Chelsea Manning released amid growing attacks on democratic rights in the US

18 May 2017

Chelsea Manning walked out of the US military’s maximum security prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in the early morning hours Wednesday after serving a sentence of more than seven years, marked by brutality and ill-treatment tantamount to torture.

Manning’s supposed “crime” was that of exposing to the people of the United States and the entire planet the criminal atrocities carried out by the US government in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Washington’s conspiracies around the world.

It is ironic that the release of the US Army private imprisoned for leaking classified documents received minimal coverage from the corporate media, even as it churned out endless stories covering President Donald Trump’s alleged exposure to Russian officials of classified secrets.

The political crisis in Washington is the product of a bitter internecine struggle between rival factions within the ruling political establishment and the US state apparatus, which are equally hostile to the democratic principles and antiwar sentiments for which Chelsea Manning sacrificed her freedom and nearly lost her life.

Days after her sentencing in August 2013, Manning came out as a transgender woman, but the military held her in an all-male prison, subjecting her to sexual humiliation and denying her treatment for her well-documented gender dysphoria. Much of her imprisonment was spent in punitively imposed solitary confinement. The predictable result was extreme mental anguish, depression and attempted suicide.

Manning’s seven years of imprisonment and torment at the hands of the US military represented the most draconian punishment ever imposed for leaking classified documents in the United States. She was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison in a drumhead military court martial, in which the prosecution pressed for a “treason” conviction, a charge that carries the death penalty.

Whom did Manning “betray”? Certainly not the American people, to whom she helped expose crimes being carried out behind their backs. Rather, her actions cut across the interests of the American capitalist ruling class, which is waging endless predatory wars and building up a police-state apparatus to suppress social unrest and popular resistance at home.

Working as a 22-year-old military intelligence analyst in Iraq, Manning became increasingly opposed to the US war and occupation in that country. In early 2010, she provided WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of classified documents exposing Washington’s crimes.

Among the first pieces of this classified material to catch the attention of a wide public was the chilling “Collateral Murder” video. Viewed by millions, the video, recorded through the gun sight of a US Apache helicopter, provides a gut-wrenching exposure, not only of a deliberate massacre of over a dozen unarmed civilians, including two Iraqi reporters working for the Reuters news agency, but of the criminal character of the US war as a whole.

Other documents provided by Manning made it clear that the US was vastly underreporting the number of civilians being killed and wounded in Afghanistan. Manning also gave WikiLeaks some 250,000 diplomatic cables from American embassies around the world, which exposed official US lying, efforts to subvert governments, and dossiers on the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, showing most of them had no significant role in terrorist operations.

The exposure of these crimes provoked a vindictive reaction from the Obama White House and the State Department, then headed by Hillary Clinton. The persecution of Manning was part of a broader crackdown on whistleblowers—the Obama administration prosecuted more individuals under the Espionage Act of 1917 than all previous administrations combined. This crackdown went hand-in-hand with the buildup of a state repressive apparatus that extended from the massive spying on the US and world population to the president’s invoking of the power to order the drone missile assassination of anyone, anywhere in the world.

If Obama commuted Manning’s sentence on his final day in office (adding 120 days onto her time served), it was not out of any last-minute sympathy for the imprisoned soldier’s suffering, or any newfound democratic convictions. It was a calculated political act, aimed at sanitizing the filthy record of his administration and currying favor for the Democratic Party. The conviction and the draconian sentence remain on the books, a brutal warning to anyone thinking of following in the persecuted private’s footsteps.

During the seven years that Manning spent enclosed behind cement and iron bars, the government’s witch-hunt and persecution against those daring to expose its crimes has only intensified.

Julian Assange has been trapped in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012, threatened by a US federal grand jury. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated last month that Assange’s arrest was a “priority,” adding that the US government was “stepping up our efforts on all leaks … whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.” This was accompanied by an extraordinary speech by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who branded WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” He declared that Assange “has no First Amendment freedoms” and that anyone who reveals the secrets of the US government is an “enemy” guilty of “treason.”

Edward Snowden, who exposed the NSA’s illegal wholesale spying operations, has been turned into a man without a country, living in forced exile in Moscow. Both Trump and Pompeo have publicly called for his execution.

If Manning, Assange and Snowden are compelled to face the threat of imprisonment and even death for lifting the lid on Washington’s dirty secrets, it is in large measure because the corporate media in the United States is fully complicit in these crimes, functioning more and more openly as a propaganda arm of the US government.

In a revealingly hostile response to Manning’s pending release, the New York Times buried an article deep inside its printed addition Wednesday under the headline “Manning Is Set to Be Freed 28 Years Ahead of Schedule.” Presumably the newspaper of record would have preferred she serve her full term.

The Times’s former executive editor, Bill Keller, expressed his attitude toward the WikiLeaks revelations in 2010, while Manning was being brutalized in a Marine Corps lockup in Quantico, Virginia. He described himself as “uncomfortable” with the notion that the Times “can decide to release information that the government wants to keep secret,” a practice that in an earlier period was regarded as the most essential function of the so-called Fourth Estate. He made the Orwellian declaration that “transparency is not an absolute good” and that “Freedom of the press includes freedom not to publish, and that is a freedom we exercise with some regularity.”

Today, the Times’s editorial pages are under the direction of James Bennet, a figure with the closest ties to the state apparatus and the top echelons of the Democratic Party. (His father is a former head of USAID, a front for the CIA, and his brother is the senior senator from Colorado.) The Times churns out war propaganda, while news coverage is, by the paper’s own admission, vetted by the US intelligence agencies. These practices set the tone for the corporate media as a whole.

The suppression of freedom of the press and free speech in the US—epitomized by the relentless persecution of Manning, Assange and Snowden—is driven by the needs of America’s ruling oligarchy, as it seeks to extricate itself from deepening economic and political crises by means of ever more dangerous acts of military aggression abroad, while confronting rising hostility and anger from masses of working people in the US and around the world.

The defense of these rights and the fight against state repression can be waged only as part of the struggle for the independent political mobilization of the working class against the capitalist system.

Bill Van Auken

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/05/18/pers-m18.html

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WikiLeaks Has Joined the Trump Administration

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WikiLeaks Has Joined the Trump Administration

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump declared, “I love WikiLeaks!” And he had good reason to display affection to this website run by accused rapist Julian Assange. By releasing reams of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, WikiLeaks helped tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.

As president, Trump hasn’t come out and said anything laudatory about WikiLeaks following its massive disclosure of CIA secrets on Tuesday — a treasure trove that some experts already believe may be more damaging than Edward Snowden’s revelations. But Trump hasn’t condemned WikiLeaks. The recent entries on his Twitter feed — a pure reflection of his unbridled id — contain vicious attacks on, among other things, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the New York Times, and Barack Obama but not a word about WikiLeaks. Did the president not notice that the intelligence community he commands has just suffered a devastating breach of security? Or did he simply not feel compelled to comment?

