Sunday, February 27, 2011

Where Are We Going?

So, my friends. Wikileaks, Sidibouzid, Egypt, Libya... Been a big few months! Where are we going now? A lot remains to be decided, but much that once seemed radically impossible can now be stated with certainty.

Firstly, it's clear that future governments in North African countries are going to be ambivalent, at best, to Western powers, particularly the USA. This change in sentiment is already spreading across the Middle East too, which is a surely good thing, given the West's history of support for repressive regimes in the region.

We are already seeing signs of dramatic change. Two Iranian ships have sailed through the Suez canal for the first time since 1979. Israel predictably slammed the move as provocative and destabilising, but nobody did anything to stop them. It's worth noting that both ships were built in Britain, and it's also worth asking how Israel would react if the Iranian Navy ever escorted a humanitarian flotilla to Gaza. But as long as protests continue gathering pace in Tehran, staged events like this remain something of a side-show.

Egypt's border with Gaza is a far more significant flash-point. Since Israel's genocidal assault on Gaza two years ago, skirmishes, protests and rocket attacks have remained frequent. But there has been an increase in Israeli air assaults since the people's revolution in Cairo. Clearly the border has become more porous already, and Israel's response indicates that it plans to continue hardening its militant stance.

If so, that is a great mistake. Israel now has no choice but to negotiate in good faith with their new neighbourhood leaders, and that must certainly include an end, once and for all, to the apartheid persecution of Palestinians. The declaration of a Palestinian State along 1967 borders - already recognised by much of the world, especially in South America - must now be accepted in Tel Aviv. Mubarak's cement-and-steel wall along the Sinai borders with Gaza must also come down.

Israelis now understand the increasing pressure to negotiate a Palestinian peace deal. Of course Western leaders who helped prop up Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Gaddafi remain steadfastly loyal to Israel, in public at least. But electorate attitudes to Israeli repression are shifting in reaction to media coverage of the "Arab Spring". Anyway, Western leaders have their own problems with widespread discontented masses.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has praised Al Jazeera's coverage, asking why US media cannot be as professional and informative. Compare that with former President Bush, who seriously considered bombing Al Jazeera's headquarters in US-friendly Qatar. We can only hope Clinton's comments pave the way for Al Jazeera's entry to the US media landscape, a move which would rock US attitudes to foreign policy (and maybe even domestic politics).

If Israel continues its hard-line policy against Palestine, it will soon find Arab nations far more united in opposition than the tame Arab League ever managed. Should that happen, we can safely assume Washington would stand behind their "friends" (or is it "masters"?) in Tel Aviv. And then it might be up to right-thinking people in Israel and the USA to somehow force their governments back from the brink of a calamitous full-scale war.

Will it come to that? I certainly hope not. For starters, Arab nations should be able to exert economic pressure on the West, if only because so much black gold remains trapped beneath their desert sands. And the martyrs who gave their lives to support peaceful revolutions in countries like Egypt and Tunisia would hardly want their brothers killed in violent battles abroad.

But Israel and Washington must start to recognise the new realities already forming in the region. Hard-line rhetoric must be scaled down. US forces must withdraw from the Iraq and Afghanistan. Settlement building and air assaults on Gaza must be terminated immediately. Peaceful dialogue must begin again (no more meaningless farces) and this time it must lead to real change, quickly! The people of the Arab world will accept nothing less.

If leaders on all sides cannot deliver such change, they should step aside or be replaced. And that includes the House of Saud, whose actions in the coming weeks could prove critical to the future of not just the Middle East, but the entire planet.

Make no mistake. The world is changing rapidly, and the broader effects of popular revolutions in North Africa are already being felt around the globe. We, the people of this fragile planet, face incredibly huge and difficult problems - over-population, peak oil, and climate change. Meanwhile, our elite billionaire Western power-brokers continue to pillage our coffers just as shamelessly as their Middle Eastern dictator friends. We cannot rely on them to save us.

We should all take courage from the brave example of protesters in faraway places like Tahrir Square, Benghazi, and Sidibouzid. The revolution of people against corrupted power must continue spreading. We must join hands and bring down those whose lies and greed threaten the future of our planet. If our leaders cannot see the path ahead, we must replace them and continue pushing forward.

