Who coulda guessed it? And, once again, a nation built on the premise of self-governance owes its continuing great thanks to WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning.
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Who coulda guessed it? And, once again, a nation built on the premise of self-governance owes its continuing great thanks to WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning.
While prepping for tonight's Mike Malloy Show (which I will be busy guest hosting all week), here are just a few of the items which caught my eye so far today...in no particular order...
So what's on your radar?
In addition to some of the above possibly coming up for discussion tonight, we will definitely be discussing the U.S. Chamber Plot (which was to have targeted, among others, myself and my family) with my guest U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) who is trying to see some accountability in that horrific affair after House Republicans refused his request for investigative hearings into the matter.
Please tune in at 6p PT (9p ET) tonight --- and all week! We'll have live listening links and a lively chat room right here at The BRAD BLOG during those hours as usual!
On Thursday night, Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert waded into the HBGary muck with an explanation of the scam that the cyber-security intelligence firm, along with two other firms (government contractors all) were putting together for law firm Hunton & Williams on behalf of Bank of America, in hopes of discrediting journalists and organizations that supported WikiLeaks.
As readers of The BRAD BLOG likely know by now, a parallel $12 million scheme was being hatched by the same law firm and same three cyber-security firms on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, targeting me and my family, as well as other citizens and progressive organizations the U.S. Chamber had regarded as their enemies.
(I was likely targeted due to my roll in The BRAD BLOG's co-founding of the non-profit, non-partisan VelvetRevolution.us which has, since late 2009, been running a StopTheChamber.com campaign to expose the insidious, mafia-like tactics of what has become the largest, most extreme corporate lobbying outfit in the nation. Relatedly, late last week, VR filed a complaint with the D.C. Bar Association against the three H&W attorneys heading up these schemes. I hope to have more on that at a later date, but you can now read the complaint yourself right here [PDF]. Legal Times coverage is here, Washington Post's coverage today is here.)
Though the U.S. Chamber side of the plot is not discussed here, here's Colbert summing up the scheme as proposed for Bank of America...
...And here is the short interview that followed with Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald who, the same as I in the U.S. Chamber plot, was placed front and center in the Bank of America plot...
By the way, though I didn't notice it while watching a Tivo'd verison of the interview above on Thursday night --- so don't know if it was in the actual broadcast, or just added online, by someone --- PC Magazine noticed a curious anomaly at the 3:22 mark of the above video. For no more than a moment, the infamous Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta, often used as a sort of trademark by the "hacktivist" collective Anonymous (the group which inadvertently exposed both of the above described plots when they broke into HBGary's corporate servers and stole the emails describing all of this) is briefly superimposed over Colbert's face, for reasons unknown --- but amusing.
For much more on the U.S. Chamber Plot, please see the links below for The BRAD BLOG's previous coverage of this disturbing story...
Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning
As one of its first acts after taking the majority in the U.S. House, Corporate America's public subsidiary, GOP, Inc., voted against the will of all but 18% of the American people to repeal even modest restraints on the abominable practices of a health insurance cartel whose insatiable greed has created a "health care system" that claims the lives of some 45,000 Americans annually simply because they cannot afford insurance.
Of course, even that alarming number fails to take into account those whose lives are lost when private carriers refuse to authorize vital procedures to those who are lucky enough to have coverage.
In response, and as newly-elected Republican Governors around the nation seek to dismantle benefits such as health care for their constituents, Vermont's newly elected Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin seeks to create the nation's first state-based, single-payer health care system. A troubling question remains, however, as to whether Shumlin has in mind a non-profit, state-run system or a single, profit-seeking, private monopoly...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
"The United States, so far, is essentially following the usual playbook...[for] when some favored dictator...is in danger of losing control. There’s a kind of a standard routine --- Marcos, Duvalier, Ceausescu...Suharto: keep supporting them as long as possible; then, when it becomes unsustainable --- typically, say, if the army shifts sides --- switch 180 degrees, claim to have been on the side of the people all along, erase the past, and then make whatever moves are possible to restore the old system under new names."-Noam Chomsky, 2/2/11
If we have learned anything from WikiLeaks, it's that we must consider the words emerging from the mouths of our political elites as the equivalent to a magician's sleight-of-hand.
