As the Iraq War hit the 20 year mark last month, Julian Assange remains the only one punished for it. Not Bully Boy Bush, not Joe Biden, not Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama (who continued it), not the media that sold the war, not the cheerleaders who egged it on -- just Julian who told the truth about it.
His reward? Julian remains imprisoned and remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden who, as vice president, once called him "a high tech terrorist." Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian. WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs. And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own. For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs. Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:
A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.
• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.
The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent deat
The Biden administration has been saying all the right things lately about respecting a free and vigorous press, after four years of relentless media-bashing and legal assaults under Donald Trump.
The attorney general, Merrick Garland, has even put in place expanded protections for journalists this fall, saying that “a free and independent press is vital to the functioning of our democracy”.
But the biggest test of Biden’s commitment remains imprisoned in a jail cell in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been held since 2019 while facing prosecution in the United States under the Espionage Act, a century-old statute that has never been used before for publishing classified information.
Whether the US justice department continues to pursue the Trump-era charges against the notorious leaker, whose group put out secret information on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, American diplomacy and internal Democratic politics before the 2016 election, will go a long way toward determining whether the current administration intends to make good on its pledges to protect the press.
Now Biden is facing a re-energized push, both inside the United States and overseas, to drop Assange’s protracted prosecution.
Julian remains persecuted. When does it end?
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., is circulating a letter among her House colleagues that calls on the Department of Justice to drop charges against Julian Assange and end its effort to extradite him from his detention in Belmarsh prison in the United Kingdom.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Intercept, is still in the signature-gathering phase and has yet to be sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The Justice Department has charged Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks, for publishing classified information. The Obama administration had previously decided not to prosecute Assange, concerned with what was dubbed internally as the “New York Times problem.” The Times had partnered with Assange when it came to publishing classified information and itself routinely publishes classified information. Publishing classified information is a violation of the Espionage Act, though it has never been challenged in the Supreme Court, and constitutional experts broadly consider that element of the law to be unconstitutional.
“The Espionage Act, as it’s written, has always been applicable to such a broad range of discussion of important matters, many of which have been wrongly kept secret for a long time, that it should be regarded as unconstitutional,” explained Daniel Ellsberg, the famed civil liberties advocate who leaked the Pentagon Papers.
In another development, Australia's ABC reports:
Stephen Smith will become the first Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom to visit Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange in prison.
In an interview with the ABC, to mark the commencement of his new post in London, the former defence and foreign minister said he would soon visit Mr Assange with a senior consular official.
"I'm very pleased that in the course of the next week or so he's agreed that I can visit him in Belmarsh Prison," Mr Smith said.
Is Australia really about to help Julian? At WSWS, Oscar Grenfel writes:
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong all but confirmed last Thursday that the Labor government is backing the US attempt to extradite WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange and imprison him for life because he exposed American war crimes. At the very least, Wong made plain that Labor will not lift a finger to defend the persecuted Australian citizen and publisher.
Wong’s remarks were a response to a question from Greens Senator David Shoebridge during Senate hearings. They were the most explicit statement of the current Labor government’s hostility to Assange yet.
Shoebridge asked if Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had spoken to US President Joe Biden and his British counterpart Rishi Sunak when the three gathered in San Diego last month. There they announced that, under the trilateral AUKUS pact against China, Australia would acquire nuclear-powered submarines at a cost of $368 billion.
Wong did everything possible to avoid a direct answer to the question. But that in itself is an answer. The only possible inference is that Albanese did not mention the WikiLeaks founder and has no intention of doing so.
Wong’s non-denial of this fact exposes Labor’s extraordinary duplicity on the Assange case. Since it was elected in May last year, the government has avoided saying anything much about the WikiLeaks founder.
It's a real shame that there are Australians online who want to blog, Tweet and complain about Bully Boy Bush but don't want to hold their own government accountable for refusing to defend Julian. It's a real shame that they're so eager to slam the US and the UK but won't hold their own government accountable.
I hold the US government accountable daily. I can't imagine the cowardice involved in not calling out your own government. But please note, it's exactly that cowardice that allows the Australian government to get away with doing nothing for Julian.
Yesterday, climate change was again felt in Iraq with another sandstorm. AL MAYADEEN reports:
A spokesperson of the Iraqi Health Ministry, Saif Al-Badr, confirmed on Saturday that more than 500 patients are suffering from breathing difficulties as a result of the dust storm taking over the country.
Al-Badr told Iraqi News Agency (INA), "More than 515 patients were admitted to hospitals in Baghdad and the provinces with breathing problems of varying severity due to the dust storm that occurred yesterday [Friday] in the regions of the country," adding that they did receive sufficient medical care and most had been discharged.
As of yet, no casualties have been reported and ambulances remain on standby to deliver aid to those who need it. Dust storms and sand storms are not strangers to Iraq, as they regularly occur in the region and have been known to cause serious health issues.
SEE NEWS notes, "Today, Saturday, the Iraqi Ministry of Health announced that more than 500 people had suffocated due to the dust storms that hit the country on Friday, according to the Iraqi News Agency."
Meanwhile, you're an oil rich country that makes billions each year exporting oil . . . but you lack the ability to refine it in your own country so you have to import it? AFP reports:
Iraq inaugurated an oil refinery in the central city of Karbala on Saturday, a project the government hopes will reduce its dependency on imports.
Oil Minister Hayan Abdel Ghani announced the refinery had begun "commercial production" after a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani.
It has the capacity to refine 140,000 barrels per day and "help meet local demand for petrol, kerosene and heating oil, while reducing imports", Abdel Ghani said.
Despite its immense oil and gas reserves, Iraq remains dependent on imports to meet energy needs.
The following sites updated -- and Rebecca posted again an ago so her Friday post ("matt damon needs undergarments") isn't included: