WikiLeaks Update: U.S.-Swedish Ties Prompt More Interest

By Andrew Kreig / Director's Blog

Independent journalists on both sides of the Atlantic continue to follow up recent revelations by the Justice Integrity Project (JIP) of connections between Swedish and U.S. authorities. These bilateral connections could help explain the extraordinary investigations authorities are undertaking against WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange on sex charges in Sweden and spy-related charges in the United States. On Jan. 24, The Swedish Wire republished JIP’s column, “Karl Rove key player in Swedish WikiLeaks probe,” It opened, “Karl Rove’s help for Sweden as it and the Obama administration investigate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be the latest example of the adage, ‘Politics makes strange bedfellows.’” Last week, the Swedish Wire republished our piece, “Partner at Swedish law firm counseling WikiLeaks boss' accusers helped in CIA torture rendition.”

Also, human rights expert and medical school professor Marcello Vittorio Ferrada de Noli in Italy published on Jan. 21, “Swedish PM Reinfeldt lies in London on Assange extradition.”

The professor, a longtime resident of Sweden, disputed that nation’s prime minister’s assertions last week that the national policy is to deny extradition to nations with the death penalty and to insist that‘s the nation’s courts operated independently of the rest of its government. “This is utterly untrue,” the professor said. “Everybody in Sweden with some insight in domestic political affairs knows that the Swedish government has collaborated in the rendition of political prisoners labeled in the USA as terrorists.” He went on to cite work from JIP and other sources in describing relationships and motives for the law firm of Assange’s female accusers to be working against the WikiLeaks leader.

We don’t mean to inflate the importance of either our work or those who are citing it, particularly given the vast impact of traditional newspapers and broadcasters. The traditional media in both nation's tends to show scant interest so far in exploring the kinds of behind-the-scenes relationships between court, political and national security personnel that are almost inevitable in the real-world and which are well-known to major reporters, who jeopardize their own standing by excessive disclosures to the public that might antagonize their corporate parent companies or government sources.

Fortunately for democratic process, however, insider-type material is useful independent journalists -- often web-based these days. Such tensions apparently cost high-rated MSNBC Keith Olbermann his job last week, as JIP and others are describing in separate posts. We do not expect such struggles to end easily or necessarily well. In 1987, published the book "Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America's Oldest Newspaper," which documented early signs of our current plight. Since then, media in the United States have further consolidated much more. In Sweden, the Bonnier company has continued its two-centuries of dominance in the newspapers and similar media, with corresponding relationships with government. The WikiLeaks battles are thus a proxy fight between old and new media, not simply a battle on the other ostensible issues.

In sum, many historic dynamics are in play. We at our project will continue to play a role to report on the dynamics and most important information. To that end: The Swedish Wire reported that four newspapers in Scandinavia are joining forces in the name of free speach to leak more US cables. Other articles and blogs are excerpted below, with the full text available by clicking the links.

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Swedish Wire (Sweden), Karl Rove key player in Swedish WikiLeaks probe, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 24, 2011. Karl Rove’s help for Sweden as it and the Obama administration investigate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be the latest example of the adage, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.”

FireDogLake, Goal of Quantico Incident Was To Abuse Bradley Manning and Intimidate David House, Jane Hamsher, Jan. 23, 2011. There is no doubt in my mind that the primary objective of everything that happened today was to keep Bradley Manning from having the company of his only remaining visitor. The MPs told us they were ordered to do this, the brass showed up to make sure that they did, and they held us until 2:50 by repeatedly asking for information they already had whenever we asked to leave. The net effect of the MP’s actions today was to escalate the climate of threats and intimidation around David, a 23 year-old who just graduated from college, and cut Manning off from any personal contact with the one person who is still showing up to visit him after the government consciously scared everyone else off.

Washington Post, Lawyer for WikiLeaks Army Figure Alleges Mistreatment, Ellen Nakashima, Jan. 23, 2011. The lawyer for alleged government secrets leaker Bradley Manning is accusing military authorities of using punitive measures against Manning at the Marine Corps jail in Quantico, Va. Manning, a 23-year-old Army private suspected of passing thousands of classified documents to the online site WikiLeaks, was placed on suicide watch for two days this week -- against the recommendation of the jail's forensic psychiatrist, attorney David E. Coombs said. During this time, Manning was forced to stay in his cell around the clock, stripped to his underwear, the lawyer said. His prescription eyeglasses were taken from him, except for the hour of television he is allowed to watch or when he was reading, Coombs added.

Huffington Post, Twitter Diplomacy: U.S. Diplomacy Embracing Twitter Amid Global Crises, Matthew Lee, Jan. 23, 2011. The State Department is tightening its embrace of Twitter and other social media as crises grip the Middle East and Haiti, with officials finding new voice, cheek and influence in the era of digital diplomacy. Even as it struggles to contain damage caused by WikiLeaks' release of classified internal documents, the department is reaching out across the Internet. It's bypassing traditional news outlets to connect directly and in real time with overseas audiences in the throes of unrest and upheaval.

