Saturday, April 13, 2019

What's Once Surrendered... Unctuous Moreno Claims Sovereignty in Giving Up Ecuador

Ecuadorian President’s Motives for Surrendering Assange: Vengeance & IMF Loan?


April 12, 2019

Following the arrest of Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, one of the questions that has repeatedly come up is why did the government of Ecuador decide to rescind the political asylum and the Ecuadorian citizenship of Julian Assange?

Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno, (below) justified the decision in a tweeted video as follows.

"Ecuador is a generous country, and a nation of open arms. Our government is respectful of the principles of international law, and the institution of the right of asylum.
"Granting or withdrawing asylum is a sovereign right of the Ecuadorean state, according to international law.
"Today I announce that the aggressive and discourteous behavior of Julian Assange, and the hostile and threatening declarations of its allied organizations against Ecuador, and especially the transgressions of international treaties, have led the situation to a point where the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable, and no longer viable.
"Ecuador, sovereignly, has declared to terminate the diplomatic asylum granted to Mr. Assange in 2012. For 6 years and 10 months, the Ecuadorean people have protected the human rights of Mr. Assange."

$4.2 billion IMF loan, submission to the US, and vengeance appear to have been President Moreno's true motives for revoking Assange's asylum in Ecuador's London embassy, says Ecuador's former foreign minister Guillaume Long.

Law is Dead: Julian and the Parrots Jurisprudential Apostasy

The Legal Narrative Funnel That's Being Used to Extradite Julian Assange

by Caitlin Johnstone - Rogue Journalist

April 13, 2019

Isn’t it interesting how an Ecuadorian “asylum conditions” technicality, a UK bail technicality, and a US whistleblowing technicality all just so happened to converge in a way that just so happens to look exactly the same as imprisoning a journalist for telling the truth?

Following the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, top UK officials all began simultaneously piping the following exact phrase into public consciousness: “No one is above the law.”

“This goes to show that in the United Kingdom, no one is above the law,” Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament after Assange’s arrest.
“Julian Assange is no hero and no one is above the law,” tweeted Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Embedded video

BBC Politics
"In the United Kingdom, no-one is above the law" - UK PM Theresa May on arrest of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange at Ecuadorian embassy in London 

“Nearly 7 years after entering the Ecuadorean Embassy, I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK. I would like to thank Ecuador for its cooperation and @metpoliceuk for its professionalism. No one is above the law,” tweeted Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Over and over again that phrase showed up to be unquestioningly re-bleated by the human livestock known as the British press in all their reporting on the Assange case: No one is above the law. No one is above the law. No one is above the law. Something tells me they really want people to know that, with regard to Julian Assange, no one is above the law.

But what is “the law” in this particular case? What they are constantly referring to as “the law” with regard to Assange is in fact nothing more than a combination of ridiculous bureaucratic technicalities which can be (and have been) interpreted very differently, but are now instead being interpreted in a way which just so happens to lead to a truth-telling journalist being locked in a cage, awaiting extradition to the same government which tortured Chelsea Manning.

Now, the US is a Free Democracy. When you are a Free Democracy, you can’t just go around imprisoning journalists willy nilly simply for telling the truth about your government. That’s something other countries do, bad countries, the kind of country the US routinely invades in order to help spread Freedom and Democracy. The US would never do that. But it would diddle a bunch of narratives in such a way that just so happens to achieve exactly the same result.

As we discussed yesterday, the Trump administration’s extradition request is accompanied by criminal charges which are based on the same information which the Obama administration declined to charge Assange for, a point which has been discussed in more detail in a new article by The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald and Micah Lee.

The Obama administration looked at the evidence and concluded that there was no way to charge Assange with anything without endangering press freedoms, then the Trump administration looked at literally the exact same evidence and said screw press freedoms, we’re going after him. They wanted to punish Assange and show the world what happens to a journalist who exposes US war crimes, so they changed the narrative to make it happen.

But they couldn’t extradite Assange from the UK if the British government didn’t legally have Assange in custody.

To get around this problem, the UK, which is functionally just a province within the US-centralized empire, used a bail technicality to justify his arrest. After the Swedish government decided to drop its sexual assault investigation without issuing any charges, Assange’s legal team attempted last year to get a British arrest warrant dropped for a bail violation which went into effect when the WikiLeaks founder took political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy.

The judge in that case, Emma Arbuthnot, just happens to be married to former Tory junior Defence Minister and government whip James Arbuthnot, who served as director of Security Intelligence Consultancy SC Strategy Ltd with a former head of MI6.

Lady Arbuthnot denied Assange’s request with extreme vitriol, despite his argument that British law does have provisions which allow for the time he’d already served under functional house arrest to count toward far more time than would be served for violating bail. The British government kept police stationed outside the embassy at taxpayers’ expense with orders to arrest Assange on sight.

But they couldn’t arrest Assange as long as he had legal political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy.

To get around that problem, Ecuador’s new president Lenin Moreno found himself being courted by the US government, meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and reportedly discussing Assange after US Democratic senators petitioned Pence to push for Moreno to revoke political asylum.

The New York Times reported last year that in 2017 Paul Manafort met with Moreno and offered to broker a deal where Ecuador could receive debt relief aid in exchange for handing Assange over, and just last month Ecuador ended up receiving a 4.2 billion dollar loan from the Washington-based IMF.

And then, lo and behold, we just so happen to see Ecuador justifying the revocation of political asylum under the absurd claim that Assange had violated conditions that were only recently invented, using narratives that were based on wild distortions and outright lies.

In this way a kind of narrative funnel was created, funneling Assange from the embassy to British police on the imaginary narrative that Assange had violated asylum conditions and that he needs to serve time for a bail violation, which in turn allows for Assange to be funneled from the UK into the US on the imaginary narrative that he broke some kind of law by trying to help Chelsea Manning cover her tracks and avoid detection, which is all made possible by the fact that the government of Australia (another province in the US-centralized empire) has refused to provide any protection for its citizen. And the end result just so happens to look the same as what you see when a journalist tries to expose malfeasance in an overtly totalitarian government.

