Now it’s time for the MSM to stand up and stand firm
Posted: 07 Dec 2010 03:48 PM PST

So the New York Times may be investigated for espionage after publishing the Wikileaks cable documents?


Australia’s view of the world; suck Washington’s left toe hard
Posted: 07 Dec 2010 06:37 AM PST

More invaluable insights into how diplomacy really works. Egos and bowing to the US and Israel. That’s quite a vision for world peace and security (and what’s a few thousand civilians killed by our cluster bombs?)

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is an abrasive, impulsive ”control freak” who presided over a series of foreign policy blunders during his time as prime minister, according to secret United States diplomatic cables.
The scathing assessment – detailed in messages sent by the US embassy in Canberra to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton over several years – are among hundreds of US State Department cables relating to Australia obtained by WikiLeaks and made available exclusively to The Age.
”Rudd … undoubtedly believes that with his intellect, his six years as a diplomat in the 1980s and his five years as shadow foreign minister, he has the background and the ability to direct Australia’s foreign policy. His performance so far, however, demonstrates that he does not have the staff or the experience to do the job properly,” the embassy bluntly observed in November 2009.

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The cables show how initially favourable American impressions of Mr Rudd, as ”a safe pair of hands”, were quickly replaced by sharp criticism of his micromanagement and mishandling of diplomacy as he focused on photo and media opportunities.
In a December 2008 review of the first year of the Rudd government, US ambassador Robert McCallum characterised its performance as ”generally competent” and noted Mr Rudd was ”focused on developing good relations with the incoming US administration [of President Barack Obama], and is eager to be seen as a major global player”.
Despite this, what were described as ”Rudd’s foreign policy mistakes” formed the centrepiece of the ambassador’s evaluation. Mr McCallum thought the prime minister’s diplomatic ”missteps” largely arose from his propensity to make ”snap announcements without consulting other countries or within the Australian government”.
According to the embassy, the government’s ”significant blunders” began when then foreign minister Stephen Smith announced in February 2008 that Australia would not support strategic dialogue between Australia, the US, Japan and India out of deference to China. ”This was done without advance consultation and at a joint press availability with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi,” Mr McCallum wrote.
Mr Rudd’s June 2008 speech announcing that he would push for the creation of an Asia-Pacific Community loosely based on the European Union was cited as a further example of a major initiative undertaken ”without advance consultation with either other countries (including South-East Asian nations, leading Singaporean officials to label the idea dead on arrival) or within the Australian government (including with his proposed special envoy to promote the concept, veteran diplomat Richard Woolcott)”.
Similarly Mr Rudd’s establishment of an international commission on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation was ”rolled out … during a photo-op heavy trip to Japan … His Japanese hosts were given insufficient advance notice and refused a request for a joint announcement”.
The US embassy noted that Mr Rudd did not consult any of the five nuclear weapons states on the United Nations Security Council and that Russia had lodged a formal protest. One of Mr Rudd’s staff gave the US embassy a few hours’ advance notice of the announcement ”but without details”.
The cables also refer to ”control freak” tendencies and ”persistent criticism from senior civil servants, journalists and parliamentarians that Rudd is a micro-manager obsessed with managing the media cycle rather than engaging in collaborative decision-making”.
Eleven months later, in November 2009, the embassy delivered another sharp assessment that Mr Rudd dominated foreign policy decision-making, ”leaving his foreign minister to perform mundane, ceremonial duties and relegating the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to a backwater”.
”Other foreign diplomats, in private conversations with us, have noted how much DFAT seemed to be out of the loop,” US Charge d’Affaires Dan Clune reported. ”The Israeli ambassador [Yuval Rotem] told us that senior DFAT officials are frank in asking him what PM Rudd is up to and admit that they are out of the loop.” Mr Clune added that morale within DFAT had ”plummeted, according to our contacts inside as well as outside the department”.
The embassy also assigned blame for DFAT’s decline to the weakness of Mr Smith, who was dismissed as being ”on vacation”.
”Surprised by his appointment as foreign minister, Smith has been very tentative in asserting himself within the government,” Mr Clune wrote. ”DFAT contacts lamented that Smith took a very legalistic approach to making decisions, demanding very detailed and time-consuming analysis by the department and using the quest for more information to defer making decisions.”
David Pearl, a Treasury official who served on Mr Smith’s staff in 2004, told American diplomats that the foreign minister was ”very smart, but intimidated both by the foreign policy issues themselves and the knowledge that PM Rudd is following them so closely”.
Former DFAT first assistant secretary for north Asia, Peter Baxter, lamented to embassy officers that ”Smith’s desire to avoid overruling DFAT recommendations meant that he often delayed decisions to the point that the PM’s office stepped in and took over”.
The US embassy further recounted that after Israel initiated its military offensive in Gaza in December 2008, Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem contacted Mr Smith at his home in Perth to ask for Australia’s public support. Despite the obvious diplomatic and political sensitivity of the issue, ”Rotem told [the embassy] that Smith’s response was that he was on vacation, and that the ambassador needed to contact deputy prime minister Gillard, who was acting prime minister and foreign minister at the time.”
Paradoxically, Mr Rudd’s determination to dominate the foreign policy agenda diminished the influence of his own department, with one DFAT assistant secretary explaining to the embassy that the foreign policy staff of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) were ”overwhelmed supporting Rudd’s foreign policy activities, particularly his travel, which has reduced its ability to push its own agenda”.
In concluding his assessment, Mr Clune suggested that Mr Rudd’s ”haphazard, overly secretive decision-making process” would continue to generate foreign policy problems.
Seven months later, Mr Rudd lost the prime ministership, but he remains very much in charge of Australia’s diplomacy.


