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Assange: Empire of Surveillance and Imperialism

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Assange: Empire of Surveillance and Imperialism

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Source: La Jornada, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau

The trial against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a perfect metaphor for how United States imperialism operates in the world today. The Armed Forces, the Department of State, and the CIA caused thousands of deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or Syria, but it’s the person who showed to the world those crimes who is going to be sentenced to 175 years in prison for 18 crimes (17 of them described in the Espionage Act of 1917, passed on the occasion of War World I).

Former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa expressed it categorically. If Assange’s revelations had been about China or Russia, the Assange Memorial would have been built already in Washington in defense of freedom of expression and against war crimes.

But in this digital age, the messenger is killed, whether he is Australian, like Assange, or from the U.S., like Chelsea Manning, who spent seven years in prison (from a 35-year sentence commuted by Barack Obama). Exactly seven years more than any U.S. intelligence analyst who has tortured Afghan or Iraqi civilians.

Seven years (2,487 days) also were spent by Julian Assange as a refugee in the Ecuadorian embassy in the United Kingdom before the withdrawal of his political asylum status by  Lenin Moreno; a subordinate of the interests of the United States.

If Assange is guilty of anything, it is for opening our eyes to U.S. war crimes, of putting in front of us the Guantanamo torture manuals, or the collateral murder video, where AH-64 Apache helicopters opened fire on the streets of Baghdad and massacred 11 civilians (including two reporters of Reuters). Manuals and images that made it difficult to look the other way in the face of war crimes committed by the United States and its allies across the planet.

But tortures and massacres of civilians is only the tip of the iceberg of a new digital age where there is no longer privacy and though there is an apparent freedom of communication thanks to the Internet, our communications are spied on and the cyberspace and civil life, in general, have been militarized.

WikiLeaks brought the iceberg to the surface and it suddenly became an elephant that was in front of us and that did not allow us to look the other way. Thanks to WikiLeaks we know what SIPRNet is, a secret protocol of interconnected computer networks used by the U.S. Department of Defense to transmit classified information.

The Collateral Murder or the Iraq War Logs leaks in April and October 2010 paved the way for Edward Snowden to leak information about the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) PRISM and Xkeyscore programs in 2013. Programs used to obtain and analyze massive data and metadata collected from companies such as Google, Facebook or Apple.

It is for showing us how the empire of surveillance and imperialism operates in the digital age, an alliance between the military security apparatuses and the big Internet companies, that Snowden is taking refuge in Russia and Assange is being held in the high security prison of Belmarsh, London, while he is being tried with the aim of extraditing him to the United States in a trial that will be resumed between May 18 and June 5. Meanwhile, the first week of Assange’s trial has also become a metaphor for what awaits the founder of WikiLeaks if he is extradited: on the first day of the trial he was stripped naked twice, held in five different cells and handcuffed 11 times.

Regardless of what a court that is a strategic ally of the U.S. in NATO decides, both the U.N. Human Rights Council and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have described Assange’s situation as arbitrary detention and insisted on the need to guarantee asylum. Not to mention the worldwide condemnation of the attempt to censor free speech in a case protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

That’s why the trial of the founder of WikiLeaks is a trial against freedom of expression, because as Assange himself said, “Every time we witness an injustice and don’t act we are more passive in its presence and with this we can lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love”.

But in addition, Assange’s trial is the possibility of demonstrating against the imperialism of the digital age and the empire of surveillance it builds. Snowden said it himself: “I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity, or love, or friendship is recorded.”

We do not want governments to monitor their citizens indiscriminately, but we do want citizens that keep an eye on the sewers of power so that they can answer for their crimes committed in wars to plunder the planet’s natural resources.

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Hasbara Hunter
roland

Yes that’s what I’ve been trying to tell people who hold Assange up as a hero wiki leaks at best has shown us pissweak shit nothing we didn’t know already I mean can you imagine the stuff they have suppressed people would have handed them info the real juice and all Wikileaks did was show us ms Clinton is corrupt the fact is Assange has a lot of credibility he could have awoken the masses to the real criminal syndicates that run the world but he didn’t do that did he suprise suprise

TomWonacott

If Assange exposed all governments equally, one could make a case for Assange currently in a London jail, but he hopped in bed with Russia to singularly attack and expose the US. He began his anti-Americanism with a stint at RT (Russian Television). Assange clearly appreciated that forum to further Russian propaganda ( http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/julian-assange-launches-talk-show-on-kremlin-backed-broadcaster-russia-today-7654690.html”):

“…….Asked why he had chosen Russia Today Mr Assange said: “In the case we are in at the moment, where our major confrontation is with the West, although we have published material from many countries, RT is the natural partner.” He added that the relationship might not be so comfortable if WikiLeaks had published large amounts of compromising data on Russia…..”

