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Investors in US Weapon-Makers Only Clear Winners of Afghan War

Investors in US Weapon-Makers Only Clear Winners of Afghan War

Share prices of military manufacturers vastly outperformed the stock market overall during the Afghanistan War.

May 25, 2002: Two U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopters land at Bagram Airfield in Parwan, Afghanistan, after completing a mission. (U.S. National Archives)

As the hawks who have been lying about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan for two decades continue to peddle fantasies in the midst of a Taliban takeover and American evacuation of Kabul, progressive critics on Tuesday reminded the world who has benefited from the “endless war.”

“Entrenching U.S. forces in Afghanistan was the military-industrial complex’s business plan for 20+ years,” declared the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Public Citizen.

[Related: A People’s Guide to the War IndustryPart 1 and  Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4 and Part 5.]

“Hawks and defense contractors co-opted the needs of the Afghan people in order to line their own pockets,” the group added. “Never has it been more important to end war profiteering.”

In a Tuesday morning tweet, Public Citizen highlighted returns on defense stocks over the past 20 years — as calculated in a “jaw-dropping” analysis by The Intercept — and asserted that “the military-industrial complex got exactly what it wanted out of this war.”

The Intercept‘s Jon Schwarz examined returns on stocks of the five biggest defense contractors: Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics.

Schwarz found that a $10,000 investment in stock evenly split across those five companies on the day in 2001 that then-President Georg W. Bush signed the authorization preceding the U.S. invasion would be worth $97,295 this week, not adjusted for inflation, taxes, or fees.

According to The Intercept:

“This is a far greater return than was available in the overall stock market over the same period. $10,000 invested in an S&P 500 index fund on September 18, 2001, would now be worth $61,613.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Assange Case Isn’t About National Security, It’s About Narrative Control

The Assange Case Isn’t About National Security, It’s About Narrative Control

Listen to a reading of this article:

Julian Assange once said, “The overwhelming majority of information is classified to protect political security, not national security.”

As someone whose life’s work before his imprisonment was combing through documents of an often classified nature, he’d have been in a prime position to know. He’d have seen time and time again how a nation’s citizenry are not under the slightest threat from the secret information in the documents that had been leaked to him from around the world, but that it could damage the reputation of a politician or a government or its military.

As the persecution of the WikiLeaks founder continues to trudge on with the UK government’s granting the Biden administration permission to appeal a declined extradition request, claiming that it can safely imprison Assange without subjecting him to the draconian aspects of America’s prison system which caused the initial dismissal, it’s good to keep in mind that this is being done entirely for the purpose of controlling public access to information that is inconvenient for the powerful.

The prosecution of Julian Assange under the Espionage Act is being touted by the US government as a matter of national security; you can’t simply allow journalists to publish classified information about the things its military forces are doing in the nations they occupy, because that could endanger American lives.

Leaving aside the fact that the Pentagon already admitted years ago that it could not find a single instance of lives being lost due to the publications for which Assange is currently being prosecuted, this case is not and has never been about national security. This case has always been about narrative control.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Weird, Creepy Media Blackout On Recent Assange Revelations

The Weird, Creepy Media Blackout On Recent Assange Revelations

Listen to a reading of this article:

As of this writing, it has been three days since the Icelandic newspaper Stundin broke the story that a key witness in the US government’s case against Julian Assange had fabricated allegations against the WikiLeaks founder. And yet, somehow, Assange is still in prison.

Weirder still, not one major western media outlet outside of Iceland has reported on this massive and entirely legitimate news story. A search brings up coverage by Icelandic media, by Russian media, and by smaller western outlets like Democracy NowWorld Socialist WebsiteConsortium NewsZero Hedge and some others, but as of this writing this story has been completely ignored by all major outlets who are ostensibly responsible for informing the public in the western world.

It’s not that those outlets have been ignoring Assange altogether these last few days either. Reuters recently published an interview with Assange’s fiance Stella Moris. Evening Standard has a recent article out on Assange’s plans to marry Moris in Belmarsh, as does Deutsche Welle. It’s just this one story in particular that they’ve been blacking out completely.

And it’s not that the mainstream press are unaware of this story. Mainstream western reporters spend a lot of time on Twitter, and Assange’s name was trending in the United States after the Stundin story broke. Tweets about the article by high-profile accounts like WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have many thousands of shares each. They’ve all seen the article. They all know it’s newsworthy. They’re just choosing not to report on it.

It reminds me of the blanket media blackout that occurred while the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was hemorrhaging leaks revealing a US government-tied coverup in the alleged chlorine gas incident in Douma…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Chris Hedges: Assange & the Collapse of the Rule of Law

Chris Hedges: Assange & the Collapse of the Rule of Law

Chris Hedges gave this talk at a rally Thursday night in New York City in support of Julian Assange. John and Gabriel Shipton, Julian’s father and brother, also spoke at the event, which was held at The People’s Forum.

A society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth extinguishes the capacity to live in justice.

This why we are here tonight. Yes, all of us who know and admire Julian decry his prolonged suffering and the suffering of his family. Yes, we demand that the many wrongs and injustices that have been visited upon him be ended. Yes, we honor him up for his courage and his integrity. But the battle for Julian’s liberty has always been much more than the persecution of a publisher. It is the most important battle for press freedom of our era. And if we lose this battle, it will be devastating, not only for Julian and his family, but for us.

Tyrannies invert the rule of law. They turn the law into an instrument of injustice. They cloak their crimes in a faux legality. They use the decorum of the courts and trials, to mask their criminality. Those, such as Julian, who expose that criminality to the public are dangerous, for without the pretext of legitimacy the tyranny loses credibility and has nothing left in its arsenal but fear, coercion and violence.

The long campaign against Julian and WikiLeaks is a window into the collapse of the rule of law, the rise of what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of inverted totalitarianism, a form of totalitarianism that maintains the fictions of the old capitalist democracy, including its institutions, iconography, patriotic symbols and rhetoric, but internally has surrendered total control to the dictates of global corporations.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Worse Than the Dreyfuss Affair: the Persecution of Julian Assange

Worse Than the Dreyfuss Affair: the Persecution of Julian Assange

It may appear unnecessary to repeat the truism that democracy depends on transparency and accountability, and yet, how often has the democratic order been betrayed by our leaders in the recent past? How often have the media abandoned their watchdog function, how often have they simply accepted the role of an echo-chamber for the powerful, whether government or transnational corporations?

Among the many scandals and betrayals of democracy and the rule of law we recognize the persecution of inconvenient journalists by governments and their helpers in the media.  Perhaps the most scandalous and immoral example of the multinational corruption of the rule of law is the “lawfare” conducted against Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, who in the year 2010 uncovered war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the United States and its NATO allies in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In a world where the rule of law matters, these war crimes would have been promptly investigated, indictments would have been issued in the countries concerned.  But no,  the ire of the governments and the media focused instead on the journalist who had dared to uncover these crimes.  The persecution of this journalist was a coordinated assault on the rule of law by the United States, United Kingdom and Sweden, later joined by Ecuador. The instrumentalization of the administration of justice – not for purposes of doing justice, but to destroy a human being pulled more and more people into a joint-criminal conspiracy of defamation, trumped-up charges, investigations without indictment, deliberate delays and covers-up.

In April 2021 my colleague, Professor Nils Melzer, the UN Rapporteur on torture, published a meticulously researched and methodically unassailable documentation of this almost incredible saga…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Antony Blinken Continues to Lecture the World on Values His Administration Aggressively Violates

Antony Blinken Continues to Lecture the World on Values His Administration Aggressively Violates

How can you feign anger over others’ attacks on a free press when you imprison Assange as punishment for his vital revelations about U.S. officials?

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks on the importance of independent journalism, May 6, 2021 (Radio Free Europe); Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London in his attempt to resist extradition by the Biden administration (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

Continuing his world tour doling out righteous lectures to the world, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday proclaimed — in a sermon you have to hear to believe — that few things are more sacred in a democracy than “independent journalism.” Speaking to Radio Free Europe, Blinken paid homage to “World Press Freedom Day”; claimed that “the United States stands strongly with independent journalism”; explained that “the foundation of any democratic system” entails “holding leaders accountable” and “informing citizens”; and warned that “countries that deny freedom of the press are countries that don’t have a lot of confidence in themselves or in their systems.”

