WikiLeaks Accusers' Counsel Helped CIA Rendition

By Andrew Kreig /Project Director's Blog

Best-selling spy thriller author Thomas Bodström ─ an attorney who represents the two Swedish women making the notorious sex charges against WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange ─ knows better than most people that truth is stranger than fiction.

As Sweden’s Minister of Justice, Bodström helped his nation in 2001 secretly turn over to the Central Intelligence Agency two asylum-seekers suspected by the CIA of terror, according to materials recently obtained by the Justice Integrity Project that I lead and the Legal Schnauzer blog of Roger Shuler.  Shuler broke this story this morning in a blog headlined, ”Lawyer for Assange Accusers Has Apparent Ties to CIA and Torture.”

The CIA flew the terror suspects to Egypt for torture as part of the decade’s rendition effort requiring secret, high-level Swedish cooperation. Assange, the subject of a recent global manhunt by the Swedes seeking him for sex questioning and by the United States for spy charges, can take only cold comfort that Sweden eventually welcomed back the 2001 asylum seekers and awarded them damages for their torture. On Jan. 11, Assange’s attorneys spoke of their fears that if Great Britain sends their client to Sweden to Sweden for an inquiry on sex charges he could end up being sent by Sweden to the United States on spy charges. There, the defense lawyers said, Assange could face death or imprisonment at Guantanamo in Cuba, where the Bush and Obama administrations hold so-called terrorists almost indefinitely with minimal due process protections.

As a parallel development, the Obama administration has used the disclosures as rationale for a wide-ranging crackdown not simply against WikiLeaks but against anyone in government or the media, particularly the web-based, who might disclose secrets that the government regards as threatening national security. Our project summarized these developments this week in a column, “Whistleblower Says: Obama's DoJ Declares War on Whistleblowers.”

WikiLeaks Questions
Bodström is sometimes described as “The John Grisham of Sweden.”  He left his Social Democratic Party and his Parliament seat last fall to move to the United States for six months, citing a need for family time and to write another book, a curious posture for a lawyer at the center of one of the world’s most controversial cases.

Is Bodström again cooperating with U.S. authorities in their all-out effort to save the United States, Sweden – and perhaps Bodström himself – from further embarrassment caused by cables WikiLeaks might release from its still secret trove? Or are Swedish authorities proceeding normally, as they claim, in launching a global Interpol manhunt to capture Assange to question him about precisely how and why he engaged in sex-without-a-condom last summer with two women who invited him separately to stay with him in their beds while he was on a speaking tour? 

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Whistleblower: DoJ Declares War on Whistleblowers

By Andrew Kreig

Dana Jill Simpson, the Alabama attorney who stepped forward in 2007 to provide sworn evidence on how her fellow Republicans were framing Democratic former Gov. Don Siegelman on corruption charges, today released a statement saying that President Obama’s Department of Justice has declared a “war on whistleblowers.”

Simpson gave her statement to our Justice Integrity Project and OpEd News contributor Roger Shuler of Alabama’s Legal Schnauzer for release first to OpEd News, the main outlet for several previous opinion columns she has written. “We are getting dangerously close to becoming a “Dictator Democracy’ where even our thoughts can get us in trouble,” wrote Simpson, “and anything we do to bring truth to our citizens can get us thrown in jail.”

Aside from CBS 60 Minutes and MSNBC interviews broadcast in 2008 about the Siegelman case, Simpson rarely speaks in public despite what she describes as more than 100 broadcast and cable invitations.  Similarly, she has written only a few opinion columns. Most notable were those for OpEd News last year when she concluded that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was not likely to protect civil rights as much as most Democrats imagined, given Kagan’s advocacy of more imprisonment for Siegelman and similar indications excessive deference to secrecy and executive power.

Simpson’s strong words now are prompted by the Obama administration’s failure to follow up on whistleblower complaints such as hers nationally about the justice system. Instead, she denounces the Obama DoJ’s coddling of corrupt office holders from past administrations and its retributions against whistleblowers and investigative journalists.

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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.”