This is called Nice Guy Fascism. With a little narrative manipulation you get to act just like a brutal totalitarian regime and then say it’s not because you’re a brutal totalitarian regime, it’s because you’re deeply deeply concerned about the adherence to a specific interpretation of the bureaucratic technicalities of bail protocol.

No one is above the law. No one is above the law. No one is above the law.

They keep saying “No one is above the law,” but what they really mean is “No one is safe from the law.” Our rulers are using Assange to show that they can get anyone who tells the truth about them, even if there are laws and policies in place which ostensibly prohibit that.

Manipulators love the rule of law, because they are able to twist it toward their infernal ends. It’s always possible to squint at laws in such a way that it allows them to be interpreted to the benefit of the powerful, which is why lawyers are often horrible human beings. All the most horrific things that have been done throughout the history of civilization have been carried out not by criminals but by law-abiding citizens, because they were perfectly legal under the ruling governments of that time. Genocide, slavery, torture, the use of the atomic bomb: all perfectly legal and state-sanctioned in their time.

They want you looking at “the rule of law”. They want you fixated on it. But really “the rule of law” is nothing other than a series of mental narratives which are treated as reality by existing power structures. Assange is a prisoner by narrative, because he punched holes in the authorized narratives of the powerful. Whoever controls the narrative controls the world.


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Friday, April 12, 2019

Assange Defenders Amass at Westminster Magistrates Court

Former UK ambassador Craig Murray denounces arrest and conviction of Julian Assange


12 April 2019  

Outside Westminster Magistrates court in central London supporters of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange rallied to his defence. Assange appeared at the court Thursday afternoon after he was arrested and dragged from his place of political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Judge Michael Snow found Assange guilty of bail charges that date back to 2012, ordering him to appear at Southwark Crown Court at an unknown date. He could face a sentence of 12 months.

Supporters of WikiLeaks demanded that the UK government reject US demands for Assange’s extradition.

The UK government has confirmed Assange was arrested on behalf of US law enforcement authorities. The US has charged Assange with computer crime over documents published by WikiLeaks.

Former ambassador, Craig Murray attends
protest outside Assange trial at Westminster Magistrates Court

 If Assange is extradited to the US, he will undoubtedly face more serious charges under the Espionage Act, threatening life in prison or the death penalty.

During a brief hearing Judge Snow gave voice to the state vendetta against Assange, attacking the award-winning journalist as a “narcissist”, telling him to “get over the US” and “get on with your life” and describing as “laughable” his claim he had not received a fair hearing.

Among the supporters of Assange outside the court was former British diplomat, whistle-blower and human rights activist Craig Murray. A long-time supporter and friend of Assange, Murray spoke to the World Socialist Web Site after witnessing proceedings inside the court.


What we have seen today is extraordinary. It’s amazing that you can be dragged out of somewhere by armed police and within three hours brought up before a judge and found guilty of a crime involving a serious jail sentence. There was no jury and no chance to mount a proper defence or have a proper hearing.

It is clear the judge was extremely prejudiced. It was very short hearing today and he cannot possibly have formed during that time his judgement that Julian Assange is a ‘narcissistic personality’.

That plainly shows that he must have formed his judgement from what he had read in the media before he ever came into the court. That judgement could not possibly be formed in the few minutes in the court. There are serious reasons to question Judge Snow and about the quality of justice that has gone on here. It is a case of extreme prejudice. There is no way anyone could call what has happened a fair trial.

Julian Assange has provided an important service. There is no evidence of anybody’s life being in danger. If there had been, we would have told about it by now.

Then there is the truly appalling behaviour of Ecuador’s dreadful President Moreno. He has not only curried favour with the United States and UK but sold Julian out.

One good thing, if you wish, that has come out of this is that now we are talking about extradition. We can now see what all of this is really about. It is about freedom of the press, about Julian being charged with publishing the revelations made by Chelsea Manning. From day one this has been about the United States wishing to lock Julian up for the Chelsea Manning leak exposing serious American war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The whole Sweden case has been a charade. It has always been about whether a journalist should be punished for publishing leaked documents showing a government offending against international law.

I am hoping, maybe a long-shot, that the media pundits of a liberal disposition will realise that this is a fundamental threat to press freedom. If anyone who publishes a US leaked document wherever they are in the world can be dragged to the US and imprisoned, then the American government is going to have impunity for its crimes for ever more. All journalists must decide where they stand on this fundamental test of media freedom.

Chomsky Responds to Assange Arrest

Chomsky: Arrest of Assange Is “Scandalous” and Highlights Shocking Extraterritorial Reach of U.S.

by DemocracyNow!

April 12, 2019

Attorneys for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are vowing to fight his possible extradition to the United States following his arrest in London, when British police forcibly removed Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he had taken asylum for almost seven years.

On Thursday night, Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman spoke to Noam Chomsky about Assange's arrest, WikiLeaks and American power.

 #DemocracyNow #NoamChomsky #Assange Democracy Now! is an independent global news hour that airs on nearly 1,400 TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream 8-9AM ET:

Assange: A Warning to Us All

Assange Arrest a Warning from History

by John Pilger  - Consortium News

April 12, 2019 

Real journalism is being criminalized by thugs in plain sight, says John Pilger. Dissent has become an indulgence. And the British elite has abandoned its last imperial myth: that of fairness and justice.

The glimpse of Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorean embassy in London is an emblem of the times. Might against right. Muscle against the law. Indecency against courage. Six policemen manhandled a sick journalist, his eyes wincing against his first natural light in almost seven years.

That this outrage happened in the heart of London, in the land of Magna Carta, ought to shame and anger all who fear for “democratic” societies. Assange is a political refugee protected by international law, the recipient of asylum under a strict covenant to which Britain is a signatory.

The United Nations made this clear in the legal ruling of its Working Party on Arbitrary Detention.