The “major confrontation……with the west” is telling. And his relationship with Russia might not be so comfortable …….if he exposed the corruption and war crimes committed by Russia. So he doesn’t. Nobody appreciates this quite like Margarita Simonyan – Editor and Chief of RT (“Russia responds to Assange arrest with defiance: ‘They have the cheek to lecture us about freedom of the press?’ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/assange-russia-arrest-wikileaks-ecuador-embassy-free-press-putin-a8867186.html):

“.…….Margarita Simonyan, RT’s channel’s combative editor in chief, said that the arrest of her former employee was proof that “hypocrisy had prevailed”. “History will remember Assange as one of the greats, as a visionary,” she said. “He knew he would be extradited and that lots of awful things would be waiting for him – right up to the death penalty.”……”

If Assange had exposed Russian war crimes, would Margarita be so quick to defend Assange?
Additionally, Assange sided with Russia on Ukraine calling the “independent” country in the “sphere of influence” of Russia. Assange also sided with Russia on the illegal annexation of Crimea (How Russia Often Benefits When Julian Assange Reveals the West’s Secrets https://nyti.ms/2c1qTlf):

The United States, Mr. Assange told an Argentine newspaper in March of last year, has been the one meddling there, fomenting unrest by “trying to draw Ukraine into the Western orbit, to pluck it out of Russia’s sphere of influence.” After the annexation of Crimea, he said Washington and its intelligence allies had “annexed the whole world” through global surveillance.

Assange lied when he said he would turn himself into US authorities if Obama commuted Chelsea Manning’s sentence. He lied when he said Seth Rich was the source of the emails. He also lied when he said he was neutral in the 2016 US election.

Margarita Simonyan defends Assange not on the basis of journalism or free speech, but because he has been an asset of Russia (and RT) in their propaganda war with the west. RT is a propaganda outlet promoting the Russian state even as it is funded by the Russian state.

roland

I don’t like Assange but Russias supposed war crimes pale into that of the us isreali alliance how about arming funding training and providing air and troop support to Isis yea that’s what the western governments you seem to love were up to. another fun fact one of the lovely things those Isis freedom fighters were doing – kidnapping Syrian children and stealing their organs that’s western values at its best and those evil Russians had the hide to kill 80000 of these lovely Isis freedom fighters. And by the way you are in for a rude shock when the western agenda shows its true face- it’s pure fucking evil wake the fuck up you dumb cunt

TomWonacott

I don’t like Assange but Russias supposed war crimes pale into that of the us isreali alliance

I would be the first to admit that the US has committed numerous war crimes – too many to count – but you missed the point. Even if Russia had committed only one war crime in its entire history, WikiLeaks (Julian Assange) was not going to expose it. He even said so (“…the relationship might not be so comfortable if WikiLeaks had published large amounts of compromising data on Russia…”). Whataboutery is a wonderful strategy, but it falls way short in this case.

There is no bigger terrorist on the planet than Assad. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN have documented numerous charges of crimes against humanity from targeting civilians, hospitals, in his prison systems, chemical weapons and so on. There is no getting around that. From near the beginning of the uprising against Assad, the US funded and armed the opposition in Syria which included jihadists (who later joined ISIS or al-Qaeda). However, the US has fought against ISIS since designating itself a world-wide caliphate in 2014.

wake the fuck up you dumb cunt

Putin is really going to have to look into the education system in Russia – the language they teach in English classes.

roland

The reason hospitals have been bombed is because all queada has a policy of taking them over murdering the patients and then shooting from it and if the Assad government is so bad why in all the areas the military liberated from Isis they have been treated as heroes and liberators no-one in their right mind wants to live under jihadist rule and by the way those gas attacks were perpetrated by CIA Mossad not Assad it’s called a false flag dickhead and another thing the us has supported Isis up to this day there are sleeper cells in the areas of Syria under American control

TomWonacott

I’m not denying that terrorists have in fact occupied hospitals and schools; however, there are plenty of documented cases of hospitals being bombed by Russia and Syria while medical staff “occupy” the building. Of course, Russia denies it – as they (automatically) deny every thing they are accused of.

