Free Julian Assange and All Political Prisoners

By Rob Urie

Source: Counterpunch

The American war against Iraq was among the more idiotic and gratuitous slaughters in human history. It was premised on lies, prosecuted by criminals and fools, outsourced to professional murderers and it isn’t over. In addition to those murdered directly and indirectly in the war, several million refugees were scattered across the Middle East, including over a million into Syria. ISIS grew from the ranks of the disbanded Iraqi army. This fiasco appeared as it was to all the world, the gasp of a dying empire sunk under the weight of its ignorance and arrogance.

Late in the war Julian Assange and his colleagues at Wikileaks published documents and videos allegedly leaked by Chelsea Manning that brought the gratuitous nature of American violence home for all to see. The most damning was this video that shows American soldiers carefully and methodically slaughtering civilians, including Reuters staffers, outside of any determinable theater of war. The label ‘collateral murders’ was attached to the video, but those murdered were targeted— they weren’t ancillary to otherwise justifiable murders.

Julian Assange has reportedly been charged by an American Grand Jury for his role in publishing this leaked video, among others. He will apparently be extradited to the U.S. where he is expected to stand trial for doing what reporters do— publishing true information in the public interest. The New York Times and other newspapers also published the leaked documents, but have as yet not been charged. This legal maneuvering appears to be a politically motivated vendetta against Julian Assange for embarrassing the War Criminals behind the Iraq war.

National Democrats and the liberal press have spent the last 2.5 years demonizing Mr. Assange for his role in publishing leaked DNC emails in the run up to the 2016 Presidential race. As with the government’s case against him, the content of the leaked videos and documents is not in dispute. They are what they are purported to be. American soldiers did murder civilians and Reuters staffers who posed no immediate threat to them. Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff did screw Bernie Sanders out of the Democratic nomination and she did give contradictory information about her political positions depending on what she thought her audience wanted to hear.

Mr. Assange’s accusers are largely those responsible for the imperial decline that his reporting has illuminated. The leading Republicans and Democrats behind the Iraq war should have been charged with War Crimes. There is no statute of limitations on War Crimes. The national security officials among Mr. Assange’s accusers illegally spied on Americans and lied about doing so under oath to congress. The CIA illegally spied on the congressional committee charged with investigating illegal torture in the Iraq War after illegally destroying videotape evidence of its crimes. What is Julian Assange being charged with again?

What Mr. Assange did is expose the crimes of the rich and powerful. Arguments over his methods conflate process errors with the gratuitous murder of civilians. If these murdered civilians had been well-to-do white Americans and staffers at the New York Times, where might ‘process’ fit into the utterly predictable (and justifiable) calls to give those charged fair trials and prison sentences if convicted. Through what lens are the crimes exposed by Mr. Assange and Wikileaks not crimes? As with everything about a gratuitous war in which a million or more civilians are killed, why aren’t its architects and chief instigators in the dock at The Hague pleading for their lives?

While the political pump has been primed in the U.S. by war-state Democrats and war-state liberals to go after Julian Assange without legal restraint, he is lauded by much of the world for bringing the crimes of the American elite into public view. What will be illuminated by prosecuting Mr. Assange is the crimes of the elite and their use of power and office to cover up their crimes. While most Americans haven’t seen the video (link above) of American soldiers murdering civilians and press staffers, the publicity of a trial will certainly stir public interest.

Much as the Iraq War was a late gasp of an empire in decline, the prosecution of Julian Assange is the desperate act of a political establishment that is losing its grip on power. Mr. Assange is but a messenger. This establishment is the agent of its own demise. And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of people. Free Julian Assange and All Political Prisoners. All Power to the People!

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The Seven Years of Lies About Assange won’t Stop Now

By Jonathan Cook

Source: Dissident Voice

For seven years, from the moment Julian Assange first sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, they have been telling us we were wrong, that we were paranoid conspiracy theorists. We were told there was no real threat of Assange’s extradition to the United States, that it was all in our fevered imaginations.

For seven years, we have had to listen to a chorus of journalists, politicians and “experts” telling us that Assange was nothing more than a fugitive from justice, and that the British and Swedish legal systems could be relied to handle his case in full accordance with the law. Barely a “mainstream” voice was raised in his defence in all that time.

From the moment he sought asylum, Assange was cast as an outlaw. His work as the founder of Wikileaks – the digital platform that for the first time in history gave ordinary people a glimpse into the darkest recesses of the most secure vaults in the Deepest of Deep States – was erased from the record.

Assange was reduced from one of the few towering figures of our time – a man who will have a central place in history books, if we as a species live long enough to write those books – to nothing more than a sex pest, and a scruffy bail-skipper.

The political and media class crafted a narrative of half-truths about the sex charges Assange was under investigation for in Sweden. They overlooked the fact that Assange had been allowed to leave Sweden by the original investigator, who dropped the charges, only for them to be revived by another investigator with a well-documented political agenda.

They failed to mention that Assange was always willing to be questioned by Swedish prosecutors in London, as had occurred in dozens of other cases involving extradition proceedings to Sweden. It was almost as if Swedish officials did not want to test the evidence they claimed to have in their possession.

