Presidential candidate of the Patriotic Party Perez Molina. According to the cable, the Patriotic Party is likely to have received drug money as funds, provenient from the Mendoza family, notably accused of being involved in drug-trafficking and possibly behind the murder of members of SITRABI union, in an arrangement with U.S. company Del Monte.

»» OpenLeaks has announced the intention to destroy their keys to the stolen WikiLeaks’ data in their possession. WikiLeaks was critical of the measure that will ultimately prevent access to the documents originally entrusted to WikiLeaks for publication.
Destruction of said keys will be hard to prove, according to an article published in der Freitag:

Since such keys can be copied as often as desired the destruction of all keys can’t be proved. So he [Daniel Domscheit-Berg, OpenLeaks founder] thinks about giving an affidavit. Says Domscheit-Berg: ‘But I don’t want to promise that right now. First I have to talk to a lawyer.’

(Translation of the original article published in der Freitag kindly provided by HomoCarnula.)

»» Campaign to help qualify ‘Incident in New Baghdad’ for an Academy Award is now funded!
The short documentary on ‘Collateral Murder’ should now see a theatrical release, thus becoming elligible for an Oscar nomination.

2011-08-19 Archivists, librarians and WikiLeaks: Part 2

A few weeks back on the Recordkeeping Roundtable blog I reported in Part 1 of this story on the efforts of Tom Twiss and the rest of the Social Responsibilities Round Table group in the American Library Association to have three resolutions passed by the ALA's general membership meeting relating to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning and the importance of free speech, free press and the openness and accountability of government.

ImageState Library of NSW Mitchell Wing: Photo credit Kate's Photo Diary

Now, closer to home, it's great to be able to report on another librarian who is making the connection between his work and the mission of WikiLeaks, the newly appointed State Librarian of New South Wales, Dr Alex Byrne. Dr Byrne has contributed an article in the latest issue of Archives and Manuscripts, the Australian Society of Archivists' journal, a scan of which is provided below. The article, 'Wikileaks and Web 2.0: privacy, security and other things that keep me awake', challenges some of the information sciences' long held assumptions about privacy and confidentiality, security and integrity and authority - using the rise of social media and other web 2.0 technologies and WikiLeaks as two examples of the seismic shifts in expectations and possibilities in these areas.

Of course I'd recommend reading the whole piece but here are a few observations from Dr Byrne that touch on many of the issues that we explored at our Roundtable WikiLeaks event in March, which Tom and his colleagues at the ALA are concerned with, and which I believe any information professional will ignore at his or her peril.

In his article, reflecting on the CableGate releases, Byrne notes: "the disclosures have other lessons for memory institutions. Above all, they forcefully demonstrate that there are new agencies entering into the management and dissemination of records on a large scale. .. WikiLeaks has introduced a new agency, one which will accept leaked documents anonymously, assess them, possibly redact elements, compile guides and summaries, and publish facsimiles of the documents on a public website for all to see. And that access is guaranteed against blockage or legal prohibition by the mirroring of WikiLeaks on 1,426 sites, as at the end of 2010.

Meanwhile, government archives continue to manage records in accordance with accepted practice and protocols and the application of 25 year, 30 year or longer embargoes on access. The contrast is stark and to the detriment of the official archives in the face of widespread expectations of openness and participation. No amount of huffing and puffing by leaders of government or officials will reverse those growing expectations."

Many of us here in Australia have noticed the marked split between official government condemnation and broadly based public support for WikiLeaks and their work. While not limiting his observations to Australian supporters, Byrne notes: 'Other implications of CableGate can be seen in the rapid call to arms to support WikiLeaks when the organisation was threatened by removal of financial services by MasterCard and Visa ..The strength of the responses illustrated not only the depth of feeling in favour of openness but also the effectiveness of social media such as Twitter in promoting an online petition, support for the organisation and its founder, and attacks on MasterCard and Visa for attempting to prevent donations to the organisation, allegedly at the behest of the US Government.'

Byrne also makes some great points about the difference we see now between the ubiquity of online information, and expectations of access as compared with what Archives New Zealand has termed 'practical obscurity' - that is, the negative effect on the use and effectiveness of information as a result of being kept in physical form in boxes in a repository, perhaps poorly indexed and almost certainly in an inconvenient geographic location (owing to the need for large areas of space). When you think of what could be achieved by making legacy archival materials accessible online in the way that WikiLeaks does - dependent of course in the government sector upon sizeable boosts to archives institutions' budgets - possibilities for citizen engagement and understanding of their governments expand exponentially.

Read the full article here: 'Byrne, Alex 'WikiLeaks and Web 2.0' Archives and Manuscripts, Vol 29 No 1 May 2011 (PDF, 7.32 MB)

2011-08-19 Daniel Domscheit-Berg and the WikiLeaks servers [UPDATE]

Today, Daniel Domscheit-Berg confirmed to Heise that he was planning to destroy the WikiLeaks documents he took with him when he left the organization. As we have reported, he had recently publicly denied that he took these documents.

According to Domscheit-Berg, WikiLeaks did not react fast enough when he removed the data in September 2010; he says first contact was made by the end of October. Andy Müller Maguhn recently stated that he had been trying to mediate and retrieve the data for eleven months - which would be September.

The time from August to October 2010 was very turbulent for WikiLeaks, as its editor in chief Julian Assange was fighting accusations of sexual misconduct in Sweden. He also had his luggage stolen when he traveled from Stockholm to Berlin. It did not facilitate proceedings that the WikiLeaks email system was taken down around this time.

The plans to destroy the WikiLeaks submissions are likely to cause outrage amongst the community. Domscheit-Berg invited the leakers to resubmit to a platform of their choice - a very unrealistic prospect, as they would likely have destroyed the documents after submission as they could be used as evidence against them.

As Andy Müller Maguhn pointed out, it will be difficult to take legal steps against these plans, because this would mean that WikiLeaks would have to describe the data involved.

Yet, there is another detail in the recent Heise article that is of particular interest. Domscheit-Berg admits to having removed the data in September - after he was suspended - from four servers that were sponsored by him. From all we know, WikiLeaks collected a substantial amount of donations via the Wau Holland Foundation from early 2010 onwards. According to the annual report of the foundation, WikiLeaks spent 59,5925.46 Euros on technical infrastructure over the year 2010.

Certainly, there would have been no need to purchase equipment at his own expense from early 2010 onwards, and one is left puzzled why Domscheit-Berg, who is not shy to underline his investments into WikiLeaks, has not brought this up before.

Domscheit-Berg is currently in the process of launching his own submission system, Openleaks.


Spiegel reporter Holger Stark tweets the following: "The old cache of unreleased #WikiLeaks docs seems 2 be gone 4ever. #DDB said 2 me that he has destroyed it. See new #SPIEGEL #openleaks #ccc"

2011-08-19 Documentary about the #15M movement in #Madrid #europeanrevolution

#SpanishRevolution, documentary about the indignant 15M movement from Lainformacioncom on Vimeo.

2011-08-19 Malalai Joya in Australia Sept 5: Afghanistan 10 years on & why western troops must leave.

Update 1: Malalai Joya's Australian Schedule

Tuesday, August 30, 7pm Australian Education Union (SA), Main Hall.
Organised by Left Unity, entry by donation.
Ph Gemma 0437 714 786 or

Monday, September 5, 7pm Armidale Town Hall, entry $5/$10/$20
Ph Bea Bleile 0458 752 680 or or
New England Writers Centre 6772 7210 or

Thursday, September 1, time and location TBA. Visit

Melbourne Writers Festival, September 3 & 4
Ten years after 9/11: Pakistan Afghanistan & the struggle for democracy, Saturday, September 3, 6:30pm
The pity of war: Afghanistan & Iraq, Sunday, September 4, 2:30pm.

Friday, September 9, 5:30pm Marrickville Town Hall (cnr Marrickville & Petersham rds)
Organised by Stop the War Coalition Sydney, entry $15/$10.

Sydney West
Tuesday, September 6, 3:30pm University of Western Sydney, Bankstown Campus
Organised by Stop the War Coalition Sydney, entry $15/$10.

ImageMalalai Joya – the woman Time Magazine listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world - is travelling to Armidale [NSW Australia] to present her talk Afghanistan – 10 years on on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the US and the coalition invasion of Afghanistan. Described as the bravest and most famous woman in Afghanistan she is a writer, feminist and anti-war activist and it is an honour to have the chance to hear her talk after her appearance as a guest speaker at the Melbourne Writer’s festival. Her first visit to Australia was in 2009, when she was promoting her autobiographical book Raising My Voice and she continues to be a voice for her own people and for peace everywhere.

Ms Joya’s teenage years were spent in refugee camps in Pakistan; she later worked as a teacher/activist smuggling books to clandestine schools beneath her burqa.

The youngest person to have been elected to the Afghan parliament, she is an unwavering defender of the rights of ordinary Afghans, and Afghan women in particular, and is a critic of the ongoing occupation of her country by Western forces and the fundamentalist forces including the Northern Alliance and the Taliban. She has also been outspoken in her criticism of the Hamid Karzai regime for its alleged corruption and lack of democracy.

Noam Chomsky has praised Ms Joya’s activist work saying Malalai Joya leaves us with hope that the tormented people of Afghanistan can take their own fate into their own hands if they are released from the grip of foreign powers.

Her visit to Armidale is being hosted by New England Writers Centre, Women In Black, Socialist Alliance New England, Peace Studies UNE, Uniting Church Armidale. Entry to her public talk will be by donation (no bookings) which can be paid at the door - $5, $10 or $20 – all proceeds will go to Malalai.

(Thanks and attribution to [correction] Lesley and Fran for that introduction above- Bitcoin donations to WLC specifying Malalai as the beneficary will be passed on.)

This post will be updated with video of the event on 5th September (and hopefully a short video interview with Malalai prior to the event.)

Aussies living in New England area NSW are cordially invited to attend. In particular, we should be increasingly concerned with our involvement in this ghastly war with our Prime Minister making repeated and highly questionable comments about 'staying the course' every time one of our sons is killed.

The human rights dimensions and stupidity of this war is palpable. General Elphinstone must be turning in his grave.

We at Wikileaks Central salute an incredibly brave woman and look forward to hearing what she has to say down under. Updates shortly.

2011-08-19 The popular marches from #Madrid on their way to #Brussels #15M #europeanrevolution

The Popular March to Brussels that left the Puerta del Sol of Madrid on July 26th, is now at the Pyrenees. Until today, over one hundred people have decided to go to Brussels. The Marchers are, among other places, from Italy, Greece, Germany, France, Russia, USA, Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, Tunisia, Poland and England. Women and men of all ages are sharing this experience.

After twenty-three days on tour along towns and cities in Northern Spain, on Wednesday August 17th, early in the morning and from the city of Irun, the March will cross the border. Then, they will meet their counterparts in France at Baiona, where a warm welcome is prepared.

On Monday, August 8th, also the Mediterranean March to Brussels left the city of Barcelona in their journey to the Belgium capital. The Marchers are currently 21 and tomorrow it’s expected that several people will join up them. Besides, 12 participants have already confirmed their presence in the neighbor country, who will join up the March to accompany them to cross the border.

For the moment, they have already made stops in Badalona, Mataró, Canet de Mar, Blanes, Caldas de Malavella and Gerona. The spirit of the assemblies of the area is very favorable. The arrival of the march and their participation in the meetings are expected with a great enthusiasm.

On this tour many assemblies took place, collecting the complaints and proposals of the voiceless. Further than the different local and all-kind needs expressed by the people, there is a common factor which is repeated along the Mach: the disastrous consequences of implementing some economic policies and those measures that undermine, instead of favouring, the rights and the indivisible values proclaimed by the EU Constitution and its Charter of Fundamental Rights: Dignity, Freedom, Equality, Solidarity, Citizenship and Justice.

The expected arrival date to Brussels is on October 8th. Several activities are going to be carried out with the rest of the Marches across Europe. All they aim to build new paths, in which the way of collective thinking and the assembly structure will be the dynamizers of this historic event.

The March to Brussels

For more information please visit:

2011-08-19 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- New Cable(s) were released today.

09:05 PM A cable obtained by Noticias Sin, WikiLeaks’ media partner in the Dominican Republic reveals there were suspicions that Puerto Rican murder convict and drug trafficker Jose Figueroa Agosto was allowed to escape from prison. The incident 'reaffirmed the public’s perception that which the judicial sector, the Public Ministry and the police are plagued with the corruption of drug trafficking':

The totality of the case of Figueroa-Sobeida-Mary and now Gonzalez, has been a public relations disaster for the police and judicial agencies, from the bungled (deliberately? ) first arrest attempt, until the release of Sobeida on bail and her disappearance, to the circus in press media which involves Peláez, and the possible complicity of the Justice Ministry when bringing to light the apparent cooperation by González with the authorities, even the involvement, it has been said, of at least two colonels of the unit antinarcotics in Gonzalez’s murder. From one incident to the other, the topic has reaffirmed the public’s perception that which the judicial sector, the Public Ministry and the police are plagued with the corruption of drug trafficking.

08:50 PM There has been some confusion as of late regarding twitter accounts of individuals posing as Julian Assange. WikiLeaks issued a statement on these fake accounts a few days back that is worth remembering:

1.Warning: Julian Assange does not have a twitter account, email, facebook, phone, etc. @JulianAssange_ etc (40k followers) are imposters.
2.Warning: The only official WikiLeaks twitter account is @WikiLeaks. The others are imposters e.g @wikileaksAR

07:30 PM Guatemala Presidential Frontrunner Linked to Narcos, a report by InSight Crime on the first WikiLeaks cable on Guatemala to have been published by Plaza Pública, concerning Patriotic Party’s presidential candidate Perez Molina ties to ‘narco family’ Mendoza.

05:20 PM According to an article that appeared today in, OpenLeaks has decided to destroy the stolen WikiLeaks data in their possession.

"I do feel sorry for the WikiLeaks leaker but they have to send their material once again somewhere where they trust the system.", stated Daniel Domscheit-Berg, founder of OpenLeaks.

Holger Stark, journalist of der Spiegel, declared via twitter that the only keys to the WikiLeaks documents in OpenLeaks’ possession are with Daniel Domscheit-Berg and his partner ; information he claims to have gotten from Julian Assange.
OpenLeaks had announced yesterday they would detroy the keys to the documents but have since taken a more extreme position on the matter.

For a more detailed take on this subject, please read Daniel Domscheit-Berg and the missing Wikileaks documents.

2011-08-20 Anonymous Takes Cyber-Activism to the Streets #OpBART

Image Credit -  @exiledsurfer Image Credit - @exiledsurfer

On August 15, a group of online activists known as Anonymous showed that their words and deeds can indeed move beyond cyberspace. In response to BART's August 11th attempt to foil protest with a shutdown of their wireless communication system, Anonymous launched OpBART to protest these actions. Over that weekend, Anonymous lit up, defacing and commandeering thousands of user names from the woefully insecure BART network. This is par for the course for Anonymous.

The events broke into the mainstream news. On Monday morning it was on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle and other papers. Monday August 15th was X day for OpBART. With Twitter and social media facilitating the communication, those who care about free speech around the world watched to see if Anon could actually take their action to the streets.

Anonymous successfully carried out their intention. This was a rare pubic appearance that echoed some of their first actions against the Church of Scientology. Shawn Gaynor, writing for the San Francisco Bay Guardian noted how this protest was “the most civil of civil disturbances the city has seen surrounding the police brutality issue”.

Anonymous, who defaced BART’s external website now showed their face publicly as activists. Across time and space, struggles for justice from the past converged in SF with present action. Online activism led by the meme of Guy Fawkes masks from the film V for Vendetta emerged and entered the frame of conventional activism. People of all ages came. Ordinary people in nonviolent protest against BART violence and censorship showed solidarity with the group.

There was something unique about #OpBART that is often missing in usual protests. What is it that made this operation different?

One unique aspect was the anticipation before the event. There was an excitement in the air that was palpable at the beginning. There was a sense of participating in something extraordinary, like a superman coming to town to fight for the common people. In the past, there often was a charismatic leader guiding a movement like this. Yet here, the hero is not simply one individual.

Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea!(V for Vendetta).

The hero happened to be Anonymous, the idea behind the Guy Fawkes masks. It is anyone, could be everyone and is found everywhere. Liam Fox concluded his recent article "After the Revolution: Searching for a Messiah" that with so many looking for someone to save us, in the end "the only place we will find our messiah is in the mirror". The mysterious Anonymous mask mirrors back people's own unknown face.

Anonymous is not a defined group and is said not to have any identified leaders. It is an open source handle. William Jackson describes how “Anonymous is not unanimous” and that not everything done under that name is agreed to by the members.

It is the action of a many-headed hydra of justice and a keeper of the global human commons. With nonviolence, solidarity and Lulz their guide, they demand open society in this digital age. The image of Guy Fawkes and the idea behind it inspires people to feel that they can do something they never believed possible.

Anonymous is not merely a group of ‘hackers’. Anonymous is the art of being indignant. It is the art of being one yet being nothing (gamefreaker1398).

SF residents joined the protest and most who participated in it were not actually wearing masks and did not appear to be associated with this loosely tied collective. Yet, all who responded to the impulse that day became synonymous with Anonymous.

This protest contained that mystery, a space for the unknown. Behind the mask there is a deeper dimension of reality and with that presence, the public space is transformed to show views and voices that are typically neglected or blocked out from the mainstream.

A group called the SF Guerilla Opera aided the operation, turning the platform into a stage to act out a scene of “Can you hear me now?” Their act engaged a playful artistic space to show what is happening to our rights.

BART officials shut down the major metropolitan stations and set the protest into action. Outside the Civic Center station, protesters started to march the rail line toward Market street through central downtown. This kind of rally and march is a typical scene that happens in a demonstration. The difference with this was the surrealistic atmosphere that unfolded in the familiar landscape.

The march stopped the busy commuter traffic. Everyday scenes of taxis, buses and cars on the street were replaced with people wearing Guy Fawkes masks and bloody shirts walking from Civic Center to Embarcadero station. Here for a moment, the line between fiction and reality was blurred. Some people welcomed this unexpected event with surprised faces as if they were watching a scene from a film. Indeed it must have felt to them like fiction. When cynicism and apathy permeates a society for so long, ordinary people standing up for injustice has become something that might only happen in the movies. For a period of time, this fiction became reality.

In street protest, placards and clothes are a vital means to convey a message. At OpBART, the presence of a mask without saying a word communicated volumes. Anonymous has been called a hive mind that lives in cyberspace. They communicate through IRC chats, creative videos, bold digital intrusions and press releases. They move in the digital realm through the language of metaphor and imagery.

On August 15th, the protest initiated by Anonymous brought the streets online. Anonymous' message was first made viral on the Internet and then they maneuvered into the physical space by way of their digital literacy.

BART closed the gates to shut out protesters and the consequences of this action blocked commuters' access to the stations. The protesters marched down Market Street to the Ferry Building. The street was half blocked. No bus or cars could go through and BART was shut down. Many of us depend on this light rail system every day, yet often we don’t realize something is amiss until an event happens that steals away our taken for granted convenience.

This disruption to the daily commute was a metaphor. In a way, we are riding on a social structure that surrounds us at times without knowing where it is taking us. Often in that unconscious ride, we remain bystanders to oppression. That Monday, this daily routine was interrupted and people had to think of a different way to get home. For some this provided an opportunity to reflect on where society is going when a transit security force starts using swat-style attacks on people and police state tactics to suppress dissent.

