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rocksolid / News / They are out to get Assange now...

Subject: They are out to get Assange now...
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Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2018 11:59 UTC
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Subject: They are out to get Assange now...
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They are out to get Assange now:

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-war-on-assange-is-a-war-on-press-freedom/

 The War on Assange Is a War on Press Freedom

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

The failure on the part of establishment media to defend
Julian Assange, who has been trapped in the Ecuadorean
Embassy in London since 2012, has been denied communication
with the outside world since March and appears to be facing
imminent expulsion and arrest, is astonishing. The
extradition of the publisher--the maniacal goal of the U.S.
government--would set a legal precedent that would
criminalize any journalistic oversight or investigation of
the corporate state. It would turn leaks and whistleblowing
into treason. It would shroud in total secrecy the actions
of the ruling global elites. If Assange is extradited to the
United States and sentenced, The New York Times, The
Washington Post and every other media organization, no
matter how tepid their coverage of the corporate state,
would be subject to the same draconian censorship. Under the
precedent set, Donald Trump's Supreme Court would
enthusiastically uphold the arrest and imprisonment of any
publisher, editor or reporter in the name of national
security.

There are growing signs that the Ecuadorean government of
Lenín Moreno is preparing to evict Assange and turn him
over to British police. Moreno and his foreign minister,
José Valencia, have confirmed they are in negotiations with
the British government to "resolve" the fate of Assange.
Moreno, who will visit Britain in a few weeks, calls Assange
an "inherited problem" and "a stone in the shoe" and has
referred to him as a "hacker." It appears that under a
Moreno government Assange is no longer welcome in Ecuador.
His only hope now is safe passage to his native Australia or
another country willing to give him asylum.

"Ecuador has been looking for a solution to this problem,"
Valencia commented on television. "The refuge is not
forever, you cannot expect it to last for years without us
reviewing this situation, including because this violates
the rights of the refugee."

Moreno's predecessor as president, Rafael Correa, who
granted Assange asylum in the embassy and made him an
Ecuadorean citizen last year, warned that Assange's "days
were numbered." He charged that Moreno--who cut off
Assange's communications the day after Moreno welcomed a
delegation from the U.S. Southern Command--would "throw him
out of the embassy at the first pressure from the United
States."

Assange, who reportedly is in ill health, took asylum in the
embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questions
about sexual offense charges. He feared that once in Swedish
custody for these charges, which he said were false, he
would be extradited to the United States. The Swedish
prosecutors' office ended its "investigation" and
extradition request to Britain in May 2017 and did not file
sexual offense charges against Assange. But the British
government said Assange would nevertheless be arrested and
jailed for breaching his bail conditions.

The persecution of Assange is part of a broad assault
against anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist news
organizations. The ruling elites, who refuse to accept
responsibility for profound social inequality or the crimes
of empire, have no ideological veneer left to justify their
greed, ineptitude and pillage. Global capitalism and its
ideological justification, neoliberalism, are discredited as
forces for democracy and the equitable distribution of
wealth. The corporate-controlled economic and political
system is as hated by right-wing populists as it is by the
rest of the population. This makes the critics of
corporatism and imperialism--journalists, writers,
dissidents and intellectuals already pushed to the margins
of the media landscape--dangerous and it makes them prime
targets. Assange is at the top of the list.

I took part with dozens of others, including Daniel
Ellsberg, William Binney, Craig Murray, Peter Van Buren,
Slavoj Zizek, George Galloway and Cian Westmoreland, a week
ago in a 36-hour international online vigil demanding
freedom for the WikiLeaks publisher. The vigil was organized
by the New Zealand Internet Party leader Suzie Dawson. It
was the third Unity4J vigil since all of Assange's
communication with the outside world was severed by the
Ecuadorean authorities and visits with him were suspended in
March, part of the increased pressure the United States has
brought on the Ecuadorean government. Assange has since
March been allowed to meet only with his attorneys and
consular officials from the Australian Embassy.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled Friday that
those seeking political asylum have the right to take refuge
in embassies and diplomatic compounds. The court stated that
governments are obliged to provide safe passage out of the
country to those granted asylum. The ruling did not name
Assange, but it was a powerful rebuke to the British
government, which has refused to allow the WikiLeaks
co-founder safe passage to the airport.

The ruling elites no longer have a counterargument to their
critics. They have resorted to cruder forms of control.
These include censorship, slander and character
assassination (which in the case of Assange has sadly been
successful), blacklisting, financial strangulation,
intimidation, imprisonment under the Espionage Act and
branding critics and dissidents as agents of a foreign power
and purveyors of fake news. The corporate media amplifies
these charges, which have no credibility but which become
part of the common vernacular through constant repetition.
The blacklisting, imprisonment and deportation of tens of
thousands of people of conscience during the Red Scares of
the 1920s and 1950s are back with a vengeance. It is a New
McCarthyism.

