Letter from Denmark: Stop Fascism in the Making: Support Wikileaks!

Julian Assange, key initiator of Wikileaks, has been granted bail despite the British government’s appeal made in behalf of the Swedish government. A British district court judge had waited two days before approving bail in the amount of $ 316,000, on the condition that Assange wear an electronic tag, report to a police station daily, and comply with a 16-hour curfew allowing just eight hours of freedom from the “mansion arrest” in the house of a wealthy journalist/club owner.

At play here could well be documents Wikileaks released that show that US diplomats communicated with their State Department and White House bosses in Washington saying British troops in Afghanistan are not very good at the job. Brits are angry about this slur, especially given their long record of standing “shoulder to shoulder” with Bush’s in his terror wars.

Also, many Swedish politicians are angry after other Wikileaks documents exposing how, unknown to its parliament, Sweden’s military and secret services have long worked behind the scenes with NATO and have offered more assistance to the CIA than is legally permitted in supposedly neutral Sweden.

Assange wasn’t immediately released, as not all the bail money has been raised. It is difficult to get money to the defense, because the US government pressured conveyors of donations and website servers for Wikileaks’ homepage to end cooperation. Paypal, Visa, Mastercharge, Assange’s own Swiss bank, and other Establishment businesses have frozen Assange and wikileaks accounts and refused to process donations.

Democratic Argument for Extending the Bush Tax Cuts Insults our Intelligence

The Democratic argument for approving the rancid “compromise” reached between President Obama and his GOP “hostage-takers,” which would extend the outrageous Bush tax-cuts for another two years and allow individuals to pass on, tax-free to heirs, up to $5 million, $10 million for married couples), is that members of Congress cannot afford to allow taxpayers to see more taken out of their paychecks come Jan. 1, 2011, when the Bush tax cuts currently expire, and cannot allow the long-term unemployed to lose their unemployment compensation extended benefit checks, which are set to expire too on that date.

This assumes that Americans are too stupid to realize that it is the Republicans’ insistence on extending the tax cuts for the obscenely rich that is preventing Congress from simply extending the cuts for the middle class, limiting the inheritance tax exemption, and passing an extension of the unemployment extended benefits program.

How much savvy does that really take though? Polls show that a majority of Americans thinks that the tax cuts should be ended for the wealthy, who after all, have only been getting richer these past few years while the rest of us have gotten poorer, and that wealthy estates should be taxed heavily. Polls also show that a majority of Americans say that unemployment is the biggest problem facing America today.

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

It is the climactic scene. Dorothy and her friends stand before the great Wizard of Oz. Toto wanders off and yanks back a curtain to reveal a man busy manipulating levers. Whistles and smoke bombs go off, and the great Oz thunders: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”
____________

The federal government, the military and the Library of Congress have all ordered those under their power not to look at the material published on the WikiLeaks website because it is illegal and looking would make them criminals. Meanwhile, Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, is still jailed in Britain because his condom allegedly “malfunctioned” while having sex in Sweden with a woman with shady connections to anti-Castro Cubans and US intelligence.

This raises a very real question: How is the US approach to WikiLeaks any different from the tyrannical Chinese government’s crack down on websites publishing things Chinese leaders fear and want to control?

Despite all the “leader of the free world” propaganda hammered into us since first grade, are we really any different? As my dad liked to say, the Chinese were civilized when our WASP ancestors were living in trees. Is it time we stopped letting ourselves be deluded that we’re “exceptional” in the world?

The US government campaign to close down WikiLeaks uses the same tactics as the campaign by the Chinese to thwart its website enemies. They both rely on the intimidation of funding sources, they both publicly smear leaders of the criminalized website and they both use their nation’s legal system, since, in both China and the United States, the legal system has been designed by the powerful class of people most likely to be embarrassed by the revelations on “subversive” websites.

Here’s a novel idea: To make up for the undeserved Nobel Peace Prize given last year to Barack Obama and in line with the more appropriate Peace Prize given out this year to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, next year maybe the Nobel Committee should give the Peace Prize to Julian Assange. Especially if he’s in prison.

Samuel Huntington and US Decline

I’ve generally disdained historians like Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington, since both of them were used ad nauseum to bolster the imperial Bush Doctrine of preemptive military violence.

Turkish cartoonist Mustafa Bilgin's take on The Clash Of CivilizationsTurkish cartoonist Mustafa Bilgin's take on The Clash Of Civilizations

But the other day for 35-cents at a thrift shop I picked up Huntington’s 1996 magnum opus, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. While it has a testimonial on the back from the devil himself, Henry Kissinger, the book is important and more politically neutral than the list of its right-wing militarist worshippers suggest.

