Organize, resist, do all that you can to protect these true heros from attack. Most importantly, aid them in their efforts to reveal the truths that just may "set us free."
Organize, resist, do all that you can to protect these true heros from attack. Most importantly, aid them in their efforts to reveal the truths that just may "set us free.
Here are a few reports you may wish to share with others concerning wikileaks from today's news. General Joe
WikiLeaks reveals the dirty diplomacy of climate change
By Dan Brennan 15 December 2010
As the proceedings of the climate change summit concluded last weekend in Cancun, Mexico, recently released secret diplomatic cables cast renewed light on the shadowy nature of international climate change negotiations.
Underscoring the high stakes of these negotiations, a secret directive issued in July 2009 instructed US diplomats to gather intelligence on the climate-related negotiating positions and activities of key players, including Russia, China, Mexico, the European Union and the United Nations. The cable called for snatching biographic information—for example, credit card numbers, frequent flyer information, even DNA material—from international representatives as well.
Other cables reveal that intrigue is not limited to the US alone. A June 2009 transmission explains, “Evidence of an attempt to gain unauthorized entry to computer systems operated by [US Department of State] personnel involved with climate issues has surfaced. Though the incident has not been attributed to any known hostile actor, the event appears to be a targeted spear-phishing attempt and may be indicative of efforts to gather intelligence on the US’s position on climate change issues.”
Far from the lofty public calls for coordinated international action, the cables offer a glimpse of the vicious struggle for national advantages and protection of domestic corporate interests. For example, Saudi Arabia’s government, a leaked cable from February 12, 2010, explains, has been severely critical of any and all climate agreements, fearing the increased “economic costs associated with ‘demonizing’ oil.” On the other hand, Saudi officials express regret that they hadn’t thought of “something clever, like India or China,” that would allow them to score funding for technology while not committing to anything legally enforceable.
China, for its part, was cited in a cable calling for the US to lift restrictions on its high-tech exports—a measure that would further strengthen the country’s manufacturing base. The US maintains the restrictions in order to ensure maximum profitability for American-based patent-holders.
Both China and the US have come into conflict with the European Union countries, which in general pushed for a more aggressive approach, including legally binding emission reduction targets. A cable relaying discussions with Australian diplomats notes the increasingly “comfortable” relationship between the US and China, and consequently, growing doubt that the EU’s favored approach would win out.
Just like China and the US, the European negotiating position is in the end determined fully by the profit interests of its corporate and financial elite. The EU’s new climate commissioner and lead negotiator, Connie Hedegaard, is openly speaking for such powerful interests. The Financial Times noted a recent shift in rhetoric reflecting this reality, remarking that at a recent conference, “Hedegaard skipped past the usual European reasons—moral responsibility, survival of humanity—and homed in on another: European business.”
The incompatibility of the various ‘national interests’ with the needs of humanity as a whole was on full display during the Copenhagen climate meetings last December—the subject of several of the released cables. The Copenhagen session ended in debacle, with the expectations of a legally binding treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol left shattered. In its place was a non-binding, three-page statement known as the Copenhagen Accord, which consisted primarily of voluntary emission targets and vague promises for funding climate adaptation projects and technology transfer in impoverished nations.
The accord initially garnered little support. The US, the primary author, led a diplomatic offensive to bribe or blackmail others into signing on, the cables reveal. The dominant tactic emerging from the leaks is one of linking support for the accord with development aid to poor countries. In a meeting with the Indian Ocean island nation of the Maldives, for example, US climate change envoy Jonathan Pershing tied $50 million in bilateral assistance and congressional appropriations for the Maldives to its support for the Copenhagen Accord. Likewise, a cable summarizing a meeting with Ethiopian government tells a similar story: support for the Accord was a precondition for further discussion.
In its methods the US is not unique. As a January 2010 cable reported, “The Dutch government is taking steps to convince developing countries to ‘associate with’ the Accord. [Dutch climate negotiator Sanne] Kaasjager has drafted messages for embassies in capitals receiving Dutch development assistance to solicit support. This is an unprecedented move for the Dutch government, which traditionally recoils at any suggestion to use aid money as political leverage.”