At the closed gate, the cloud chanted “No “Justice No Peace, disband the BART police”. Police responded defensively by guarding the gate with arms.

One protester, Melyssa Jo Kelly spoke to the police aloud: “That was a human being that you turned into a dead man….You don’t need guns. Nobody in the city likes you to have guns.” She confronted the police with their brutal killings and urged BART to disarm.

Outside of the Embarcadero station, the images and voices of those bloody deaths by the brutal police shootings confronted the black militaryesque uniforms who attempted to silence activists with the rhetoric of security.

Another unique aspect of this protest was its global connection. Anonymous symbolizes an idea and an international community. With the help of technology and the notoriety of their recent activity, the protest was broadcast live and watched by many people around the world. There was a sense of solidarity that went beyond the locale. On Twitter the hash-tag
#muBARTak acknowledges the link between censorship in Egypt under Mubarak and this incident that guided the people online to find their way on the street with placards. Subtle, powerful connections between people in the Internet protest had come alive in the social space and fueled the enthusiasm of the demonstrators.

Images of Egyptians going face to face with police at Tahrir Square and the recent riots in London intertwined with the unfolding snapshot outside of the Ferry Building where protesters confronted the BART police. No matter how different the locations and specific issues, images that emerge from what is becoming a global uprising brings out the same impression and show diverging worldviews.

For these armed police it seemed that command and brute force were their only authority. On the other hand, the people had solidarity, creativity and compassion on their side.

A business man on the street watching the demonstration murmured, “those young people are watching too much film.” Yet, is it true? Are they just too much into fiction and out of touch with reality? Or is it rather that so many people have become detached and cynical and lack imagination? Would it be possible to think that those who actively stepped onto the platform of resistance are courageously stepping into the realm of what had become fiction, in order to reach their ideals?

OpBART showed a possibility for future activism and a society that could be. Perhaps with each person's small effort in cultivating these online connections as part of daily life, it will become possible to dissolve the line that divides fiction and reality. Then collective action can invite others to express and live their ideals safely and freely in outer society.

After the protest on Monday, the members of Anonymous returned to their hives. On the surface, life appeared to return to normal. Yet, the public has seen the potent creative power of ordinary people. Anonymous is planning the second OpBARTon August 22nd. They are legion. They do not forgive. They do not forget. Expect them.

2011-08-20 Statement by Julian Assange on the reported destruction of WikiLeaks source material by Daniel Domscheit-Berg

Sat Aug 20 23:25:00 2011 GMT

WikiLeaks does not record or retain source identifying information, however the claimed destruction of documents entrusted to WikiLeaks between January 2010 and August 2010 demands the revelation of inside information so sources can make their own risk assessments.

Early in 2010, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, (then "Daniel Berg", "Daniel Schmitt") (born 1978), who was responsible for keeping selected WikiLeaks backups, met and entered into a relationship with Anke Domscheit-Berg (then, "Anke Domscheit") (born 1968) who described her job title as "Director Government Relations" for Microsoft, Germany.

DDB told me that ADB's role was to interface with the German government on behalf of Microsoft. He was proud that he had been to a party at the German ministry of the interior, as ADB's consort, and that ADB was on intimate terms with senior figures in the German government and bureaucracy.

DDB told me that he had moved into ADBs house in Berlin, without any counter-intelligence cover, going so far as to place his legal name on a street visible mail box and the interior door and that he would work from this location.

At this point WikiLeaks issued a policy directive that DDB not be permitted contact with source material.

ADB and DDB officially married within a few weeks and changed their surnames to "Domscheit-Berg".

DDB secretly, and in clear violation of WikiLeaks internal security directives, recorded internal WikiLeaks encrypted "chat" conversations. He initially publicly denied having done so, but attempted to place many of these recordings into his ghostwritten book, most of which were rejected by his publishers' lawyers as violations of german privacy law. Others he secretly conveyed to hostile media, such as Wired magazine, which had been involved in the arrest and persecution of US intelligence analyst Bradley Manning.

His book, "Inside WikiLeaks", contains many proven malicious libels and breaches of WikiLeaks security policies. The book is promoted throughout U.S. military book stores, by the U.S. military.

After DDB's suspension in August 2010, he managed, through guile, to convince a German WikiLeaks system administrator, who was an old associate of DDB's, to obtain the keys and data for a large quantity of then pending WikiLeaks whistleblower disclosures.

In the last year there has been publicly declared task forces or investigations into WikiLeaks by the CIA, the Pentagon, the FBI, the Department of State, the DoJ, ASIO, ASIS, and the AFP (the last has now been publicly cancelled, finding that no Australian laws have been broken). Many other agencies, such as the NSA have also been involved, but not publicly declared.

I have received a warning from a current Western intelligence officer that DDB has been in contact with the FBI, on more than one occasion, and that the information from this contact was "helpful". I do not know if DDB was complicit with the reported contact.

David House, of the Bradley Manning Support Network, stated publicly, and repeatedly, that U.S. investigative authorities attempted to bribe him to become an informant and infiltrate WikiLeaks activities.

I have been told that the girlfriend of a Berlin-based Israeli intelligence officer attended the wedding of ADB and DDB. This may not be significant.

I have received intelligence from current Western intelligence officer, that Anke Domscheit Berg, personally, came into contact with the CIA during her time working for the McKinsey & Company consulting group. This was a direct, volunteered statement of fact and warning, and not a statement of speculation. I do not know if ADB was complicit in the reported

J. Assange

2011-08-20 The Pope's visit to #Madrid ends up with police brutality against peaceful protesters #JMJ #19a #15m

While Madrid is traditionally empty in August, the city is now literally packed with Catholic pilgrims of all ages, who have come from all around the world to attend the World Youth Days, presided by the Pope Benedict XVI. Authorities estimate that around 1.4 million people have flooded the city. From the very beginning the event has created resistance in the general public, as the investment of approximately 70-100 million euros is seen as exaggerated, in a time when politicians are demanding austerity measures for a country facing severe economic recession. They criticize, for example, that the centre of Madrid will be closed to traffic for more than four days, causing a lot of problems for normal citizens who have to work. Furthermore, the pilgrims have been given benefits that any unemployed Spaniard would desperately need: they have been given places to stay for free, food for free and while public transport in Madrid went up by 50% this month, being a pilgrim gives you a whopping 80% discount for all travels. This has caused major irritation in an already angry population, who are demanding answers as to why a constitutionally secular country should give this kind of support to any religion, while at the same time neglecting it’s own citizens.

The response was secular marches to protest against these issues on the supposedly impartial state and public expenditure on these kind of events. Thousands of people marched under the slogan “none of my taxes for the Pope”. Hundreds of social organizations, particularly Gay Pride groups also participated with their claims. However, when pilgrims and protesters clashed there were many tense situations that ended in the typical heated discussions about faith and religion in general.

On the 17th of August the tensions ended in police charges like the one depicted below. Mainly against pro-secular protesters. The day ended with six arrests and eight people wounded.

The amount of violence shown by the police further enraged citizens. On the 18th, a protest against police actions was called for and this ended with even more brutality. For example, the two video examples below (each has a translation in English).

Girl: - Aggressors! -You are aggressors! - Bastards!
[Says something about her rights]
Cop: She's a girl, she's a girl [more unintelligible words]
Girl: - What’s wrong?
Cop: What?
[Another cop comes and smacks her in the face for no reason]
Girl: [Screams] No!
Cop: Come on! Fuck off!
Cop: Get lost!
[In the confusion a journalist who was taking pictures gets assaulted and ends up on the floor]
Boy1: Record it, record it, record it!
Boy2: Shut up, they'll come after me
Boy2: [To the journalist] Hey hey! I recorded everything.
Journalist: [mutters something, clearly ]
Boy2: - Hey! let me see what have they did to you
Journalist: I have to go [barely audible]
Boy2: -Are you OK?
Journalist: -I don’t know.
Boy2: - Where have they hit you?
Journalist: -They slapped me on the head and I fell unconscious -I felt nothing
Boy2: Relax, relax, sit down.
Journalist: Why have they punched that guy?
Boy2: They are looking for all the people that were in the demonstration
Journalist: Yes, but a camera? Journalists? Journalists? Have you ever heard of such a thing here!??

REPORTER: Hey, who do you think you are? You can’t take that away from me!

POLICEMAN: I won’t take it, I don’t want it.
REPORTER: Why do you take it off my head?Who gave you the right to do that?... Hey I’m talking to you, tell me what are you doing?

POLICEMAN: I am missing data.

REPORTER: What data?

POLICEMAN: Where you live, your parent’s names...

REPORTER: And why do need that information? For what?


REPORTER: Hey, I know my rights!

POLICEMAN: Great, much better.

REPORTER: Very well then, could you tell me why you are taking my information?

[No answer]

REPORTER: Would you answer? Why do you need that information?

[No answer]

REPORTER: OK, so don’t answer then...


POLICEMAN: Give me your ID.

REPORTER: For what reason?

POLICEMAN: Because I have to identify you correctly.

REPORTER: Excuse me but...

POLICEMAN: This is not a complete identification! I need your parent’s name, where you live.

REPORTER: Do not raise your voice!

POLICEMAN: I need you to give me everything I am asking for, if I smack you then you’ll see (hard to translate, Spanish is “como te meta una hostia veras”). Take, take.. [stutters] out your ID now!

REPORTER: What did you just say to me?

POLICEMAN: I’m telling you to... [unintelligible]

[Violently pushes her against the car with more verbal threats and aggression]

REPORTER: What are you doing!? What!?

POLICEMAN: You are under arrest! [To other officer] Cuff her!

In both videos, officers who have sworn to defend citizens’ rights and vowed to uphold the law, are shown to be clearly violating these very same rights and laws. In both videos, the anonymous police officers are shown using an incredibly excessive amount of violence: in the first one against a teenage girl and a reporter just walking by and in the second one against a credited news-reporter, who never even showed any disrespect or bad intentions. Luckily for the reporter in the second video, she was taping the whole conversation. Without it she can easily be accused of being uncooperative with the authorities, and it would be her word against the policeman’s, even though he is clearly violating her constitutional rights and almost any international treaty on freedom of press. The fact that these policemen are acting without knowing they are being recorded is uncanny. With every protest they are becoming more and more aware that anyone can have a camera on them, which is why many have started to remove the personal ID badge from their uniform. This is illegal in Spain and for most people older than forty it is strangely reminiscent of past times, before the 1978 constitution, when Francisco Franco was still running the country with an iron fist.

2011-08-20 WikiLeaks Statement on Daniel Domscheit-Berg and OpenLeaks

Sat Aug 20 23:41:31 2011 GMT

Five days short of a year ago, on 25 August 2010, WikiLeaks suspended former employee "Daniel Domscheit-Berg". Over the last 11 months, we have tried to negotiate the return of various materials taken by Mr. Domscheit-Berg, including internal communications and over 3000 unpublished, private whistleblower communications to WikiLeaks. Mr. Domscheit-Berg has repeatedly attempted to blackmail WikiLeaks by threatening to make available, to forces that oppose WikiLeaks, these private communications and to which Mr. Domscheit-Berg is not a party. He has stated he will commit this action, should WikiLeaks move to charge him with sabotage or theft. Mr. Domscheit-Berg has refused to return the various materials he has stolen, saying he needs them, solely, to carry out this threat. Mr. Domscheit-Berg has already, secretly, and with malicious intent, disclosed portions of the private communications content to other parties, to the harm of WikiLeaks.

The negotiations have now been terminated by the mediator, Andy Müller-Maguhn, who has stated that he doubts Mr. Domscheit-Berg's integrity and claimed willingness to return the material and that under those circumstances Müller-Maguhn cannot meaningfully continue to mediate. In response, Mr. Domscheit-Berg has stated that he has, or is about to, destroy thousands of unpublished whistleblowers disclosures sent to WikiLeaks. The material is irreplaceable and includes substantial information on many issues of public importance, human rights abuses, mass telecommunications interception, banking and the planning of dozens of neo-nazi groups. Our sources have in some cases risked their lives or freedom attempting to convey these disclosures to WikiLeaks and to the public.

As a matter of policy and implementation WikiLeaks does not collect or retain source identifying information, so fortunately, source identities for this material are not significantly at risk.

WikiLeaks has only made one prior formal statement regarding Mr. Domscheit-Berg, which we issued in February and repeat here:

WikiLeaks has been taking legal action against former employee, Daniel Domscheit-Berg who was suspended from the organization 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 organization. The former WikiLeaks staffer admits to having damaged the sites 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 organization´s need to focus its resources on publication and defense.

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 co-founder and nor was there any contact with him during the founding years. He did not even have an email address with the organization until 2008 (we launched in December 2006). He cannot program and wrote not a single program for the organization, at any time.

Domscheit-Berg was never an architect for the organization, 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.

In order to provide an environment which would encourage Mr. Domscheit-Berg to return what he has stolen and not to use it for malicious purposes, we have made no further statements until today.

This diplomatic silence has been difficult for us, and, is perhaps a warning lesson about secret diplomacy. While we have been silent in order to maximize the chances of regaining the material that was entrusted to us, Mr. Domscheit-Berg has issued dozens of legally harmful falsehoods including during our ongoing legal conflict with the Pentagon, during the imprisonment and investigation of two alleged sources, Bradley Manning and Rudolf Elmer and during the imprisonment and extradition hearings of our founder Julian Assange.

Mr. Manning is imprisoned pending trial, Mr. Assange is under house arrest pending extradition. Over 100 WikiLeaks supporters have been arrested or raided by the FBI, Scotland Yard and other police or intelligence services. Publicly declared task forces into WikiLeaks over the last year include the Pentagon (120 personnel), the State Department, the FBI, the US Department of Justice and the CIA. Concurrently, a "secret" Grand Jury in Washington (Alexandria) has been considering whether to indict Julian Assange with espionage as a result of Wikileaks' publishing.

Mr. Domscheit-Berg has acted dishonestly, he has admitted to stealing WikiLeaks property, and has admitted to the deliberate sabotage of Wikileaks’ operations, impeding it from carrying out the will of its sources. He has lied, constantly, and flagrantly, to the public, to us, to our lawyers, and to the mediator, Andy Müller-Maguhn.

We are making this public statement in a final attempt to make Mr. Domscheit-Berg return the data he has stolen, before he destroys it. This material was entrusted to WikiLeaks specifically by our sources, who often go to significant risks to bring us materials under the basis that we will bring their revelations to the public and defend them from censorship. Every day that passes compromises the will of these sources and the efforts they have undertaken.

Mr. Domscheit-Berg has illegitimately taken this data along with Wikileaks’ secure online submissions system, funds and internal documentation. He has sabotaged years of work, none of which was his own. We have had to recreate this work under difficult circumstances. This rebuilding comes at a significant cost to Wikileaks, which is under an unlawful Washington instigated financial blockade enforced by the big US financial companies. This cost is ultimately borne by the public, who fight to keep our operations afloat with contributions of twenty dollars a month or less.

2011-08-20 WikiLeaks: Lula and Ahmadinejad’s Delicate Dance

Authored by Nikolas Kozloff

From the Monroe Doctrine, which was aimed at curbing the encroachments of European powers in the nineteenth century, to Cold War foreign policy, designed to forestall the geopolitical machinations of the Soviet Union in the twentieth century, Washington has stopped at nothing in its bid to maintain power and prestige within its own regional "back yard" of Latin America. But with all of those rivalries now a relic of the past, the U.S. is moving on to the next threat to its own hegemony: Iran. That, at least, is the impression I got from reading diplomatic cables which were recently released by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks.

For Washington, a great concern was that Iran might gain a strategic foothold in South America, recruiting key allies such as Brazil. Much to the chagrin of the Americans, Brazil under former president Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva sought to carve out a more independent foreign policy which even embraced the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. By extending cooperation to Iran, Lula aimed to increase trade and boost collaboration on biotechnology and agriculture. In a surprising development, Lula even urged the west to drop its threats of punishment over Iran's nuclear program, a move which proved very reassuring to the politically isolated Ahmadinejad.

Throughout the Bush and Obama administrations, U.S. officials in Brasilia sought to glean more information about this budding relationship, sound out disaffected politicians, and express displeasure about growing diplomatic ties between Teheran and Brasilia when need be. Key in this effort was U.S. ambassador in Brasilia Clifford Sobel, who pressured the Brazilian Ministry of Energy to cut its burgeoning ties to Iran. Speaking to government officials, Sobel expressed deep concern over Brazilian state energy company Petrobras, which had been considering plans to invest in the Iranian oil and gas sector, located in the Caspian Sea.

The Petrobras Imbroglio

WikiLeaks correspondence reveals Brazilian diplomats as walking a very fine tight rope, striking out on the one hand toward rogue nations like Iran but on the other hand very keen on placating the Bush administration and staying within Washington's good graces. Responding to Sobel, the Brazilians argued that if they did not invest in Iran then the Chinese would certainly beat them when it came time to develop deep water exploration and production. However, the Brazilians also "acknowledged the seriousness of the issue [Brazilian-Iranian energy ties] to the international community and, although they did not say Petrobras would halt its... activities in Iran, they did make it clear that they understand the sensitivity of the political moment."

In a further effort to shore up energy ties, Brazilian under Secretary for Political Affairs Roberto Jaguaribe met with Iranian Vice Foreign Minister Alireza Sheikh Attar some time later. "In particular," U.S. diplomats noted, "Iran was fishing for increased Petrobras investment, although the Iranians seem to be growing impatient with Petrobras' unresponsiveness." Concerned about the situation, the Americans again pressed Brasilia to clarify. Petrobras would not be bullied into any rash decisions by Teheran, government authorities stressed, and the company was unlikely to increase its stake in Iran in the near term. "Indications that Petrobras is winding down its operations in Iran is a positive sign," noted Sobel, but the sanguine diplomat was quick to add that Brazil was "playing it both ways" with Washington and Teheran.

In late 2008, Sobel was still pleased that Brazil was "trying to assuage our concerns" on Iran. Nevertheless, the ambassador had grown concerned, writing the State Department that "we will need to intensify our dialogue...if we hope to sway the government of Brazil that this is not the moment for increased engagement with Tehran." Confiding in the Americans, Brazilian officials claimed that their country was "under tremendous pressure from increase Petrobras investment." Though Brazilian officials continued to stress that Petrobras was not considering any further investments in Iran, they also believed there was much "trade to be done between the two countries."

At the Rio Defense Fair

In the realm of defense, too, U.S. diplomats were eager to head off any growing ties between Brasilia and Teheran. In April, 2007 the Americans received worrying reports about Iranian participation at a Latin American Air and Defense show to be held in Rio de Janeiro, which had been organized by a U.K.-based firm. When he found an Iranian stand at the event, which stood in violation of United Nations Security Council strictures, an organizer grew alarmed and immediately contacted the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also known as Itamaraty.

The Brazilians claimed they were unaware of the Iranian presence at the show, and would take steps to shut down the Iranian stand. In Teheran, meanwhile, the Brazilian ambassador was dressed down by the Iranians who vigorously protested the treatment. Why had they been invited to the show and then subsequently shut down, the Iranians wanted to know? Defensively, the Brazilian ambassador countered that the invitation had been issued well before the issuing of United Nations Security Council measures.