Something is Rotten: The Strange Case of Interpol's Red Alert on Assange, and the US Attack on WikiLeaks

Far be it from mem with a daughter of my own, and a wife, to minimize the issue of rape, but to borrow from the Bard, in the case of the “rape” case being alleged against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (technically, Swedish prosecutors say it’s not rape, it’s “sex by surprise”), currently being held in a British jail without bail pending an extradition request from Stockholm: “Something is rotten in Sweden.”

As I wrote earlier in this publication, the alleged sexual crimes that Assange is currently being sought for by a Swedish prosecutor are:

1. Allegedly failing to halt an act of consensual sexual intercourse when his sex partner and host, Anna Ardin, claims she somehow became aware that the condom he was using had “split” and,

2. Having consensual sex with a second woman a few days later without informing her that he had just been with Ardin, and then, a day later, allegedly refusing to return a phone call on his cell phone, when she tried to call him to ask him to take an STD test. (Assange says he had turned off and was not using his phone for fear he was being traced through it, not that refusing to take a call from a woman one recently slept with should be considered criminal. Cold or even cruel, maybe, but not justification for a rape charge!)

In most countries, including the US and UK, these would not pass the test to be considered a crime, much less qualify as a category of “rape,” but Swedish authorities, who in all of this year have only submitted one other request to Interpol for assistance in capturing a sex crimes suspect, asked the international police agency to issue a so-called Red Alert for Assange, who was subsquently asked by police in the UK, where he was staying, to turn himself in or face arrest. (The other Interpol Red Alert sought by Swedish prosecutors this year was for Jan Christer Wallenkurtz, a 58-year-old Swedish national wanted on multiple charges of alleged sex crimes and sex crimes against children.)

The Interpol Red Alert page on Assange. Curiously, the agency couldn't find a photo to accompany the alert.The Interpol Red Alert page on Assange. Curiously, the agency couldn't find a photo to accompany the alert.

America Criticized For Human Rights Abuses

Given the sensationalism in mainstream US news media coverage of alleged sexual impropriety charges filed against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Sweden, it’s no surprise that other significant news about America involving that Scandinavian nation is being left uncovered.

In early November, Sweden called on the US to end the death penalty and to improve conditions in maximum security prisons, as the United States went through its first-ever Universal Periodic Review by the United Nation’s Human Rights Council.
US condemned for its continued use of capital punishmentUS condemned for its continued use of capital punishment

Sweden joined nearly two dozen countries in calling upon the US to end its pariah-like status as the only western industrialized nation to engage in executions. The US has over 3,200 people facing death sentences, a sharp rise from 1968, when America’s death row population numbered just 517, according to statistics compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center.

Other countries critical of the US posture on the death penalty – practiced by the federal government and 35 states – included Australia (the birthplace of Assange), France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Vatican.

The caustic onslaught in the U.S. against Assange for leaking sensitive documents, where attackers include members of Congress – some even calling for Assange’s death, either extrajudicially or after a trial–is ironic, coming so close to December 10th, the annual international observance of Human Rights Day.

Support WikiLeaks and Defend Julian Assange!

WikiLeaks is under concerted attack from the US government. Also under attack by the US government is the whole idea of freedom of thought and of information.

It is increasingly clear that the “rape” charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are trumped-up affairs resulting from pressure by the US government and intelligence agencies on Swedish authorities. The main allegation of rape is being made by a Swedish woman, Anna Ardin, who admits she had consensual sex with Assange, but claims he failed to halt their love-making when a condom allegedly failed. Calling such a situation “rape”–if it even happened–makes a mockery of the term.

The idea of an international arrest warrant through Interpol on such a flimsy and in any case virtually unprovable charge is an insult to all the victims of real rape whose cases in the US and elsewhere around the world are regularly left unprosecuted. In addition, the woman making the allegation has a connection to a CIA-linked anti-Castro organization and a brother in Swedish intelligence who was a liason in Washington to US intelligence services, raising further questions about the whole “incident.” A second woman’s charges against Assange are even more specious–amounting essentially to a claim that Assange didn’t answer the woman’s phone calls after spending the night with her, or mention that he’d slept with someone else a while earlier.

End the Bankers' $3.3-Trillion Free Ride: Bust 'Em Up and Take 'Em Down!

Let’s just assume for the sake of argument–though I believe the claim to have been completely bogus–that the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury and all of the Bush and Obama economic advisers and Congressional leaders in late 2008 and early 2009 genuinely feared that shutting down and breaking up the nation’s biggest banks would lead to financial and economic disaster because of the extent of the fiscal crisis caused by the implosion of subprime-linked structured products.

We now know, thanks to an amendment to the Dodd-Frank financial “reform” law introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), that the Fed made available a stunning $3.3 trillion in emergency lending, at extraordinarily low interest rates ranging as low as 0.5%.