Did Russia attempt to influence the election? Undoubtedly.
This is what governments do. The United States interfered in
81 elections from 1945 to 2000, according to professor Dov
Levin of Carnegie Mellon University. His statistics do not
include the numerous coups we orchestrated in countries such
as Greece, Iran, Guatemala and Chile or the disastrous Bay
of Pigs invasion in Cuba. We indirectly bankrolled the
re-election campaign of Russia's buffoonish Boris Yeltsin to
the tune of $2.5 billion.

But did Russia, as the Democratic Party establishment
claims, swing the election to Trump? No. Trump is not
Vladimir Putin's puppet. He is part of the wave of
right-wing populists, from Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson in
Britain to Viktor Orbán in Hungary, who have harnessed the
rage and frustration born of an economic and political
system dominated by global capitalism and under which the
rights and aspirations of working men and women do not
matter.

The Democratic Party establishment, like the liberal elites
in most of the rest of the industrialized world, would be
swept from power in an open political process devoid of
corporate money. The party elite, including Chuck Schumer
and Nancy Pelosi, is a creation of the corporate state.
Campaign finance and electoral reform are the last things
the party hierarchy intends to champion. It will not call
for social and political programs that will alienate its
corporate masters. This myopia and naked self-interest may
ensure a second term for Donald Trump; it may further
empower the lunatic fringe that is loyal to Trump; it may
continue to erode the credibility of the political system.
But the choice before the Democratic Party elites is clear:
political oblivion or enduring the rule of a demagogue. They
have chosen the latter. They are not interested in reform.
They are determined to silence anyone, like Assange, who
exposes the rot within the ruling class.

The Democratic Party establishment benefits from our system
of legalized bribery. It benefits from deregulating Wall
Street and the fossil fuel industry. It benefits from the
endless wars. It benefits from the curtailment of civil
liberties, including the right to privacy and due process.
It benefits from militarized police. It benefits from
austerity programs. It benefits from mass incarceration. It
is an enabler of tyranny, not an impediment.

Demagogues like Trump, Farage and Johnson, of course, have
no intention of altering the system of corporate pillage.
Rather, they accelerate the pillage, which is what happened
with the passage of the massive U.S. tax cut for
corporations. They divert the public's anger toward
demonized groups such as Muslims, undocumented workers,
people of color, liberals, intellectuals, artists,
feminists, the LGBT community and the press. The demonized
are blamed for the social and economic dysfunction, much as
Jews were falsely blamed for Germany's defeat in World War I
and the economic collapse that followed. Corporations such
as Goldman Sachs, in the midst of the decay, continue to
make a financial killing.

The corporate titans, who often come out of elite
universities and are groomed in institutions like Harvard
Business School, find these demagogues crude and vulgar.
They are embarrassed by their imbecility, megalomania and
incompetence. But they endure their presence rather than
permit socialists or leftist politicians to impede their
profits and divert government spending to social programs
and away from weapons manufacturers, the military, private
prisons, big banks and hedge funds, the fossil fuel
industry, charter schools, private paramilitary forces,
private intelligence companies and pet programs designed to
allow corporations to cannibalize the state.

The irony is that there was serious meddling in the
presidential election, but it did not come from Russia. The
Democratic Party, outdoing any of the dirty tricks employed
by Richard Nixon, purged hundreds of thousands of primary
voters from the rolls, denied those registered as
independents the right to vote in primaries, used
superdelegates to swing the vote to Hillary Clinton,
hijacked the Democratic National Committee to serve the
Clinton campaign, controlled the message of media outlets
such as MSNBC and The New York Times, stole the Nevada
caucus, spent hundreds of millions of dollars of "dark"
corporate money on the Clinton campaign and fixed the
primary debates. This meddling, which stole the nomination
from Bernie Sanders, who probably could have defeated Trump,
is unmentioned. The party hierarchy will do nothing to
reform its corrupt nominating process.

WikiLeaks exposed much of this corruption when it published
tens of thousands of messages hacked from Clinton campaign
chairman John Podesta's email account. The messages brought
to light the efforts by the Democratic Party leadership to
thwart the nomination of Sanders, and they disclosed
Clinton's close ties with Wall Street, including her
lucrative Wall Street speeches. They also raised serious
questions about conflicts of interest with the Clinton
Foundation and whether Clinton received advance information
on primary-debate questions.