It would seem that the Brazilians were acting in good faith and in accordance with international law, but both Britain and the U.S. were still unsure where the Lula government stood. When asked by the British if they would act to seize any assets belonging to the Iranian Defense Industries, Lula officials explained that no such interests existed in Brazil. For their part, the Americans were a bit mystified about Brazilian intentions and wondered whether the authorities actually ordered the closing of the Iranian stand or merely "stood back" and left the closing of the booth to the show's UK-based organizing firm.

U.S. concern over defense-related matters continued well into the Obama era, as evidenced by Hillary Clinton's secret cable to the American Embassy in Brasilia. The new Secretary of State requested that diplomats alert the Lula government to a possible effort by the Iranian firm Machine Sazi Tabriz to acquire machine tools from a Brazilian company called Mello S.A. Maquinas e Equipamentos. Sazi Tabriz, Clinton explained, was the largest manufacturer of machine tools in Iran and had provided tools to the Islamic Republic's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Brazilian export of machine tools to the company, Clinton elaborated, could therefore be diverted to Iran's weapons programs.

Senator Fortes Sounds the Alarm

Concerned over Iranian-Brazilian ties, U.S. diplomats conferred with dissident politicians opposed to Lula's more independent foreign policy. In Brasilia, a "handful" of legislators had started to worry about the independent trajectory of Lula's foreign policy. One of those politicians, opposition Senator Heraclito Fortes of the Democrats Party, breathlessly called the U.S. ambassador in late 2007. Fortes requested an urgent meeting "to raise a matter he could not discuss on the telephone." As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations and National Defense committees, he apparently saw himself as the last bastion of hope against Lula's more assertive trajectory on the world stage. Sitting down with the ambassador and other embassy staff, including the assistant U.S. army attaché no less, the Brazilian painted an alarmist picture, remarking that he was "truly concerned" about Iranian, Venezuelan and Russian collaboration in the South American theater, including potential financing of arms sales.

According to Fortes, presidential foreign policy advisor Marco Aurelio García had recommended that Ahmadinejad himself visit Brazil, and therefore the U.S. government should become engaged "before it is too late." Growing even more heated and agitated, Fortes accused the Americans of being "indifferent" to what was happening in the region. "You are children," Fortes declared to the startled Americans. "You ignore a problem until it is well along and then it is too late." In order to counteract Iran, Fortes recommended increased U.S. arms manufacturing partnerships with Brazil.

Internal Dissent on Controversial Policy

Fortes continued to seek out American counsel, as evidenced by a further cable dated from April, 2008. This time the Brazilian sounded the alarm bell about Ali Reza Sheikh Attar, who had traveled to Brasilia in hopes of drumming up support for an anti-U.S. bloc in South America. According to Fortes, the Iranian diplomat complained about UN pressure on Iran's nuclear program, and went so far as to claim that after the Olympics, China would purposefully exert pressure on the American dollar by selling off its U.S. investments. Reportedly, Attar told Fortes that these Chinese actions would "be more powerful than an atomic bomb."

On the whole, Fortes declared, it was unlikely that Brazil would ever join in any anti-U.S. crusade in South America, but the politician was concerned about certain figures within the Lula circle including presidential adviser García who was reportedly receptive to Iranian overtures. Itamaraty meanwhile seemed intent on pursuing a "correct" relationship with Iran, and unfortunately there was little that Congress could do to stop such high level diplomacy, save stalling ambassadorial appointments or appealing to public opinion.

Other cables hint at further dissension within the ranks. According to U.S. diplomats, Lula and Itamaraty "were getting pressured on a near-daily basis by Brazilian religious and ethnic minority groups opposed to the Iranian government's activities." Indeed, Brazilian Jews had lobbied high up officials within Lula's Workers' Party, advising the president not to meet with Ahmadinejad. In addition, Brazilian Baha'is and Syrian-Lebanese Christians who had become alarmed by Iranian fundamentalism registered their concerns on a "more ad hoc basis."

Attempt to Reassure U.S. Diplomats

Eager to exploit internal tensions over Brazil's controversial Iran policy, U.S. diplomats continued to press Lula officials on the growing number of meetings between the two countries. "Iran seems to be placing a significant number of eggs in the Brazil basket as part of its strategy for enhancing relations with Latin America," ambassador Sobel noted, "as indicated by the bilateral meetings, the outreach to congress, and the push for a presidential meeting." When pressed by the U.S., Brasilia authorities admitted to the exchanges but claimed that "Iran's interest in Brazil does not begin to approach the level of Iranian links with Venezuela."

Tensions continued into early 2008, when the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia pressed officials to clarify high level diplomacy reaching out to Ahmadinejad. The Americans had grown concerned, noting that Brazil "often tilted uncomfortably towards the anti-U.S. view of things in the Middle East." Again, Lula officials were defensive, claiming that Middle East diplomacy was "necessary to balance Brazil's high-level engagement with the Arab countries." In another tack, the Brazilians stated that it was Iran, and not Brazil, which was pressing most for greater political and economic engagement.

Brasilia officials declared that they were skittish about a potential Lula-Ahmadinejad meeting, and "they were trying to stall such an encounter but that sooner or later they would run out of pretexts and a meeting would become inevitable." Perhaps, American diplomats noted, the Lula government realized that "evenhandedness [was] critical to remain a credible player." By avoiding a presidential meeting with Ahmadinejad, Brazil seemed to be sending a "positive signal that [it] understands its responsibility as a self-proclaimed neutral player."

Turning the discussion to Iran's wider role in South America, the Brazilians sought to appease U.S. concerns. "Bolivia," they noted, "has nothing to offer Iran, commercially or politically." Even the Iranian-Venezuelan alliance, they continued, had "no substance." Overall, the Brazilians downplayed Ahmadinejad's influence, declaring that the Iranian leader, like Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, was "more bluster than anything."

Sobel's Strategy

Despite such reassurances, Sobel remained unconvinced and, in July, 2008 wrote his superiors that Brazil's continued focus on the Middle East was "worrisome." Overall, the diplomat added, Brazil's "almost obsessive interest in pursuing 'balanced' relations tends to come at our expense, leading the government of Brazil to stay neutral on such issues as Iranian support of Hizballah, Iranian activities in Iraq, and Tehran's flouting of United Nations Security Council resolutions, while remaining blind to aggressive Iranian moves in the region."

In Sobel's view, it was unlikely that the U.S. could persuade Brasilia "to take an approach fully in step with ours." Nevertheless, he added, "it is critical to engage the government of Brazil both to ensure they have a complete understanding of U.S. policy and concerns in the region, and to demonstrate that we take Brazil's leadership aspirations seriously." Accordingly, Sobel urged Washington to send high level authorities "to come to Brasilia for detailed discussions with Brazilian government officials, members of Congress, and, where appropriate, press, regarding Iran nuclear proliferation, support for terrorism."

Sobel then detailed the planned charm offensive. In addition to Fortes, a couple of other Senators had expressed concern with Lula's foreign policy, and the U.S. should therefore "take advantage" of this "window opening up to bridge the gap in our Middle East dialogue." Washington should "seize the opportunity to try to steer Brazil away from its usual role of sideline sniper and make an attempt to recruit Brazil into a helpful or at least truly neutral role."

Obama Officials: Whose Side is Brazil On?

Sideline sniper or genuine ally? That seems to be the question on many U.S. policymakers' minds, including newly appointed Secretary of State Clinton, who sent a detailed questionnaire to subordinates seeking more information on Iran's precise role in South America. In particular, Clinton wanted to know what governments in the wider region sought from Iran, and how they were catering to the desires of the Islamic Republic. In addition, Clinton wanted to know, were Latin American governments concerned about Iran's ties to terrorism? If WikiLeaks cables are any indication, the Americans were perplexed by Iran's political offensive in the region, and had precious little intelligence about the Islamic Republic's diplomatic missions or wider strategic intentions.

Sensing American disquiet, the Brazilians again sought to reassure Washington shortly after Obama's inauguration. Speaking to U.S. diplomats, Lula officials said they had tried their utmost to strike a conciliatory tone with Ahmadinejad, urging the Iranians to "respond positively" to Obama's more multi-faceted approach to foreign affairs. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Roberto Jaguaribe then heaped praise on Obama for striking the "right signal" and "right chords" to the Iranians.

U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Lisa Kubiske, however, was unconvinced by Brazil's double game. In late 2009, she wrote Washington worriedly that Ahmadinejad would likely travel to Brasilia and sign bilateral agreements. Lula and his inner circle of advisors, however, did "not appear to fully grasp the negative feedback that will be created by the Iran visit." Kubiske seems to have believed that Brazil was out of its depth and had only a "small number of experts on the Middle East in Itamaraty." As it punched above its weight, carrying out a "frenzied effort" to reach out to many players in the Middle East, Brazil risked committing "missteps and misunderstandings." Without a clear sense of Brazilian loyalties, Kubiske reiterated the Embassy's earlier request to send Washington Middle East experts to Brasilia for a set of thorough briefings.

WikiLeaks documents leave off in early 2010, but one can be sure that American puzzlement over Brazil continues today. Though Lula's successor Dilma Rousseff has been less of a maverick in foreign affairs than her predecessor, Brazil is certainly a rising power on the world stage and the country will likely throw its weight around, not always to the liking of Washington which expects its regional partners to stay in line and not depart from the age old script.

Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left and No Rain in the Amazon: How South America's Climate Affects the Entire Planet. Visit his website,

2011-08-21 Former WikiLeaks spokesman destroyed unreleased files

Rough translation, apologies. Original at Der Spiegel

Former Wikileaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg claims to have destroyed more than 3,500 unpublished files that had been sent from unknown informants and are now apparently lost irrevocably. These are documents which were stored until the late summer of 2010 on the Wikileaks server and were taken by a group including Domscheit-Berg upon their leaving the organization. Domscheit-Berg has "in the last days shredded" the files "to ensure that the sources are not compromised," said Domscheit-Berg. He said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could not guarantee a safe handling of the material. In the data base was among other things, the so-called "no-fly list" of the U.S. government, on which the names of suspects were listed, which are prohibited from entering an aircraft. Assange said the material would also have insider information from 20 right-wing organizations. Domscheit-Berg would not confirm that. Assange had been asking him to return the data since early this year.

Previous WL Central coverage here.

2011-08-21 Massive anti-corruption movement grows in #India

Millions of Indians pour out into the streets as arrest of 74-year old anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare and 2,600 supporters backfires.

Attempts by the Indian government to crack down on a budding anti-corruption movement in the country have backfired. After Tuesday’s arrest of some 2,600 protesters, including the high-profile anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare, millions of Indians poured out into the streets to fight for a strong anti-corruption law.

The 74-year old Hazare, whose struggle is deeply inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, had wanted to stage an indefinite hunger strike in a park in New Delhi, vowing to “fast until death” unless the government accepted the movement’s demand to create an independent anti-corruption agency with sweeping powers, a so-called Lokpal, or ombudsman.

Hazare (bio), a decorated former army officer who after a near-death experience at the age of 26 decided to dedicate his life to humanity, has been fighting against the endemic corruption in India’s political establishment for years. Earlier this year, he fasted and managed to force the government into including his movement in the drafting of a new anti-corruption bill. Eventually, the proposed bill ended up being charade, covering less than 0.5% of India’s officials.

According to the best-selling Indian writer Chetan Baghat:

[Hazare's] non-violent yet aggressive, Gandhi-like method of protest, together with his anti-corruption cause, struck a chord with Indians. Thousands of non-government organisations fight for social causes every day in India, but none has ever achieved this kind of support. From rickshaw drivers to software engineers, from businessmen to spiritual leaders, people from all walks of life back Anna. So do I.

In a serious lapse of judgment, the government arrested Anna from his home on the morning of 16 August. News spread, and the nation exploded on to the streets. By evening, the government wanted to release him. In a masterstroke, Anna refused to come out of jail, and continued his fast there. The country is in a frenzy, and the government is in a fix.

Indeed, Mohan Guruswamy, the founder of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, said that “what you are seeing on the street is a middle-class rebellion.” Channel 4 even called the country’s anti-corruption protests a ‘new consciousness’, quoting one man as saying that ”there is a new generation with a global consciousness of what is happening.”

As the New York Times reported:

Fueled by obsessive coverage on India’s all-news television networks, [Hazare's] jailhouse protest had clearly captured the imagination of the country, and appeared to back government leaders into a political corner. Elsewhere in India, protests were held in major cities, as well as in villages and across many states.

Corruption is a source of growing public anger and frustration in India, as well as a yoke threatening to drag down the national coalition government led by the Indian National Congress Party. Mired in scandals for months, Congress Party leaders have attempted to convince the public that they are cracking down on corruption, yet public skepticism remains high.

As the Indian journalist Seema Sengupta wrote:

Once conferred with the third-highest civilian honour of the land, he has now been arrested and is facing the wrath of the ruling Congress party for his effort to retrieve Gandhi’s legacy of nonviolence at a time when India is struggling to fetter the home-bred rebellions shattering the nation’s tranquillity.

Short-changed by the ruling establishment, India’s modern-day Gandhi threatened a fast unto death. The public, livid at the government’s pernicious attempt to defame a person who has appropriated the most potent symbol of nationalism in Indian history took to the streets in vast numbers. Irked by administrative apathy towards the widespread abuse of authority, people on the street are now desperate to unearth the reason for a ruthless assault on civil liberties. What prompted this sudden high-handedness? Who is behind the orchestrated smear campaign against the anti-corruption activists?

Hazare and his supporters have become a sting in the side of the Indian establishment. A spokesman for the ruling Congress party claimed that Hazare was surrounded by “armchair fascists, overground Maoists, closet anarchists”. As the New York Times reported:

His incarceration has been a major political crisis forIndia’s national government, especially after Mr. Hazare rejected a government offer to release him on Tuesday night. He refused because the release was contingent on his agreement to limit the scale and length of his hunger strike, terms he declined to accept. With pressure mounting, a deal was reached early Thursday morning under which Mr. Hazare agreed to limit his protest to 15 days and the police lifted any restrictions on the size of his crowd.

The Associated Press quoted Shanti Bhushan, a former government minister who is now helping to lead the protests, as saying that “it is for the first time that the people of this country are feeling empowered. They are feeling that we are no longer slaves. We are citizens of a free country. Our voice carries importance.”

Another man, a simple 47-year old milk salesman who had commuted from the suburbs with 15 others to join the protests, echoed Bhushan’s conclusions. “Everybody is fed up with corruption,” he said. “Here, I see some rays of hope. By coming here, I want to shake the system. Maybe something positive will come out of this.”

Addendum, via NYT: Having trumped a government effort to defuse his anticorruption movement, the protest leader Anna Hazare announced that he would leave a city jail on Friday and begin a mass demonstration and hunger strike at a public ground in the national capital.

2011-08-21 The global economy is having a heart attack

Fears of financial Armageddon proliferate as the global economy stutters, investors abandon hope and the euro teeters on the brink of collapse.

“This was the week that investors abandoned all hope,” the Financial Times dramatically reported on Friday. “Fears of a new credit crunch caused share prices to plummet on both sides of the Atlantic,” the Guardian wrote, ”as fragile banks struggle to raise funds in financial markets.” As a result, the shares of some of Europe’s largest banks fell to their lowest point in two years, while those of US banks fell back to levels unseen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

US borrowing costs fell below 2 percent “for the first time in at least 60 years,” as investors, wary of stagnating global growth and a renewed financial meltdown, scurried into traditional safe havens like gold, Swiss francs and treasuries. “There is a serious concern that you are going to get recession sooner or later,” said Jim Reid, credit strategist at Deutsche Bank. “It is a phenomenal period in history.”

The bloodbath in financial markets prompted Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman to warn: “OK, seriously: things are looking really terrible,” and Nouriel Roubini, another leading economist — actually one of the few to have correctly predicted the financial meltdown of 2007-’08 — to Tweet: “when banks & deposits arent safe & govs are bankrupt time to buy canned food, spam, guns, ammo, gold bars & rush to your mountain log cabin.”

“Make no mistake,” Larry Elliot, the Guardian‘s economics editor sternly concluded, “something serious is going on here.” As Sal Catrini, managing director for equities at Cantor Fitzgerald, put it: “the market is in meltdown mode; the data continues to stink. I don’t know that there’s much more to be said.” Indeed, this week’s data was nothing short of shocking. While eurozone growth ground to a halt, recent US figures showed a drastic decline in manufacturing output.

“Tension on trading floors is palpable,” the New York Times reported, “especially for the usually relaxed month of August.” Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank, lamented that ”every time the economy got the sniffles, we had the Federal Reserve standing by with tissues. This time around, I think the box is empty, and we’re going to have to go through this alone.”

After major swings in markets the week before, referred to by the New York Times as “one of the most harrowing stretches in Wall Street history,” the start of the past week seemed to bring back some stability. But the respite was short-lived, and stock markets quickly resumed the dramatic swings they started in the wake of Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the United States credit rating. As the Wall Street Journal reported:

Among investors, anxiety has been intensifying over the soundness of European banks despite repeated efforts to contain the sovereign debt crisis. The latest fears flared up after an unspecified lender tapped an emergency borrowing program set up by the European Central Bank to ensure that firms had ample funds in dollars.

As Reuters observed in an analysis, “watching the markets rise and fall like giant ocean swells has been an unnerving experience.” Indeed, “one might say Wall Street is a bipolar market that veers from despair to euphoria with each passing news headline.” This Thursday, the despair was unleashed by bad growth figures and a headline about an unknown European bank, apparently incapable of borrowing directly from a US bank, requested $500bn from the ECB.

Observing this bipolar behavior of financial markets (the New York Times reported that “stocks have zig-zagged to an extent that has not been seen for years”), I can’t help being reminded of Robert Wade, my Professor at the London School of Economics. In one of our first classes, he held up a graph from the Financial Times, showing the wildly gyrating Dow Jones index. ”This,” he dryly said, “is what it looks like when the global economy has a heart attack.”

Just two weeks before, Lehman Brothers had collapsed, marking the single largest bankruptcy filing in US history and the start of the largest financial crash and worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. And, as David Blanchflower, economics editor of the New Statesman correctly noted, ”what we are witnessing now could be worse even than what followed the fall of Lehman Brothers. These are extremely worrying days.”

2011-08-21 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.

>> The leader of India’s BJP party, L.K. Advani, demands that the Manmohan Singh government quit voluntarily and defends the authenticity of the information published by WikiLeaks.

>> A Pública reports on diplomatic cable revealing Bush administration's views on Brazil’s Ministry of External Relations, then headed by Celso Amorim, as anti-american.
During a meeting in 2005, U.S. Ambassador John Danilovich showed himself disappointed by Amorim’s refusal to see Hugo Chavez as threat.

>> Daniel Domscheit-Berg claims to have destroyed a cache of more than 3.000 unreleased submissions he took from WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks responded to these allegations with two statements, attributed to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, where it is suggested Daniel Domscheit-Berg and his wife Anke maintained contact with the FBI to whom they provided ‘helpful’ information.
Today, WikiLeaks specified the content of some of the destroyed documents in a series of tweets:

We can confirm that the DDB claimed destroyed data included a copy of the entire US no-fly list.

(…) five gigabytes from the Bank of America.
(…) the internals of around 20 neo-Nazi organizations.
(…) US intercept arrangements for over a hundred internet companies.
(…) more than 60,000 emails from the NPD - German far right group.