But to hell with that. Let the thugs go in. Directed by the quasi fascists in Trump’s Washington, in league with Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno, a Latin American Judas and liar seeking to disguise his rancid regime, the British elite abandoned its last imperial myth: that of fairness and justice.

Moreno: A Latin American Judas.

Imagine Tony Blair dragged from his multi-million pound Georgian home in Connaught Square, London, in handcuffs, for onward dispatch to the dock in The Hague. By the standard of Nuremberg, Blair’s “paramount crime” is the deaths of a million Iraqis. Assange’s crime is journalism: holding the rapacious to account, exposing their lies and empowering people all over the world with truth.

The shocking arrest of Assange carries a warning for all who, as Oscar Wilde wrote, “sew the seeds of discontent [without which] there would be no advance towards civilization.” The warning is explicit towards journalists. What happened to the founder and editor of WikiLeaks can happen to you on a newspaper, you in a TV studio, you on radio, you running a podcast.

Assange’s principal media tormentor, The Guardian, a collaborator with the secret state, displayed its nervousness this week with an editorial that scaled new weasel heights. The Guardian has exploited the work of Assange and WikiLeaks in what its previous editor called “the greatest scoop of the last 30 years.” The paper creamed off WikiLeaks’ revelations and claimed the accolades and riches that came with them.

With not a penny going to Julian Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, turned on their source, abused him and disclosed the secret password Assange had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing leaked US embassy cables.

Revealing Homicidal Colonial Wars

When Assange was still trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy, Harding joined police outside and gloated on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the last laugh.” The Guardian then published a series of falsehoods about Assange, not least a discredited claim that a group of Russians and Trump’s man, Paul Manafort, had visited Assange in the embassy. The meetings never happened; it was fake.

But the tone has now changed.

“The Assange case is a morally tangled web,” the paper opined.
“He (Assange) believes in publishing things that should not be published …. But he has always shone a light on things that should never have been hidden.”

These “things” are the truth about the homicidal way America conducts its colonial wars, the lies of the British Foreign Office in its denial of rights to vulnerable people, such as the Chagos Islanders, the exposé of Hillary Clinton as a backer and beneficiary of jihadism in the Middle East, the detailed description of American ambassadors of how the governments in Syria and Venezuela might be overthrown, and much more.

It is all available on the WikiLeaks site.

The Guardian is understandably nervous. Secret policemen have already visited the newspaper and demanded and got the ritual destruction of a hard drive. On this, the paper has form. In 1983, a Foreign Office clerk, Sarah Tisdall, leaked British Government documents showing when American cruise nuclear weapons would arrive in Europe. The Guardian was showered with praise.

When a court order demanded to know the source, instead of the editor going to prison on a fundamental principle of protecting a source, Tisdall was betrayed, prosecuted and served six months.

If Assange is extradited to America for publishing what The Guardian calls truthful “things,” what is to stop the current editor, Katherine Viner, following him, or the previous editor, Alan Rusbridger, or the prolific propagandist Luke Harding?

Even the propagandist Harding, (left) could be at risk.

What is to stop the editors of The New York Times and The Washington Post, who also published morsels of the truth that originated with WikiLeaks, and the editor of El Pais in Spain, and Der Spiegel in Germany and The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia.

The list is long.

David McCraw, lead lawyer of The New York Times, wrote:

“I think the prosecution [of Assange] would be a very, very bad precedent for publishers … from everything I know, he’s sort of in a classic publisher’s position and the law would have a very hard time distinguishing between The New York Times and WikiLeaks.”

Even if journalists who published WikiLeaks’ leaks are not summoned by an American grand jury, the intimidation of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning will be enough. Real journalism is being criminalized by thugs in plain sight. Dissent has become an indulgence.

In Australia, the current America-besotted government is prosecuting two whistle-blowers who revealed that Canberra’s spooks bugged the cabinet meetings of the new government of East Timor for the express purpose of cheating the tiny, impoverished nation out of its proper share of the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea. Their trial will be held in secret.

The Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, is infamous for his part in setting up concentration camps for refugees on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus, where children self harm and suicide. In 2014, Morrison proposed mass detention camps for 30,000 people.

Journalism: a Major Threat

Real journalism is the enemy of these disgraces. A decade ago, the Ministry of Defense in London produced a secret document which described the “principal threats” to public order as threefold: terrorists, Russian spies and investigative journalists. The latter was designated the major threat.

The document was duly leaked to WikiLeaks, which published it. “We had no choice,” Assange told me.

“It’s very simple. People have a right to know and a right to question and challenge power. That’s true democracy.”

What if Assange and Manning and others in their wake — if there are others — are silenced and “the right to know and question and challenge” is taken away?

In the 1970s, I met Leni Reifenstahl, close friend of Adolf Hitler, whose films helped cast the Nazi spell over Germany.

She told me that the message in her films, the propaganda, was dependent not on “orders from above” but on what she called the “submissive void” of the public.

“Did this submissive void include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I asked her.

“Of course,” she said, “especially the intelligentsia …. When people no longer ask serious questions, they are submissive and malleable. Anything can happen.”

And did. The rest, she might have added, is history.

John Pilger is an Australian-British journalist and filmmaker based in London. Pilger’s Web site is: In 2017, the British Library announced a John Pilger Archive of all his written and filmed work. The British Film Institute includes his 1979 film, “Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia,” among the 10 most important documentaries of the 20thcentury. Some of his previous contributions to Consortium News can be found here.

Killing the Message

"Assange Arrested for Exposing U.S. War Crimes" - Paul Jay


April 12, 2019
Wikileaks released Manning’s leaked documents and exposed multiple crimes committed by the U.S. government and armed forces. Jay says this is getting lost in the corporate media coverage of Assange’s arrest.

As Assange was being hauled out of the Ecuadorian Embassy he was holding in his hand a book, a copy of Gore Vidal’s History of the National Security State. That’s a collection of interviews he did with Paul Jay, CEO and editor-in-chief here at The Real News Network. And there really is a critical juncture between the book and Assange’s arrest that involves the role of the national security state in our country.

Pounding the protruding Nail: Why Assange Arrest, Why Now?