During the transition between the Bush and Obama administrations, an astute observer could gain far greater insight on the direction of the new administration by ignoring the then President-elect's lofty rhetoric and focusing instead upon the fact that he chose the Wall Street-connected Larwrence Summers and Timothy Geithner, as opposed to Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, to serve as his chief financial advisers.
Today, Egypt remains in the midst of a genuine, yet to be completed, democratic revolution. So far, it has produced the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and a dissolution of Egypt's parliament. However, it has not, as yet, led to real "regime change". Mubarak's hand-picked cabinet remains. So does Vice President Omar Suleiman, whom a May 14, 2007 U.S. Diplomatic cable referred to as "Mubarak's consigliere," and whom Middle East expert Lisa Hajjar refers to as "Egypt's Torturer-in-Chief".
[Listen to Brad Friedman's interview with Hajjar in the first hour of the 2/10/11 Mike Malloy Show right here.]
Egypt and the world --- and, indeed, the several other Middle Eastern nation's now seeing similar popular uprisings --- would do well to ignore public remarks by the U.S. President and Secretary of State to the effect that they supported the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian demonstrators and an end to the Mubarak presidency. While their public condemnations of violence against the press and the Egyptian people were appropriate, their reported behind-the-scene effort to have Suleiman lead a "so-called" transitional government speaks volumes.
To understand not only the why of Egypt's democratic revolution --- and many other similar popular revolts now under way in that part of the world --- but also the U.S. response to it, one must understand both the history of an ostensibly benevolent but quietly brutal U.S.-led corporate Empire and the role played by the covert dimension of Empire, particularly as described in Part IV of The BRAD BLOG's five-part 2009 special series on "The History of CIA Torture."* Suleiman, it must be remembered, long served as the chief of Egypt's General Intelligence Service, where he served as the key point man for the U.S., in what what we've described as "surrogate torture" as well as extraordinary rendition...
It's strange, difficult and a bit uncomfortable reporting on the $12 million U.S. Chamber disinfo plot and smear campaign after finding myself (and my family), much less VelvetRevolution.us (VR), the non-profit organization co-founded by The BRAD BLOG, as direct targets of it. As you might have assumed, there is much going on behind the scenes that I can't report on at this time, but I've been happy to see some fairly decent coverage --- even by some in the print MSM, if not much in the broadcast media yet --- of this important, disturbing and still developing story.
It's easier to talk and opine on what I've learned about the plot, as I've been doing in a lot of media interviews over the past week (a few of those radio appearances are linked below), than it is to actually report on it, per se. Yet, there have been several noteworthy points and advancements in the story over the past week since I originally covered it in depth here on Monday.
New information being dug up over the last several days, since I initially reported on this story in depth at the beginning of the week, now indicates that the Chamber Plotters had likely intended to use cyber attacks and hacks against us as well.
Those key updates, and the very quickest of backgrounders for those unfamiliar with the sordid tale up until now, follow below...
We've interviewed former senior CIA analyst Ray McGovern, on the air and off, many times over the years. We've come to consider him not just a source, but a friend and a national hero for his tirelessly non-partisan fight for truth and justice.
The man who once briefed Presidents directly, from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, had long ago earned our great respect --- from his courageousness in famously confronting then-SecDef Don Rumsfeld in 2006 about lying about Saddam and WMD (watch the classic confrontation on video here) to his calling out CNN on air for their abysmal failures in accurately reporting on WikiLeaks (video here) last December to his arrest weeks later at the White House with other vets and national heroes for "refusal to obey a lawful order" while protesting against the Obama Administration's wars around the world --- all while overcoming some enormous personal health issues at the same time.