The rhetorical cherry on top of that cake came when he posed this question: “What is to be afraid of in informing the people and holding leaders accountable?” The Secretary of State then issued this vow: “Everywhere journalism and freedom of the press is challenged, we will stand with journalists and with that freedom.” Since I know that I would be extremely skeptical if someone told me that those words had just come out Blinken’s mouth, I present you here with the unedited one-minute-fifty-two-second video clip of him saying exactly this:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Biden DOJ Files Appeal to Get Assange Extradited 

Biden DOJ Files Appeal to Get Assange Extradited 

The U.S. has filed an appeal with the High Court in London to reverse a decision by a British judge not to extradite the WikiLeaks publisher on health grounds.

The liberal administration of Joe Biden proved itself to be no less an enemy of press freedom than Donald Trump when it filed an appeal at the UK High Court on Friday to get their hands on the journalist Julian Assange.

The appeal seeks to overturn a decision by Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser, who on Jan. 4, ruled that the WikiLeaks publisher was at heightened risk of suicide if he were to be extradited to the United States and face life in a U.S. super max prison.

Amnesty International on Thursday had joined an array of press freedom and human rights organizations, including Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch, in urging the Biden administration to drop the case against Assange.  But it fell on deaf ears in Washington.

Biden was vice president in the Barack Obama administration, which decided not to prosecute Assange in 2011 essentially on press freedom grounds, reasoning that if it indicted Assange for journalistic activity, then it would have to also prosecute The New York Times and other mainstream media for the exact same activity.  Biden has broken with his former administration.

Biden had another opportunity to show that he was the “decent” man his supporters say he is and to dissociate himself from the illiberal, indeed, extremist views of his predecessor.  Instead this decision is in line with a politician who was the most important Democratic proponent of the illegal invasion of Iraq, whose war crimes Assange exposed.

consortium news, julian assange, wikilieaks, united states, us doj, us department of justice, joe biden

Biden Continues Trump’s War On The Press

Biden Continues Trump’s War On The Press

Just one day after a coalition of prominent civil rights groups made headlines with a letter urging the Biden administration to drop efforts to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States on espionage charges, the Biden administration has announced its intention to continue those efforts.

“Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi on Tuesday said the U.S. government will continue to challenge a British judge’s ruling last month that Assange should not be extradited to the United States because of the risk he would commit suicide,” Reuters reports.

“We continue to seek his extradition,” Raimondi said.

Assange’s arrest and subsequent charges under the Espionage Act in 2019 for what amount to standard journalistic practices which exposed US war crimes marked both a dramatic escalation in the US empire’s war on critical national security journalism and a sharp divergence from the Obama administration’s decision not to pursue such charges in this case. Biden is not just upholding Trump’s assault on press freedoms (far and away the single most egregious attack on journalism in the 45th president’s entire four years in office), he is rejecting the Obama administration’s decision not to charge Assange due to concerns that it would erode the First Amendment.

As The Washington Post reported during Barack Obama’s second term in 2013:

“The Justice Department has all but concluded it will not bring charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified documents because government lawyers said they could not do so without also prosecuting U.S. news organizations and journalists, according to U.S. officials.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

WATCH: ‘The Trial of Julian Assange: Implications for Press Freedom’

WATCH: ‘The Trial of Julian Assange: Implications for Press Freedom’

Watch CN Live!‘s simulcast on Sunday of the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee’s production of Nils Melzer & Ray McGovern discussing the Julian Assange case and its impact on press freedom.

Watch the replay: 

Nils Melzer is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor of International Law at the University of Glasgow, and holds the Human Rights Chair at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Ray McGovern is a former, longtime CIA Russia analyst, presidential daily briefer, and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Julian Assange’s extradition trial ended at the Old Bailey in September. More than 30 witnesses for the defense included Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky; the prosecutors declared standard journalistic practices to be crimes; and the judge cut the feed to all monitoring NGOs on the first day. Judge Vanessa Baraitser on Jan. 4 blocked Assange’s extradition to the U.S. but two days later denied him bail and sent the WikiLeaks‘ publisher to Belmarsh prison.
Forum Host: Ann Batiza

‘Journalists’ Who Smear Assange Are Pure Scum

‘Journalists’ Who Smear Assange Are Pure Scum

I wouldn’t have thought that any mass media reporters would have the temerity to continue the public smear campaign against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after it became clear to everyone that he was the subject of a brutal Trump administration prosecution aimed at criminalizing inconvenient journalism. But if there was going to be anyone to take up that flag, it would be the odious James Ball.

Ball, who as activist Suzie Dawson documented in 2016 has been working within the plutocratic media to destroy Assange’s reputation for years, has just published yet another disgusting smear piece titled “Julian Assange is no hero. I should know — I lived with him and his awful gang”, this time with Murdoch’s Sunday Times. Claiming that Assange is “Reckless and immoral in deed and word”, Ball spins the tortured journalist as a monster who must remain marginalized and never be trusted by sources again.

This would be the same James Ball who, as Financial Eyes recently observed, “admits to having taken money from the Integrity Initiative, a government and NATO funded propaganda unit designed to shape opinion in a direction hostile towards Russia and favourable towards increased militarism.”

 

This would also be the same James Ball who, a year before Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in which he’d taken political asylum fearing US extradition, authored a Guardian article titled “The only barrier to Julian Assange leaving Ecuador’s embassy is pride” and subtitled “The WikiLeaks founder is unlikely to face prosecution in the US, charges in Sweden have been dropped – and for the embassy, he’s lost his value as an icon”.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Assange Wins. The Cost: Press Freedom Is Crushed & Dissent Labelled Mental Illness

Assange Wins. The Cost: Press Freedom Is Crushed & Dissent Labelled Mental Illness

We must not downplay the price being demanded of us for this victory, writes Jonathan Cook.

The unexpected decision by Judge Vanessa Baraitser to deny a U.S. demand to extradite Julian Assange, foiling efforts to send him to a U.S. super-max jail for the rest of his life, is a welcome legal victory, but one swamped by larger lessons that should disturb us deeply.

Those who campaigned so vigorously to keep Assange’s case in the spotlight, even as the U.S. and U.K. corporate media worked so strenuously to keep it in darkness, are the heroes of the day. They made the price too steep for Baraitser or the British establishment to agree to lock Assange away indefinitely in the U.S. for exposing its war crimes and its crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But we must not downplay the price being demanded of us for this victory.

Moment of Celebration

We have contributed collectively in our various small ways to win back for Assange some degree of freedom, and hopefully a reprieve from what could be a death sentence as his health continues to deteriorate in an overcrowded Belmarsh high-security prison in London that has become a breeding ground for Covid-19.

For this we should allow ourselves a moment of celebration. But Assange is not out of the woods yet. The U.S. has said it will appeal the decision. And it is not yet clear whether Assange will remain jailed in the U.K. – possibly in Belmarsh – while many months of further legal argument about his future take place.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Chris Hedges: The Empire is Not Done with Julian Assange

Chris Hedges: The Empire is Not Done with Julian Assange

As is clear from the memoir of one of his attorneys, Michael Ratner, the ends have always justified the means for those demanding the WikiLeaks‘ publisher’s global persecution.

(Original illustration for ScheerPost by Mr. Fish)

Shortly after WikiLeaks released the “Iraq War Logs” in October 2010, which documented numerous U.S.  war crimes — including video images of the gunning down of two Reuters journalists and 10 other unarmed civilians in the “Collateral Murder” video, the routine torture of Iraqi prisoners, the covering up of thousands of civilian deaths and the killing of nearly 700 civilians who had approached too closely to U.S. checkpoints — the towering civil rights attorneys Michael Ratner and Len Weinglass, who had defended Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers case, met Julian Assange in a studio apartment in Central London, according to Ratner’s newly released memoir Moving the Bar.

Assange had just returned to London from Sweden where he had attempted to create the legal framework to protect WikiLeaks’ servers in Sweden.  Shortly after his arrival in Stockholm, his personal bank cards were blocked.  He had no access to funds and was dependent on supporters.  Two of these supporters were women with whom he had consensual sex.  As he was preparing to leave, the Swedish media announced that he was wanted for questioning about allegations of rape.

The women, who never accused Assange of rape, wanted him to take an STD test.  They had approached the police about compelling him to comply. “I did not want to put any charges on Julian Assange,” texted one of them on Aug. 20 while she was still at the police station, but “the police were keen on getting their hands on him.” She said she felt “railroaded by the police.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Assange Extradition Ruling Is A Relief, But It Isn’t Justice

The Assange Extradition Ruling Is A Relief, But It Isn’t Justice

British Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled against US extradition for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but not for the reasons she should have.

Baraitser’s frightening ruling supported virtually every US prosecutorial argument that was made during the extradition trial, no matter how absurd and Orwellian. This includes quoting from a long-discredited CNN report alleging without evidence that Assange made the embassy a “command post” for election interference, saying the right to free speech does not give anyone “unfettered discretion” to disclose any document they wish, dismissing arguments from the defense that UK law prohibits extradition for political offenses, parroting the false claim that Assange’s attempt to help protect his source Chelsea Manning while she was exfiltrating documents she already had access to was not normal journalistic behavior, saying US intelligence might have had legitimate reasons to spy on Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, and claiming Assange’s rights would be protected by the US legal system if he were extradited.

“Judge is just repeating the US case, including its most dubious claims, in Assange case,” tweeted activist John Rees during the proceedings.

In the end, though, Baraitser ruled against extradition. Not because the US government has no business extraditing an Australian journalist from the UK for exposing its war crimes. Not because allowing the extradition and prosecution of journalists under the Espionage Act poses a direct threat to press freedoms worldwide. Not to prevent a global chilling effect on natsec investigative journalism into the behaviors of the largest power structures on our planet. No, Baraitser ultimately ruled against extradition because Assange would be too high a suicide risk in America’s draconian prison system.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Never Forget How The MSM Smeared Assange: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Never Forget How The MSM Smeared Assange: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

The frenetic mass media propaganda campaign against Julian Assange was easily the creepiest and most Orwellian thing I’ve ever witnessed. And now it is silent. It did its job and then disappeared, before the public could really notice what was happening. It’s absolutely stunning.

You wouldn’t know it now, but between late 2016 and Assange’s arrest social media was full of blue-checkmarked narrative managers falling all over each other to be the first to come up with the day’s hottest smear painting a heroic journalist as a villain. Day after day after day. Smearing Assange was one of the easiest ways for an aspiring journalist to show current and prospective employers that you’re on the side of the empire. He was a soft target you could kick to signal that you’ll say whatever the Pentagon wants so you can climb the media ladder.

The smear campaign pervaded every political faction in every part of the US-centralized power alliance. Where they couldn’t get away with openly smearing him they circulated rightist psyops about Trump and Assange secretly working together and the extradition actually helping Assange, which was effectively the same as smearing him. The overwhelming majority of mainstream opinions about Assange are the result not of his work or the life he’s lived, but of a concerted propaganda campaign the majority of which took place between late 2016 and Assange’s arrest in April 2019. People just aren’t aware they’ve been propagandized.

The smear campaign went silent so quickly because it is now impossible to paint yourself as a brave up-punching journalist while smearing someone who is being openly prosecuted for journalism. So they’ve slinked off into the shadows, hoping we’ll forget what they did. Let’s not.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Kafkaesque Imprisonment of Julian Assange Exposes U.S. Myths About Freedom and Tyranny

The Kafkaesque Imprisonment of Julian Assange Exposes U.S. Myths About Freedom and Tyranny

The real measure of how free is a society is not how its mainstream, well-behaved ruling class servants are treated, but the fate of its actual dissidents.

A billboard van calling for an end to extradition proceedings against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange waits at traffic lights in Parliament Square in London, England, on September 14, 2020. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Persecution is not typically doled out to those who recite mainstream pieties, or refrain from posing meaningful threats to those who wield institutional power, or obediently stay within the lines of permissible speech and activism imposed by the ruling class.

Those who render themselves acquiescent and harmless that way will — in every society, including the most repressive — usually be free of reprisals. They will not be censored or jailed. They will be permitted to live their lives largely unmolested by authorities, while many will be well-rewarded for this servitude. Such individuals will see themselves as free because, in a sense, they are: they are free to submit, conform and acquiesce. And if they do so, they will not even realize, or at least not care, and may even regard as justifiable, that those who refuse this Orwellian bargain they have embraced (“freedom” in exchange for submission) are crushed with unlimited force.

Those who do not seek to meaningfully dissent or subvert power will usually deny — because they do not perceive — that such dissent and subversion are, in fact, rigorously prohibited. They will continue to believe blissfully that the society in which they live guarantees core civic freedoms — of speech, of press, of assembly, of due process — because they have rendered their own speech and activism, if it exists at all, so innocuous that nobody with the capacity to do so would bother to try to curtail it…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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