Julian Assange

10 things you need to know today: March 13, 2015

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Week

1.Manhunt continues for suspects in Ferguson police ambush
St. Louis County police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol took over security responsibilities at protests in Ferguson on Thursday night as a manhunt continued for whoever shot two officers outside the city’s police station early that morning. The parents of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot dead by a white officer last year, condemned the shooting. Attorney General Eric Holder said the attack was the “cowardly” act of a “damn punk.” Both wounded officers were released from a hospital.

Source: The New York Times, NBC News

2.Major powers hold nuclear talks with Iran
The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia, and the U.S. — along with Germany and Iran have begun talks on lifting sanctions on Tehran if it strikes a deal curbing its controversial nuclear program. A deal the Obama administration is discussing with Tehran would not be legally binding, as Obama’s GOP critics in Congress pointed out in a letter to Iran. A Security Council resolution, however, could be legally binding, complicating any potential efforts to fight it.

Source: Reuters

3.Sweden offers to interview Assange in London about sex assault charges
Swedish prosecutors said Friday they had asked to question Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in London about 2010 sexual assault allegations. Prosecutor Marianne Ny previously insisted that Assange travel to Sweden for the interview, but he is holed up at Ecuador’s London embassy and the statute of limitations runs out in August. Assange has long argued the charges were cooked up so Sweden could extradite him to the U.S. to face charges for leaked secrets.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

4.Secret Service agents drove through a crime scene on night of White House incident
Two senior Secret Service agents under investigation for crashing into a White House security barrier on March 4 also plowed through a crime scene and may have driven over a suspicious package during an active investigation, according to The Washington Post. Police had just cordoned off a package described as a bomb when the agents — Mark Connolly, second-in-charge on President Obama’s detail, and George Ogilvie — drove through police tape after leaving a work party, and came close to hitting the package, investigators said.
5.Islamic State accepts Boko Haram’s offer of allegiance
The Islamic State has accepted a promise of allegiance from the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, an ISIS spokesman said Thursday. Boko Haram is fighting to establish Islamic law, but it has suffered a series of setbacks under an offensive by a multinational force in northeastern Nigeria. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Sheka released an audio recording pledging allegiance to ISIS. In accepting it, Islamic State leaders said their caliphate had expanded from Syria and Iraq to include West Africa.

Source: USA Today

6.Civil rights activist Rev. Willie T. Barrow dies at 90
Chicago civil rights leader Rev. Willie T. Barrow died Thursday after being hospitalized recently for a blood clot in her lung. She was 90. Barrow began fighting for civil rights at age 12 when she insisted she be allowed to ride an all-white school bus in Texas. She later became an organizer for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., marching with him in Washington, D.C., and Selma, Alabama. President Obama called Barrow “a constant inspiration, a lifelong mentor, and a very dear friend.”

Source: Reuters

7.Utah’s governor signs gay rights bill
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday signed a bill making it illegal in the state to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment and housing matters. The bill also provides leeway for religious groups and affiliated organizations, such as schools and hospitals. The mix of protections for both rights and religious beliefs won endorsements from both gay rights groups and the powerful Mormon church.

Source: The Associated Press

8.Wreckage of Army helicopter found underwater off Florida
Divers on Thursday discovered the wreckage of a Black Hawk helicopter that went down this week off the coast of Florida. Search crews recovered the bodies of all but two of the seven Marines and four Louisiana National Guard members lost in the crash. Fog and rain continued to delay the recovery. The service members were conducting a nighttime training mission when the Black Hawk helicopter crashed. Another helicopter in the drill safely returned to base.

Source: TIME

9. Kathy Griffin quits Fashion Police panel after just seven episodes
Kathy Griffin announced Thursday that she was leaving the E! showFashion Police after just seven episodes. “I discovered my style does not fit with the creative direction of the show and now it’s time to move on,” she tweeted. Griffin joined the program after the death of Joan Rivers, and began appearing on the show in January. With a new panel, the program’s ratings fell, and another panelist, Kelly Osbourne, quit after co-host Giuliana Rancic insulted actress Zendaya Coleman’s dreadlocks at the Oscars.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

10.Disney announces Frozen sequel
Disney confirmed Thursday at its annual shareholder meeting that it would produce a sequel to the massive animated hit Frozen, which generated nearly $1.3 billion and won an Oscar for animated feature film. Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck are developing Frozen 2 along with producer Peter Del Vecho for Walt Disney Animation Studios. “We’re taking you back to Arendelle,” said John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.

Source: Boston Herald

As Manning Faces Life in Jail, Architects of Torture & Extrajudicial Murders Face Talk Show Circuit

Regardless of what side you come down on the Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden cases, the author of this article makes a valid point…

Daily Kos

While Bradley Manning has been found not guilty of the most serious charge he faced – aiding the enemy – he has been ‘convicted’ by a military court on 19 counts, several of which fall under the Espionage Act.