The media and political courtiers endlessly emphasised Assange’s bail violation in the UK, ignoring the fact that asylum seekers fleeing legal persecution don’t usually honour bail conditions. That, after all, is why they are seeking asylum.

The political and media establishment ignored the mounting evidence of a secret grand jury in Virginia formulating charges against Assange, and ridiculed Wikileaks’ concerns that the Swedish case might be cover for a more sinister attempt by the US to extradite Assange and lock him away in a high-security prison, as had happened to whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

They belittled the 2016 verdict of a panel of United Nations legal scholars that the UK was “arbitrarily detaining” Assange. The media were more interested in the welfare of his cat.

They ignored the fact that after Ecuador changed presidents – with the new one keen to win favour with Washington – Assange was placed under more and more severe forms of solitary confinement. He was denied access to visitors and basic means of communications, violating both his asylum status and his human rights, and threatening his mental and physical well being.

Equally, they ignored the fact that Assange had been given diplomatic status by Ecuador, as well as Ecuadorean citizenship. Britain was obligated to allow him to leave the embassy, using his diplomatic immunity, to travel unhindered to Ecuador. No “mainstream” journalist or politician thought this significant either.

They turned a blind eye to the news that, after refusing to question Assange in the UK, Swedish prosecutors had decided to quietly drop the case against him in 2015. Sweden had kept the decision under wraps for more than two years.

It was a freedom of information request by an ally of Assange, not a media outlet, that unearthed documents showing that Swedish investigators had, in fact, wanted to drop the case against Assange back in 2013. The UK, however, insisted that they carry on with the charade so that Assange could remain locked up. A British official emailed the Swedes: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”

Most of the other documents relating to these conversations were unavailable. They had been destroyed by the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service in violation of protocol. But no one in the political and media establishment cared, of course.

Similarly, they ignored the fact that Assange was forced to hole up for years in the embassy, under the most intense form of house arrest, even though he no longer had a case to answer in Sweden. They told us – apparently in all seriousness – that he had to be arrested for his bail infraction, something that would normally be dealt with by a fine.

And possibly most egregiously of all, most of the media refused to acknowledge that Assange was a journalist and publisher, even though by failing to do so they have exposed themselves in the future to the use of the same draconian sanctions should they or their publications ever need to be silenced.

This was never about Sweden or bail violations, as anyone who was paying the vaguest attention should have worked out. It was about the US Deep State doing everything in its power to crush Wikileaks and make an example of its founder.

It was about making sure there would never again be a leak like that of Collateral Murder, the military video released by Wikileaks in 2007 that showed US soldiers celebrating as they murdered Iraqi civilians. It was about making sure there would never again be a dump of US diplomatic cables, like those released in 2010 that revealed the secret machinations of the US empire to dominate the planet whatever the cost in human rights violations.

Now the pretense is over. The British police invaded the diplomatic territory of Ecuador – invited in by Ecuador after it had revoked Assange’s diplomatic status – to smuggle him off to jail. Two vassal states cooperating to do the bidding of the US empire. The arrest was not to help two women in Sweden or to enforce a minor bail infraction. The British authorities were acting on an extradition warrant from the US.

Still the media and political class is turning a blind eye. Where is the outrage at the lies we have been served up for these past seven years? Where is the contrition at having been gulled for so long? Where is the fury at the most basic press freedom – the right to publish – being sacrificed to silence Assange? Where is the willingness finally to speak up in Assange’s defence?

It’s not there. There will be no indignation at the BBC, or the Guardian, or CNN. Just curious, impassive reporting of Assange’s fate.

And that is because these journalists, politicians and experts never really believed anything they said. They knew all along that the US wanted to silence Assange and to crush Wikileaks. They knew that all along and they didn’t care. In fact, they happily conspired in paving the way for today’s kidnapping of Assange.

They did so because they are not there to represent the truth, or to stand up for ordinary people, or to protect a free press, or even to enforce the rule of law. They don’t care about any of that. They are there to protect their careers, and the system that rewards them with money and influence. They don’t want an upstart like Assange kicking over their apple cart.

Now they will spin us a whole new set of deceptions and distractions about Assange to keep us anaesthetised, to keep us from being incensed as our rights are whittled away, and to prevent us from realising that Assange’s rights and our own are indivisible. We stand or fall together.

Posted in Activism, Authoritarianism, corporate news, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, Empire, Geopolitics, imperialism, internet freedom, media, Media Literacy, news, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, surveillance state, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two for Tuesday

Mr. Lif

Remo Conscious

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What the arrest of Assange means for human rights of all

 

By Prof Marcello Ferrada de Noli, chairman of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights, SWEDHR

Source: The Indicter

We have repeatedly expounded the issue of right to existence as the primary of all human rights, and of human rights for all. War and its willfully killing is thus N° 1 enemy of such humanity’s essential right.