Professor’s Blog, Swedish PM Reinfeldt lies in London on Assange extradition, Marcello Vittorio Ferrada de Noli (Italy) Jan. 21, 2011. According to a breaking AP news 21/01 2001, Swedish PM Reinfeldt told reporters Thursday (in London) that "Sweden's policy is not to extradite people to nations with the death penalty. But he said Sweden's courts, not its government, would decide that." This is utterly untrue. Everybody in Sweden with some insight in domestic political affairs, knows that the Swedish government has collaborated in the rendition of political prisoners labeled in the USA as terrorists to countries in which the death penalty is in use. Decisions of this kind taken in recent years by the Swedish government had absolutely nothing to do with the Swedish courts, which have been in the best case overruled or simply -- like in the most notorious cases -- not even engaged.

Guardian (United Kingdom), Paranoia over legal status of WikiLeaks breeds new generation of scams: Americans targeted by fake phone message claiming reading leaked cables could lead to imprisonment or a hefty fine. Charles Arthur, Jan. 21, 2011. The call, when it comes, is both unexpected and worrying to its American recipients. "Your computer and IP address have been noted as visiting the WikiLeaks site," says the recorded message. The penalty for doing this: a $250,000 or $25,000 fine, and the possibility of imprisonment. But it does leave a number to call where the fine can be paid ? with a reduction for prompt settlement and without the unpleasantness of a court case.

OpEd News, Justice Department Leakers of Classified Info. Get a Pass, Jesselyn Radack, Jan. 20, 2011. It is indisputable that the Obama, via the Holder Justice Department, has brought more "leak" prosecutions than any presidential Administration, ever. To add hypocrisy to the injury of selective and malicious prosecutions of Shamai Liebowitz, Thomas Drake, Stephen Kim, and Jeffrey Sterling -- the Justice Department's own attorneys are immune from the "war on leaks." U.S. District Court Judge Maxine Chesney ruled last week that the Justice Department does not have to disclose the identities of two lawyers who were found by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to have intentionally disclosed classified information to the media in 1996. OpEd News, Justice Department Leakers of Classified Info. Get a Pass, Jesselyn Radack, Jan. 20, 2011. It is indisputable that the Obama, via the Holder Justice Department, has brought more "leak" prosecutions than any presidential Administration, ever. To add hypocrisy to the injury of selective and malicious prosecutions of Shamai Liebowitz, Thomas Drake, Stephen Kim, and Jeffrey Sterling -- the Justice Department's own attorneys are immune from the "war on leaks." U.S. District Court Judge Maxine Chesney ruled last week that the Justice Department does not have to disclose the identities of two lawyers who were found by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to have intentionally disclosed classified information to the media in 1996.

OpEd News, Justice Department Leakers of Classified Info. Get a Pass, Jesselyn Radack, Jan. 20, 2011. It is indisputable that the Obama, via the Holder Justice Department, has brought more "leak" prosecutions than any presidential Administration, ever. To add hypocrisy to the injury of selective and malicious prosecutions of Shamai Liebowitz, Thomas Drake, Stephen Kim, and Jeffrey Sterling -- the Justice Department's own attorneys are immune from the "war on leaks." U.S. District Court Judge Maxine Chesney ruled last week that the Justice Department does not have to disclose the identities of two lawyers who were found by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to have intentionally disclosed classified information to the media in 1996.

 

Update I:

FireDogLake, Military Officials Admit Bradley Manning Put on Suicide Watch to Punish Him, Trevor Fitzgibbon, Jan. 25, 2011. Military officials admitted today that Quantico Brig Commander James Averhart improperly classified Bradley Manning as a “suicide risk” in order to impose harsh conditions on him as punishment for failure to follow orders. Averhart’s order overruled the opinion of three brig psychiatrists who said Manning was not at risk.

Salon/Unclaimed Territory, Various Matters, Glenn Greenwald, Jan. 25, 2011. According to NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski, "investigators have been unable to make any direct connection between" Manning and Assange, as "there is apparently no evidence [Manning] passed the files directly to Assange, or had any direct contact with the controversial WikiLeaks figure."

 

FireDogLake, Military Officials Admit Bradley Manning Put on Suicide Watch to Punish Him, Trevor Fitzgibbon, Jan. 25, 2011. Military officials admitted today that Quantico Brig Commander James Averhart improperly classified Bradley Manning as a “suicide risk” in order to impose harsh conditions on him as punishment for failure to follow orders. Averhart’s order overruled the opinion of three brig psychiatrists who said Manning was not at risk.

