Monday, May 17, 2010

WikiLeaks Julian Assange under attack

WikiLeaks is in the news again due to efforts to target WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. Last night on Australia's Dateline (link has text and video -- and broadcast noted by by Olive and Skip), featured a report by Mark Davis.

Mark Davis: Communications minister senator Steven Conroy, is preparing a growing list of internet sites that Australians will not be able to access and it's a list that cannot be seen or published. It's illegal to do so but of course WikiLeaks did and in turn earnt itself a place on the list.

Julian Assange: You know, it's a black list. How can we get off the black list? There is no procedure to get off the black list. I mean, it's a Soviet style system.

Mark Davis: The threat of you being served with legal papers, indeed the threat of you being arrested as you enter a jurisdiction has escalated dramatically.

Julian Assange: There are places, Dubai, who is trying to have us arrested, Switzerland under the bank secrecy laws, Cayman Islands. Australia had the Federal police in relation to its censorship list so there are some jurisdictions that from time to time it wouldn't be sensible to go there.

Mark Davis: Sensible or not, Assange entered Australia several days ago. He says immigration officials at the airport advised him that his passport was being cancelled on the premise that it was looking worn. Then at his mailing address he was greeted by this letter from senator Conroy's office, stating that the disclosure of the black list ‘has been referred to the Australian Federal Police’. And that the media authority ‘continues to liaise with the AFP on the matter’. As we go to air, the department of foreign affairs claim that his passport status is normal, but no one has yet advised Assange of that and no word yet whether the AFP have been able to contact him to help with their enquiries.

The organization has angered the Defense Dept. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of an assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. As Isaiah noted last month in "No Lasting Consequences," a cabinet official apparently gave the administration's response: "Appearing on ABC's This Week today, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates weighed in on the July 12, 2007 assault in Baghdad in which 12 Iraqis were killed by US forces, 'But by the same token, I think-think is should not have any lasting consequences'."

No Lasting Consequences

It's rather amazing and telling that Barack Obama has never been pressed by journalists to comment on the WikiLeaks video but apparently everyone works over time to keep the Killer-in-Chief's hands clean. Gates of course has many reasons to lash out including the fact that he was Secretary of Defense when the July 12, 2007 assault took place.

Nick Farrell (TechE) reports:

Wikileaks published a confidential Australian blacklist of websites to be banned under the government's proposed internet filter. It can only be assumed that the Australian government has moved prevent its dissidents from travelling to foreign parts and spreading rumours about the glorious Aussie regime.

Julian Assange told The Age his passport was taken from him by customs officials at Melbourne Airport when he entered the country last week after he was told ''it was looking worn''.

This is far from the first time WikiLeaks has been targeted. On their website, in March, they published a US Defense Dept study by the Army's Counterinellgience Center which was prepared by Michael D. Horvath and [PDF format warning] entitled " -- An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorists Groups?" From the paper's opening:

(S//NF), a publicly accessible Internet Web site, represents a potential force protection, counterintelligence, operational security (OPSEC), and information security (INFOSEC) threat to the US Army. The intentional or unintentional leaking and posting of US Army sensitive or classified information to could result in increased threats to DoD personnel, equipment, facilities, or installations. The leakage of sensitive and classified DoD information also calls attention to the insider threat, when a person or persons motivated by
a particular cause or issue wittingly provides information to domestic or foreign personnel or organizations to be published by the news media or on the Internet. Such information could be of value to foreign intelligence and security services (FISS), foreign military forces, foreign insurgents, and foreign terrorist groups for collecting information or for planning attacks against US force, both within the United States and abroad.
(S//NF) The possibility that a current employee or mole within DoD or elsewhere in the US government is providing sensitive information or classified information to cannot be ruled out. claims that the -- leakers‖ or -- whistleblowers‖ of sensitive or classified DoD documents are former US government employees. These claims are highly suspect, however, since states that the anonymity and protection of the leakers or
whistleblowers is one of its primary goals. Referencing of leakers using codenames and providing incorrect employment information, employment status, and other contradictory information by are most likely rudimentary OPSEC measures designed to protect the identity of the current or former insiders who leaked the information. On the other hand, one cannot rule out the possibility that some of the contradictions in describing leakers could be inadvertent OPSEC errors by the authors, contributors, or staff personnel with limited experience in protecting the identity of their sources.
(U) The stated intent of the Web site is to expose unethical practices, illegal behavior, and wrongdoing within corrupt corporations and oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. To do so, the developers of the Web site want to provide a secure forum to where leakers, contributors, or whistleblowers from any country can anonymously post or send documentation and other information that exposes corruption or wrongdoing by governments or corporations. The developers believe that the disclosure of sensitive or classified information involving a foreign government or corporation will eventually result in the increased accountability of a democratic, oppressive, or corrupt the government to its citizens.