Hence, we have warmly supported the denounce of preparations, propaganda and perpetration of occupation-wars, illegal wars, war-abuses, crimes perpetrated under the name of one power’s ‘national security’ against the international security of many nations, the widespread killing of civilians, the using of prohibited chemical weapons, etc. All that denouncing has been a leit motif in the endeavors of WikiLeaks. Julian Assange, the founder of that organization, has established an example of civil courage, a behaviour  which has been followed by important other exposures at different latitudes.

This movement, which also perfectioned the mechanisms of modern alternative media to counter arrest the disinformation routine that has characterized MSM,  have provided free information, and thus education, as to how deal with the alienation pursued by the messages of those in power that are transmitted by the media at their service.

The arresting of the WikiLeaks publisher Mr Julian Assange signifies not only a hard blow for Western democratic principles referred to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It also entails a further threat to all honest journalists, public and private officials which have undertaken the honourable mission of  denouncing war crimes allegedly perpetrated by NATO and its aligned forces in various scenarios of illegal wars.

On the other hand, amidst the dramatic circumstances in the now unpredictable fate of Mr Julian Assange, emerges another truth. This is, the Western media  in consensus, invariably dismissed the risk of extradition of Assange as the invention of “conspiracy theorists” –referring to the NGOs that defended Assange’s human rights. Instead, the first news arising after the arrest of Assange was known, is the public acknowledgement of an extradition request from the part of the US government. Hence, it was not “Assange’s paranoia”. And our analyses were accurate.

Let’s began by clarifying that Julian Assange has never been charged with any crime, neither in Sweden nor elsewhere. Instead, he has been made responsible for the legendary exposures in “Collateral Murder”, the documentary which denounced atrocities in the Iraq war, including the killing of civilian journalists ­–and already viewed by over 16 million people.

Due to WikiLeaks exposures on alleged US war crimes in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,  the US has been after the extradition of Assange since 2010. After the publication of WikiLeaks of over 70,000 classified documents covering the war in Afghanistan, the US urged nations participating in the US-led coalition in Afghanistan to initiate prosecution against Julian Assange. This is documented in the ‘Snowden papers”, which text relevant to this issue  was republished in The Indicter Magazine in 2016. Of the countries then consulted, only Sweden complied with the US request and subsequently they opened an investigation against Assange on alleged sexual offences to permit a warrant for his arrest. Those accusations probed to be unsustainable, and the case had to be dropped afters years of Assange being held under the Swedish arrest warrant.

The real reason for the arrest was, according to open investigations SWEDHR has access to and which we earliest denounced, the extradition of Assange to the US.  A sealed process against Assange had been opened in Virginia –also negated by the authorities at that time– and which only recently has been confirmed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

While in house arrest, and in order to avoid the impending rendition to Sweden from the part of the London authorities, Julian Assange sought asylum at the Embassy of Ecuador in London.  The government of Ecuador under the presidency of Rafael Correa granted political asylum to him due to the risk of his extradition to the US from Sweden.

The UK then instructed Sweden to protract the ‘investigation’ on Assange, to which the Swedish authorities docilely complied. Meanwhile the process against Chelsea Manning continued.

But after Sweden dropped the investigations on Assange, The UK has said that it will arrest Assange anyway in case he leaves the embassy’s premises. This on the argument that Assange would have violated the conditions of his house arrest by seeking instead asylum at the Ecuador embassy.

In the meantime the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), had requested the immediate freedom of Mr Assange.

When I met Julian Assange at the embassy in London in August 2017, his situation had been substantially changed. Although efforts deployed by the outgoing ambassador, Assange’s health was deteriorating after years of isolation, sun deprivation, etc. He also told me about the unjustified accusations of involvement with Russian interests around the US presidential election narrative, which he categorically denied.  But the change of government in Ecuador had started to show consequences for his juridical, and physical safety at the Embassy.

President Moreno had another stance on issues of Ecuador’s national sovereignty – read, relationships with the US government. which openly consider South America as “our backyard”–  and in pursuing better terms for financial deals for his country with the US, president Moreno was said to include the fate if Assange in those negotiations. At east, according to WikiLeaks reports.

One first complaint against Assange was his use of Internet connections, provided to him at the Embassy, to embarrass “friendly governments”, such the US. But the real reason turn out being another “embarrassing”. Which was President Moreno’s own.

And so we arrive to the “INAPapers” affair, which was appartently used by Moreno as a pretext to justify his decision of rendering Julian Assange to the UK authorities (and subsequently to the US). Here is the “INAPapers affair in summary:

According to reports published in Ecuador local media, Ina Investment Corporation is an offshore company related to Xavier Macías Carmigniani, his wife María Auxiliadora Patiño Herdoiza, and the Ecuador president Lenin Moreno’s family.

Between 2012-2016 the company had a bank account in the  Balboa Bank de Panamá. WikiLeaks mentioned in a tweet some of the information that has been already published in Ecuador. Also an investigation in Ecuador’s National Assembly was opened. One issue that I could read is that that several furniture items were acquired and stored at Lenin Moreno’s apartment in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2015. The published source that I am using here (Periodismo de Investigación),  also reported that from such account departed transfers to purchase  an apartment in the Mediterranean coast, in 2016.