First they came for the whistle-blowers 

by MarkGB

April 11, 2019

Julian Assange was arrested this morning, Thursday 11th April 2019. He was handed over to the Metropolitan Police by officials at the Ecuador Embassy in Hans Crescent, Knightsbridge. The official reason given was that he had breached the conditions of his asylum, including being aggressive to staff.

This is a total crock.

The truth: the newly elected President Moreno is a Washington puppet; ‘bribed’ by an IMF loan of $4.2bn approved on 12th March.

Why this week? I am sure there are a number of factors involved; one of which is almost certainly the fact that the United Nations Rapporteur of Torture was due to visit Assange next week…

In terms of how we got to this point: Assange sought asylum in the embassy in 2012, to avoid extradition to Sweden to be interviewed on trumped up allegations of sexual assault…since dropped…fabricated so that the Swedes could hand him over to the US. In the process of seeking asylum he broke the conditions of his bail in the UK.

This is analysed & explained in depth, in a piece I wrote for Renegade 18 months ago, in October 2017:

When 6 is Nine: A Dark Day for Us All

Julian Assange, Political Prisoner: A Dark Day for Citizenship

by M. C. Forte - ZeroAnthropology

April 12, 2019

After a day of following RT’s live coverage of the outrageous arrest of Julian Assange, abducted from the Embassy of Ecuador in London by British police agents, and then hearing US media fall over each other in a competition for who could make the most psychotic accusations against Assange (Fox News, interestingly, distinguishing itself as the sane exception on this matter), I have come to a different set of opinions on what this event means. It has been many years since I last wrote like I do below, but I have an axe to grind, and boy do I mean to grind it. 

A Dark Day for What?

My first surprise was not in the arrest itself and the abrupt cancellation of Ecuador’s asylum, but the conclusion that first came to many commentators’ minds: this is a dark day for journalism. If that were true, we might even breathe a sigh of relief, given how disreputable and discredited most of the news media have become as publishers of falsehoods, propaganda, and smears.

The sadder reality is that today was a dark day for citizenship, for democracy, and for international law.

The event should serve as a reminder that we are all being violently confronted with a dead post-liberalism that is reactionary, abusive, and arrogant. In the West at least, all of us live in authoritarian prisons: mass surveillance, mass indoctrination, and increasingly all-inclusive censorship.

Journalism would have needed to still be alive, for this to have been a dark day for it.

The Crime?

Julian Assange has been accused of many crimes over the years, and now his state-level detractors will finally have the unenviable task of actually trying to prove their accusations in court. Assange’s most notorious “crime” is to have better informed us of the reality of global corruption and imperial warfare.

Whether the broad public was deserving of his sacrifice is another matter, as is the question about the degree to which the public made use of the knowledge produced by WikiLeaks.

For my part, I benefited: thanks to WikiLeaks, I was able to mine the Afghan War Logs for information about the Human Terrain System, finding new information that had not been known to that point, and which revised some of the key arguments I had been making.

WikiLeaks’ publication of the US Embassy Cables, which I have still been using even in some of my most recent articles, has been a unique treasure trove that could be the source of countless books.

In more recent years, I explored WikiLeaks’ publications of the emails of John Podesta, and then tried to summarize the key findings (of which there were many). We are told that this publication significantly harmed Hillary Clinton’s chances of being elected in 2016—to which I can only say: I hope that is true.

Academics have, for the most part, really missed the mark to the extent that they have failed to show sufficient curiosity and diligence in making use of WikiLeaks’ freely available material—it truly stands as an indictment of the failure of their imagination, and the poverty of their methods.

I have had my own criticisms of WikiLeaks over the years, but never about its core mission and its methods, and never about the need for WikiLeaks. Yet even on this point, some academics were quick to embrace OpenLeaks as a “better alternative” to WikiLeaks—now try to find OpenLeaks. One would think that, at a minimum, a site has to at least exist for it to be an alternative.

As for specific crimes for which Assange has been charged, they do not include “working for Russia,” which he has never done—if he had, he might have enjoyed Russian protection. Russia does not leave its operatives hanging out there to be easily plucked by adversaries. Nonetheless, the hyperventilating Russiagate conspiracy theory crowd in the US, still reeling from the devastating defeat handed to them by the Mueller non-event, is looking for anything to restore just a shred of credibility.

Assange also is not guilty of “stealing secrets” from the US military—only one person did that, has already been convicted, and has already served time: Chelsea Manning.

Assange’s hands, real or virtual, were never on any US government documents prior to their transfer—“theft” is thus totally false. WikiLeaks’ publications have not resulted in the deaths of any US forces in the field—nor is WikiLeaks responsible for their being “in danger”.

Those responsible for putting the lives of US troops in danger are the politicians who deploy them in countless futile, reckless, and unnecessary wars.

As is to be expected, Julian Assange has also been the target of lurid, phony rape accusations, yet another ignominious episode in a long line of high-profile fabricated sex slurs. Assange was never charged with rape, nor did he evade questioning by Swedish authorities.

What Assange has said repeatedly, on countless occasions for several years, is that any effort to arrest him would be used by the US to seek his extradition. Unfortunately, Assange’s claim has now received 100% validation, while his critics who dismissed his claim as unwarranted hyperbole, have just had any remainder of their credibility completely destroyed. This takes us to the nature of Assange’s opposition.

The Gift of a Bad Opposition?

With the passage of years, it’s a challenge to remember the names of Julian Assange’s critics who came from the ranks of the many forgettable drones housed in foreign policy meat-lockers that are misleadingly called “think” tanks. They tried, and failed (often gloriously) to make the case that Assange was a “spy,” that he had “endangered lives,” that he in fact published nothing of any significance (so why arrest him?), and when that did not work, yes, of course, he was a “fugitive rapist”.

Whether they were deep state aficionados, freelance hacks, jealous mainstream media bobbleheads, paranoid activists, corrupt politicians, or warmongers, Assange’s attackers came from every direction.

