The War on WikiLeaks … and Why It Matters

julian-assange-editor-of-wikileaks
BBC’s “The Culture Show” – Julian Assange, editor of WikiLeaks.

A newly leaked CIA report prepared earlier this month (.pdf) analyzes how the U.S. Government can best manipulate public opinion in Germany and France — in order to ensure that those countries continue to fight in Afghanistan.

The Report celebrates the fact that the governments of those two nations continue to fight the war in defiance of overwhelming public opinion which opposes it — so much for all the recent veneration of “consent of the governed” — and it notes that this is possible due to lack of interest among their citizenry:   “Public Apathy Enables Leaders to Ignore Voters,” proclaims the title of one section.

But the Report also cites the “fall of the Dutch Government over its troop commitment to Afghanistan” and worries that — particularly if the “bloody summer in Afghanistan” that many predict takes place — what happened to the Dutch will spread as a result of the “fragility of European support” for the war.  As the truly creepy Report title puts it, the CIA’s concern is:  “Why Counting on Apathy May Not Be Enough”:

cia

The Report seeks to provide a back-up plan for “counting on apathy,” and provides ways that the U.S. Government can manipulate public opinion in these foreign countries.  It explains that French sympathy for Afghan refugees means that exploiting Afghan women as pro-war messengers would be effective, while Germans would be more vulnerable to a fear-mongering campaign (failure in Afghanistan means the Terrorists will get you).  The Report highlights the unique ability of Barack Obama to sell war to European populations (click on images to enlarge):

It’s both interesting and revealing that the CIA sees Obama as a valuable asset in putting a pretty face on our wars in the eyes of foreign populations. It is odious — though, of course, completely unsurprising — that the CIA plots ways to manipulate public opinion in foreign countries in order to sustain support for our wars.  Now that this is a Democratic administration doing this and a Democratic war at issue, I doubt many people will object to any of this.  But what is worth noting is how and why this classified Report was made publicly available:  because it was leaked to and then posted by WikiLeaks.org, the site run by the non-profit group Sunshine Press, that is devoted to exposing suppressed government and corporate corruption by publicizing many of their most closely guarded secrets.

* * * * *

wikileaks_002

I spoke this morning at length with Julian Assange, the Australian citizen who is WikiLeaks’ Editor, regarding the increasingly aggressive war being waged against WikiLeaks by numerous government agencies, including the Pentagon.  Over the past several years, WikiLeaks — which aptly calls itself “the intelligence agency of the people” — has obtained and then published a wide array of secret, incriminating documents (similar to this CIA Report) that expose the activities of numerous governments and corporations.  Among many others, they posted the Standard Operating Manual for Guantanamo, documents showing how corrupt offshore loans precipitated the economic collapse in Iceland, the notorious emails between climate scientists, documents showing toxic dumping off the coast of Africa, and many others.  They have recently come into possession of classified videos relating to civilian causalities under the command of Gen. David Petraeus, as well as documentation relating to civilian-slaughtering airstrikes in Afghanistan which the U.S. military had agreed to release, only to change their mind.

All of this has made WikiLeaks an increasingly hated target of numerous government and economic elites around the world, including the U.S. Government.  As The New York Times put it last week:  “To the list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States, the Pentagon has added WikiLeaks.org, a tiny online source of information and documents that governments and corporations around the world would prefer to keep secret.”  In 2008, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center prepared a secret report — obtained and posted by WikiLeaks — devoted to this website and detailing, in a section entitled “Is it Free Speech or Illegal Speech?”, ways it would seek to destroy the organization.  It discusses the possibility that, for some governments, not merely contributing to WikiLeaks, but “even accessing the website itself is a crime,” and outlines its proposal for WikiLeaks’ destruction as follows (click on images to enlarge):

As the Pentagon report put it:  “the governments of China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe” have all sought to block access to or otherwise impede the operations of WikiLeaks, and the U.S. Government now joins that illustrious list of transparency-loving countries in targeting them.

It’s not difficult to understand why the Pentagon wants to destroy WikiLeaks.  Here’s how the Pentagon’s report describes some of the disclosures for which they are responsible:

pentagon1

The Pentagon report also claims that WikiLeaks has disclosed documents that could expose U.S. military plans in Afghanistan and Iraq and endanger the military mission, though its discussion is purely hypothetical and no specifics are provided. Instead, the bulk of the Pentagon report focuses on documents which embarrass the U.S. Government:  information which, as they put it, “could be manipulated to provide biased news reports or be used for conducting propaganda, disinformation, misinformation, perception management, or influence operations against the U.S. Army by a variety of domestic and foreign actors.”  In other words, the Pentagon is furious that this exposing of its secrets might enable others to engage in exactly the type of “perception management” which the aforementioned CIA Report proposes the U.S. do with regard to the citizenry of our allied countries.

