[Re-issue] Power is not to be fought, but feared
The West exposes its morals as advertising
Ed: This article was originally published 9 days after the beginning of this site. It still has a few useful things to say. A Culture section has been added.
As a young man, back in the days when access to the internet was via modem, Julian Assange was accused in court in Melbourne, Australia, of trying to penetrate various networks via the X.25 protocol. Because there were no strong laws against this type of behaviour at the time, and it was a first offense, he was given some light sentence.
He later continued to move in the CypherPunk (note: Cypher != Cyber) political space and studied computer science. Having learned about encryption, he implemented an encrypted file system called the "Rubber Hose" file system. Its purpose was to allow you to hold files on your computer, but if it was impounded provide a different password which would expose the files you wanted to be seen, but not the one's you didn't. i.e if you're being beaten with a rubber hose you tell them password 2.
All of this follows the publication in 1976 by Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman entitled, "New Directions in Crytpography". I rank this in the top 50 of the top 100 academic articles of the 20th century, and you lose the top 30 places to just physics (Photo-Electic Effect, Double-Slit Experiment, Special and General Relativity, Quantum Electro-Dymanics, Identification of the Nucleus, ...). This paper did two things; it brought revolutionary cryptographic ideas into the public scientific community and solved the oldest problem in cryptography.
It is worth understanding that problem. Before this paper, to run a secure cryptographic system, which is critical to any diplomatic service, you needed to securely distribute the keys to be used by both the sender and receiver so that they could correctly encipher and decipher (or encrypt and decrypt) the message. When you see men in suits boarding aircraft with locked briefcases handcuffed to their wrists, this is what is happening. The conundrum is "if you have a secure method for key distribution, why not just use that for the message". The answer is that keys can be short but messages long, thus despite the difficulty of secure key distribution it is more efficient. Diffie and Hellman (and actually a researcher at the UK's GCHQ a few years earlier) came up with a solution that eliminated the key distribution problem. Its called "Public-Private Key Cryptography".
Today, everything that you do "securely" on the internet is based on derivatives of this one paper.
The CypherPunks understood the Internet as both a tool of emancipation and a tool of enslavement. To obtain the former and deny the later the key solution is cryptography.
Having grown up in the CypherPunk movement and done his time in academia Assange struck out on a new path. I call it "verifiable history". It can be twisted in various political representations, and it has a political underpinning, because it comes from an understanding of power. It goes roughly like this: powerful governments need powerful institutions which require people, and many of them need access to its secrets. We know that powerful governments do nasty things. Some small percentage of "secrets approved" government employees may be sufficiently disappointed with these dubious actions that they wish to curtail these government actions. However, we have known that governments repress any "whistleblowing", persecuting the whisleblowers and establishing commissions to whitewash the events in official findings. Would it be possible to use the Internet and Cryptography and clever use of Computer Science to create a way for whistleblowers to provide authentic documents, which would need to be verified, so that they could then be published AND RETAINED in a PERMANENT ARCHIVE. This is Wikileaks.
The publishing needs to be done in a way to maximize the impact of the whistleblower's revelations to acknowledge their risks and to encourage others. To do this, Wikileaks partnered with many, many news publishers in many countries for this maximization. They needed the local expertise to do the maximization (to relate the documents to local political events). This is classic win-win; we've got the source documents, you understand how to maximize them; lets work together.
The idea, but more importantly the developed mechanism for protecting the anonymity of whistleblowers, was without a doubt the biggest revolution in national security journalism since, forever.
Of course, the national security sector need to respond to this threat, for there are secrets which need to be maintained and, I would argue, a vast majority that do not. There are two quotes which I think really expose their assumption that you are stupid.
Firstly, "He's a high tech terrorist". He's a guy who has studied at nationally funded universities in the western world and learnt about computer science and cryptography, and is now publishing verified documents exposing corruption, malfeasance, fraud, waste and abuse, war crimes etc. meanwhile you are conducting foreign aggressive wars without UN Security Council approval that are killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and displacing millions. This is a comment about the "Operation Mockingbird" stupidity of US media and of the hubris of the national security sector.
The next great comment is by my favourite US Secretary of State of All Time: Mike Pompeo: "Wikileaks is a non-state hostile intelligence service". Lets parse that. "non-state" means that its not a state funded organisation; ok. "hostile" means it publishes things we (as CIA director or Secretary of State) don’t like; ok. "intelligence service" means they publish information. Pompeo could not have described a valuable news media publication in a more succinct way: independent and aggressive with verifiable information, as opposed to the intelligence services infiltrated corporate controlled, or government funded, rubbish which most western populations have to withstand.
I suggest that any media organisation who is labelled with this expression, immediately transcribe it, with attribution, to their Mission Statement.
Wikileaks' first major success was influencing the 2006 election in Kenya which lead to a change of government. Leaks Wikileaks published allowed the opposition to point to verified documents exposing corruption and illegality within the existing government.
The "big time" comes with the Manning leaks, and then those relating to the CIA.
The Manning key leaks are the Collateral Murder video, the Guantanimo Bay files, the Iraq and Afghan War logs and the US Dept of State Cables. The key CIA leaks are Vault 7, and particularly, the Marble Framework.
There are many, many others relating to governments all around the world, but the persecution of Wikileaks derives from these exposures of US "mis-deeds".