Only one attack (Douma) has been identified as a possible false flag operation (out of dozens), but that is by no means proven. Ian Henderson’s testimony before the UN suggested that a cover up took place, but there is nothing that confirms his engineering conclusions are valid (that no chemical attack took place) – or any more valid than the so called experts used by the OPCW to reach the conclusions they did i.e., a chlorine attack likely took place.

roland

You really have no understanding of whats going on in Syria do you one thing you need to understand the jihadist rebels mostly foreigners were armed funded and trained by the west and isreal to kill as many Syrian civilians and military personnel as possible in one village the free Syrian army (Isis) cut the heads off 80 men women and children what pray tell is the syrian government supposed to do against people like this and despite the bullshit you have lapped up by the msm the Syrian military has been very careful not to kill civilians look at eastern gouta they could have flattened the place from the air and retaken it in a matter of days but the didn’t to preserve civilian life they fought house to house and lost a lot of soldiers in the process and also can you tell me why Assad would bother gassing children what military gain does this give him it makes no sense for them to use gas in this war as gas is an innefective weopen the only use for gas in this war is for alquada to use it for propaganda purposes against the Syrian government

TomWonacott

Thanks for your response Roland. I agree that the jihadists are brutal, and have committed numerous war crimes, but you are ignoring war crimes committed by the Assad regime and painting a false impression of the dictator as someone who cares about civilian life. Assad initiated the conflict in Deraa killing a child for writing anti-regime grafiti. When mostly peaceful protests (associated with the Arab Spring) sprang up around Syria, he feared the same result as Mubarak in Egypt – and he brutally cracked down on the protests (https://consortiumnews.com/2015/07/20/hidden-origins-of-syrias-civil-war/).

The city of Dara’a, near the Jordanian border, was the epicenter of protests that triggered Syria’s civil war in 2011. ……..In early March 2011, police in the city arrested and severely beat several high school students for painting anti-government graffiti on a wall. No doubt inspired by the Arab Spring, protesters gathered…….police reportedly responded with water cannons, batons and even gunfire to disperse the marchers, killing three protesters.

Marie Colvin reported from the front lines of Assad’s war on civilians (https://interc.pt/2qi8BSF):

The Syrian army is shelling a city of cold, starving civilians

Colvin was murdered by the Assad regime for her reporting. Amnesty International also reported on the initiation of the war:

When army tanks recently rolled into the city of Dera’a in southern Syria and began shelling residential areas, the human rights crisis in the country reached a new low. More than 400 people have died across Syria since protesters calling for political reform took to the streets in mid-March.

Reports by Amnesty International concluded that between 22,000 and 31,000 rebels and activists died in Assad detention centers after the Assad regime initiated the “civil” war in 2011. An Amnesty report dated 2-7-2017 estimated there were between 5,000 and 13,000 hangings between 2011 and 2015 at the Saydnaya prison. An additional 17000 died in prisons across Syria.

It’s completely false that Assad cares one bit about civilian lives.

roland

Ok firstly the Assad regime did not initiate a civil war you have everything wrong mainly because you rely on sources like amnesty international that organisation is nothing more than propagandists for the merchants of death remember when they got behind the lie that Saddam hussains soldiers were throwing babies out of incubators- the yanks used that as one of the pretexts for invasion around 2 million people have died since then also let’s get to those protests they were organised by foreign intelligence organisations to kick off the war they had planned a vicious attack on the people of Syria by a few disgruntled locals and around 10000 foreign jihadists who were well armed and trained in Jordan and libya over 100 countries have sent people to fight against the people of syria ok now back to those protests Assad ordered all police to not carry weopons to the protests after the first protest where 7 policemen and 3 protesters were shot dead it wasn’t Assad’s forces that did the shooting it was the jihadists who were shooting police and protesters to try and force a crackdown by the Syrian government which would help the jihadists in the propaganda war and
While i know conditions in the prisons are pretty bad but they are no different to any other countries in the middle east also a child was not killed for writing anti government graffiti that is a blatant lie I’ve heard all that happened was a few local police gave the teenagers a beating when they were caught.defacing a public monument similar things have happened in australia for fucks sake and Assad had the officers sacked and the only reason the protests spread was that Al Jazeera who are controlled by saudi Arabia and Kuwait told lies that the Syrian government was murdering protesters so people went out to protest this and Geuss what they all regret protesting now as they all know it was all based on bullshit in reality Assad did everything he could to calm the situation down that’s why the Syrian people called him Mr softy at the start of this war because he kept holding the military back and making peace gestures to the rebels he even offered to hold elections straight away if the rebels put down their arms but these rebels rejected that because they knew they would lose a free and fair election mainly because no-one wants to live under sharia law the fact is there was a massive evil conspiracy to destroy the state of Syria and the people living there but thanks partly to Assad’s leadership the state of Syria survives and the Syrian people are well aware of all this this may come as a suprise to you but Assad has god like status amongst the people of Syria and i think it’s well deserved