All of this is based in the same rationale invoked by President Obama and the Democratic Congress when they re-wrote the Freedom of Information Act last year in order to suppress America’s torture photos.  It’s the same rationale used by all governments to conceal evidence of their wrongdoing:   we need to suppress our activities for your own good. WikiLeaks is devoted to subverting that mentality and, relatively speaking, has been quite successful in doing so.

Read moreThe War on WikiLeaks … and Why It Matters

US Must Stop Spying on WikiLeaks

wikileaks_001

Over the last few years, WikiLeaks has been the subject of hostile acts by security organizations. In the developing world, these range from the appalling assassination of two related human rights lawyers in Nairobi last March (an armed attack on my compound there in 2007 is still unattributed) to an unsuccessful mass attack by Chinese computers on our servers in Stockholm, after we published photos of murders in Tibet.

In the West this has ranged from the overt, the head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, threatening to prosecute us unless we removed a report on CIA activity in Kosovo, to the covert, to an ambush by a “James Bond” character in a Luxembourg car park, an event that ended with a mere “we think it would be in your interest to…”.

Developing world violence aside, we’ve become used to the level of security service interest in us and have established procedures to ignore that interest.

But the increase in surveillance activities this last month, in a time when we are barely publishing due to fundraising, are excessive. Some of the new interest is related to a film exposing a U.S. massacre we will release at the U.S. National Press Club on April 5.

The spying includes attempted covert following, photographing, filming and the overt detention & questioning of a WikiLeaks’ volunteer in Iceland on Monday night.

I, and others were in Iceland to advise Icelandic parliamentarians on the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a new package of laws designed to protect investigative journalists and internet services from spying and censorship. As such, the spying has an extra poignancy.

The possible triggers:

  • our ongoing work on a classified film revealing civilian casualties occurring under the command of the U.S, general, David Petraeus.
  • our release of a classified 32 page US intelligence report on how to fatally marginalize WikiLeaks (expose our sources, destroy our reputation for integrity, hack us).
  • our release of a classified cable from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik reporting on contact between the U.S. and the U.K. over billions of euros in claimed loan guarantees.
  • pending releases related to the collapse of the Icelandic banks and Icelandic “oligarchs”.

We have discovered half a dozen attempts at covert surveillance in Reykjavik both by native English speakers and Icelanders. On the occasions where these individuals were approached, they ran away. One had marked police equipment and the license plates for another suspicious vehicle track back to the Icelandic private VIP bodyguard firm Terr. What does that mean? We don’t know. But as you will see, other events are clear.

Read moreUS Must Stop Spying on WikiLeaks

John Lipsky: All G7 countries, except Canada and Germany, will have debt-to-GDP ratios close to or exceeding 100 percent by 2014

john-lipsky-first-deputy-managing-director-of-the-imf
John Lipsky, first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), sits for a photograph following a television interview outside the Jackson Lake Lodge in Moran, Wyoming, on Aug. 20, 2009. (Bloomberg)

March 21 (Bloomberg) — Advanced economies face “acute” challenges in tackling high public debt, and unwinding existing stimulus measures will not come close to bringing deficits back to prudent levels, said John Lipsky, first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

All G7 countries, except Canada and Germany, will have debt-to-GDP ratios close to or exceeding 100 percent by 2014, Lipsky said in a speech today at the China Development Forum in Beijing. Already this year, the average ratio in advanced economies is expected to reach the levels seen in 1950, after World War II, he said. The government debt ratio in some emerging market nations had also reached a “worrisome level.”

“This surge in government debt is occurring at a time when pressure from rising health and pension spending is building up,” Lipsky said. Stimulus measures account for about one-tenth of the projected debt increase, and rolling them back won’t be enough to bring deficits and debt ratios back to prudent levels.

Rising public debt could lead governments to seek to eliminate it through inflation or even default if they fail to carry out fiscal measures in time, Mohamed A. El-Erian, co-chief investment officer at Pacific Investment Management Co. warned earlier this month. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” a book arguing that unforeseen events can roil markets, said March 12 he is concerned about hyperinflation as governments around the world take on more debt and print money.

Budget Deficit

The U.S. budget deficit widened to a record in February as the government spent more to help revive the economy. The gap grew to $221 billion after a shortfall of $194 billion in February 2009, the Treasury Department said on March 10. The figures indicate the deficit this year will probably surpass the record $1.4 trillion in the fiscal year that ended in September.

Read moreJohn Lipsky: All G7 countries, except Canada and Germany, will have debt-to-GDP ratios close to or exceeding 100 percent by 2014

Papandreou Gives EU One Week to Seal Aid Plan as Germany Pushes IMF Option

See also:

Banksters Bet Greece Defaults on Debt They Helped Hide

Greek Debt Crisis: How Goldman Sachs Helped Greece to Mask its True Debt

Greece: 2009 Budget Deficit Was Just Revised From 12.2% To 16% Of GDP!