The transfer pertaining the furniture deal, is alleged to consist in $19 342, and the recipient firm was described as  “Moinat S.A. Atiquities” en Suiza. And regarding the apartment of Moreno in Switzerland, this would have correspond to the residence he has at the time he served as UN Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility –an appointment he received from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. All according to what has been described by  Periodismo de Investigación.

Already on April 4, WikiLeaks tweeted that “A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within “hours to days” using the INAPapers offshore scandal as a pretext–and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest.”

This was immediately denied by Ecuador’s Foreign minister José Valencia:

In the morning of April 5, 2019,  Ecuador Foreign Minister José Valencia tweeted (he later did withdraw it) in response to the above mentioned post by WikiLeaks:

“Diplomatic asylum is a sovereign privilege of a state, which has the right to grant it or withdraw it unilaterally when deemed necessary”

Ensuing, SWEDHR produced the following statement:

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The Triumph of Evil

(Museum of the Revolution, León, Nicaragua)

By Paul Craig Roberts

Source: PaulCraigRoberts.org

Today (April 17) I heard a NPR “news” report that described the democratically elected president of Venezuela as “the Venezuelan dictator Maduro.” By repeating over and over that a democratically elected president is a dictator, the presstitutes create that image of Maduro in the minds of vast numbers of peoples who know nothing about Venezuela and had never heard of Maduro until he is dropped on them as “dictator.”

Nicolas Maduro Moros was elected president of Venezuela in 2013 and again in 2018. Previously he served as vice president and foreign minister, and he was elected to the National Assembly in 2000. Despite Washington’s propaganda campaign against him and Washington’s attempt to instigate violent street protests and Maduro’s overthrow by the Venezuelan military, whose leaders have been offered large sums of money, Maduro has the overwhelming support of the people, and the military has not moved against him.

What is going on is that American oil companies want to recover their control over the revenue streams from Venezuela’s vast oil reserves. Under the Bolivarian Revolution of Chavez, continued by Maduro, the oil revenues instead of departing the country have been used to reduce poverty and raise literacy inside Venezuela.

The opposition to Maduro inside Venezuela comes from the elites who have been traditionally allied with Washington in the looting of the country. These corrupt elites, with the CIA’s help, temporarily overthrew Chavez, but the people and the Venezuelan military secured his release and return to the presidency.

Washington has a long record of refusing to accept any reformist governments in Latin America. Reformers get in the way of North America’s exploitation of Latin American countries and are overthrown.

With the exceptions of Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, and Nicaragua, Latin America consists of Washington’s vassal states. In recent years Washington destroyed reform governments in Honduras, Argentina and Brazil and put gangsters in charge.

According to US national security adviser John Bolton, a neoconservative war monger, the governments in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua will soon be overthrown. New sanctions have now been placed on the three countries. Washington in the typical display of its pettiness targeted sanctions against the son of the Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega. https://www.rt.com/news/456841-bolton-russia-venezuela-threat/

Ortega has been the leader of Nicaragua since for 40 years. He was president 1985-1990 and has been elected and reelected as president since 2006.

Ortega was the opponent of Somoza, Washington’s dictator in Nicaragua. Consequently he and his movement were attacked by the neoconservative operation known as Iran-Contra during the Reagan years. Ortega was a reformer. His government focused on literacy, land reform, and nationalization, which was at the expense of the wealthy ruling class. He was labeled a “Marxist-Leninist,” and Washington attempted to discredit his reforms as controversial leftist policies.

Somehow Castro and Ortega survived Washington’s plots against them. By the skin of his teeth so did Chavez unless you believe it was the CIA that gave him cancer. Castro and Chavez are dead. Ortega is 74. Maduro is in trouble, because Washington has stolen Venezuela’s bank deposits and cut Venezuela off the international financial system, and the British have stolen Venezuela’s gold. This makes it hard for Venezuela to pay its debts.

The Trump regime has branded the democratically twice-elected Maduro an “illegitimate” president. Washington has found a willing puppet, Juan Guaido, to take Maduro’s place and has announced that the puppet is now the president of Venezuela. No one among the Western presstitutes or among the vassals of Washington’s empire finds it strange that an elected president is illegitimate but one picked by Washington is not.

Russia and China have given Maduro diplomatic support. Both have substantial investments in Venezuela that would be lost if Washington seizes the country. Russia’s support for Maduro was declared by Bolton today to be a provocation that is a threat to international peace and security. Bolton said his sanctions should be seen by Russia as a warning against providing any help for the Venezuelan government.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo and vice president Pence have added their big mouths to the propaganda against the few independent governments in Latin America. Where is the shame when the highest American government officials stand up in front of the world and openly proclaim that it is official US government policy to overthrow democratically elected governments simply because those governments don’t let Americans plunder their countries?

How is it possible that Pompeo can announce that the “days are numbered” of the elected president of Nicaragua, who has been elected president 3 or 4 times, and the world not see the US as a rogue state that must be isolated and shunned? How can Pompeo describe Washington’s overthrow of an elected government as “setting the Nicaraguan people free?”