Even some ostensibly left-wing conspiracy theorists would accuse Assange of being anti-Iran, pro-invasion of Iraq, a Mossad agent, and a CIA agent. What WikiLeaks could not publish, because it did not receive the leaks, was taken to be a deliberate act of omission (but clearly the nuts bought into the state-authored propaganda about WikiLeaks acting as hackers).

US anthropologists were no exception—if and when they could ever be distracted from talking about themselves, what they had to say about WikiLeaks was painfully little, and usually of the most insipid, vapid, and trivial order. This includes all of the so-called “cyber anthropologists” and “digital anthropologists,” who do not even really know what they are studying (they think they’re studying “the Internet”).

To spend time with Assange’s opponents—and I have—is to experience intellectual squalor on a whole other level. Let’s move on then.

Nobody is Above the Law?

Into what a trashy pit of decrepitude have the elite classes in the UK fallen. There was Theresa May today—still pretending to act as if she might be “Prime Minister” for five minutes longer—blowing the line “no one is above the law”. Yes, but these days it seems that it’s only ever those who are above the law that say that nobody is above the law.

In stating that “nobody is above the law,” the defunct, discredited, and soon to be banished Theresa May resorted to precisely the line that is used by actual dictators when cracking down on opponents. Opponents are always “criminals”. But May also needs to distract the UK public, and Assange might offer a few moments of distraction. Assange’s arrest, she will gloat, was her Hillary-Gaddafi moment.

The UK, however, is engaged in prosecuting an asylum-seeker. The UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated in 2016 that it considered the various forms of deprivation of liberty to which Julian Assange had been subjected, constituted a form of arbitrary detention, and that he should be released and compensated.

Yet the first UK judge to confront Assange today (April 11, 2019), did not concern himself so much with the UN or international law, as with Assange’s personality. Julian Assange is apparently guilty of a personality crime.

The judge—presumably a leading psychoanalyst—went down into the bowels of Twitter trolling by unnecessarily slandering Assange as “narcissistic”. Is that the crime? Is it even relevant?

This already shows “the justice system” failing, beginning with its very first actual test—it reveals a degree of personal acrimony that renders fair and impartial justice ridiculous.

If dignity has fled the state in the UK, one place to which it did not relocate was the state in Ecuador.

¡Long Live Bananas!

All thanks are due to His Majesty, The Ironically Named Lenin Moreno, for successfully ushering Ecuador into a new era as a resurrected Banana Republic. The political leadership of Ecuador manifests that unique combination of servility and greed which we usually find in America’s “force multipliers”.

Lenin Moreno, this new friend of the US, who expelled Assange a mere month after meeting Mike Pence in all his constipated Christian glory, is also someone who has openly backed the coup in Venezuela, whose figurehead is the opposition activist brat known as Juán Guaidó.

Moreno operates as we have come to expect of corrupt goons, taking revenge on Assange for WikiLeaks exposing his corruption. In the process, Moreno treated his Embassy, its staff, and international law, as if they were his personal tools, put there to advance his campaign of self-aggrandizement.

In a plain lie, published dutifully and without question by mainstream media, Moreno’s government totally denied that there was a decision to expel Assange, when Assange already knew that the decision had been taken. Clearly Moreno wanted to prevent a massive crowd from forming in advance of Assange’s arrest, and he seems to have succeeded. Too few believed the reports of Ecuador’s growing hostility toward Assange, a man to whom that government had granted asylum and even citizenship (apparently not worth much in Ecuador).

If this much squalor was not enough, then you have yet to meet the King of Squalor.

Me? I Never Knew Anybody!

The press has known since at least April of 2017 that the US had filed arrest charges for Julian Assange. Donald Trump has had ample time to prepare a response that did not sound quite so bumbling, another example of his trademark mendacity.

Donald Trump today acted as if he had never even heard of WikiLeaks. Not even his loyal fans at Fox News could support that illusion though, as they broadcast numerous clips of Trump loudly praising WikiLeaks, which he loved so very much during the 2016 election campaign. Julian Assange received respectful treatment on Fox News, with Sean Hannity traveling to interview Assange in person.

The Assange case will be like a toxic dump of radioactive feces on Trump, and perhaps this is what he intuitively fears. His own supersized “Secretary of State,” former director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, had set the stage for this himself, having lambasted WikiLeaks as a “hostile non-state intelligence service”. Right then, Trump should have jumped on Pompeo: “Hey Mike, try to STFU about WikiLeaks, OK? Before you cause trouble. You yourself praised them for their publications”. If Pompeo spoke out of both sides of his mouth on WikiLeaks, he was merely giving us a preview of Trump.

Trump’s more deranged and dishonest opponents at home might alternatively claim that his government is arresting Assange in order to silence Assange. Yes. That’s it! It’s all a cover-up of the real extent of “Russia collusion”! That is why the DoJ is charging Assange for something unrelated to Russia. Get it?

All joking aside, what we see in North America is a crackdown on whistleblowers acting in the public interest, and a crackdown on journalism, and that is just the beginning. We have also seen (and some of us have experienced) censorship in “social media,” along with increased corporate surveillance and rigging of Internet search results, added to actual banning and censorship. The list of cases is now longer than when it was summarized here in December, and here (search for the word “censor” to see the references on those pages).

Freedom of speech is the actual “threat” here—in other words, a basic right of citizenship. It’s not impoverished Central Americans on the US–Mexico border that threaten the citizenship rights of Americans, as much as Americans’ very own government. How will the US preach “in the name of democracy” to, say, Venezuela, while conducting a crackdown on journalism at home, stifling free speech, and persecuting whistleblowers?

With a bona fide political prisoner soon occupying front-page headlines, I cannot wait for the US to resume lecturing other countries about their democracy.

A Strange Relief

What a strange relief it must be for Julian Assange, even if he is not conscious of it at this very moment—to no longer have to endure that impossible stasis of being locked in a closet in Ecuador’s embassy, without so much as the benefit of a short walk in the sun and fresh air.

His time there rendered him ill, and he looked both sick and dramatically aged today.