But this information was withheld from both Congress and the public by the Fed and the Treasury until this past week! There was no legal reason for it to be withheld. It was our money, and in an excellent article by Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times, Walker F. Todd, a former assistant general counsel and research officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland who now works as a research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, says the information about the amount of the emergency lending, and who was receiving the money should have been made available long before the Dodd-Frank legislation was drawn up.

Time to Butcher the Bloated the BanksTime to Butcher the Bloated the Banks

As Todd tells Morgenson, “The Fed’s current set of powers and the shape of the Dodd-Frank bill over all might have looked quite different if this information had been made public during the debate on the bill.”

Boy is that an understatement.

Get Over It! WikiLeaks Is Good For America

“The problem here is to define … a form of life that
would not depend on an unsustainable relation of domination
over the rest of the world.” Jean Bricmont

We live in a time of incredible change, and to have any say at all in the direction that change will take requires a respect for reality. Right now, the United States is losing this battle as it tries mightily – and wastefully — to sustain its post-WWII legacy as the world’s undisputed Top Dog.

The key to this disaster here in the US is a greater and greater restriction of information in conjunction with what can only be called a top down enforced blindness among the population.

If you think this is only the view of a disgruntled leftist, read Thomas Friedman’s latest column in The New York Times, where he imagines WikiLeaks revealing a gleeful cable from the Chinese ambassador in Washington to his bosses in Beijing:

“Things are going well here for China,” the ambassador writes. “There is a willful self-destructiveness in the air here as if America has all the time and money in the world for petty politics. … This leaves us relieved. It means that America will do nothing serious to fix its structural problems: a ballooning deficit, declining educational performance, crumbling infrastructure and diminished immigration of new talent.”

His fictional ambassador goes on to gloat over the $190 million a day being pissed away to war in Afghanistan. He speculates that by the time the US finally leaves the Afghanis will hate the US so much China will have the inside track on all the minerals there.

The real cables recently released by WikiLeaks are, of course, not nearly as crisp and to the point as this fictional one. But they’re equally as insightful and inciting to boot.

Bradley Manning, left, and Julian AssangeBradley Manning, left, and Julian Assange

Mike Huckabee, a follower of Jesus Christ and a presidential candidate, says Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, should be tried and executed. Others, like Tom Flanagan, a former aide to the Prime Minister of Canada, says that would take too long and Assange should just be assassinated. “Take him out!” is the correct vernacular, I believe. Sarah Palin wants him hunted down like an al Qaeda dog.

Whole Lotta Lies

War Is A Lie
by
David Swanson

War is a LieWar is a Lie

Howard Zinn, probably the most influential American historian ever, had an amazing sense of humor when he lectured or met people in person. He could make fun of himself and the audience in a way that exploded the guilt and ambivalence that so often paralyzes liberals, progressives, greens, socialists, anarchists, communists and everyone else on the more-or-less left. Only occasionally, however, did Zinn use his sense of humor in print. His masterpiece, A People’s History of the United States, had no humor at all, as he himself pointed out, because he didn’t find anything funny about the Trail of Tears and all the other ghastly episodes he wove into a narrative that convinced millions of citizens the United States was something less than what they had believed.

What Zinn went for in his writing—always—was clarity. I’ve got most of his books, and there isn’t an obscure, academic, post-modern, high priestly syllable in them. Anyone of normal intelligence over the age of 12 could understand him. Which is not to say that Zinn wasn’t misunderstood. He was, of course. But it was always willful misunderstanding. Establishment historians always misunderstood him, because to admit the validity of the story Zinn chose to tell was to understand that the careers of establishment historians were pathetic, if well remunerated. So they never answered his arguments. They either ignored him or caricatured him and tried to demolish something that wasn’t there.

David Swanson writes in the tradition of Howard Zinn. He always goes for clarity, both in his relentless orchestration of the facts and his ethical vision. War Is A LIe is as clear as the title. Wars are all based on lies, could not be fought without lies, and would not be fought at all if people held their governments to any reasonable standard of honesty. The book is easy to understand, easy to read, if you have the will to face a vast array of facts that hold the United States government to a reasonable standard of honesty.

Also like Zinn in A People’s History, Swanson doesn’t let you off the hook with jokes. There are many passages of bitter irony, but when you consider the carnage and ruin that have have flowed from all the lies Swanson discusses, the main emotions are revulsion and anger. If you want laughs with your tragedy, read Gore Vidal.

Yahoos in Charge: Taking It Out on the Kids…and the Grandkids

One of the major talking points issued by the Republican Party to its newly elected members of Congress is that they should always say in interviews that they are worried about the impact of government deficit spending on their grandchildren.

It sounds good: “I’m worried about what continued deficits will mean for our grandchildren.”

But it’s a lie.

If these Congress members were genuinely worried about their grandchildren–and ours–they’d be doing something about putting the brakes on climate change, and that is not anywhere on the Republican agenda. In fact, most Republicans claim they don’t even believe in climate change.