The top officials of the US government have announced that they intend to overthrow the governments of 3 countries and this is not seen as “a threat to international peace and security?”

How much peace and security did Washington’s overthrow of governments in Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and the attempted overthrow of Syria bring?

Washington is once again openly violating international law and the rest of the world has nothing to say?

There is only one way to describe this: The Triumph of Evil.

“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” — William Butler Yeats

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From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State

By John W. Whitehead

Source: The Rutherford Institute

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell

When exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are being ruled by criminals.

In the current governmental climate, where laws that run counter to the dictates of the Constitution are made in secret, passed without debate, and upheld by secret courts that operate behind closed doors, obeying one’s conscience and speaking truth to the power of the police state can render you an “enemy of the state.”

That list of so-called “enemies of the state” is growing.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is merely the latest victim of the police state’s assault on dissidents and whistleblowers.

On April 11, 2019, police arrested Assange for daring to access and disclose military documents that portray the U.S. government and its endless wars abroad as reckless, irresponsible, immoral and responsible for thousands of civilian deaths.

Included among the leaked materials was gunsight video footage from two U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters engaged in a series of air-to-ground attacks while American air crew laughed at some of the casualties. Among the casualties were two Reuters correspondents who were gunned down after their cameras were mistaken for weapons and a driver who stopped to help one of the journalists. The driver’s two children, who happened to be in the van at the time it was fired upon by U.S. forces, suffered serious injuries.

There is nothing defensible about crimes such as these perpetrated by the government.

When any government becomes almost indistinguishable from the evil it claims to be fighting—whether that evil takes the form of war, terrorism, torture, drug trafficking, sex trafficking, murder, violence, theft, pornography, scientific experimentations or some other diabolical means of inflicting pain, suffering and servitude on humanity—that government has lost its claim to legitimacy.

These are hard words, but hard times require straight-talking.

It is easy to remain silent in the face of evil.

What is harder—what we lack today and so desperately need—are those with moral courage who will risk their freedoms and lives in order to speak out against evil in its many forms.

Throughout history, individuals or groups of individuals have risen up to challenge the injustices of their age. Nazi Germany had its Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The gulags of the Soviet Union were challenged by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. America had its color-coded system of racial segregation and warmongering called out for what it was, blatant discrimination and profiteering, by Martin Luther King Jr.

And then there was Jesus Christ, an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day—namely, the Roman Empire—but provided a blueprint for civil disobedience that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him.

Indeed, it is fitting that we remember that Jesus Christ—the religious figure worshipped by Christians for his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection—paid the ultimate price for speaking out against the police state of his day.

A radical nonconformist who challenged authority at every turn, Jesus was a far cry from the watered-down, corporatized, simplified, gentrified, sissified vision of a meek creature holding a lamb that most modern churches peddle. In fact, he spent his adult life speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo of his day, and pushing back against the abuses of the Roman Empire.

Much like the American Empire today, the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day had all of the characteristics of a police state: secrecy, surveillance, a widespread police presence, a citizenry treated like suspects with little recourse against the police state, perpetual wars, a military empire, martial law, and political retribution against those who dared to challenge the power of the state.

For all the accolades poured out upon Jesus, little is said about the harsh realities of the police state in which he lived and its similarities to modern-day America, and yet they are striking.

Secrecy, surveillance and rule by the elite. As the chasm between the wealthy and poor grew wider in the Roman Empire, the ruling class and the wealthy class became synonymous, while the lower classes, increasingly deprived of their political freedoms, grew disinterested in the government and easily distracted by “bread and circuses.” Much like America today, with its lack of government transparency, overt domestic surveillance, and rule by the rich, the inner workings of the Roman Empire were shrouded in secrecy, while its leaders were constantly on the watch for any potential threats to its power. The resulting state-wide surveillance was primarily carried out by the military, which acted as investigators, enforcers, torturers, policemen, executioners and jailers. Today that role is fulfilled by the NSA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the increasingly militarized police forces across the country.

Widespread police presence. The Roman Empire used its military forces to maintain the “peace,” thereby establishing a police state that reached into all aspects of a citizen’s life. In this way, these military officers, used to address a broad range of routine problems and conflicts, enforced the will of the state. Today SWAT teams, comprised of local police and federal agents, are employed to carry out routine search warrants for minor crimes such as marijuana possession and credit card fraud.

Citizenry with little recourse against the police state. As the Roman Empire expanded, personal freedom and independence nearly vanished, as did any real sense of local governance and national consciousness. Similarly, in America today, citizens largely feel powerless, voiceless and unrepresented in the face of a power-hungry federal government. As states and localities are brought under direct control by federal agencies and regulations, a sense of learned helplessness grips the nation.

Perpetual wars and a military empire. Much like America today with its practice of policing the world, war and an over-arching militarist ethos provided the framework for the Roman Empire, which extended from the Italian peninsula to all over Southern, Western, and Eastern Europe, extending into North Africa and Western Asia as well. In addition to significant foreign threats, wars were waged against inchoate, unstructured and socially inferior foes.