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Jan. 6 Radio Show Hosts WikiLeaks Opponent, Rove Ally

By Andrew Kreig / JIP Director's Blog

A prominent Swedish critic of WikiLeaks and proponent of free markets joins my Jan. 6 MTL Washington Update radio show to discuss controversial allegations that political motivations besmirch his nation’s investigation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Timbro Media Institute Executive Director Roland Poirier Martinsson, Ph.D., at right, is the guest on my show co-hosted with My Technnology Lawyer Radio Network founder Scott Draughon Live! at noon (Eastern time in the United States). The show may be heard worldwide then, and shortly afterward by archive on the radio network. If you have a question call in at 866-685-7469, or send an This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Martinsson has written articles in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere attacking WikiLeaks, with a sample below in the appendix. He will respond to criticism by me and others that Sweden’s investigation of Assange on suspicion of sexual misconduct is politically motivated. More generally, WikiLeaks “is supported by all sorts of hare-brained characters,” Martinsson wrote last month in the prominent Swedish daily SvD.  “It is a humiliating charade.”

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Obama Security Crackdown Continues in Jan. 5 News Reports

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
Reason, TSA's Intrusions on American Dignity, Brian Doherty, Jan. 5, 2011. The new scanning technologies rolled out by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are undignified and meant to be. The illusion of choice surrounding their use is intended to funnel us into an even more undignified situation. Be exposed electronically in full, or physically molested, or go back home. These are unprecedented demands on Americans moving through the theoretically free world, not some penitentiary or asylum.
 
NBC, U.S. tells agencies: Watch 'insiders' to prevent new WikiLeaks, Michael Isikoff, Jan. 5, 2011. 
The Obama administration is telling federal agencies to take aggressive new steps to prevent more WikiLeaks embarrassments, including instituting “insider threat” programs to ferret out disgruntled employees who might be inclined to leak classified documents, NBC News has learned. A highly detailed 11-page memo prepared by U.S. intelligence officials and distributed by Jacob J. Lew, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, suggests that agencies use psychiatrists and sociologists to measure the “relative happiness” of workers or their “despondence and grumpiness” as a way to assess their trustworthiness. The memo was sent this week to senior officials at all agencies that use classified material.  

Politics
Huffington Post, Obama Renominates More Than 40 Judicial Candidates Reason, Sam Stein, Jan. 5, 2011. Faced with the prospect of increasingly lengthy court vacancies, the White House on Wednesday formally renominated more than 40 judicial candidates whose possible appointments were left in limbo during the last congressional session.

OpEd News/Consortium News, Republicans Aim Info-War at Obama, Robert Parry, Jan. 5, 2011.

 

 

 

Finally, Congress appears ready to hold some high-profile hearings -- except they won't be about the most important scandals of the past decade, like how the United States was misled into the Iraq invasion, how the Afghan War was bungled, how torture became a U.S. practice, or how bank deregulation and Wall Street greed nearly destroyed the economy.

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Suspected Rove Role In Swede WikiLeaks Probe, Part II

 

Over the holiday weekend, the Justice Integrity Project received significant new leads advancing our story about Karl Rove’s advisory services to Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and their potential link to the ongoing WikiLeaks probes by Sweden and the United States. 

Part of this came from the reader links from News24 in Sweden, a tabloid that boasts of the ninth highest readership among that country’s online news sites.

News24 chief editor Aaron Israelson led his organization being the first in his country to follow up our group's Huffington Post story and the work of Alabama legal commentator Roger Shuler. Shuler and I each wrote updates on Monday. Mine appeared in Connecticut Watchdog. Shuler's published by multiple sites, including his Legal Schnauzer, Daily Kos and FireDogLake. These reports (listed below) were largely status reports enlivened by excellent reader comments. The most substantive reporting based on new leads is still to come.

Several points are worth noting here beyond the specifics of the Rove/WikiLeaks story. First, these investigations are an ongoing process that benefit from reader comments. The Rove/Sweden/WikiLeaks angle is almost entirely ignored by the traditional media in both countries, for example.

Yet an astonishing amount of information is already available if one follows links provided by readers. Second, the investigation of WikiLeaks founder on sex and spy claims is not simply a government vs. whistleblower story, or right vs. left.

In many ways it’s also old media vs. new media. This is memorably illustrated by a

of former CIA analyst Ray McGovern telling CNN news anchor Don Lemon, who appears almost childlike during his scolding, that he should not be parroting government claims that Assange is “a pariah” -- and should start emulating Assange by providing information to the public about important matters. Glenn Greenwald’s Salon column and the New Yorker also illustrate this theme by showing the major media’s abject deference to government leaders during their pivotal 2003 coverage of the beginning of the Iraqi war.

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