TomWonacott

If you can’t get how the war started right, then what is the point of the discussion? The Amnesty International debacle in Kuwait is always cited by Assad apologists, but it hardly constitutes the bulk of the work by Amnesty. It doesn’t refute the work conducted by AI on the Assad detention centers. After all, the US rendered Islamists to Syria before the war for torture. That tells you exactly everything you need to know about the Assad’s detention centers. Also, it’s laughable to mention “free and fair election” in the same sentence with Assad. He had over ten years prior to the uprising to hold elections – which he didn’t.

Here are three accounts of the initiation of the war in Syria which back up and expand the previous accounts posted above. Consortium News is an anti-American site while Blumenthal is highly crirical of the US. At least they can honestly look at how the conflict was initiated.

Here is how and why the conflict began (Jonathon Marshall; Hidden Origins of Syria’s Civil Warhttps://consortiumnews.com/2015/07/20/hidden-origins-of-syrias-civil-war/):

“……..The city of Dara’a, near the Jordanian border, was the epicenter of protests that triggered Syria’s civil war in 2011. Anti-government sentiment had been growing due to a recent influx of angry and desperate families dispossessed by what one expert called “the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent many millennia ago.”

In early March 2011, police in the city arrested and severely beat several high school students for painting anti-government graffiti on a wall. No doubt inspired by the Arab Spring, protesters gathered at a local mosque and began to march for political rights and an end to corruption, chanting “God, Syria, Freedom.” Syrian police reportedly responded with water cannons, batons and even gunfire to disperse the marchers, killing three protesters. The government news agency claimed that “infiltrators” among the marchers had smashed cars, destroyed other property and attacked police, causing “chaos and riots.”……..”

According to Frontline in an interview with Professor Joshua Landis (Joshua Landis: “I Don’t See Light at the End of the tunnel.” https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/joshua-landis-i-dont-see-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=share_button via @frontlinepbs}:

“.………It started in Dara’a, which is this rather forlorn agricultural region, very tribal, very traditional, Sunni, down by the Jordanian border. These areas have been hit extremely hard by the drought for five years and by the commodity hikes and the poverty, joblessness. So when the regime mistreated and tortured these young kids that they arrested for putting up anti-government slogans, and the leading tribal families came out to remonstrate and demonstrate and were shot at, it just set this rural world that had been suffering badly for the last decade on fire……”

Max Blumenthal resigned at Al-Akhbar:

“……..I started really paying attention to the coverage closely on the website, and mainly the opinions following the Houla massacre, which was by all accounts carried out by shabiha affiliated with the Assad regime…….This is a point where, by all accounts, the Assad regime had killed as many as 10,000 people in order to remain in power, possibly 13,000, according to people I know inside Syria who’ve come out. I’ve done extensive interviews and during the past few weeks, partly prompted by my anguish about my own position as a staffer at Al-Akhbar.

The Assad regime was running an institution of torture in prisons. Possibly 100,000 people are in prison right now. And this makes Israel look like, you know, a champion of human rights………”

I cannot do anymore than tell the truth – and if you reject it, that is your problem.

roland

Ok so you think Assad killed 10000 people to remain in power can you tell me who would be in power if Assad didn’t kill these 10000 people also a few teenagers getting beat up just doesn’t start a war like this and the drought while it did cause some disconcent again it doesn’t cause a 100000 well armed jihadists to show up and start cutting everyone’s heads off this war was the brainchild of isreal the job they gave the jihadists was to take down the Syrian government then go down and take out hezbollah a major concern for isreal thankfully they failed mainly thanks to the heroic efforts of the SAA

TomWonacott

In not one post do you even mention the Arab Spring which began in late 2010 in Tunisia and spread to Libya, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain etc. Mubarak was ousted from power on February 11, 2011. So the event in Deraa was fully capable of instigating a powerful movement in Syria for political rights – and that is what happened. In the face of the Arab Spring and the removal of Mubarak from power, Assad elected to crack down on the protests to ensure he remained in power. When he became President after his father died, he promised political reforms but failed to deliver.