Martial law. Eventually, Rome established a permanent military dictatorship that left the citizens at the mercy of an unreachable and oppressive totalitarian regime. In the absence of resources to establish civic police forces, the Romans relied increasingly on the military to intervene in all matters of conflict or upheaval in provinces, from small-scale scuffles to large-scale revolts. Not unlike police forces today, with their martial law training drills on American soil, militarized weapons and “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset, the Roman soldier had “the exercise of lethal force at his fingertips” with the potential of wreaking havoc on normal citizens’ lives.

A nation of suspects. Just as the American Empire looks upon its citizens as suspects to be tracked, surveilled and controlled, the Roman Empire looked upon all potential insubordinates, from the common thief to a full-fledged insurrectionist, as threats to its power. The insurrectionist was seen as directly challenging the Emperor.  A “bandit,” or revolutionist, was seen as capable of overturning the empire, was always considered guilty and deserving of the most savage penalties, including capital punishment. Bandits were usually punished publicly and cruelly as a means of deterring others from challenging the power of the state.  Jesus’ execution was one such public punishment.

Acts of civil disobedience by insurrectionists. Much like the Roman Empire, the American Empire has exhibited zero tolerance for dissidents such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning who exposed the police state’s seedy underbelly. Jesus branded himself a political revolutionary starting with his act of civil disobedience at the Jewish temple, the site of the administrative headquarters of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council. When Jesus “with the help of his disciples, blocks the entrance to the courtyard” and forbids “anyone carrying goods for sale or trade from entering the Temple,” he committed a blatantly criminal and seditious act, an act “that undoubtedly precipitated his arrest and execution.” Because the commercial events were sponsored by the religious hierarchy, which in turn was operated by consent of the Roman government, Jesus’ attack on the money chargers and traders can be seen as an attack on Rome itself, an unmistakable declaration of political and social independence from the Roman oppression.

Military-style arrests in the dead of night. Jesus’ arrest account testifies to the fact that the Romans perceived Him as a revolutionary. Eerily similar to today’s SWAT team raids, Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, in secret, by a large, heavily armed fleet of soldiers.  Rather than merely asking for Jesus when they came to arrest him, his pursuers collaborated beforehand with Judas. Acting as a government informant, Judas concocted a kiss as a secret identification marker, hinting that a level of deception and trickery must be used to obtain this seemingly “dangerous revolutionist’s” cooperation.

Torture and capital punishment. In Jesus’ day, religious preachers, self-proclaimed prophets and nonviolent protesters were not summarily arrested and executed. Indeed, the high priests and Roman governors normally allowed a protest, particularly a small-scale one, to run its course. However, government authorities were quick to dispose of leaders and movements that appeared to threaten the Roman Empire. The charges leveled against Jesus—that he was a threat to the stability of the nation, opposed paying Roman taxes and claimed to be the rightful King—were purely political, not religious. To the Romans, any one of these charges was enough to merit death by crucifixion, which was usually reserved for slaves, non-Romans, radicals, revolutionaries and the worst criminals.
Jesus was presented to Pontius Pilate “as a disturber of the political peace,” a leader of a rebellion, a political threat, and most gravely—a claimant to kingship, a “king of the revolutionary type.” After Jesus is formally condemned by Pilate, he is sentenced to death by crucifixion, “the Roman means of executing criminals convicted of high treason.”  The purpose of crucifixion was not so much to kill the criminal, as it was an immensely public statement intended to visually warn all those who would challenge the power of the Roman Empire. Hence, it was reserved solely for the most extreme political crimes: treason, rebellion, sedition, and banditry. After being ruthlessly whipped and mocked, Jesus was nailed to a cross.

As Professor Mark Lewis Taylor observed:

The cross within Roman politics and culture was a marker of shame, of being a criminal. If you were put to the cross, you were marked as shameful, as criminal, but especially as subversive. And there were thousands of people put to the cross. The cross was actually positioned at many crossroads, and, as New Testament scholar Paula Fredricksen has reminded us, it served as kind of a public service announcement that said, “Act like this person did, and this is how you will end up.”

Jesus—the revolutionary, the political dissident, and the nonviolent activist—lived and died in a police state. Any reflection on Jesus’ life and death within a police state must take into account several factors: Jesus spoke out strongly against such things as empires, controlling people, state violence and power politics. Jesus challenged the political and religious belief systems of his day. And worldly powers feared Jesus, not because he challenged them for control of thrones or government but because he undercut their claims of supremacy, and he dared to speak truth to power in a time when doing so could—and often did—cost a person his life.

Unfortunately, the radical Jesus, the political dissident who took aim at injustice and oppression, has been largely forgotten today, replaced by a congenial, smiling Jesus trotted out for religious holidays but otherwise rendered mute when it comes to matters of war, power and politics.

Yet for those who truly study the life and teachings of Jesus, the resounding theme is one of outright resistance to war, materialism and empire.