Media likes to be led by Washington how to react to news
Posted: 07 Dec 2010 06:28 AM PST

MacLeod Cartoons gets it:


Wikileaks in Catalan
Posted: 07 Dec 2010 06:20 AM PST

I was interviewed today by a Spanish Catalan publication based in Barcelona about the Wikileaks scandal. For those a little rusty on the language (hands up who can understand this?) I talked about the authoritarian impulse in many Western governments:

Julian Assange ja és en dependències judicials des de les 14 hores aproximadament, acompanyat dels seus advocats britànics Mark Stephens i Jennifer Robinson. Segons ha informat aquest mati Sky News, l’editor i cap visible de Wikileaks ha estat detingut per la policia britànica. Assange s’ha entregat acompanyat dels seus advocats per evitar que la seva imminent detenció es convertís en un circ mediàtic. Està previst que
en les properes hores es faci públic un vídeo amb declaracions de l’acusat.
Un cop ha prestat declaració davant la policia, Assange s’ha presentat als jutjats de City of Westminster i haurà d’esperar la decisió judicial, en virtut de la qual podria ser extradit a Suècia, d’acord amb l’ordre tramesa per l’Interpol per una presumpta violació. Segons ha fet saber el seu advocat Mark Stephens a la Britain’s Press Association, Assange intentarà evitar l’extradició als jutjats britànics.
Comunicat de la policia metropolitana de Londres
La Unitat d’Extradicions de la Policia Metropolitana de Londres ha informat en un comunicat que Assange s’ha entregat i ha estat detingut en el marc de l’Ordre Europea de Detenció. “Està acusat per les autoritats sueques d’un delicte de coacció, dos delictes d’abús sexual i un delicte de violació, que s’haurien comès l’agost de 2010″, diu el comunicat emès aquest matí, vora les 9:30 hora local.
Les filtracions continuaran
La detenció d’Assange no aturarà el flux de filtracions. Wikileaks ha informat a través de Twitter que aquest mateix vespre publicaran nous documents tot i “les actuacions d’avui contra el nostre editor”. En la mateixa línia s’ha pronunciat un portaveu sense identificar, que en declaracions a la BBC ha qualificat la dentenció d’”atac a la llibertat de premsa” que “no aturarà l’organització”.
Es convoquen protestes en defensa de Wikileaks
A l’espera de la compareixença d’Assange, s’estan portant a terme diverses protestes amb accions als carrers de Londres i a internet. Un grup anomenat Justice for Assange ha convocat una concentració de suport al detingut davant els jutjats, mentre que Anonymous, el grup d’activistes que setmanes enrere van deixar inoperativa la web de la SGAE, han fet un atac informàtic de denegació de servei contra la web del banc que va tancar el compte bancari d’Assange, deixant-la inaccessible durant diverses hores. Es tracta del mateix tipus d’atac que ha estat rebent el servidor de Wikileaks fins ahir mateix.
D’altra banda, per al proper divendres hi havia prevista una concentració a Syndney per recolzar el projecte. El periodista Antony Loewenstein, un dels ponents de l’acte, ha dit en declaracions al diari ARA que pretenen recordar la pressumció d’innocència d’Assange al govern del seu país natal. “Volem visibilitzar el recolzament públic a un ciutadà australià acusat pel seu govern de cometre actes il·legals sense cap prova. Wikileaks està fent un favor a la democràcia en revelar la veritable naturalesa de les accions del govern: ens han mentit durant massa temps”. Loewenstein ha assegurat que hi haurà parlament de ponents importants, “entre ells alguns polítics”.