So it's little wonder that FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), found herself "way too upset to write a coherent piece" yesterday after hearing of the news that the 71-year old McGovern had been "brutalized and left bleeding" by security guards after daring to stand in silent protest during a speech by Sec. of State Hillary Clinton --- on "the rights of individuals to express their views freely"(!) --- at George Washington University on Tuesday.
Clinton didn't even blink as the 27-year CIA veteran was dragged out of the room from where he was standing silently, back towards her, during her speech, some 15 feet in front of her as RAW STORY reports and as the video below suggests --- or even as he finally shouted: "So this is America!"...
A few quick followups tonight to my lengthy story from this morning on the proposed $2 million per month plot created for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to use tools and techniques from the so-called "War on Terror" against U.S. citizens, journalists and groups who opposed their strong-arm lobbying tactics.
As noted, one of those they'd planned to target in hopes of discrediting in their nefarious scheme was yours truly, as well as my family, and VelvetRevolution.us, the non-profit, non-partisan organization co-founded by The BRAD BLOG. I was specifically targeted personally as the Chamber's first, "Tier 1" opponent in a Power Point presentation prepared for the nation's largest corporate lobby's law firm Hunton & Williams (H&W) by the three cyber-security/intelligence firms, HBGary Federal, Berico Technologies & Palantir Technologies. The triumvirate called themselves "Team Themis" in the plots developed for the U.S. Chamber to fraudulently discredit opponents and for a very similar scheme made for Bank of America to try and disrupt WikiLeaks.
So here are a few items following up on our previous report...
Here's what happened last night in Egypt (late last night in U.S.):
And with that, Egypt effectively "vanished from the Internet" yesterday as the uprising against a repressive, U.S. backed regime began to take full bloom and, as of this hour, continues to rage.
Meanwhile, back in these United States, folks like Sen. Joe Lieberman are pushing a bill, the "Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset" act, to make provisions for a U.S. government "Internet Kill Switch" to allow them to do the same. Now why would folks like Lieberman want that?
The latest revision of this bill, according to FastCompany, "bans judicial review over executive decrees" to take down all, or portions of, the Internet.
On a very related note... Thanks to the Internet, you can watch the uprising in Egypt going on as we speak, via Al Jazeera English's streaming live coverage here, just in case you find that CNN and the others are still offering wall-to-wall coverage of Charlie Sheen. You can also follow ongoing Twitter reports on Egypt via the #Jan25 and #Egypt hashtags.
And on another very related note... The recent uprising, revolution and new government in Tunisia was triggered, in no small part, thanks to a U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks detailing the corruption of the ruling family. That revolution helped spark the one going on right now in Egypt, where the people have taken to the streets to challenge the thirty-year, iron-fisted rule of Hosni Mubarik, a long-time U.S. ally.
WikiLeaks has now released U.S. cables describing "routine and pervasive" use of police brutality and widespread torture by the Egyptian state, our allies, against "criminals, Islamist detainees, opposition activists and bloggers," as The Guardian describes the leaked cables today.
In Yemen, another ally of the U.S., citizen protests inspired by Tunisia and Egypt are also reportedly underway. And this morning, rumors of unrest in Syria were also spreading via Twitter.
With very real democratic revolutions happening in the Middle East --- one of the purported excuses once given for the U.S. invasion and mass murders in Iraq --- coming about through peaceful uprisings (but for governmental aggression in response) there, thanks in no small part to WikiLeaks, wouldn't folks like Joe Biden be wise to reconsider his recent, offensive assessment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a "high-tech terrorist"?
Perhaps not. Perhaps the Vice President has good reason to stand by that astonishing incitement of violence against a private Australian citizen and an organization neither charged with, nor convicted of, any crimes against the U.S.. After all, we have, for decades, been propping up the repressive Egyptian regime with billions of dollars in funding and armaments. And, by way of reminder, it is being reported that the tear gas canisters being hurled against Egyptian citizen demonstrators right now are clearly and proudly marked as "Made in the U.S.A."