What a marked contrast to the advice being given to Americans by church leaders to “submit to your leaders and those in authority,” which in the American police state translates to complying, conforming, submitting, obeying orders, deferring to authority and generally doing whatever a government official tells you to do.

Telling Americans to march in lockstep and blindly obey the government—or put their faith in politics and vote for a political savior—flies in the face of everything for which Jesus lived and died.

Ultimately, this is the contradiction that must be resolved if the radical Jesus—the one who stood up to the Roman Empire and was crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be—is to be an example for our modern age.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we must decide whether we will follow the path of least resistance—willing to turn a blind eye to what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the “evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination, to the moral degeneracy of religious bigotry and the corroding effects of narrow sectarianism, to economic conditions that deprive men of work and food, and to the insanities of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence”—or whether we will be transformed nonconformists “dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.”

As King explained in a powerful sermon delivered in 1954, “This command not to conform comes … [from] Jesus Christ, the world’s most dedicated nonconformist, whose ethical nonconformity still challenges the conscience of mankind.”

We need to recapture the gospel glow of the early Christians, who were nonconformists in the truest sense of the word and refused to shape their witness according to the mundane patterns of the world.  Willingly they sacrificed fame, fortune, and life itself in behalf of a cause they knew to be right.  Quantitatively small, they were qualitatively giants.  Their powerful gospel put an end to such barbaric evils as infanticide and bloody gladiatorial contests.  Finally, they captured the Roman Empire for Jesus Christ… The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.  The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists.  In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist!

…Honesty impels me to admit that transformed nonconformity, which is always costly and never altogether comfortable, may mean walking through the valley of the shadow of suffering, losing a job, or having a six-year-old daughter ask, “Daddy, why do you have to go to jail so much?”  But we are gravely mistaken to think that Christianity protects us from the pain and agony of mortal existence.  Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear.  To be a Christian, one must take up his cross, with all of its difficulties and agonizing and tragedy-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way that comes only through suffering.

In these days of worldwide confusion, there is a dire need for men and women who will courageously do battle for truth.  We must make a choice. Will we continue to march to the drumbeat of conformity and respectability, or will we, listening to the beat of a more distant drum, move to its echoing sounds?  Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul saving music of eternity?

Posted in Activism, Authoritarianism, civil disobedience, civil liberties, culture, Dystopia, elites, Empire, freedom of speech, Geopolitics, imperialism, Law, Mass Incarceration, Militarization, news, Oligarchy, police state, propaganda, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, surveillance state, war, Whistleblowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saturday Matinee: Mediastan

A small group of Wikileaks journalists make their way through Central Asia interviewing newspaper editors. Their real goal: to find local media outlets to publish secret US diplomatic cables. This intelligent, guerrilla-style doc follows their fascinating journey from Afghanistan to Manhattan, through the boundaries of free speech and the minds of those who shape our understanding of the world.

Posted in Activism, Art, civil liberties, culture, Film, media, Media Literacy, Saturday Matinee, Video | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How You Can Be Certain That The US Charge Against Assange Is Fraudulent

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source: CaitlinJohnstone.com

Julian Assange sits in a jail cell today after being betrayed by the Ecuadorian government and his home country of Australia. A British judge named Michael Snow has found the WikiLeaks founder guilty of violating bail conditions, inserting himself into the annals of history by labeling Assange “a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest.” So that tells you how much of a fair and impartial legal proceeding we can expect to see from the British judicial process on this matter.

But the real reason that Assange has been surrendered by the Ecuadorian government, imprisoned by the British government, and ignored by the Australian government is not directly related to any of those governments, but to that of the United States of America. An unsealed indictment from the Trump administration’s District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, accompanied by an extradition request, charges Assange with “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer” during Chelsea Manning’s 2010 leak of government documents exposing US war crimes.

This charge is premised on a fraudulent and manipulative distortion of reality, and you may be one hundred percent certain of it. Let me explain.

You can be absolutely certain that this charge is bogus because it isn’t based on any new information. The facts of the case have not changed, the information hasn’t changed, only the narrative has changed. In 2010 the United States opened a secret grand jury in Virginia to investigate whether Assange and WikiLeaks could be prosecuted for the publication of the Manning leaks, and then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration was conducting “an active, ongoing criminal investigation” into the matter. The Trump administration has not turned up any new evidence that the Obama administration was unable to find in this active, ongoing criminal investigation (US government surveillance has surely acquired some new tricks since 2010, but time travel isn’t one of them), and indeed it does not claim to have turned up any new evidence.

“There’s a huge myth being misreported about today’s indictment of Assange,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted today. “The claim that Assange tried to help Manning circumvent a password to cover her tracks isn’t new. The Obama DOJ knew about it since 2011, but chose not to prosecute him. Story on this soon.”

“Holder chose not to prosecute Assange based on the same info Trump DOJ cited,” Greenwald added.

“The weakness of the US charge against Assange is shocking,” tweeted NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. “The allegation he tried (and failed?) to help crack a password during their world-famous reporting has been public for nearly a decade: it is the count Obama’s DOJ refused to charge, saying it endangered journalism.”