Clearly the time had come for a proper resolution, one way or another. For years, every day, Assange has been training his mind for this very confrontation with the US. Every argument, every idea, every detail has been rehearsed endlessly, reworked, elaborated, strengthened. Now Assange will be able to force the US authorities to finally justify themselves.

This is the US on trial too, and it has more to lose from this confrontation than Assange. Great defense lawyers and ample defense funds will be provided to Assange, especially by his wealthier supporters (celebrities among them). This extradition and the upcoming trial of Assange might turn out to be a very significant mistake on the part of the US. And all for what? Maybe a maximum of five years in prison?

Assange will end his days as a free man, continuing his work, wealthy, and celebrated. The US has no such future prospects.

Media articles on WikiLeaks by M.C. Forte:

The Wikileaks Afghan War Diary,” CounterPunch, August 2, 2010— republished by Alternet as “7 Reasons Why We Should Celebrate Wikileaks, and 8 Reasons It’s Not the Panacea Some Are Calling It”.
نواقص في تسريبات ويكيليكس (“Deficiencies in the Wikileaks”). Al Jazeera Arabic, August 8, 2010.
A War on Wikileaks?” CounterPunch, August 11, 2010.—translated into Spanish and republished on Rebelión as “Desquiciados en el Departamento de Estado y el Pentágono ¿Guerra contra Wikileaks?
EEUU amenaza a los soldados que busquen consultar los documentos—El Pentágono pretende callar a Wikileaks,” Correo del Orinoco, August 17, 2010.
الهجوم على ويكيليكس.. هل من مخرج؟ (“Attacks on Wikileaks: Is There a Way Out?”). Al Jazeera Arabic, September 17, 2010.
The Wikileaks Revolution,” CounterPunch, December 14, 2010.
Iraq after Wikileaks: Truth without Justice and Power without Law.” Previously unpublished. December 1, 2010
Al Jazeera and U.S. Foreign Policy: What WikiLeaks’ U.S. Embassy Cables Reveal about U.S. Pressure and Propaganda.” Monthly Review (MRzine), September 22, 2011.
The Clinton doctrine: US reaction to events unfolding in the Arab world reveals the emergence of more insidious approach.” Al Jazeera English, February 22, 2011.
مصر والإمبراطورية الأميركية (“Egypt and the American Empire”). Al Jazeera Arabic, February 16, 2011.
What Do We Learn about the U.S. and Egypt from the Diplomatic Cables?” Previously unpublished. February 12, 2011.
Book by M.C. Forte that relied on WikiLeaks’ CableGate:
Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa. Montreal: Baraka Books, 2012.
Book Chapters on WikiLeaks by M.C. Forte:
The Ongoing Reinvention of Wikileaks: Media, Power, and Shifting the Shape of Dissent,” in WikiLeaks, Media and Politics: Between the Virtual and the Real, Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Beirut, 2011.
Chapter 7, “On Secrecy, Power, and the Imperial State: Perspectives from WikiLeaks and Anthropology,” in Force Multipliers: The Instrumentalities of Imperialism, edited by Maximilian C. Forte. Montreal, QC: Alert Press, 2015, pp. 187-221.

Articles on WikiLeaks on Zero Anthropology:

Collateral Murder: U.S. Soldiers Killing Civilians in Cold Blood,” April 5, 2010.
Collateral Murder, Part 2: Admission of U.S. War Crimes in Iraq,” June 17, 2010.
Human Terrain Teams in Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary: Raw Data,” July 27, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary: Problems to Note, More to Come on Human Terrain Teams,” July 28, 2010.
Human Terrain System in Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary: Searching for Evidence of the Positive,” July 31, 2010.
Revealing the Human Terrain System in Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary,” August 1, 2010.
Continued: Debating the Pros and Cons of Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary,” August 2, 2010.
Visual Intelligence: IED Attacks from Wikileaks’ Afghan War Diary,” August 3, 2010.
Heroism in Doubt: Canadian War Mythology Takes a Hit from Wikileaks,” August 12, 2010.
Wikileaks: Bradley Manning, Sweden as Safe Haven, and Pentagon Propaganda,” August 18, 2010.
The Pentagon’s Letter to Wikileaks,” August 19, 2010.
In the Conflicts Around Wikileaks, Is Julian Assange Really the Problem?” September 4, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: U.S. Troops Ordered Not to Investigate Iraqi Torture,” October 24, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: Torture Widespread in Iraqi Detention Facilities,” October 24, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: 76 Cases of Abuse Challenges U.S. Report on Iraqi Prisons,” October 24, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: Obama Administration Handed Over Detainees Despite Reports of Torture,” October 26, 2010.
Wikileaks: The Iraq War Logs Documentaries,” October 26, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: The War in Numbers,” October 28, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: 15,000 New Civilian Deaths Uncovered in Leaked Files,” October 28, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: One Day in Iraq: 128 Dead, Including Three Women and One Child,” October 28, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: Hundreds of Civilians Gunned Down at Checkpoints,” October 28, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: U.S. Apache Guns Down Surrendering Insurgents,” October 28, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: U.S. Troops Hand Over Detainees to Interrogation Squad,” October 29, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: UN High Commissioner Calls for Investigation Into War Logs Allegations,” October 29, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: Pentagon Response to Publication of Logs,” October 29, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post,” October 30, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: The U.S. Government’s Crisis of Legitimacy,” October 31, 2010.
Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: On War News Radio,” October 31, 2010.
Roundup of Posts on Wikileaks: The Iraq War Logs,” October 31, 2010.
Torturing the Whistle Blowers: The Case of Vance and Ertel in Iraq, Substantiated by Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs,” November 5, 2010.
Wikileaks Roundup: Man of the Year, Assange the Swede, Blocked at Harvard, Telling the Truth,” November 12, 2010.
Wikileaks: Defend Julian Assange,” November 19, 2010.
Wikileaks: Intelligence Needs Counter-Intelligence,” November 26, 2010.
WikiLeaks Disrupts U.S. Propaganda Machinery,” December 8, 2010.
The Wikileaks Revolution,” December 10, 2010.
Zero Anthropology is Wikileaks,” December 13, 2010.
The Wikileaks Revolution, Part 2: Notes from the Insurrection,” December 14, 2010.
Wikileaks and the Moral Dualism of the U.S. State Department,” December 18, 2010.
Anthropology, Secrecy, and Wikileaks,” December 24, 2010.
The Excuse is Wikileaks. The Object is Freedom of Speech. The Subject is Authoritarianism,” January 8, 2011.
Journalist, Hacker, Spy, Racketeer,” January 23, 2011.
101 Things We Learned from WikiLeaks’ Podesta Emails,” November 8, 2016.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Idiot King & His Dumber Subjects

