Monday, September 23, 2013

Julian Assange: Street Fighting Man

You do not become the USA's Public Enemy #1 without cojones de hierro. So before we commence this little missive, let us pause for a moment and recall The Rolling Stones' epic 1968 classic "Street Fighting Man" (yes you really should click the youtube link):


Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy.
Cause summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy.
Tell me what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n roll band
Cause in sleepy London Town
There's just no place for a street fighting man.

Hey! I think the time is right for a violent revolution!
But where I live the game to play is compromise solution!
Well then what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n roll band
Cause in sleepy London Town
There's no place for a street fighting man.

Hey I said my name is called Disturbance!
I'll shout and scream, I'll kill the king, I'll rail at all his servants!
Well what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n roll band
Cause in sleepy London Town
There's no place for a street fighting man.
Do the lyrics sound familiar? Just imagine how Mick Jagger felt screaming such revolutionary rhetoric on stage in 1968 at the top of his lungs - see video of his crazy escapades, including police demolishing stage props - while the masses applauded like mad and did... erm, well ... nothing.



Keith Richards reckons Mick went to demonstrations in London and was even charged by the police, but by 1973 Jagger was already faking the lyrics to hide the original message. The song became a staple of Stones tours but the band never committed to the ideology it espoused because... ah well... that's the Capitalist Music Industry, innit?

Fast forward 40 years. The Stones are all millionaires and another poor street-fighting man is taking it to the streets in London Town. And once again the masses are cheering like mad but doing... erm...  well, just about nothing.



So this is where I come in. Bear with me...

I totally believe Julian Assange is a "street fighting man" in the best tradition of the genre.  As a working class nobody myself, I fully support his efforts to bring transparency to the powerful with WikiLeaks. And this is something most of his Australian supporters can agree on, because as a nation we have a proud anti-authoritarian background.

Furthermore, I think Julian's hardcore street-wise attitude is exactly what the world needs right now, as the Arab Spring, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden revelations attest. But let us not get confused.

Julian Assange launched into the latest Australian elections with a new party that aimed to break the mould, seize the balance of power across three states, and change the face of Australian politics forever. Sadly, it did not succeed. In fact, it was a dismal failure. And that is hardly surprising.

As a politician, Julian Assange makes a great publisher.

Although the Greens (lead by @SenatorLudlam) were Assange's biggest supporters in Australia, he appears to have made a bizarre but conscious decision to oppose them.

Given the WikiLeaks Party's hostility to the Greens, as shown in Senate preferences, plus comments from major players, plus Julian's expressed support for US congressman Ron Paul and Libertarianism in the final weeks of the Australian political campaign, this anti-Greens stance appears to be not just a deliberate tactic but also a personal political viewpoint. So be it.

This is unfortunate, especially for supporters like myself who sympathised with the Greens and committed years of our time and effort to the WikiLeaks Party. But fair enough.

If the WikiLeaks Party is just Julian's political plaything - rather than the democratic game-changer some of us had hoped for - then it's his choice to just piss it all up against the wall out of pure spite. After all, he's the guy in the embassy still facing a lifetime away from deserved liberty. Not me.

Sure, it would have been nice if the WikiLeaks Party had not contrived such a deliciously seductive Constitution, or if the original National Council did not include such wonderfully inspiring people. But what the fuck. We can get over it.

I just worry that Julian the Street Fighting Man will be left bleeding from the gums with nobody in his corner aside from a bunch of  ladder climbing media stooges and wannabe socio-revolutionary pissants


Hope I am wrong.






Saturday, September 7, 2013

Where's That WikiLeaks Party Inquiry?

UPDATE 3: I have now published my own 20 page WL Party Inquiry here.

UPDATE 2: OK NEWSFLASH!!! After 5 months and a whole lot of harassment from yours truly, WikiLeaks Party finally released a paltry 4 page review (plus cover page titled "Terms of Reference" plus attached email from outside the terms of reference).

The review was greeted with snorts of derision. The auditing company normally does environmental studies, the auditor is apparently a friend of John Shipton's and also a financial member of the WLP. He admits he had no access to required emails and documents, and did not talk to many involved. He doesn't even mention @akawaca's submission.

And on the same day @akawaca advises that multiple email accounts have been hacked and all emails prior to August 13 have been deleted (a critical WLP meeting was held on August 12).