This is all information that the Obama administration had access to (journalist Tim Shorrock observed that the alleged 2010 correspondence between Assange and Manning “looks like it came straight from NSA surveillance” of the two), yet it chose not to do what the Trump administration is currently doing because it would endanger press freedoms. This means that nothing has changed since that time besides (A) the fact that there is now a more overtly tyrannical administration in place, and (B) the fact that the public has been paced into accepting the prosecution of Assange by years of establishment propaganda.

Last year, after it was revealed that the Trump administration was seeking Assange’s arrest, Greenwald wrote the following:

“The Obama DOJ – despite launching notoriously aggressive attacks on press freedoms – recognized this critical principle when it came to WikiLeaks. It spent years exploring whether it could criminally charge Assange and WikiLeaks for publishing classified information. It ultimately decided it would not do so, and could not do so, consistent with the press freedom guarantee of the First Amendment. After all, the Obama DOJ concluded, such a prosecution would pose a severe threat to press freedom because there would be no way to prosecute Assange for publishing classified documents without also prosecuting the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian and others for doing exactly the same thing.”

Nothing has changed since 2010 apart from a more thoroughly propagandized populace and a more depraved US government, which means that this new charge that the Trump administration issued in December 2017 is based on nothing other than a diminished respect for press freedoms and an increased willingness to crush them. This makes it fraudulent and illegitimate, and the precedent that is being set by it should be rejected and opposed by everyone in the world who claims to support the existence of a free press which is capable of holding power to account.

So what are we left with? We’re left with the US government filing criminal charges against a journalist (and Assange is indisputably a journalist) for protecting his source and encouraging his source to obtain more material, both of which are things that journalists do all the time.

“While the indictment against Julian Assange disclosed today charges a conspiracy to commit computer crimes, the factual allegations against Mr. Assange boil down to encouraging a source to provide him information and taking efforts to protect the identity of that source,” said Assange lawyer Barry J Pollack in a statement today. “Journalists around the world should be deeply troubled by these unprecedented criminal charges.”

“There are parts of the indictment that are clearly designed to criminalize things journalists routinely do,” Greenwald told CNN. “Part of the accusation is that [Assange] encouraged Chelsea Manning to provide him with more documents than the original batch that she gave him, which is something that as a journalist I’ve done many times with my sources, that journalists do every day. They say ‘Oh thanks for this document, maybe you could get me this?’ They also say that he helped her to essentially cover her tracks by giving her advice about how to get this information without being detected. The only thing in the indictment, and it’s very vague, is a suggestion that he tried to help her circumvent a password; it didn’t seem to be successful, but it’s unclear whether that was designed to get documents or to simply help her cover her tracks. But either way it’s clearly a threat to the First Amendment, because it criminalizes core journalistic functions.”

In an article for Rolling Stone titled “Why the Assange Arrest Should Scare Reporters“, journalist Matt Taibbi writes that “The meatier parts of the indictment speak more to normal journalistic practices.”

“Reporters have extremely complicated relationships with sources, especially whistleblower types like Manning, who are often under extreme stress and emotionally vulnerable,” Taibbi writes. “At different times, you might counsel the same person both for and against disclosure. It’s proper to work through all the reasons for action in any direction, including weighing the public’s interest, the effect on the source’s conscience and mental health, and personal and professional consequences. For this reason, placing criminal penalties on a prosecutor’s interpretation of such interactions will likely put a scare into anyone involved with national security reporting going forward.”

The Espionage Act has not at this time been employed to prosecute Assange as many have speculated it might, and the computer crimes he’s been charged with carry a maximum sentence of five years. But this does not mean that further far more serious charges cannot be added once Assange is imprisoned on American soil, especially after his guilt in the Manning leaks has been made official government dogma following the conspiracy conviction.

In my opinion this charging Assange with a lower-level crime (not espionage) is a trick that would allow the UK to extradite him to the US with ‘no threat of capital punishment’ only to have US prosecutors do what they always do: pile on charges,” tweeted Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Liberty Report, referring to assurances sought by the UK and Ecuador that Assange would not face the death penalty if extradited to the United States for the conspiracy charge.

Either way, this is a cataclysmic threat to press freedoms, and the time to act is now. The US government’s arbitrarily gifting itself the right to use fraudulent distortions to imprison anyone in the world who publishes facts about it will chill any attempts to do so in the future, and poses a far greater threat to press freedoms than anything we’ve seen in our lives. Anyone who sits idly by while this happens is signing over the sovereign right of every human being on this planet to hold power to account, and anyone calling themselves a journalist who does anything other than unequivocally oppose this move is confessing that they are a state propagandist. This is an intolerable plunge toward Orwellian dystopia, and is an assault on human dignity itself.

It’s time to shake the earth and refuse to let them cross this line. Enough is enough.

Roar, humans. Roar.

Posted in civil liberties, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, Geopolitics, internet freedom, media, Media Literacy, news, police state, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, surveillance state, war, Whistleblowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment