Sunday, February 09, 2020

"With Liberty and Justice for All??"

Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange

By Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

I know, you may think I am deluded. How could life in an Embassy with a cat and a skateboard ever amount to torture? That’s exactly what I thought, too, when Assange first appealed to my office for protection. Like most of the public, I had been subconsciously poisoned by the relentless smear campaign, which had been disseminated over the years. So it took a second knock on my door to get my reluctant attention. But once I looked into the facts of this case, what I found filled me with repulsion and disbelief.

Surely, I thought, Assange must be a rapist! But what I found is that he has never been charged with a sexual offence. True, soon after the United States had encouraged allies to find reasons to prosecute Assange, Swedish prosecution informed the tabloid press that he was suspected of having raped two women. Strangely, however, the women themselves never claimed to have been raped, nor did they intend to report a criminal offence. Go figure. Moreover, the forensic examination of a condom submitted as evidence, supposedly worn and torn during intercourse with Assange, revealed no DNA whatsoever — neither his, nor hers, nor anybody else’s. Go figure again. One woman even texted that she only wanted Assange to take an HIV test, but that the police were “keen on getting their hands on him”. Go figure, once more. Ever since, both Sweden and Britain have done everything to prevent Assange from confronting these allegations without simultaneously having to expose himself to US extradition and, thus, to a show-trial followed by life in jail. His last refuge had been the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Alright, I thought, but surely Assange must be a hacker! But what I found is that all his disclosures had been freely leaked to him, and that no one accuses him of having hacked a single computer. In fact, the only arguable hacking-charge against him relates to his alleged unsuccessful attempt to help breaking a password which, had it been successful, might have helped his source to cover her tracks. In short: a rather isolated, speculative, and inconsequential chain of events; a bit like trying to prosecute a driver who unsuccessfully attempted to exceed the speed-limit, but failed because their car was too weak.

Well then, I thought, at least we know for sure that Assange is a Russian spy, has interfered with US elections, and negligently caused people’s deaths! But all I found is that he consistently published true information of inherent public interest without any breach of trust, duty or allegiance. Yes, he exposed war crimes, corruption and abuse, but let’s not confuse national security with governmental impunity. Yes, the facts he disclosed empowered US voters to take more informed decisions, but isn’t that simply democracy? Yes, there are ethical discussions to be had regarding the legitimacy of unredacted disclosures. But if actual harm had really been caused, how come neither Assange nor Wikileaks ever faced related criminal charges or civil lawsuits for just compensation?

But surely, I found myself pleading, Assange must be a selfish narcissist, skateboarding through the Ecuadorian Embassy and smearing feces on the walls? Well, all I heard from Embassy staff is that the inevitable inconveniences of his accommodation at their offices were handled with mutual respect and consideration. This changed only after the election of President Moreno, when they were suddenly instructed to find smears against Assange and, when they didn’t, they were soon replaced. The President even took it upon himself to bless the world with his gossip, and to personally strip Assange of his asylum and citizenship without any due process of law.

In the end it finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda, and that Assange had been systematically slandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed. Once he had been dehumanized through isolation, ridicule and shame, just like the witches we used to burn at the stake, it was easy to deprive him of his most fundamental rights without provoking public outrage worldwide. And thus, a legal precedent is being set, through the backdoor of our own complacency, which in the future can and will be applied just as well to disclosures by The Guardian, the New York Times and ABC News.

Very well, you may say, but what does slander have to do with torture? Well, this is a slippery slope. What may look like mere «mudslinging» in public debate, quickly becomes “mobbing” when used against the defenseless, and even “persecution” once the State is involved. Now just add purposefulness and severe suffering, and what you get is full-fledged psychological torture.
Yes, living in an Embassy with a cat and a skateboard may seem like a sweet deal when you believe the rest of the lies. But when no one remembers the reason for the hate you endure, when no one even wants to hear the truth, when neither the courts nor the media hold the powerful to account, then your refuge really is but a rubber boat in a shark-pool, and neither your cat nor your skateboard will save your life.

Even so, you may say, why spend so much breath on Assange, when countless others are tortured worldwide? Because this is not only about protecting Assange, but about preventing a precedent likely to seal the fate of Western democracy. For once telling the truth has become a crime, while the powerful enjoy impunity, it will be too late to correct the course. We will have surrendered our voice to censorship and our fate to unrestrained tyranny.

This Op-Ed has been offered for publication to the Guardian, The Times, the Financial Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, the Canberra Times, the Telegraph, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Newsweek.
None responded positively.