But, of course, "they hate us for our freedoms." So remind us again, Mr. Vice President, who are the terrorists --- high-tech or low-tech --- here?
So, despite all the sturm und drang, despite all the outraged comments from both Republican and Democratic officials, despite all the calls for its founder Julian Assange to be assassinated without trial, criminal charges of any kind, or any due process whatsoever, despite the Vice President of the United States even smearing him as a "terrorist" on network television, it turns out there has been no substantive damage at all from leaked documents published by WikiLeaks and their partner media outfits, according to Mark Hosenball at Reuters, as based on interviews with government officials.
In short, as Salon's Glenn Greenwald describes it today, "To say that the Obama administration's campaign against WikiLeaks has been based on wildly exaggerated and even false claims is to understate the case. But now, there is evidence that Obama officials have been knowingly lying in public about these matters."
According to Reuters...
[Update 4:26pm PT: Related to the story below, one of the victims of the Tucson shooting has just been arrested for issuing a threat against Rightwingers at a taping for an ABC News special. It seems incitements by some are taken more seriously than incitements by others. Story here... -BF]
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
"I find it chilling to hear so many U.S. government officials calling for the leader of this organization, Julian Assange, to be labeled an 'enemy combatant' and jailed --- or worse."-Letter from Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) to Tom Hayden
Recently, a number of prominent politicians and pundits have called for the violent targeting of other individuals who have been neither accused nor charged with any crimes whatsoever, calling into the question the legality of such incitements to violence.
This article will transcend the issue of "moral responsibility" on the part of those politicians and pundits for the horrific consequences that may, and often do, ensue as the result of their deliberate appeals to fear, prejudice and hate so as to examine when such rhetoric actually amounts to an actual crime under the laws of our land.
There can be little doubt that, as observed by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, the combination of 24/7 "vitriolic rhetoric" on TV and radio (See video below for poignant examples of such rhetoric), the absence of gun control, with leading U.S. politicians calling for "Second Amendment remedies," and the placement of "crosshairs" over a political opponent's district while calling on citizens to "reload," can produce lethal consequences --- consequences that are not limited to the actions of the deranged.
Such rhetoric is both the product and cause of dehumanization --- a process defined by Professor Phillip Zimbardo in The Lucifer Effect as a means "by which certain other people or collectives of them are depicted as less than human..."
Where we covered the scientific work of Zimbardo and others in "Hate Speech and the Process of Dehumanization," and in a follow-up, demonstrating how the process applies both when directed to foreign "threats" and domestic "foes," here the focus is the thin legal line, unique to the U.S. courtesy of the First Amendment, between advocacy and incitement, and whether some U.S. politicians and pundits may have, at least in the case of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange as they have now charged, crossed that line so as to possibly warrant criminal prosecutions...
Late this evening, via an announcement linked from Twitter, the whistleblower media organization WikiLeaks released a statement related to the Saturday attack in Tucson on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and 19 others.
The press release condemns "violent rhetoric by US prominent media personalities, including Sarah Palin" and urges that incitement of violence, including against their organization and its founder Julian Assange, be agressively prosecuted by U.S. officials.
Serving as spokesman for the organization, Assange --- who has personally been the target of a great deal of inflammatory rhetoric and violent threats by a number of prominent politicians including not only Palin, but even Vice President Joe Biden who referred to him recently as "a high-tech terrorist" --- is quoted in the press release as saying: "No organisation anywhere in the world is a more devoted advocate of free speech than Wikileaks but when senior politicians and attention seeking media commentators call for specific individuals or groups of people to be killed they should be charged with incitement --- to murder."
"Those who call for an act of murder deserve as significant share of the guilt as those raising a gun to pull the trigger," he said.
After offering condolences and sympathies for those injured and killed in the shooting spree, the press release, posted in full below, details several violent suggestions, or "incitements to kill," as directed at Assange and WikiLeaks by a number of prominent media personalities and politicians...
[Now UPDATED with audio archives below.]