Surely nobody is taking this ship of fools seriously anymore? And yet they continue to damage the reputation of WikiLeaks, whose support seems stubbornly and inexplicably entrenched. So who knows what about those hacked @akawaca emails? A response from WikiLeaks and WikiLeaksParty is required.


UPDATE 1: Terms of Reference for an Independent Review have now been posted. Some professional auditors who know nothing about WikiLeaks will be paid to produce limited recommendations. Meanwhile, key insiders remain silent. For me, such standard political party operational bullshit is very disappointing (but hardly surprising at this stage). I have cancelled my membership of the WikiLeaks Party.

1. 

On Saturday 20th July 2013 I received a phone call from Julian Assange's father, John Shipton. I was in Rockhampton for the Yeppoon Peace March at the time, protesting against US military exercises which saw four bombs dropped on the Great Barrier Reef that same day. John was wondering if I could pick up a load of printed material on my way back to Brisbane. He explained that “the WikiLeaks Party printer" was based on the Sunshine Coast. Then he told me the printer's name: 

"James Ashby, you may have heard of him".

It took a moment for the penny to drop, but when it did I was gob-smacked. Ashby? Seriously? Assuming I might have missed something about the scandalous #Ashbygate affair, I waited for an opportunity to research the whole story more closely. But no, there it was: James Ashby,  a 33 year old gay staffer who made sexual abuse allegations against the parliamentary Speaker, Peter Slipper, in a move which could have brought down the Gillard government. Of course much more about #Ashbygate was yet to be revealed (none of it good), but a Federal Court Justice had already dismissed Ashby's claims as politically motivated. Why the hell was the WikiLeaks Party associating itself with such a person? If this got out before the election, I thought, it would be a catastrophe.

In the end I did not pick up the printed material because I was back home before John contacted me again with Ashby's address. I wondered if I should discuss my concerns with others in the party, but by then I was already "out of the loop". @WikiLeaksParty had quietly unfollowed me. My email address was getting dropped off discussion threads. And of course my phone and laptop were being targeted, so there was a good chance I could make things worse by talking about this before the election (such are the Orwellian constraints under the WikiLeaks Party was forced to operate). So I crossed my fingers and hoped that John Shipton knew more about the Ashby case than I did. But I seriously doubted it.

I first met John Shipton when he was contacting National Council members prior to the formal registration of the WikiLeaks Party. As a long-time vocal supporter of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, I was honoured to have been invited to join the Council. But given that the party would soon be under huge public scrutiny, there was something I needed to explain: I had gone bankrupt a few years earlier (after the failure of Kevin Rudd's Green Loans scheme, ironically) and I was still not formally discharged, so I was not sure if I was legally allowed to be on the Council. 

John made a quick phone call to lawyer Kellie Tranter, later the party's NSW candidate, and then told me I would not be able to join the Council. After years of dedicated support for WikiLeaks, I felt gutted. But I accepted the decision in the best interests of the party.

"Never mind," smiled John with a sly wink, "we all have a few skeletons in our closets, don't we?"

John did not seem too unhappy at all about my situation, and I couldn't help wondering if that had something to do with my friendship with Julian's mum Christine. It was never going to be easy for the two of them to work together.  [removed at request of Christine Assange - Gary]. My original understanding was that John would help set up the WikiLeaks Party and then step away from the day to day running of it. It’s a pity this did not happen.

Months later, as the divisions within the party became more obvious, I contacted the Australian Electoral Commission myself, and learned that bankruptcy did NOT in fact prohibit me from being on the National Council (it only made me ineligible to run as a Candidate in the election, an option which was also discussed).

In retrospect, sharing my financial situation with John Shipton may have been one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I do not regret it because I did what I thought was right for the party and the values WikiLeaks represents. But given the WikiLeaks Party's own subsequent lack of honesty and transparency, my voluntary personal disclosure seems bitterly ironic.

2.

When the WikiLeaks Party preferences were announced, I was again gob-smacked. 

For two years I had been pressuring Australian MPs and Senators to support Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, and painstakingly documenting their responses at ozwikiwatch.blogspot.com - the Greens were clearly the only major party doing anything to help. Why on earth would we slap them in the face? It was madness.

In New South Wales, the White Nationalists from Australia First and the militant Shooters and Fishers party were preferenced above the Greens. In Western Australia, Julian Assange's staunchest parliamentary supporter, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, was preferenced below his strongest rival, the National Party. Even in Victoria, the Greens were well down the list behind minor parties. By contrast, the Greens had preferenced the WikiLeaks Party (WLP) extremely highly in every state.

I had just spent a week on Twitter trying to suppress rumours that the Greens would be preferenced well down the WLP list, and now it turned out the rumours were true. Worse yet, the source of those rumours was a WLP National Council member, Cassie Findlay, who helped submit the NSW preferences. And after helping me and others look like fools, Cassie conveniently disappeared off Twitter and ignored my DMs (thanks for that, Cassie).

The WikiLeaks Party issued a statement blaming an "admin error" for the preferencing debacle and promising a review AFTER the election. That was never going to be good enough. Social media was going off. The mainstream media was all over it. Our biggest detractors were rubbing our noses in it and there was nothing we could say in reply. 

We clearly needed a proper public response from the party ASAP. But all the WikiLeaks Party insiders were suddenly - and very strangely - silent. This was not OK. 

I spoke with the only National Council members I knew personally, Sam Castro and Kaz Cochrane. They were both in tears on the phone. I urged them to be patient and give things time to work out, but they explained that others were already walking out the door. When Leslie Cannold's resignation prompted a wave of departures the next day, I started publicly demanding answers from @WikiLeaksParty on Twitter. 

John Shipton rang me three times that day, and three times I refused to take his call. 

"I do not want phone calls and excuses," I texted him. "Don't tell me. Tell the world."

I continued demanding answers on Twitter for several days, until it became absolutely bloody obvious that the "admin error" in NSW was really no mistake at all (as WA candidate Gerry Georgatos belatedly admitted, while still defending his foolish decision to preference the Nationals ahead of the Greens in WA).

The WikiLeaks Party had promised a full inquiry AFTER the election. But Julian's August 30th appearance on ABC The Drum suggested that no inquiry would be necessary. Mistakes were made but nobody would be held accountable, the people who resigned over these errors were somehow out of order, even if Julian accepted responsibility, and in any case he agreed pretty much with everything that was done anyway. 

Was her serious? Or just trying to bluff his way through?

3.

I write this now because the election is over and it is time for the truth. I believe WikiLeaks Party can still play a vital role bringing transparency and justice to governments around the world, but only if it addresses the mistakes of the past few months, apologizes to disenfranchised staff and supporters, and commits to less ruthlessly cynical politics in future. 

Lessons must be learned. Mistakes must be acknowledged. If we demand transparency and accountability from others, we must provide it ourselves.

Julian has previously hinted at a some absurd left-wing conspiracy: 

"There were some views that the WikiLeaks Party should be a front for the Greens but it was never meant to be a front." 

I do not know anyone within the party who wanted it to be “a front for the Greens”. If there is evidence of this, it should be presented. Let’s not just smear people with innuendo. 

For example, a Greens supporter offered to donate $3,000 to help the WikiLeaks Party field a Queensland candidate, an offer which I passed on to John Shipton, who rejected it. Perhaps that Greens supporter was hoping that WikiLeaks Party preferences would help get the Greens candidate across the line, but that was never my intention. If Julian really thinks such things then he has either been badly misinformed by party leaders, or he is getting paranoid with all the pressure he faces daily.

Many of us within the party assumed we would be able to work with the Greens (and the Pirate Party and others) even if we were in competition with them for Senate places, because we shared many common goals (see Scott Ludlam’s work on Internet freedom, for example). We believed the party could still appeal to people on both the Left and Right side of politics, because as Julian himself said:

"We are a party of the Senate. We are not a party of Government. We are a party of accountability and oversight. Our role is independent precisely because we are not in the government."

In fact it was critically important to stay above that Right-Left divide if we wanted to maintain our independence and credibility. So how did we become so internally divided?

I am deeply concerned that the WikiLeaks Party was unnecessarily politicised, not by Greens supporters, but by people with a hidden right-wing agenda, including John Shipton, Greg Barns (campaign manager, former Liberal Party candidate and advisor to former PM John Howard) and Julian Assange himself.  

