Friday, November 23, 2018

A History of Prosecuting and Persecuting WikiLeaks

Updated June 2019

Now that Julian Assange has been arrested and is under lock and key, a look back at a WikiLeaks release from 2012 will give us a sense of how Washington has wanted to handle this case under the Obama Administration.

On February 28, 2012, WikiLeaks announced that it had confidential emails from the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor which describes itself as the "world's leading geopolitical intelligence platform".  A series of emails from Stratfor's then Vice President for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security, Fred Burton, provides us with an inside glimpse into how the Obama Administration was going to handle the Assange case.  Just to provide you with some context, here is Mr. Burton's CV:

As you can see, prior to his employment at Stratfor, Mr. Burton who is now Stratfor's Chief Security Officer spent 14 years with the United States Department of State as a counterterrorism agent and was involved in the investigation of several high profile cases including the first bombing of the World Trade Center and the assassination of Israel's Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin.  I think that we can agree that Mr. Burton's experience in the intelligence service would classify him as a member of the "Deep State".

Now, let's look at some of Mr. Burton's emails regarding WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.  Here's what he had to say about Julian Assange's future on December 7, 2010:

Here is an email that looks at where Mr. Burton waxes philosophically about a suitable punishment for Julian Assange should he ever be charged and found guilty:

Here is another part of the same email chain with further suggestions on how the Assange case should be handled:

As shown in this email dated December 7, 2010, Mr. Burton proposed using tactics that are used to bring down terrorist organizations to bring down Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, tactics that he no doubt was familiar with during his time with the State Department:

For your illumination, 43 is George W. Bush (America's 43rd president).  I do like the reference to Big Brother, particularly given Stratfor's role as a "global intelligence" company.

As well, in this email we find the following comments from Sean Noonan:

"Assange created Wikileaks with himself as the only public face—he leads supports, drives donations, and faces criticism. This has made many in the organization unhappy, and some have left it after disagreeing with him. I don't think ppl are unhappy that he is the supreme leader; i think they're unhappy b/c he's a dick head who doesn't allow anyone else to voice any opinions whatsoever. there is a difference.* If Assange were to face charges in Sweden for sexual assault or new charges in the UK or US and was found guilty, WikiLeaks would still need someone to operate it. Assange may have someone waiting in the wings, but that is not evident. 

WikiLeaks has also suffered logistically and as a brand. As national governments put pressure on its infrastructure, its websites have been shut and most importantly its main source of funding - PayPal- has closed WikiLeaks account. Does MasterCard own PayPal? I saw  something in an OS article about MasterCard cutting off WikiLeaks' accounts With such pressure and government monitoring, future leakers may be too afraid of getting intercepted and go elsewhere. Moreover, this new set of documents have not worked out like Assange expected- the U.S. public is not angry at the State Department, but many are angry at Assange and his organization." (my bold)

In light of the publishing of the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks in July 2016, Mr. Noonan couldn't have been more wrong.

Now, for the coup de gras.  Here is an email dated January 26, 2011 in response to an email regarding a potential link between Bradley Manning and Julian Assange showing that the Obama Administration had plans in place to charge Mr. Assange:

This is particularly interesting given the recent inadvertent revelations that the U.S. government  is behind moves to criminally charge Julian Assange as shown here (see the top of page 2 and the top of page 3) and keep the fact that he had been arrested confidential:

Let's close with a look at how Mr. Burton wanted to punish Julian Assange and anyone involved with WikiLeaks in this email from December 7, 2010:

As we can see, the Deep State as represented by Mr. Fred Burton, a highly connected Washington insider, and the cast of characters that inhabit Washington have long desired to rid itself of one of the few organizations that can shed light on the secrecy that plagues American politics and its greater community.  After all, knowledge is power and if the Deep State can keep the proletariat ignorant, it can control the narrative.

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