The Democratic National Committee, for this reason, is
leading the Russia hysteria and the persecution of Assange.
It filed a lawsuit that names WikiLeaks and Assange as
co-conspirators with Russia and the Trump campaign in an
alleged effort to steal the presidential election.

But it is not only Assange and WikiLeaks that are being
attacked as Russian pawns. For example, The Washington Post,
which has sided with the Democratic Party in the war against
Trump, without critical analysis published a report on a
blacklist posted by the anonymous website PropOrNot. The
blacklist was composed of 199 sites that PropOrNot alleged,
with no evidence, "reliably echo Russian propaganda." More
than half of those sites were far-right, conspiracy-driven
ones. But about 20 of the sites were major progressive
outlets including AlterNet, Black Agenda Report, Democracy
Now!, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Truthout, CounterPunch and
the World Socialist Web Site. PropOrNot, short for
Propaganda or Not, accused these sites of disseminating
"fake news" on behalf of Russia. The Post's headline was
unequivocal: "Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake
news' during the election, experts say."

In addition to offering no evidence, PropOrNot never even
disclosed who ran the website. Even so, its charge was used
to justify the imposition of algorithms by Google, Facebook,
Twitter and Amazon to direct traffic away from the targeted
sites. These algorithms, or filters, overseen by thousands
of "evaluators," many hired from the military and security
and surveillance apparatus, hunt for keywords such as "U.S.
military," "inequality" and "socialism," along with personal
names such as Julian Assange and Laura Poitras. The keywords
are known as "impressions." Before the imposition of the
algorithms, a reader could type in the name Julian Assange
and be directed to an article on one of the targeted sites.
After the algorithms were put in place, these impressions
directed readers only to mainstream sites such as The
Washington Post. Referral traffic from the impressions at
most of the targeted sites has plummeted, often by more than
half. This isolation will be compounded by the abolition of
net neutrality.

Any news or media outlet that addresses the reality of our
failed democracy and exposes the crimes of empire will be
targeted. The January 2017 Director of National Intelligence
Report spent seven pages on RT America, where I have a show,
"On Contact." The report does not accuse RT America of
disseminating Russian propaganda, but it does allege the
network exploits divisions within American society by giving
airtime to dissidents and critics including whistleblowers,
anti-imperialists, anti-capitalists, Black Lives Matter
activists, anti-fracking campaigners and the third-party
candidates the establishment is seeking to mute.

If the United States had a public broadcasting system free
from corporate money or a commercial press that was not
under corporate control, these dissident voices would be
included in the mainstream discourse. But we don't. Howard
Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Malcolm X, Sheldon Wolin, Ralph Nader,
James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, Angela Davis and Edward Said
once appeared regularly on public broadcasting. Now critics
like these are banned, replaced with vapid courtiers such as
columnist David Brooks. RT America was forced to register
under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). This act
requires Americans who work for a foreign party to register
as foreign agents. The FARA registration is part of the
broader assault on all independent media, including the
effort to silence Assange.

WikiLeak's publication in 2017 of 8,761 CIA files, known as
Vault 7, appeared to be the final indignity. Vault 7
included a description of the cyber tools used by the CIA to
hack into computer systems and devices such as smartphones.
Former CIA software engineer Joshua Adam Schulte was
indicted on charges of violating the Espionage Act by
allegedly leaking the documents.

The publication of Vault 7 saw the United States
significantly increase its pressure on the Ecuadorean
government to isolate and eject Assange from the embassy.
Mike Pompeo, then the CIA director, said in response to the
leaks that the U.S. government "can no longer allow Assange
and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values
against us." Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Assange's
arrest was a "priority."

It is up to us to mobilize to protect Assange. His life is
in jeopardy. The Ecuadorean government, violating his
fundamental rights, has transformed his asylum into a form
of incarceration. By cutting off his access to the internet,
it has deprived him of the ability to communicate and follow
world events. The aim of this isolation is to pressure
Assange out of the embassy so he can be seized by London
police, thrown into a British jail and then delivered into
the hands of Pompeo, John Bolton and the CIA's torturer in
chief, Gina Haspel.

Assange is a courageous and fearless publisher who is being
persecuted for exposing the crimes of the corporate state
and imperialism. His defense is the cutting edge of the
fight against government suppression of our most important
and fundamental democratic rights. The government of Prime
Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, where Assange was
born, must be pressured to provide him with the protection
to which he is entitled as a citizen. It must intercede to
stop the illegal persecution of the journalist by the
British, American and Ecuadorean governments. It must secure
his safe return to Australia. If we fail to protect Assange,
we fail to protect ourselves.

Posted on: def2.i2p


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o They are out to get Assange now...

By: Guest on Wed, 25 Jul 2018

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