Shortly after the meeting with the Dutch, dozens of US and EU officials discussed how to manage those governments still holding out. “Hedegaard responded that we will need to work around unhelpful countries such as Venezuela or Bolivia. [US Deputy National Security Advisor Michael] Froman agreed that we will need to neutralize, co-opt or marginalize these and others such as Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador.” Pablo Solon, a Bolivian official, explained what happened next: “One thing that I can say for sure is they cut aid to Bolivia and to Ecuador. That is a fact. And they said it very clearly: ‘We’re going to cut it, because you don’t support the Copenhagen Accord.’ And that is blackmail.”
Ultimately, the US succeeded in its goal of gathering 100-150 countries in support of the accord. Despite this apparent diplomatic success, the leaked cables also reveal the vacuous nature of the entire agreement. Referring to the provision to ‘fast track’ $30 billion in funding to developing nations, Hedegaard, in discussions with US envoy Pershing raised the question of the US using “creative accounting” to meet the commitment, rather than providing actual increases in funding levels. Along similar lines, the cable relaying conversations with Dutch officials referred to “areas of friction with developing countries on financing: most of the pledged funding is not “additional”…and much of it is already committed without much say from recipients.”
As for likelihood of nations keeping to their emission targets under the voluntary Copenhagen Accord—and even the legally binding Kyoto Protocol—the human intelligence directive cable is symptomatic of widespread skepticism throughout the world. The cable directs US diplomats to collect evidence of “treaty circumvention” related to climate change.
US Proposed Multi-Faceted Campaign to Counter Venezuelan President, Wikileaks Cables Show
Caracas, December 14th 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – A secret US diplomatic cable posted 9 December 2010 on the whistleblower website Wikileaks revealed discussions of an intricate and detailed plan to use diplomatic, military, and economic power to counter Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s influence in Latin America.
In the 2007 cable titled, “A Southern Cone perspective on countering Chavez and reasserting US leadership,” US Ambassador to Chile Craig Kelly advocates increased intelligence activity, funding to civil society groups, high-level diplomatic visits, and expanded military aid to countries in the region. The opening paragraph states that the cable is “part two” of a series of cables on the subject.
“It would be a mistake to dismiss Hugo Chavez as just a clown or old school caudillo,” the cable says. “To effectively counter the threat he represents, we need to know better his objectives and how he intends to pursue them. This requires better intelligence in all of our countries,” Ambassador Kelly writes in a section titled “know thy enemy.”
The ambassador recommends more frequent high-level diplomatic visits with both US-friendly and adversarial governments. On these visits, the officials should “be seen not just with government officials and elites, but also with those who have been marginalized or are on the fringes of society,” the cable says.
The US should also identify and strengthen ties with those leaders in the region who are “rubbed the wrong way,” or feel their own power threatened, by President Chavez’s influence, the cable states.
Ambassador Kelly also highlights Brazil’s “openness to the global community” and “mature engagement with both its neighbors and the US,” as well as Chile’s desire to “integrate more fully into the global economy,” as examples that should be fostered and promoted as alternatives to Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Revolution.”
To win over more “complex” countries such as Argentina, the US should help Argentina “regain access to international financial markets” in order to counter Venezuela’s offers of financial aid to assist with infrastructure development and other projects.
“This needs to be complemented by engaging actively with civil society and key non-economic actors in the government on areas of shared concern (anti-crime, anti-terror, peacekeeping, etc.),” the cable recommends. Such an engagement can yield examples of the positive effects of engagement with the US, especially in countries that “are vulnerable not so much to Chavez’s ideology but to his petrobolivars,” the cable affirms.
In addition, the US should make it very clear that if Venezuela is admitted to the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), it will “torpedo US interest in even considering direct negotiations with the trading bloc.”
Ambassador Kelly emphasizes the need to engage in a “battle of ideas and visions” by disseminating “the truth about Chavez -- his hollow vision, his empty promises, his dangerous international relationships starting with Iran.”
