Julian Assange: Obama a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says the reelection of President Barack Obama is no cause for celebration due to the administration’s aggressive pursuit  and persecution of the whistleblower website.

Obama seems to be a nice man, and that is precisely the problem,” the 41-year-old told AFP, speaking from his room in London’s Ecuadorian embassy. It’s better to have a sheep in wolf’s clothing than a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” he said. “All of the activities against WikiLeaks by the United States have occurred under an Obama administration.”

Assange also spoke on the Republicans in Congress, saying it has not been an effective restraining force on government excesses over the last four years.”

There is no reason to believe that will change – in fact, the Republicans will push the administration into ever greater excesses,” he added.

Last month, Ecuador said it had requested a meeting with British officials to discuss claims that Assange was losing weight and suffering vision problems.

Assange claimed asylum in the embassy in June to escape extradition to Sweden for questioning over sex crimes allegations. He denies the charges, and believes that if extradited he would then be sent to the US, which regards him as an enemy of the state, where he could possibly face the death penalty.

In 2010, WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of classified US documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as diplomatic cables from US embassies around the world. The Obama administration in turn forced companies to cut off WikiLeaks’ sources of funding.

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UN Torture Chief Rules Bradley Manning’s Treatment Cruel and Inhuman

The UN special investigator on torture said the US government’s treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning was cruel, inhuman and degrading. He was held in solitary confinement for almost a year on suspicion of being a WikiLeaks source.

Juan Mendez’s 14-month investigation into the treatment of Manning came to the conclusion that the US military was at least culpable of cruel and inhumane treatment. Manning was locked up for 23 hours a day, in solitary confinement, over an 11-month period in conditions that Mendez found might have constituted torture.

“The special rapporteur concludes that imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence,” Mendez writes.

Manning, 24, was arrested on May 29, 2010 at the Forward Operating Base Hammer outside Baghdad, where he was working as an intelligence analyst. He has been charged with 22 counts, including aiding the enemy, relating to the leaking of state secrets to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. Manning was held for almost three months at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, then moved in July to the Marine corps base at Quantico in Virginia. He was held there for another eight months in conditions that brought about widespread condemnation, including being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and being made to strip naked at night.

In his opening letter to the US government on December 30 2010, Mendez said that the prolonged period of isolated confinement was believed to have been imposed “in an effort to coerce him into ‘cooperation’ with the authorities, allegedly for the purpose of persuading him to implicate others.”

The US department of justice is conducting a grand jury in Virginia exploring the possibility of bringing charges against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder.

The US mission to the UN in Geneva responded to Mendez on January 27 2011. It said that the US government “is committed to protecting human rights in our country and abroad, and we value the work of the special rapporteur”.

In a later letter, dated May 19 2011, the Pentagon’s legal counsel told Mendez that it was satisfied that Manning’s treatment at Quantico had been fine. “Though Private Manning was classified as a maximum custody detainee at Quantico, he occupied the very same type of single-occupancy cell that all other pretrial detainees occupied.”

Mendez stressed in his final conclusions that “solitary confinement is a harsh measure which may cause serious psychological and physiological adverse effects on individuals regardless of their specific conditions.” Moreover, “depending on the specific reason for its application, conditions, length, effects and other circumstances, solitary confinement can amount to a breach of article seven of the international covenant on civil and political rights, and to an act defined in article one or article 16 of the convention against torture.”

He also said that the US government had tried to justify Manning’s solitary confinement by calling it “prevention of harm watch”. Yet the military had offered no details as to what actual harm was being prevented.

The Pentagon has refused to allow Mendez to see Manning in private, insisting that all conversations be monitored. “You should have no expectation of privacy in your communications with Private Manning,” the Pentagon wrote.

The lack of privacy is a violation of human rights procedures, the UN says, and considered unacceptable by the UN special rapporteur.

Manning’s solitary confinement came to an end on April 20, 2011 when he was transferred from Quantico to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He is currently being held in a facility in Virginia so that he can make pre-trial appearances at Fort Meade in Maryland ahead of his eventual court martial.

WikiLeaks Publishing The Global Intelligence Files

From WikiLeaks:

 

“LONDON—Today, Monday 27 February, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods”

Read more at http://www.wikileaks.org/the-gifiles.html

Pfc. Bradley Manning arraignment set for Feb. 24

The U.S. Army scheduled a Feb. 23 arraignment for Pfc. Bradley E. Manning. His charges include aiding the enemy and violating the Espionage Act.

The former intelligence analyst is accused of giving hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, including field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, diplomatic cables from U.S. embassies and video of a U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad. The footage has been described by many as a war crime.