Salon/Unclaimed Territory, Various Matters, Glenn Greenwald, Jan. 25, 2011. According to NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski, "investigators have been unable to make any direct connection between" Manning and Assange, as "there is apparently no evidence [Manning] passed the files directly to Assange, or had any direct contact with the controversial WikiLeaks figure."

Fox Business News/Freedom Files, Andrew Napolitano, Jan. 25, 2011. A colleague of Private Manning’s, David House, has been systematically abused by the Federal government, simply for speaking out against the government’s detention of Private Manning, and for trying to visit him. These KGB-like government tactics are not only obscenely un-American, they are wholly unconstitutional and unlawful.

 

 

 

 

Update II:

 

New York Times, An archive of classified military documents offers views of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: The Iraq Documents. The archive is the second cache obtained by the independent organization WikiLeaks and made available to several news organizations. The Iraq documents shed new light on the war.

New York Times Magazine, Dealing With Julian Assange and the Secrets He Spilled, Bill Keller, Jan. 26, 2011. The adventure that ensued over the next six months combined the cloak-and-dagger intrigue of handling a vast secret archive with the more mundane feat of sorting, searching and understanding a mountain of data. As if that were not complicated enough, the project also entailed a source who was elusive, manipulative and volatile (and ultimately openly hostile to The Times and The Guardian); an international cast of journalists; company lawyers committed to keeping us within the bounds of the law; and an array of government officials who sometimes seemed as if they couldn’t decide whether they wanted to engage us or arrest us.

Boston Phoenix, DOJ turns on Turner, First Amendment, Harvey Silverglate, Jan. 25, 2011. It struck me as an injustice when former Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner was convicted of federal bribery charges in late October last year (and I plan to explain in some detail why at some future time). But the sentencing recommendation submitted by federal prosecutors last week, seeking between 33 and 41 months of incarceration, was truly breathtaking. Prosecutors attempted to use statements made by Turner—such as his asserting his innocence and, sores, his criticizing the FBI and federal prosecutors—to justify a lengthy prison stint. All the more devastating was Judge Woodlock’s decision Tuesday to give Turner three years behind bars—a tacit approval of the government’s unworthy tactics.

 

Legal Schnauzer, Mississippi FBI Agent Is Cleared on Federal Charges Amid More DOJ Ugliness, Roger Shuler, Jan. 26, 2011.  Mississippi FBI agent Hal Neilson reported the unlawful targeting of Muslims and wound up being indicted by the Bush DOJ -- and the Obama administration moved ahead with a tainted, and probably bogus, prosecution. To those of us who live in Alabama, that story sure sounds familiar.

 

 

FireDogLake, Judge Napolitano on Bradley Manning and David House: “KGB-Like Government Tactics are Obscenely Un-American,” Jane Hamsher, Jan. 26, 2011. Maximum harassment, thuggery and intimidation on the part of the Quantico Military Police, who received orders to do so from above.

New York Times Magazine, Dealing With Julian Assange and the Secrets He Spilled, Bill Keller, Jan. 26, 2011. The adventure that ensued over the next six months combined the cloak-and-dagger intrigue of handling a vast secret archive with the more mundane feat of sorting, searching and understanding a mountain of data. As if that were not complicated enough, the project also entailed a source who was elusive, manipulative and volatile (and ultimately openly hostile to The Times and The Guardian); an international cast of journalists; company lawyers committed to keeping us within the bounds of the law; and an array of government officials who sometimes seemed as if they couldn’t decide whether they wanted to engage us or arrest us.

New York Times, An archive of classified military documents offers views of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iraq Documents. The archive is the second cache obtained by the independent organization WikiLeaks and made available to several news organizations. The Iraq documents shed new light on the war.

Update

Washington Post, Social media curbs pose hurdle for U.S., Mary Beth Sheridan, Jan. 29, 2011. Egypt's decision to virtually shut down the nation's Internet access Friday marked an escalation in the growing battle between authoritarian governments and tech-savvy protesters, and posed a challenge to the Obama administration's policy of promoting Internet freedom. Egypt's five main service providers halted Internet access early Friday, and cellphone service was disrupted.
Associated Press/Huffington Post, OpenLeaks, WikiLeaks Rival, Launches New Secret-Spilling Site, Frank Jordans, Jan. 28, 2011. A former WikiLeaks spokesman launched a rival website Friday, saying he planned to give whistleblowers more control over the secrets they spill. The new platform, called OpenLeaks, will allow sources to choose specifically who they want to submit documents to anonymously, such as to a particular news outlet, said Daniel Domscheit-Berg. The difference between his group and WikiLeaks, he said, would be that his group leaves reviewing the material up to the publication or advocacy group chosen by the source to receive the information.