Actually there is a third, even more discomfiting, possibility:

Perhaps Trump is staying silent because he stands to benefit from WikiLeaks’ latest revelations.

Perhaps Trump is staying silent because he stands to benefit from WikiLeaks’ latest revelations.On Saturday, recall, Trump was making wild-eyed accusations that Obama had ordered the U.S. intelligence community to wiretap him. “How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” The White House could not come up with one iota of evidence to support this irresponsible allegation, which was denied by FBI Director James Comey and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. But Trump would not be dissuaded from pursuing this charge, which serves as a convenient distraction from the far more serious accusations of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin while Russia was interfering with the presidential campaign.

Is it just a coincidence that WikiLeaks dumped a massive database pertaining to CIA hacking and wiretapping just three days after Trump made wiretapping a major political issue? Perhaps so. But there is cause for suspicion.

In the first place, WikiLeaks has often timed its leaks for maximum political impact. It released 20,000 stolen DNC emails just three days before the Democratic National Convention on July 25, 2016. As expected, WikiLeaks generated headlines about DNC staffers disparaging Sen. Bernie Sanders, buttressing a Trump campaign effort to prevent Clinton from consolidating Sanders supporters. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned as a result, and the Clinton campaign suffered significant public relations damage.

In the second place, WikiLeaks, which has often leaked American but never Russian secrets, has been identified by the U.S. intelligence community as a front for Russian intelligence. In January, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified estimate that found “with high confidence that Russian military intelligence … relayed material to WikiLeaks.” This was done with a definite purpose: “Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

Trump has consistently resisted the intelligence agency’s conclusions, insisting that some 400-pound couch potato might have committed the hacking before grudgingly accepting the findings but continuing to claim that the Russian hack had no impact on the election. (Given that 70,000 votes in three states were his margin of victory, how does he know what affected the outcome and what didn’t? And if WikiLeaks was so inconsequential, why did he tout its revelations in almost every appearance during the last month of the campaign?)

The intelligence community’s finding that Putin helped him win the election spurred Trump to pursue a vendetta against it. For example, he accused the spooks — with no support — of being behind BuzzFeed’s publication of a damning dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer claiming that the Kremlin had compiled compromising materials on him. Trump outrageously tweeted: “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” His animus against the intelligence agencies has continued down to his more recent accusations that they allowed themselves to be used by Obama to wiretap him. The consistent (if hardly believable) storyline from Trump is that he has no connections to Russia, and that he is a victim of the nefarious machinations of the American “deep state.”

It is significant, therefore, that one of the major storylines to emerge from the latest WikiLeaks release is that the CIA supposedly has a program to reuse computer codes from foreign hackers, thus disguising CIA fingerprints on a hacking operation. Never mind that there is no evidence that the codes used to break into the DNC were part of this CIA database. Right-wing outlets are nevertheless trumpeting these revelations with headlines such as this one on Breitbart: “WikiLeaks: CIA Uses ‘Stolen’ Malware to ‘Attribute’ Cyberattacks to Nations Like Russia.” Russian-controlled Internet “bots” are also said to be playing up these claims online.

The implication is clear. Trump was a victim of a “false flag” operation wherein CIA hackers broke into the DNC and blamed the Russians. This may be nutty, but it’s eminently believable to an audience conditioned to believe that 9/11 was an inside job and that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged — favorite tropes of the radio talk-show host Alex Jones, whose work Trump has praised. Other WikiLeaks revelations — for instance, that the CIA can use Samsung smart TVs as listening devices — lend further credence to Trump’s charge that he was secretly wiretapped.

Quite apart from its specifics, the WikiLeaks release changes the subject after a bad few days for Trump highlighted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from any Kremlingate probe after he was revealed to have lied under oath when he denied meeting any Russian representatives. Last week it was Trump on the defensive. Now it’s his nemeses in the U.S. intelligence community who are answering embarrassing questions about how this leak could have occurred and the contents of the leaked information.

Again, maybe this is entirely coincidental, but WikiLeaks’ history of being used by Russian intelligence to support Trump should lead to much greater scrutiny not only of who leaked this information — is there a mole in the CIA? — but why it was released now. Even if there is no active collusion between the White House and the Kremlin, the extent to which their agendas coincide is striking. Both Putin and Trump want to discredit the U.S. intelligence community because they see it as an obstacle to their power.

Photo credit: OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

WikiLeaks Has Joined the Trump Administration

In secret Goldman Sachs speeches, Clinton explains why the rich should rule

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By Tom Carter
17 October 2016

In one question-and-answer session on October 24, 2013 at Goldman Sachs, with CEO Lloyd Blankfein in attendance, an audience member asked the current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton the following question: “And Mike Bloomberg had 30 billion other reasons than to take office. Do we need a wholesale change in Washington that has more to do with people that don’t need the job than have the job?”

Clinton’s answer was revealing. “That’s a really interesting question,” she said. “You know, I would like to see more successful business people run for office. I really would like to see that because I do think, you know, you don’t have to have 30 billion, but you have a certain level of freedom. And there’s that memorable phrase from a former member of the Senate: You can be maybe rented, but never bought. And I think it’s important to have people with those experiences.”

Clinton’s response is an open defense of the aristocratic principle: the rich should rule. By virtue of being very wealthy, the rich have the leisure time to pursue a political career. Moreover, they supposedly have immunity from being bribed, since they are already so wealthy. Finally, they have the “experience in business” necessary to preside over a social system that benefits the social layer which appropriates all the profits from business and finance. These are sentiments that any 18th or 19th century aristocrat would recognize and embrace.

Clinton merely echoes, in a more crude form, the patrician arrogance of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (1830-1903), whose views were summed up by historian Barbara Tuchman:

He did not believe in political equality. There was the multitude, he said, and there were the “natural” leaders. “Always wealth, in some countries birth, and in all countries intellectual power and culture mark out the man to whom, in a healthy state of feeling, a community looks to undertake its government.” These men had the leisure for it and the fortune, “so that the struggles for ambition are not defiled by the taint of sordid greed… They are the aristocracy of a country in the original and best sense of the word… The important point is that the rulers of a country should be taken from among them,” and as a class they should retain that “political preponderance to which they have every right that superior fitness can confer.”

Clinton’s argument that her own wealth entitles her to govern America is an argument also made repeatedly by Donald Trump, who touts his own billions as a reason he will remain immune to “special interests.”

The “former member of the Senate” to whom Clinton was apparently referring was John Breaux, a Louisiana Democrat who held office from 1987 to 2005. Considered one of the most conservative Democrats ever to take office, Clinton’s role model went on to pursue a lucrative lobbying career at the firm Squire Patton Boggs. His name is synonymous with Washington’s corrupt “revolving door.”

On Saturday, WikiLeaks published the transcripts of three lavishly paid speeches given by Clinton at gatherings held by Goldman Sachs, dating from June 4, October 24 and October 29, 2013. All three feature a mix of groveling before the financial malefactors who hired her to speak and gloating over her own wealth.

In one of her secret Wall Street speeches, Clinton frankly admitted that she has a “public position” and a “private position.” The private position is expressed in “backroom discussions,” while the “public position” consists of the lies she tells to the rest of the population.

The fact that Clinton addressed the notorious investment bank in the first place highlights the extent to which the American corporate, financial and political establishment is drenched in corruption and criminality. In April 2011, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report entitled “Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse.” This report exhaustively documented that the financial crash of 2008 and the recession that followed were the product of fraud and illegality on the part of mortgage lenders and banks such as Goldman Sachs, with government regulatory bodies as well as credit rating agencies serving as accessories.

Forty percent of the 639-page report, or some 240 pages, were devoted to the fraudulent and deceptive practices of Goldman Sachs. The report presented documents, emails, internal communications and other evidence showing that the largest US investment bank had sold billions of dollars in subprime mortgage-backed securities to investors, vouching for their value, even as it was betting that the investments would fail. Goldman made billions and CEO Blankfein and other top executives pocketed millions in bonuses by accelerating the collapse of the financial system.

Michigan Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate subcommittee, famously described how the investigation had uncovered “a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest and wrongdoing.”

“Using their own words in documents subpoenaed by the subcommittee,” Levin said, “the report discloses how financial firms deliberately took advantage of their clients and investors, how credit rating agencies assigned AAA ratings to high-risk securities, and how regulators sat on their hands instead of reining in the unsafe and unsound practices all around them. Rampant conflicts of interest are the threads that run through every chapter of this sordid story.”

So when Clinton was hobnobbing with Goldman Sachs CEO Blankfein in 2013, while investigations of wrongdoing by Goldman and the other Wall Street banks were still ongoing, she was consorting with a man who belonged in prison. In 2011, Levin had recommended that the Justice Department criminally prosecute Blankfein for his fraudulent and deceptive conduct, and the Senate subcommittee charged that he had perjured himself in testimony in 2010 regarding his bank’s role in the financial crash. Nevertheless, no charges were brought, and in 2013 Clinton was accepting upwards of $225,000 per speech from Blankfein’s firm.

Hillary and Bill Clinton have accumulated a total of $153 million in speaking fees since Bill Clinton left the White House. Only the very naive could believe that these vast sums were paid for the speeches themselves. They were payment for services rendered to the American financial aristocracy over a protracted period.

Clinton’s Wall Street speeches deserve to be widely read. They provide an invaluable first-hand education in the sheer cynicism of the American ruling class. While the Obama administration publicly insisted that the Dodd-Frank reforms of 2010 were “strict regulations” that would ensure that the 2008 crash would “never happen again,” Clinton privately told her Goldman audience not to worry, that these cosmetic reforms had to be passed for “political reasons,” to provide the appearance that the government did not “sit idly by and do nothing” as people lost their jobs, homes and life savings.

When Blankfein snidely asked Clinton how, should he decide to run for president, he should conduct his campaign, Clinton responded with her own cynical joke. “I think you would leave Goldman Sachs and start running a soup kitchen somewhere,” Clinton replied, to the merriment of the assembled guests.

The response to the publication of these speeches by so-called “socialist” Bernie Sanders exposes the utterly fraudulent character of his entire presidential bid. While he postured during the Democratic Party primaries as a proponent of a “political revolution” against the “billionaire class,” Sanders now functions shamelessly as a sideshow for the Clinton campaign, browbeating his (now much smaller) audiences with admonitions to vote for the preferred candidate of the “billionaire class” he claimed to oppose.

During his run for the Democratic nomination, Sanders repeatedly called on Clinton to release the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches, which she refused to do. He charged that the speeches would show her subservience to the bankers. Now, transcripts have been leaked to the public, completely substantiating his accusations. His silence only underscores the depth of his political treachery and dishonesty.

Meanwhile, emails published by WikiLeaks to and from Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, reveal the consummate cynicism with which Hillary Clinton sought to portray herself as a champion of “everyday Americans,” small businesses, unionized workers, minorities and women. Having no connection whatsoever to any popular movement or any policies that have benefited the bottom 90 percent of American society, Clinton relies on a network of “community leaders,” union bureaucrats, academics, celebrities and media “surrogates,” who use empty demagogy and identity politics to market her brand to voters.

In one particularly Machiavellian email, one of Clinton’s aides discussed adding a “riff” of demagogic statements against Wall Street in a speech to Deutsche Bank in 2015, “precisely for the purpose of having something we could show people if ever asked what she was saying behind closed doors for two years to all those fat cats.”

“I wrote her a long riff about economic fairness and how the financial industry has lost its way,” the aide wrote. “Perhaps at some point there will be value in sharing this with a reporter and getting a story written. Upside would be that when people say she’s too close to Wall Street and has taken too much money from bankers, we can point to evidence that she wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power.”

In another email, Podesta frankly noted that Clinton hated the phrase “everyday Americans,” but Podesta urged her to use it anyway. “I know she has begun to hate everyday Americans, but I think we should use it once the first time she says I’m running for president because you and everyday Americans need a champion,” Podesta wrote.

The cynicism of Clinton’s campaign knows no bounds. Her staff actually worked to help Donald Trump secure the Republican nomination, believing that Clinton would have a better chance of defeating Trump in the election than a more conventional Republican candidate. The media was encouraged to “take him seriously,” and Clinton was urged to single Trump out for criticism in order to “help him cement his front runner status” among the Republican primary candidates.

Around 11,000 out of 50,000 emails obtained by WikiLeaks have been published. The Clinton campaign’s response to these exposures has been to blame Russia, in line with the Obama administration’s campaign of saber-rattling against the Putin administration. In an interview last weekend on Fox News, Podesta suggested that the emails were not authentic, while simultaneously (and inconsistently) arguing that the emails were acquired by “the Russians,” who are supposedly attempting to deliver the election to Donald Trump.

On Friday, Podesta taunted WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange with a picture of a number of uniformed chefs preparing a luxurious private dinner for the Hillary Victory Fund. “I bet the lobster risotto is better than the food at the Ecuadorian Embassy,” Podesta wrote as the caption to the photograph on Twitter, referring to the fact that Assange has been a de facto prisoner at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since he sought asylum there in June 2012. Assange immediately replied, “Yes, we get it. The elite eat better than the peasants they abuse.”

WSWS

Clinton’s Paid Speeches Leaked

In lucrative paid speeches that Hillary Clinton delivered to elite financial firms but refused to disclose to the public, she displayed an easy comfort with titans of business, embraced unfettered international trade and praised a budget-balancing plan that would have required cuts to Social Security, according to documents posted online Friday by WikiLeaks.

The tone and language of the excerpts clash with the fiery liberal approach she used later in her bitter primary battle with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and could have undermined her candidacy had they become public.