>> The WikiLeaks cables on Turkey: a 20/20 tunnel vision:

The Wikileaks cables on Turkey reveal a surprising paradox. U.S. diplomats present themselves as highly-informed, perspicacious observers of Turkey with more insight than one would expect into the Islamist complexes and prejudices of Turkey’s governing AKP, the role of the Gulen movement in Turkey, the political talent and personality of Prime Minister Erdogan, his increasing isolation from competent advisors, and the central problems that characterize AKP governance: lack of technocratic skill, corruption, and influence-peddling. Yet time and again, these diplomats fail to draw from these observations the obvious conclusion: This represents a risk to Turkey, the United States, and its regional interests.

2011-08-23 Press Release | #usdor call to action & planned protests #Sept17 for #occupywallstreet #ows


American institutions and government have been captured by oligarchs and kleptocrats, who systematically set about stealing and looting what was once a great nation.

America can once again be a great nation, but we must take it back. NOBODY will do this for us. It will not be handled back to us by bought 'representatives'.

Wall Street is a huge contributor to the political machine, which in turns enables Wall Street's corporate plunder of our nation. Both the Democratic and Republican parties set the bankster agenda because of the MONEY. When we speak of 'taking the MONEY out of politics', we have no choice but to focus on the sources of the MONEY.

As a critical FIRST STEP, we call on Citizens to take the lead. Bring your friends and neighbors together to non-violently protest the tyranny of kleptocrats on Sept 17, 2011 (#Sept17).

We at DO NOT tolerate violence of any kind. US Day of Rage NYC, San Francisco, and Los Angeles stand is solidarity with each others' actions and endorse the planned actions of the NYC Assembly to #occupywallstreet on #Sept17.

  • We will support and endorse the planned action of a NON-VIOLENT occupation of the financial district by the free and independent assembly of people, which is currently being planned by the NYC Assembly. We will post their website and plans as soon as they are live. The next assembly meeting is Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 5pm in Tompkins Square Park. Come down. Everyone is welcome.

    We will continue to support them in the mean time by attending meetings, live tweeting meetings, and participating in the action to #occupywallstreet. Please keep in mind that tactics and logistics for this action are still being planned, and that 'Wall Street" is a term for the financial district of New York City.

  • US Day of Rage ( will also plan one day non violent protests and actions against major banks on Sept 17, 2011 in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York (and more as they become official).

    We do this in order to enable working people and parents, or anyone who cannot #occupywallstreet to make their voices heard on Sept 17, 2011. We will post details of our planned actions and a map of major banking institutions in NYC by the end of the week. Hints: All seeing eyes. Monopoly Money. Get out of Jail Free Cards.

  • Regardless of political persuasion or faith, Americans realize that these corporations and banksters feed off our nation, spawning a host of threats to liberty and national security. We need like minded people of all stripes to join us. As Americans we may bang our head on other matters, but on this we totally agree.

    In a democracy: progressives; unions; conservatives; tea party; and unaffiliated Americans can govern and work things out. In a kleptocracy, controlled by the banksters, we cannot. We must stop their influence, their motives, and their tricks, from continuing to destroy our democratic republic, and together we can do it.

    US Day of Rage ( demands that money be removed from the buying of politicians who feed the Wall Street beast. We demand that the resources of our nation no longer be used to coddle and benefit banksters and their minions. We demand that the US Government diligently reign in the parasitic destruction wreaked by Wall Street. We demand that our nation no longer be held hostage to 'too big to fail' banks. We demand that solutions be found that stop the Federal Reserve from stealing our future.


2011-08-23 N-TV: Daniel Domscheit-Berg says he uses WikiLeaks software for Openleaks [UPDATE]

Five days after Daniel Domscheit-Berg claimed to have shredded data he "seized" from Wikileaks, he announced via Heise that he only destroyed the keys to the data, and was working on a report on the matter.

In the meantime, Wikileaks tweeted that these documents contained amongst others 5GB data from the Bank of America, internals of neo-nazi organizations, a copy of the US no fly list, 60,000 e mails from German far right party NDP, US intercept arrangements and videos of a major US atrocity in Afghanistan.

Wikileaks also reacted with an official statement, suggesting that Domscheit-Berg has contacts to US law enforcement and the secret service. Anke Domscheit-Berg, his wife, has denied having any such contacts.

According to N-TV Domscheit-Berg today confirmed that he uses the Wikileaks submission software, which he took along with the leaked documents, for his own Openleaks project.

As the plot thickens, we are left wondering how to interpret the increasingly erratic behaviour of Domscheit-Berg, who keeps contradicting himself and has now repeatedly stated that he took things which did not belong to him.

To an observer, the most puzzling aspect of this story is the timing of the claimed destruction of the data. After eleven months of negotiations, Domscheit-Berg all of a sudden decided to take action and "shred" the data. This step coincided with two developments, the expulsion from the Chaos Computer Club, and the launch of Openleaks. But which of these events triggered his decision, and why?

Perhaps the most worrying question is whether Domscheit-Berg did in fact destroy all copies of the documents. A recent leak of 60,000 NPD e mails to Spiegel and other media appears to be unrelated and nothing but a coincidence, as these documents date from March 2010 to January 2011, long after Domscheit-Berg had left.


German public TV wrote in February 2011 that they obtained 60,000 NPD e mails, but that these are not identical with the 37,000 e mails Wikileaks had announced to publish. Clearly, either Tagesschau or Wikileaks are mistaken about the numbers.

Established and well regarded conservative newspaper FAZ mistakenly identifies the deleted e mails with those that were passed on to a number of news outlets (but apparently not to them).

2011-08-23 Outraged start camping in Berlin's major square in #Germany #Alex11


Berlin has its own Outraged camp: a loose network of politically critical people started occupying the city's main square, Alexanderplatz, since Saturday night, following the example of north-African and Spanish revolutions. After the nightly event "aCAMPada Berlin goes aCAMParty" it was decided to camp out in order "to demonstrate against various political events, that aren't compatible with the free democratic basic order of the Federal Republic of Germany anymore", according to a local newspaper. Some of these incidences are "the manifested intention of the Merkel administration to establish a European economic government, the participation of the federal government in theNATO war against Libya and the feared military intervention in Syria. We see in all of these developments of the last days an acute danger for peace and democracy". The motivations of the outraged of Berlin were illustrated in a letter some of them sent to theglobal community last Sunday.

The camp has gathered from 50 to 100 people, actively taking part in the various assemblies and creative projects, gaining active support from different local groups and citizen initiatives. According to protesters in the square, the number of people is increasing each day. The occupation of Alexanderplatz is registered as a demonstration, but police has threatened the participating groups of the direct democracy project with eviction several times. The movement, which considers itself an open forum and public platform, resists, but faces intensive harassment from police, who do not allow tents on the square over night, putting up banners, sitting and eating at tables, or sleeping, basically forcing the protesters to “stand” their ground, sleeping upright.

Germany, having been said to be less affected by the international economic crisis and with their citizens remaining rather silent and passive, is experiencing a wave of enthusiasm. Analyzing the countless reactions and articles on Twitter,Facebook and blogs, the action is receiving immense feedback from people all over the country, many directing themselves towards the capital. The camp is expecting further reinforcement on the weekend. Even so, the activists are desperately calling for people to “pack their tents” and come down to Alexanderplatz.

ACAMPada Berlin blogs and sites:

Livestream from Alexanderplatz:

Videos from Alexanderplatz:

Wiki-link for organisation and discussion of aCAMPadaBerlin:

Pad for organisation and discussion of aCAMPadaBerlin:

Facebook contact:

2011-08-23 The Digital Vandal: Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s War Against Transparency

The transparency movement has many vocal proponents. A recent event in the Wikileaks sagas proves that those who could be in the most effective position to strengthen it are only content to give it lip service.

Take Daniel Domscheit-Berg, for example. A former Wikileaks staffer, Domscheit-Berg had a very public and bitter falling-out with Wikileaks editor Julian Assange in September 2010 and has since cultivated the public role of pragmatist pitted against Assange’s flinty eccentric in a battle of archetypes.

Soon after his dismissal, Domscheit-Berg made it a personal signature to tirelessly use every publicity opportunity to disparage his former employer. He announced he would be starting a new rival whistleblower website – Openleaks – a supposedly sensible and measured alternative to his previous gig. A gossip-heavy and factually inconsistent book followed – Inside Wikileaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website, filled with the mundane details of Assange’s eating habits and dress sense. Additional details on Domscheit-Berg’s predilection for unappetizing quasi-meat dishes and general whining helped feed the internet meme machine for several months.

Nonetheless, some campaigners for transparency held their tongues amidst all this acrimony, consoling each other with Domscheit-Berg’s promise to launch Openleaks, which in theory could advance the cause for transparency as a complement to Wikileaks, which is perennially defending itself from legal and political attacks.

There was hope that the launch of Openleaks would relegate the emphasis on the interpersonal sniping to a mere footnote of history and provide a valuable addition to the effort to increase transparency amongst powerful organisations.

Well, there goes that hope.

What has transpired over the last week has vindicated those who see Domscheit-Berg’s behavior as self-serving rather than merely bullish for the sake of a cause. On August 21 it was reported in German weekly Der Spiegel that Domscheit-Berg had deleted a cache of unpublished material that was originally leaked to Wikileaks.

How did this material end up in Domscheit-Berg’s sole custody?

The answer to that question wavered between two poles of competing narratives in the preceding months – thanks to Domscheit-Berg’s inconsistent public statements. It is now finally confirmed that he had in fact helped himself to it after leaving the organisation in September 2010. (There is still a war of words over whether he was fired or quit voluntarily).

The most recent chapter of this scandal unfolded when the influential German hacker collective, Chaos Computer Club (CCC) announced it would revoke Domscheit-Berg’s membership on the basis of his furtive use of the CCC’s reputation as a free vehicle to lend Openleaks some easy credibility.

Domscheit-Berg had invited hackers assembled at this year’s annual CCC Summer Camp to conduct a ‘strength-test’ – asking programming wizards to aim their best shot at the Openleaks website in order to test its technical robustness and security – a key selling point for an online whistleblower platform – thereby obtaining a CCC ‘seal of approval’.

CCC board member Andy Müller-Maguhn, in an interview with Der Spiegel on August 15, revealed that the real underlying reason for Domscheit-Berg’s ejection from the CCC was based on his refusal to return the stolen documents to Wikileaks. Müller-Maguhn had been acting as mediator between Domscheit-Berg and Wikileaks to resolve the dispute. Evidently, this mediation process failed spectacularly. According to Müller-Maguhn, Assange confirmed that the plunder included “about 3,000 submissions, some of them with several hundred documents [per submission].”

There was some initial confusion as to whether there was actually a computer hard drive in Domscheit-Berg’s possession, or whether he only held the encryption passphrases (‘keys’) required to translate the data from encrypted code into plain-text that anyone can read. Holger Stark, reporter for Der Spiegel, reported via Twitter on 19 August that “The only keys 4 the unreleased Wikileaks docs are in the hands of DDB and his partner [Anke Domscheit-Berg]. Why do they destroy it?”

The difference may appear inconsequential at first glance, but as those who are versed in digital cryptography would advise, merely holding the keys to a file does not guarantee complete control of access to that file. Keys can be copied; if it were only the keys that Domscheit-Berg possessed, there was still a chance that other copies would be floating around somewhere.

The next day, Stark clarified this detail for his Twitter audience: “There is no doubt that it exists JUST ONE VERSION of the archive of unreleased Wikileaks material. I spoke to Daniel Domscheit-Berg and he confirmed that.”

On August 21, Der Spiegel went to press with confirmation that the unthinkable had happened – Domscheit-Berg hadn’t destroyed the keys; he’d deleted the entire chest. Over 3,500 files, some of which contained details of the U.S Government’s “no-fly list” (which many U.S dissidents and civil liberties campaigners would be keen to see) as well as information on 20-odd right-wing extremist groups (pertinent material after the Anders Brevik massacre). Domscheit-Berg has not confirmed what was included in the material. In a series of tweets on the evening of August 21 (Australian Eastern time), Wikileaks confirmed the destroyed material not only included the aforementioned documents, but also “US intercept arrangements for over a hundred internet companies”, “more than 60,000 emails from the NPD [the far-right German National Democratic Party]”, and “five gigabytes from the Bank of America.”

Tellingly, Domscheit-Berg had told Stern magazine earlier this year that the Bank of America material was outdated and “completely unspectacular” (as reported by Reuters in February). So unspectacular, according to his tastes, that it didn’t warrant anyone else seeing it.

Clues had also been dropped previously about the juncture from when these leaked documents originated. In February 2011, Domscheit-Berg told Wired that “the hijacked leaks only include those submitted since the time the system came back online in July following an outage, and the time it went down permanently.” Wikileaks, in a public statement issued via Twitter, alleges that the destroyed material originates from submissions received between January 2010 and August 2010.

So what exactly would motivate someone who sees himself as a freedom of information activist to actively suppress information by deleting it forever? Despite the vast amounts of criticism and opposition that Julian Assange has invoked whilst pursuing his work, some justified and some unjustified, to date there is no known instance of Assange permanently destroying information that has been submitted to him.

Destroying documents is hardly good PR for a transparency activist.

This deletion of data is not the only act of sabotage instigated by Domscheit-Berg against Wikileaks. At various intervals since September 2010 Domscheit-Berg had stated that that he had immobilized Wikileaks’ online submission platform – dismantling the site’s secure page where documents can be anonymously submitted – because he deemed Assange irresponsible and reckless with the material he handled. Why? “Children shouldn’t play with guns,” Domscheit-Berg admonished in his book.

In flashes of Machiavellian irony (or sheer idiocy), Domscheit-Berg would go on to blame Wikileaks for its own incapacitation:

”[Domscheit-Berg] said he and his group intend to return the material unused and unpublished, as soon as WikiLeaks can demonstrate the technical ability to keep the data and its sources safe. But WikiLeaks’ internal technical architecture has reverted to a primitive state, with little sign of progress in the months since the group’s departure, Domscheit-Berg said.”

So Domscheit-Berg crippled Wikileaks’ ability to receive new submissions securely, then castigated it for not demonstrating the ability to repair and maintain its own technical infrastructure quickly enough. Yet this twisted logic was lost even on experienced journalists, who either willfully ignored it or didn’t bother doing a Google search – as illustrated by Ravi Somaiya’s February 6 article in the New York Times:

In private, Mr. Assange has told reporters that the spate of defections shut down the complex computer systems WikiLeaks uses to process new information and make it hard for governments and corporations to trace its source. At a January news conference in London, he said that trouble with the site’s “internal mechanisms” had rendered it no longer open “for public business.” He said the site would continue to accept material in other forms, like computer disks.

The omission that it was Domscheit-Berg’s responsibility for this ‘shut down’ is striking in its negligibility. Even more peculiar was Domscheit-Berg’s changing story – as recently as August 10, he declared to der Freitag: “No, I didn’t take any documents from Wikileaks.”

Then there’s Domscheit-Berg’s promise of no sabotage done to Der Spiegel:

SPIEGEL: With a part of the WikiLeaks team now leaving, do your informants need to be concerned about what will happen with the material they submitted?

Schmitt: It is my view that material and money from donors should remain at WikiLeaks, because both were intended explicitly for this project. There are other opinions internally — with our technical people, for example. No matter what, though, we will ensure that a clean transition happens.

Similarly in an interview with CNN, Domscheit-Berg had the temerity to cite Wikileaks’ ‘structural problem’ as the reason for leaving the organization – but failed to mention that this structural problem was due in no small part to his vandalism. Domscheit-Berg’s ever-changing stories should have been recognized as a red flag signaling dubiousness, however latent or undefined. But a mainstream press already irked by Assange’s persona was glad to feed off any criticism they could get the scoop on– particularly from a former insider.

Assuming that Assange’s statements on what the deleted material contained is true, the only fact we can be assured of is that at least some of it deserved to be published. The only responsible assumption to make as a starting point is that whoever leaked those documents to Wikileaks did so with the hope that reform would be enacted somewhere. As Crikey pointed out in June, over 50 media partners around the world are currently in collaboration with Wikileaks – a set-up that ensures source documents are reviewed by journalists with diverse expertise and specific cultural, political and economic knowledge. It can hardly be described as a bunch of children playing with guns.

This collaboration framework would surely have been optimal enough to work on the stolen material, should Domscheit-Berg have deigned to return it. Should any of the material have been found to be of no ‘ethical, political or historical significance’ (to quote Wikileaks’ own guidelines), at least we would know that diligence was applied in the first place, instead of the careless discarding of data that has taken place in a fit of disgruntlement.

All that that remains now is the disquieting knowledge that there was unpublished material that ranged in significance from a local community level to a global level, that has now been permanently suppressed by a self-proclaimed freedom of information activist. This logically aligns Domscheit-Berg with the powerful, corrupt and secretive organisations he supposedly seeks to make transparent. The irony is positively macabre. It is further cemented with Openleaks’ statement on its website:

“From the whistleblower’s point of view, there is no difference between the submission of valid material that is not released, and censorship.”

Also unsettling clue was Domscheit-Berg’s choice of language: that of the nonchalant bureaucrat, advising the original whistleblowers who possibly risked their careers if not their lives to simply ‘re-submit’ the documents, as if they were misplaced faxes sent to an accountant.

Wouldn’t it be remarkably odd to see a mainstream press reporter announce that he or she had leaked material in their possession, only to proclaim that it would never see the light of day, on the basis of a mere personal whim? Who is the final arbiter of the truth? In light of these developments, who in their right mind would entrust Openleaks with sensitive information, knowing that it can be destroyed over a petty vexation?

The recent official statements by Wikileaks give no easy explanation for Domscheit-Berg’s motives either, aside from anecdotal and circumstantial reports that hint at a darkly complex network of cronyism. Characteristically of Assange, the Wikileaks statement is peppered with references to alphabet-soup agencies. Domscheit-Berg need not be married to a Microsoft executive-version of Mata Hari to make his destruction of Wikileaks data any less bizarre.

Fickle words, bruised ego and reckless behavior aside, none of Domscheit-Berg’s exploits over the last 12 months give any assurances that a new horizon is opening up for institutional transparency. The real casualties in this story are the whistleblowers, whose risks were ultimately undertaken in vain.

2011-08-23 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.

10:45 PM WikiLeaks will make 'several important announcements' via twitter.

So far, a confirmation that the claimed Domscheit-Berg destroyed leaks include the videos of a major US atrocity in Afghanistan. Likely referring to footage of the Garani massacre.

09:05 PM The United States attempted to send a group of 22 Uyghur Guantanamo Bay detainees to El Salvador, cables dating from the 2005-2007 period show. The group had been found innocent of terrorist charges. There were at least two resettlement requests to which the Antonio Saca presidency responded negatively.
Additionally, Mario Rivera, an official of El Salvador’s Ministry of External Relations, is cited in one of the cables, on the subject of Guantanamo. According to Rivera the country understood the necessity and respected the right of the U.S. to keep individuals detained in Guantanamo Bay.

06:10 PM Daniel Domscheit-Berg again confirms the destruction of 3500 WikiLeaks submissions, following an statement made yesterday where he claimed to only have destroyed the encryption keys to said material.

In an interview by OWNI journalist Olivier Tesquet, which took place today, Domscheit-Berg minimizes the significance of the destroyed material, claiming only 10-20% of the documents were relevant (‘dignes d’interêt’/‘real documents at all’ in french and english versions of this interview, respectively). He asserts that among the destroyed WikiLeaks source materials there were no documents on Bank of America.

For a better understanding of this matter, do read The Digital Vandal: Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s War Against Transparency, an insightful piece on the development of this complicated situation, ultimately detrimental to the causes of institutional transparency and freedom of information and more importantly, to the whistleblowers who risked their safety and possibly their lives to submit valuable information with the intent of seeing it published by WikiLeaks.

06:30 PM Dr. Suelette Dreyfus defended the release of classified diplomatic documents by WikiLeaks during her appearance on Australian television program Q&A.

"I would say that the US is at a crisis point because it has become a surveillance state and the [National Security Agency] is intercepting 1.7 billion emails and telephone calls," Dreyfus said.

"The reason that WikiLeaks has resonated with the population is because people are saying that the regulators of democracy have failed us and you do have corporate collapses because the regulators have failed us."

06:00 PM "A US State Embassy cable on former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Libya in September 2008 released by WikiLeaks suggests oil companies aren’t likely to wait long to take advantage of the power vacuum and make deals with the rebels.", writes Kevin Gosztola for FireDogLake.

05:50 PM A list of recently released diplomatic cables containing significant information on Latin America is compiled every month by Dawn Paley.

03:00 PM Israel and the WikiLeaks cables by Dr Johnathan Spyer.

"…With regard to Israel, the cables depict a situation in which Iranian regional ambitions are the key foreign policy challenge facing the country. The cables show the extent to which Iranian ambitions now overshadow smaller conflict arenas in which Israel finds itself, for example in the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians and in the challenge posed by Hizballah in Lebanon. The cables also indicate the extent to which Iranian ambitions have transformed the nature of regional politics, with Israel acting together with key Arab states in efforts to frustrate Iranian ambitions.

Last, of course, the cables offer a glimpse into the very wide discrepancy between the public discourse on regional affairs to be found in the regional media and the true interests of Arab elites. By contrast, when expressed in private, Israeli positions largely resembled the public stances of Israeli governments. "

2011-08-24 #WikiLeaks releases 55 thousand cables and asks citizens to analyze them in #wlfind hashtag

Wikileaks releases 55 thousand cables from the U.S. embassies in Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, Russia, and Venezuela, among others. Through their official channels they asked for citizen participation in analyzing them. They also asked that they post their finds by sending them to @wikileaks on Twitter under the hashtag #wlfind. You can take a look at the cables yourself by visiting this link: or

As a consequence of this release, Wikileak's Californian DNS hoster, Dynadot, "has received a PATRIOT act production order for information on Julian Assange", according to their website. It also mentioned that it had been complied and that "the production order seeks all available information on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, for the US grand jury in Alexandria, Washington."

2011-08-24 Spanish Government announces "express" change in Constitution, #15M movement demands a referendum

The two major parties in control of Spanish Congress (PP and PSOE) announce that they have agreed to change the Constitution to include a maximum expenditure of 0.4% GDP on public spending. This is the first time in thirty years of the current democratic situation that the Constitution will be modified. They also plan to do so in the fastest way possible, looking to calm the market forces that are predicting doom regarding Spanish debt. Therefore, they have called for an extraordinary voting session for next Tueday, 30th of August. This has fueled an already incensed population who demand to have their say on issues in which they believe they are directly involved. As a result, the web is already alive with calls for protests so that the general public is taken into account for such an important decision. Groups of activists in Spain are already planning for protests this weekend in front of Congress. The hashtag #yoquierovotar ("I want to vote") has been a storm of outraged voices, calling for the political class to stand up and defend their right to participate by blocking the proposal unless a referendum is accepted.

The initiative was proposed by President Zapatero and immediately backed up by the conservative opposition party PP. Already, however, voices of dissent have emerged outside and inside the Government party, with politicians stating that doing it so rapidly is going against their personal beliefs. According to Spanish law the measure needs 10% of support in Congress (35 congressmen) or in the Senate (26 senators), if not, a public referendum is mandatory.

2011-08-24 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.

09:30 PM Updates on WikiLeaks news from #wlfind twitter hashtag:

* French Total Oil's in Yemen asked US govt to cover up any diversions of cargo for "national security" reasons.

* Djibouti hires Blackwater military firm to combat Pirates.

* Mitterrand's press advisor, Vincent Peyregne, accused Google of corporate tax fraud.

* US PR machine - "making the stories and bringing them to journalists"

* The Irish government & Shannon Airport vs. US Army

* "Illegal drug trade, organized crime, murder, weapon smuggling, trafficking of women" on the rise in Israel.

* Kazakhstan "knows how to throw a party" with "sexy girls"

* MasterCard: good for Mossad assassins, but not for WikiLeaks supporters

* Hillary Clinton issues demarche request on Goldstone Report to "all diplomatic posts"

* Microsoft CEO : "Microsoft is as much an Israeli company as an American company"

08:30 PM Wikileaks’ California-based DNS host Dynadot received a PATRIOT Act production order for all the information regarding WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and, as part of the current United States secret Grand Jury espionage investigation against the organization.
According to a statement issued today, ‘WikiLeaks do not know what, if any, information Dynadot provided the US courts with’.

The order covers a time period from November 1st 2009 to present.
A copy of the full document, originally signed by a US magistrate judge on the 4th of January 2011, is now in Wikileaks’ possession and available for viewing.

WikiLeaks would greatly benefit from your contribution.

06:30 PM WikiLeaks’ successfully solicited the aid of twitter users to browse through their latest releases and collect relevant content.
Here is some of the new information, from the 35.000 diplomatic cables released today, gathered so far in the #wlfind twitter hashtag (as compiled by @wikileaks):

* Less than 2 years ago, the US were selling military parts to the Libyan Air Force through 3rd countries.

* Human trafficking from Mozambique to South Africa "sexual exploitation, forced labour, removal of organs..."

* US uses Beijing talks to lobby for Israeli private website: paid review co, owner part of IsPal neg.

* Vatican acknowledges sexual abuse of nuns by priests

* Extrajudicial killings bad in Rwanda if against "genocidal maniacs," good if on warpath against "terrorists"

* Prorogation would "ensure that the government has clear political sailing through the 2010 Winter Olympics"

* US pressured UK to not to introduce a resolution in UNHRC proposing action on Goldstone report.

* Israel's ambassador to Turkey:
Erdogan a "fundamentalist," "hates us religiously"

* Wave of sewerage engulfs Bedouin village, four killed, numerous injured.

* UK: Afghan War is failing, 'young lives thrown away'.

* They were for Qaddafi before they were against him. McCain, Graham, Lieberman

* Ethiopian Jewry in Israel: "vast majority live in impoverished communities, where even menial work is scarce"

* On behalf of Monsanto: US diplomat lobbies against French biotech bill that would regulate GMO

* US wants to build "dual-use" facilities in Southern Philippines for use of US aircraft

* Turkey: Americans, homosexuals & bikinis not welcome here

* "Thin-skinned Mbeki will require deft handling" - US Embassy

* US diplomats kowtowing for US pharmaceutical companies in France

* Israel Defense Intelligence Director Yadlin: the Palestinians are only Israel's number four threat.

* "Bush was and will be the ideal American president from Israel's perspective" (Cable from Tel Aviv)

* US embassies asked to monitor Gaddafi's communications with other Arab leaders through Arab press.

* Tibetans to be divided by artificial divisions that have been created among Tibetan administrative regions.

* Wal-mart has Unions in China, but not in the U.S.

* Gaddafi-McCain chat on U.S. firms selling lethal weapons to Libya.

* Privatization of Libya's central bank seen as "opportunity" by U.S. government for American banks.

* U.S. companies win $2 billion worth of infrastructure contracts as reward for "political relationship."

* WikiLeaks cable on what China government told U.S. about 2007 changes to reporting regulations for foreign journalists.

* Muammar al-Qadhafi's congratulatory message to Obama: "Dear Obama, I have the pleasure to send a congratulation note for the 1st time to an American president"

06:55 PM 55.000 cables published by WikiLeaks are now available by torrent.

35.000 of which were released today, while the WikiLeaks website sustained a Denial of Service attack.

We are currently under a sustained DOS attack and have regressed to backup servers. We are fighting to bring up more new servers., WikiLeaks informed via twitter.
Are state directed Denial of Service attacks, legally, a war crime against civilian infrastructure?
Should we, legally, declare war on state agressors that commit infrastructure war crimes against us?
Note how DOS attacks on WikiLeaks are not investigated but DOS attacks on corrupt finance companies lead to dozens of arrests.

05:00 PM OpenLeaks admits to stealing code from WikiLeaks.

03:15 AM WikiLeaks urges everyone to go through these cables and tweet their findings using hashtag #wlfind!

02:35 AM 35.000 U.S. diplomatic cables will be published today.

02:10 AM Upcoming releases announced, concerning Israel, Russia, Venezuela, Indonesia, Syria, Somalia, Bahrain, South Africa, Yemen, Cuba, Germany, Iran, Afghanistan, Poland, France, Turkey, Romania, Rwanda...

01:50 AM "Stay tuned for more important announcements, including 4000 cables from Israel.", WikiLeaks tweets.

01:30 AM WikiLeaks announces 2170 cables from Taiwan, 3004 from China and 349 from Libya.

00:50 AM WikiLeaks has just announced: 5523 new cables will be released shortly, detailing US reporting on China, Taiwan and Libya.

2011-08-25 Daniel Domscheit-Berg explains deletion of documents

In the first extensive media interview with Austrian public broadcaster ORF Daniel Domscheit-Berg appears as contradictory as ever. He admits to having deleted the keys to the documents -- which according to him were deleted by an unnamed other person or persons -- out of concern for source protection, even though he had offers from "10 to 15 individuals or organizations" who offered to take care of the data. When challenged, he added that he wanted to be on the safe side, as he could not be sure whether these potential recipients would make mistakes and expose a source.

At the same time, he reiterated that the documents he destroyed did not contain any significant information, while maintaining that only 80 to 90% of said documents were junk -- presumably. He also stated that he had not had the documents themselves in his possession, but only the keys.

Even though he does not specify who offered him assistance in handling the documents, it is safe to assume that for instance his media partners would have had an interest in surveying the material, as would have other news outlets who are perfectly capable of handling sensitive content. It would not have been difficult to make contact and find responsible journalists for this task.

Simultaneously, he promotes his own submission platform Openleaks, which would, once established, pass leaked documents on to media partners. Here, Domscheit-Berg does not seem to have any concerns about source protection and potential mistakes.

He also clarified how he came into the possession of the data. He said that he personally paid for four servers, as did other Wikileaks staff. Once he left the organization, he did not know what to do with the material, and having fruitlessly tried to contact Assange, who was at the time fighting allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden, he decided to copy the data onto a hard drive after three and a half weeks. He does not specify what happened to the servers, nor does he state who kept the hard drive.

These claims appear bizarre, given that Wikileaks had collected sufficient funds via the Wau Holland Foundation, which could be used for these purposes. There is no reason why he should have funded the servers himself.

To emphasize how careless Wikileaks had been Domscheit-Berg states that the entire Cablegate archive was available for download without any redactions. This claim had also surfaced on the website of his media partner Der Freitag earlier today.

There, it was stated that an unnamed person had published a password that had been given to him by Assange, on the internet, because he thought it was no longer in use, without having any knowledge of a file being published on the internet, which could be decrypted with said password. At time of publication, Freitag was unable to confirm whether the file did in fact contain Cablegate in its entirety.

Freitag interprets this alleged file find as a security vulnerability at Wikileaks. This is most likely true, albeit only by proxy. But who could be at fault? Guardian journalist James Ball, a former Wikileaks employee who himself has a complete copy of Cablegate in his possession, has hinted at Openleaks.

Upon a closer look, it is indeed the Wikileaks defectors who would have had a motive, and the means to leak the material, if this in fact happened. Alternatively, it could be caused by a disgruntled or careless employee at any of the media partners, who obtained the complete archive.

In the end, the only resolution for such a scenario is not, as Domscheit-Berg practiced, the destruction of source material, to prevent leaks, but an old method to prevent such developments, namely adding hidden information to copies handed out to specific news outlets, similar to nihil articles in academic lexica.

2011-08-25 Twitter Archive for @wlfind

More accurate archive with searching tool:

2011-08-25 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- See @wlfind for some of the latest information found in the newly released WikiLeaks cables.

>> Updates on WikiLeaks news from #wlfind twitter hashtag (as curated by @wikileaks):

* 2010 Korea sells "experimental" Nuclear Reactor to Jordan, wants to sell to Turkey and the UAE.

* Omar Soliman told us Egypt wants Gaza to go "hungry" but not "starve".

* Tantawi/Soliman said Israel is welcome to reinvade Philadelphi corridor.

* In 2010 US pushed Colombia to ship small arms to Haiti.

* US concerned that resolution of the North Korean conflict might lead to China asking US to leave Korea.

* Wikileaks cable on the closure of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights by @DrMajeedAlalawi.

* A 2007 cable ties private oil field security to Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services.

* Bribery between Chinese and Sri Lankans exposed via Wikileaks' US embassy cable.

* US diplomat posed as Korean tourist in undercover visit to China tiger farm

* US embassy: "the Chinese presence looms large in Angola"

* Sale of Israeli Dead Sea Products in US based on massive organized fraud, violation of US law.

* US staff have 'meetings' with Scientology over Hamburg Interior Ministry employee Ursula Caberta.

06:05 PM Weaknesses in the management and regulation of China’s fast expanding nuclear sector have, according to U.S. diplomatic cables, permitted the use of cheap, out-of-date technology that vastly increases the risk of nuclear accident.

05:55 PM ‘Fresh blow’ delivered to the Indonesian government: in the latest documents published by WikiLeaks, Indonesia’s president Yudhoyono measures against corruption and the economic crisis are heavily criticized and questioned. Additionally, he is accused of using Indonesian intelligence to spy on his political rivals.

05:00 PM Matiullah Khan, paid by the Australian government to work with Australian special forces in Afghanistan, is believed to be involved in drug trade, a cable says.

''credible accounts indicate that Matiullah operates protection rackets, skims from the [police] payroll, and is involved in the illegal narcotics trade''

04:40 PM OpenLeaks' partner der Freitag's claim that certain documents originally obtained by WikiLeaks are now available online in unredacted form is mostly false.

04:20 PM #wlfind initiative an example of true democratization of information. via editorsweblog

03:40 PM Today’s second batch of thousands of cables from U.S. embassies in South Korea, Laos, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, East Timor, Philippines, Vietnam, Burma, Singapore, Equatorial Guinea, Chile, Colombia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Bolivia, Mali, Brunei, Mauritius, United Kingdom, Niger, Eritrea, Congo, Kenya, Czech Republic, Romania, Mozambique, Nigeria, Luxembourg, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Burundi, Namibia, Lativia, Estonia, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Argentina, Angola and Peru has just been published!

03:00 PM WikiLeaks will have released over 100.000 U.S. diplomatic cables by the end of today.
Support their work!

12:35 PM South-African party ANC’s practices compared to those of the apartheid regime, in a U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, with regards to its handling of the Abahlali baseMjondolo protest movement:

"The parallels between AbM's struggles against the ANC and the latter's fight against the apartheid regime cannot be ignored (…) The accounts of forced removals, violence, intimidation and leaders in hiding seem like echoes of a time supposedly gone forever."

ANC was democratically elected in 1994, after decades spent fighting the apartheid regime.

12:20 PM Thousands of new cables were released today by WikiLeaks concerning Sudan, Ukraine, Iraq, Spain, Egypt, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Tunisia and Poland.

You can easily search these cables with

Please share any interesting information you find at #wlfind. And do check the @wlfind twitter account for some of the most interesting revelations that have been found.

12:10 PM Today Suelette Dreyfus addressed questions regarding internet censorship, whistleblowing, WikiLeaks and other related topics during a facebook Q&A session.

"We have had this glorious decade and a half of incredible freedom from the freeness of the internet. And it has led to huge benefits to all societies. The minute that freedom is taken away, we become a lesser society. The internet is the last checkpoint - the last safeguard - before we cross the Berlin Wall into the old East Germany.", she wrote.
"When the parts of the mainstream media began to lose its way for a period, becoming embedded and compromised in its ability to tell the truth without fear or favour, it was the internet that put pressure on it to lift its game by doing information better. Competition is a great thing, but markets (in information and otherwise) only work if you have low barriers to entry for competitors. The internet provides that structure for information and the media. It basically says 'If you provide junky information, someone out there can - with little money - provide more truthful information.'"

12:05 PM The United States sought ‘talking points’ to deny abuse of Bahraini detainee in Guantanamo Bay.
A cable from 2005 documents an ‘action request’ on part of the U.S., following press reports on the sexual humiliation of a Bahraini detainee:

"Action request: Embassy has talking points on the hunger strikes, but requests talking points to respond publicly to questions about the treatment of Al Dossary, as well as any points that could be conveyed privately to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in response to the diplomatic note."

11:50 AM Libya’s attempt to purchase lethal weapons from U.S. firms in 2009 and other recent revelations from the newly released cables.

11:30 AM WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson will speak at the COLPIN 2011 Investigative Journalism Conference in Ecuador, on September 2. The talk will focus on the present and future of investigative journalism.

10:00 AM The making of an enourmous ‘Courage is Contagious’ graffiti in Lebanon.

2011-08-26 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- See @wlfind for some of the latest information found in the newly released WikiLeaks cables.

>> Updates on WikiLeaks news from #wlfind twitter hashtag (as curated by @wikileaks):

* Australian PM took political heat on Guantanamo detainee David Hicks' detention for US government.

* Astonishing 2008 "April Fools" cable: US Ambassador threatens hunger strike to force (corrupt) India nuclear deal.

* State Department brings U.S. IT companies to Thailand to criticize OpenSource.

* Horrific eye-witness report from a teenaged boy on his time in Srebrenica

* Cuban "doctor defectors" face tough times according to Guyana-US secret cable

* "NO CNN CAMERA CREWS!" - secret US cable on child prisoners in the Philippines.

* Wikileaks reveals Saudis "marry" Yemeni underage girls to force them into prostitution in Saudi.

* US Gov't trying to 'convince' Thai government to accept genetically modified foods in face of popular resistance.

* ConocoPhillips warned that Chinese partner could hinder oil spill clean-up

* Finnish company Polar Electro used a subsidiary in Malaysia who employed forced labor.

* US Justice Dept trains elite Bangladesh police — known to kill suspects in custody

* Colombia's proposal for its own "CIA"

* US plan to undermine Chavez "the enemy"

10:50 PM WikiLeaks cables on sex work: how diplomats talk about both sex workers and relevant policies in foreign countries.

07:40 PM WikiLeaks is in the process of releasing 45.000 diplomatic documents today.

07:15 PM Senator John McCain pledged to help Gaddafi obtain U.S. military hardware, during a meeting on the 14th August, 2009.
Business Insider reports on the meeting, related in a diplomatic cable that was recently published:

McCain opened the meeting by characterizing Libya's relationship with the U.S. as "excellent," to which Liebermann added: "We never would have guessed ten years ago that we would be sitting in Tripoli, being welcomed by a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi."

The cable does not mention anything about the senators pressing Gaddafi for democratic reforms.