Saturday, we noted Hassan Abdul Zahra's "Iraq's Maliki edges nearer power as rival warns of civil war" (AFP), emphasizing the remarks of Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki al-Faisal, "Adding to the brutal mayhem taking place there, we are watching a deliberate effort on the part of the incumbent prime minister, Mr al-Maliki, to hijack the results of the election and deny the Iraqi people their legitimately elected government. The consequences of that are more bloodshed and potential civil war." An AFP story on the remarks themselves and their potential meaning notes, "Turki's comments reflected Riyadh's clear displeasure with Maliki since he became prime minister, with the Saudis refusing to open a full embassy in Baghdad and expressing suspicion of Maliki's relations with arch-rival Iran." With regards to the Palestinian issue, Turki states, "The Arab world has given Obama until Septemember to get things done. It is not enough to talk the talk. He has to walk the walk." Dow Jones provided the prince's full speech yesterday and these are his remarks on Iraq:

On Iraq, I have consistently called for a United Nations Security Council Resolution, under Chapter 7 of the United Nations' Charter, guaranteeing Iraq's territorial integrity. With American forces due to leave Iraq next year, this is the only option that will meet the challenge posed by several Iraqi political factions whose main ambition is to partition Iraq. Equally sinister are the designs of some of Iraq's neighbors to take advantage of impending Iraqi internal conflict to advance their acquisition of Iraqi territories. We have already seen Iranian encroachment on Iraqi land at the beginning of the year. Imagine what will happen, once internal strife and fighting escalates. American withdrawal is nigh unto us, and, judging from the spike in bombings and killings that accompanied the recent election process in Iraq, the forces of evil are alive and well, and still, very much active. Adding to the brutal mayhem taking place there, we are watching a deliberate effort on the part of the incumbent Prime Minister, Mr. Nuri Al Maliki, to hijack the results of the elections and deny the Iraqi people their legitimately elected government. The consequences of that are more bloodshed and potential civil war. Hence, there is a vital need for a mechanism to protect Iraq from these developments and an international guarantee of its survival as a functioning sovereign state. The alternative is regional conflict on a scale not seen since the Ottoman-Safavid wars of the 17th and 18th centuries.

As the actions of the US administration antagonizes Saudi Arabia, it's worth noting this from Richard Javad Heydarian (Asia Times):

This century has witnessed China's emergence as the main challenger to the superpower status of the United States. In dramatic fashion, China is beginning to establish its foothold in the highly strategic, energy-rich region of the Middle East by forging strong ties with regional powers and gradually challenging US-Israel regional dominance. Thanks to decades of double-digit economic growth and accelerating military modernization, China now has both the need for and the capability of engaging the Middle East.

Meanwhile Jane Arraf (Global Post) reports from Iraq:

In Iraq after the elections, almost nothing is clear and nothing is predictable -- particularly for Americans with one foot out the door, hoping Baghdad doesn't collapse behind them as they head off for Kandahar.
In the past three years, the country has pulled back from civil war, and in most places Iraqi soldiers and police, rather than insurgents and militias, rule the streets. But as U.S. forces withdraw, the real stability the military surge was intended to create is still elusive.
At the huge U.S. outposts that were Saddam's air bases, the headlights of military vehicles pierce the dust and darkness as they head off to Kuwait on their way to Afghanistan.

Turning to the topic of Iraqi Christians, the Hudson Institute's Nina Shea contributed "'Obliterating' Iraq's Christians" (Washington Post):

Relentless waves of bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, extortions and rapes have triggered a mass exodus of Christians from Iraq over the past seven years. Since 2003, over half of the estimated 1.5 million Iraqi Chaldean Catholics, Assyrian, Syriac Orthodox, and Armenian Christians, as well as some Protestants have fled to Syria, Jordan and farther flung places. While only 3 or 4 percent of Iraq's pre-2003 population, they account for 40 percent of its refugees, the UN reported.
Christians remain the largest non-Muslim minority there but church leaders express a real fear that the light of the faith in Iraq that is said to have been kindled personally by Thomas, one of Jesus' Twelve Apostles, could soon be extinguished. Iraq's other non-Muslim religions, the much smaller groups of Mandeans (followers of John the Baptist), Yizidis (an ancient angel-centered religion), Bahai's and Jews are also all being forced out by violence.

Iraqi's minority Christians make up a significant portion of the refugee population due to the targeting and persecution. Patricia Anstett and Steve Neavling (Detroit Free Press) reports the Detroit area has taken in 5,300 Iraqi refugees in the last three years -- many of whom are Chaldeans: "More than half are settling in Macomb County, where a growing number of Chaldeans are transforming cities such as Sterling Heights and Warren. Though far from the Arab presence that has changed Dearborn, Arabic and Chaldean shops, a church and community services are following to meet demand." Neavling also zooms in on one refugee:

The gentle brown eyes of the Rev. Basel Yaldo turn sad when he recalls the five terrorists who beat and kidnapped him for three days in Iraq.
The 40-year-old priest feared he'd become yet another clergyman killed by Islamic extremists for being a Catholic.
To his surprise, he was released but not without a warning that Chaldeans faced death if they stayed in Iraq.

Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Gulf Coast Drilling Disaster 2010" went up last night. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will appear before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs today in an attempt to explain how the White House did NOTHING.

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee continues to highlight the economy and finances in a number of videos this month. Click here to be taken to the DPC video page. We'll note this video by Senator Chris Dodd.

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