Mrs. Clinton comes across less as a firebrand than as a technocrat at home with her powerful audience, willing to be critical of large financial institutions but more inclined to view them as partners in restoring the country’s economic health.

In the excerpts from her paid speeches to financial institutions and corporate audiences, Mrs. Clinton said she dreamed of “open trade and open borders” throughout the Western Hemisphere. Citing the back-room deal-making and arm-twisting used by Abraham Lincoln, she mused on the necessity of having “both a public and a private position” on politically contentious issues. Reflecting in 2014 on the rage against political and economic elites that swept the country after the 2008 financial crash, Mrs. Clinton acknowledged that her family’s rising wealth had made her “kind of far removed” from the struggles of the middle class.

The passages were contained in an internal review of Mrs. Clinton’s paid speeches undertaken by her campaign, which was identifying potential land mines should the speeches become public. They offer a glimpse at one of the most sought-after troves of information in the 2016 presidential race — and an explanation, perhaps, for why Mrs. Clinton has steadfastly refused demands by Mr. Sanders and Donald J. Trump, her Republican rival, to release them.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign would not confirm the authenticity of the documents. They were released on Friday night by WikiLeaks, the hacker collective founded by the activist Julian Assange, saying that they had come from the email account of John D. Podesta, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman.

In a statement, a Clinton spokesman, Glen Caplin, pointed to the United States government’s findings that Russian officials had used WikiLeaks to hack documents in order to sway the outcome of the presidential election, suggesting that the leak of Mr. Podesta’s emails was also engineered by Russian officials determined to help Mr. Trump. Mr. Caplin noted that a Twitter message from WikiLeaks promoting the documents had incorrectly identified Mr. Podesta as a co-owner of his brother’s lobbying firm.

But Clinton officials did not deny that the email containing the excerpts was real.

The leaked email, dated Jan. 25, does not contain Mrs. Clinton’s full speeches to the financial firms, leaving it unclear what her overall message was to these audiences.

But in the excerpts, Ms. Clinton demonstrates her long and warm ties to some of Wall Street’s most powerful figures. In a discussion in the fall of 2013 with Lloyd Blankfein, a friend who is the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, Mrs. Clinton said that the political climate had made it overly difficult for wealthy people to serve in government.

“There is such a bias against people who have led successful and/or complicated lives,” Mrs. Clinton said. The pressure on officials to sell or divest assets in order to serve, she added, had become “very onerous and unnecessary.”

In a separate speech to Goldman Sachs employees the same month, Mrs. Clinton said it was an “oversimplification” to blame the global financial crisis of 2008 on the U.S. banking system.

“It was conventional wisdom,” Mrs. Clinton said of the tendency to blame the banking system. “And I think that there’s a lot that could have been avoided in terms of both misunderstanding and really politicizing what happened.”

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John Podesta, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, on the campaign plane last month.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

And she praised a deficit-reduction proposal from President Obama’s fiscal commission that called for raising the Social Security retirement age, saying that the commission’s leaders “had put forth the right framework.”

Such comments could have proven devastating to Mrs. Clinton during the Democratic primary fight, when Mr. Sanders promoted himself as the enemy of Wall Street and of a rigged economic system.

Several of the most eye-popping passages ultimately express more nuanced explanations of her views. When Mrs. Clinton describes herself as “far removed” from average Americans and their finances, she had just finished describing her growing appreciation for how “anxiety and even anger in the country over the feeling that the game is rigged.” And she reminds the audience that her father “loved to complain about big business and big government.”

The Clintons have made more than $120 million in speeches to Wall Street and special interests since Bill Clinton left the White House in 2001. Mrs. Clinton typically earned $225,000 for speeches, though she sometimes donated her fees to her family foundation.

“I kind of think if you’re going to be paid $225,000 for a speech, it must be a fantastic speech,” Mr. Sanders said during the primary, “a brilliant speech which you would want to share with the American people.”

As her race against Mr. Sanders — who now campaigns for Mrs. Clinton — grew unexpectedly contentious and close, Mrs. Clinton sought to portray herself as deeply skeptical of Wall Street and eager to punish its wayward leaders.

“I believe strongly that we need to make sure that Wall Street never wrecks Main Street again,” Mrs. Clinton said in January. “No bank is too big to fail, and no executive is too powerful to jail.”

As she sought to burnish her image as an advocate of working America, Mrs. Clinton declared her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Mr. Obama’s 12-nation trade pact, and distanced herself from Nafta, which her husband signed into law.

But in a 2013 speech to a Brazilian bank, Mrs. Clinton took a far different approach. “My dream,” she said, “is a hemispheric common market, with open borders, sometime in the future.”

Some of her paid remarks embrace the view that the public can benefit when Wall Street partners with government. When it comes to writing effective financial regulations, Mrs. Clinton said, “The people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry.”

Foreign hackers — authorized by Russian security agencies, according to national security officials — have successfully penetrated the operations of the Democratic Party and its candidates over the past year. They broke into the email servers of the Democratic National Committee, revealing embarrassing internal messages in which party leaders who were supposed to be neutral expressed their preference for Mrs. Clinton even as she was campaigning against Mr. Sanders. And Mr. Assange is an avowed critic of Mrs. Clinton who has made clear that he wishes to hurt her chances of winning the presidency.

Half of all registered voters said it bothered them “a lot” that Mrs. Clinton had given numerous paid speeches to Wall Street banks, according to a Bloomberg Politics poll in June.

Asked in an interview that month if the practice was self-defeating, given the anger over income inequality, Mrs. Clinton responded that her predecessors as secretary of state had given paid speeches, too.

“I actually think it makes sense,” she said. “Because a lot of people know you have a front-row seat in watching what’s going on in the world.”

The Empire Strikes Back: the US in Latin America

Posted on Oct 2, 2016

By Chris Hedges

  A boy wears a banner with a stenciled image of Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa during the Alianza PAIS convention in Quito, Ecuador, on Saturday. Correa is the party’s leader. (Dolores Ochoa / AP)

A decade ago left-wing governments, defying Washington and global corporations, took power in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela, Uruguay, Bolivia and Ecuador. It seemed as if the tide in Latin America was turning. The interference by Washington and exploitation by international corporations might finally be defeated. Latin American governments, headed by charismatic leaders such as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador, won huge electoral victories. They instituted socialist reforms that benefited the poor and the working class. They refused to be puppets of the United States. They took control of their nations’ own resources and destinies. They mounted the first successful revolt against neoliberalism and corporate domination. It was a revolt many in the United States hoped to emulate here.

But the movements and governments in Latin America have fallen prey to the dark forces of U.S. imperialism and the wrath of corporate power. The tricks long practiced by Washington and its corporate allies have returned—the black propaganda; the manipulation of the media; the bribery and corruption of politicians, generals, police, labor leaders and journalists; the legislative coups d’état; the economic strangulation; the discrediting of democratically elected leaders; the criminalization of the left; and the use of death squads to silence and disappear those fighting on behalf of the poor. It is an old, dirty game.

