More than 71 US agencies -- mostly under the DoD and State Department -- run expensive, unaudited, chaotic, overlapping military and police training programs in more than 150 countries on every continent except Antarctica, with no real oversight and only pro-forma checks on the recipients of this training to ensure that they aren't human rights abusers or war criminals. Read the rest
Julian Assange has presented a set of data protection act liberated messages from GCHQ, the UK spy headquarters, concerning his own case. According to Assange, the messages reveal that UK spies believed that the Swedish rape inquiry against him was a "fit up" aimed at punishing him for his involvement in Wikileaks (many believe that the Swedish government would have aided in Assange's extradition to the USA, where there is a sealed Grand Jury indictment against him). He also revealed cables relating to the spies' candid opinion about his sheltering in the Ecuadorian embassy:
A message from September 2012, read out by Assange, apparently says: "They are trying to arrest him on suspicion of XYZ … It is definitely a fit-up… Their timings are too convenient right after Cablegate..."
...A second instant message conversation from August last year between two unknown people saw them call Assange a fool for thinking Sweden would drop its attempt to extradite him.
The conversation, as read out by Assange, goes: "He reckons he will stay in the Ecuadorian embassy for six to 12 months when the charges against him will be dropped, but that is not really how it works now is it? He's a fool… Yeah … A highly optimistic fool."
GCHQ acknowledges that the messages are real, but, "The disclosed material includes personal comments between some members of staff and do not reflect GCHQ's policies or views in any way."
Julian Assange reveals GCHQ messages discussing Swedish extradition [Giles Tremlett and Ben Quinn/Guardian] Read the rest
Various politicians -- MPs and former MPs from Iceland and Tunisia, two Pirate Party MEPs from Sweden -- have nominated Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize. Anyone can nominate anyone else for the prize, but this is a particularly good one, especially given the torture Manning faced for his brave efforts, and the ongoing persecution he is experiencing. As the nominating letter points out, Obama has already publicly announced his belief that Manning is guilty, which makes rather a mockery of a fair trial.
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Manning is a soldier in the United States army who stands accused of releasing hundreds of thousands of documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. The leaked documents pointed to a long history of corruption, war crimes, and a lack of respect for the sovereignty of other democratic nations by the United States government in international dealings.
These revelations have fueled democratic uprisings around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on the foreign and domestic policies of European nations, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S.troops from the occupation in Iraq.
Bradley Manning has been incarcerated for more then 1000 days by the U.S. Government. He spent over ten months of that time period in solitary confinement, conditions which expert worldwide have criticized as torturous. Juan Mendez, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, has repeatedly requested and been denied a private meeting with Manning to assess his conditions.
Heather Brooke is the American-trained "data journalist" who upended British politics when she moved to the UK and began to use the UK's Freedom of Information law to prise apart the dirty secrets of power and privilege, most notably by exposing the expense cheating by Members of Parliament. Brooke's latest book is The Revolution will be Digitised: Dispatches from the Information War, a history of her involvement in the Wikileaks cable-dumps and a meditation on the meaning and role of data-driven journalism in the coming years, as governments ramp up their attempts to lock down the Internet, and journalists, hackers, and activists attempt to open things further.
Brooke is uniquely situated to produce this analysis as someone who was both part of the Cablegate dump and someone who reported on it. She documents her odd and sometimes unpleasant dealings with Assange as well, but the Assange story isn't the most important aspect of Cablegate or this book, and Brooke's focus is thankfully on the broader narrative. This isn't another book that treats the Wikileaks phenomenon as a cult-of-personality story revolving around one person.
Brooke journeys to the hacker scenes in Berlin, San Francisco and Boston, and the radicalized halls of power in Iceland, and spins a story that does a good job of explaining what, exactly, happened with Cablegate: how the cables got out, the intrigues and infighting amongst the players (media, hackers, activists) and the governmental spin in response.
Here is one place where Brooke really opened my eyes: there are many people who make blanket assertions about the US government's manipulation of the press. Read the rest