I assume this was either: 

a. An unfortunate consequence of people at the top imposing their personal politics on the party without concern for due process, other staff or party members; or 

b. A deliberate attempt to differentiate the party from their closest competition, the Greens, make the party more appealing to right-wing voters, and embrace a "win at all costs" attitude, whatever the consequences.

It may be both of the above. But it was also incredibly foolish and deeply disappointing. It not only alienated countless loyal members and supporters, it has also potentially terminated ongoing political support from the Greens. More importantly, perhaps, it has damaged the global public perception of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

I suspect there was a deliberate attempt to marginalise people in the party who were deemed by the leadership to be "left wing Greenies" (myself included) even though these people were in fact the most dedicated WikiLeaks supporters in Australia. People like ostracized Social Media manager Sean Bedlam, who was arrested after multiple sit-in demonstrations at the US Embassy. How many of the candidates have even helped organise such a demonstration?

I am writing this now because I believe the explanations for what went wrong need to be public, and because (sadly) I do not trust the WikiLeaks Party to conduct a proper inquiry on their own. As a supporter who was not privy to all the inside conversations, I want answers. If I do not get them, I will cancel my membership.

For example: whose brilliant idea was it to use James Ashby’s services? What other links exist with major political parties? What really happened with the NSW preferences? Who came up with the “admin error” explanation? Did Julian seriously endorse Gerry Georgatos’s decision to preference the Nationals indigenous candidate David Wirrpanda ahead of Scott Ludlum, or did he just publicly pretend to understand it as a way to limit the damage?

The Australian election is now over and the damage has been done. On election day, #PirateParty was trending on Twitter and my timeline was full of people voting Pirates or Greens. Many of these people would have been willing to put a "1" next to WikiLeaks Party if not for the preferences debacle. Julian's public embrace of right-wing US politician Ron Paul, in the final weeks of the campaign, did not help either.

The Australian WikiLeaks Party could have and should have been the model for other WikiLeaks Parties around the world, including the USA and Britain, where people desperate for change have been jealously following our progress. It still can be, if it learns from these mistakes. If not, I am done with it.

4. 

How to understand this mess? And why does Julian Assange keep getting into these massive fuckup situations with people? Personally, based on my own family’s experiences, I think Julian Assange shows many symptoms of high functioning Aspergers Syndrome, and I think that might help explain (but not excuse) what has happened with the WikiLeaks Party.



Like I say, that does not excuse all the lies and bullshit, and it certainly does not absolve Greg or John or others for their part in all this. But for me it helps explain why Julian might have been mislead by them, failed to see whom he should have trusted best, and may still find it difficult to admit he was wrong about anything.

Of course it was never going to be easy running a political campaign from detention in a foreign embassy on the far side of the world, while under surveillance by history's most extensive spy network, with all major domestic parties and the corporate media actively hostile to your efforts. But  we could have and should have done better.

I am willing to acknowledge that many good people did their best under difficult circumstances. I hope we can take something positive from the ruins, and overcome these divisions. But we need to be guided by the core principles of transparency and justice. And that means accountability. Carrying on as if nothing happened is simply unacceptable.

*

RESOURCES: 

Sam Castro, Sean Bedlam and Leslie Cannold explain why they had to resign: http://t.co/oNOWvGcolU

Dan Matthews' letter of resignation: http://danielmathews.info/blog/2013/08/statement-of-resignation-from-wikileaks-party-national-council/

Leslie Cannold letter of resignation: http://cannold.com/articles/article/leslie-resignation-statement-of-fact-on-candidacy-re-the-wikileaks-party/

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Exposing Australia's #Mediaocracy


We all know that US citizen Rupert Murdoch exerts an unhealthy influence on Australian media and politics. But Washington's pernicious influence on Australian media goes much deeper that that. This post exposes a few US stooges.

1. Sydney University's Malcolm Jorgensen

A recent article in The Conversation, "With Bradley Manning convicted, what now for Julian Assange?" is based on the clearly stated premise that "WikiLeaks seeks to end the power of governments to judge when national security decisions should be closed to public scrutiny."