President Correa, who earned enmity from Washington for granting political asylum to Julian Assange four years ago and for closing the United States’ Manta military air base in 2009, warned recently that a new version of Operation Condor is underway in Latin America. Operation Condor, which operated in the 1970s and ’80s, saw thousands of labor union organizers, community leaders, students, activists, politicians, diplomats, religious leaders, journalists and artists tortured, assassinated and disappeared. The intelligence chiefs from right-wing regimes in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and, later, Brazil had overseen the campaigns of terror. They received funds from the United States and logistical support and training from the Central Intelligence Agency. Press freedom, union organizing, all forms of artistic dissent and political opposition were abolished. In a coordinated effort these regimes brutally dismembered radical and leftist movements across Latin America. In Argentina alone 30,000 people disappeared.

Latin America looks set to be plunged once again into a period of dictatorial control and naked corporate exploitation. The governments of Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela, which is on the brink of collapse, have had to fight off right-wing coup attempts and are enduring economic sabotage. The Brazilian Senate impeached the democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff. Argentina’s new right-wing president, Mauricio Macri, bankrolled by U.S. hedge funds, promptly repaid his benefactors by handing $4.65 billion to four hedge funds, including Elliott Management, run by billionaire Paul Singer. The payout to hedge fundsthat had bought Argentine debt for pennies on the dollar meant that Singer’s firm made $2.4 billion, an amount that was 10 to 15 times the original investment. The previous Argentine government, under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, had refused to pay the debt acquired by the hedge funds and acidly referred to them as “vulture funds.”

I interviewed Guillaume Long, Ecuador’s minister of foreign affairs and human mobility, for my show “On Contact” last week. Long, who earned a doctorate from the Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of London, called at the United Nations for the creation of a global tax regulatory agency. He said such an agency should force tax-dodging corporations, which the International Monetary Fund estimates costs developing countries more than $200 billion a year in lost revenue, to pay the countries for the natural resources they extract and for national losses stemming from often secret corporate deals. He has also demanded an abolition of overseas tax havens.

Long said the neoliberal economic policies of the 1980s and ’90s were profoundly destructive in Latin America. Already weak economic controls were abandoned in the name of free trade and deregulation. International corporations and banks were given a license to exploit. “This deregulation in an already deregulated environment” resulted in anarchy, Long said. “The powerful people had even less checks and balances on their powers,” he said.

“Neoliberalism is bad in most contexts,” Long said when we spoke in New York. “It’s been bad in Europe. It’s been bad in other parts of the world. It has dismantled the welfare state. In the context where we already have a weak state, where institutions are not consolidated, where there are strong feudal remnants, such as in Latin America, where you don’t really have a strong social contract with institutions, with modernity, neoliberalism just shatters any kind of social pact. It meant more poverty, more inequality, huge waves of instability.”

Countries saw basic services, many already inadequate, curtailed or eliminated in the name of austerity. The elites amassed fortunes while almost everyone else fell into economic misery. The political and economic landscape became unstable. Ecuador had seven presidents between 1996 and 2006, the year in which Correa was elected. It suffered a massive banking crisis in 1999. It switched the country’s currency to the U.S. dollar in desperation. The chaos in Ecuador was mirrored in countries such as Bolivia and Argentina. Argentina fell into a depression in 1998 that saw the economy shrink by 28 percent. Over 50 percent of Argentines were thrust into poverty.

“Latin America,” Long said, “hit rock bottom.”

It was out of this neoliberal morass that the left regrouped and took power.

“People came to terms with that moment of their history,” Long said. “They decided to rebuild their societies and fight foreign interventionism and I’d even say imperialism. To this day in Latin America, the main issue is inequality. Latin America is not necessarily the poorest continent in the world. But it’s certainly the most unequal continent in the world.”

“Ecuador is an oil producer,” Long said. “We produce about 530,000 barrels of oil a day. We were getting 20 percent royalties on multinationals extracting oil. Now it’s the other way around. We pay multinationals a fee for extractions. We had to renegotiate all of our oil contracts in 2008 and 2009. Some multinationals refused to abide by the new rules of the game and left the country. So our state oil company moved in and occupied the wells. But most multinationals said OK, we’ll do it, it’s still profitable. So now it’s the other way around. We pay private companies to extract the oil, but the oil is ours.”

Long admitted that there have been serious setbacks, but he insisted that the left is not broken.

“It depends on how you measure success,” he said. “If you’re going to measure it in terms of longevity, and how long these governments were in power—in our case we’re still in power, of course, and we’re going to win in February next year—then you’re looking at, more or less in Venezuela 17 years [that leftist governments have been in power], in Ecuador now 10, and in Argentina and Brazil it’s 13.”

“One of the critiques aimed at the left is they’re well-meaning, great people with good ideas but don’t let them govern because the country will go bust,” he said. “But in Ecuador we had really healthy growth rates, 5 to 10 percent a year. We had lots of good economics. We diversified our economy. We moved away from importing 80 percent of energy to [being] net exporters of electricity. We’ve had big reforms in education, in higher education. Lots of things that are economically successful. Whereas neoliberal, orthodox economics was not successful in the previous decade.”

Long conceded that his government had made powerful enemies, not only by granting political asylum to Assange in its embassy in London but by taking Chevron Texaco to court to try to make it pay for the ecological damage its massive oil spills caused in the Amazon, where the company drilled from the early 1960s until it pulled out in 1992. It left behind some 1,000 toxic waste pits. The oil spills collectively were 85 times the size of the British Petroleum spill in the Gulf of Mexico and 18 times the size of the spill from the Exxon Valdez. An Ecuadorean court ordered Chevron Texaco to pay $18.2 billion in damages, an amount later reduced to $9.5 billion. The oil giant, however, has refused to pay. Ecuador has turned to international courts in an attempt to extract the money from the company.

Long said that the different between the massive oil spills elsewhere and the Ecuadorean spills was that the latter were not accidental. “[They were done] on purpose in order to cut costs. They were in the middle of the Amazon. Normally what you’d do is extract the oil and you’d have these membranes so that it doesn’t filter through into the ground. They didn’t put in these membranes. The oil filtered into the water systems. It polluted all of the Amazon River system. It created a huge sanitary and public health issue. There were lots of cancers detected.”

Long said his government was acutely aware that Chevron Texaco has “a lot of lobbying power in the United States, in Wall Street, in Washington.”

“There are a lot of things we don’t see,” he said of the campaign to destabilize his government and other left-wing governments. “Benefits we could reap, investments we don’t get because we’ve been sovereign. In the case of [Ecuador’s closing of the U.S.] Manta air base, we’d like to think the American government understood and it was fine. But it was a bold move. We said ‘no more.’ We declared it in our constitution. We had a new constitution in 2008. It was a very vibrant moment of our history. We created new rules of the game. It’s one of the most progressive constitutions in the world. It actually declares the rights of nature. It’s the only constitution that declares the rights of nature, not just the rights of man. We made Ecuadorean territory free of foreign military bases. There was no other way. But there are consequences to your actions.”

