Swedish Pundit Assails WikiLeaks, Downplays Rove Ties

 

A prominent Swedish political commentator dismissed as unpersuasive my column last week suggesting that Karl Rove’s Swedish consulting work might play a role in ongoing law enforcement probes Roland Martinssonof WikiLeaks on both sides of the Atlantic.

Timbro Media Institute Executive Director Roland P. Martinsson, at left, called also for the United States government to prosecute WikiLeaks for hurting Western security and embarrassing government officials.

Further, he expressed confidence that the Swedish justice system is investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange fairly for potential misconduct in unprotected sex with two women. Critics describe the manhunt as a gimmick to smear the defendant and bring him to Sweden for extradition to the United States.

The Connecticut Watchdog column published last week, “Rove Suspected of Role In Swedish WikiLeaks Probe,” attracted a large number of domestic and international readers as well as several conservative critics. I provided the conservative author and commentator Martinsson the opportunity on my “Washington Update” radio show Jan. 6 to respond.

But other national security and WikiLeaks-related developments have exploded worldwide since then, capturing public attention and holding potentially important implications for voters and Internet consumers.

Most dramatic and horrifying, a gunman shot Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during a rampage that killed Bush-appointed federal trial judge John Roll and five others at the congresswoman’s voter forum in Arizona. The shooting already is raising fears that members of Congress will curtail public access. Rightists had opposed Giffords and 19 other Democrats during this year’s mid-term elections with some printed materials suggesting them as “targets.”

Also, terrorism scares in London, Washington and elsewhere have prompted government crackdowns on suspected whistleblowers in government jobs or using the Internet. The White House last week warned all federal supervisors, for example, against harboring workers suspected of disloyalty or unauthorized communications with journalists. The Justice Department indicted a former CIA official for disclosures suspected to a New York Times reporter. The DoJ also demanded the Twitter records of key suspects around the world who may have helped WikiLeaks. Excerpts of those news articles are below.

Before addressing those Swedish issues more in-depth, however, we continue the reporting begun in our Watchdog column last week. Our sources aside from Rove’s bio included a news report by Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, whose broadcast was entitled, “Karl Rove in Sweden.” She quoted Swedish professor Brian Palmer as saying Rove worked with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, at right.

Martinsson said during his interview that he “chuckled” when he read my suggestion that Rove was involved with Reinfeldt. Critics say any current and public link between Rove and Reinfeldt is not credible, particularly regarding an Assange extradition on spy charges that might inflame the Swedish public against its prime minister and the United States. Rove’s bio on his website says his clients have included Sweden’s governing Moderate Party, but doesn’t name the party’s leader, Reinfeldt.

Martinsson leads Scandinavia’s most prominent libertarian/conservative think tank. He explained that he had accompanied the former Bush White House advisor almost constantly during Rove’s three-day 2008 visit to Sweden, which included a lecture at a Timbro event. Martinsson said Rove had no contact with Reinfeldt then. Rove and Martinsson also co-authored a political column in Expressen, a major tabloid. The paper, which helped break the Assange "rape" story, is owned by the powerful media conglomerate Bonnier AB that has helped opponents of Sweden’s left gain such as Reinfeldt gain political ascendancy in recent years.

Rove’s reputation for political machinations in the United States has been controversial enough in Sweden to prompt concern among critics, expressed here and here, for example, regarding his recent visits to that country.

Martinsson’s remarks, including his responses to my co-host Scott Draughon’s pointed questions on what might be a legal basis for prosecuting Assange for “embarrassing” U.S. officials, can be heard worldwide on the My Technology Lawyer (MTL) radio network archive.

Our scheduled guest next Thursday at noon (Eastern Time) is the religion professor Palmer, who authored a book featuring Reinfeldt. Questions may be made by dial-in or email, with contact information on the show site above. Palmer,at left, was a Harvard College professor teaching “Moral Courage,” one of the college’s most popular undergraduate courses, before he moved to Sweden.

Rove has not yet responded to my invitation to comment. Rove left his White House post in 2007 after he was implicated in the political purge of nine U.S. attorneys. One Bush DoJ official described firings in an email to Rove as part of a process to create “loyal Bushies” in the nation’s 93 U.S. attorneys offices. Rove has denied any improper actions. Investigations under the Obama administration’s “look forward, not backward” theory of accountability have failed to produce legally significant results for Rove or anyone else suspected of political prosecutions.

Obama’s DoJ not only used longtime Connecticut federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy (now the state’s deputy attorney general) to provide a once-over-lightly investigation of the firings, as we’ve previously reported, but has argued in federal court that prosecutors should have immunity from even innocent defendants who have been deliberately framed.

But if Swedish officials extradite Assange to the United States for spy-related charges the defendant may not be the only one facing questions. The so-called court of public opinion may be in session also for some of Sweden’s leaders.