To be clear: a soldier who served the public interest by exposing war crimes and revealing gross legal violations by our government, will face a maximum of 136 years behind bars, likely in solitary confinement.

This was my reaction upon hearing the verdict:

Seriously, I don’t want to hear any lectures about how Manning deserves this time because he “broke the law.”

If he had illegally tortured Guantanamo detainees for the CIA, or even orchestrated such torture programs – illegal per U.S. and international law – he could very well have been promoted, if not left alone.

The Manning verdict’s central message, aside from this obvious hypocrisy and the injustices underlying it, is this: if you are a whistleblower in this country, do what Edward Snowden did (and what Daniel Ellsberg suggests): flee America, and fast.

However, if you commit crimes in the name of the state? Bulk up your profile.

There’s a microphone waiting.

Why would Edward Snowden seek asylum in Ecuador?

Apparently Edward Snowden left Hong Kong headed to Russia and by way of Cuba will head to South America.  Needless to say it’s quite complicated and is beginning to sound like a game of “Where in the world is Carmen Diego?”

NBC News

NSA leaker Edward Snowden was reportedly traveling to Ecuador on Sunday to pursue political asylum, and the question on many casual observers’ lips is: Why?

The move comes a year after the small South American nation offered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange safe haven at its London embassy.

And Assange is now lending his support to Snowden.

“He is bound for a democratic nation via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks,” the anti-secrecy group said in a statement, noting that they are giving the one-time CIA contractor legal counsel. “Once Mr. Snowden arrives in Ecuador his request will be formally processed.”

WikiLeaks said that Snowden — who is charged with espionage for allegedly leaking information about top-secret U.S. government surveillance programs — was “accompanied” by former Spanish judge Balthasar Garzon, who is WikiLeaks’ counsel and Assange’s personal lawyer.

It was not immediately obvious why, exactly, Snowden chose to seek asylum in Ecuador, although the country’s association with Assange may offer some clues, said Fordham Law School professor Andrew Kent.

“Ecuador clearly has some kind of history of sticking their finger in the eye of the United States on security issues,” Kent said.

Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s left-leaning third-term president, is a vocal critic of U.S. foreign policy and Western economic influence in Latin America. And he is part of a cadre of Latin American leaders — including Raúl Castro of Cuba and the late Hugo Chávez of Venezuela — perceived to have an anti-American political worldview.

A sense of political kinship often helps an asylum-seeker decide where to go, said Robert J. Anello, a New York attorney who has handled extradition cases.

“A lot of people choose a country where they think the government will be sympathetic,” Anello said.

Ecuador is among 109 countries that have a bilateral extradition treaty with the U.S., according to the State Department. However, the treaty does not specify espionage as an extraditable offense, Kent said.

“There’s nothing that really obviously covers what Snowden allegedly did,” Kent said.

Other crimes listed in the treaty — including larceny, obtaining property by false pretenses, and fraud — could conceivably be used by officials to extradite someone accused of espionage, he said.

Yet while Ecuador is seemingly turning into a haven for digital desperadoes, the country has a mixed track record on press freedoms.

The Ecuadorean legislature earlier this month passed a restrictive media law, establishing government-run media overseers and imposing sanctions on citizens who tarnish “people’s good name,” the Associated Press reported. The measure created several government commissions authorized to level civil and criminal penalties against journalists.

The legislation could run counter to statements made by Correa in June 2011 in an interview with Assange, just weeks before the president offered the WikiLeaks firebrand political asylum in Ecuador’s embassy, where he remains.

“We believe, my dear Julian, that the only things that should be protected against information sharing and freedom of speech are those set in the international treaties, in the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights: the dignity and the reputation of people, and the safety of people and the State,” Correa said during an appearance on Assange’s defunct television talk show.

“The rest, the more people find out about it, the better.”

Anonymous Announces Wikileaks Alternative (VIDEO)

I’m not sure what to make of Anonymous.  I do know that they have piqued my curiosity…

Addicting Info

Love it or hate it, Wikileaks has become entrenched in popular culture. By releasing what are otherwise secret documents, Wikileaks has changed the world. But the repeated attacks on the group has exposed weaknesses of its centralized operation and have driven a wedge between it and previously allied groups, such as the hactivist collective Anonymous. And with Wikileaks founder and spokesman Julian Assange a wanted man, the days of Wikileaks have always been numbered.

But, as with the attacks on Napster, the attacks on Wikileaks did not crush the customers of the service. Instead, it restructures the operation, changing from a centralized agency to a de-centralized. Napster became replaced by bittorrent, and now Anonymous has announced its replacement for Wikileaks, a service they call TYLER.