We're in again tonight guest hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show.
We're BradCasting LIVE, coast-to-coast and around the globe, as usual, from the studios of L.A.'s KTLK am1150 9pm-Midnight ET (6p-9p PT). Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! The LIVE chat room will be up and rolling, as usual, right here at The BRAD BLOG during the show, so please come on by and say hey while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
The Mike Malloy Show is nationally syndicated on air affiliates acros the country and also on Sirius Ch. 146 & XM Ch. 167. You may also listen online to the free LIVE audio stream at affiliate GREEN 960 in San Francisco or via MikeMalloy.com.
Click here to jump into our LIVE Chat Room during the show. Or just see below!...
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Fun show tonight! Audio archives now posted below (along with the archives to the chat room, in you're inclined) Listen up!...
The ignorance on display in this CNN interview segment concerning Wikileaks and Julian Assange yesterday is simply astonishing.
I'd expect the misinformed idiocy and/or out and out lying from one of the guests, former Bush Admin Homeland Security Advisor (now a paid CNN contributor) Fran Townsend. But the amount of ignorance about the profession of journalism, on display from CNN's very own journalist here, Jessica Yellin, almost defies words. Happily, Salon's Glenn Greenwald, a Constitutional attorney and actual journalist was the other guest on hand to help straighten both of these women out.
Watch the video, be amazed, and then I'll have a few more words on it below, as it mirrors another recent --- and embarrassing --- WikiLeaks-related segment on CNN, which we critically covered before later receiving a response from both CNN and host Don Lemon...
The week before last, we took CNN and host Don Lemon to task for a WikiLeaks segment in which, among other problems, they started off with a package that compared Assange to Bonnie & Clyde and other criminals who did things like, ya know, actually commit crimes, like killing people and stuff --- none of which either Assange or WikiLeaks has done. Not by a long shot. CNN's on-screen chyron for the segment was, shamefully, "ASSANGE: JOURNALIST OR TERRORIST" (no question mark even included)...
As this noteworthy New York Times editorial was buried by its publication on Christmas Day, it's worth highlighting here today in hopes that a few more folks may actually read it.
To date, the lack of alarm (by both media and, subsequently, the public) caused by the idea of major U.S. financial services companies serving as little more than instruments of unofficial U.S. governmental policy is troubling enough as is. That WikiLeaks, the organization being outrageously penalized by these enormous corporations, has been been charged with absolutely no violation of law, makes the actions of these banks even more extraordinary and chilling.
And finally, the entire affair is made most disturbing of all, perhaps, due to the fact that in 2010 none of this seems to come as much of a surprise to anybody, as reflected by the lack of concern expressed in the bulk of the mainstream media and, therefore, by the populace at large (most of whom, thanks again, MSM, likely have no knowledge of any of it, or why it's extraordinary in the first place)...
Visa, MasterCard and PayPal announced in the past few weeks that they would not process any transaction intended for WikiLeaks. Earlier this month, Bank of America decided to join the group, arguing that WikiLeaks may be doing things that are "inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments."
[A] bank's ability to block payments to a legal entity raises a troubling prospect. A handful of big banks could potentially bar any organization they disliked from the payments system, essentially cutting them off from the world economy.
The fact of the matter is that banks are not like any other business. They run the payments system. That is one of the main reasons that governments protect them from failure with explicit and implicit guarantees. This makes them look not too unlike other public utilities. A telecommunications company, for example, may not refuse phone or broadband service to an organization it dislikes, arguing that it amounts to risky business.
The decisions to bar the organization came after its founder, Julian Assange, said that next year it will release data revealing corruption in the financial industry. In 2009, Mr. Assange said that WikiLeaks had the hard drive of a Bank of America executive.
What would happen if a clutch of big banks decided that a particularly irksome blogger or other organization was “too risky”? What if they decided — one by one — to shut down financial access to a newspaper that was about to reveal irksome truths about their operations? This decision should not be left solely up to business-as-usual among the banks.
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