The CDS Puppetmaster Behind It All And The Ever Increasing Parallels Between AIG And Greece

The people will have to pay the bill …

… and the elite that controls the banksters, the governments, the media and the central banks always gains more money, power and control.


george-papandreou1

George Papandreou, Greece’s prime minister, gestures during a press briefing at the European Union Parliament headquarters in Brussels, on March 18, 2010. Photographer: Jock Fistick/Bloomberg

March 18 (Bloomberg) — Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou set a one-week deadline for the European Union to craft a financial aid mechanism for Greece, challenging Germany to give up its doubts about a rescue package.

Papandreou said he may turn to the International Monetary Fund to overcome Greece’s debt crisis unless leaders agree to set up a lending facility at a summit March 25-26. The IMF option has already been dismissed by European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who say it would show the EU can’t solve its own crises.

“It’s an opportunity to make a decision next week at the summit,’’ Papandreou told reporters in Brussels today. “This is an opportunity we should not miss. When you have that instrument in place, that could be enough to tell the markets hands off, no speculation, let this country do what it’s doing.”

Read morePapandreou Gives EU One Week to Seal Aid Plan as Germany Pushes IMF Option

Church: Pope Had Role in Moving Molesting Priest

Pope knew priest was paedophile but allowed him to continue with ministry (Times)

Pope will struggle to survive abuse scandal (Irish Independent)

Benedict’s involvement ‘shows extent of cover-ups’ (Irish Independent)

Sinead O’Connor: I’d help Jesus to burn down the Vatican (Irish Independent)

RIGHTS-GERMANY: ‘Catholic Church Protects Paedophile Priests’ (IPS)

Child abuse claims sweep Catholic Church in Europe (AP)


pope-benedict-xvi
Pope Benedict XVI prays in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on May 15, 2009. Photographer: Yannis Behrakis/Pool via Bloomberg News

March 12 (Bloomberg) — Pope Benedict XVI, during his tenure as archbishop of Munich, played a role in a decision to move a priest accused of sexual molestation to his diocese to undergo therapy, the church said today.

The priest was later reassigned by another church official and committed more abuse, the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising said in a statement on its Web site. Benedict, at the time Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, “was involved” in a 1980 decision to move the priest, identified only as “H.,” from a church in Essen, Germany, to a rectory in the Munich region for treatment, the diocese said.

A former vicar-general in the church administration, Gerhard Gruber, subsequently allowed the accused priest to continue pastoral duties, during which he committed abuse and was convicted by a court in 1986. Gruber said in the statement that the decision to re-post “H.” was his alone.

“The repeated employment of ‘H.’ in pastoral duties was a serious mistake,” Gruber said. “I take full responsibility for this and I deeply regret that this decision led to offenses against youths — I apologize to all those who were harmed by this.”

A wave of allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests has emerged in Germany this year, beginning at an elite Jesuit high school in Berlin, Canisius-Kolleg. The head of the German Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, last month issued an apology to more than 100 pedophilia victims, echoing Benedict’s statement that such abuse is a “heinous crime.”

Read moreChurch: Pope Had Role in Moving Molesting Priest

Germany Snubs Greek Aid Plea As Protesters Seize Finance Ministry in Athens

See also:
Greece passes new deficit cuts to avert ‘catastrophe’ (Telegraph)


george-papandreou
George Papandreou, Greece’s prime minister, pauses during a conference organized by The Economist in Athens, on Feb. 2, 2010. (Bloomberg)

March 4 (Bloomberg) — Greece’s pledge to deepen planned budget-deficit cuts failed to yield an offer of assistance from Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, as protesters in Athens seized the finance ministry building and blocked roads in the city center.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a meeting tomorrow with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou won’t be “about aid commitments.” Her finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said the third round of deficit-reduction measures this year were probably enough to convince investors to buy Greek debt.

While Papandreou is risking a backlash at home to meet European Union demands for more deficit cuts before allies even consider providing aid, Merkel is facing domestic opposition to tapping taxpayers to extend a financial lifeline to Greece.

“There would be no understanding in Germany for bailing out Greece,” Henrik Enderlein, a political economist at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, said by phone. “It’s a bit of catch-22 situation: if you give in to Greece and you put 5 billion or perhaps even 10 billion into some kind of rescue package or into some guarantees, then the German government would look irresponsible. However, if it doesn’t, then European Union leaders might put a lot of pressure on Merkel and say, look, we have to bail out Greece.”