I have a bone to pick with progressive, independent media who always say that Assange is being persecuted for "exposing war crimes". This is palpably false. The US is certainly annoyed, but its a blip. Progressive media may respond "but that is what they charged him with!" Wake up. They do not want the general media talking about the sensitive stuff.
The US is not signatory to the Statue of Rome and thus deny the International Criminal Court any jurisdiction (although, there may be problems from Afghanistan). So, you can just throw out the video, the War logs and the Guantanimo bay files. Whilst these have been helpful to victims of US aggression, the US cares very little about it. A court case here and a court case there; they just pull their operatives out of the country and deny any charges in the US. This has happened again and again. It is manageable.
The things that really piss them off are the State Cables and Vault 7. Just think about it a bit. Exposing the nature of the corruption in US international relations, or more precisely "how it runs its empire" and the "cyber" mechanisms that the CIA use to frame others?
The Man and the Persecution
Is Assange arrogant? Yeah, a bit, but wouldn't you be if you were able to challenge and outwit the most powerful government? The case of the downing of Evo Morales' flight from Russia back to Columbia is a beautiful example. A little background is in order.
Assange is trying to help Edward Snowden, because surviving whistleblowers is good for Wikileaks. He sends Sarah Harrison to Hong Kong and begins efforts to find potential asylum for Snowden, having had just a little experience of this himself. Harrison, with wonderful assistance from local Human Rights lawyer Tibo, manages to sort of "smuggle" Snowden out of Hong Kong on a flight via Russia to Ecuador. It all blows up because the US cancel's Snowden's passport whilst he is in transit between China and Russia, onwards to Ecuador via Cuba. So, Snowden cannot board the onward flight from Russia to Cuba because "no valid passport". The titanic struggle of the next 40 days with Snowden and Harrison "holed up" in the Moscow airport ensues with attempts to secure asylum from Russia, which is granted.
Meanwhile, Evo Morales, the then president of Columbia, is returning on a flight from Moscow back home. Assange/Wikileaks plant information to suggest that Snowden is on this plane. The US pressures numerous European countries to deny overflight to a diplomatic flight with the Colombian President on board. This is balls-to-the-wall crazy, and costs the US a huge amount of diplomatic capital, all for a ruse planted by Wikileaks (probably with assistance of various partners).
We have not even gotten to the Vault 7 leaks, or the exposure of HR Clinton's control of the US Democrats's National Committee to deny Senator Sanders bid for nomination. Are the US deep state pissed? F*ck yeah. They are being played by a guy trapped in an apartment/Embassy in London. Can you imagine it?
Is the US using every power it has to punish Assange/Wikileaks. Yep. Why? "Telling the truth", no. "Exposing war crimes", no. Were they annoyed, yes. Why did the Trump administration issue the charges? Because Pompeo was furious about the Vault 7 leaks, and the change in government in Equador gave them leverage, and they had UC Global on board running full scale surveillance, even in the women's bathroom. They felt they had all the cards. Magistrate Judge Vanessa Baraitser's verdict was the "almost" that they did. Why she did not throw the proceedings out for the spying by the applying prosecutor on the defendant's legal discussions with council tells you all you need to know. But, politically, the UK could not issue the extradition. Instead, they think they can kill him in jail and think that it is less politically damaging. “He died in his sleep of an unknown complications to pneumonia; case closed.”
The Road Forward
The UK High Court has now had 6 months to decide if it will, or will not, hear an appeal on the Magistrate's decision to deny extradition. There is some, maybe a little, reason for this delay. The defense did lodge a counter-claim, as an attempt to overturn the disastrous press freedom impacting judgements made by Judge Baraitser.
Meanwhile, a man who has already served the outrageous penalty of 50 weeks in jail for "bail violation" in a maximum security prison, with no way out until the High Court decides to hear the case, and then the case is heard, and then we find out whether bail will be issued in case if the US wants to appeal to the Supreme Court. This is atrocious, and to design.
See all commentary and articles by UN Rapporteur on Torture (and degrading treatment etc.) Nils Melzer if you really want to get angry about this patently obvious abuse of process and the ganging up on a single individual by four states, the likes of which he had never seen before.
Assange's father and brother are touring the US. They, I believe, have rightly given up on the UK, and are instead trying to pressure the new US administration to drop the extradition request. Best of luck to them.
I hope its obvious that I have been following this travesty for a decade. But, I assume if you are reading this you know most of the story. If not start with Nils Melzer and then branch outwards. Ignoring the whole embarrassment to Sweden with the UK FCO demanding that they not get “cold feet” and the overturning of UK law after Assange was required to be shipped off to Sweden by the Supreme Court for the “red notice” issued by a prosecutor but not a judge, look at the economic blockade on Wikileaks by MasterCard and Visa. Just see the power establishment coming, one after the next.
America REACTS to "Rich Men North Of Richmond" by Oliver Anthony, Matt Orfalea's video editing provides a window in the US, 0rf, uploaded 2023-08-16
Orfalea is serious, see the notes below the video (at youtube) for every single video source used in this one video. He’s also been banned by social media multiple times for publishing video edits from public source videos. Matt Taibbi at Racket News took up his case once. Orf is yet another independent journalist/commentator/creator smacked down by the “disinformation” industry because they dont like what he manages to say, even only using public information. Yeah. I feel that way too.