The video, released by WikiLeaks with the title “Collateral Murder,” shows the attack that left 12 people dead, including a Reuters journalist and his driver. The U.S. helicopter crew can be heard laughing and referring to Iraqis as “dead bastards.”

If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison. Aiding the enemy is a capital offense, but Army prosecutors have said they won’t seek the death penalty.

Manning’s attorneys described him as a troubled young man who was isolated from other soldiers and should not have been given access to the classified documents.

U.S. Charges Pfc. Bradley Manning With Aiding Al Qaeda

The pre-trial hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning who has been accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, concluded with the government charging that Bradley’s actions aided Al Qaeda.

Calling what Manning did a “six month-long enterprise of indiscriminately harvesting information,” Cpt. Ashden Fein stated in the prosecution’s closing argument that Manning had actual knowledge that what he gave to WikiLeaks would end up in the hands of  Al Qaeda and similar enemies.

An Al Qaeda propaganda video was shown. Subtitled, the video featured a figurehead of the organization discussing the released information. The figurehead said the cables revealed “foreign dependencies.” He said something about relying on Allah for actions against the US and then said before taking actions jihadists should rely on the “wide range of resources on the Internet” now.

According to Fein Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is “urging followers to collect and archive WikiLeaks information.” Manning “knowingly gave intelligence through WikiLeaks to the enemy.” He “wantonly caused the release of this information.” It was “not just good for declared enemies” but also accessible to “all other enemies with Internet access.”

Manning, Fein added, released over 700,000 documents that were on SIPRnet “during a time of war and while deployed.” He was “never authorized to make classification decisions to affect the national security of the United States.” He was given “unfettered access” to the information and “multiple enemies received” this information.

The effect of Manning’s prosecution could have a dramatic affect on national security journalism. Successfully putting Manning in prison for life without parole would set an example to deter other soldiers from revealing evidence of war crimes and make it possible for the government to go after journalists who cover documents from the military or security industrial-complex.

This also cements the fact that anyone who releases information to WikiLeaks can count on being pursued by the government and, when caught, charged with “aiding the enemy” aka terrorists, because they have access to the Internet and could read material that was once-secret.

 

WikiLeaks: UN Peacekeepers traded food for sex with underage girls…

According to a United States Embassy cable, written in January 2010, United Nations peacekeepers in the Ivory Coast exchanged food for sex with underage girls in a poor part of the West African nation.

A random poll of 10 underage girls in Toulepleu by aid group Save The Children U.K. in 2009 found that eight performed sexual acts for Benin peacekeepers on a regular basis. “Eight of the 10 said they had ongoing sexual relationships with Beninese soldiers in exchange for food or lodging,” the diplomat wrote in the cable, citing information shared with the embassy by a protection officer.

“We see it as a command and control problem,” said United Nations spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux. On Tuesday 16 Beninese peacekeepers were repatriated to Benin and are barred from serving in the U.N. following a yearlong investigation.

In 2007, a battalion of 730 peacekeepers from Morocco was asked to suspend its activities in the northern Ivorian city of Bouake after the U.N. received allegations of sexual misconduct involving local girls.

A report published a year later by Save the Children U.K. identified Ivory Coast as one of the places where sexual barter between peacekeepers and girls was occurring. The peacekeepers traded food as well as mobile phones for sex, the report said.

Sexual misconduct by U.N. troops has been reported in a number of countries including Congo, Cambodia and Haiti.

 

Wikileaks: Obama Adminstration fought to keep Haiti’s minimum wage low to appease Levis and Hanes…

Two years ago, Haiti unanimously passed a law to raise its incredibly meager minimum wage from 24 cents an hour to 61 cents an hour. Apparently that slave wage is a little too generous for American corporations like Hanes and Levi Strauss whom pay Haitians to sew their clothes. The corporations would only agree to a seven-cent-an-hour increase, and actually reached out to the State Department to get involved. The U.S. ambassador put pressure on Haiti’s president, who in turn put in place a $3 a day minimum wage for textile companies, the U.S. minimum in comparison works out to $58 a day.

As of last year Hanes had 3,200 Haitians making t-shirts for them, If they paid each worker two dollars a day more it would cost around $1.6 million a year. Hanesbrands Incorporated made $211 million on $4.3 billion in sales last year, meanwhile CEO Richard Noll made an estimated $10 million in salary and bonus. Mr Noll could afford to raise all of his Haitian workers pay to the 61 cents they originally wanted with just a sixth of his take home pay.