This is how Australia is seen; vassals used by Washington over Wikileaks
Posted: 07 Dec 2010 05:46 AM PST

Wikileaks news is coming thick and fast.
Some “highlights” over the last 24 hours.

[Israeli] Defense Minister Ehud Barak Tuesday told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that a deal was never reached with the United States on a renewed settlement freeze because the US is preoccupied with the mass of documents being released by WikiLeaks.
Barak said, “At the moment, it has been completely halted” because of what he called a loss of American attention and concentration, saying they were “very busy with North Korea and the WikiLeaks releases.”


Several large Australian web-hosting companies said today they would be unlikely to host the Wikileaks repository if asked to by a customer, for a number of reasons.
Bulletproof Networks has earned a reputation for stability and reliability with its customers. The Australian company hosts several large Australian sites which attract record amounts of traffic — and sometimes controversy.
For example, the hosting provider houses broadband information site Whirlpool, one of Australia’s most controversial customer forums. Whirlpool has attracted numerous legal threats over the years, as well as denial-of-service attacks not dissimilar to the attacks that have targeted Wikileaks over the past several weeks as it released 250,000 US diplomatic cables to the public.
Bulletproof Networks director Lorenzo Modesto said his group hadn’t been approached, but that he would have to seriously consider ethical, political, commercial and “the most obvious” legal or potentially criminal implications of hosting a Wikileaks mirror for a customer if requested to do so.
“More than $1 billion per annum worth of transactions are served by Bulletproof’s mission-critical hosting infrastructure. As such, given potential issues with any number of the above considerations, we would probably kindly refuse, but refer them to another hosting partner like Rackspace,” he said. “The issue will be that the commercials required would preclude local public managed cloud hosting without the provider sponsoring it in some way.”
Another local web-hosting provider not known to shy away from controversy is Netregistry, run and co-founded by chief executive officer Larry Bloch.
Today, Bloch said that in many ways his sympathies were with the Wikileaks organisation, as he believed in transparency, but he thought the organisation had overstepped the mark in terms of the diplomatic cable release. “For the effective functioning of many sorts of relationships, you do need a bit of diplomatic secrecy,” he said.
In addition, the CEO said that typically Netregistry would tend not to make decisions about customers based on the content they wanted to host — as long as it wasn’t obviously illegal or unethical.
However, Bloch noted that the Wikileaks case was special, because of the scale of the situation from a technical perspective.
“It’d be suicide to put forward a hosting service other than one that is tailored absolutely to them,” he said, noting issues like the denial-of-service attacks could cause “ancillary damage”, and that Netregistry wasn’t set up for such needs.


Less than a month before a battle erupted in Beirut between Hezbollah and members of the ruling anti-Syrian coalition in May 2008, senior officials in the Lebanese government sent the U.S. embassy detailed intelligence that the militant group was operating an independent communications network across the country.
The uncovering of the network and the demand to shut it down were a central cause of the domestic rift in Lebanon.
A classified cable published by the online whistleblower WikiLeaks reveals that Minister of Telecommunications Marwan Hamadeh told U.S. diplomats that “Iran Telecom is taking over the country!”
The classified cable, sent by Charge d’Affaires Michele Sison in April 2008 from the embassy in Beirut to Washington, underscores the drama taking place in Lebanon over the course of those months and led to a “mini” civil war in Beirut.
The American diplomat wrote that Minister Hamadeh had asked to meet her urgently and disclosed to her a detailed survey of what he described as the complete fiber optic system that Hezbollah had established throughout Lebanon.
The previous evening, the Lebanese television station LBC had aired a program on Hezbollah’s telecommunications network, but Hamada told Sison that its existence had already been widely known.

Four (Glenn Greenwald in Salon):

Just look at what the U.S. Government and its friends are willing to do and capable of doing to someone who challenges or defies them — all without any charges being filed or a shred of legal authority.  They’ve blocked access to their assets, tried to remove them from the Internet, bullied most everyone out of doing any business with them, froze the funds marked for Assange’s legal defense at exactly the time that they prepare a strange international arrest warrant to be executed, repeatedly threatened him with murder, had their Australian vassals openly threaten to revoke his passport, and declared them “Terrorists” even though — unlike the authorities who are doing all of these things — neither Assange nor WikiLeaks ever engaged in violence, advocated violence, or caused the slaughter of civilians.


Let’s not get overly focused on Assange legal wranglings (and do US job for her)
Posted: 07 Dec 2010 05:45 AM PST

Just what the US wants; anything to not talk about its bankrupt foreign policy:

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has been arrested by London police on behalf of Swedish authorities on suspicion of rape.
The Metropolitan Police Extradition Unit confirmed at 10.30am London time (2030 AEDT) that the 39-year-old Australian had been arrested “by appointment” on a European Arrest Warrant an hour earlier.

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The Swedish warrant cites one count of unlawful coercion, two counts of sexual molestation and one count of rape – all allegedly committed in August this year.
The Australian-born human rights lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson QC, has cut short his annual summer holiday in Sydney to represent Mr Assange.
Mr Robertson and another specialist extradition lawyer from his Doughty Street Chambers are to act for Mr Assange and appear in a magistrate’s court within 24 hours to argue for bail. A full hearing of the extradition case must be heard inside 28 days.
However, London legal sources warned that the type of European arrest warrant issued against Mr Assange over sexual assault claims in Sweden was extremely difficult to “avoid or challenge”. He and his lawyers planned to fight the extradition with every available resource because of growing fears that this case would allow for preparation for an immediate follow-up and handover to US authorities in the wake of the release of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables.
This website understands that Mr Robertson, whose Chambers are one of the few with specialist experience in extradition proceedings with Scandinavian nations, has been in contact with Mr Assange for some time about his defence and met with federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland last week about the case.
The surrender of Mr Assange is unfolding as his whistleblower’s website continued to battle a seemingly concerted global effort to combat further information release led by the US Attorney-General, Eric Holder.
Mr Holder said he had authorised “significant” actions aimed at prosecuting the WikiLeaks founder, but refused to specify what these might be.
“The lives of people who work for the American people have been put at risk. The American people themselves have been put at risk by these actions that I believe are arrogant, misguided and ultimately not helpful in any way. We are doing everything that we can.”
Mr Assange is reported by The Guardian to be seeking supporters to put up surety and bail and has said he expected to have to raise between £100,000 and £200,000 – and six people offering surety – to stave off attempts to hold him in remand.
Mr Assange has reportedly told friends that he was increasingly convinced the US was behind Swedish prosecutors’ attempts to extradite him for questioning on the assault allegations.
He has previously said that the original allegations were the product of “personal issues” but that he now believed Sweden had behaved as “a cipher” for the US.
Mr Assange is wanted by Swedish detectives after two women claimed they were sexually assaulted by him when he visited the country last August. The Swedish supreme court upheld an order to detain him for questioning after he successfully appealed against two lower court rulings.
Mr Assange has also said that he declined to return to Sweden to face prosecutors because he feared he would not receive a fair trial and that prosecutors had requested that he be held in solitary confinement and incommunicado.
He has admitted that he was becoming exhausted by the battle to keep defending the allegations in Sweden while running the carefully managed release of the US cables at the same time.
A Swiss bank announced this week said that had shut down Mr Assange’s account because he had allegedly given “false information”, while the US-based commerce business PayPal has also frozen the WikiLeaks accounts, hindering the site’s ability to raise funds.
Assange has $61,000 (£38,000) in PayPal and $37,000 in the Swiss account, sources said.