06:55 PM A U.S. diplomatic cable titled Devouring Dragon, Disappearing Tigers: A Look at South China’s Tiger Farms and Reserves, containing the report of a visit to a Chinese ‘tiger farm’ by an undercover U.S. diplomat, exposes the commercial nature of these facilities that pose as conservation farms and their abusive treatment of animals:

"During the visit, Econoff observed:
Tigers being whipped and struck with a metal pole
Tigers and bear cubs forced to perform in a “mock Chinese marriage procession”
Tiger bone wine and powdered black bear bile for sale
Four large vats “allegedly” filled with tiger bone wine

The diplomat was told by locals that tiger skins could be purchased by ordering in advance and that tiger meat was served “until recently” to visitors; however, this was denied by farm staff." via PlanetSave

06:30 PM "The latest batch of diplomatic cables unearthed by WikiLeaks reveals China’s failure to measure certain pollution levels and the government’s silence about the issue." via Mashable

06:20 PM How Various Countries Manage Their Terror Lists, a piece by Kevin Gosztola, based on information contained in cables published by WikiLeaks.

03:40 PM The Australian Labor government has been critical of WikiLeaks’ publication of diplomatic communications in the public interest, but is now proposing to breach the privacy of ordinary Australians on an unprecedented scale with a new cybercrime bill :

"The government plans to legally require internet service providers to collect, store and preserve the data of their customers. Private internet service providers will be mandated to collect material and, if requested, will be required to hand this over to foreign agents.

In short, the bill will enable foreign law enforcement agents to require the preservation and forfeiting of information about internet and telecommunication data those agents suppose relate to online crime. That information can then be used without our knowledge. "

02:25 AM The United States had an optimistic view of Benjamin Netanyahu’s intentions to advance the peace process, a newly released cable shows.
According to the 2008 cable, Netanyahu told U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham: "I can deliver two thirds of the Israeli right-wing on anything we agree with the Palestinians, whether on process or interim agreements"

02:05 AM Russia’s nuclear projects abroad labeled 'a fantasy' by U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle.

"Еven without the crunch the financial crisis could put on GOR loans, the lack of sufficient nuclear industry infrastructure and trained specialists will make it hard for ASE [Atomstroyexport, Russia’s international nuclear power plant constructor] to fulfill existing contracts on time. It is extremely unlikely that ASE will be able to complete many of the NPPs [Nuclear Power Plant] in contracts it is currently negotiating within the timeframes being discussed. Even so, ASE continues to seek still more new contracts. As Nigmatulin declared bluntly, "these plans are a fantasy," the cable reads.

2011-08-27 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- See @wlfind for some of the latest information found in the newly released WikiLeaks cables.

>> Updates on WikiLeaks news from #wlfind twitter hashtag (as curated by @wikileaks):

* Russian prosecutor boasted about blackmailing judges as "anti-corruption measure.

* Saudi King Abdullah "himself" issues directives to Saudi media outlets.

* China refuses to discuss one child policy, even with 30 million unmarriageable males.

* US marine kills Romanian rockstar. President promises to US embassy won't "serve a single day in prison"

* No torture in Jamaica - police murder suspects straight away! (par 13, US embassy cable)

* U.S. spying on Palestine - US Embassy wish list, comments now enabled.

* Saudi elite have "refined their methods of control over editors and journalists".

* Kenya: How John Githongo predicted PLOLumumba's appointment, failure at KACC.

* Mossad agreement: US$30 billion in "security assistance" from 2008-2018.

* Australia: Greg Smith & Maxine McKew keeping US embassy updated with private meetings.

* "Journalistic red lines": Blackberry spyware cable shows media fear of intelligence agencies.

* Political background to Greece's forest fire crisis.

* Amsterdam Visa Viper Female telephone operator subject of FBI investigation for browsing anti-USG websites.

* U.S State Dept keeps close tabs on pro-Palestine demonstrations in Australia.

* Blackberry espionage trojan installed by UAE government, developed by US firm.

* VISA, MasterCard, banks fined by EU for cartel behavior - US embassy.

* WikiLeaks cables on Greece's corrupt media: 1 , 2 , 3

* The Armenian Genocide: Letter from the President of Armenia to Turkish PM Erdoga

* Vatican urged US not to prosecute bishops for sex abuse of minors.

* Global Helium 3 shortage has stymied the global Megaport nuclear smuggling detection system.

08:40 PM Armenian homosexuals were forced by the police to report on gay high-rank officials and public figures. In a cable dating from December 2003, forms of harassment endured by Armenian homosexuals by police forces are said to consist mainly of blackmail and extortion.

08:20 PM Kenya is still losing millions in corrupt payments to ‘ghost’ Anglo Leasing companies, according to a recently released cable.

07:20 PM Genetically engineered crops are promoted worldwide by U.S. diplomats, who act on the interests of corporations such as Monsanto and DuPont. Newly released diplomatic cables confirm suspicions of U.S. diplomatic pressure to speed up France and Spain’s biotech approval process.

12:25 PM WikiLeaks latest releases concern Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, India, Pakistan, Ghana, Belarus, Liberia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Kuwait, Fiji, Burkina Faso, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Italy, Cameroon, Haiti, Grenada, Autria, Ireland, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Bahamas, Jordan, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Macau, Hong Kong, Vatican, and Bahrain.

2011-08-28 Forbes - Bulgaria Glorifies "Bulgaria's Energy Mafia" Leader Exposed By WikiLeaks

Bulgaria's Energy Mafia: Bogomil Manchev on the cover of Forbes

Bulgaria's Energy Mafia: Bogomil Manchev on the cover of Forbes

This week edition of Forbes - Bulgaria features Bogomil Manchev on the cover page. Manchev who's presented by Forbes as an "energy innovator" has been exposed in a secret diplomatic cable from Sofia, revealed by WikiLeaks. Bivol reminds the excerpts about Manchev from the cable named DIRTY ENERGY: CORRUPTION AND LACK OF TRANSPARENCY PLAGUE BULGARIAN ENERGY SECTOR [06SOFIA1691], sent 2006-12-20 by the chargé d'affaires in the US Embassy in Sofia - Alex Karagianis


¶7. (C) Three names always mentioned as key players in Bulgaria's so-called
"energy mafia"  are Bogomil Manchev from Risk Engineering, Krassimir Georgiev
from Frontier and Hristo Kovachki.  Manchev and Georgiev have been
omnipresent in the sector since the early 1990s, while Kovachki
is considered a new player.

¶8. (C) Bogomil Manchev's presence in the energy field, particularly
the nuclear sector, is pervasive. His engineering and consulting company,
Risk Engineering, founded in 1992, got its start working as a subcontractor
for Westinghouse for a EU Phare project related to Kozloduy's Units 1-4.
From there, Manchev and Risk's influence grew as he won successive
Phare projects for improving safety and security measures at Kozloduy
Units 3 and 4, preparing documents for the development of Bulgaria's
uranium mines in Simitli and Dospat, assessing a potential national
storehouse for radioactive waste, etc.

¶9. (C) By the time of Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha's
government (2001-2005), Manchev's power in the energy sector was
rumored to be all-encompassing.  XXXXXXXXXXXX, told us that Manchev
controlled all public procurements in the sector, and others have echoed this.
Manchev held himself out, and was regarded, as the "shadow Energy Minister,"
with significant influence over then Energy Minister Milko Kovachev (Kovachev
graduated from Sofia's Technical University three years before Manchev and
the two were colleagues at Kozloduy).  Manchev controlled personnel
decisions regarding state-related energy associations, according to
XXXXXXXXXXXX, and advised Kovachev what actions to take related
to government tenders.  Manchev's influence, driven in part by
Kovachev's lack of political support within the coalition, earned the Ministry
the nickname--"Ministry of Risk Engineering."

¶10. (C) According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, Manchev receives most of the
work in the energy sector.  Manchev has an ownership stake in 10 different
firms and is the sub-agent for hundreds of other firms.  XXXXXXXXXXXX,
told us that Manchev controls "everything" at Kozloduy.  Manchev possesses
the first license for trading electricity in Bulgaria, holds the sales quota for
Kozloduy's (domestic) electricity, and is responsible for all of the plant's
service and repair contracts.  The common joke among many journalists
is that he has "privatized" even the exit and entrance of Kozloduy.

¶11. (C) Manchev is believed to have strong influence over the directors
of Kozloduy and NEK, whose previous deputy chairman was a former Risk
employee.  Likewise, NEK uses the Commercial Corporate Bank for much
of its business, which according to XXXXXXXXXXXX has a secret partnership
with Risk (Ref B).  Further corroboration came when a respected U.S. energy
company recently complained to us that Kozloduy's management is trying
to force them to use Risk Engineering as a sub-contractor or partner in
areas where Risk Engineering is not qualified.  Company officials told us
they fear that failure to do so will jeopardize this and other contracts,
but they are concerned that working with Risk Engineering in this specific
capacity could harm the product and the company's reputation.

¶12. (C) Moreover, Manchev and Risk have a close working relationship
with the Australian-U.S. firm WorleyParsons.  In 1998, Manchev and Risk
formed a business partnership with

SOFIA 00001691  003 OF 006

Parsons, specifically its regional director in Europe, Djurica Tankosic, an
American citizen.  The partnership, called GCR, was formed to modernize
Kozloduy's Units 5 and 6, which has been conducted by Westinghouse.
The relationship between Manchev and Tankosic is reportedly very close;
the address for Parsons E & C Bulgaria is the same as Risk Engineering.
It is this relationship that Manchev is likely referring to when, according to
XXXXXXXXXXXX, he tells people that he is working for the United States--which,
of course, has no basis in fact.


¶13. (C) In 2004 NEK issued two contracts related to the building of
Belene--an environmental impact assessment report and a technical-economic
study))with the goal of preparing a document for the parliamentary energy
committee.  The contracts were valued at around 8 million dollars and
were given)) without a public tender--to Parsons, with Risk Engineering
doing much of the work, particularly on the environmental report.
A similar technical-economic study for Belene was conducted in 2000 by
Energoproekt, the former state institution for developing energy projects,
for 150,000 USD, as was an environmental impact study for Kozoloduy in 1999.
According to energy experts who worked on the former studies,
Parsons and Manchev's reports were not significantly different from the
earlier reports and were largely just "cut and pasted" from the old studies.
This should be no surprise since Manchev now owns the archives of Energoproekt,
according to XXXXXXXXXXXX.

Moreover, such reports in Europe and the U.S. cost no more than one million
dollars, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX.  As one critic of the deal said,
"you don't have to be an economist to realize that NEK could have gotten
a better price for the study."  In 2004, Evdokia Maneva, former environment minister,
tried to raise alarm bells about the deal and requested prosecutors investigate
the matter. Minister Kovachev maintained that the contracts were legal and fell
under Article 19 of the public procurement law, which states that research
and development projects can be negotiated directly.

¶14. (C) Bulgaria is the leading exporter of electricity in the Balkans,
supplying power to Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, and others.
In 2005 NEK (which still maintains a monopoly over electricity exports)
exported a then record 7.5 billion Kilowatts of power, making Bulgaria
the fourth largest electricity exporter in Europe (after France, the Czech
Republic and Poland).  However, 90 percent of these exports are not sold
by NEK but by Bulgarian and foreign intermediaries, who receive the electricity
from NEK at a low price and then resell it for a huge profit.

¶15. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX, argues that the use of intermediaries is clearly
disadvantageous for the Bulgarian state.  According to XXXXXXXXXXXX,
NEK)) through this arrangement--loses 47 million USD of potential profit
a year.  Moreover, the firms to which NEK chooses to sell its electricity
are the same questionable ones.  In 2005, the main exporter of Bulgarian
electricity was the Serb company EFT, which through its sister company,
EFT Bulgaria, accounted for 70 percent of exports. Interestingly,
EFT Bulgaria is owned by Manchev's firm, "Energy Finances Group."
Tankosic is likewise active in electricity exports; firms linked to him
have exported power to Albania.  Similarly, Manchev is the main
intermediary responsible for the coal imports Bulgaria depends
on to fire its thermal plants in Ruse and Varna.

The "innovator" Manchev is also one of the protagonist in another cable listing the "bad apples" in the Bulgarian banking sector (i.e. banks "funneling money for known criminals in money laundering schemes and involved in connected lending", according to the US Ambassador in Sofia John Beyrle [06SOFIA1652].

--Corporate Commercial Bank.  This bank is also known as "The
Bank of Risk Engineering," the most important ) and
notorious - player in the energy field, participating in
almost all energy consultancy projects.  For its close ties
with Risk Engineering, owned by Bogomil Manchev, the bank is
expected to be strongly positioned in the financing of the
Belene project.  The state-owned National Electric Company,
which conducts non-transparent electricity sales through
middle-men such as Manchev and Kovachki, deposits its funds
there.  The main shareholder of the this bank is Bromak Ltd.,
owned by Tsvetan Vassilev, which in 2004 was involved in a
controversial privatization deal when it purchased the Sofia
state railway plant for far lower than market value.

2011-08-28 Openleaks hints at WikiLeaks vulnerability, endangers sources [UPDATE 4 + Clarification]

According to Spiegel, a complete version of Cablegate has been available on the internet. This is their account of the story:

Julian Assange uploaded an encrypted archive containing Cablegate to the Wikileaks webserver, to share it with an associate, to whom he also gave the password. When Daniel Domscheit-Berg left the organization together with the Architect, he took the content of the webserver with him. He eventually returned some of the data a few weeks later.

At this point the narrative is not entirely clear. Spiegel goes on to say that supporters published the data on the web, along with the encrypted Cablegate file. Simultaneously, the associate published the password. The vulnerability remained unnoticed, until Openleaks staff pointed it out.

WL Central could not verify these claims. It is however clear that the vulnerability was first pointed out by Der Freitag, a media partner of Openleaks.

In a variety of aspects, this is a very strange story. First, it seems odd to use the main Wikileaks website for transfer of sensitive data. This could easily have been done by other means, in a more secure way. Next, one is left wondering how anyone could have overlooked a massive archive in a hidden subdirectory when setting up a website. Most striking is the fact that someone would be irresponsible enough to publish a password.

Openleaks staff must have known about this vulnerability for some time, but did not bother to reveal it to those in charge of the website, nor did their media partners. It is certainly right to report about it, but it should be done in a responsible manner, making sure the file is removed before this information is publicly available.

As it was the case with the shredding of unpublished submissions to Wikileaks, the timing of this story is the most telling aspect. It comes shortly after Daniel Domscheit-Berg had his CCC membership revoked. This time, the collateral damage did not only affect unpublished whistleblower documents, rather, the names of sources and informants contained in Cablegate have now been potentially exposed.


Wikileaks have now responded: "Current story being spun about wild cables, including from Spiegel, is significantly incorrect."


The Spiegel article in question has now appeared in English translation. The versions do, however, differ significantly. According to the German original, the password was given to an associate. In the translated version, this has been corrected to external contact.


Wikileaks tweets the following: "WikiLeaks 'insurance' files have not been decrypted. All press are currently misreporting. There is an issue, but not that issue."


Wikileaks commented again: "There has been no 'leak at WikiLeaks'. The issue relates to a mainstream media partner and a malicious individual."


The Spiegel article says that data that was returned by Domscheit-Berg contained the cablegate file; the Heise article says that the content of the old Wikileaks website was returned by Domscheit-Berg; the Spiegel article says that the file appeared within an archived version of the website. Both stories are based on accounts by Domscheit-Berg or his associates. Thus, the version of the story which is spread by Domscheit-Berg suggests that the file would have been hidden in the website. Personally, I do not believe it is credible that Wikileaks would use their website for transfer of sensitive data. Hence I find this story strange.

I do not believe that Wikileaks used its main website for transfers. Rather, the version of the story which is currently being reported implies this.

2011-08-28 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- See @wlfind for some of the latest information found in the newly released WikiLeaks cables.

>> Updates on WikiLeaks news from #wlfind twitter hashtag (as curated by @wikileaks):

* Israel: A promised land for organized crime?

* German export of 184 lethal viruses to US Army for breeding.

* The cable on German spy sats & the BND that Der Spiegel decided not to publish.

* Video surveillance in Germany, an interesting perspective from the Duesseldorf Police Chief.

* Belarus moves to control the Internet based on Sweden, France, Germany, US.

* US embassy reports on human cloning and UFO cult in Canada.

* Kenya: Mungiki history traced to back to 1989 by US embassy.

* UN: "Collateral Murder" incident happened before. Reuters photojournalist shot at Abu Ghraib. No prosecution.

* 46% of overseas Indonesians trafficked, 54% are minors.

* "Yes, they are watching you", US on London's 65k CCTV master control room "James Bond movie.. retractable walls".

06:25 PM 142.978 U.S. diplomatic cables available in database format.

06:15 PM Cablegate search engine has now enabled a comment function.

06:00 PM China and Taiwan compete for influence in the small island state of Nauru in the South Pacific by making ‘secret’ payments to local politicians. Details of these payments have now been made public in cables provided to the Herald by WikiLeaks.
Also according to these documents, Australia "pushed" Nauru to break ties with Taiwan and open diplomatic relations with China, yet Nauru resisted the pressure.

05:35 PM A cable from May 2007 by a United Nations Special Rapporteur reveals details of five extra-judicial killings in Iraq by U.S forces. While the incidents were investigated by the military, the perpetrators were never prosecuted.

05:00 PM A recently released Wikileaks cable reveals another aspect of the Israeli control over the gates to the West Bank: the control over international workers for the Palestinian Authority. The document details the story of an American citizen who was detained at Allenby Crossing (the main gateway to the Palestinian Territories, on the Israel-Jordanian border). The consulate states that Israel doesn’t issue work visas for people coming to work in for Palestinian projects, but only tourist visas limited to the West Bank, which make their holders subject to a constant risk of deportation. via 972 mag

04:45 PM Bulgaria’s Pro-GMO Lobby is actively backed and financed by the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, according to information from several U.S. diplomatic cables.

04:10 PM The Dutch foreign ministry declines to comment on the case, exposed by WikiLeaks’ latest releases, of a former telephone operator at the U.S. embassy in The Hague who is currently being investigated by the FBI.

03:10 PM WikiLeaks' classified cables on abortion politics worldwide, a list of summarized cables compiled by activist Furry Girl.

2011-08-28 WikiLeaks: US Embassy in Sofia Backed Pro-GMO Lobby


GMO protest in Sofia. Photo:

Anti-GMO protest in Sofia. Photo:

Bulgaria's legislation on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) has been carefully followed by the US Embassy in Sofia.

The information comes from several US diplomatic cables, (one by current US Ambassador in Sofia, James Warlick), which were released by WikiLeaks and their Bulgarian partner, the site for investigative journalism

According to the cables, GMO supporters in Bulgaria are actively backed and financed by the American Embassy, as Bivol writes.

In a cable, sent in 2006, Charge d'Affaires, Alex Karagiannis, informs the US Department of State that the main obstacle for the passing of more liberal GMO legislation has been opposition coming from the President of the Bulgarian Academy of Science (BAS), Ivan Juchnovski.

"According to Atanas Atanassov, Director of the Agro-Bio Institute (ABI), Juchnovski sent various "experts", who knew little about the science of GMOs, to the Environmental and Agriculture Parliamentary Committees to critique the draft law. These experts propagated the view that "the harmful effects of GMOs on human health and the environment is a fact." BAS insisted on a ban on the cultivation of modified crops since "no convincing evidence as to the safety of GMOs" exists. Taking BAS's concerns to heart, the current law's stated priority is "to protect human health and the environment" regardless of the existing economic interests or the unavailability of sufficient scientific data," Karagiannis writes, explaining that GMO lobbyists, with the support of Deputy Minister of Agriculture Svetla Batchvarova, have sent a letter to the EU Commission asking if Bulgarian GMO law is consistent with EU legislation..