One of those consequences was an abortive coup in September 2010 by members of the Ecuadorean National Police. It was put down by force. Long charged that many of the Western NGO’s in Ecuador and throughout the region are conduits for money to right-wing parties. Military and police officials, along with some politicians, have long been on the CIA’s payroll in Latin America. President Correa in 2008 dismissed his defense minister, army chief of intelligence, commanders of the army and air force, and the military joint chiefs, saying that Ecuador’s intelligence systems were “totally infiltrated and subjugated to the CIA.”

“There is an international conspiracy right now, certainly against progressive governments,” he said. “There’s been a few electoral setbacks in Argentina, and Venezuela is in a difficult situation. The media frames it in a certain way, but, yes, sure, Venezuela is facing serious trouble. There’s an attempt to make the most of the fall of prices of certain commodities and overthrow [governments]. We just saw a parliamentary coup in Brazil. [President Rousseff had been] elected with 54 million votes. The Labor Party in Brazil [had] been in power for 13 years. The only way they [the rightists] managed to get rid of it was through a coup. They couldn’t do it through universal suffrage.”

Long said that even with the political reverses suffered by the left it will be difficult for the rightists to reinstate strict neoliberal policies.

“You have a strong, disputed political ground between a traditional right and a radical left,” he said. “A radical left, which has proved it can reduce poverty, it can reduce inequality, it can run the economy, well, it’s got young cadres that have been [government] ministers and so on. I reckon that sooner or later it will be back in power.”

Corporate leviathans and the imperialist agencies that work on their behalf are once again reshaping Latin America into havens for corporate exploitation. It is the eternal story of the struggle by the weak against the strong, the poor against the rich, the powerless against the powerful, and those who would be free against the forces of imperialism.

“There are no boundaries in this struggle to the death,” Ernesto “Che” Guevara said. “We cannot be indifferent to what happens anywhere in the world, for a victory by any country over imperialism is our victory; just as any country’s defeat is a defeat for all of us.”

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_empire_strikes_back_20161002

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange on Trump vs. Clinton and Releasing DNC Emails

ELECTION 2016
WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange interviewed from London.

Photo Credit: Medill DC/Flickr

As the Democratic National Convention is opening today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, amid massive party turmoil, the DNC chair, Florida Congressmember Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has resigned following the email leak. The emails also reveal a close relationship between mainstream media outlets and the DNC.

http://www.democracynow.org/embed/story/2016/7/25/exclusive_wikileaks_julian_assange_on_releasing

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The Democratic National Convention is opening today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, amid massive party turmoil. Democratic National Committee chairwoman and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has resigned following the release of nearly 20,000 emails revealing how the Democratic Party favored Hillary Clinton and worked behind the scenes to discredit and defeat Bernie Sanders. The emails were released Friday by WikiLeaks. In one email, DNC Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall suggested someone ask Sanders about his religion ahead of the Kentucky and West Virginia contests. Brad Marshall wrote, quote, “It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist,” unquote. In another email, Debbie Wasserman Schultz calls Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver a, quote, “Damn liar.”

AMY GOODMAN: A third email shows National Press Secretary Mark Paustenbach writing, quote, “Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess,” unquote. Multiple emails show the DNC complaining about MSNBC coverage of the party and of Communications Director Luis Miranda once writing, quote, “F***ing Joe claiming the system is rigged, party against him, we need to complain to their producer,” unquote, referring to Joe Scarborough. Other emails suggest the DNC was gathering information on Sanders’ events and that a super PAC was paying people to counter Sanders supporters online. On Sunday, Bernie Sanders reacted to the emails during an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I told you a long time ago that the—that the DNC was not running a fair operation, that they were supporting Secretary Clinton. So what I suggested to be true six months ago turns out, in fact, to be true. I’m not shocked, but I am disappointed. … What I also said many months ago is that, for a variety of reasons, Debbie Wasserman Schultz should not be chair of the DNC. And I think these emails reiterate that reason why she should not be chair. I think she should resign, period. And I think we need a new chair who is going to lead us in a very different direction.

AMY GOODMAN: WikiLeaks has not revealed the source of the leaked emails, although in June a hacker using the name Guccifer 2.0 claimed responsibility for the hacking into the DNC’s computer network. On Sunday, however, Clinton’s campaign manager claimed the emails were leaked, quote, “by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump,” unquote. We go now to London for an exclusive interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy for more than four years. He was granted political asylum by Ecuador, but he fears if he attempts to go to Ecuador, if he attempts to step foot outside the Ecuadorean Embassy, that he will be arrested by British police and ultimately extradited to the United States to face, well, it’s believed, possibly treason charges for the documents WikiLeaks has released. Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you talk about this email—these emails, these 20,000 emails you have released?

JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah, it’s quite remarkable what has happened the last few days. I think this is a quite a classical release, showing the benefit of producing pristine data sets, presenting them before the public, where there’s equal access to all journalists and to interested members of the public to mine through them and have them in a citable form where they can then be used to prop up certain criticisms or political arguments. Often it’s the case that we have to do a lot of exploration and marketing of the material we publish ourselves to get a big political impact for it. But in this case, we knew, because of the pending DNC, because of the degree of interest in the U.S. election, we didn’t need to establish partnerships with The New York Times or The Washington Post. In fact, that might be counterproductive, because they are partisans of one group or another. Rather, we took the data set, analyzed it, verified it, made it in a presentable, searchable form, presented it for all journalists and the public to mine. And that’s exactly what has happened.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Julian, your reaction to the announced resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz shortly after the release of these emails?

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, I mean, that’s interesting. We have seen that with a lot of other publications. I guess there’s a question: What does that mean for the U.S. Democratic Party? It is important for there to be examples of accountability. The resignation was an example of that. Now, of course, Hillary Clinton has tried to immediately produce a counter-example by putting out a statement, within hours, saying that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a great friend, and she’s incorporating her into her campaign, she’s going to be pushing for her re-election to the Congress. So that’s a very interesting signaling by Hillary Clinton that if you act in a corrupt way that benefits Hillary Clinton, you will be taken care of. Why does she need to put that out? Certainly, it’s not a signal that helps with the public at all. It’s not a signal that helps with unity at the DNC, at the convention. It’s a signal to Hillary Clinton partisans to keep on going on, you’ll be taken care of. But it’s a very destructive signal for a future presidency, because it’s—effectively, it’s expanding the Overton window of corruption. It doesn’t really matter what you do, how you behave; as long as that is going to benefit Hillary Clinton, you’ll be protected.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it’s very interesting, because Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine appeared together, as Mike Pence and Donald Trump did the week before, on 60 Minutes. And Hillary Clinton distanced herself from all these emails and the DNC, saying, “These people didn’t work for me.” And yet immediately upon the forced resignation of Deborah Wasserman Schultz, she said she’s a good friend, and immediately hired her. But, Julian, I was wondering if you can say, from your point of view, what do you think are the most significant emails that have been released, that you have released?