New Assange op-ed in Aussie Murdoch paper
Posted: 07 Dec 2010 05:09 AM PST

Julian Assange, before being arrested in London, wrote the following article for Rupert Murdoch’s Australian newspaper. A curious choice of outlet considering the paper’s love of wars against, well, most Arab people, but there you go:

In 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”
His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.
Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.
I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.
These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia , was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.
WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?
Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.
People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.
If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.
WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain ‘s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.
Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.
And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.
We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn’t want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.
Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.
Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: “You’ll risk lives! National security! You’ll endanger troops!” Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can’t be both. Which is it?
It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US , with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.
US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan . NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.
But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:
The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran ‘s nuclear program stopped by any means available.
Britain’s Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect “US interests”.
Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.
The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay . Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.
In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said “only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.
Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.


Open letter to Julia Gillard and the Australian government over Julian Assange
Posted: 07 Dec 2010 01:45 AM PST

I was honoured to be called by Overland editor Jeff Sparrow on Sunday to discuss the possibility of launching a petition in support of Julian Assange. I offered a little advice and was one on the first signatories.
Released publicly today (and lead story on ABC) and already garnering more than 2000 comments, this issue has hit a raw nerve. As it should:

Editor’s note: There’s no doubt that WikiLeaks and its figurehead-on-the-run Julian Assange are among the hottest items for discussion on the planet right now.
Feelings are running high, and many in this country take the view that the Australian Government ought do more to assist its vilified, beleaguered citizen.
Assange has become a cause celebre, as evidenced by the signatories to this open letter, a who’s who of sorts, from Noam Chomsky to Helen Garner…
We wrote the letter below because we believe that Julian Assange is entitled to all the protections enshrined in the rule of law – and that the Australian Government has an obligation to ensure he receives them.
The signatures here have been collected in the course of a day-and-a-half, primarily from people in publishing, law and politics. The signatories hold divergent views about WikiLeaks and its operations. But they are united in a determination to see Mr Assange treated fairly.
We know that many others would have liked to sign. But given the urgency of the situation, we though it expedient to publish now rather than collect more names.
If, however, you agree with the sentiments expressed, we encourage you to leave your name in the comments section.
Dear Prime Minister,
We note with concern the increasingly violent rhetoric directed towards Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.
“We should treat Mr Assange the same way as other high-value terrorist targets: Kill him,” writes conservative columnist Jeffrey T Kuhner in the Washington Times.
William Kristol, former chief of staff to vice president Dan Quayle, asks, “Why can’t we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are?”
“Why isn’t Julian Assange dead?” writes the prominent US pundit Jonah Goldberg.
“The CIA should have already killed Julian Assange,” says John Hawkins on the Right Wing News site.
Sarah Palin, a likely presidential candidate, compares Assange to an Al Qaeda leader; Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator and potential presidential contender, accuses Assange of “terrorism”.
And so on and so forth.
Such calls cannot be dismissed as bluster. Over the last decade, we have seen the normalisation of extrajudicial measures once unthinkable, from ‘extraordinary rendition’ (kidnapping) to ‘enhanced interrogation’ (torture).
In that context, we now have grave concerns for Mr Assange’s wellbeing.
Irrespective of the political controversies surrounding WikiLeaks, Mr Assange remains entitled to conduct his affairs in safety, and to receive procedural fairness in any legal proceedings against him.
As is well known, Mr Assange is an Australian citizen.
We therefore call upon you to condemn, on behalf of the Australian Government, calls for physical harm to be inflicted upon Mr Assange, and to state publicly that you will ensure Mr Assange receives the rights and protections to which he is entitled, irrespective of whether the unlawful threats against him come from individuals or states.
We urge you to confirm publicly Australia’s commitment to freedom of political communication; to refrain from cancelling Mr Assange’s passport, in the absence of clear proof that such a step is warranted; to provide assistance and advocacy to Mr Assange; and do everything in your power to ensure that any legal proceedings taken against him comply fully with the principles of law and procedural fairness.
A statement by you to this effect should not be controversial – it is a simple commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law.
We believe this case represents something of a watershed, with implications that extend beyond Mr Assange and WikiLeaks. In many parts of the globe, death threats routinely silence those who would publish or disseminate controversial material. If these incitements to violence against Mr Assange, a recipient of Amnesty International’s Media Award, are allowed to stand, a disturbing new precedent will have been established in the English-speaking world.
In this crucial time, a strong statement by you and your Government can make an important difference.
We look forward to your response.
Dr Jeff Sparrow, author and editor