Posted by ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ


Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Problem With Truth

It is almost a cliche that the aphorism "Lying propaganda travels half-way around the world before the truth can even get its boots on." No greater example of this exists than the heated rhetoric between the right and left extremes of the political spectrum. This sad situation is brilliantly discussed by Paul Craig Roberts:

Remarks on Right-wing Talk Radio

Remarks on Right-wing Talk Radio
Paul Craig Roberts
Over the course of my life as a university professor, government official, business consultant, president of a community water company and editor and journalist for national and international publications, I have learned that a majority of people cannot think outside the indoctrination they received that formed their biases.  If you provide them with a different view or explanation, instead of thinking about it, they just get angry. This is true also of academics. University professors resist their human capital being devalued and placed in need of renewal by new discoveries and explanations. No academic wants to have to redo all his lecture notes or see his own scholarly contributions bypassed by new explanations. As Niccolo Machiavelli truthfully said, “There is nothing more difficult, more perilous or more uncertain of success, than to take the lead in introducing a new order of things.”
Conservatives with right-wing biases usually write me off as left-wing, and leftists with left-wing biases write me off as conservative, especially as I had a high appointment in the Reagan administration.  The only way to write successfully for these people is to tell them what they want to hear.  Then they love you instead of hate you.
It is pointless to write for such people, and I don’t.  Ninety-nine percent of my readers can think independently and look to me for explanations that make more sense than the controlled explanations they get from the print, TV, and NPR media.  That is the reason I write. As the IPE website states, we try to be accurate but are only human and can be mistaken on occasion.  But the agenda is to discover and tell the truth, not to sell an agenda.
Truth is not the purpose of the print, TV, and radio media or much, perhaps most, of the Internet and social media.  Just as the ruling establishment has taken over the print and TV media, they censure social media and are taking over the Internet.  Before long, truth will have to rely on mimeograph machines and people to hand out fliers in areas where there are no spying cameras if any such areas will exist in the future.
There is no doubt that truth is an endangered species.  It has always been endangered, but the technology today provides control powers even beyond George Orwell’s imagination.
So what can we do with truth for the time that it remains available to us? Clearly, we should at least make people aware that truth is endangered and that they are brainwashed with explanations that advance the agendas of the ruling elites.  But unless a truth-teller has donors to make him independent, as this site’s donors make me, he can’t tell the truth and also be successful. This is especially true with anything that pertains to Israel.  This brings me to right-wing talk radio.
On the Russiagate and impeachment hoaxes, right-wing talk radio got it right.  They could defend Trump on the facts.  But when it comes to Russia and Iran right-wing talk radio cannot get it right, because their patriotic conservative audience has swallowed the neoconservative propaganda that Russia and Iran are our enemies and that Russia interfered in the US election. Sean Hannity, for example, repeatedly affirms that Russia interferred in our election despite the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that Russia interferred in the election.  Why does he do this?  Because his conservative audience in its gullible patriotism wants to stand up for America against “them Russians.”  Few conservatives can admit that 9/11 was a false flag to launch America on 20 years of war in the Middle East for the sake of power and profit and Israel’s territorial expansion.  Their gullibility leads them to declare: “The American government would never kill its own people.”  Ha!  All they need to do is to read the Northwood Project.  But that would upset them, whereas denouncing Arabs and Muslims and calling for them to be nuked is emotionally very satisfying.  By playing to the ignorant biases of its audience, right-wing talk radio decreases both the chance for peace and for truth.
This is not a beat-up session on the right-wing.  It is an explanation of why truth is so hard to establish.  The left-wing is just as guilty of deep-sixing truth.
When I was on George W. Bush’s case, I was a hero for CounterPunch which even published one of my books.  Today I am persona non grata.  
The problem with truth is that it seldom supports establishment interests.  Thus, truth is in the way of material and selfish interests of the powerful.  That is why it is hard to defend truth and why so few do so. To tell the truth is extremely costly.
If a person gets too serious about truth, they end up in prison like Julian Assange and Manning, both of whom are in solitary confinement despite the fact that they have done nothing wrong except tell the truth.  And where are their defenders?  The presstitute media doesn’t come to their aid, because their truth-telling is an embarrassment to the presstitutes who lie for their living.  
Right-wing talk radio misrepresents these truth-tellers as “traitors to America.”  Assange, of course, is not even an American, so how can he be a traitor to America?  A question this simple is over the head of right-wing talk radio and over the heads of the American and British populations that permit the outrage of destroying those who bring us truth.

One is best served by the old 1960s leftist cliche regarding government and media pronouncements: "believe nothing and question everything."

Posted by ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ 

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Worth 1000 Words?

                                                  click on graphic to enlarge

Posted by ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

The Lies

Ron Paul:
At some point, when we’ve been lied to constantly and consistently for decades about a “threat” that we must “take out” with a military attack, there comes a time where we must assume they are lying until they provide rock solid, irrefutable proof. Thus far they have provided nothing. So I don’t believe them.
Posted by ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Definitions: Evil

Posted by: ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Enemy

by Rudyard Kipling

It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late,
With long arrears to make good,
When the Saxon began to hate.

They were not easily moved,
They were icy -- willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the Saxon began to hate.

Their voices were even and low.
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not preached to the crowd.
It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not suddently bred.
It will not swiftly abate.
Through the chilled years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the Saxon began to hate.

Monday, April 15, 2019