This is simply not true. To quote Julian Assange:
"Yes, sometimes the State Department and other organizations have a responsibility to keep things secret for a limited period of time... As a publishing organization, we have a responsibility also, and our responsibility is to publish fairly and fearlessly and represent the whistle-blowers who bring us material. And it's all right for different bodies in society to have conflicting roles. That's what keeps all our different organizations honest."
When confronted with solid proof that he had completely misunderstood (or deliberately misrepresented?) the goals of WikiLeaks, Malcolm Jorgensen, the article's author, simply did not care.  Neither did The Conversation, which published the article, or The Delimiter, which re-published it (for attention-hungry sites like these, faux "controversy" generates hits from outraged readers, which helps pay the bills).

It comes as no surprise to learn that Jorgensen is a PhD Candidate in United States Foreign Policy and International Law at the University of Sydney. Or that Hugh Jorgensen (his brother, I would assume from their photos and mutual re-tweets) is a Research Associate with the G20 Studies Centre at the Lowy Institute, which specializes in peddling US talking points.

Now you might expect a Sydney Uni PhD candidate to be able to follow some basic logic and have at least a passing respect for facts. But clearly that's not the key to success in @MalcyJorgy's world. And clearly it doesn't matter to media organisations like Sky News, which give him a platform as a talk show "expert".

2. Fairfax Foreign News Editor Chris Zappone 

So what about a more respected media organisation like Fairfax newspapers, which regularly publishes ground-breaking WikiLeaks stories from Phillip Dorling? Let's look at this recent article by Fairfax foreign news editor Chris Zappone. While the first paragraph sounds positive, it is just setting up the inevitable smackdown:
"complications await a WikiLeaks Party Senate victory should it make a positive showing in Australia’s elections."
Zappone suggests there will be conflict with the Greens (despite no evidence of this) and the WikiLeaks Party will be  a "not-so-productive disruptor in Australia’s federal politics". He says Assange's plan to elicit leaks from other Senators "would be extremely messy" and the award-winning editor lacks a "grasp on bigger, non-technical political realities".

Finally, after conjuring standard US government concerns about "the tilting of power towards an authoritarian Asia... notably China with Russia as an enabler", Zappone concludes: 
"the prospect of converting Australia’s Senate into Assange’s playhouse should give even transparency-minded Australians serious pause." 
Interestingly, this fact-free thought-bubble article was not published in Fairfax (yes, they do have standards) but at an online news site known for underpaying writers. So do editors on the Fairfax foreign news desk need a little extra pocket-money these days? Or is this just another example of the kind of US-friendly propaganda required to pursue a career in Australian media?

I only ask because Mr Zappone does not seem to be very well informed. When the UK Foreign Minister, William Hague, visited Australia in January, I begged journalists like Zappone to confront him about Julian Assange's plight. Zappone's response?
"Assange isn't part of his portfolio."
Zappone later apologised for his mistake. But AFAIK Hague never faced a single question about Assange from the Australian media.

So.. stupid or evil? You decide.

UPDATE 1:

For the benefit of commenters who think this is just a personalized rant, consider this: last week Foreign Minister Bob Carr lied live on Australian TV, falsely claiming (again) that there is no evidence of a US Grand Jury against WikiLeaks.

Nobody in the Australian media reported his lie, and my solicitations to various political media fact-checking sites were ignored.  We Aussies live in a mediaocracy, and it is not ALL Rupert Murdoch's fault.

UPDATE 2: 

Hilarious. Repeated requests for anyone in the Australian media to call out Bob Carr's lie were ignored. But when Julian Assange answers questions  a week later, @ABCFactcheck calls him out on a technicality. WikiLeaks provides evidence to show that Assange was actually correct, and the ABC just ignores it. Even ABC boss @AbcMarkScott has no response!

Turns out both editor & presenter are US trained media stooges. Editor Russell Skelton is a Fulbright scholar from Stanford University. Presenter John Barron is an associate of Sydney Uni's US Studies Center

Then I see my old friend @MalcyJorgy (also an associate of ) has posted this disgraceful Sky News interview with Stan Grant aout the Bradley Manning trial. A few highlowlights:
Jorgenson says: "The US has made it clear that there is an arguable case against Assange."

Grant asks: "What are the obligations on us, and those whistle-blowers as well, living in a Democracy?... Are [Manning, Assange and Snowden] putting at risk the democratic rights of the majority by leaking this kind of information?"

