First up, Graham Elwood.
Do I feel too stressed to function? Right after the pandemic blew up, for about six months, I would get feelings of being overstressed. It just all seemed too much. I'd go for a run and usually shake it off.
Okay, Daniel Elsberg has again done something that demands our applause. Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) reports:
Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg on Tuesday dared U.S. prosecutors to come after him like they have Julian Assange by revealing in a BBC News interview that the WikiLeaks publisher sent him a backup of leaked materials from former military analyst Chelsea Manning.
"Let me tell you a secret. I had possession of all the Chelsea Manning information before it came out in the press," Ellsberg said to BBC's Stephen Sackur in the on-camera interview. "I've never said that publicly."
Assange had sent him the materials—which include evidence of U.S. war crimes—in case "they caught him and they got everything," the 91-year-old explained. "He could rely on me to find some way to get it out."
Australian-born Assange is currently detained in London and fighting in British and European courts against his extradition to the United States, where he could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted under Espionage Act charges.
Inviting action by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Ellsberg said that "I am now as indictable as Julian Assange and as everyone who put that information out—the papers, everybody who handled it."
"Yes, I had copies of it and I did not give them to an authorized person. So, if they want to indict me for that, I will be interested to argue that one in the courts—whether that law is constitutional," he continued, referring to the Espionage Act.
Highlighting that the highest U.S. court has never held that it is constitutional to use the Espionage Act as if it were a British Official Secrets Act, Ellsberg said that "I'd be happy to take that one to the Supreme Court."
Thank you, Daniel Ellsberg!!!!
Joe Biden needs tos top persecuting Julian. We need to make that clear to Joe. We need to be loud and we need to be active.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot;"
Wednesday, December 7, 2022. The White House decides to tell a business company what actions are and are not "healthy" for the country, another Twitter ump is on the way, US President Joe Biden continues to persecute Julian Assange, cult leader Moqtada al-Sadr's hate gets press attention, and much more.
This morning at THE NEW YORK POST, Emma-Jo Morris and Gabrielle Fonrouge report:
Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to e-mails obtained by The Post.
The never-before-revealed meeting is mentioned in a message of appreciation that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, allegedly sent Hunter Biden on April 17, 2015, about a year after Hunter joined the Burisma board at a reported salary of up to $50,000 a month.
“Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure,” the e-mail reads.
An earlier e-mail from May 2014 also shows Pozharskyi, reportedly Burisma’s No. 3 exec, asking Hunter for “advice on how you could use your influence” on the company’s behalf.
The blockbuster correspondence — which flies in the face of Joe Biden’s claim that he’s “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings” — is contained in a massive trove of data recovered from a laptop computer.
The computer was dropped off at a repair shop in Biden’s home state of Delaware in April 2019, according to the store’s owner.
Other material extracted from the computer includes a raunchy, 12-minute video that appears to show Hunter, who’s admitted struggling with addiction problems, smoking crack while engaged in a sex act with an unidentified woman, as well as numerous other sexually explicit images.
Miranda Devine (NEW YORK POST) weighs in:
Joe Biden repeatedly has denied knowing anything about son Hunter’s lucrative work on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
“Hunter Biden is a private citizen and a lawyer. The former vice president does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company,” a spokeswoman for Joe Biden said in a December 2015 statement to The New York Times.
Biden has stonewalled on the topic ever since.
“I’ve never discussed my business or their business, my sons’ or daughter’s. And I’ve never discussed them because they know where I have to do my job and that’s it, and they have to make their own judgments,” he told the “CBS Evening News” last October.
And yet, an e-mail obtained by The Post shows a senior Burisma executive thanking Hunter for the opportunity to meet Joe Biden just 12 months after Hunter joined the Burisma board at a reported salary of up to $50,000 a month.
The claims come as Mike Allen and Hans Nichols (AXIOS) observe the easy ride that Joe Biden has gotten from the press:
Since Aug. 31, Biden has answered less than half as many questions from the press as Trump — 365 compared with 753 — according to a tally by the Trump campaign, which the Biden campaign didn't dispute.
- In that time, Biden has done approximately 35 local TV interviews, three national interviews and two town halls.
- Biden went almost three months without taking questions from beat reporters.
- Biden aides say one reason there's less scrutiny of Biden in the general election is that he already was examined thoroughly in the primary election and over decades in public life.
- Andrew Bates, a Biden spokesperson, said: "Who's ‘scrutinizing’ Trump more, Maria Bartiromo or Sean Hannity?"
Biden has yet to be pinned down on an array of legitimate questions, including:
- His blunt view of adding new justices to the Supreme Court, which will be a priority for progressives if Judy Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. Biden, who had criticized the idea in the past, finally said he's "not a fan of court packing."
- Biden also has mostly gotten off easy on Medicare for All, police funding, Pentagon spending, fracking, reparations for African Americans, the Green New Deal and his support for the 1994 crime bill.
- Per Trump campaign spokesperson Andrew Clark: "Biden has been the least-scrutinized presidential candidate in modern history at great disservice to the voters, but the press still has time to rectify that.”
Click here to listen to the topic discussed in an AXIOS podcast. Scott Jennings (LOUISVILLE COURIER JOURNAL) also marvels over the lack of real media scrutiny of Joe, "Biden changes his stripes more than a chameleon in a Skittles factory. And he’s doing it again by claiming the mantle of unity in this election. Today’s Biden is a made-for-media candidacy untested by interactions with his base."
On Wednesday, the New York Post published a major story about the Biden-Burisma affair (aka “Ukrainegate”), the still-developing controversy over Hunter Biden’s presence on the board of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma at the same time that his father, then vice president, spearheaded anti-corruption efforts in the country and ultimately fired the prosecutor investigating the company.
The Post published e-mails purportedly drawn from a copied computer hard drive that belonged to the younger Biden, allegedly showing a Burisma executive thanking him for introducing him to the then–vice president, and imploring Hunter to “use your influence to convey a message/signal etc. to stop what we consider to be politically motivated actions” -- meaning the “one or more pretrial proceedings” the Ukrainian government had launched against the company.
[. . .]
No, in many ways the bigger story here is the response to the story. Because seemingly every major scandal damaging to Biden and, therefore, beneficial to Trump’s reelection has, during this election, been simply labeled Russian disinformation and ruled out of bounds -- from his sexual assault allegation to this matter -- social media companies quickly leapt into action to do what they could to make sure no one would get to even read the story and judge it for themselves.
Shortly after the Post story went live, both Facebook and Twitter -- two of the several tech giants that are now more integral to the news publishing business than ever -- announced they were stepping in to prevent the story from spreading on their platforms. Facebook, wrote spokesperson Andrew Stone, was “reducing its distribution on our platform” until it could be fact-checked, while Twitter simply blocked users from posting the story at all, citing its “Distribution of hacked material policy.”
This rush to censorship is equal parts absurd and chilling.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday it was “not healthy” for Twitter owner Elon Musk to publish internal company files revealing Twitter’s censorship of The Post’s 2020 reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
“What is happening — it’s frankly, it’s not healthy. It won’t do anything to help a single American improve their lives. And so look, we see this as an interesting, you know, coincidence, and you know, it’s a distraction,” Jean-Pierre concluded during her Monday briefing, offering a lengthy denunciation of Musk’s Friday reveal of how Twitter execs decided to suppress The Post’s damning expose.
“We see this as an interesting, or a coincidence, if I may, that he would so haphazardly — Twitter would so haphazardly push this distraction that is full of old news, if you think about it,” Jean-Pierre said, brushing off the politically motivated denial of free speech protections raised by Musk’s document dump.
“And at the same time, Twitter is facing very real and very serious questions about the rising volume of anger, hate and anti-Semitism on their platform and how they’re letting it happen.”
As The Post’s Miranda Devine reports, the FBI specifically warned Twitter to expect a “hack-and-leak” operation by “state actors” involving Hunter Biden, likely in October 2020, a key Twitter official says in a sworn declaration — even though the agency knew very well that info floating around about him was 100% legitimate.
Could evidence of an FBI coverup be any stronger?
The information came from Hunter’s laptop, which the agency itself had in its possession since 2019, a year before it issued its warnings.
And the FBI knew the laptop was legit, because in December 2019 it visited the owner of the repair shop where Hunter had abandoned it and verified its authenticity. (It even reportedly got its hands on a second Hunter laptop later, though as part of an unrelated investigation.)
Why were agents suggesting that info involving Hunter might be the work of “state actors” when the FBI knew darn well it wasn’t? Clearly, the goal was to nudge Twitter and others to squelch news that might damage Joe Biden’s election chances.
Hrafnsson’s urgent warnings came during an interview in Brazil, published Monday on Rumble. He told Greenwald, “Julian’s case is coming to the end of all possibilities of getting a fair solution through the court proceedings. He is fighting extradition in London. Within weeks he could be extradited.”
