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No Credit to Wikileaks or Manning in TIME Magazine’s Person-of-the-Year Tribute to Protesters

3:17 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Protester - Bradley Manning

No credit to Wikileaks.

No mention of or tribute to Julian Assange, who was kept out of the spotlight at TIME last year, even though he was readers’ choice for Person of the Year.

No mention of Bradley Manning, whose detainment for uncovering important aspects of why people are so outraged, begins a new stage tomorrow.

No mention of the thousands of peaceful Palestinian protesters, who have been protesting Occupation for generations now.

As good as TIME‘s long article on worldwide protest is – and the article is excellent in what it does cover – it skims over Bahreini protests, prefers to have a sidebar story on an Athenian “protest dog,” rather than show any of the mutilated or dead Palestinian protesters, and certainly does not show the hundreds of people outside of Quantico last spring, or the hundreds being arrested outside the White House in the 350.org protests.

How important Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and probable information provided to them through Bradley Manning is to this ongoing, perhaps rapidly growing, global protest and action network are is difficult to assess accurately.  But to deny its importance is to not tell the full story of this important year.

Glenn Greenwald, in an op-ed that will appear in tomorrow’s UK Guardian, assesses some of the important domestic fallout from Manning’s and Wikileaks’ uncovering of the truth:

When WikiLeaks was awarded Australia’s most prestigious journalism award last month, the awarding foundation described how these disclosures created “more scoops in a year than most journalists could imagine in a lifetime”.

By exposing some of the worst atrocities committed by US forces in Iraq, the documents prevented the Iraqi government from agreeing to ongoing legal immunity for US forces, and thus helped bring about the end of the war. Even Bill Keller, the former New York Times executive editor and a harsh WikiLeaks critic, credits the release of the cables with shedding light on the corruption of Tunisia’s ruling family and thus helping spark the Arab spring.

In sum, the documentsManning is alleged to have released revealed overwhelming deceit, corruption and illegality by the world’s most powerful political actors. And this is why he has been so harshly treated and punished.

Despite pledging to usher in “the most transparent administration in history”, President Obama has been obsessed with prosecuting whistleblowers; his justice department has prosecuted more of them for “espionage” than all prior administrations combined.

The oppressive treatment of Manning is designed to create a climate of fear, to send a signal to those who in the future discover serious wrongdoing committed in secret by the US: if you’re thinking about exposing what you’ve learned, look at what we did to Manning and think twice. The real crimes exposed by this episode are those committed by the prosecuting parties, not the accused. For what he is alleged to have given the world, Manning deserves gratitude and a medal, not a life in prison.

Manning is THE PROTESTER.

Like many in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Bahrein, Yemen, Palestine and Syria, he is paying a steep price in his genuine commitment to justice:

[T]he leaks Manning allegedly engineered have generated enormous benefits: precisely the benefits Manning, if the allegations against him are true, sought to achieve. According to chat logs purportedly between Manning and the informant who turned him in, the private decided to leak these documents after he became disillusioned with the Iraq war. He described how reading classified documents made him, for the first time, aware of the breadth of the corruption and violence committed by his country and allies.

He explained that he wanted the world to know what he had learned: “I want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” When asked by the informant why he did not sell the documents to a foreign government for profit, Manning replied that he wanted the information to be publicly known in order to trigger “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms”.

Unlike most at TIME Magazine, many of us here at firedoglake can be very proud of our open and meaningful support of Manning,  and of thousands of others here and around the world, who, as Bradley put it, “want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”

image – The Protester Collage, by Philip Munger

Sarah Palin Proposes a Hunting Trip to Dick Cheney

2:10 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

My first xtranormal animation attempt:

Once Again – Glenn Greenwald, Standing Almost Alone Against the Wikileaks Myths – Updated x4

1:26 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Monday, on CNN‘s Politics, Glenn Greenwald endured 12 minutes of bizarre hostility from CNN host Jessica Yellin, who seemed to be setting Greenwald up for being pilloried by former Bush national security apparatchik, Fran Townsend.

Yellin opened up by questioning Assange’s motives in making a book deal.  From the start, she attempted to paint Assange’s motives for doing this as something that must be added to the list of things which prove Assange not to be someone we can trust.  It went downhill from there.