The US should not be the main voice behind these critiques; rather, “the NGO community and local civil society groups, the region’s leaders and international organizations, the UN and OAS in particular, must assume a greater role in addressing this problem and put Chavez on the defensive,” the cable says.
A media effort must be launched to emphasize “corporate citizenship” and the “social responsibility among corporations and investors as a US government priority,” and shine light on the free trade “success stories” that have benefited people living in poverty, the cable explains. It also must greatly increase funding to projects that address local needs in order to counter President Chavez, who “isn’t waging his campaign simply on rhetoric. He is investing millions in his campaign for the hearts and minds.”
In an apparent allusion to the US’s history of alliances with military dictatorships in the region, the cable asserts that “Southern Cone militaries remain key institutions in their respective countries and important allies for the U.S.” The US should increase funding for international military aid and education programs and take advantage of Southern Cone countries’ desire to modernize their armed forces using US technology, Ambassador Kelly states.
Mr. Kelly served President George W. Bush as ambassador to Chile between 2004 and 2007, and he currently serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, a post he has held since September 2007, according to the State Department website.
Other cables that were either posted recently on the Wikileaks website or leaked by newspapers that were given advanced access to the material reveal more about actions by US allies in the region aimed at countering Chavez.
A cable from the US Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia in December 2007 reported that former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, a staunch US ally, compared “the threat Chavez poses to Latin America to that posed by Hitler in Europe.”
In a January 2008 cable, Uribe was reported to have recommended that the US initiate a “public campaign against Venezuela” in collaboration with Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Belize, and Costa Rice, in order to counter Chavez’s “Bolivarian expansionist dreams” and to punish the Venezuelan president for not categorizing Colombian leftist guerrilla armies as terrorist organizations.
Uribe also believed that military action was among the acceptable means to counter Chavez, and that “[Uribe] was prepared to authorize Colombian forces to cross into Venezuela, arrest FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] leaders, and bring them to justice in Colombia,” according to the Spanish newspaper El País, which leaked the cables.
Shortly after the January 2008 cable, Colombia sparked a regional diplomatic crisis by bombing an insurgent FARC encampment in Ecuadorian territory.
Similarly, Venezuelan Archbishop Baltazar Porras asked the US government to step up its campaign against Venezuela to “contain the regional aspirations” of President Chavez, according to a January 2005 cable that was posted by Wikileaks on Sunday.
Porras offered to lead joint efforts by the US, the Catholic Church, and the private business sector in Venezuela to win over poor communities that benefit from the Venezuelan government’s programs, according to the cable written by then US Ambassador William Brownfield.
President Chavez was democratically elected to the presidency in 1998 and again with a record number of votes in 2006. His government advocates the construction of “21st Century Socialism,” participatory democracy as an alternative to representative democracy, and Latin American integration independent of US-backed free trade policies.
Cables reveal US considered “state of exception” in Mexico
By Kevin Kearney 15 December 2010
A series of US diplomatic cables from late 2009 released by WikiLeaks summarize an on-going discussion between the US government and Mexican Secretary of Defense (SEDENA) General Guillermo Galvan Galvan on the merits of declaring “a state of exception”—roughly the equivalent to martial law or a state of siege—to facilitate military operations against Mexico’s civilian population.
Ultimately, the cables indicate, the US embassy rejected the idea, not out of any concern for democratic rights or international legality, but rather because such a declaration could give the Mexican legislature some oversight in the country’s disastrous US-backed “war on drugs.”
The principal cable—reference number 3101—gives a breathtaking glimpse of the US involvement in and guidance of the war and the sheer subservience of the Mexican government to the dictates of Washington on the most essential questions of national sovereignty. It begins by noting that Defense Secretary Galvan Galvan had suggested the possibility of invoking “article 29” of the Mexican Constitution—declaring a “state of exception”—so as to provide “more solid legal grounds” for the military’s role in the “domestic counternarcotics fight.”
Galvan Galvan’s sudden preoccupation with the legality of the war in this period stems from the fact that the massive domestic deployment of the military throughout the country in late 2007 was launched with nothing more than a sudden executive declaration by President Felipe Calderon—tacitly accepted by every major political party in the country to this day.