Peace, equality, justice, and a bright future are ours, if we want them. Let nobody stand in our way!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Julian Assange Live Chat on Aftonbladet 24feb11

This is the full transcript of the live chat with Julian Assange at Aftonbladet today (Swedish text in italics):

torsdag 24 februari, 2011

Välkomna till chatten med Wikileaksgrundaren Julian Assange.
Ni kan redan nu ställa era frågor till honom.
Chatten kommer att genomföras på engelska.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 19:26 Moderator

Chatten börjar klockan 20.30.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 19:59 Moderator

Nu börjar chatten! Välkomna!
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 20:31 Moderator

Vi har lite tekniska problem, chatten fortsätter strax.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 20:35 Moderator

Vi har tekniska problem, vi tappar kontakten med Assange hela tiden. Chatten skjuts upp till 22.15, då vi hoppas på en bättre uppkoppling. Tack för ert tålamod!
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 20:44 Moderator

Chatten är uppskjuten till 22.45. Aftonbladet ber om ursäkt för dröjsmålet. Tack för ert tålamod!
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 22:04 Moderator

[Kommentar från OlofOlof: ]
Do you see yourself as a modern-day freedom fighter?

Julian Assange:
Hello everyone!
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 22:46 Julian Assange

Julian Assange:
The freedom to communicate knowledge is, to me, the most important freedom. It is the freedom on which all other freedoms and rights depend. Concepts such as the right to representation, freedom from arbitary detention or torture all need to be voiced and evidence for them made clear. This can only be done effectively if the central freedom - the right to communicate is strong. In fighting for this freedom, we fight for all freedoms.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 22:50 Julian Assange

[Kommentar från JohnJohn: ]
How Do u feel about the court decision today?
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 22:50 John

Julian Assange:
It was not a surprise. Over 95% of EU arrest warrants result in such an outcome in the lower courts. The judge involved, Riddle was the same judge that first put me in prison. I am of course, annoyed at the tremendous distraction from our work in the revolutions in the middle east. This angers me, but on the other hand, the process does mean we and others such as Fair Trials International can inspire law reforms in Sweden and europe.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 22:54 Julian Assange

[Kommentar från MariaMaria: ]
What do you base your assumptions on that Sweden will send you to USA?
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 22:54 Maria

Julian Assange:
This is an interesting question that few people have looked at with any depth. Onwards extradition - to the United States - entirely a matter of politics. The Swedish Prime Minister has refused to block such an extradition, saying, falsely, that it is a matter entirely for the judiciary, while at the same time pathetically pandering with his other commentary on the case. Infact, he has the power, in the Swedish extradition relationship with the US, to disqualify my extradition. He refuses. According to what I have been told of the protocol between Sweden and the UK, and the US and the UK, the Home Secretary of the UK, simiarly has such power to politically veto such an extradition. The British government, thus far, has refused to do so. Now, while it is convention that an extradition from the UK or Sweden to the US would require the US to agree to not execute or torture me or other european based WikiLeaks staff, any such diplomatic guarentee would be meaningless. Sweden went through that formalism with its CIA assisted extraditions to Egypt, which were immediately ignored. In the US many senior politicians have called for our assassination or life imprisonment. There are three bills before Congress and the Senate to do such things as declare us a "transnational threat", so all our staff can be treated like al-Quada - as "enemy combatants" and shipped off to Bagram or Guantanamo, etc. Nothing Sweden can politely ask for can stop this legislative risk.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:04 Julian Assange

[Kommentar från MajaMaja: ]
What happens to your work with Wikileaks now? Are you releasing anything new soon?
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:04 Maja

Julian Assange:
We are releasing new material every day. Major efforts throughout South America have appeared in the last week and we have had since the start of the year a special focus on the middle east, which is continuing.

Hi Julian. Do you see yourself involved in what happening in the Arabic World? Are their fight for freedom based on the document you have revealed?
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:06 cleo

Julian Assange:
The heavy lifting in these revolutions has been done by long standing civil and political groups throughout the middle east. However we have tried to play a part in the region since last year. In particular, we are pround of the work of our media partner Al-Akhbar in Lebanon who published many important stories based on our material in Arabic. Al-Alkbar and WikiLeaks were then banned by the Ben Ali regime of Tunisia. Supportive computer hackers then redirected many Tunisian government websites to WikiLeaks and its cables exposing Ben Ali. Al-Alkbar suffered three critical cyber attacks and had its cable publishing eventually wiped out. The sophistication of the attacks point to state involvement. Subsequently, we worked with the Telegraph and on our own to aggressively expose Mubarak (Egypt), Soliman (Egypt), Bahrain and Libya.

[Kommentar från BJBJ: ]
What makes you think you will not be given a fair trial in Sweden?
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:13 BJ

Julian Assange:
I could never have imagined just how badly the Swedish justice system can be abused. This question needs a very long answer, but Swedes everywhere are coming forward to tell us horror story after horror story. While these domestic considerations are bad enough, in my case we have united both Social Democrat patronage networks through political opportunists like Claes Borgstrom and other radical feminists who hope to get some limelight, toghether with the worst elements of the Moderates who hope to curry favor with the US. I do see, however that the Swedish press is starting to question what is going on more. But, I loved Sweden and the level of xenophoblic opportunism saddens me. I still believe Sweden can be a good country, but it must first, grow up.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:23 Julian Assange

[Kommentar från TheAmazingHanna TheAmazingHanna: ]
What do you think the chances are for appealing today's decision?

