United Kingdom

Look At What Just Happened

I just had to watch Fox News talking about how Wikileaks was promoting anarchy. It’s not my fault, I was looking for ghouls. Anyway, when I went back to twitter everyone I follow had linked the first video below. We had been talking a lot about how the behaviour of the MIC in the last year will radicalize a generation that has been widely regarded as being completely self absorbed, spoiled, etc., etc., all the things old people usually call young people who haven’t done anything yet. But look at this.

The calm before the great storm

When Julian Assange was arrested beginning of this week, all newspapers were all over the story. Suddenly Norwegian and Swedish media erupted in yet another frenzy regarding Assange and Wikileaks. Unfortunately that excitement seems to have died of a bit. It actually seems that it has become completely forgotten by the media at this point. I have visited some of the biggest newspapers online in Norway and Sweden and I can't find any stories regarding Assange or Wikileaks -- unless I check their weekly archive.

2010-12-10 New WikiLeaks support rallies announced [Update 2]

For the complete list of current events, please click here.

UNITED STATES

Wikileaks National Rally for Transparency

Washington DC, other locations: Saturday, January 15
Location: To be announced
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wikileaks-National-Rally-for-Transparency/...

Miami FL:: Monday, December 13, 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Location: U.S. Attorney's Office Building, 99 Northeast 4th Street, Miami, FL
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=175854382432344

San Jose, CA: Friday, December 10, 2010, 12pm - 3pm
Location: In front of San Jose City Hall
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=178828535463159

San Jose, CA: Thursday, December 16, all day
Location: San Jose State University

UNITED KINGDOM

London:, Monday, December 13, 4pm
Location: Swedish Embassy, 11 Montagu Place, London W1H 2AL
Topic: Against extradition to Sweden (JusticeforAssange.com Campaign)
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-for-Assange-UK/169102599797422?v=wall
Campaign website: http://www.justiceforassange.com

SPAIN

For freedom, say no to state terrorism

Madrid: Saturday, December 11, 6pm
Location: Embajada británica en Madrid (British Embassy), Torre Espacio, Paseo de la Castellana 259D, 28046 Madrid
Event page: http://freewikileaks.eu/

A Coruña: Saturday, December 11, 6pm
Location: Embajada de Suecia en A Coruña (Swedish Embassy): Sale del Cantón Grande a las 18.00 en el Obelisco hacía la Avenida de Linares Rivas 18-21, A Coruña, Spain
Event page: http://freewikileaks.eu/

Barcelona: Saturday, December 11, 6pm

2010-12-09 New WikiLeaks global support rallies announced [Update 2]

New events in support of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have been announced as below. Our current list of events is available here. Note to event organizers: please email us at admin@wlcentral.org with updated event information, such as event pages.

AUSTRALIA

Perth: Friday, December 10, 6:00pm
Location: Wesley Church, corner of William & Hay Streets, Perth City
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=152006861514227

Canberra: Thursday, December 16, 5:30pm
Location: Garema Place, Civic
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=109503732454066

UNITED STATES

New York City, NY: Saturday, December 11 at 12:00 noon
Location: British Consulate-General at 845 Third Ave.

Minneapolis, MN: Monday, December 13, 4:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: Senator Klobuchar's Minneapolis Office, 1200 Washington Ave S., Minneapolis, MN
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=109641875774406

THE NETHERLANDS

Amsterdam: Saturday, December 11, 2:00pm
Location: De Dam
Event page: http://www.dejimachan.org/jihad/

UNITED KINGDOM

London: Tuesday, December 14, 11:00am - 6:00pm
Location: City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, 70 Horseferry Rd, Westminster, London SW1P
Directions: Google maps
Nearby stations: St. James Park, Victoria and Pimlico

2010-12-08 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Consult us before using intelligence to commit war crimes, US tells Uganda

"The US told Uganda to let it know when the army was going to commit war crimes using American intelligence – but did not try to dissuade it from doing so, the US embassy cables suggest.

America was supporting the Ugandan government in its fight against rebel movement the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), providing information and $4.4m (£2.8m) worth of military hardware a year.[...]

[US Ambassador Jerry] Lanier continued: "Uganda understands the need to consult with the US in advance if the [Ugandan army] intends to use US-supplied intelligence to engage in operations not government [sic] by the law of armed conflict. Uganda understands and acknowledges that misuse of this intelligence could cause the US to end this intelligence sharing relationship."

Nowhere, though, does it appear that the ambassador directly told the Ugandans to observe the rules of war."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Shell's grip on Nigerian state revealed

"The oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians' every move in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

The company's top executive in Nigeria told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew "everything that was being done in those ministries". She boasted that the Nigerian government had "forgotten" about the extent of Shell's infiltration and was unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations."
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2010-12-08 WikiLeaks events and protests [Update 5]

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Please note: This news post is not being updated anymore. For a list of current WikiLeaks events, please click here.

AUSTRALIA: Discussion: Julian Assange, Law & Politics

Melbourne: A meeting to discuss Wikileaks' Julian Assange's legal and political position
Speakers: Julian Burnside AO QC, Peter Gordon, John Faine and Professor Spencer Zifcak
Date: Thursday 9 December 2010
Time: 5:30pm
Venue: the Law Institute of Victoria, 470 Bourke St, Melbourne
Details: http://www.law.monash.edu.au/castancentre/events/index.html

AUSTRALIA: National rallies to defend Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

Media release: http://wlcentral.org/node/556

Website: http://rally4wikileaks.com/

Brisbane: Thursday, December 9, 5.30pm
Location: Brisbane Square CBD
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=153885131325141

Sydney: Friday, December 10, 1pm
Location: Sydney Town Hall
Media contacts: Antony Loewenstein 0402 893 690; Simon Butler 0421 231 011. Rally information: [contact details redacted on request]
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=161656067211736

Melbourne: Friday, December 10, 4:30pm
Location: State Library Lawns, Melbourne
Contact: Vashti Jane 0423 407 910.
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=182297491780623

Brisbane: Friday, December 10, 12:00 noon
Location: Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, 295 Anne Street, Brisbane CBD
Rally information: Liam Hanlon 0435 266 613. Media contact: Jim McIlroy 0423 741 734
Event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155161634529449

Hobart: Saturday, December 11, 12:00 noon
Location: Hobart Parliament Lawns

2010-12-08 WikiLeaks Statement: "We will not be gagged"

STATEMENT: "We will not be gagged"

Following the detention of Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assangem, Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said:

“Today, Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange was refused bail by a UK court. While we are troubled by this bizarre decision, we know Julian is grateful for the support of both his legal team and prominent figures such as Ken Loach, Jemima Khan and John Pilger.

“However, this will not stifle Wikileaks. The release of the US Embassy Cables – the biggest leak in history – will still continue. This evening, the latest batch of cables were released, and our media partners released their next batch of stories.

“We will not be gagged, either by judicial action or corporate censorship. Today Visa joined Mastercard, Paypal, Amazon, EveryDNS and others in cutting off their links.

“Wikileaks is still online. The full site is duplicated in more than 500 locations. Every day, the cables are loaded more than 50 million times.

“US Senator Joe Lieberman today attacked the New York Times for its decision to publish the cables, just days after calling for companies to boycott Wikileaks.

“Just minutes later, the State Department announced the US will host next year’s UNESCO Press Freedom day. The irony is not lost on us. We hope in future, UNESCO celebrates press freedom somewhere where it exists.”

Visit the Cablegate site at http://www.wikileaks.ch/cablegate

(via @wikileaks| Source: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/7canol)

Speeches for Rallies

Written in response to a specific request but available for use by anyone. Feel free to use, in whole or in part, or publish them on a website, newsletter, store window, office cublicle, etc. If you are organizing a rally, please tell me the details and I’ll post them here and at WLCentral. Thank you all for your support.

Read more ...

2010-12-07 [Alert] Protest at Westminster Magistrates' Court, 13:30

A demostration to protest Julian Assange's arrest is being organized today at 13:30 London time in front of the Westminster Magistrates' Court. Please join if you can!

Address: 70 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AX (More details)

Map: Google maps

Details: http://www.justiceforassange.com/

2010-12-07 Julian Assange arrested on Swedish warrant [Update 9]

The London Metropolitan Police has confirmed that Julian Assange was arrested this morning on behalf of the Swedish authorities, reports The Guardian: "Julian Assange, 39, was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant by appointment at a London police station at 9.30am."

The statement notes that he is due to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court today.

"As of last night Assange had still not been told of the full allegations against him, his lawyer Jennifer Robinson explained in a Guardian video to be released soon," notes The Guardian.

WL Central would like to ask all of our readers to support Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. You can donate to WikiLeaks to help with legal costs, speak up in support, contact your elected representatives and ask them to uphold Julian Assange's rights, join a protest.

If Julian Assange can be silenced, so can every one of us. Stand up, speak up: for him, for yourself, for all of us. Before it's too late.

Update 1: Jennifer Robinson's video statement is now available on the Guardian site.

Update 2: Kristinn Hrafnsson told the Associated Press that Julian Assange's arrest is an attack on media freedom and that it won't prevent the organization from spilling secrets on the web.

The ITV's Keir Simmons said on Twitter that Julian Assange will appear in court at 2pm London time according to a court source.

2010-12-06 News from the infowar front, continued [Update 2]

Today, PostFinance, the banking arm of SwissPost, announced that it closed the account created for the Julian Assange Defence Fund, on the grounds that he provided a Geneva address while not being a Swiss resident. WikiLeaks has clarified that the address provided belonged to his lawyer. PostFinance Alex Josty told AP that "That's his money, he will get his money back. We just close the account and that's it." However, Marc Andrey, another PostFinance spokesman, told The New York Times that "efforts to contact Mr. Assange to arrange for the funds in the account to be transferred had been unsuccessful." The status of the funds appears unclear.

Australia Post has announced on Friday that it would be closing the University of Melbourne Post Office on December 17, and, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, insisted that the closure "has nothing to do with the fact that Box 4080 is the Australian postal address for submissions to the whistleblower website." The post pox has long been used by WikiLeaks for submissions and donations via postal mail. "Coincidence? Or has the ever-closing security net around WikiLeaks been tightened a notch further?", asks the Herald's Daniel Flitton. "The architecture and planning building, where the post office is located, is to be demolished soon. But plans are not yet fixed and insiders expressed 'surprise' Australia Post had decided to close so early."

2010-12-05 Sweden case updates [Update 1]

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In an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr, lawyer Mark Stephens said:

"In Sweden it's quite bizarre though, because the chief prosecutor, the director of public prosecution in Sweden dropped the entire case against him, saying there was absolutely nothing for him to face, back in September. And then, a few weeks ago, after the intervention of a Swedish politician, a new prosecutor, not in Stockholm, where Julian and these women had been, but in Gothenburg, began a new case, which of course has resulted in these warrants and of course the Interpol red notice being put out across this week.

It does seem to be a political stunt, I mean, I have, and his Swedish lawyer, have been trying to get in touch with the prosecutors since August. Now, usually, it's the prosecutor who does the pursuing, not the pursued. And in this particular case, Julian Assange has tried to vindicate himself, has tried to meet with the prosecutors, to have his good name restored."

He remarked that "A warrant was issued on Thursday by reports. We've asked for it. We've been ignored at this point," adding that "He's only wanted for interview, why not have that interview by consent, rather than this show trial?"

He also talked about the calls for assassination coming from "credible sources around the world," and particularly the United States, including people as high up as Sarah Palin. He said that Julian Assange would certainly fight deportation to Sweden on the grounds that it could lead to him being handed over to the US, where senior politicians have called for him to be executed.

2010-12-04 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables blame Chinese government for Google hacking

"The hacking of Google that forced the search engine to withdraw from mainland China was orchestrated by a senior member of the communist politburo, according to classified information sent by US diplomats to Hillary Clinton's state department in Washington.

The leading politician became hostile to Google after he searched his own name and found articles criticising him personally, leaked cables from the US embassy in Beijing say.

That single act prompted a politically inspired assault on Google, forcing it to "walk away from a potential market of 400 million internet users" in January this year, amid a highly publicised row about internet censorship."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Spanish PM helped GE beat Rolls-Royce to helicopter deal

"Rolls-Royce lost a lucrative contract to supply helicopter engines to the Spanish military because of a personal intervention by Spain's prime minister, José Luis Zapatero, following vigorous lobbying from US diplomats, according to a secret cable from the US embassy in Madrid.

Eduardo Aguirre, the departing US ambassador to Spain, recounts behind-the-scenes diplomatic machinations that helped General Electric snatch a deal away from Rolls-Royce to provide engines for a state-of-the-art fleet of helicopters bought by the Spanish armed forces, a contract estimated by industry experts to be worth more than £200m.

Details of how Britain's best-known engineering company lost out to the Americans will fuel concerns that the so-called UK-US special relationship does not always deliver results."
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2010-12-04 Cablegate: Roundtable discussions

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Frontline Club: WikiLeaks - The US embassy cables

This event, held on December 1st, featured WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson and data journalist James Ball in a discussion with Colleen Graffy, former deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy (US State Department), and Sir Richard Dalton, associate fellow of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House. The discussion was moderated by author and broadcaster Tom Fenton.

The video recording of the event is now available on the Frontline website.

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NECN Broadside: WikiLeaks and espionage

Jim Braude interviewed civil rights attorney Harvey A. Silverglate on December 1st about the DoJ statements that they will seek to prosecute Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, potentially under the US Espionage Act. Silverglate, who participated in the Pentagon Papers case and served as the EFF's first litigation counsel, expounded on the difficulties that the US government would face in arguing such a case, and questioned whether it was in the best interests of the government to attempt to bring charges against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

He argued that it would be very hard to prove that the United States was harmed by the disclosures, and also that the government could not prosecute charges without having to divulge even more classified information in the process. In Silverglate's opinion, this is a reason why the US government would prefer to see Assange prosecuted in Sweden instead.

The video is available on the NECN website.

BBC HardTalk: WikiLeaks - Open Secrets

In this December 3rd panel show, Host Stephen Sackur speaks with former UK ambassador Carne Ross, former US deputy secretary of state John Negroponte, and WikiLeaks data journalist James Ball about the Cablegate disclosures.

The video is available on the BBC website until December 10th.

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Democracy Now!: Is WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange a Hero?

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales hosted a debate between Glenn Greenwald of Salon and Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News on December 3rd.

Glenn Greenwald: "If you look at the overall record of WikiLeaks—and let me just stipulate right upfront that WikiLeaks is a four-year-old organization, four years old. They’re operating completely unchartered territory. Have they made some mistakes and taken some missteps? Absolutely. They’re an imperfect organization. But on the whole, the amount of corruption and injustice in the world that WikiLeaks is exposing, not only in the United States, but around the world, in Peru, in Australia, in Kenya and in West Africa and in Iceland, much—incidents that are not very well known in the United States, but where WikiLeaks single-handedly uncovered very pervasive and systematic improprieties that would not have otherwise been uncovered, on top of all of the grave crimes committed by the United States. There is nobody close to that organization in terms of shining light of what the world’s most powerful factions are doing and in subverting the secrecy regime that is used to spawn all sorts of evils."

The video and full transcript are available on the Democracy Now! website.

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Democracy Now!: U.N. Special Rapporteur Juan Méndez: Instead of Focusing on Assange, U.S. Should Address WikiLeaks’ Disclosures of Torture

Democracy Now! interviewed Juan Méndez, the new U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, on December 2nd. The interview focused on Cablegate revelations regarding US spying on UN officials and torture committed under the Bush administration.

Juan Méndez: "What I am really worried about is that we seem to be focusing on whether disclosing these cables is legal or illegal, whether it merits some kinds of action against Mr. Assange. We’re not really discussing the merits, the substance of what some of these things reveal. And in my case, for example, I’m very concerned about the documents that show that literally thousands of people were first imprisoned by American forces and then transferred to the control of forces in Iraq and perhaps even in Afghanistan, where they knew that these people were going to be tortured. That’s a very clear violation of a standard that applies to the United States as a signatory of the Convention Against Torture, and I want to know what’s being done about getting to the bottom of that."

The full video is available on the Democracy Now! website.

2010-12-04 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks part 7 [Update 1]

(Please also see parts one, two, three, four, five and six in this series.)

Ryan Gallagher, Open Democracy: Wikileaks: the truth is not treason

"As international reaction testifies, the repercussions of Cablegate are massive. Wikileaks is changing the world without invitation, and the political establishment does not approve.[...]

“You can kill a man but you can't kill an idea,” as the civil rights activist Medgar Evers once said. And an idea is precisely what Wikileaks has become. It is no longer simply a website – it is a pure expression of democratic ideals, a philosophy realised by the force of technology. The powerful may condemn and attempt to repress Wikileaks and all it represents, but the situation has long since spun far from their control. Facilitated by the internet, a new battleground has been established. All traditions now hang in the balance and all bets are off."
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Matthew Down, National Journal: To Tell the Truth

"Everyone in Washington claims to support transparency and government openness during campaign season and when it’s popular to do so. They castigate the other side when it does things in secret and suggest that its intentions must be nefarious if it is unwilling to make its deliberations public. But when an organization discloses how our foreign policy is conducted, some of these same people claim that the release will endanger lives or threaten national security, or that the founder of WikiLeaks is a criminal.

When did we decide that we trust the government more than its citizens? And that revealing the truth about the government is wrong? And why is the media complicit in this? Did we not learn anything from the run-up to the Iraq war when no one asked hard questions about the justifications for the war and when we accepted statements from government officials without proper pushback?[...]

If we want to restore trust in our government, maybe we can start by telling the truth, keeping fewer secrets, and respecting the privacy of average citizens a little more. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please; you can never have both.”"
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Guy Rundle, Crikey: WikiLeaks -- time for a register

"The first four stories on the UK news tonight were all either created by, or transformed by, the WikiLeaks Cablegate releases.

The governor of the Bank of England has been revealed as no benign public servant, but a player, trying to push the incoming government towards a harsher, more purely Thatcherite economic policy, and worried that they lacked the guts to do it; the Sri Lankan President was greeted with a huge demonstration supercharged with revelations of government involvement in massacres of Tamils; the "special relationship" is being battered by revelations of non-reciprocity on extradition, spy flyovers and the like; and even the separate news of Russia's winning the 2018 World Cup was set in the context of its utter corruption -- something that many people now felt they knew as much about as the elite, dictating the policy we should take towards them.

How long this will go on no-one knows. But while it does, power relations are being subtly transformed in ways that may have effects for some time to come. Once WikiLeaks manage to secure service, and eventually place the Cablegate logs online, there will be three huge volumes -- the Iraq logs, the Afghan logs and Cablegate -- which effectively constitute an alternative history of the present."
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Jim Naureckas, FAIR: WikiLeaks Hasn't 'Leaked' Anything

"Actually, Julian Assange didn't leak anything--he can't, because he didn't have access to classified documents. Someone (or someones) who did have such access leaked those documents to Assange's WikiLeaks, which, as a journalistic organization, made them available to the world, both directly and through other media partners.

This distinction, which is widely ignored in commentary on WikiLeaks, is actually quite important, because the ethical obligations of a government official with a security clearance are quite different from those of a media outlet.[...]

To treat Assange as a leaker when he is, in fact, a journalist is not only morally confusing, it's quite dangerous to journalists in general. If the government can declare Assange to be spy or a terrorist because he's published classified documents he's received, every investigative journalist who does the same thing is in deep trouble."
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John Naughton: What the attacks on WikiLeaks tell us

"Like most people, I’ve only read a fraction of what’s been published by WikiLeaks, but one thing that might explain the official hysteria about the revelations is the way they comprehensively expose the way political elites in Western democracies have been lying to their electorates. The leaks make it abundantly clear not just that the US-Anglo-European adventure in Afghanistan is doomed (because even the dogs in the street know that, as we say in Ireland), but more importantly that the US and UK governments privately admit that too.

The problem is that they cannot face their electorates — who also happen to be the taxpayers who are funding this folly — and tell them this.[...]

What WikiLeaks is exposing is the way our democratic system has been hollowed out. Governments and Western political elites have been shown to be incompetent (New Labour and Bush Jnr in not regulating the financial sector; all governments in the area of climate change), corrupt (Fianna Fail in Ireland, Berlusconi in Italy; all governments in relation to the arms trade) or recklessly militaristic (Bush Jnr and Tony Blair in Iraq) and yet nowhere have they been called to account in any effective way. Instead they have obfuscated, lied or blustered their way through. And when, finally, the veil of secrecy is lifted in a really effective way, their reaction is to try to silence the messenger — as Noam Chomsky pointed out."
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Bernard Keane, Crikey: Missing the point on WikiLeaks

"This rolling series of releases — and WikiLeaks has barely begun to release the amount of material it has — is raising fundamental issues not merely about statecraft and diplomacy but information, power and the role of the media. Guy Rundle spotted this immediately, and while I would say that, wouldn’t I, his analysis has been the best you’ll see in an Australian publication. This is about far more than a simple matter of leaking sensitive cables, or newspaper coverage of those leaks.

Instead we’re given an uncomprehending coverage by the Australian media, as if it simply can’t process what’s happening, and needs to keep trying different narratives to see if they fit what’s being observed, sticking with whatever seems to temporarily do the trick.[...]

It’s not entirely fair to blame the media, though, because the Australian government is doing exactly the same thing. The response of the federal government has been… I was going to say “instructive”, but it’s more accurately, and sadly, affirmative of what you suspected, that politicians and bureaucrats can’t see this through any other than a rather 20th century, Cold War-style lens."
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James Moore, The Huffington Post: WikiLeaks and the Myth of Journalistic Objectivity

"There is a very simple reason WikiLeaks has sent a furious storm of outrage across the globe and it has very little to do with diplomatic impropriety. It is this: The public is uninformed because of inadequate journalism. Consumers of information have little more to digest than Kim Kardashian's latest paramour or the size of Mark Zuckerberg's jet. Very few publishers or broadcasters post reporters to foreign datelines and give them time to develop relationships that lead to information. Consequently, journalism is atrophying from the extremities inward and the small heart it has will soon become even more endangered.

So, long live WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. And if Pfc. Bradley Manning is the leaker, he deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Good government, if such a thing exists, is the product of transparency. Americans have very little idea of the back-stories that lead to the events they see on the nightly news or read about on the net. How did such messes end up being such messes? If journalism were functioning at appropriate levels, there would have been stories that reported some of the information contained in the cables now published around the globe."
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Nils Molina, The Tech: WikiLeaks serves the global community by keeping governments in check

"WikiLeaks helped expose the looting of Kenya, the corruption of a banking system and sloppy killings committed by the U.S. military. WikiLeaks should be lauded for using truth to pressure these institutions to re-evaluate themselves. Thinking that the U.S. military does not need outside scrutiny to effectively serve the public is as foolish as thinking that the MIT administration can by itself design a good undergraduate dining plan. The entrenched bureaucracy that generates military decisions can fail spectacularly, with history providing examples ranging from the Vietnam War to the often irrational Soviet military build-up. Leaking information that changes how one evaluates a war is free press doing its job. Transparency matters.[...]

Just like a business, the government should respond to the leaks by becoming more open and honest, better hiding the little information that must remain secret and re-evaluating its bureaucratic activities. WikiLeaks is a resilient and powerful organization of journalists. Designating it as a terrorist group, as the incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee has suggested, or engaging in an expensive international chase, as Keith Yost recommends, would be a public relations nightmare."
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2010-12-03 Cablegate: Journalists in support of WikiLeaks, part 6 [Update 3]

Martin Kettle, The Guardian: WikiLeaks: Openness against secrecy has a rich history of struggle

"Why WikiLeaks? Or, why these leaked documents and not other ones, and why these documents now? The answers may seem obvious. Because we can. Because they're there. Because we want to. Because it is in the public interest, or at least of interest to the public, even though that's not the same thing. All these are parts of the larger answer. But they aren't the full explanation.[...]

The broad parallels with today are very strong. A war that was widely opposed; a traumatic generational experience; a collective belief that the people were deceived; a conviction that public inquiries and the opening up of documents would reveal the incriminating evidence, and a desire to change the rules, above all by making them more democratically accountable, to avoid the same thing happening again. All these were present in the generation that lived through the first world war. All are present today in the generation that has lived through the Iraq and Afghan conflicts.[...]

Why WikiLeaks? Partly because we can. But, now as in the past, it is about a needless war and the governments that chose to fight it."
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David Samuels, The Atlantic: The Shameful Attacks on Julian Assange

"It is dispiriting and upsetting for anyone who cares about the American tradition of a free press to see Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton and Robert Gibbs turn into H.R. Haldeman, John Erlichman and John Dean. We can only pray that we won't soon be hit with secret White House tapes of Obama drinking scotch and slurring his words while calling Assange bad names.[...]

But the truly scandalous and shocking response to the Wikileaks documents has been that of other journalists, who make the Obama Administration sound like the ACLU.[...] It is a fact of the current media landscape that the chilling effect of threatened legal action routinely stops reporters and editors from pursuing stories that might serve the public interest - and anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or lying. Every honest reporter and editor in America knows that the fact that most news organizations are broke, combined with the increasing threat of aggressive legal action by deep-pocketed entities, private and public, has made it much harder for good reporters to do their jobs, and ripped a hole in the delicate fabric that holds our democracy together.

In a memorandum entitled "Transparency and Open Government" addressed to the heads of Federal departments and agencies and posted on WhiteHouse.gov, President Obama instructed that "Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing." The Administration would be wise to heed his words -- and to remember how badly the vindictive prosecution of Daniel Ellsberg ended for the Nixon Administration. And American reporters, Pulitzer Prizes and all, should be ashamed for joining in the outraged chorus that defends a burgeoning secret world whose existence is a threat to democracy."
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Editorial, The Guardian: US embassy cables: Wiki witch-hunt

"There have been various suggestions as to what to do to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, after a week in which his revelations have severely embarrassed US diplomacy. Tom Flanagan, a former aide to the Canadian prime minister, called for his assassination, and then regretted his glib remark. Mike Huckabee said that those found guilty of leaking the cables should be executed for putting national security at risk. You would expect a future Republican presidential candidate to say that. But a Democrat administration is close behind. A team from the justice department and the Pentagon are exploring whether to charge Mr Assange under the Espionage Act. The US attorney general, Eric Holder, has said this is not sabre-rattling. Are they all about to turn into minions of which Richard Nixon would have been proud?

More insidious than that was the complacent yawn emanating from from sections of the liberal commentariat for which freedom of information is a given. So what's new about the Gulf Arab Sunnis wanting America or Israel to bomb Iran, or Colonel Gaddafi's taste for blonde Ukrainian nurses, or Nicolas Sarkozy being described as mercurial and authoritarian, they sneer. Maybe for them, nothing is new. Would that we all could be so wise. But for large areas of the world which do not have the luxury of being able to criticise their governments, the revelations about the private thoughts of their own leaders are important."
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Jay Rosen on Pressthink (video)

"While we have what purports to be a "watchdog press" we also have, laid out in front of us, the clear record of the watchdog press's failure to do what is says it can do, which is to provide a check on power when it tries to conceal its deeds and its purpose. So I think it is a mistake to reckon with Wikileaks without including in the frame the spectacular failures of the watchdog press over the last 10, 20, 40 years, but especially recently. And so, without this legitimacy crisis in mainstream American journalism, the leakers might not be so inclined to trust Julian Assange and a shadowy organization like Wikileaks. When the United States is able to go to war behind a phony case, when something like that happens and the Congress is fooled and a fake case is presented to the United Nations and war follows and 100,000s of people die and the stated rationale turns out to be false, the legitimacy crisis extends from the Bush government itself to the American state as a whole and the American press and the international system because all of them failed at one of the most important things that government by consent can do: which is reason giving. I think these kind of huge cataclysmic events within the legitimacy regime lie in the background of the Wikileaks case, because if wasn't for those things Wikileaks wouldn't have the supporters it has, the leakers wouldn't collaborate the way that they do and the moral force behind exposing what this government is doing just wouldn't be there."
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Simon Jenkins, The Guardian: In this World Cup sewer, we reptiles of British journalism hold our heads high

"Yet journalism's stock-in-trade is disclosure. As we have seen this week with WikiLeaks, power loathes truth revealed. Disclosure is messy and tests moral and legal boundaries. It is often irresponsible and usually embarrassing. But it is all that is left when regulation does nothing, politicians are cowed, lawyers fall silent and audit is polluted. Accountability can only default to disclosure. As Jefferson remarked, the press is the last best hope when democratic oversight fails, as it does in the case of most international bodies.

I found myself chastised this week for my defence of WikiLeaks, on the ground that thieves should not revel in their crime by demanding that victims be more careful with their property. But in matters of public policy who is thieving what from whom? The WikiLeaks material was left by a public body, the US state department, like a wallet open on a park bench, except that in this case the wallet was full of home truths about the mendacity of public policy.[...]

What is intriguing is the hysteria of power at seeing its inner beliefs and processes revealed. The denunciation of WikiLeaks as an "attack on America" from the political right is similar to the attitude of Britain's football authorities towards the Sunday Times and the BBC. Someone had broken wind in church. Truth briefly swept aside the deceptions of public form and left reality exposed. The players in a once subtle game that had fallen to lying and cat-calling were suddenly told to stop, pull themselves together and look each other in the eye. As the great Donald Rumsfeld said, stuff happens. The air is cleared.[...]

So thank goodness for disclosure. Thank goodness for journalism."
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World Socialist Web Site: The persecution of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange

Joseph Kishore writes on behalf of WSWS: "The American state, its spokesmen in the mass media, and its allies around the world are engaged in an international campaign of vilification and persecution against WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange.

This campaign has nothing to do with any supposed crime he has committed, since he has committed none. He is the target of an international manhunt for his role in lifting the lid on the lies and criminal operations of imperialist powers the world over—above all, in the United States.[...]

The persecution of Assange in an effort to silence this exposure is not simply a threat to one individual. The methods employed against WikiLeaks will be used against all opposition to the policies of the corporate and financial aristocracy.[...]

In the final analysis, the hysterical witch-hunt against Assange and WikiLeaks is not any sign of strength on the part of the American ruling elite and its state, but rather of fear and weakness. Intensely conscious of the crisis and instability of the political and economic system, they fear that revelations of state crimes will only fuel the inevitable eruption of mass working class opposition to their reactionary policies in the US and around the world. It is this emerging movement of social struggles on a global scale that must undertake an implacable defense of Assange, WikiLeaks and all those who seek to drag the crimes and conspiracies of imperialism into the light of day."
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Robert Niles, Online Journalism Review: Wikileaks challenges journalists: Whose side are you on?

"I hope that Wikileaks, at the very least, encourages reporters to be more aggressive in challenging authority and working with sources to get information that officials, in government or industry, would prefer to keep from the public's eyes.

Sources with government and industry want the truth to get to the public. If journalists do not provide the means to make that happen, alternate media such as Wikileaks will do it instead. Personally, as a citizen, I'm thankful for that.[...]

Reporters' reaction to Wikileaks divides us into two camps: Those who want to see information get to the public, by whatever means, and those who want to control the means by which information flows. While it's fine to want to be the reporter who always gets the scoop, I can't support journalists who imply that the public's better served by having stories go unreported than going through "Journalism-approved" channels.

If you're upset with the way that Wikileaks is getting information to the public, then you'd better try harder to gather and publish that information yourself. (As Rosen suggested yesterday, we wouldn't have Wikileaks if we had a functioning watchdog press.) And if you think that the public shouldn't have information that the government wishes to withhold, might I suggest that you are in the wrong line of work?"
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Nikki Usher, Nieman Journalism Lab: Why WikiLeaks’ latest document dump makes everyone in journalism — and the public — a winner

"Imagine this: Look at what happens when mainstream news and whatever we want to call WikiLeaks work together. The forces are not in opposition but are united with a common goal — again, informing the public — and the result is that mainstream news can do what it does best thanks to the help of the information WikiLeaks provides. (But, of course, it couldn’t do it without WikiLeaks.) This is a moment of glory for all those who talk about crowdsourcing, user-generated content, and the like. Perhaps this is the ultimate form of users helping to create and shape the news. And the result is a better-informed public.

The takeaway here: Everyone in journalism — from its practitioners to its recipients — emerges from this data drop as a winner."
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Dominique Cardon, Le Monde: En finir avec le culte du secret et de la raison d'Etat (End the cult of secrecy and reasons of state)

"Under the pretext of a tyranny of transparency, the affair WikiLeaks has reanimated in some the cult of secrecy and of reasons of state. One more revelation, and it will be the virtues of Machiavellian politics that will be rehabilitated, and, with them, this habit of protecting any and all acts on behalf of the discretionary "secret defence" power.[...]

It is however less the risk of transparency than that of opacity that threatens the communication of the economic and political powers today. The demand for inside information appears thus as a countereffect to the hypertrophy of communication strategies that clothe the discourse of power in a language increasingly artificial.

Whatever its origin, the abundance of data does not constitute a "conter-democracy" without the mobilization of communities of interpreters who can give it context, sense, narrative and visibility. Societal conversation demands greater and easier access to data, but it demands above all that the politics create a desire for conversation."
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Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN: WikiLeaks, Amazon and the new threat to internet speech

"While Amazon was within its legal rights, the company has nonetheless sent a clear signal to its users: If you engage in controversial speech that some individual members of the U.S. government don't like -- even if there is a strong case to be made that your speech is constitutionally protected -- Amazon is going to dump you at the first sign of trouble.

Let's hope that there will always be other companies willing to stand up for our rights as enshrined both in the U.S. Constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- and by extension their right to do business with us.

The future of freedom in the internet age may well depend on whether we the people can succeed in holding companies that now act as arbiters of the public discourse accountable to the public interest."
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Sofia Mirjamsdotter, Metro: Bara en diktatur kan förbjuda Wikileaks (Only a dictatorship would ban WikiLeaks)

"Either you believe in democracy and freedom of speech, or you do not. There is no middle position.

The internet allows for the collection and dissemination not only of innocent status updates from private individuals, but also, as in the case of WikiLeaks, of document addressing issues directly linked to world peace and war.

Every friend of democracy must appreciate this. Any person who believes in and advocates freedom of speech should encourage and cheer for this kind of use of the internet.

Democracy is back. And one of its tenets is that we must abide by the majority, even when the majority are wrong. Another is that we must allow all kinds of opinions, even those we disagree with. The alternative is that a few should be placed above all others, and that they should decide what is acceptable to say. Another word for that is dictatorship."
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2010-12-03 The Guardian: Live Q&A with Julian Assange 13:00 UTC [Update 2]

Via The Guardian and WikiLeaks:

"WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is at the centre of intense media speculation and a hate campaign against him in America, following the leak of 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

He will be live online to answer Guardian readers' questions at 1pm today, subject to his access to an internet connection - which is very much a live issue. His online interview comes at the end of a week of shocking revelations from the cables and on a day when WikiLeaks has been fighting US attempts to take its website down.

Assange will answer your questions in the comments section below. From 1pm you will need to navigate to the latest comments for his replies."

The Guardian page is here.

Update 1: The Q&A page proved so popular that it crashed the Guardian website. "...please be patient: the Guardian site is under *huge* load because of the #Wikileaks Julian Assange Q+A," tweeted @guardiantech.

Update 2: The Guardian has posted Julian Assange's answers here:

"The Cable Gate archive has been spread, along with significant material from the US and other countries to over 100,000 people in encrypted form. If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically. Further, the Cable Gate archive is in the hands of multiple news organisations. History will win. The world will be elevated to a better place. Will we survive? That depends on you."

2010-12-02 Cablegate: Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks, part 5 [Update 1]

(Please also see parts one, two, and three, and four in this series.)

Richard Ackland, Sydney Morning Herald: WikiLeaks opens the door to a new enlightenment

"The carefully concocted versions of events that we used to swallow are now no longer swallowable.[...]

What is of lasting significance is that politicians and captains of industry and even the courts have lost the power to control the way information is drip-fed in their self-interest. That was the way it was done in the old world. Journalists grasped at snippets and morsels to assist the insider in some undeclared agenda. This new world represents as big a change for journalism as it does for the rest of the established order.[...]

What precisely is so damaging if citizens know some of the truth? If they know that there was a secret arrangement between US and British officials to subvert the plan to ban cluster bombs. If they know that the British government restricted the investigation of the Chilcott inquiry into the Iraq war to minimise embarrassment for the US. To know that China might be willing to accept the reunification of North and South Korea. To know if the governor of the Bank of England had doubts about the economic credentials of Prime Minister David Cameron. To know that their governments undermine international treaties.

No lasting damage to the US or anyone else's national interest will flow from that, just as there was no damage to the US national interest from the Pentagon Papers. Embarrassment, certainly, accompanied by a lot of posturing, but life in a more informed way went on. The New Enlightenment has arrived and there's nothing anyone can do about it - thank god."
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Guy Rundle, Crikey: The GFC, Wikileaks collide - and the world just shifted

"You can feel the change in the air, read it in every report. The more that the fused political-media-administrative elite try to write it off as 'entertaining anecdote' while at the same time mobilising state power to destroy the organisation, the more they reveal that something has happened. The old process of leaks - a document here and there - only served to reinforce the idea that the state had an unquestionable right to control information, and that there could be no other way to organise society or create law.

That legitimacy has had a fatal crack put it in. The whole question of who should know what has been put into play. There will be reversals, but we're used to those. As I may have mentioned, something is happening."
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Tom Hayden, The Nation: WikiLeaks vs. The Empire

"Why is this drama important? Not because of "life-threatening" leaks, as claimed by the establishment, but because the closed doors of power need to be open to public review. We live increasingly in an Age of Secrecy, as described by Garry Wills in Bomb Power, among recent books. It has become the American Way of War, and increasingly draws the curtains over American democracy itself. The wars in Pakistan and Yemen are secret wars. The war in Afghanistan is dominated by secret US Special Operations raids and killings. The CIA has its own secret army in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal's entire record in Iraq was classified. And so on, ad nauseam.

And what is the purpose of all the secrecy? As Howard Zinn always emphasized, the official fear was that the American people might revolt if we knew the secrets being kept from us. In Rolling Stone's expose of McChrystal's war this year, one top military adviser said that "if Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular." McChrystal himself joked about sending out Special Forces units to kill at night then having to "scold" them in the morning.

And revolt we should, against those who would keep the affairs of empire shrouded. We should not be distracted by the juicy tidbits that may or may not be better left unreported. The focus of Congressional hearings and journalistic investigation should be on matters of public policy in which the American people are being lied to."
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Alexander Cockburn, The First Post/Counterpunch: Julian Assange: wanted by the Empire, dead or alive

"The American airwaves quiver with the screams of parlour assassins howling for Julian Assange's head. Jonah Goldberg, contributor to the National Review, asks in his syndicated column, "Why wasn't Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?" Sarah Palin wants him hunted down and brought to justice, saying: "He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands."

Assange can survive these theatrical blusters. A tougher question is how he will fare at the hands of the US government, which is hopping mad. The US attorney general, Eric Holder, announced on Monday that the Justice Department and Pentagon are conducting "an active, ongoing criminal investigation" into the latest Assange-facilitated leak under Washington's Espionage Act. Asked how the US could prosecute Assange, a non-US citizen, Holder said, "Let me be clear. This is not sabre-rattling," and vowed "to swiftly close the gaps in current US legislation…"

In other words the espionage statute is being rewritten to target Assange, and in short order, if not already, President Obama – who as a candidate pledged "transparency" in government - will sign an order okaying the seizing of Assange and his transport into the US jurisdiction. Render first, fight the habeas corpus lawsuits later.[...]

It's certainly not conspiracism to suspect that the CIA has been at work in fomenting these Swedish accusations. As Shamir reports, "The moment Julian sought the protection of Swedish media law, the CIA immediately threatened to discontinue intelligence sharing with SEPO, the Swedish Secret Service."

The CIA has no doubt also pondered the possibility of pushing Assange off a bridge or through a high window (a mode of assassination favoured by the Agency from the earliest days*) and has sadly concluded that it's too late for this sort of executive solution."
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Jonathan Weiler, Huffington Post: Let Us Now Praise Wikileaks

"We love to tout the liberating powers of technology and the information age, and yet the knee-jerk reaction from many of our news arbiters has been to heap scorn on the entity that is, at the present moment, doing the most to ensure that citizens actually have the tools -- information -- to realize the potential of the information age for human freedom. WikiLeaks, whatever its flaws might be, is filling a dangerous vacuum in our information environment, one created by the dereliction of duty by those entities whose constitutional prerogatives were designed to ensure that they would challenge, not protect, government secrecy and abuse. For that, WikiLeaks deserves our thanks."
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Thomas Knapp, Antiwar: If This Be Treason...

"Forced to choose between truth and power, the Bolsheviks chose power. Their regime and its spinoffs became (pardon the pun) the gold standard for secretive government.

The strength of Wikileaks is that it faces no similar choice. It’s not a state, nor do its principals evince any intention of making it one. Truth is its entire portfolio, and this drives the Hillary Clintons of the world insane. It threatens their aspirations to unquestioned power. It forces them to explain themselves to the rest of us: To the serfs who, as the politicians see things, exist for the sole purpose of footing the bill — in money and in blood — for those aspirations.

Which is exactly how it should be. "Treason" to and "betrayal" of the state is service to humanity. Wikileaks is your friend. Hillary Clinton is your enemy. Never forget that."
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Sunny Hundal, Liberal Conspiracy: The assault on WikiLeaks threatens free speech and democracy itself

"Let’s be clear about one simple fact: WikiLeaks is a media organisation.[...] This leads me to one simple conclusion: the attack on WikiLeaks now is not only an attack on free speech itself, but shows how craven and self-serving the traditional media has become.[...]

The traditional media has been cravenly quick to swallow the line that WikiLeaks threatens national security interests and therefor n offensive on Julian Assange is somehow OK. Perhaps they are miffed that WikiLeaks published information they would rather have leaked themselves. It’s a new form of competition and they don’t seem to like it one bit.

WikiLeaks isn’t democratically accountable but neither is the Daily Mail. It isn’t transparent but neither do we know how The Sun gets it’s scoops. These are fatuous arguments to make against the website unless one is also going to argue that most of the media industry be shut down.

You’re either for the right of websites to publish information that national authorities might not like – or you are not. It really is that straightforward.

And with the very existence of WikiLeaks now under serious threat, it is time to unambiguously stand up for its right to publish and be damned."
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2010-12-02 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage [Update 5]

Romanian Insider: New WikiLeaks document: former EU commissioner Patten says Romania, a “feral nation”

"A recently published WikiLeaks document quotes former EU commissioner Chris Patten saying in 2004 that Romania was a “feral nation.” Patten’s comments were recorded and send to US by the US Embassy in Brussels. “Croatia, Patten said, is probably far more prepared for EU membership than either Bulgaria or Romania, who will likely enter the Union earlier”. Chris Patten is a British Conservative politician who wasEuropean Commissioner for External Relations between 1999 and 2004."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: CIA drew up UN spying wishlist for diplomats

"The US state department's wishlist of information about the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and other senior members of his organisation was drawn up by the CIA, the Guardian has learned.[...]

US state department spokesman PJ Crowley, in interviews since the release, has tried to deflect criticism by repeatedly hinting that although the cables were signed by secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, they originated with another agency. But he refused to identify it.

The Guardian has learned that the intelligence shopping list is drawn up annually by the manager of Humint (human intelligence), a post created by the Bush administration in 2005 in a push to better co-ordinate intelligence after 9/11.

The manager of Humint sets out priorities for the coming year and sends them to the state department. The actual form of words used in the diplomatic cables is written by the state department, based on the CIA's list of priorities."
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The Guardian: Germany accuses US over 'missing' Afghan funds, WikiLeaks cables show

"According to a protest to the US from Germany's ambassador to Nato this year, Berlin raised questions about the fate of €50m (£42m) it dispensed last year as the biggest contribution to a "trust fund" for the Afghan national army.

In protests in Berlin, Brussels, and Washington last February the German government demanded to know what was happening to the money, why earmarked projects were not going ahead and why the US military was taking 15%."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks: Afghan vice-president 'landed in Dubai with $52m in cash'

"Rampant government corruption in Afghanistan – and the apparent powerlessness of the US do to anything about it – is laid bare by several classified diplomatic cables implicating members of the country's elite.

In one astonishing incident in October 2009 the then vice-president, Ahmad Zia Massoud, was stopped and questioned in Dubai when he flew into the emirate with $52m in cash, according to one diplomatic report. Massoud, the younger brother of the legendary anti-Soviet resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, was detained by officials from the US and the United Arab Emirates trying to stop money laundering, it says. However, the vice-president was allowed to go on his way without explaining where the money came from."
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Der Spiegel: WikiLeaks Cables Fallout: Mole in Germany's FDP Party Comes Forward

"Germany's business-friendly Free Democratic Party has identified the top-level national party employee responsible for passing secret information on to US diplomats during the negotiations to form the current German government in 2009. A worker at the party's headquarters who was chief of staff to the party's chairman and also the head of international relations for the national party came forward and admitted to being the source, an FDP party spokesperson said. The news came after party officials had questioned workers about the issue.

A report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper stated that the person in question is the chief of staff to party boss Guido Westerwell, who is also Germany's foreign minister. Helmut M., a 42-year-old has been released of his current duties, but not fired."
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Der Spiegel: Paranoia and Conspiracy: Dispatches Lay Bare Rocky US Relationship with Karzai

"The US dispatches unveiled by WikiLeaks show just how deep the mistrust is between the US and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Saudi Arabia's mediator role between NATO and the Taliban, it also becomes clear, faces several hurdles.[...]

In the southern province of Kandahar, home province of the president and also the region where the Taliban movement was founded, the Popalzai clan, with tribal leader Hamid Karzai at the helm, oversees a "semi-modern aristocracy," according to the cable. Ahmed Wali Karzai, formerly the owner of a restaurant in Chicago, acts as the spider at the center of the web, trying to "increase Karzai political dominance."[...]

These deals concern enormous budgets in the security, construction and transport industries, but also lucrative -- and naturally illegal -- control of the all-important ring road and the development of Ayno Maina, an exclusive housing community on the eastern edge of Kandahar City. "The Popalzai occupy the leadership pinnacle," reads a US Embassy dispatch."
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Harper's: The Madrid Cables

Scott Horton writes: "In Spain, the WikiLeaks disclosures have dominated the news for three days now. The reporting has been led by the level-headed El País, with its nationwide competitor, Público, lagging only a bit behind. Attention has focused on three separate matters, each pending in the Spanish national security court, the Audiencia Nacional: the investigation into the 2003 death of a Spanish cameraman, José Cuoso, as a result of the mistaken shelling of Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel by a U.S. tank; an investigation into the torture of Spanish subjects held at Guantánamo; and a probe into the use of Spanish bases and airfields for extraordinary renditions flights, including the one which took Khaled El-Masri to Baghdad and then on to Afghanistan in 2003.

These cables reveal a large-scale, closely coordinated effort by the State Department to obstruct these criminal investigations. High-ranking U.S. visitors such as former Republican Party Chair Mel Martinez, Senator Greg Judd, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano were corralled into this effort, warning Spanish political leaders that the criminal investigations would “be misunderstood” and would harm bilateral relations. The U.S. diplomats also sought out and communicated directly with judges and prosecutors, attempting to steer the cases into the hands of judges of their choosing. The cables also reflect an absolutely extraordinary rapport between the Madrid embassy and Spanish prosecutors, who repeatedly appear to be doing the embassy’s bidding."
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El País: How US worked to get three soldiers off the hook for cameraman's death

"One of the biggest objectives at the US Embassy in Madrid over the past seven years has been trying to get the criminal case dropped against three US soldiers accused of the killing of a Spanish television cameraman.[...]

The High Court has charged three soldiers - Sgt. Thomas Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Col. Philip de Camp, all of the Third Infantry Division of the US Army - for the killing of Telecinco cameraman José Couso on April 8, 2003 during a tank shelling of the Hotel Palestine where he and other journalists were staying while they were covering the war in Baghdad. Also killed was a Reuters cameraman, Taras Protsyuk of Ukraine.

On May 25, 2007, US Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre, who served in Madrid between 2005-2008, wrote to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice days before her visit to Spain to tell her that the Zapatero government "has been helpful behind the scenes in getting the case appealed by the Spanish prosecutor." Aguirre recommended that Rice should express "continued US government concern" about the case when she met with Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Foreign Minister Moratinos. "We want continued vigilance and cooperation by the government of Spain until the case is dropped," Aguirre wrote."
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The Guardian: UK overruled on Lebanon spy flights from Cyprus, WikiLeaks cables reveal

"Americans dismissed 'bureaucratic' Foreign Office concern that Lebanese Hezbollah suspects might be tortured," write David Leigh and Richard Norton-Taylor.

"Labour ministers said they feared making the UK an unwitting accomplice to torture, and were upset about rendition flights going on behind their backs.

The use of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus for American U2 spy plane missions over Hezbollah locations in Lebanon – missions that have never been disclosed until now – prompted an acrimonious series of exchanges between British officials and the US embassy in London, according to the cables released by WikiLeaks. The then foreign secretary David Miliband is quoted as saying, unavailingly, "policymakers needed to get control of the military".[...]

At this point Richard LeBaron, charges d'affaires at the London embassy, cabled Washington that human rights concerns could not be allowed to get in the way of counter-terrorism operations. Britain's demands were "not only burdensome but unrealistic", he said, proposing "high-level approaches" to call the British to heel."
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Foreign Policy: Did a U.S. ambassador accuse Sri Lanka's president of war crimes?