The US counted Mubarak as an ally. The US supplied a billion a year in military aid to Egypt so the US (obviously) was not behind the removal of Mubarak. The Arab Spring was real. It was not a CIA construct, but it was a huge threat to Assad. So Assad initiated the war with a brutal crack down on mostly peaceful protesters (as I posted above). The US, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait etc. help arm the opposition in the face of the slaughter conducted by Assad – and attempted to remove Assad from power. It failed. Here we are today with Assad and the Russians still bombing Syrians.

roland

You are saying Assad slaughtered protesters can you show me some evidence of that please the truth is it was the jihadists that started the shooting they came to these protests armed and shot policeman and protesters in an attempt to lure the Syrian government into a brutal crackdown which never happened you are basing your allegations on false reports you seem to think the protests happened then after that other countries started arming opposition forces yet in actual fact these opposition forces had been stockpiling weopons in the mosques for quite some time before the so called spontaneous protests happened and the Arab Spring was a threat to the Syrian government but not for the reasons you think as the Syrian governments external enemies were primed and prepared to use any excuse necessary to take them out

TomWonacott

show me some evidence

In at least 11 posts, you have not provided a single link, and you are asking me to provide proof?

roland

Do you realise these rebels who you seem to support would happily cut your head off if they had the chance it disgusts me when westerners show any sympathy for these monsters the msm propaganda campaign against the Syrian government is unprecedented in its audacity as to the links i don’t know how to put a link into my posts but check out the website southfront there is an interview with president Assad you should really read if it’s not there check out vetererans today there will be something on there for you to read also 21st century wire has a great archive on the Syrian war check out the work they did on exposing the white helmets fraudsters

TomWonacott

I’ve read much of it. Your view of Assad is not my view, but I agree with your view of the jihadists. My problem is how you refuse to recognize the Arab Spring and the people that died in Syria and elsewhere protesting for political rights. That was on Assad. The protests were mostly peaceful although there was also some violence.

If one listens to people like you (and RT), the opposition were all terrorists, but that is just propaganda. I have posted links and the opinions of several authors on the initiation of the war. It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not.

roland

Ok there are people who aren’t jihadists that oppose Assad but the people doing the fighting all seemed to be jihadists can you name one of those armed groups that is secular and im telling you the Arab Spring was cooked up by western intelligence agencies they threw mubaruk under the bus just because he was buying weopons off the Americans doesn’t mean he’s not disposable but the main targets of the Arab Spring were Gaddafi and Assad the west has been trying to over throw them for years but im not saying that a lot of the protesters did not have legitimate greivences but whatever political movement there was was very quickly hijacked by the jihadists who are under the guidance and control of our intelligence agencies also a couple of teenagers getting beat up does not start a vicious war like this think about cops beat people up all the time in every country in the world in America cops have been known to shoot dead unarmed teenagers and nowhere else has something like that started a war like this

roland

If it wasn’t for turkeys intervention the war would be over by now so no bombs would be being dropped at all and if these rebels had succeeded and overthrown the Syrian government Isis would have their caliphate all the religious minorities would have been ethnically cleansed and sharia law would be all over Syria gee that sounds fun doesn’t it

roland

Also amnesty international also reported that the Syrian government skinned an opposition figure alive and when this person showed up unharmed amnesty international refused to take down the article that organisation is a joke do not take anything they say seriously

roland

And who are you talking to in syria because while there is a moderate opposition in Syria they sided with the government early on in the war as they saw that jihadist rule is not in anyone’s interest do these people you are talking to still seek regime change if so that is very telling and by the way the reason the western powers are trying so desperately to take out the Syrian government is because they are not corrupt – they didn’t let western corporations in to rape the place

roland

The link you gave highlighted in blue is utter crap like it says without western intervention this war could drag on no no fucking no it’s because the west has continued to arm these terrorists groups that the war has dragged on so long you people that sucscribe to the notion that western governments are a force for good as that article implies are highly delusional and i think you shouldn’t really bring up a massacre that happened 40 years ago in this context and fact is the Muslim brotherhood is a terrorist organisation which is under the control of Freemasonry which means it should be outlawed by every country in the world

roland

Are you aware that the same people that started the war in Iraq that has killed 2 million and counting and the Libyan invasion that has killed 100000 people and means Libyans have to live in war poverty and misery for the rest of their lives are the people that started this war in Syria do you honestly believe a few backwards tribal cheifs in daara started this war because a couple of teenagers got beaten up if you do believe that then your mind isn’t functioning correctly you seriously need to think about looking for different media sources

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