Julian Assange:
The United Kingdom has its own pressures. Just look at the handling of the case here. It was the UK that appealed to keep me in prison, rather than have me under house arrest. It is not that, in terms of law, that the UK is safer at protecting me from the US, rather it is that, at least I am receiving matterials in my own language, English, something that the Swedish government has, to this day, refused to do, and being a larger country, the judiciary is further seperated from government patronage networks. I have greater ability to fight US extradition in the UK than I do in Sweden. The cables we released about Sweden paint a grim picture. Swedish politicians and bureaucrats sometimes do not follow the rule of law when it comes to their dealings with the United States.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:28 Julian Assange

Kommentar från Andreas_A Andreas_A: ]
If you are innocent to the allegations of sexual assault, why do you not willingly return to Sweden to clear your name and your reputation?
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:29 Andreas_A

Julian Assange:
There has been so many abuses by the Swedish government, including the ongoing refusal to provide me any material in English, and the prosecutor Ny lying about interview agreements, that I do not have confidence in the Swedish justice system. Let us not forget that I already gave an interview, stayed in Sweden voluntarily for a month, and the warrant for my arrest was dropped.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:32 Julian Assange

[Kommentar från Annika Annika: ]
The impression from the press is that this is a conspiracy against you, attacking Wikileaks. What I wonder is if there is any substance to the charges. Can you give any comment to this without compromizing the ongoing investigation?
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:33 Annika

Julian Assange:
There is a lot of pressure. We should not let people who want to detract from the seriousness of pressure recast it into a conspiratorial cartoon. That is not how real life tends to work. This case has been going for six months. There are many people and many complicated agendas.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:37 Julian Assange

[Kommentar från Peter Peter: ]
Are you Wikileaks or will Wikileaks continue if you are in prision?
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:37 Peter

Julian Assange:
I have set structures in play. We will not be stopped.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:39 Julian Assange

[Kommentar från Gustav F Gustav F: ]
Don't you believe that "white lies" are a necessety for a functional government? I.E. the US ambassadeur personal judgements of certain european leaders?
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:39 Gustav F

Julian Assange:
The lies we have exposed are not white. They are the highest order concealment of criminality. If governments that conceal reality from their peoples can not function when those realities are revealed, that's fine by me. Let them be replaced with ones that do not.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:41 Julian Assange

[Kommentar från Anneli Anneli: ]
Do you ever feel guilty that some of your leaks/sources has been exposed ?
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:42 Anneli

Julian Assange:
As far as we are aware, we have never failed a source. In two cases, alleged sources allegedly made the mistake of speaking to individuals or not from WikiLeaks.

[Kommentar från Martijn Martijn: ]
What do you think of Anonymous attacks against websites such as mastercard in order to support you?
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:44 Martijn

Julian Assange:
We neither condemn not condone them. They are they online equivallent of a protest and as such are an expression of public sentiment.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:45 Julian Assange

[Kommentar från Gabriel Gabriel: ]
What do you fear will happen if you came to Sweden?
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:46 Gabriel

Julian Assange:
Already answered.
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:47 Julian Assange

Julian Assange:
OK. I have to get back to work now. Thanks everyone. Bye!
torsdag 24 februari, 2011 23:48 Julian Assange

Julian Assange:
Oh. There is one more thing I would like to say.

Julian Assange:
I would like to thank all those Swedish women and men who have stepped forward to help me and tell us what is going on and going wrong. Thanks!

Då avslutar vi kvällens chatt.
Stort tack till alla er som ställde frågor och till Julian Assange som svarade på dem.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What I Know

Here is what I know.

I was right and you were wrong.

I was right about the invasion of Iraq. It was the oil, stupid.
The oil and the power and the bases and the money.

You were wrong.

I was right about 9/11. Why else did they hide the truth?
That doesn't mean that buildings were professionally demolished
Or a plane didn't fly into the Pentagon
Or passengers didn't bring down a flight
Or even that there were no planes at all.

It means there was a cover-up. A monstrous, huge cover-up.

Nobody knows the truth except the perps.

Just like JFK. Just like the Gulf of Tonkin. Just like Saddam's WMDs.
Just like Iran-Contra.

The same people, the same groups, the same demented mindsets.
Criminals. Murderers. Sociopaths.

Running the country, running the world.

What about the anthrax of October 2001?
FBI lies.
The government did it. They covered it up.
They don't want you to know.

They want you scared, so you will agree to anything.
I said don't be scared.

You said shut up and fight!

I said be peaceful.

You said I was a traiter (sic).

I was right and you were wrong.

That is what I know.

And I am still right, and you are still wrong,
And that will never change
Until you admit that I was right
And you were wrong.