Posts Tagged Ray McGovern
Julian Assange’s attorney, Mark Stephens, says that he’s learned there is a secret grand jury convened in Virginia, to consider charges against Assange, CNN reported today in Assange attorney: Secret grand jury meeting in Virginia on WikiLeaks.
Assange is being held in London on a Swedish warrant for questioning in relation to allegations of sexual assault there. It’s widely believed that those charges – which should be carefully investigated, as should all charges of sexual misconduct – are a cover for the Swedish government handing Assange over to the U.S. government.
“I think that the Americans are much more interested in terms of the WikiLeaks aspect of this,” Stephens told Al-Jazeera. He said it was his understanding that Swedish authorities have said that if Assange is extradited there, “they will defer their interest in him to the Americans… It does seem to me that what we have here is nothing more than a holding charge.” The United States just wants Assange detained, he said, so “ultimately they can get their mitts on him.”
Amid a worldwide surge of protest against US government-sponsored attacks on Wikileaks by private companies, and the dangerous threats to prosecute Assange, TIME magazine announced that Assange has won the readers poll as Person of the Year. In a TIME interview, Assange answers allegations:
Secrecy is important for many things but shouldn’t be used to cover up abuses, which leads us to the question of who decides and who is responsible. It shouldn’t really be that people are thinking about, Should something be secret? I would rather it be thought, ‘Who has a responsibility to keep certain things secret?’ And, ‘Who has a responsibility to bring matters to the public?’ And those responsibilities fall on different players. And it is our responsibility to bring matters to the public.
This organization in its four years of publishing history — we don’t need to speculate, it has a history — has never caused an individual, as far as we can determine or as far anyone else can determine, to come to any sort of physical harm or to be wrongly imprisoned and so on. That is a record compared to the organizations that we are trying to expose who have literally been involved in the deaths of hundreds or thousands or, potentially over the course of many years, millions.
The threats to Assange have been given wide publicity in US media. Revolution in U.S. Lashes Out at Wikileaks, summarizes
Leading U.S. political figures clamored for Assange’s capture, even his execution. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said Assange is a “high tech terrorist,” and Newt Gingrich said he is an “information terrorist” who should be arrested as an “enemy combatant.” Influential right-wing columnist William Kristol asked, “Why can’t we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are? Why can’t we disrupt and destroy Wikileaks in both cyberspace and physical space, to the extent possible?” Sarah Palin, writing on her Facebook page, asked, “Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”
WikiLeaks’s reported source, Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, having watched Iraqi police abuses and having read of similar and worse incidents in official messages, reportedly concluded, “I was actively involved in something that I was completely against.”
Rather than simply look the other way, Manning wrote: “I want people to see the truth.. because without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public,” adding that he hoped to provoke worldwide discussion, debates and reform.
There is nothing to suggest that WikiLeaks/Assange’s motives were any different.
Daniel Ellsberg appeared on The Colbert Report last week, disputed claims that Assange is “not a journalist” and that journalists shouldn’t report the actions of governments.
Those action of governments are What Wikileaks Reveals: Cables, Lies & Murder, writes Larry Everest:
Wikileaks’ trove of secrets offers vivid, direct, and unassailable evidence that the U.S. routinely carries out all manner of crimes across the world, from torture and rape in Afghanistan, to mass murder in Yemen, to illegal spying at UN headquarters. They show the U.S. involved in a no-holds-barred capitalist-imperialist rivalry with powers they are allied with, as well as their more direct rivals. They document how the U.S. manages a global network of brutal client regimes as key links in their empire of oppression and exploitation. And these secret cables show that the U.S. lies about all of it. This is the nightmare world the U.S. dominates, and is viciously trying to maintain.