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, actually, I think the most significant ones haven’t been reported on, although The Washington Post late last night and McClatchy did a first initial stab at it. And this is the spreadsheets that we released covering the financial affairs of the DNC. Those are very rich documents. There’s one spreadsheet called “Spreadsheet of All Things,” and it includes all the major U.S.—all the major DNC donors, where the donations were brought in, who they are, identifiers, the total amounts they’ve donated, how much at a noted or particular event, whether that event was being pushed by the president or by someone else. That effectively maps out the influence structure in the United States for the Democratic Party, but more broadly, because the—with few exceptions, billionaires in the United States make sure they donate to both parties. That’s going to provide a scaffold for future investigative journalism about influence within the United States, in general.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Julian, on that issue, clearly, a lot of the emails talk about the actual amounts of money that were being offered to donors for the opportunity to—I mean, asked of donors for the opportunity to sit at different events next to President Obama, especially, the use of President Obama as a fundraiser. Now, most people in the political world will consider this business as usual, but the actual mechanics of how this operates and the degree to which the DNC coordinates with the president, his marketability, is—I don’t think has ever been revealed in this detail. Would you agree?

JULIAN ASSANGE: That’s right. And it’s not just that the president holds fundraisers. That’s nothing new. But rather, what you get for each donation of a particular sort. There’s even a phrase used in one of the emails of, quote, “pay to play.” So, yeah, I think it’s extremely interesting. There’s emails back and forth also between the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC. So, you see quite elaborate structures of money being funneled to state Democratic Party officers and then teleported back, seemingly to get up certain stats, maybe to evade certain campaign funding restrictions. In relation to what has become the most significant political discussion as a result of the publication, which is that the DNC higher-ups, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, were clearly against Bernie Sanders and trying to subvert his campaign in a whole raft of ways, that’s true. That’s the—the atmosphere that is revealed by hundreds of emails is that it’s perfectly acceptable to produce trenchant internal criticisms of Bernie Sanders and discuss ways to undermine his campaign. So, whether that’s calling up the president of MSNBC—Debbie Wasserman Schultz called the president of MSNBC to haul Morning Joe into line, which it subsequently has done. I noticed this morning, Morning Joe actually discussed it themselves, trying to shore up their own presentation of, you know, a TV program that can’t be pushed around. But, in fact, they did not mention the call to the president. That was something that is still unspeakable. And it was a 180-degree flip in that coverage. And you see other, you know, quite naked conspiracies against Bernie Sanders. While there’s been some discussion, for example, about—that there was a plan to use—to expose Bernie Sanders as an atheist, as opposed to being a religious Jew, and to use that against him in the South to undermine his support there. There was an instruction by the head of communications, Luis Miranda, to take an anti-Bernie Sanders story, that had appeared in the press, and spread that around without attribution, not leaving their fingerprints on it. And that was an instruction made to staff. So, it wasn’t just, you know, a plan that may or may not have been carried out. This was an instruction that was pushed to DNC staff to covertly get out into the media anti-Bernie Sanders stories. Another thing that—

AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday, Hillary—

JULIAN ASSANGE: Another aspect that is—

AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, cited experts saying that the DNC emails were leaked by the Russians in an attempt to help Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Mook was speaking to CNN. This is what he said.

ROBBY MOOK: What’s disturbing to us is that we—experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these emails, and other experts are now saying that they are—the Russians are releasing these emails for the purpose of actually helping Donald Trump. I don’t think it’s coincidental that these emails were released on the eve our convention here. We also saw last week at the Republican convention that Trump and his allies made changes to the Republican platform to make it more pro-Russian. And we saw him talking about how NATO shouldn’t intervene to defend—necessarily should intervene to defend our Eastern European allies if they’re attacked by Russia. So, I think when you put all this together, it’s a disturbing picture.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was Robby Mook citing experts saying the DNC emails were leaked by the Russians. You were the one who released these 20,000 emails, Julian Assange. Where did you get them?

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, what’s not in that clip there by Robby is that, just afterwards, he was asked by Jake Tapper, “Who are these experts? Can you name them?” The answer was no, a refusal to name the experts. But we have seen one of the experts, so-called experts, that the Democratic Party is trying to base its incredible conspiracy theory on about WikiLeaks. And that is this—what we jokingly refer to as the NSA dick pic guy. He’s a former National Security Agency agent who started to produce conspiracy theories about us in 2013, when we were involved in the Edward Snowden rescue, as a means to try and undermine the Snowden publications, subsequently embroiled in some amateur pornography scandal. That’s why they don’t want to name their experts, because they are people like this. In relation to sourcing, I can say some things. A, we never reveal our sources, obviously. That’s what we pride ourselves on. And we won’t in this case, either. But no one knows who our source is. It’s simply speculation. It’s, I think, interesting and acceptable to speculate who our sources are. But if we’re talking about the DNC, there’s lots of consultants that have access, lots of programmers. And the DNC has been hacked dozens and dozens of times. Even according to its own reports, it had been hacked extensively over the last few years. And the dates of the emails that we published are significantly after all, or all but one—it’s not clear—of the hacking allegations that the DNC says have occurred.

http://www.democracynow.org/embed/story/2016/7/25/assange_why_i_created_wikileaks_searchable

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Julian, I want to mention something else. In March, you launched a searchable archive for over 30,000 emails and email attachments sent to and from Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she was secretary of state. The 50,547 pages of documents span the time from June 2010 to August 2014; 7,500 of the documents were sent by Hillary Clinton herself. The emails were made available in the form of thousands of PDFs by the U.S. State Department as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request. Why did you do this, and what’s the importance, from your perspective, of being able to create a searchable base?

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, WikiLeaks has become the rebel library of Alexandria. It is the single most significant collection of information that doesn’t exist elsewhere, in a searchable, accessible, citable form, about how modern institutions actually behave. And it’s gone on to set people free from prison, where documents have been used in their court cases; hold the CIA accountable for renditions programs; feed into election cycles, which have resulted in the termination of, in some case—or contributed to the termination of governments, in some cases, taken the heads of intelligence agencies, ministers of defense and so on. So, you know, our civilization can only be as good as our knowledge of what our civilization is. We can’t possibly hope to reform that which we do not understand. So, those Hillary Clinton emails, they connect together with the cables that we have published of Hillary Clinton, creating a rich picture of how Hillary Clinton performs in office, but, more broadly, how the U.S. Department of State operates. So, for example, the disastrous, absolutely disastrous intervention in Libya, the destruction of the Gaddafi government, which led to the occupation of ISIS of large segments of that country, weapons flows going over to Syria, being pushed by Hillary Clinton, into jihadists within Syria, including ISIS, that’s there in those emails. There’s more than 1,700 emails in Hillary Clinton’s collection, that we have released, just about Libya alone.http://www.democracynow.org/embed/story/2016/7/25/julian_assange_choosing_between_trump_or

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Julian, we cut you off earlier when you were talking about what you felt were the most significant emails that you have released. Is there any last one that you’d like to mention? And also, do you have any thoughts on Donald Trump? I mean, just before we went to air, a CNN poll came out that says Donald Trump is ahead by 5 percentage points of Hillary Clinton. Now, he did just come off of the Republican convention, but many called it the worst convention in history, so it’s not automatic that he should have had this percentage lead. Of course, though, you have the crisis, the disarray, the Democratic Party is in because of these emails that you’ve released.

JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, you’re asking me, do I prefer cholera or gonorrhea? Personally, I would prefer neither. Look, I think—you know, we know how politics works in the United States. Whoever—whatever political party gets into government is going to merge with the bureaucracy pretty damn fast. It will be in a position where it has some levers in its hand. And so, as a result, corporate lobbyists will move in to help control those levers. So it doesn’t make much difference in the end. What does make a difference is political accountability, a general deterrence set to stop political organizations behaving in a corrupt manner. That can make a difference, because that changes the perception of what you can do or not do. And so, always—well, almost always, you should choose the principled position, which is to set a disciplinary signal about acting in a corrupt way, and take a philosophical position, which is our institutions can only be as good as our understanding of our institutions.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to—

JULIAN ASSANGE: Now, are you asking—the other—

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, go ahead, Julian.

JULIAN ASSANGE: The other top emails, well, as I said, I think this instruction by Luis Miranda, the head of communications, to go out and covertly spread anti-Bernie Sanders propaganda is a clear instruction combined with a chain of command. It’s not simply expressing a sentiment. It is expressing an instruction within the DNC to subvert the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,200 stations in North America. She is the co-author of The Silenced Majority, a New York Times best-seller.

http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/exclusive-wikileaks-julian-assange-releasing-dnc-emails-ousted-debbie-wasserman?akid=14479.265072.xQzzk8&rd=1&src=newsletter1060906&t=34

Stop the persecution of Julian Assange!

UN panel condemns detention of WikiLeaks founder

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5 February 2016

More than five years after first being detained under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by Sweden in relation to fabricated allegations of sexual misconduct, and after more than three and a half years holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been vindicated by a United Nations human right panel. This body has ruled that his persecution by the Swedish and British governments amounts to “arbitrary detention” and constitutes a violation of international law.

Assange’s sole “crime” is making public secret documents detailing the real and murderous war crimes carried out by the US government in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the conspiracies hatched by the US State Department and the CIA in countries around the world.

For exposing its criminal operations, Washington is determined to silence and punish Assange, using the lies concocted by Swedish prosecutors and the complicity of the British government to achieve its aims.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry Thursday acknowledged that the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) will today issue its findings that Assange has been “deprived of his liberty in an arbitrary manner for an unacceptable length of time.”

The UN panel could only have reached such a decision based on overwhelming evidence that the charges against Assange constitute a legal frame-up mounted for political purposes.

Even before the findings of the UN working group were made known, Assange issued a statement from the Ecuadorian embassy accepting the decision as the culmination of his final legal appeal. He declared that, were the panel to rule against him, he would leave the embassy on Friday “to accept arrest by British police.” He went on to insist that if it found that the Swedish and British governments were acting in violation of international law, “I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me.”

Neither London nor Stockholm, however, have shown any similar inclination to allow international law and the human rights treaties to which both are signatories to guide their actions.

A spokesman for the government of Prime Minister David Cameron issued a cynical statement insisting that Julian Assange “has never been arbitrarily detained by the UK but is, in fact, voluntarily avoiding lawful arrest by choosing to remain in the Ecuadorian embassy.” Only last October did British police end a round-the-clock siege of the embassy, announcing that they were pursuing “covert” methods in seeking Assange’s capture. At one point, the British government indicated that it would ignore international law protecting embassies and send security forces to storm the building.

As for the Swedish government, the foreign ministry in Stockholm issued a brief note asserting that the UN’s ruling “differs from that of the Swedish authorities” and would not alter its legal vendetta against the WikiLeaks founder.

The British and the US governments have regularly invoked the findings of the UN panel on arbitrary detentions when they could be used to lend a “human rights” pretext to imperialist operations against countries like China, Russia, Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba. That the actions taken by London and Washington themselves should be subject to international law, however, is rejected out of hand.

What they find impermissible is the exposure of their crimes, which have killed and wounded millions, while turning many millions more into homeless refugees. This is why they have not only hounded Assange, but placed Private Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning in prison for 35 years.

Manning was convicted by a drumhead military tribunal in 2013 on charges of “aiding the enemy” for providing WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of classified documents, including the “collateral murder” video showing an Apache helicopter’s gun sight view of the 2007 massacre of 12 Iraqi civilians. Also leaked were the “Afghan war diary” and the “Iraq war logs,” exposing multiple war crimes committed by the US military, and over 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables revealing Washington’s counterrevolutionary intrigues around the globe.

Meanwhile, Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who exposed the NSA’s wholesale collection of every form of data on the planet, from US and non-US citizens alike, in open violation of the US Bill of Rights and international law, has been turned into a man without a country, living in forced exile in Moscow.

There are a number of other such cases, including that of ex-CIA officer John Kiriakou, the only person punished in connection with the CIA’s torture of detainees—sent to prison for publicly exposing it. The Obama administration has prosecuted more individuals under the Espionage Act for leaking secret information to the media than all other US presidents combined.

Assange can expect even worse if he falls into the clutches of the British police and the Swedish authorities, who are acting as the agents of the US military and intelligence apparatus. He has been the subject of a secret grand jury investigation for over five years and is undoubtedly charged in a sealed indictment with espionage and other crimes against the state that could bring him life in prison or even the death penalty. Meanwhile, leading political figures in the US have openly called for his assassination.

Assange, Manning, Snowden and others have faced relentless persecution for daring to lift the lid on the secret operations of the US government.

This witch hunt is driven by the deepest needs of the American state, which functions as the instrument of a financial oligarchy. It defends this ruling layer’s vast wealth and monopoly on political power against the masses of working people in the US and around the world, while seeking to offset the economic decline of American capitalism by waging ever-more dangerous wars of aggression. Given the criminal character of these operations, a regime of secrecy and increasingly dictatorial methods is indispensable.

The only genuine constituency for the defense of democratic rights is the working class. Working people must come to the defense of Assange, Snowden, Manning and other victims of state conspiracies and repression.

Any attempt to arrest or extradite Assange must be answered with mass demonstrations and work actions in the UK, the US and all over the world.

This campaign in defense of Assange and the other victims of state repression can go forward only as part of the struggle of the international working class against the capitalist system, whose historic crisis threatens humanity with both world war and police state dictatorship.

Bill Van Auken

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/02/05/pers-f05.html