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ASSANGE: ACTION AND REACTION June 24, 2012

Posted by wmmbb in Social Environment, US Politics.
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Julian Assange, it seems, has a critique of free speech in Western Democracies. His seeking asylum in the London Embassy for Ecuador, has drawn forth an extraordinary effort from the “editorial  board” of The Washington Post.

There have been contrasting assessments. For example, Manuela Picq, while generally sympathetic to Assange’s situation, argues that in seeking asylum in Ecuador, he would if successful be supping with the devil in the form of President Correa, who she asserts has sort to act against transparency and accountability by closing down media outlets. This analysis, to the extent that it can claim to be one, ignores the social class, perhaps racial nature, of the existing media ownership.

Ray McGovern by contrast explains, Why Julian Assange’s Ecuador move is Brillant. He writes:

Barring a CIA drone strike on the Ecuadorian embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s sudden appeal for asylum there may spare him a prison stay in Sweden or possibly the United States. Assange’s freedom now depends largely on Ecuadorian President Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado, a new breed of independent-minded leader like Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Correa has been a harsh critic of U.S. behavior toward Ecuador and its Latin American neighbors as well as an outspoken fan of WikiLeaks. Atypically for the region, Ecuador is not a major recipient of U.S. economic or military aid, so Washington’s leverage is limited. This suggests that the Ecuadorian government may decide to defy Washington, accept Assange’s request for asylum, and have him flown to Ecuador pronto.

In which case, most British “justice” officials will probably say good riddance and breathe a sigh of relief — literally. They have been holding their noses for weeks against the odor of their obeisance to U.S. diktat, after the British High Court rejected Assange’s argument that he should not be extradited to Sweden.

Although Swedish “justice” officials have not charged Assange with any crime, they insist that he be extradited to face questions resulting from allegations by two women of sexual assault. This is widely — and in my view correctly — perceived as a subterfuge to deliver Assange into Swedish hands to facilitate his eventual extradition to the U.S. to face even more serious charges for publishing classified information highly embarrassing to Washington.

There have been persistent reports that Assange has been the target of a secret grand jury investigating disclosures of classified U.S. documents allegedly slipped to WikiLeaks by Army Pvt. Bradley Manning. A leaked 2011 e-mail from Fred Burton, a vice president of the private intelligence firm Stratfor, informed colleagues that “we have a sealed indictment on Assange,” but that claim has not been confirmed. Manning, however, is facing a court martial for allegedly leaking U.S. documents to WikiLeaks.

Ray McGovern is ex-CIA and a former presidential briefer in the White House, so it is perhaps not merely tongue-in-cheek when he observes:

A drone strike over London can be ruled out. But Assange understandably could fear a covert operation by Britain’s FBI and CIA counterparts — MI-5 and MI-6 — to eliminate him “with extreme prejudice,” in old CIA parlance.

As melodramatic as that might sound, it should be remembered that nine years have gone by since British Ministry of Defense biologist and U.N. weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly’s “suicide.” Yet there remains considerable circumstantial evidence that his “suicide” was not self-inflicted.

Kelly was found “guilty” of disclosing accurate information regarding the bogus nature of the “evidence” of Iraqi WMD and, conveniently, was removed from the scene, supposedly by his own hand. Ecuadorian embassy dwellers may wish to hire beefeaters to taste the foie gras, truffles, or cakes ordered from nearby Harrods.

The world view from the vantage point of the “Editorial Board” table as The Washington Post different informed, or framed. The Post explains:

Editorials represent the views of The Washington Post as an institution, as determined through debate among members of the editorial board. News reporters and editors never contribute to editorial board discussions, and editorial board members don’t have any role in news coverage.

That said, the tone and the attitudes expressed are incredible for a major newspaper:

RAFAEL CORREA, a small-time South American autocrat, may smell a political opportunity. Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan populist who has been his political mentor, appears to be dying of cancer. That means the role of chief Yanqui-baiter and friend-to-rogues, which Mr. Chavez has modeled for the past dozen years, may soon come open. Mr. Correa, who has been president of Ecuador since 2007, has been doing his best to establish his bona fides: In January, for example, he hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Quito.

Last month Mr. Correa’s campaign got a boost from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who opened a sycophantic interview for a Russian state propaganda outlet by announcing that “with Chavez . . . out of the public eye, a new generation of Latin American leaders has arisen.” He went on to wallow in anti-American slanders and paranoia with Mr. Correa, prompting the Ecuadoran to proclaim: “Welcome to the club of the persecuted!”

Now the Australian hacker has called Mr. Correa’s bluff. By seeking asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy in London on Tuesday, Mr. Assange dared Mr. Correa’s government to conclude that Sweden, which is seeking Mr. Assange’s extradition on sex-crime charges, and Britain, which allowed him to exhaustively contest the extradition in its courts, are violating his human rights or subjecting him to political persecution.

One obvious and apparent error, indicating the slipshod thinking and lack of fact checking is that allegation that Assange has been charged with anything by the Swedish prosecutor.

How could anybody be critical of the United States, other than if they were part of “the global anti-American left”. In these circumstances, the Editorial Board confidently asserts there comes a time for retaliation:

There is one potential check on Mr. Correa’s ambitions. The U.S. “empire” he professes to despise happens to grant Ecuador (which uses the dollar as its currency) special trade preferences that allow it to export many goods duty-free. A full third of Ecuadoran foreign sales ($10 billion in 2011) go to the United States, supporting some 400,000 jobs in a country of 14 million people. Those preferences come up for renewal by Congress early next year. If Mr. Correa seeks to appoint himself America’s chief Latin American enemy and Julian Assange’s protector between now and then, it’s not hard to imagine the outcome.

Drink the coffee and smell the vileness write boldly proclaimed to humankind.

As could be expected to entertain the breathe of American public opinion that includes those who are supporting Assange. Perhaps they support the American tradition of public enquiry, constitutional law and the rule of law which can be traced back to closing of the colonial meeting halls by the executive government.

It seems according to Glenn Greenwald, Assange is driving the American media crazy, on the “state propaganda” outlet RT (Russia Today).

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ELSEWHERE:

The contradiction in The Washington Post editorial is self evident and has been duly noted by, perhaps among others, Henry Farrell and Glenn Greenwald. Very funny.

Meanwhile Bob Carr has joined the school of political cluelessness.

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