Finally, intellectual activists in the UK made this statement, printed in The Guardian:
We protest at the attacks on WikiLeaks and, in particular, on Julian Assange (Report, 9 December) The leaks have assisted democracy in revealing the real views of our governments over a range of issues which have been kept secret and are now irreversibly in the public domain. All we knew about the mass killing, torture and corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan has been confirmed. The world’s leaders can no longer hide the truth by simply lying to the public. The lies have been exposed. The actions of major corporations such as Amazon, the Swiss banks and the credit card companies in hindering WikiLeaks are shameful, bowing to US government pressure. The US government and its allies, and their friends in the media, have built up a campaign against Assange which now sees him in prison facing extradition on dubious charges, with the presumed eventual aim of ensuring his extradition to the US. We demand his immediate release, the dropping of all charges, and an end to the censorship of WikiLeaks.
John Pilger, Lindsey German Stop the War Coalition, Salma Yaqoob, Craig Murray, Alexei Sayle, Mark Thomas, Caryl Churchill, AL Kennedy, Celia Mitchell, Ben Griffin (former soldier), Terry Jones, Sami Ramadani, Roger Lloyd Pack, David Gentleman, Miriam Margolyes, Andy de la Tour, Katharine Hamnett, Iain Banks
When an activist from World Can’t Wait sent me a link to Thursday’s Pentagon press conference, and called Geoff Morell, their spokesman a “pompus ass,” I thought that wasn’t really a news flash.
But really, to get the full impact of the government’s threat to Julian Assange & Wikileaks for revealing the government’s “property,” you have to see Morell’s sneer as the Pentagon reacted to Wikileak’s posting of its huge “insurance” file, presumably designed to make sure the information is still available if their sites are shut down, or they are rounded up.
The press corps pushed Morell to answer why the Pentagon wants Wikileaks to physically turn over material that’s been viewed and downloaded by millions, and is in the possession of major world newspapers, and what would happen to Julian Assange in particular. Morell ominously repeated that Wikileaks has to “do the right thing” and comply… or else.
For his part Assange is assuredly firm in his motivations for releasing the documents detailing the every day operations of the US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan in War Diaries (wardiary.wikileaks.org). In a video interview with The Economist Assange says “true information does good.” And below, the Guardian interviews him, headlining, “Julian Assange on the Afghanistan war logs: ‘They show the true nature of this war.’”
“All of the people involved in releasing these WikiLeak documents are taking heroic actions to tell the world about the crimes U.S. imperialism is committing in Afghanistan. They are literally risking their lives. And it is up to anyone with a sense of moral responsibility to humanity-to not turn their eyes, to not change the channel- but instead to act with real resolve to put an end to such crimes.”
Some passersby walked by slowly, stopping just long enough to see what we were doing – but then as they kept going they’d start talking about it. A guy commented to his friend “Oh that’s Wikileaks, the helicopter video.” Couples would start exchanging views about the war in Iraq. A group headed into a restaurant would be chatting about wine and vacations — then suddenly they were talking about Wikileaks and what each other thought about the whistleblowers leaking war documents.
I”m not sure what was worse; sitting in an auditorium for a speech by the head of CIA clandestine operations, or having most of the audience give a standing ovation afterward. There were some low points in between, too.
Thursday night I went with my friend Ray McGovern, and some current and former Fordham students to a lecture at Fordham University by Michael Sulick, Director of the National Clandestine Service, the guy in charge of counter-terrorism and covert ops. Ray and Sulick are both graduates of Fordham, and both worked for the C.I.A. One difference between them is that Ray quit long ago.
Fordham, a Jesuit school, has a very active Peace and Justice program led by a tenured professor, which just the evening before had held a commemoration of the assassination 30 years ago of Archbishop Oscar Romero in San Salvador. It was noted that Romero was killed by graduates of the School of the Americas, with help from the CIA.
But that same university produces a lot of FBI and CIA agents. For Sulick, the student center was decorated with the kind of puffy, shiny balloon letters junior high schools use for birthday parties, with silvery “C-I-A” floating in the lobby. I felt it was going to be a strange night.
Ray was tipped off about the lecture by anti-war students. He offered himself as a “respondent” to the lecture, but the administration declined that offer. Ten or 11 professors protested the CIA lecture, and around noon Thursday the administration invited one of them to respond to it on stage. She declined, as she would have no time to prepare. The lecture was off the radar; not on Fordham’s website, and a non-event as far as the Public Relations office was concerned. They wanted no press.