Moreover, by early 2009—just before these cables were written—Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), an independent government agency, had reported that the Mexican army was engaged in systematic torture, exposing a practice of arbitrary detentions, beatings and electrical shocks against innocent Mexicans with little or no connection to the drug trade.
Both Calderon and Galvan Galvan were directly cited in these denunciations, which soon attracted international attention. In a 2009 interview with the Washington Post, the mayor of Ciudad Juarez, José Reyes Ferriz, said President Felipe Calderón and Defense Secretary Guillermo Galván Galván were then involved in every major decision regarding security in the city, adding that Ciudad Juarez was intended as a “national model” for other cities in Mexico. The growing public rejection of the war and Calderon’s waning popularity seem to have triggered anxiety that high officials could be held accountable for the bloodshed.
The cable describes Galvan Galvan as “lamenting” the lack of legal basis for the domestic activities of the Mexican military and notes “public perception that the Armed Forces lack the appropriate authority to conduct such operations.” To this end, the cable’s author calculates that the declaration of a “state of exception” under article 29 could provide “a temporary legal cover” for the military’s activities and “allow it to focus more on operations and less on its critics”—in other words, continue to illegally detain, torture and murder Mexican citizens with impunity.
Other cables unintentionally confirm the accusations of human rights organizations against the military. While they claim that most of the country was relatively safe in 2009, and most of the war victims were either state forces or drug traffickers, they also reveal that there is no process of investigation to determine whether the dead were actually drug traffickers and nearly no information to determine in advance the identity of drug traffickers in a given area. Such statements illustrate a situation on the ground in Mexico where anyone unfortunate enough to be detained or killed by the military is considered a “drug trafficker” as a matter of course.
The cable’s author weighs the benefits of article 29 before ultimately deciding against it: “the GOM (government of Mexico) could elect to apply the article in a zone of perceived crisis, such as Ciudad Juarez…suspend rights…including freedom of expression, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, freedom of passage, or some tenets of legal due process. The military, for example, might be granted broader detention authorities.”
In the most telling portion of the cable, the author cites the major detriment of such a declaration, “This would give Congress at least nominal oversight over the military’s counternarcotics operations, a role it has sought but not had up to this point.” The import of this statement should not be overlooked.
While the US has trumpeted Mexico’s “war on drugs” as a noble fight to defend democracy to which all law-abiding Mexicans are committed, behind closed doors it acknowledges that the war is largely unpopular, is very likely illegal and is being waged without any real plan or legislative oversight—a situation the US government and its well-placed Mexican counterparts carefully seek to perpetuate.
Yet the Embassy doesn’t reject the option of military rule outright, saying, “the possibility of such a declaration cannot be discounted at some future date.”
Since early 2007, the US government has provided millions in cash, military technology and trainers, promising billions more via the “Merida Initiative.” In spite of years of senseless carnage and systemic human rights violations—including torture—the Obama administration proudly calls itself a “full partner” in Mexico’s bloody drug war, deploying unknown numbers of US government agents, expensive domestic surveillance equipment and military hardware south of the US border.
The US government’s expanding involvement in Mexico’s national life via the war is demonstrated in several other cables in which embassy officials repeatedly enthuse about the relationship between the two governments. This is fleshed out in cable number 2882, dated October 5, 2009.
Under the heading “GOM wants full transfer of intel technology and training,” the cable notes the Mexican attorney general’s desire for “a more general exchange of intelligence information and capacity, not the case-by-case exchange we now have.” The cable goes on to state that the FBI is helping to create a cyber-unit in Mexico. On this subject, the two governments discussed the benefits of such a program being “expanded and replicated more broadly” throughout the country.
After asking US officials for even more training, technology and resources, Mexico’s then undersecretary for governance, Geronimo Gutierrez Fernandez, expresses his concern that the government would be unable to perpetuate the war. Under the heading “We have 18 months,” Gutierrez Fernandez warned embassy officials. “We have 18 months and if we do not produce a tangible success that is recognizable to the Mexican people, it will be difficult to sustain the confrontation into the next administration.”