Jorgenson replies: "That's certainly one of the implications..."

Jorgenson then repeats his lie (see above) that Assange does not believe governments should ever keep any information secret, and repeats another lie from Australia's Attorney General Mark Dreyfus (that Manning and Snowden are not REAL whistle-blowers because everything they revealed was legal).

Stan Grant asks if Assange, Manning and Snowden are "putting the rest of us at risk?" Jorgenson says "there is a strong case to be made for that."

NOTE: SBS became much more US-friendly when Stan Grant replaced . Grant went from SBS to the World Bank then CNN. And to think that Stan is the son of an elder of the Wiradjui people. Poor fella my country...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Letter To Australian Attorney General Mark Dreyfus

I just sent the following email to Australian Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, after he today claimed that neither Bradley Manning nor Edward Snowden were "whistle-blowers" because they did not expose evidence of government "wrong-doing".
Mr Dreyfus,
You have the honour to represent one of the highest levels of law in Australia. You clearly do not deserve it.

As an Australian citizen, I was sickened and ashamed by your comments asserting that Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are not "whistle-blowers". You claimed they have not exposed "government wrong-doing". Do you realise the whole world is laughing at you?

For the sake of brevity, and because he is currently facing a lifetime behind bars, I will only discuss Bradley Manning's revelations in this instance.
Below are some key facts that PFC Manning is accused of making public. 
There is an official policy to ignore torture in Iraq.

The “Iraq War Logs” published by WikiLeaks revealed that thousands of reports of prisoner abuse and torture had been filed against the Iraqi Security Forces. Medical evidence detailed how prisoners had been whipped with heavy cables across the feet, hung from ceiling hooks, suffered holes being bored into their legs with electric drills, urinated upon, and sexually assaulted. These logs also revealed the existence of “Frago 242,” an order implemented in 2004 not to investigate allegations of abuse against the Iraqi government. This order is a direct violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, which was ratified by the United States in 1994. The Convention prohibits the Armed Forces from transferring a detainee to other countries “where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” According to the State Department’s own reports, the U.S. government was already aware that the Iraqi Security Forces engaged in torture.
U.S. officials were told to cover up evidence of child abuse by contractors in Afghanistan.


U.S. defense contractors were brought under much tighter supervision after leaked diplomatic cables revealed that they had been complicit in child trafficking activities. DynCorp — a powerful defense contracting firm that claims almost $2 billion per year in revenue from U.S. tax dollars — threw a party for Afghan security recruits featuring boys purchased from child traffickers for entertainment. DynCorp had already faced human trafficking charges before this incident took place. According to the cables, Afghan Interior minister Hanif Atmar urged the assistant US ambassador to “quash” the story. These revelations have been a driving factor behind recent calls for the removal of all U.S. defense contractors from Afghanistan.
Guantanamo prison has held mostly innocent people and low-level operatives.


The Guantanamo Files describe how detainees were arrested based on what the New York Times referred to as highly subjective evidence. For example, some poor farmers were captured after they were found wearing a common watch or a jacket that was the same as those also worn by Al Queda operatives. How quickly innocent prisoners were released was heavily dependent on their country of origin. Because the evidence collected against Guantanamo prisoners is not permissible in U.S. courts, the U.S. State Department has offered millions of dollars to other countries to take and try our prisoners. According to a U.S. diplomatic cable written on April 17, 2009, the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners requested that the National Court indict six former U.S. officials for creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture against five Spanish prisoners at Guantanamo. However, “Senator Mel Martinez… met Acting FM [Foreign Minister] Angel Lossada… on April 15. Martinez… underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the U.S. and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship”.
There is an official tally of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Even though the Bush and Obama Administrations maintained publicly that there was no official count of civilian casualties, the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs showed that this claim was false. Between 2004 and 2009, the U.S. government counted a total of 109,000 deaths in Iraq, with 66,081 classified as non-combatants. This means that for every Iraqi death that is classified as a combatant, two innocent men, women or children are also killed.


U.S. Military officials withheld information about the indiscriminate killing of Reuters journalists and innocent Iraqi civilians.