Assange has been charged under the Espionage Act (1917) for WikiLeaks’ publications exposing war crimes by US imperialism in Iraq and Afghanistan, and anti-democratic conspiracies of the US government and its intelligence agencies throughout the world. If found guilty, the 51-year-old journalist and father of three faces 175 years in a US federal prison. He has already spent more than a decade in detention in the UK, including three years without charge in Belmarsh maximum security prison.
For those who've forgotten, Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian. WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs. And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own. For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs. Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:
A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.
• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.
The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent deat
November 28th, five major outlets published an open letter:
Twelve years ago, on November 28th 2010, our five international media outlets – The New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais and DER SPIEGEL – published a series of revelations in cooperation with Wikileaks that made the headlines around the globe.
“Cable gate”, a set of 251,000 confidential cables from the US State Department disclosed corruption, diplomatic scandals and spy affairs on an international scale.
In the words of The New York Times, the documents told “the unvarnished story of how the government makes its biggest decisions, the decisions that cost the country most heavily in lives and money”. Even now in 2022, journalists and historians continue to publish new revelations, using the unique trove of documents.
For Julian Assange, publisher of Wikileaks, the publication of “Cable gate” and several other related leaks had the most severe consequences. On April 12th, 2019, Assange was arrested in London on a US arrest warrant, and has now been held for three and a half years in a high security British prison usually used for terrorists and members of organized crime groups. He faces extradition to the US and a sentence of up to 175 years in an American maximum security prison.
This group of editors and publishers, all of whom had worked with Assange, felt the need to publicly criticize his conduct in 2011 when unredacted copies of the cables were released, and some of us are concerned about the allegations in the indictment that he attempted to aid in computer intrusion of a classified database. But we come together now to express our grave concerns about the continued prosecution of Julian Assange for obtaining and publishing classified materials.
The Obama-Biden Administration, in office during the Wikileaks publication in 2010, refrained from indicting Assange, explaining that they would have had to indict journalists from major news outlets too. Their position placed a premium on press freedom, despite its uncomfortable consequences. Under Donald Trump however, the position changed. The DOJ relied on an old law, the Espionage Act of 1917 (designed to prosecute potential spies during World War 1), which has never been used to prosecute a publisher or broadcaster.
This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press.
Holding governments accountable is part of the core mission of a free press in a democracy.
Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists. If that work is criminalised, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.
Twelve years after the publication of “Cable gate”, it is time for the U.S. government to end its prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing secrets.
Publishing is not a crime.
The editors and publishers of:
- The New York Times
- The Guardian
- Le Monde
- DER SPIEGEL
- El Pais
Of that open letter, Marjorie Cohn (TRUTH OUT) notes:
This forceful statement in support of Assange comes in a moment when other powerful advocates globally have also stepped forward in defense of the WikiLeaks publisher. Both Brazilian President-elect Lula da Silva and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese are calling for dismissal of the charges against Assange. “May Assange be released from his unjust prison,” Lula said.
Assange’s appeal of the order to extradite him to the United States is pending in the U.K. High Court. For the past three and a half years, Assange has languished in a London high-security prison while he fights extradition to answer charges under the Espionage Act. Assange faces 175 years in a maximum-security U.S. prison if convicted.
THE PEOPLE'S DISPATCH adds, "In the last few days alone, multiple heads of government have called for freedom for Julian Assange. This includes Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese who has so far remained tight-lipped about his diplomatic efforts in the Assange case. Heads of Latin American countries are also speaking up for Assange including Colombian president Gustavo Petro, Brazilian president-elect Lula da Silva, and Argentine president Alberto Fernandez."
There are uneducated thugs around the world who think they can use their opinion of a religion to deny the rights of others. In the United States, we call these people Clarence Thomas -- the celebrated assaulter of women -- and in Iraq, he's called Moqtada al-Sadr. Mustafa Saadoun (AL-MONITOR) reports:
The controversy surrounding LGBTQ rights for participants and spectators at this year's FIFA World Cup in Qatar have inspired new moves against the LGBTQ community in Iraq, where political leaders and parliamentarians are seeking to pass a law that criminalizes homosexuality.
On Dec. 3, a mass anti-LGBTQ campaign was launched in Baghdad’s Sadr City, less than 24 hours after leader of the Sadrist movement Muqtada al-Sadr called for collecting 1 million signatures "in support of the fight against the LGBTQ community," so that "it does not spread vice,” as Sadr put it.
In his call, Sadr said, “Faithful men and women around the world should unite in order to combat the LGBTQ community, not with violence, nor with murder and threats, but with education, awareness, logic and high moral standards.”