Greenwald was more combative than I’ve seen him in most media appearances of this magnitude.  The only thing about Glenn that amazes me more than the vast reservoir of facts he seems to be able to accurately throw out at media hacks without looking away from the Skype camera, is patience as he endures what essentially is one hostile talking head after another.

Townsend was challenged to say even one true thing.  Greenwald had to go beyond saying she was misstating or disambiguating or whatever.  He called her a liar.  He should have called her a Goddam fucking liar.

Greenwald is almost alone in being asked to do segments in visual media that are longer than ten minutes.  Hopefully, the degree of his mastery over these two shills Monday will gain him more media on this important subject, rather than less.

In passing, Greenwald paid tribute in his Monday blog post, as he has in the past, to firedoglake‘s efforts on this set of subjects.

Update: Greenwald uses this “debate” as the basis for his December 28th article, The merger of journalists and government officials.

Update 2:  Hotdog!

hotdog has transcribed this incredible exchange and posted it as a MyFdl diary.

Update 3: At John King’s CNN blog, Jessica Yellin has responded to Greenwald’s post  (link at update 1).  She’s less pissed than I thought she might be, but her denials in the post of calling Assange a terrorist are overshadowed by her not addressing the issue of  having characterized the latter as a criminal in the interview/panel.  She is taken to task for that in the comments.

Give her credit for at least responding to the small firestorm that the video of the segment has created.

Update 4: I missed this important essay yesterday (it is now the 29th) by Digby.   In it, she takes up “one zombie lie I’d really love to kill — the one that all of these so-called reporters seem to have absorbed as if it’s the received word of God — the one that says Wikileaks dumped 260,000 cables indiscriminately on the internet.”

The body of Digby’s piece is mostly details on how Wikileaks seriously and fully cooperated with news organizations on how to release information from the large body of diplomatic “cables” in its possession, and the lengths to which Wikileaks went to be, uh, careful.

Digby concludes with:

They originally thought there would be thousands of Marcy Wheelers combing through the documents and creating a narrative of events but found out that there were very few people of her caliber doing that kind of work and getting noticed. What they needed was professional journalism…..

The one real Marcy Wheeler writes this morning (the 29th) about Digby’s essay, and its premise as she also criticized the meretricious WSJ op-ed published today, by  Floyd Abrams, who was one of the NYT attorneys in the Pentagon Papers case:

Floyd Abrams’ entire argument about WikiLeaks is premised on his claim that these diplomatic cables demonstrate no abuse of power at all. No misconduct by the US. (Note, too, how he moves the bar with the Pentagon Papers, apparently revealing some uncertainty whether the Pentagon Papers revealed “lack of candor”–something abundantly exposed in the WikiLeaks cables–or outright “official wrongdoing.”)

There’s a lot that has been revealed in this dump that I would consider misconduct and even more that I would consider abuse of power.

But consider just the examples of the cables showing the US pressure on Germany and Spain to drop prosecutions of US rendition and torture (and if you haven’t already read Carol Rosenberg’s examinationof our pressure on Spain, I recommend it).

I don’t see how any person–much less a constitutional lawyer–can claim that US efforts to get other democracies to set aside rule of law in their countries to help the US avoid responsibility for its crimes is not an abuse of power. Unless you believe that torture is cool, that wrongful kidnapping is cool, that the US should not be bound by its own laws or international law, or that the US should be immune from law generally, I don’t see how you conclude that our efforts to bigfoot the legal systems of our allies does not constitute an abuse of our considerable international power.

And yet somehow Floyd Abrams suggests just that–that revealing the US’ double standards about rule of law, all in the service of avoiding any accountability for torture, does not constitute a valuable revelation.

Imagine Reading a Poem by Liu Xiaobo to President Obama

10:49 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Last Friday, as the U.S. State Department and Justice Department continued efforts to have Australian journalist, writer, blogger and global civil rights activist Julian Assange illegally transported from Europe to the U.S. or Guantanamo Bay, and as Sen. Bernie Sanders made his epic 8 hour and 35 minute speech against President Obama’s tax sellout to billionaires, Obama made what arguably was the most self-serving announcement ever on the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. It began, quite inappropriately, with:

One year ago, I was humbled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize — an award that speaks to our highest aspirations, and that has been claimed by giants of history and courageous advocates who have sacrificed for freedom and justice.

Obama went on:

We respect China’s extraordinary accomplishment in lifting millions out of poverty, and believe that human rights include the dignity that comes with freedom from want.

and:

Mr. Liu reminds us that human dignity also depends upon the advance of democracy, open society, and the rule of law. The values he espouses are universal, his struggle is peaceful, and he should be released as soon as possible.

What a crock of horse shit.

While on the one hand, Obama touts “the advance of democracy,” his administration has stifled democracy in Honduras, burying the advice of our Honduran ambassador when a bunch of aqcuaintences of Attorney General Eric Holder (from Holder’s union busting for Chiquita Banana days) crushed democracy in that country, turning it back into a Nixonesque “banana republic.” If it weren’t for Julian Assange’s efforts, we wouldn’t know about that and a lot of other burying of democracy on Obama’s hands.

Open society and the rule of law? Again, as jailed open democracy and rule of law advocate Assange has shown us, Obama’s State Department routinely quashes open societies and could give a rat’s ass about the rule of law, both here and abroad. And an open society? Here’s Glenn Greenwald’s take when Assange initially appeared publicly to answer questions about the State Department WikiLeaks initial release:

This weekend, WikiLeaks released over 400,000 classified documents of the Iraq War detailing genuinely horrific facts about massive civilian death, U.S. complicity in widespread Iraqi torture, systematic government deceit over body counts, and the slaughter of civilians by American forces about which Daniel Ellsberg himself said, as the New York Times put it: “many of the civilian deaths there could be counted as murder.”

Predictably, just as happened with Ellsberg, there is now a major, coordinated effort underway to smear WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange, and to malign his mental health — all as a means of distracting attention away from these highly disturbing revelations and to impede the ability of WikiLeaks to further expose government secrets and wrongdoing with its leaks. But now, the smear campaign is led not by Executive Branch officials, but by members of the establishment media. As the intelligence community reporter Tim Shorrock wrote today on Twitter: “When Dan Ellsberg leaked [the] Pentagon Papers, Nixon’s henchmen tried to destroy his reputation. Today w/Wikileaks & Assange, media does the job.”

Yesterday, Assange walked out of an interview with CNN, which he thought had been arranged to discuss the significance of the Iraq War revelations, because the CNN “reporter” seemed interested in asking only about petty, vapid rumors about Assange himself, not the substance of the leaks. The Nation‘s Greg Mitchell summarized that interview this way: “Assange to CNN: ‘Do you want to talk about deaths of 104,000 people or my personal life?’” CNN’s answer could not have been clearer: the latter, definitely.

Obama’s immense hypocrisy in his statement on the awarding of this prize to Liu Xiaobo will no doubt be matched as he and his legal and diplomatic department heads continue to paint Julian Asssange as some sort of Lord Haw-Haw, Tokyo Rose, Julius/Ethel Rosenberg or – as they may well be attempting – a more pathetic kind of character, such as Cynthia Murphy.

Obama did get one thing right in his statement on his Nobel Peace Prize successor:

Mr. Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was.

Here’s a poem by Liu Xiaobo. I’ll imagine I’m reading it to President Obama, after I’ve told him the reading is dedicated to Julian Assange:

A Small Rat in Prison
for little Xia

A small rat passes through the iron bars
paces back and forth on the window ledge
the peeling walls are watching him
the blood-filled mosquitoes are watching him
he even draws the moon from the sky,
silver
shadow casts down
beauty, as if in flight

a very gentryman the rat tonight
doesn’t eat nor drink nor grind his teeth
as he stares with his sly bright eyes,
strolling in the moonlight

The Age of Assangymmetric Warfare is Here

1:44 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Here’s Wikipedia‘s definition of asymmetric warfare:

Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly.