"Are we surprised to learn, via WikiLeaks, that American diplomats in Colombo blame Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his top officials for the massacre of tens of thousands (by most estimates) of Tamil civilians during the final months of Sri Lanka's bloody civil war? The goods are in a Jan. 15 cable sent by U.S. Amb. Patricia A. Butenis on the eve of Sri Lanka's presidential elections (which Rajapaksa won handily). Butenis was assessing the country's ability to come to terms with the atrocities committed in the protracted conflict between the government and the Tamil Tigers rebel group, which was defeated in May 2009 after nearly three decades of fighting."
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Foreign Policy has also started a website dedicated to analysing the Cablegate revelations: http://wikileaks.foreignpolicy.com/

The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables: Berlusconi 'profited from secret deals' with Putin

"US diplomats have reported startling suspicions that Silvio Berlusconi could be "profiting personally and handsomely" from secret deals with the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, according to cables released by WikiLeaks.

Exasperated by Berlusconi's pro-Russian behaviour, American embassy staff detail allegations circulating in Rome that the Italian leader has been promised a cut of huge energy contracts. The two men are known to be personally close, but this is the first time allegations of a financial link have surfaced."
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The Guardian: WikiLeaks cables link Russian mafia boss to EU gas supplies

"Gas supplies to Ukraine and EU states are linked to the Russian mafia, according to the US ambassador in Kiev.

His cable, released by WikiLeaks, followed statements by the then prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, to the BBC that she had "documented proof that some powerful criminal structures are behind the RosUkrEnergo (RUE) company".

Allegations have long swirled that the Russian crime don Semyon Mogilevich had covert interests in Swiss-registered RUE, which distributes gas from central Asia."
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Der Spiegel: In Russian Hands: US Forced to Change Course in Relations with Ukraine

"When seeking a productive working relationship with an undesired newcomer, it is best to have a plan. On Feb. 23 of this year John Tefft, the American ambassador in Kiev, was preparing a plan for the arrival of US National Security Advisor James Jones. On the occasion of the inauguration of the new Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Jones was to convey a generous offer of friendship: The administration of US President Barack Obama "looks forward to working with you across the full range of issues," Tefft's brief suggested Jones tell the new Ukrainian leader.

Jones, who had fought against Moscow's allies in the Vietnam War, was seeking to strike a diplomatic blow against the Kremlin, by making Yanukovych into a US partner."
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Der Spiegel: Cables Track US Diplomatic Efforts to Avert Russian-Georgian Conflict

"The leaked embassy cables show how the US, after spending years helping to build up Georgia's military capabilities, made last-ditch diplomatic attempts to avert the August 2008 conflict between Georgia and Russia.[...]

The Georgians were close allies with the US, while the Abkhazians and South Ossetians were supported by Russia. Neither the Russians nor the Americans wanted a major escalation in the regions -- but they weren't averse to fanning tensions. It was a dangerous approach that eventually backfired."
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Der Spiegel: 'Virtual Mafia States': Russian Mafia an International Concern for US Diplomats

"The secret embassy reports read like descriptions of a small banana republic. The mayor of the capital city allegedly has "connections to the criminal world," a few of his friends, including members of parliament, are said to be little more than "bandits," with city officials supposedly "requiring bribes from businesses attempting to operate in the city." The mayor, US diplomats allege, "oversees a system in which it appears that almost everyone at every level is involved in some form of corruption or criminal behavior."

The US cable, dated Feb. 12, 2010, originated from one of the world's largest capitals, Moscow. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev fired Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov at the end of September because he is no longer trusted by the government. Nevertheless, the memos documented by the American diplomats show how the mafia appears to be deeply anchored in Russian society and to have ties with the government. US diplomats believe that some criminal masterminds have the blessing of people in the Kremlin and security services."
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The Local: US embassy: 'Sweden no longer neutral'

"Among the wealth of documents that the whistleblower website Wikileaks has exposed include several hundred from the US embassy in Stockholm, showing a close security arrangement with the US, according to the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

In a classified telegram from May 4th 2007, prior to prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's visit to the USA, the then US ambassador to Sweden, Michael Wood wrote that Sweden was a "pragmatic and strong" partner. Wood added that even though the official line is non-alignment, Swedish participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace and role as leader of the EU's Nordic Battle Group show that the position is an untruth.

Then US president George W Bush is advised to discuss with Reinfeldt in private, if he wants to praise Sweden's role in the cooperation against terrorism, a formulation which is taken to meant that the ambassador did not believe that the extent of the cooperation is known across the government offices. Wood furthermore wrote that information from Sweden's military and civil security services is an important source of information for the USA for Russian military conditions and for knowledge of Iran's nuclear programme."
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The New York Times: Cables Depict Heavy Afghan Graft, Starting at the Top

"From hundreds of diplomatic cables, Afghanistan emerges as a looking-glass land where bribery, extortion and embezzlement are the norm and the honest man is a distinct outlier.

Describing the likely lineup of Afghanistan’s new cabinet last January, the American Embassy noted that the agriculture minister, Asif Rahimi, “appears to be the only minister that was confirmed about whom no allegations of bribery exist.”

One Afghan official helpfully explained to diplomats the “four stages” at which his colleagues skimmed money from American development projects: “When contractors bid on a project, at application for building permits, during construction, and at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.” In a seeming victory against corruption, Abdul Ahad Sahibi, the mayor of Kabul, received a four-year prison sentence last year for “massive embezzlement.” But a cable from the embassy told a very different story: Mr. Sahibi was a victim of “kangaroo court justice,” it said, in what appeared to be retribution for his attempt to halt a corrupt land-distribution scheme. "
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The New York Times: Embracing Georgia, U.S. Misread Signs of Rifts

"Throughout the cold war and often in the years since, Western diplomats covering the Kremlin routinely relied on indirect and secondhand or thirdhand sources. Their cables were frequently laden with skepticism, reflecting the authors’ understanding of the limits of their knowledge and suspicion of official Russian statements.

A 2008 batch of American cables from another country once in the cold war’s grip — Georgia — showed a much different sort of access. In Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, American officials had all but constant contact and an open door to President Mikheil Saakashvili and his young and militarily inexperienced advisers, who hoped the United States would help Georgia shake off its Soviet past and stand up to Russia’s regional influence.

The Tbilisi cables, part of more than a quarter-million cables made available to news organizations by WikiLeaks, display some of the perils of a close relationship."
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2010-12-02 Sweden case: The lawyers speak up II

London-based lawyer Mark Stephens spoke with The Guardian:

"Comparing the Swedish prosecutor to Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria, Stalin's notorious security chief, Mark Stephens said "neither Mr Assange nor his lawyers have been provided any further information beyond that reported in the press."

He continued: "This appears to be a persecution and a prosecution. It is highly irregular and unusual for the Swedish authorities to issue a red notice in the teeth of the undisputed fact that Mr Assange has agreed to meet voluntarily to answer the prosecutor's questions. Mr Assange has repeatedly sought meetings with the prosecutrix – both in Sweden and subsequently – in order to answer her questions and clear his name. It is relevant that Mr Assange sought permission from the prosecutrix to leave Sweden and she gave him her permission. Since leaving Sweden Mr Assange has continued to seek meetings with the prosecutrix, but his requests have either been ignored or met with a refusal."

He added: "At this point in time, we have no evidence pointing to a link between these allegations from August and the issue of the Interpol alert just two days after the WikiLeaks first release of US diplomatic cables. However, it is highly unusual for a red notice warrant to be issued in relation to the allegations reported as having been made, since Swedish law does not require custodial orders in relation to the allegation – indeed to our knowledge this is a unique action by the Swedish prosecuting authorities in applying for a red notice on the basis of these allegations.

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