"Atanassov believes Bulgaria could face penalties if the law is shown to be out-of-step with EU policy, which might just be the stick GMO supporters here are looking for to convince the government to revise the law," the cable reads.

"Embassy Sofia has a well-defined biotechnology strategy supported by the US biotech industry and important local stakeholders", Ambassador Nancy McEldowney writes in January 2009.

According to McEldowney's report, "the goal of the Embassy's public diplomacy initiative is to spur debate and discussion about biotechnology, create positive public opinion, and to provide broader availability of scientific information about agricultural biotechnology to both the media and consumers...Gaining key opinion leaders' support will help increase the public's awareness and trust in foods derived from GMO products. The proposed program has been discussed with and received the backing of local counterparts who have created an informal consortium to steer the program's activities and content. This Consortium includes: the National Agricultural Academy, National Biosafety Commission, agricultural and food research universities and institutes, the local Association of Agricultural Producers, and specialized media."

Bivol further points out that in 2010, the American lobby got a new chance for success, after the liberalization of GMO legislation became a strategic priority of the new cabinet of Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov.

"Under heavy pressure to amend the draft legislation, the current government suggested adding a five-year moratorium for releasing GMO products into the environment or for farming purposes. Minister of Agriculture Miroslav Naydenov admitted in a meeting with Ambassador February 11 that this moratorium is a tactical approach in order to achieve the strategic goal of passing the draft law. He expected that once the new legislation is passed, the European Commission would view the moratorium as a delay in the implementation of the law and Bulgaria would be forced to lift it. In Naydenov's view, it would be easier to lift a moratorium under pressure from the EC than to change the legislation," current US Ambassador in Sofia, James Warlick, wrote in February 2010, stressing such strategy was "walking on a tight rope," since the public opinion has been heavily influenced by anti-GMO rhetoric.

"If Naydenov is correct, and the EC ultimately forces Bulgaria to lift the proposed moratorium, the government will have the excuse it needs to finally liberalize Bulgaria's biotech regime. But it will be a tough fight," the Ambassador concludes.

As Bivol stresses, the development of events proved Naydenov wrong – not only didn't the EC sanction Bulgaria, but due to the activities of a number of Bulgarian politicians, the European Parliament accepted and backed the right of each country to determine the local level of GMO restrictions.

The original text of Ambassador Warlick's cable read HERE

The full text of Ambassador McEldowney's cable read HERE.

The full text of Charge d'Affaires Karagiannis cable read HERE

2011-08-29 Revealing or repressing the archive as a litmus test for a healthy society: An analysis of #WLfind cables + #Archives

We take for granted that there exist, somewhere in society, macro-actors that naturally dominate the scene... The problem is that these entities could not exist at all without the construction of long networks in which numerous faithful records circulate in both directions, records which are, in turn, summarized and displayed to convince.

- Bruno Latour, Visualization and Congnition: thinking with eyes and hands, Knowledge and Society, 1986.

Authoritarian regimes give rise to forces which oppose them by pushing against the individual and collective will to freedom, truth and self realization. Plans which assist authoritarian rule, once discovered, induce resistance. Hence these plans are concealed by successful authoritarian powers. This is enough to define their behaviour as conspiratorial.

- Julian Assange, ‘State and Terrorist Conspiracies’,, November 10, 2006.

Recordkeeping and power are inextricably bound together. The act of making a record and how it is kept can shape the current and future reality for an individual or group - in some cases to oppress or control, in some to liberate. This was strikingly evident in the stories emerging from WikiLeaks’ latest batches of cable releases where they touched on recordkeeping and archives.

Here are nation states choosing to open or restore the archive in pursuit of more open societies, while others seek to close or corrupt it - their actions correlating closely with the extent to which they exert oppressive and unjust power over the citizenry. We see these macro-actors using Latour’s ‘long networks’ of recordkeeping to propagandise their oppressive practices, or indeed to strike agreements with other states or the remnants of former police or security organisations on the management and protection of records and archives, in pursuit of Assange’s concept of concealed, conspiratorial plans. Here are a few examples.

Historical revisionism

05YEREVAN769 (Armenia)
Released: 26/08/2011

“The Turkish Parliament held hearings in mid-April on the Armenian issue and issued a
statement not only confirming their own revisionist efforts, but also blatantly calling on third
countries (such as the UK) to revisit, review and revise their own archives.”

10ASHGABAT132 (Turkmenistan)
Released: 26/08/2011

“During the era of Perestroika in the late 1980s, Turkmenistan's Archives published material from 19th century police records that showed, for example, that Ashgabat was a multi-ethnic city. Soon after independence, the Turkmen Government stopped publishing this material, probably because it did not support the government's ideas about Turkmen national identity.”

Intimidation against the opening of archives of reconciliation and restitution

Released: 26/08/2011

“On the night of March 23, Jan Langos, the head of the Institute of the Memory of the Nation and former Czechoslovak interior minister, was attacked by three apparently well-trained, muscular men. The group knocked Langos down and beat him seriously... The IMN's role is to collect, maintain and open the intelligence archives from the Nazi and Communist era (1939-89), to prosecute Nazi and Communist crimes, as well as crimes against peace, human dignity and war crimes, including all forms of politically-based repression... Parliament elected Langos Chairman of the Institute Board in April 2003. The day before the vote, Langos' wife Gabriela was beaten and seriously injured in Prague, where she resides... Although the above incidents might be construed as random acts of violence, they bear the unmistakable hallmark of the former Communist Intelligence Service.”

Information sharing without accountability

Released: 26/06/2011

“Iranian President Ahmadinejad led an Iranian delegation to Istanbul August 14-15 for a bilateral "working visit." Five agreements - on security cooperation, the environment, transportation, tourism, and archives - were signed.”

Opening of the archives prevented by vested interests at highest level of government

06TIRANA506 (Albania)
Released: 26/08/2011

“The government is unlikely to engage in the thorough unearthing of facts and data that would be necessary for truly bringing to light the full damage caused by Communism. Such analysis would require an opening of State archives which heretofore have remained sealed and few doubt will ever come to pass given the prominence of many former Communists, including the current PM, throughout the political class. This is not a new issue nor is it likely to be resolved any time soon.”

In 2010 the International Council on Archives issued a Universal Declaration on Archives. It confirms “the vital necessity of archives for supporting business efficiency, accountability and transparency, for protecting citizens rights, for establishing individual and collective memory, for understanding the past, and for documenting the present to guide future actions.” It further “identifies one of the vital roles of archivists as making these records available for use, and pledges that archivists will work together in order that archives are made accessible to everyone, while respecting the pertinent laws and the rights of individuals, creators, owners and users.”

If this and other statements from the archives profession are more than lip service then surely these and other abuses of the archival process deserve our attention.

2011-08-29 WikiLeaks Notes: Latest News on #Cablegate Releases & #WikiLeaks


This is a "WikiLeaks News Update", a daily news update of stories that are obviously related to WikiLeaks and also freedom of information, transparency, cybersecurity, and freedom of expression. All the times are GMT.
- See @wlfind for some of the latest information found in the newly released WikiLeaks cables.

>> Updates on WikiLeaks news from #wlfind twitter hashtag (as curated by @wikileaks):

* US Embassy: rights "deteriorated" under Honduras coup regime. Yet State Department never decried it.

* List of US programs initially considered for suspension in Honduras after June 28, 2009 coup.

* 240 WikiLeaks cables of big pharma exclusivity deals.

* Honduran anti-coup activist found decapitated, country's FBI detained him earlier that day.

* Diamond aircraft used for civilian surveillance, sold to China, US, Saudi Arabia.

* U.S. Ambassador: "eroded trust in New Zealand thereby threatening intelligence cooperation" response: "bully tactics".

* Nestle was buying Mugabe farm milk in unmarked tanker - previous owner forced to sell farm cheap.

* Pfizer threatens to withdraw drugs from Philippine market if price controls are imposed.

* Bombs to be transfered "quietly to avoid allegations USG is helping Israel prepare for a strike against Iran".

* US ambassador's secret Hanoi sex guide.

* Panama: Media stifling of a 2004 election-eve bomb shell.

* "Ivanhoe's former President Robert Friedland ... seemed to claim that the Gov of Mongolia was in his pocket".

* Sexism and low pay in Russian diplomatic corps.

* Ten Iraqis (5 children) killed in US raid: residents of home handcuffed & executed; house bombed.

09:05 WikiLeaks has published a Statement on the 9 Month Anniversary of Cablegate: Release of 133,887 Cables, as well as a list of 30 new revelations from the crowdsourcing initiative #wlfind.

08:55 PM Andrew Peterson, prosecutor in the Grand Jury investigation against WikiLeaks, has been ‘required to take an unexpected business trip’ out of the United States, thus leading to the possible delay of the next court hearing, originally scheduled for September 2, 2011.

Through their twitter account, WikiLeaks has asked why no reference to Daniel Domscheit-Berg on the course of this investigation:

Many names are on the various WL-US grand jury docs. JA [Julian Assange], Rop [Gonggrijp], even BJ [Birgitta Jonsdottir]. But never DDB [Daniel Domscheit-Berg]. Why?

In another tweet, WikiLeaks addresses the rumors that there are unredacted documents originally obtained by the organization currently circulating online, unprotected:

"WikiLeaks 'insurance' files have not been decrypted. All press are currently misreporting. There is an issue, but not that issue."

There has been no 'leak at WikiLeaks'. The issue relates to a mainstream media partner and a malicious individual.

07:00 PM Residents of Cebu, Philippines, may have allowed death squads to go on killing sprees in the city in the mid-2000s as a means to combat crime, a US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks said.

05:00 PM Julian Assange has been detained for 265 days without any charges.

04:45 PM In a letter to George W. Bush, recently published by WikiLeaks, Turkish parliament member Hasan Korkmazdcan, expresses hope for complicity in the denial of the Armenian Genocide:

"Turkish studies proved that the Armenian claims are the result of fanaticism. We are hopeful that you will resist this campaign which is based on a false interpretation of events which found no proof in the archives of the Ottoman Empire," Korkmazdcan wrote.

Furthermore, President Bush did not support the non-binding congressional resolution recognizing the massacre of 1.5 million of Armenians as Genocide, which was however, passed, despite the White House's opposition. via PanArmenian

04:30 PM Former El Salvador President Antonio Saca sent troops to Iraq in order to ‘please Washington’ and ‘maintain his close friendship’ with George W. Bush, reveals WikiLeaks media partner El Faro.

01:00 PM U.S. diplomatic cables provided to the Herald confirm the brutality of the Fiji military regime.

10:00 AM At least one prominent member of an Israeli crime family was able to reach the United States with the intent to commit murder as a result of exemption from U.S. law, writes Ali Abunimah, in a piece based on a cable from May 2009 titled “Israel: A Promised Land for Organized Crime?”, regarding U.S. concerns with the ‘global reach’ of Israel’s organized crime.

2011-08-29 WikiLeaks: Washington and Brasilia Monitoring Chávez in the Caribbean

Authored by Nikolas Kozloff

As more and more WikiLeaks cables get released, the Brazilian-U.S. diplomatic relationship has become increasingly illuminated. Though somewhat wary of each other, Washington and Brasilia sometimes saw eye to eye on matters of geopolitical importance. Take, for example, both countries' handling of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez. Under the helm of Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva, Brazil cultivated a strategic alliance with Venezuela and publicly the two nations embraced South America's "pink tide" to the left. Yet, WikiLeaks documents reveal that Brazil may have shared Washington's concern over Chávez's rising geopolitical importance, particularly in the Caribbean theater.

During the Bush years, American diplomats kept a close bead on Venezuela's growing partnerships in areas far afield. In Jamaica, for example, U.S. officials conducted a "sustained effort to dissuade" the authorities from supporting Chávez's bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Concerned over Venezuela's rising star in the region, the Americans met with the Jamaican political opposition. Writing to her superiors in Washington, U.S. ambassador in Kingston Brenda Johnson expressed "concerns over the influence of Venezuelan money and energy supplies in Jamaica in the years ahead."

Monitoring Chávez in Jamaica

During a local cricket match, Bruce Golding of Jamaica's opposition Labour Party approached the ambassador to request a meeting. Asking that the U.S. hold the information in "strict confidence," Golding revealed that his party's concern over Chávez had "heightened in recent weeks." Confidentially, he continued, a "senior person in the government" had passed him "sensitive inside information," and "a number of persons within the government" were "frightened over the secrecy" concerning Jamaica's official dealings with Chávez.

Spinning a rather cloak and dagger narrative, Golding explained how senior officials from the ruling People's National Party (PNP) had recently flown to Caracas. Once in the Venezuelan capital, he claimed, they had been given one or two large packages and thereafter returned to Kingston. The opposition politician alleged that overall the Venezuelans had doled out $4-5 million to the PNP in Caracas in order to finance the electoral campaign of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. The very next week, the government magically claimed that it had managed to repay $475,000 to a Dutch-based oil trading firm called Trafigura.

Earlier, the company had made the "contribution" to the PNP, but when the matter came to public attention the news spiraled into a full blown campaign finance scandal. Speaking to the U.S. ambassador, Golding thought it was "logical" that part of the cash which Venezuela had given to the Jamaicans had been later used to pay back Trafigura. Going further, Golding claimed that just before the Trafigura "contribution," the PNP had experienced financial problems and even found it difficult to maintain its own facilities. Recently, however, there had been a "dramatic turnaround," and the party no longer found it necessary to solicit contributions from the private sector.

Because Jamaica already participated in Chávez's so-called Petrocaribe program, which provided liquefied natural gas to the Caribbean nation, Golding feared that "it would be easy to imagine a scenario in which Chávez offered to write off or defer a portion of these debts in return for government of Jamaica support of his positions in international fora." In drawing closer to Chávez, Golding continued, Jamaica was "getting mixed up with something from which it will be difficult to extricate ourselves." In conclusion, Golding thought that Chávez had become a "godfather with money." Jamaica, he said, was "being sucked into an agenda not of our own making. Chávez waves cash, we're mesmerized, and cave in to anything he wants."

While it's unclear whether Golding was speaking the truth, WikiLeaks cables suggest that the U.S. ambassador took the politician's points seriously enough. Reflecting a paranoid anti-Chávez mindset, Johnson told the Jamaican that he should "raise these concerns with U.S. government officials during [an] upcoming visit to Washington."

Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, U.S. diplomats carefully monitored Chávez influence. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Americans sat up and took note when local politicians signed on to Venezuela's PetroCaribe accord. When Chávez sent liquefied petroleum gas to the government of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, the American Embassy in Bridgetown remarked that "the timing of the shipments, the first of which arrived just prior to St. Vincent's December 2005 general election, led to speculation that they were also intended to shore up the electoral prospects of the PM. Gonsalves is one of Venezuela President Hugo Chávez's most ardent supporters in the region."

Over in Grenada, meanwhile, the Americans noted that the authorities had signed on to the PetroCaribe deal and hoped to import diesel supplied by Venezuela's state oil company PdVSA. In light of the contentious history of U.S. military intervention in Grenada, Washington would have been interested in keeping Grenada out of Venezuela's orbit. It's not clear from the cables whether American diplomats pressured Grenada to cut its links to Venezuela, but other documents suggest that, overall, Washington had grown concerned about the Caribbean theater. In 2008, for example, U.S. ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Mary Ourisman sat down with Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Speaking over breakfast at the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Ourisman pressed Gonsalves on his country's recent participation in Chávez's Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (or ALBA) summit in Caracas. Somewhat defensively, "Gonsalves was quick to deny any military and intelligence agenda or component to ALBA, and appeared to generally want to disassociate himself from Chávez's ideologies. He was quick to thank the United States for its continued military and law enforcement assistance."

Gonsalves' soothing assurances notwithstanding, Ourisman was suspicious. "While the friendly nature of the meeting reflected the Embassy's generally good relations with St. Vincent and the Grenadines," she remarked, "Gonsalves was at his legalistic best, downplaying both Saint Vincent's and the Grenadines involvement in ALBA."

Brazil's Fears over Guyana

While it's not too surprising that Washington during the Bush years kept a careful eye on Chávez in the Caribbean, it's interesting to note that Brazil too had grown concerned. On the surface at least this might seem surprising: publicly, Brazil's Workers' Party President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva embraced neighboring Venezuela. WikiLeaks documents, however, reveal that powerful figures in Brasilia were growing increasingly restive and nervous when faced with Venezuela's bold assertiveness in the Caribbean.

As part of its efforts to become a "responsible" member of the international community, Brazil has taken a more active role in the Caribbean theater, sending peacekeeping troops to Haiti and beefing up ties to Cuba in advance of the island's post-Castro transition. Speaking to U.S. diplomats, Lula officials threw cold water on the notion that leftist Venezuela would continue to play a significant role in Cuba. Chávez's brand of "strident" populism, they remarked, had "less space to grow in Latin America than you may think." On the other hand, closer to home in the Caribbean Brazilian politicians saw themselves in more direct competition with Venezuela for geopolitical influence, for instance in Guyana.

Chorus of Conservative Brasilia Politicians

In early 2007, former President and sitting Senator Jose Sarney of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party fretted to American diplomats that Venezuela was "becoming a destabilizing military power." Warming to his theme, Sarney remarked that he was "especially concerned about Venezuela's irrendentist claims on Guyana's Essequibo region." Growing even more alarmist, the politician stated that two thirds of Guyana was rich in diamonds and Chávez could "cause trouble over an area of 170,000 square kilometers." A conflict was all but inevitable, Sarney continued, and "in that event, a burden will fall on Brazil's shoulders."

In the following months, a growing number of conservative politicians in Brasilia echoed such alarmist claims until Sarney finally laid down the gauntlet, urging Washington to "do more to counter Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's increasingly destabilizing actions in the region."
Since Sarney's last tete-a-tete with the Americans, tensions had mounted in the Essequibo region, with Guyana accusing Venezuela of militarily invading its territory to stave off gold mining operations. Caracas flatly rejected the claim, arguing that the incursion occurred squarely within Venezuelan territory.

Reiterating his previous arguments, Sarney said that Chávez sought to "create a hotspot of regional conflict like the Balkans," and would seize Guyana's Essequibo region. Speaking candidly, the politician remarked that Lula was "aware of the dangers Chávez presents," but unfortunately the Brazilian Foreign Ministry was "infiltrated" with Chávez sympathizers.

The Mood Begins to Shift in Brasilia

Despite Sarney's claims about the pro-Chávez leanings within the Brazilian government, WikiLeaks cables suggest that many within the political elite had grown tired and impatient with Venezuela. Take, for example, Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, who "expressed a personal concern that if Chávez started to have domestic problems, he could decide to focus public attention on unresolved claims on Venezuela's borders." Rather bluntly, Jobim suggested to the Americans that Brasilia and Washington should "step in and confront Chávez if he did anything extraterritorial."

Though Lula continued to defend Venezuelan democracy, opposition politicians in Brasilia began to see their president's position on Chávez as "weak and fearful of conflict." Overall, the Americans noted, the mood was changing in Brasilia and there was "growing agreement among the political and foreign policy elites that Venezuela represents a threat to stability and that something must be done."

By early 2008, Sarney was openly asking the Americans for any information relating to Venezuela's arms purchases. Elaborating further, the veteran politician added that Chávez's aggressive behavior could pose a threat to a Brazilian road which stretched from the jungle city of Manaus all the way to the Guyanese border.