The issues between Wikileaks and Anonymous go back to the financial problems forced upon Wikileaks after its finances were cut off. In order to continue functioning, Wikileaks had to begin to demand payment. This in turn added liabilities to Wikileaks and its supporters. Facing the added pressure, and the proven liability of the single target to focus efforts against the access of information, Anonymous took the same approach as taken several times before: decentralize. So began Anonymous’s “Project Mayhem” which has produced TYLER:

Now instead of a single target, every single machine connected to Tyler will become a hub. Millions of machines, all churning over and handling the data. It is a nightmare scenario for any group or agency seeking to hide its secrets. No longer will there be a large rat to target, but millions of scurrying cockroaches, any single survivor enabling the reconstruction of the entire network.

The actions against Wikileaks have, instead of prevented the leaking of sensitive data, now made the leaking of that data now a trivial occurence, done by anyone in a matter of minutes, all in complete anonymity. The concerns over another Bradley Manning, being held for releasing secret documentation, are almost trivial, since  it will be next to impossible to track when the next Private Manning comes along. It has now become no longer a matter of if, but when.

The Anonymous TYLER system, the culmination of years of work for the hactivist collective, stands poised to change the rules of not only the internet, but of society itself. The age of state secrets, of corporate lies, can not continue with the bright light of TYLER to shine on them. This is a disruptive technology, you cannot fight it, only adapt to it.

WikiLeaks cable: U.S. troops handcuffed, shot Iraqi children in raid

I must admit that when I read this story at around 8:00 am on the McClatchey site, I was hesitant about reporting it for various reasons which I won’t detail here.

I will not post the horrifying picture that accompanies the story on either McClatchey or The Raw Story.  One would have to click on the link to either site to witness the horrific graphic detail.

In every war this country has ever fought, there are a few soldiers, who for whatever reason, have sunken into the darkest depths of the so-called fog of war.

The Raw Story

According to a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, U.S. troops massacred an Iraqi family in the town of Ishaqi in 2006, handcuffing and then shooting 11 people in the head including a woman in her 70’s and five children ages five and under.

McClatchy is reporting that the soldiers then called in an air strike on the house to cover up evidence of the killings.

This account differs sharply from an official version of the 2006 incident, which indicated that coalition forces captured an al Qaeda in Iraq operative in the house, which was destroyed in a firefight. The WikiLeaks cable, however, corroborates accounts by Ishaqi townspeople and includes questions about the incident by Philip Alston, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

The cable is dated twelve days after the incident, which took place March 15, 2006. In it, Alston says that autopsies performed in Tikrit on bodies pulled from the wreckage of the farmhouse indicated that all of the dead had been handcuffed and shot in the head.

The victims included “at least 10 persons, namely Mr. Faiz Hratt Khalaf, (aged 28), his wife Sumay’ya Abdul Razzaq Khuther (aged 24), their three children Hawra’a (aged 5) Aisha (aged 3) and Husam (5 months old), Faiz’s mother Ms. Turkiya Majeed Ali (aged 74), Faiz’s sister (name unknown), Faiz’s nieces Asma’a Yousif Ma’arouf (aged 5 years old), and Usama Yousif Ma’arouf (aged 3 years), and a visiting relative Ms. Iqtisad Hameed Mehdi (aged 23) were killed during the raid.”

Here is the cable…

Politico’s “The Week In One Liners” 1-14-11


“An attempt on you could bring the republic down.” – Fox News’s Glenn Beck, encouraging Sarah Palin in a letter to “look into protection for your family.” 

“Keep your mouth shut.” – Commentator Bernie Goldberg, knocking Pima County, Ariz., Sheriff Clarence Dupnik for his remarks in the wake of the Tucson shootings. 

“I wouldn’t have done it.” – Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, on Sarah Palin’s “crosshairs” map. 

“This Jared guy’s chalkboard in his basement, I’m not sure it wouldn’t look that different than Glenn Beck’s chalkboard.” – HBO’s Bill Maher, discussing the Tucson shooter. 

“Oh, you guys are nothing if not entertaining over there. It’s like living next door to The Simpsons, you know, the dysfunctional family down the block. Watching you guys, I mean I shouldn’t make too light of it, I think this is really a bad situation.” – Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, comparing neighboring Illinois to “The Simpsons.” 

“Tone it down.” – Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes, requesting that his on-air employees take down the rhetoric a notch in the wake of the Tucson shooting. 

“Whack-job nut maggot.” – Mike Huckabee, describing accused Tucson shooter Jared Loughner. 

“I can’t be remorseful for something I think I didn’t do.” – Former Rep. Tom DeLay, defending himself despite being sentenced to three years in prison. 