Lizzie O’Shea, Social Justice Lawyer, Maurice Blackburn

Professor Noam Chomsky, writer and academic

Antony Loewenstein, journalist and author

Mungo MacCallum, journalist and writer

Professor Peter Singer, author and academic
Adam Bandt, MP

Senator Bob Brown

Senator Scott Ludlam

Julian Burnside QC, barrister

Jeff Lawrence, Secretary, Australian Council of Trade Unions

Professor Raimond Gaita, author and academic

Rob Stary, lawyer

Lieutenant Colonel (ret) Lance Collins, Australian Intelligence Corps, writer

The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC

Brian Walters SC, barrister

Professor Larissa Behrendt, academic

Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees, academic, Sydney Peace Foundation

Mary Kostakidis, Chair, Sydney Peace Foundation

Professor Wendy Bacon, journalist

Christos Tsiolkas, author

James Bradley, author and journalist

Julian Morrow, comedian and television producer

Louise Swinn, publisher

Helen Garner, novelist

Professor Dennis Altman, writer and academic

Dr Leslie Cannold, author, ethicist, commentator

John Birmingham, writer

Guy Rundle, writer

Alex Miller, writer
Sophie Cunningham, editor and author

Castan Centre for Human Rights Law

Professor Judith Brett, author and academic

Stephen Keim SC, President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

Phil Lynch, Executive Director, Human Rights Law Resource Centre

Sylvia Hale, MLC

Sophie Black, editor

David Ritter, lawyer and historian

Dr Scott Burchill, writer and academic

Dr Mark Davis, author and academic

Henry Rosenbloom, publisher

Ben Naparstek, editor

Chris Feik, editor

Louise Swinn, publisher

Stephen Warne, barrister

Dr John Dwyer QC

Hilary McPhee, writer, publisher

Joan Dwyer OAM

Greg Barns, barrister

James Button, journalist

Owen Richardson, critic

Michelle Griffin, editor

John Timlin, literary Agent & producer

Ann Cunningham, lawyer and publisher

Alison Croggon, author, critic

Daniel Keene, playwright

Dr Nick Shimmin, editor/writer

Bill O’Shea, lawyer, former President, Law Institute of Victoria

Dianne Otto, Professor of Law, Melbourne Law School

Professor Frank Hutchinson,Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), University of Sydney