“Asymmetric warfare” can describe a conflict in which the resources of two belligerents differ in essence and in the struggle, interact and attempt to exploit each other’s characteristic weaknesses. Such struggles often involve strategies and tactics of unconventional warfare, the “weaker” combatants attempting to use strategy to offset deficiencies in quantity or quality. Such strategies may not necessarily be militarized.

Here’s my definition of Assangymmetric warfare:

Assangymmetric warfare is not actually war.  It is conflict between individuals and collectives seeking more public awareness of government and corporate misdeeds hidden behind confidentiality, classification and corporate secrecy, and those who seek to keep such misdeeds and their consequences perpetually invisible.

Assangymmetric warfare, like asymmetric warfare, is conflict between opposing parties, structures or agencies “in which the resources of two sides differ in essence and in the struggle, interact and attempt to exploit each other’s characteristic weaknesses.”  And like asymmetric warfare, the deficiencies of the initiators of Assangymmetric warfare seek strategies which offset their deficiencies in resources, and certainly need not be militarized.

Assangymmetric warfare tends to produce unpredictable results.  In its most widely known iterations, it has actually sought to cooperate with some of the entities being assaulted by information barrages, but has almost universally been spurned.  There may have been some exceptions.

Because of the anarchistic bent of many practitioners of assangymmetric warfare, and its reliance upon hackers, whistleblowers and people who illegally divulge information, along with its seeming penchant for making total fools of members of the established press, it has found very few allies from within the existing power structures of the most powerful governments, corporations and international agencies.

Is this the beginning of an adequate definition of what is unique about Wikileaks, as opposed to earlier similar web-based tools for getting these kinds of information into the public domain?

What got me going on thinking about a distinct definition for what Assange’s efforts may be producing was this comment at The Agonist by yogi-one:

The capture of Assange isn’t the end of something. It’s the beginning of something.
The US has been afraid of cyberwarfare for years. The irony is that it’s not coming from a traditional nation-state enemy (China, N Korea, etc) but from the hacker community at large. A lesser surprise is that they provoked it themselves, instead of being blindsided by a cyber attack on infrastructural systems by a rogue nation-state (which is what they were looking for).
The bigger picture is this: as the banking consortium and it’s corporate allies push us towards a one-world government, the revolutionaries they face will not come from any particular nation-state, but from everywhere in the world at once, using a highly decentralized network of participating servers and computers as well as hacked bot networks.
Probably the best prepared for this kind of scenario is a company like VISA, which already has decades of fending off the latest cyber-attacks under it’s belt, and massive redundancy of systems. Indeed, officials at VISA have been laughing at the unprofessionalism and uselessness of the attacks on their servers.
Banks are somewhat easier targets, although they too have been getting more up to speed. Although targeting BofA or Wells Fargo or some other big American Bank would cause public inconvenience, it will not constitute a major blow to the US Govt.
The real targets are the White House, The US State Department, the Pentagon, and perhaps the United Nations inside networks (intranets).
The other most devastating targets would be Wall Street’s server networks, or the Goldman Sachs intranet. The emails accounts of Lord Blankfein, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, and several other big banksters would be a huge hit, but in all likelihood, I would guess that these guys keep their most nefarious communications offline, prescisely because they know the vulnerability caused by posting certain kinds of stuff on any computer, anywhere. This is basically the same reason terrorists stopped using cellphones. Still I think there would be plenty of damning material if anyone ever did penetrate those accounts.
The corporations and the US govt have a big weakness that can be exploited by informal alliances of hackers – namely that huge bureaucratic structures are slow to respond to attacks, and often, due to bottom-line thinking, will not defend against a novel form of attack until after it has happened. Add to this the traditional reluctance of corporations to upgrade their IT infrastructures, and it all adds up to giants with a number vulnerabilities where a well-placed slingshot can do serious damage.
I’m waiting for a few more members of the press to have some sort of an epiphany on this.  Many of us have wondered what might happen when some non-Arab or non-Muslim person became the poster one for how out-of-control our policies of extraordinary rendition, targeted assassination or permanent detention without trial are becoming.  Assange may end up being that.
Feel free to criticize my definition of assangymmetric warfare, or add to it.