The “Collateral Murder” video released by Wikileaks depicted the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad, including two journalists working for Reuters. The Reuters news organization has repeatedly been denied in its attempts to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-sight, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters photographer and his rescuers. Two young children who were present in the attempted rescue were also seriously wounded. Ethan McCord, a U.S. army soldier who can be seen in the video carrying wounded children to safety, has said that whoever revealed this video is a “hero.” An internal U.S. military investigation concluded that the incident was consistent with the military’s “Rules of Engagement.”
The State Department backed corporate opposition to a Haitian minimum wage law.


Leaked diplomatic cables show that in 2009, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince pushed then-Haitian President Rene Preval to come out in support of powerful textile manufacturers who sought to block a popular minimum wage increase. These factory owners, who produce apparel for large brands like Nike and Nautica, had benefitted from recent free trade agreements that had severely lowered wages and working conditions in Haiti. A series of cables show that the US Embassy closely monitored the movements and activities of student protestors supporting the $5/day minimum wage bill. The bill’s supporters had argued that the increase was justified in light of rising inflation and food costs that had led to widespread starvation. According to the leaked cables, the U.S. delegation dismissed the proposed minimum wage increase as nothing more than a populist measure aimed at appeasing “the unemployed and underpaid masses.” Ultimately, the U.S. delegation succeeded in their efforts when President Preval agreed to block the increase.
The U.S. Government had long been faking its public support for Tunisian President Ben Ali.


The Tunisian people were already well aware of the corruption plaguing the autocratic ruling family, which for decades had abused their rights. However, the United States government had long presented a public image of strong support for the Ben Ali regime. The U.S. campaign of unwavering public support for President Ali led to a widespread belief among the Tunisian people that it would be very difficult to dislodge the autocratic regime from power. This view was shattered when leaked cables exposed the U.S. government’s private assessment: that the U.S. would not support the regime in the event of a popular uprising. While extreme economic hardship and popular discontent with rights abuses had already set the stage for an uprising, this new information played a critical role in transforming the landscape of political possibilities in Tunisia. The Tunisian people finally realized that, contrary to the U.S. government’s public relations efforts, they weren’t really up against the full force of the world’s superpower. Within one month, Ben Ali became the first Arab leader to be swept from power in the ongoing democratic movements in the region.
Known Egyptian torturers received training from the FBI in Quantico, Virginia.


According to a leaked diplomatic cable from Cairo, the head of Egypt’s notorious State Security Investigative Service (SSIS) thanked FBI Deputy Director John Pistole for the “excellent and strong” cooperation between the two agencies. In particular, the FBI’s training sessions in Quantico, Virginia were of “great benefit” to his interrogators. Another cable documented what the US embassy considered “credible” allegations of human rights violations by the SSIS, including torturing prisoners with “electric shocks and sleep deprivation to reduce them to a ‘zombie state’”. After the autocratic Mubarak regime was driven from power in the recent Egyptian Revolution, protestors stormed the “Amn Dawla” headquarters of the SSIS to uncover further evidence of torture and abuse. They posted these documents on their own site, known as “Amn Dawla Leaks.”
The State Department authorized the theft of the UN Secretary General’s DNA.
According to the “National Humint Collection Directive,” a secret document that was signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and published by WikiLeaks, US diplomats were authorized to collect “biometric” and other sensitive information from top UN officials as well as UN representatives from other nations. The leaked documents show that “biometric data” specifically included samples of the officials’ DNA, among other forms of personally identifying information. They also ordered diplomats to collect credit card information and secure passwords. These activities contravene the 1946 UN Convention.
The Japanese and U.S. Governments had been warned about the seismic threat at Fukushima.


A cable from December 2008 showed that officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency had warned the government about the danger posed by potential seismic activity in the area. The official stated that Japan’s “safety guides for seismic safety have only been revised three times in the last 35 years.” He also noted that the government had fought against a court order to close down another nuclear facility that was not adequately prepared for an earthquake. After being ignored by the Japanese government, the IAEA official also warned the U.S. ambassador to Japan about the looming threat from possible earthquake damage. These warnings went unheeded. The International Atomic Energy Agency has now ranked the Fukushima disaster as severe as Chernobyl.
The Obama Administration allowed Yemen’s President to cover up a secret U.S. drone bombing campaign.