 

Editor's Note: Below is a selection of other significant blogs and news articles on legal reform and related political, security and media news. The articles contain a sample of news, with the full article viewable by clicking the link.

WikiLeaks/Security
 
Huffington Post/AP, WikiLeaks: US Demanding Our Twitter Account Info, Raphael G. Satter, Jan. 8, 2011. U.S. officials have issued a subpoena to demand details about WikiLeaks' Twitter account, the group announced Saturday, adding that it suspected other American Internet companies were also being ordered to hand over information about its activities.
 
Guardian (United Kingdom), Icelandic MP fights US demand for her Twitter account details, Dominic Rushe, Jan. 7, 2011.  Birgitta Jonsdottir brands efforts by US justice department to access her private information 'completely unacceptable.'
 
Huffington Post/AP, WikiLeaks: US Demanding Our Twitter Account Info, Raphael G. Satter, Jan. 8, 2011. U.S. officials have issued a subpoena to demand details about WikiLeaks' Twitter account, the group announced Saturday, adding that it suspected other American Internet companies were also being ordered to hand over information about its activities.
 
Guardian (United Kingdom), Icelandic MP fights US demand for her Twitter account details, Dominic Rushe, Jan. 7, 2011.  Birgitta Jonsdottir brands efforts by US justice department to access her private information 'completely unacceptable.'
 
CNET, DOJ sends order to Twitter for Wikileaks-related account info, Declan McCullagh, Jan. 7, 2011.  The U.S. Justice Department has obtained a court order directing Twitter to turn over information about the accounts of activists with ties to Wikileaks, including an Icelandic politician [Birgitta Jónsdóttir], a legendary Dutch hacker, and a U.S. computer programmer. The order also covers "subscriber account information" for Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private charged with leaking classified information; Wikileaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum; Dutch hacker and XS4ALL Internet provider co-founder Rop Gonggrijp; and Wikileaks editor Julian Assange.
 
Salon/Unclaimed Territory, DOJ subpoenas Twitter records of several WikiLeaks volunteers, Glenn Greenwald, Jan. 7, 2011. The DOJ's investigation of a member of Iceland's Parliament -- as part of an effort to intimidate anyone supporting WikiLeaks and to criminalize journalism that exposes what the U.S. Government does -- is one of the most extreme acts yet in the Obama administration's always-escalating war on whistleblowers, and shows how just excessive and paranoid the administration is when it comes to transparency:  all this from a President who ran on a vow to have the "most transparent administration in history" and to "Protect Whistleblowers."
 
CNET, DOJ sends order to Twitter for Wikileaks-related account info, Declan McCullagh, Jan. 7, 2011.  The U.S. Justice Department has obtained a court order directing Twitter to turn over information about the accounts of activists with ties to Wikileaks, including an Icelandic politician [Birgitta Jónsdóttir], a legendary Dutch hacker, and a U.S. computer programmer. The order also covers "subscriber account information" for Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private charged with leaking classified information; Wikileaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum; Dutch hacker and XS4ALL Internet provider co-founder Rop Gonggrijp; and Wikileaks editor Julian Assange.

Washington Post, Former CIA officer accused of leaking information about Iran, Greg Miller, Jan. 7, 2011. A former CIA officer involved in spying efforts against Iran was arrested Thursday on charges of leaking classified information to a reporter, continuing the Obama administration's unprecedented crackdown on the flow of government secrets to the media. Jeffrey A. Sterling, 43, of O'Fallon, Mo., was charged with 10 felony counts, including obstruction of justice and unauthorized disclosure of national defense information. 

Washington Post, Agencies instructed on how to review information security, Ed O'Keefe, Jan. 6, 2011. A memo sent this week to government security officials details how they should conduct security reviews of sensitive or classified information as the Obama administration attempts to safeguard against future leaks to the information-sharing Web site WikiLeaks and other news organizations. Among about 100 questions, the memo asks how agencies are measuring the "trustworthiness" of employees with access to sensitive information and whether workers must report whenever they have contact with news reporters.
 
Boston Phoenix, Four ways the United States can still prosecute WikiLeaks's Julian Assange, Harvey Silverglate and Kyle Smeallie, Jan. 5, 2011. Secret-sharing impresario Julian Assange, founder and editor of WikiLeaks, is said to be the target of a U.S. criminal investigation. While much attention has been paid to the feasibility of indictment under the 1917 Espionage Act, that path is by no means the U.S. government’s only option. Through a combination of breadth and vagueness, federal laws provide an arsenal for prosecutors to pursue Assange — and almost any other muckraker using pen or pixel. Whether you loathe or adore Assange, the precedent set in seeking to indict and arrest him can have implications far beyond his case.
 
OpEd News, Obama: No Whistleblowing on My Watch, Ann Wright, Jan. 5, 2011. As President, Obama says -- No whistleblowing on my watch! As he has on so many issues as President, Obama is taking a 180-degree turn from his comments as a candidate -- comments on which the American people relied and for which they elected him.
 

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