Will the Trump administration go to war next?

by The Saker - for the Unz Review

April 10, 2019

Ever since Mr. MAGA made it to the White House, I have been awed by the level of sheer stupidity and, frankly, the immorality of this administration. Obama was almost as incompetent and evil, but Trump truly brought about a qualitative change in what we could loosely refer to as the “average White House IQ.”

The best thing I can honestly say about Trump is that stupid can be good. Alas, it can also be extremely dangerous, and that is what is happening now.

Just check out these recent headlines:

Trump signs declaration recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over disputed Golan Heights
Moscow believes Western sabotage caused Venezuelan blackout
Explosions in Venezuela confirmed as a terrorist sabotage
US designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as terrorist organization – Trump
Pompeo to Turkey: Military Action in Syria Will Have ‘Devastating’ Consequences

I have to admit that this last one is my favorite, really! How cool is that? The US threatens a NATO member state with war (that is what “devastating/serious consequences” means in diplotalk).

Pompeo (surely one of the most evil and delusional idiots in the Trump Administration) was probably trying to emulate the role-model of this entire Administration, Bibi Netanyahu, who once even threatened *New Zealand* with war (well, kinda, I know, they did not really mean “real” war, but they did use war language, which, for a politician, is irresponsible at best).

This would all be very funny if not for the fact that it is pretty obvious that the USA is already engaged in a covert military/terrorist campaign against Venezuela and that the fact that the Maduro government has successfully foiled the “Guaidó revolution” (at least so far) only further enrages the likes of Pompeo. Besides, the fact that the US military does not appear to have the stomach for a ground invasion does not at all mean that they cannot trigger a Kosovo or Libya type of bombing and missile campaign against Venezuela.

Will the covert war against Venezuela soon turn into an overt one?

Those who now claim that three Russian S-300 air defense battalions (equipped with the export version of the S-300VM – the “Antey-2500”) or even thousands of Russian-made MANPADS can stop the USA simply don’t understand warfare in general and air-defense operations specifically. What these folks do is to take a few figures about, in this case, the theoretical capabilities of the Venezuelan S-300s and then compute how many aircraft/missiles these systems could shoot down. That is not how air defenses work.

[Sidebar: I won’t write a detailed explanation about this topic here. My friend Andrei Martyanov can do that much better than I, but I will just say that to be truly effective, any air defense system has to be 1) multi-level and 2) integrated. Furthermore, such pseudo-analyses as mentioned above always overlooks the importance of all other factors besides the number and characteristics of the missiles themselves. But in reality, electronic warfare, network integration, signal processing, combat management systems, etc. play an absolutely crucial role in air defenses. Even deceptive measures (such as inflatable “tanks” or wooden “aircraft”) can play a central role in the outcome (as it did in Kosovo and Iraq). The same goes for offensive air operations, of course. Thus no evaluation of a possible US air attack on Venezuela can be made without analyzing US capabilities, training, procedures, etc. The truth is that what military experts call “bean counting” is what only pretend-experts engage in. From a military point of view this is entirely useless and futile]

The sad truth is that absent a multi-level integrated air defense system like Russia has, air defense operations typically turn into a simple numbers game: X number of defensive missiles vs. Y number of attackers. Keep in mind that effective EW (especially SEAD) will *dramatically* reduce the effectiveness of any air defenses. The same applies to whatever number of Su-30 or even Su-35s Russia might deliver to Venezuela.

Now, look at a map and see for yourself: Venezuela is literally in the USA’s backyard (at least in military terms), and the US can bring HUGE numbers of whatever it wants (missiles, bombs, SEAD aircraft, etc.) to the fight. Not only that, but the Venezuelans lack any real counter-attack options, which means that Uncle Shmuel can fire off as many missiles as he wants for weeks and months without ever having to worry about a counter-strike.

It is only political factors protecting Venezuela from an overt US attack, not military factors. The latter are not irrelevant, of course, and I discussed them here. In military terms, Venezuela is a sitting duck which might be able to deter a ground operation, but which can do nothing against US standoff striking capabilities, at least not against a determined US effort. Against a pretend-strike, like what the Israelis and the USA did in Syria, the Venezuelans could probably meaningfully degrade the number of US bombs/missiles reaching their targets. But that is all they can reasonably hope for.
What about Syria?

Well, the AngloZionists sure lost the first phase of this war, but they remain unwilling to come to terms with that fact. So now they have defined-down their objectives from “a new Middle-East” or the “animal Assad must go” to “we will never allow peace to break out in Syria.” Not much of a strategy, but that’s is good enough for the Israelis, and that’s all that really matters to Trump or his masters. I don’t want to cover Syria in detail right now, but the simple fact that Pompeo is issuing threats against Turkey really says it all. The Turkish reaction was quite predictable: Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay declared that “The United States must choose. Does it want to remain Turkey’s ally or risk our friendship by joining forces with terrorists to undermine its NATO ally’s defense against its enemies?”

Feel the love?!

Yes, these are only words, and Turkey remains under NATO/CENTCOM occupation (CENTCOM, which the Iranians have – quite logically- just declared a terrorist organization!). Still, between the S-400 vs. F-35, the Kurdish issue, the CIA continuous support for Fethullah Gülen or the fact that the (US-controlled) EU never accepted Turkey, all create a potentially explosive background which even a small spark could ignite.