Interestingly, however, it wasn't just the political opposition which had grown leery of Chávez and Venezuela's regional ambitions. If WikiLeaks cables can be believed, Lula himself was ready to throw in the towel and the president had grown increasingly worried about Venezuela's "serious" border problems with Guyana. Indeed, Lula believed that Venezuela might even want to "annex one third of Guyana's territory."

That, at least, was the claim of one Antonio Delfim Netto, one of Brazil's "most influential economic commentators" and a former Minister of Finance who was said to meet with Lula regularly to provide informal economic advice. Delfim, who the Americans referred to as a "strictly protected" source, told the U.S. ambassador in Brasilia that "if Venezuela were to invade Guyana, Caracas would likely militarize all of Venezuela's south, antagonizing the indigenous populations there."

Delfim added that this would "have an impact on Brazil because the territories of at least one tribe, the Yanomami Indians spills over the Venezuela-Brazil border. Delfim believes that, should Venezuela invade Guyana, the Yanomamis will declare independence, forcing Brazil to get involved in a Venezuela-Guyana war."

Fortunately, the border dispute did not turn into armed conflict but further WikiLeaks cables suggest that Brazil may have seen Venezuela as an ongoing geopolitical rival in Guyana. In late 2009, U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Lisa Kubiske wrote Washington that Brazil was involved in talks with Guyana to build a hydroelectric plant in the disputed area claimed by Venezuela.

To be sure, Lula officials told the Americans, the project would augment energy capacity for both Guyana and Brazil. However, the initiative would also exert an important political impact by allowing Guyana "to establish government infrastructure in the disputed territory." Kubiske added that the project would allow Lula to build upon Brazilian efforts to promote a South American political bloc, "through which Brazil can conduct harmonious regional relations while building a base of support for its larger international ambitions."

Wary Allies

In an effort to stay on the good side of most all countries, Brazil is reluctant to offend those nations in its immediate neighborhood. WikiLeaks documents suggest that, for now, Brazil and the U.S. are somewhat ambiguous diplomatic partners. Both reportedly see eye to eye on the need to keep Venezuela in check within the Caribbean theater, with Brasilia frequently taking a back seat and waiting for the U.S. to take the initiative and rein in Chávez.

For the time being, then, an unsure Brazil will continue to play the role of junior diplomatic partner. However, in the not so distant future such an arrangement could be subject to change. As Brazil becomes more economically and politically prominent, the South American juggernaut may seek to exert its influence more assertively, even within Washington's traditional "back yard" of the Caribbean or even Central America. If WikiLeaks cables are any indication, U.S. diplomats are already keenly aware of this growing rivalry and see Brasilia as their greatest competitor in the region.

Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left and No Rain in the Amazon: How South America's Climate Affects the Entire Planet. Visit his website,

2011-08-30 Daniel Domscheit-Berg: a comparative analysis

In the light of the recent press statements by Openleaks spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg we decided to have a look at some older coverage, in particular his Spiegel interview from the 27th of September 2010. It appeared soon after he had left Wikileaks, and it was also translated into English.

The first question of the Spiegel reporters concerned the state of the Wikileaks IT infrastructure. Asked why the Wikileaks e mail system was down, Domscheit-Berg answered:

"Es gibt technische Probleme und niemanden, der sich darum kümmert. WikiLeaks steckt in einer Phase, in der sich das Projekt verändern müsste. Wir sind in den letzten Monaten wahnsinnig schnell gewachsen und müssten uns dringend in allen Bereichen professionalisieren und transparenter werden. Diese Entwicklung wird intern blockiert."

"There are technical problems and no one to take care of them. WikiLeaks is stuck in a phase in which the project has to change itself. We grew insanely fast in recent months and we urgently need to become more professional and transparent in all areas. This development is being blocked internally."

He does not mention that it was him and an associate who took the servers offline, as he now admitted. Rather, he makes it appear that this was a general structural problem.

Another very interesting fact is that he admits to having coordinated the finances of Wikileaks. Thus, he acknowledges that he knew about the funds available via the Wau Holland Foundation. This makes it very difficult to comprehend, why he would have paid servers privately, as he has now claimed.

Most revealing is, however, the following passage about pending submissions:

"Und durch unsere gestiegene Bekanntheit ist im letzten halben Jahr noch einmal sehr viel Material hinzugekommen, das dringend bearbeitet und publiziert werden müsste."

"And through our rising recognition in the last six months, we have again received a lot of material that urgently needs to be processed and published."

This statement is in stark contrast to a recent interview with Austrian public TV station ORF:

"Alles Interessante an dem Material war schon längst veröffentlicht, etwa das CIA Red Cell Memorandum, die Loveparade-Geschichte und einige andere Einzelfälle. Es hat sich darunter nichts mehr befunden, was den Aufwand und das Risiko einer Veröffentlichung gerechtfertigt hätten."

"All of the interesting material had been published a long time ago, for instance the CIA Red Cell Memorandum, the Loveparade matter, and some other isolated things. Amongst it, there was nothing that would have justified the time [needed for the editorial efforts] or the risk it posed."

With regard to the ownership of the pending Wikileaks submissions and the servers, he says:

"Aus meiner Sicht sollten Material und alle Spendengelder bei WikiLeaks bleiben, denn beides ist explizit diesem Projekt zugeflossen."

"It is my view that material and money from donors should remain at WikiLeaks, because both were intended explicitly for this project."

At some point, he must have changed his mind about the matter. By February, he gave another interview to German weekly magazine Stern, stating that he would only return the data if Wikileaks could guarantee security. He criticizes amongst others that they did not have an encrypted website, and gives as a reason that Assange was obviously too busy exploiting the present releases.

At around the same time, Wikileaks' German solicitor Johannes Eisenberg sent Domscheit-Berg a letter asking for the material to be returned.

Overall, it has become clear that Domscheit-Berg changed his story. A year ago, he talked about a number of important submissions which were left aside, and uses this as a reason to criticize Wikileaks, whereas he now claims that the submissions were not worth the effort, to justify that he destroyed them.

2011-08-31 Australian High Court throws out Malaysian refugee deal.

Ever since John Howard successfully wedged the Australian Labor Party (ALP) over the Tampa incident refusing permission for the Norwegian freighter MV Tampa, carrying 438 rescued Afghans from a distressed fishing vessel in international waters, to enter Australian waters...trigger(ing) an Australian political controversy in the lead up to a federal election, and a diplomatic dispute between Australia and Norway.; the ALP under former Prime Minister Rudd and current PM Gillard have consistently refused to do anything but pander to the Islamophobic element in the Australian polity.

Notwithstanding around some permanent 50,000 illegal overstayers on visitor visas (who not coincidently happen to be predominantly Caucasian), the ALP tries valiantly to outdo the even more obnoxious Liberal National Party coalition whose "dog whistling" on "boat people" who happen to be almost exclusively (of the last decade) Muslims - is legendary.

We will decide who comes to this country and the manner in which they come said John Howard before the November 2001 election. With that, the Convention on Refugees went out the window, and ever since, the ALP instead of using its overwhelming 2007 mandate to educate, has continued to pander to Islamophobic voters.

With the "Malaysian Solution" PM Gillard has followed the LNP suit excepting now, a big slap down from the High Court.

Today the High Court held invalid (pdf) the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship's declaration of Malaysia as a country to which asylum seekers who entered Australia at Christmas Island can be taken for processing of their asylum claims. After an expedited hearing before the Full Bench, the Court by majority made permanent the injunctions that had been granted earlier and restrained the Minister from taking to Malaysia two asylum seekers who arrived at Christmas Island, as part of a larger group, less than four weeks ago.

The Court also decided that an unaccompanied asylum seeker who is under 18 years of age may not lawfully be taken from Australia without the Minister's written consent under the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946 (Cth). The Court granted an injunction restraining the Minister from removing the second plaintiff, an Afghan citizen aged 16, from Australia without that consent.

The Court held that, under s 198A of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth), the Minister cannot validly declare a country (as a country to which asylum seekers can be taken for processing) unless that country is legally bound to meet three criteria. The country must be legally bound by international law or its own domestic law to: provide access for asylum seekers to effective procedures for assessing their need for protection; provide protection for asylum seekers pending determination of their refugee status; and provide protection for persons given refugee status pending their voluntary return to their country of origin or their resettlement in another country. In addition to these criteria, the Migration Act requires that the country meet certain human rights standards in providing that protection.

The Court also held that the Minister has no other power under the Migration Act to remove from Australia asylum seekers whose claims for protection have not been determined. They can only be taken to a country validly declared under s 198A to be a country that provides the access and the protections and meets the standards described above. The general powers of removal of "unlawful non-citizens" given by the Migration Act (in particular s 198) cannot be used when the Migration Act has made specific provision for the taking of asylum seekers who are offshore entry persons and whose claims have not been processed to another country, and has specified particular statutory criteria that the country of removal must meet.

On the facts which the parties had agreed, the Court held that Malaysia is not legally bound to provide the access and protections the Migration Act requires for a valid declaration. Malaysia is not a party to the Refugees Convention or its Protocol. The Arrangement which the Minister signed with the Malaysian Minister for Home Affairs on 25 July 2011 said expressly that it was not legally binding. The parties agreed that Malaysia is not legally bound to, and does not, recognise the status of refugee in its domestic law. They agreed that Malaysia does not itself undertake any activities related to the reception, registration, documentation or status determination of asylum seekers and refugees. Rather, the parties agreed, Malaysia permits the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ("UNHCR") to undertake those activities in Malaysia and allows asylum seekers to remain in Malaysia while UNHCR does so.

The Court emphasised that, in deciding whether the Minister's declaration of Malaysia was valid, it expressed no view about whether Malaysia in fact meets relevant human rights standards in dealing with asylum seekers or refugees or whether asylum seekers in that country are treated fairly or appropriately. The Court's decision was based upon the criteria which the Minister must apply before he could make a declaration under s 198A.

• This statement is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the High Court or to be used in
any later consideration of the Court’s reasons.

The full

This writer has despaired in recent times of our High Court since the time of the judgement of Al Kateb, where it was held that refugees who could not be sent back could be detained indefinitely, and that would not be considered to be punitive but "administrative", however today, I salute the High Court.

Undoubtedly so do those affected by this decision.

2011-08-31 Guardian responds to WikiLeaks accusations

The Guardian has now responded to Wikileaks' accusations. They state that they were told that the password was only temporary, and that the server from which the file was downloaded was only live for a few hours.

They also claim that the file was available on BitTorrent at some point.

This statement raises a valid point, namely how the files came to be posted on the web. Had their present location been controlled by Wikileaks, the file would have been removed by now. According to Spiegel (original), the file was posted online by "supporters", after it was handed back by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who had seized the Wikileaks servers. According to Heise, he was asked to return the old Wikileaks website, which he did. The file in question must have been transferred along with it.

Please see our previous coverage for more information.

2011-08-31 Unredacted Cablegate in the wild, WikiLeaks responds

It finally happened. An old cablegate file was detected on the internet, and it could be decrypted with a password that was published by a Guardian journalist. The file is not in an obvious location, and it may be doubted that anyone would have ever found it, along with the matching password, had it not been for Der Freitag publishing an article on the matter, which was then followed up by several other news outlets. Der Freitag is a media partner of Openleaks and has strong ties with the Guardian.

WL Central had guessed the source of the password early on but decided not to publish.

Wikileaks responded with the following statement:

"Statement on the betrayal of WikiLeaks passwords by the Guardian.

GMT Wed Aug 31 22:27:48 2011 GMT

A Guardian journalist has, in a previously undetected act of gross negligence or malice, and in violation a signed security agreement with the Guardian's editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, disclosed top secret decryption passwords to the entire, unredacted, WikiLeaks Cablegate archive. We have already spoken to the State Department and commenced pre-litigation action. We will issue a formal statement in due course.


For our previous coverage of the topic please see this link.

2011-08-31 WIKILEAKS EDITORIAL - Guardian disclosure [Update]

Wikileaks just posted this editorial:

WIKILEAKS EDITORIAL - Guardian disclosure

Wed Aug 31 23:44:00 2011 GMT

A Guardian journalist has negligently disclosed top secret WikiLeaks’ decryption passwords to hundreds of thousands of unredacted unpublished US diplomatic cables.

Knowledge of the Guardian disclosure has spread privately over several months but reached critical mass last week. The unpublished WikiLeaks’ material includes over 100,000 classified unredacted cables that were being analyzed, in parts, by over 50 media and human rights organizations from around the world.

For the past month WikiLeaks has been in the unenviable position of not being able to comment on what has happened, since to do so would be to draw attention to the decryption passwords in the Guardian book. Now that the connection has been made public by others we can explain what happened and what we intend to do.

WikiLeaks has commenced pre-litigation action against the Guardian and an individual in Germany who was distributing the Guardian passwords for personal gain.

Over the past nine months, WikiLeaks has been carefully releasing US diplomatic cables according to a carefully laid out plan to stimulate profound changes. A number of human rights groups, including Amnesty International, believe that the co-ordinated release of the cables contributed to triggering the Arab Spring. By forming partnerships with over 90 other media and human rights organizations WikiLeaks has been laying the ground for positive political change all over the world.

The WikiLeaks method involves a sophisticated procedure of packaging leaked US diplomatic cables up into country groups or themes, such as ’resources corruption’, and providing it to those organizations that agreed to do the most research in exchange for time-limited exclusivity. As part of the WikiLeaks agreement, these groups, using their local knowledge, remove the names of persons reporting unjust acts to US embassies, and feed the results back to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks then publishes, simultaneously with its partners, the underlying cables together with the politically explosive revelations. This way publications that are too frightened to publish the cables have the proof they need, and the public can check to make sure the claims are accurate.

Over time WikiLeaks has been building up, and publishing, the complete Cablegate "library"—the most significant political document ever published. The mammoth task of reading and lightly redacting what amounts to 3,000 volumes or 284 million words of global political history is shared by WikiLeaks and its partners. That careful work has been compromised as a result of the recklessness of the Guardian.

Revolutions and reforms are in danger of being lost as the unpublished cables spread to intelligence contractors and governments before the public. The Arab Spring would not have have started in the manner it did if the Tunisian government of Ben Ali had copies of those WikiLeaks releases which helped to take down his government. Similarly, it is possible that the torturing Egyptian internal security chief, Suleiman—Washington’s proposed replacement for Mubarak—would now be the acting ruler of Egypt, had he acquired copies of the cables that exposed his methods prior to their publication.

Indeed, it is one of the indelible stains on Hillary Clinton that she personally set course to forewarn dozens of corrupt leaders, including Hosni Mubarak, about some of the most powerful details of WikiLeaks’ revelations to come.

Every day that the corrupt leadership of a country or organization knows of a pending WikiLeaks disclosure is a day spent planning how to crush revolution and reform.

Guardian investigations editor, David Leigh, recklessly, and without gaining our approval, knowingly disclosed the decryption passwords in a book published by the Guardian. Leigh states the book was rushed forward to be written in three weeks—the rights were then sold to Hollywood.

The following extract is from the Guardian book:


Leigh tried his best not to fall out with this Australian impresario, who was prone to criticise what he called the “snaky Brits”. Instead, Leigh used his ever-shifting demands as a negotiating lever. “You want us to postpone the Iraq logs’ publication so you can get some TV,” he said. [WikiLeaks: We required more time for redactions and to complete its three Iraq war documentaries commissioned through the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The documentaries were syndicated through Channel 4 (UK) and al Jazeera English and Arabic] “We could refuse, and simply go ahead with publication as planned. If you want us to do something for you, then you’ve got to do something for us as well.” He asked Assange to stop procrastinating, and hand over the biggest trove of all: the cables. Assange said, “I could give you half of them, covering the first 50% of the period.”

Leigh refused. All or nothing, he said. “What happens if you end up in an orange jump-suit en route to Guantánamo before you can release the full files?” In return he would give Assange a promise to keep the cables secure, and not to publish them until the time came. Assange had always been vague about timing: he generally indicated, however, that October would be a suitable date. He believed the US army’s charges against the imprisoned soldier Bradley Manning would have crystallised by then, and publication could not make his fate any worse. He also said, echoing Leigh’s gallows humour: “I’m going to need to be safe in Cuba first!” Eventually, Assange capitulated. Late at night, after a two-hour debate, he started the process on one of his little netbooks that would enable Leigh to download the entire tranche of cables. The Guardian journalist had to set up the PGP encryption system on his laptop at home across the other side of London. Then he could feed in a password. Assange wrote down on a scrap of paper:


“That’s the password,” he said. “But you have to add one extra word when you type it in. You have to put in the word ‘XXXXXXX’ before the word ‘XXXXXX’ [WikiLeaks: so if the paper were seized, the password would not work without Leigh’s co-operation] Can you remember that?” “I can remember that.” Leigh set off home, and successfully installed the PGP software.


The Guardian disclosure is a violation of the confidentiality agreement between WikiLeaks and Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian, signed July 2, 2010. David Leigh is also Alan Rusbridger’s brother in law, which has caused other Guardian journalists to claim that David Leigh has been unfairly protected from the fallout. It is not the first time the WikiLeaks security agreement has been violated by the Guardian.

WikiLeaks severed future projects with the Guardian in December last year after it was discovered that the Guardian was engaged in a conspiracy to publish the cables without the knowledge of WikiLeaks, seriously compromising the security of people in the United States and an alleged source who was in pre-trial detention. Leigh, without any basis, and in a flagrant violation of journalistic ethics, named Bradley Manning as the Cablegate source in his book. David Leigh secretly passed the entire archive to Bill Keller of the New York Times, in September 2011, or before, knowingly destroying WikiLeaks plans to publish instead with the Washington Post & McClatchy.

David Leigh and the Guardian have subsequently and repeatedly violated WikiLeaks security conditions, including our requirements that the unpublished cables be kept safe from state intelligence services by keeping them only on computers not connected to the internet. Ian Katz, Deputy Editor of the Guardian admitted in December 2010 meeting that this condition was not being followed by the Guardian.

PJ Crowley, State Department spokesman on the cables issue earlier this year, told AP on the 30th of August, 2011 that “any autocratic security service worth its salt” would probably already have the complete unredacted archive.

Two weeks ago, when it was discovered that information about the Leigh book had spread so much that it was about to be published in the German weekly Freitag, WikiLeaks took emergency action, asking the editor not allude to the Leigh book, and tasked its lawyers to demand those maliciously spreading its details about the Leigh book stop.

WikiLeaks advanced its regular publication schedule, to get as much of the material as possible into the hands of journalists and human rights lawyers who need it. WikiLeaks and its partners were scheduled to have published most of the Cablegate material by November 29, 2011 – one year since the first publication. Over the past week, we have published over 130,000 cables, mostly unclassified. The cables have lead to hundreds of important news stories around the world. All were unclassified with the exception of the Australian, Swedish collections, and a few others, which were scheduled by our partners.

WikiLeaks has also been in contact with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty at a senior level. We contacted the US embassy in London and then the State Department in Washington on 25 August to see if their informant notification program, instituted last year, was complete, and if not, to take such steps as would be helpful. Only after repeated attempts through high level channels and 36 hours after our first contact, did the State Department, although it had been made aware of the issue, respond. Cliff Johnson (a legal advisor at the Department of State) spoke to Julian Assange for 75 minutes, but the State Department decided not to meet in person to receive further information, which could not, at that stage, be safely transmitted over the telephone.


Wikileaks published this statement on their website, along with facsimiles of three documents, a legal letter to Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the memorandum of understanding with Alan Rusbridger and another sample memorandum.