“Oh, so he’s into love-making. He’ll make great love to you then tell you what’s wrong with you. That’s called ‘seducing and reducing.'” – “Millionaire Matchmaker” Patti Stanger, offering analysis after some of Julian Assange’s earlier online profiles were read to her (she didn’t know it was Assange at the time). 

“Still taking bites of the bacon, chewing and talking, VPOTUS chatted up the Delaware troops, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.” – A pool report, describing a scene from Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Afghanistan.

Sarah Palin Uses Info Gleaned From ‘Treasonous’ WikiLeaks To Pen Op-Ed On Dangers Of Iran

Is this not the height of hypocrisy?

Huffington Post

Sarah Palin sought to build her foreign policy credentials on Tuesday, with a new op-ed arguing that the Obama administration needs to “toughen up” on Iran based on information from leaked diplomatic cables that she had earlier denounced.

The former Alaska Governor writes in USA Today:

Iran continues to defy the international community in its drive to acquire nuclear weapons. Arab leaders in the region rightly fear a nuclear-armed Iran. We suspected this before, but now we know for sure because of leaked diplomatic cables. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia “frequently exhorted the U.S. to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons program,” according to these communications. Officials from Jordan said the Iranian nuclear program should be stopped by any means necessary. Officials from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt saw Iran as evil, an “existential threat” and a sponsor of terrorism. If Iran isn’t stopped from obtaining nuclear weapons, it could trigger a regional nuclear arms race in which these countries would seek their own nuclear weapons to protect themselves.

The “leaked diplomatic cables” that Palin speaks of are, of course, dispatches released as part of  WikiLeaks’ latest document dump, an action that she deemed “treasonous,” later asking why the group’s founder, Julian Assange, was not “pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.”

The general thrust of Palin’s op-ed is that the potential danger of Iran — nuclear or non-nuclear — is enough to warrant an escalation of the existing United Nations economic sanctions:

Much more can be done, such as banning insurance for shipments to Iran, banning all military sales to Iran, ending all trade credits, banning all financial dealings with Iranian banks, limiting Iran’s access to international capital markets and banking services, closing air space and waters to Iran’s national air and shipping lines, and, especially, ending Iran’s ability to import refined petroleum.

Palin made another foray into foreign policy over the summer when she blasted out her manifesto via Facebook. In that release, she argued for a sacrosanct defense budget, a reaffirmation of unconditional ties with Israel, and the elimination of a timetable for the drawdown of troops.

Assange calls for criminal charges against ‘shock jock’ Fox hosts

Raw Story

WikiLeaks founder calls Bradley Manning ‘political prisoner’; says Fox hosts, politicians committing ‘terrorism’

Julian Assange has accused Fox personalities Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, among others, of committing terrorism through their calls to hunt down and kill the WikiLeaks founder.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Cenk Uygur, Assange referred to the politicians-turned-Fox-personalities as “shock jocks” who should be charged for inciting violence against him and his organization.

He also referred to Huckabee as “just another idiot trying to make a name for himself.”

Asked what he thought of the accusation — made by Vice President Joe Biden and others — that he is a “high-tech terrorist,” Assange said his organization’s actions didn’t meet the definition of terrorism — but those of Fox personalities and other TV pundits did.

“We see constant threats from people, the Republican Senate trying to make a name for themselves, people like Sarah Palin to shock jocks on Fox and, unfortunately, some members also of the Democratic Party, calling for my assassination, calling for the illegal kidnapping of my staff,” Assange said.

“What sort of message does that send about the rule of law in the United States? That is conducing violence in order to achieve a political end. The elimination of this organization or the threat of violence to achieve a political end, the elimination of a publisher. And that is the definition of terrorism.”     More…

Confirmed: WikiLeaks’ next target is Bank of America, Assange says

Logo used by Wikileaks

Image via Wikipedia

Now this should be interesting, and less intimidating to the U.S. Government…uh, on second thought…

Raw Story

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Tuesday the Swedish women who have accused him of sexual assault had got into a “tizzy” about the possibility they had caught a sexually transmitted disease from him.

Assange told the BBC that one account of what happened in August — the month at the centre of allegations against him — was that the two women had panicked when they found out they had both slept with him and went to police who “bamboozled” them.

He insisted he was fighting a Swedish extradition warrant because he believes “no natural justice” would occur in Sweden.

“There are some serious problems with the Swedish prosecution,” he said in an interview from the mansion of a wealthy supporter in eastern England where he must stay as part of his bail conditions.

Sweden wants Britain to extradite the 39-year-old Australian to face questioning over allegations from two women that he raped one of them and sexually assaulted the other in Stockholm in August.

Assange claimed that the Swedish authorities had asked that his Swedish lawyer be “gagged”, adding that his offers to be interviewed by video link or by Swedish officials in Britain had been rejected.

“I don’t need to be at the beck and call of people making allegations,” he said.   More…