Anthony Georgeff, editor

Max Gillies, actor

Shane Maloney, writer

Louis Armand, author and publisher

Jenna Price, academic and journalist

Tanja Kovac, National Cooordinator EMILY’s List Australia

Dr Russell Grigg, academic

Dr Justin Clemens, writer and academic

Susan Morairty, Lawyer

David Hirsch, Barrister

Cr Anne O’Shea

Kathryn Crosby, Candidates Online

Dr Robert Sparrow, academic

Jennifer Mills, author

Foong Ling Kong, editor

Tim Norton,  Online Campaigns Co-ordinator,  Oxfam Australia

Elisabeth Wynhausen, writer

Ben Slade, Lawyer

Nikki Anderson, publisher

Dan Cass

Professor Diane Bell, author and academic

Dr Philipa Rothfield, academic

Gary Cazalet, academic

Dr David Coady, academic

Dr Matthew Sharpe, writer and academic

Dr Tamas Pataki, writer and academic

Miska Mandic

Associate Professor Jake Lynch, academic

Professor Simon During, academic

Michael Brull, writer

Dr Geoff Boucher, academic

Jacinda Woodhead, writer and editor

Dr Rjurik Davidson, writer and editor

Mic Looby, writer

Jane Gleeson-White, writer and editor

Alex Skutenko, editor

Associate Professor John Collins, academic

Professor Philip Pettit, academic

Dr Christopher Scanlon, writer and academic

Dr Lawrie Zion, journalist

Johannes Jakob, editor

Sunili Govinnage, lawyer

Michael Bates, lawyer

Bridget Maidment, editor

Bryce Ives, theatre director

Sarah Darmody, writer

Jill Sparrow, writer

Lyn Bender, psychologist

Meredith Rose, editor

Dr Ellie Rennie, President, Engage Media

Ryan Paine, editor

Simon Cooper, editor

Chris Haan, lawyer

Carmela Baranowska, journalist.

Clinton Ellicott, publisher

Dr Charles Richardson, writer and academic

Phillip Frazer, publisher

Geoff Lemon, journalist

Jaya Savige, poet and editor

Johannes Jakob, editor

Kate Bree Geyer; journalist

Chay-Ya Clancy, performer

Lisa Greenaway, editor, writer

Chris Kennett – screenwriter, journalist

Kasey Edwards, author

Dr. Janine Little, academic

Dr Andrew Milner, writer and academic

Patricia Cornelius, writer

Elisa Berg, publisher

Lily Keil, editor


US Library of Congress continues its censorship of Wikileaks
Posted: 07 Dec 2010 12:29 AM PST


The Library of Congress, which recently shutoff access to WikiLeaks on its computers, may be unintentionally undermining the research its analysts perform for lawmakers, classification expert Steven Aftergood, who regularly publishes a government secrecy newsletter, blogged on Monday.
The Congressional Research Service, a branch of the library that scours bills, news and other primary sources to inform lawmakers of pressing issues, “will be unable to access or to cite the leaked materials in their research reports to Congress,” wrote Aftergood, who runs the project on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, a nonpartisan think tank.
Several current and former library employees told him that restricting access to WikiLeaks could degrade CRS analysts’ research and may not have a legal basis, he added.

  • “It’s a difficult situation,” said one CRS analyst. “The information was released illegally, and it’s not right for government agencies to be aiding and abetting this illegal dissemination. But the information is out there. Presumably, any Library of Congress researcher who wants to access the information that WikiLeaks illegally released will simply use their home computers or cell phones to do so. Will they be able to refer directly to the information in their writings for the library? Apparently not, unless a secondary source, like a newspaper, happens to have already cited it.”


  • “I don’t know that you can make a credible argument that CRS reports are the gold standard of analytical reporting, as is often claimed, when its analysts are denied access to information that historians and public policy types call a treasure trove of data,” a former CRS employee said.
  • In a press release, LOC explained its actions by citing an Office of Management and Budget memo regarding the obligation that federal agencies and federal employees have to protect classified information. “But LOC is statutorily chartered as the library of the House and the Senate. It is a legislative branch agency. I don’t recall either chamber directing the blocking of access to WikiLeaks for/or by its committees, offices, agencies, or members,” a different former analyst said.

The library did not respond to Aftergood’s request for comment on the issue over the weekend. Aftergood’s summation: “If CRS is ‘Congress’ brain,’ then the new access restrictions could mean a partial lobotomy.”


Colombo must be getting PR advice from Zionist central
Posted: 07 Dec 2010 12:04 AM PST

A rogue state makes a decision that would make Israel proud:

The Sri Lankan government has appointed a senior army officer accused of war crimes in the conflict with Tamil rebels as its deputy permanent representative to the United Nations.
Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva‘s presence in New York coincides with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon setting up a panel of experts to advise him on accountability for human rights violations during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka.
In an interview with theSunday Leader newspaperlate last year, Gen. Sarath Fonseka, the Sri Lankan army chief who led a campaign that ended more than two decades of conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009, said Defense Secretary Gothbaya Rajapaksa gave Gen. Silva orders “not to accommodate any LTTEleaders attempting surrender and that ‘they must all be killed.’”

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