Why Assange Should Consider Ecuador’s Offer

9:38 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The government of Ecuador seems to be offering Julian Assange a new refuge:

Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas said in audio posted online by the EcuadorInmediato news site that “we are open to giving him residence in Ecuador, without any kind of trouble and without any kind of conditions.”

“We think it would be important not only to converse with him but to listen to him,” Lucas added, saying Ecuador wanted to invite Assange to “freely expound” and see what it’s like in “friendly countries.”

He praised people like Assange “who are constantly investigating and trying to get light out of the dark corners of (state) information”

Lucas said Ecuador’s government was “very concerned” by revelations that U.S. diplomats have been involved in spying in the first of the more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables and directives that WikiLeaks has begun to release.

WikLeaks says it has 1,621 cables that originated in the U.S. Embassy in Quito. Their contents have not yet been disclosed.

~~Ed. note: Excerpt abbreviated for copyright compliance. Balance of article may be read at link provided above.~~

One of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’s first acts upon taking office in 2007 was to investigate the financial relationships his predecessors had made with outside financial institutions.  The result:

In December 2008, he declared Ecuador’s national debt illegitimate because it was contracted bycorrupt/despotic prior regimes, pledging to fight creditors in international courts, and succeeded in reducing the price of the debt letters and continued paying all the debt.

Not exactly firebrand leftist stuff.  More like commonsense negotiations bearing fruit. However, Correa’s alignment with the South American New Left and hostility toward the American drug war paradigm on his home soil have both alienated his government from the government now seeming to being getting ready to kill or capture Assange. Ours.

The U.S. and northern European press are mostly concentrating on Wikileaks details this week that delve into the Iran nuclear situation.  The South American press, however, is homing in on information about such things as Hillary Clinton’s fixation with details of the lives of that continent’s leaders:

Seeking a frank evaluation of Argentina’s president, the office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires late last year to delve into her psyche.

“How is Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner managing her nerves and anxiety?” asked a cable dated Dec. 31, 2009, and signed “CLINTON” in all capital letters.

The cable, sent at 2:55 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, and originating in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, asked a series of other questions as part of what it said was an attempt by Clinton’s office to understand “leadership dynamics” between Kirchner and her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner.

“How does stress affect her behavior toward advisors and/or her decision making?” the cable continued. “What steps does Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner or her advisers/handlers, take in helping her deal with stress? Is she taking any medications?”

South America, far more than Europe, is the natural home for Assange to carefully cultivate and grow the Wikileaks machine.  Especially if Assange’s releases begin to attack the international financial machines that have so crippled Latin America and much of the rest of the developing world.

Good luck safely getting there, Julian.  The local Wasilla rumor is that Palin is preparing to film a new chapter of Sarah Palin’s Alaska, in which she, John Yoo and Dick Cheney journey from Alaska, to go hunting for Assange in the back alleys of Stockholm.

Just keep Cheney constantly in your field of vision, Sarah.

The Strangest Blog Thread Yet on the Swedish Charges, uh – Not Charges – Against Julian Assange

8:10 am in Foreign Policy, Military by EdwardTeller

Freelance journalist Nicholas John Meade posted a blog diary on the Swedish charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange early this past weekend. Soon afterward, the comments thread exploded, much of it in Swedish. The comments seem to have outpaced even Glenn Greenwald’s and Justin Raimando’s abilities to keep up on emerging information.

Essentially, what has emerged in the thread comments, especially on Sunday, is that the probable first complainant, Anna Ardin, posted a blog entry in January about the stages of revenge, and may have worked for a time, in an intern-like job, for the Swedish government in Washington DC and possibly elsewhere. Although the second of these is still up in the air she is an utterly fascinating and extremely complex person, to say the least.

Here’s her recipe for revenge:

7 Steps to Legal Revenge by Anna Ardin

January 19, 2010

I’ve been thinking about some revenge over the last few days and came across a very good side who inspired me to this seven-point revenge instruction in Swedish.

Steg 1 / Step 1

Tänk igenom väldigt noga om du verkligen ska hämnas. Consider very carefully if you really must take revenge. Det är nästan alltid bättre att förlåta än att hämnas

It is almost always better to forgive than to avenge  . . . Read the rest of this entry →