It is equally clear that both the US and Israel will continue to conduct airstrikes, assassinations, support for Takfiri terrorist groups, etc., in Syria for the foreseeable future. Trump’s famous withdrawal from Syria will end up like all his promises: tossed down the memory hole. As for the Israelis, it is absolutely vital (for psychological and ideological reasons) for them to continue to subvert not only Syria but the entire Middle-East. Furthermore, we should *never* forget the Israeli end-goal: to use the USA to destroy any country daring to resist Israeli aggression. On top of that list, there is, of course, Iran.

Simply put: there will be no peace in the Middle-East as long as Palestine is occupied by a gang of racist thugs whose contempt for international law or even basic norms of civilized behavior is as total as their total reliance on deception and violence to subjugate the region and, eventually, our entire planet. Of course, Russia and China will help, as will Iran, but that is unlikely to be enough to achieve a lasting peace (if anything, the latest Israeli statements about annexing even more of Palestine are an indicator of more bad things to come).

The truth is that while the Empire does not have the power to break the will of the Syrian people, it has plenty enough strength left to prevent peace from breaking out in Syria.

Or Iran?

Who knows? It is possible to predict the actions of a rational actor. “Rational” implies a minimal degree of intelligence and sanity. The problem is that we cannot be sure about the intelligence of the folks currently remaining on duty at the Pentagon while we can be absolutely sure that the Israelis are completely insane and delusional (as racists always are). So far, the Israelis have failed to get the US to attack Iran. Clearly, there were some intelligent and sane people at the Pentagon (in the tradition of Admiral Fallon) but how sure can we be that by now they have not all been purged (or corrupted) by the Neocon regime?

[Sidebar: when I speak of the stupidity of the US leaders, I don’t mean that as an insult. I mean that in a diagnostic sense: these folks are simply not very bright. Check out Dmitry Orlov’s excellent “Is the USS Ship of Fools Taking on Water?” for a very good discussion of the increasingly important role stupidity is playing in the actions of the Empire. And Orlov is not the only one thinking this. By now most Russians are pretty convinced that stupidity and gross incompetence is what best characterizes US decision-making. If it wasn’t for the very real risks of war, the Russians would spend their time laughing at the cluelessness of the “indispensable nation’s” leaders…]

When I look at the fact that, at least so far, the US has not dared overt military aggression against Venezuela, I cannot imagine anybody at the Pentagon or CENTCOM having the stomach for a war against Iran. But, again, I am assuming intelligence and sanity, which applies neither to Mr. MAGA nor to the Israelis.

The DPRK? The Ukraine? Libya? Country X?

In strategic analysis, one should never say never, but I submit that the chances of a full-scale US military attack on the DPRK, in the Ukraine, in Libya or against Country X (replace X with whatever country you like) are slim. Frankly, that train has already left the station. Of course, “Country X” is vague enough to remain a possibility at least in theory (maybe some new tiny “Grenada” can be identified to, in Michael Ledeen’s immortal words “throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business” (after all, that is what this great American hero – Reagan – did after the US had to run from Lebanon), but unless the Trump Administration reaches a new level of incompetence, arrogance, and insanity, I don’t see where Uncle Shmuel might decide to “restore democracy” next.

Any guess as to where these “indispensable” folks will restore democracy next?
Conclusion: Venezuela still in the cross-hairs or already under attack?

When dealing with a terminally dysfunctional administration like the Trump Administration (just look at how often people get sacked or resign from it! Check here for the latest case), we have to assume that it is capable of the worst, most illogical, and even catastrophically self-defeating actions. An overt attack on Venezuela would undoubtedly fall into this category. We, therefore, need to set aside all the many statements made by various US officials (whether threatening or appeasing) and look at what the US is actually already doing. When we do that, we see that the US is already engaged in warfare against Venezuela, even if this warfare is mostly covert. Furthermore, this covert warfare has failed, at least so far. However, and even more worrisome, the US has paid very little, if any, political price for its completely illegal aggression against Venezuela. So the real question is not whether the US will decide to launch a full-scale overt military aggression against Venezuela but whether there are any factors which would inhibit the US from crossing the deniability threshold?

I can think of at least one such factor: the inevitable blow-back against any “Yankee” military intervention in the Latin American public opinion and the subsequent and potentially severe consequences for US puppets (à la Bolsonaro for example) and various comprador regimes (in Colombia for example) on the continent. Other than that, my biggest hope is that the debacle in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere will be sufficient to persuade US officials that one more military disaster would not yield any benefits to their interests.

The clock is running and the Neocon gang in the White House has to decide either way – blame it all on somebody else (the Venezuelan people, the Russians, the Chinese, Hezbollah, Iran, Martian extraterrestrials, etc.) and leave or try an overt military intervention and hope that things go better than they always do.

What do you think? Will the Trump Administration go to war and, if yes, where?

The Saker

PS: quick Ukrainian update: neither Poroshenko nor Zelenskii have anything resembling a real program (albeit Zelenskii just released a 10-point “plan” which is simply silly, no point in discussing it now). Since both of them will be US puppets, this is not a big problem: the course of the Ukraine will not change as a result of this election anyway. Poroshenko’s campaign in weak, he is trying to cater to the Russian speaking population (he even goes as far as sometimes speaking in Russian, which is technically illegal for him!), but that is way too late by now: everybody hates him and the regime he represents. Zelenskii, in contrast, has a very dynamic and effective campaign – mostly videos – in which he says stuff which Poroshenko could never say. Most observers, including myself, think that since the 2nd round of voting is a competition of anti-ratings (negative perception) Zelenskii will win. Time is running out for Poroshenko, he better come up with something dramatic, or he needs to run. As for Yulia Vladimirovna, she clearly is in discussions with the Zelenskii people to see if they can form a political coalition in the Rada. I believe that these negotiations will be kept secret until the 2nd tour, at which point a “coalition of Zelenskii supporting factions” will be created in the Rada.