Issue #1567 3 October 2012
The scheming centred on Assange
It is now official – Julian Assange is considered an “enemy” of the United States. Documents obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald from US Air Force counter-intelligence make it clear that contact with the Australian journalist or his organisation, WikiLeaks, will bring charges of “communicating with the enemy” down on the heads of US military personnel. The maximum sentence in the event of conviction is death.
The information blows apart the story pedalled by Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr that the US has no interest in extraditing Assange to face charges of espionage or conspiracy. It confirms that authorities in Australia, Britain and the US have been engaged in delicate manoeuvring to neutralise a grave threat to their war plans – public awareness of the horrors of those wars and the dishonesty of diplomacy and manipulation of public opinion required to pursue them.
The US does not muck about with its “enemies”. Such individuals have been targeted by drones in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. There have been 297 strikes killing at least 1,800 people, many of them non-combatants. Of course, it wouldn’t do to attack Assange with a missile from a drone in the centre of London but make no mistake, hatred for the world’s most famous whistle-blower is deep-seated in the upper reaches of government in the US and elsewhere.
In fact, the expressions of hostility to somebody whose only “crime” was to tell the international community precisely what happens behind embassy doors had to be toned down for the sake of decorum. Official US spokespersons used to openly refer to him as a “high-tech terrorist” and an “enemy combatant”. Prime Minister Gillard, a lawyer in a previous stage of her career, once declared WikiLeaks guilty without trial of “an illegal act” and the airing of the US’ dirty laundry as “grossly irresponsible”.
Bob Carr is in the forefront of the latest tread softly PR campaign, insisting the only issue to be cleared up in relation to Assange is that of the allegations of sexual assault in Sweden. With regard to those matters, Carr insists Assange has had extensive consular assistance though he hasn’t specified to what end that “assistance” has been directed. Carr has joined a chorus of right-wing commentary asserting that extradition to Sweden would actually make any subsequent extradition to the US more difficult. It is hard to believe the assurances of this most pro-US of foreign ministers.
The reasons given as to why Assange can not be questioned in London over allegations of sexual assault keep shifting. It was originally claimed that Swedish law would not permit it. In the end, the only obstacle was said to be that of the “prestige” of the Swedish judicial process. Concerning the possibility of extradition from Sweden it was claimed that the Swedish courts would determine any such request in complete isolation from the sordid world of politics. It turns out that the government has the last word in these questions and its record is not good.
Much is made of the claim that Sweden cannot extradite a person to a country where they may face the death penalty. That didn’t prevent its involvement in the “extraordinary rendition” of two asylum seekers to Egypt where they were imprisoned, beaten and tortured. It is not hard to imagine a scenario in which Assange could be extradited in exchange for assurances he would not face the death penalty.
The government of Ecuador has come under attack for granting asylum to Assange. There are allegations of “hypocrisy” directed at WikiLeaks because of the Latin American nation’s supposedly woeful record on freedom of speech. Ecuador has broken away from US dominance since the election of President Rafael Correa late in 2006. The shift has earned the enmity of the US and dubious NGOs like Reporters Without Borders whose major donors are to be found in the Miami-based Cuban ex-pat community with all their CIA connections.
Ecuador has confirmed its status as a leader of the movement of countries reasserting their independence after decades of dominance by the US. Australia’s record, on the other hand, shows just how disgraceful its government is in its subservience to US military, economic and political interests. We need have no illusions about its loyalty to its citizens or the cause of truth in international relations.
Next article – Call from Bougainville
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