Gutierrez Fernandez then acknowledged the government has already lost control of some areas of the country—something never publicly admitted by a member of Calderon’s cabinet. Significantly, the cable’s author also notes Gutierrez Fernandez’s request for “joint operations” involving US forces over the next two years in selective areas of the country.
While the language of the cables constantly refers to the budding relationship between the two military forces as one of “greater integration,” what is revealed is Mexico’s complete domination by US imperialism via the drug war. The discussions recounted in the cables portray a cabal of Mexican politicians and military men acting as the direct agents of US foreign policy in the country.
Oddly, every proposal for a greater US role in the country is portrayed as the suggestion—or in some cases the desperate plea—of a Mexican official, while statements and suggestions of US officials are largely omitted or reduced to a bare minimum. This doesn’t square with the balance of forces between the two countries and is likely a consciously adopted way of providing deniability on controversial issues.
Considering the fact that the US Department of Defense—through its Joint Forces Command (USJFC)—had actually suggested the US military may need to intervene in Mexico’s drug war about eight months prior to the cables broaching a declaration of a “state of exception,” it is hard to see this as simply the initiative of Galvan Galvan, without any input or direction from the US government.
The question naturally arises: what is the aim of all this US-Mexico military integration? Cable number 3061 from October 23, 2009, summarizes a meeting between Calderon and US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair that outlined a suggested shift in military focus from drug traffickers to political opponents and a possible regional role for the newly “integrated” Mexican military.
After declaring to Blair his belief that “Hugo Chavez funded the PRD opposition during the presidential campaign nearly four years ago”—referring to the sustained mass civil disobedience rejecting Calderon’s election in 2006 in favor of the Revolutionary Democratic Party candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador—Calderon encouraged the US to take into account “the link among Iran, Venezuela, drugs, narcotics trafficking, and rule of law issues.”
According to the cable’s author, Calderon “emphasized that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is active everywhere,” while assuring Blair that Mexico was attempting to isolate Venezuela through the Rio Group. However, he “exhorted the U.S. to watch Guatemala and Belize, since their internal weaknesses make them vulnerable.” Significantly, the cable notes, “Calderon indicated that he would assess the possibility of creating a joint strike force capability” with the US military.
Calderon’s comments about Chavez are telling in the sense that the popular rejection of his presidency and allegations of fraud in 2006 were, at root, a manifestation of anger over worsening living conditions and economic polarization in the country. That Calderon cites such mass political opposition from the left as an issue of national security to his US sponsors serves as a warning to the working class. The entire legal and military framework erected via the drug war and backed by US militarism can and will be directed against any serious political opposition arising in Mexico or Central America.
WikiLeaks founder granted bail, but remains incarcerated
By Ann Talbot 15 December 2010
Amid extraordinary scenes at a London magistrate’s court, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks was granted bail but then sent back to prison after the prosecution lodged an appeal. This Orwellian situation demonstrates beyond a shadow of doubt that the proceedings against Assange are of a politically motivated character. A political vendetta is being waged against him because he has dared to publish the truth about the crimes of American imperialism.
A cheer went up from a crowd of supporters, penned across the street by police, as news filtered out that Assange had been granted bail on onerous terms of ￡240,000, with the added conditions of surrendering his passport, obeying a curfew at an address in Suffolk, wearing an electronic tag and reporting to a local police station every evening.
But instead of walking out a free man, he was kept in the cells below the court. The judge let it be known that the Swedish authorities had two hours in which to lodge an appeal against the granting of bail. Later Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens emerged from the court to explain that Swedish prosecutors had indeed lodged an appeal that would be heard by the High Court within 48 hours.
Assange was whisked away in a prison van, arriving back at the grim Victorian prison at Wandsworth in southwest London where he has been held in solitary confinement for the last week.
Stephens told reporters, “They clearly will not spare any expense to keep Mr. Assange in jail. This is really turning into a show trial.”
It is impossible to dissent from that judgement. A man who has been charged with no offence, still less found guilty of any crime, has been deprived of his freedom.