The administration called the student leaders to find out if any protest was planned, with the intimidating implication that they would be held responsible for any disruption.
Ray invited me to meet with about 15 students before the speech. We learned that, for the first time in public lectures at Fordham, questions would only be taken in writing, giving no one the opportunity to speak from the floor. And you know what that means.
We discussed questions we’d like to ask:
* Director Sulick, Could you comment on the April 17, 2009 NBC News report that the CIA is paying Pakistani agents to identify targets for drone bombings in Pakistan, and that those agents were dropping electronic chips in farmhouses solely to get paid?
* Director Sulick, Could you comment on a statement by Georgetown professor Gary Solis in the Washington Post of March 12, 2010, that civilians working for the CIA in the drone program are unlawful combatants under international law?
* You resigned from the CIA in 2005 as world public opinion turned against the Bush administration’s use of “alternative interrogation methods.” What do you know about the Agency’s destruction of video tapes of waterboarding that surfaced just after you returned to the CIA in 2007?
* Agence France Presse, covering Congressional hearings Tuesday March 23 on the CIA’s drone program, reported that American University law professor Kenneth Anderson testified that those who target for the drone operations “could face possible charges abroad.” Would that include you and those you supervise?
Well, of course, none of these questions were read to Sulick by the student government leaders moderating the Q&A.
Sulick droned on (sorry) about the glories of public “service” and his distinction of being the first CIA officer to set foot in the Soviet Republics after 1991 — because he had taken Russian at Fordham. We learned that the best thing about his doctorate in literature was that he could make small talk with Russian intelligence targets about Dostoevsky. We learned that in the 1950′s the U.S. had “removed the regime and restored the Shah [of Iran] to his throne.” That would be the elected Mossadegh government, overthrown by a CIA-led coup. A little truth, spun as a positive achievement.
Most of the questions asked read from the audience were insipid. “How does one join the CIA?” “There’s a website. You can apply online.” Imagine that! I found Sulick’s comments to be banally evil, obvious, shallow, and self-serving.
But one question seemed to stump him. “What’s the definition of terrorism?” From my seat in the second row, he looked like a deer in headlights. For some unfathomable reason, Sulick invited Ray to come up on stage and answer the question, as Ray “used to work in analysis with the Agency.”
Ray told a story of that morning, having breakfast with two atheists who were questioning him about the front page New York Times story on the pope hiding child abusing priests, Memo to Pope Described Transfer of Child-Abusing Priest. “Why does the church care only about the first nine months of life? And not for the living” who are being killed by the CIA drone program?
Ray was eloquent and sincere as always, and the mike was cut off at about the 60 second mark — after he was invited by the lecturer to the podium, and told by the administration that he would be welcome to ask a question!
About 20% of the audience clapped and cheered as he sat down. The blue-blazered student government officer sitting in front of him — the one who weeded out the challenging questions — turned around and said to Ray, “you’re an asshole”. Which was the only thing any of them said to him the rest of the evening. We didn’t stand for the ovation.
It was good to be with the people at Fordham last night who are trying to stand for justice. We sat til late talking with a couple of students about the silence of the Jesuits against the government, and the slickness of the school administration in co-opting students.
I can see from Fordham’s history (Father Dan Berrigan, the anti-war priest was on the faculty) and ties to liberation theologists in Central America, why they would commemorate Romero. But when the same school brings a CIA director to lecture and there is no challenge posed, critical thinking is MIA. Faculty, alumni, and students applauded an operative responsible for civilian deaths by drone bombing, and for the torture of detainees, and probably more that we don’t know about yet. I felt battered by spending two hours with them.
However, it was good to work with the anti-war students, and spend time with Ray McGovern, who left the CIA many years ago, and devotes his life to exposing and stopping much of what they do now. Ray is not just an adviser to War Criminals Watch, he’s a genuine resister. See Ray in action confronting Donald Rumsfeld May 5, 2006.
We need more of this response to war criminals!