Read moreGermany Snubs Greek Aid Plea As Protesters Seize Finance Ministry in Athens

Germany’s Highest Court Overturns Anti-Terrorism Data Law

March 2 (Bloomberg) — Germany’s highest court overturned a two-year-old anti-terrorism law that requires telecommunications providers such as Deutsche Telekom AG to store Internet and phone data for six months, saying the rules violate privacy.

The law, which came into effect in December 2007 during Chancellor Angela Merkel’s previous government, calls for phone companies to collect data on phone calls, Internet surfing and text messaging for potential use in criminal or terrorist investigations.

The Federal Constitutional Court found that while the storing of communications data isn’t automatically unconstitutional, the law doesn’t sufficiently clarify what the information will be used for or provide for transparency.

The data “must be deleted immediately,” Hans-Juergen Papier, the court’s president, said today as he read out the decision in the western city of Karlsruhe.

Read moreGermany’s Highest Court Overturns Anti-Terrorism Data Law

Germany moves to out Greek debt speculators-source

* Financial watchdog BaFin attempts to identify debt bettors

* Probe sharpens German debate about helping Greece

* Berlin fears a rescue could give windfalls to speculators

BRUSSELS, March 1 (Reuters) – Germany has moved to identify speculators in Greek debt to try to prevent them from profiting from any bailout of the euro zone country’s ailing economy, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The initiative by the country’s financial watchdog is part of delicate deliberations in Germany as to whether it should help bail out Greece, which is grappling with mounting debts. [ID:nLDE6200TF]

“It would be bad if it were to emerge after a rescue that the money had gone into the pockets of speculators,” the source told Reuters.

“The result of the ‘Greek tragedy’ is that the political environment has become such that the Credit Default Swap (debt insurance) problem has come to the fore.”

The investigation by financial watchdog BaFin comes against a backdrop of worries over Greece’s future. It sends a warning to those trading insurance for Greek debt which, while legal, has been blamed for fuelling volatility – though it has so far failed to identify to what extent speculators are behind Greek debt price swings.

Read moreGermany moves to out Greek debt speculators-source

Europe: Quantifying The Donors And Moochers – Without Germany, The EU Would Not Exist

With the dramatic emergence of intra-EU bickering between various “banana-eating countries” and “tax cheats”, it is easy to lose sight of the forest for the banana trees. While it is subjective to say who owes whom what, one thing that is very objective, is whose money is critical to sustaining the European Union.

And here there is no doubt: without Germany, the EU would not exist. The country, which receives €78 billion from the EU annually, pays out more than double that, or €164 billion, for a net impact of (€1,045) per capita.

Surely the Germans would be just as happy to see this money retained by their economy instead of going to assorted hangers-on. And speaking of the latter, one of the biggest recipients, with a net benefit of €2,284 per person, is Greece, which pays just €15 billion a year to the EU but receives nearly triple, or €40 billion.

We wonder just how Greece will plug that particular hole should the EU dissolve after the recent escalation in rhetoric threatens to royally piss off the Germans.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

without-germany-the-eu-would-not-exist

Graphic via FSTeurope.com

Read moreEurope: Quantifying The Donors And Moochers – Without Germany, The EU Would Not Exist

Greece: 2009 Budget Deficit Was Just Revised From 12.2% To 16% Of GDP!

German Official: No EU, Bilateral Aid For Greece On EU Agenda (Wall Street Journal)


greece-001b

Goldman’s Erik Nielsen lands the bombshell that the Greek deficit mysteriously increased from €29.4 billion to a shopping €37.9 (keep in mind, this is not Bernanke notation where only quad- prefixes impress people at this point).

This increases the (running) 2009 budget deficit from 12.2% to 16%!

While certainly not the last time we hear of “prior revisions”, the question of just how patient Germany will be, should this number approach, oh say, 50% once the artificial support of various Goldman swaps expires (and at 50% the BSDs like Goldman will surely round up to 100%), is very much open.

From Goldman’s Erik Nielsen

Big revision up in their 2009 fiscal deficit: Late yesterday, the Greek finance ministry amended its website for its 2009 fiscal cash execution, adding close to EUR 6bn to expenditures in December for a total of EUR 11.8bn, which takes the full-year deficit to EUR 37.9bn – up from EUR 29.4bn reported previously.  This implies an increase in their 2009 central government budget deficit from about 12.2% of GDP to about 16% of GDP.  There has been made no explanation for this revision, but we think it may be associated with payment of arrears to hospitals, which means that the general government deficit may have increased by less.  Regardless, given the uncertainties, it is a stunning revision to make to the December payments without an explanation.  Hopefully, it’s a good use of money, like clearance of arrears, but it would be good to know.

Read moreGreece: 2009 Budget Deficit Was Just Revised From 12.2% To 16% Of GDP!