The Assange case amounts to a parody of legal procedure.
This latest episode involves a repudiation of the principle of habeas corpus that has been established in English courts since the 17th century. Assange has been detained without charge in Britain, so that he can be extradited to Sweden where he has not been charged but simply faces questioning over allegations of sexual misconduct of a spurious character.
Assange reportedly faces allegations of “unlawful coercion” during a consenting sexual act and failure to use a condom on this and another occasion with another consenting partner. Assange denies all allegations against him. So flimsy is the case against him that Swedish prosecutors initially threw it out.
That the Swedish authorities decided to reopen the case against Assange―and the English courts first denied him bail and then agreed to keep him in prison even after doing so―is explicable only as the product of massive pressure exerted behind the scenes by Washington. It is widely predicted that if sent to Sweden, Assange will then be shipped on to the United States where, as the World Socialist Web Site reported yesterday, a grand jury has already been secretly empanelled.
The treatment meted out to Assange is confirmation of the rapid slide toward police-state measures taking place worldwide.
The extradition warrant under which Assange was detained was introduced a fter 9/11. It was claimed that it was necessary to speed up extradition proceedings in terrorist cases. But Assange has no connection to terrorism. The warrant has been used to silence someone who has exposed imperialist crimes; in an effort to intimidate others, curtail freedom of speech and gag the media.
Assange's legal team has not even been told precisely when the appeal will take place. This reflects the practice that has characterised the entire case, keeping them in the dark and placing every obstacle possible in their path.
Even after he has been held in prison for a week, the charges against him have still not been officially disclosed. It is questionable whether the alleged offences would be prosecutable under English law, but without detailed material it is impossible for his lawyers to challenge the case. “We still have not been given the material and the evidence to allow Mr. Assange to understand the nature of the charges against him,” Stephens said. This was despite a call by Judge Howard Riddle that the defence be allowed the necessary material.
Last week Assange’s defence were given just nine hours to arrange the sureties that Judge Riddle required before he would grant bail. The bail conditions that were finally granted to Assange this week are extremely stringent.
Vaughan Smith, a former British army officer who has worked as an independent cameraman in war zones and is the founder of the Frontline Club, offered his own address to the court for Assange. It had to be pre-approved by police. Smith is one of a number of prominent people who have expressed their support for Assange and offered to stand surety for him. They include the Nobel Laureate Sir John Sulston, who was responsible for mapping the human genome.
Bail was set at ￡240,000, but only ￡40,000 of this sum is a surety. The other ￡200,000 must be paid up front in cash. Even the wealthiest of Assange's supporters would have difficulty raising ￡200,000 in cash at a moment's notice. “We're putting the begging bowl out.” Stephens said.
If bail were paid by cheque, Assange would have to remain in prison for seven days while it cleared.
“It's a pity he can't use MasterCard or Visa,” Stephens remarked with black humour. “Until then we have an innocent man sitting in Dickensian conditions in Wandsworth gaol.”
Assange is being held in the same prison in which Oscar Wilde was confined. A recent report by the prison inspectorate referred to “a climate of fear” that exists in Wandsworth. Assange has spent the last seven days in the prison punishment block, locked in his cell for 23 and a half hours a day and under constant infrared imaging surveillance. During that time he has been allowed three phone calls and three visits. He has no access to the Internet or newspapers.
The immediate question is whether Assange will be held under punitive conditions for another 48 hours. But the more fundamental issue may be his personal safety while being held by a judicial system that has so little regard for its own publicly expressed standards of justice.
Please share these articles very widely. We must stand with wikileaks now. General Joe
Fnd notes for further publishing below:
Desperate to stop the "truth telling"
General Joe and friends
"The imperialists of the world are desperate to stop the "truth telling" of wikileaks. To do so they have thrown away the cover of respect of "freedom of speech" in particular and "support of democratic principals" in general. They are naked now in their hatred of democracy.
Organize, resist, do all that you can to protect these true heros from attack. Most importantly, aid them in their efforts to reveal the truths that just may "set us free."
General Joe and friends