Since December 2009, President Obama has authorized a secret drone bombing campaign in Yemen. A year later, WikiLeaks revealed that Yemen’s President Saleh had agreed that his regime would “continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.” These drone strikes have killed large numbers of civilians. One of the strikes that occurred shortly before the cable in question was written had killed 55 people, 41 of whom were classified as civilians (21 of these were children) according to a report by Amnesty International. This US military operation in Yemen, which persists to this day, has not been officially acknowledged by our government.
* * * * 
Watch (again) this video of US troops murdering innocent people in Iraq, including a Reuters cameraman, and tell me there is no "wrong-doing" here:

http://www.collateralmurder.com/

So what happened to those who perpetrated this horrific war crime? What happened to those who lied about Saddam's WMDs in order to justify that war for oil which UN Secretary General Kofi Annan himself described as "illegal"? No evidence of "wrong-doing" there???

What happened to those who massacred civilians in Fallujah, leaving radioactive waste that will continue to cause birth defects for generations? What happened to those who massacred over 100 people in the Afghan village of Gurani (a video which Manning also leaked to WikiLeaks but which was stolen before it could be released)? What happened to those who tortured Bradley Manning for six months, leading the State Department spokesman to resign in disgust?
Do you call this justice? Do you seriously claim that there is no evidence of government wrong-doing here? Are you fucking insane? Or just another Zionist stooge?

Why the hell would you expect Australians to vote ALP party in the coming election when you do not even have the guts to stand up for the truth?
What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror? How do you sleep?

You disgust me and you do not represent me. Resign.

Gary Lord
@Jaraparilla
Please feel free to contact: mark.dreyfus.mp@aph.gov.au

With thanks to the Bradley Manning Support Network.

Monday, July 8, 2013

NSA Surveillance of Australia Exposed!

Yesterday journalist Glenn Greenwald posted an exclusive story in Brazil's O Globo newspaper, based on the revelations of the incredibly brave ex-NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, which included this page showing slides from NSA presentations.

The page includes four maps of special interest to Australians. The first shows the location of US bases that are part of the X-KEYSTORE program:

As Fairfax journalist Phillip Dorling notes in this must read article, the four bases in Australia include "the US Australian Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap near Alice Springs and three Australian Signals Directorate facilities: the Shoal Bay Receiving Station near Darwin, the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Facility at Geraldton and the naval communications station HMAS Harman outside Canberra."

NOTE: The NZ facility is at Waihopai near Blenheim.


The O Globo article also displays three maps which apparently show phone calls and messages gathered by the NSA's Fairview program over two days (4th & 5th March 2013). Countries with the most interceptions are shown in red, then orange, then yellow, with the least monitored nations shown in green.


US surveillance of Australia (in red) is only matched by Brazil, Colombia and Japan (perhaps some smaller nations are less visible).

NOTE: The writing on these slides is hard to read, but the first word above looks like "Total" so perhaps this is the total over the two days?



The second and third maps show Australia in yellow, again amongst the most monitored nations on earth. Why is this so? Are we not a US ally? Why are we being massively surveilled?

NOTE: Of course the percentage of mobile phone-using people in Brazil, Japan and Australia is relatively high, but there are many others on this list who exceed our per capita rate.

Another map from the O Globo page is also worth noting. This slide is from a different NSA program called Boundless Informant, details of which were previously described here:


Boundless Informant measures US gathering of metadata. In this slide, US monitoring of Australia is still as high as the Soviet Union.

Curiously, the Guardian newspaper showed another image, where Australia appears in dark green. So if this is another daily snapshot, it does not tell us the overall level of metadata surveillance (selective editing perhaps?).


Australians, you should all be very, very angry about this.

Update 1: 

Here is a map showing US bases in Australia:

Source: http://t.co/0GoWR2B3UR

And below is a map of global submarine cables, which carry phone and Internet traffic. Note that nearly all links from Asia to USA go via US allies (and NSA surveillance Client States) Australia and Japan.

Source: http://t.co/tHRrLHzJ4U

Add this to the information gathering from Pine Gap and other satellite sites, and it is clear that a huge proportion of the NSA's information on Asia comes via Australia. I don't think our neighbors are going to be very happy when they find out.

It's time we Australians told our government that enough is enough! The US Government is not only spying on all of us, but also using us to spy on the entire world!

A personal note: If you value this information, please support the WikiLeaks Party at the coming Australian election.