Skip to main content

Kidnapping, assassination and a London shoot-out: Inside the CIA's secret war plans against WikiLeaks

Zach Dorfman, Sean D. Naylor and Michael Isikoff
 
Part 6 - Assange’s legal odyssey appears to have only just begun
 
Inside the White House, Pompeo’s impassioned arguments on WikiLeaks were making little headway. The director’s most aggressive proposals were “probably taken seriously” in Langley but not within the NSC, a former national security official said.

Even Sessions, Trump’s “very, very anti-Assange” attorney general, was opposed to CIA’s encroachment onto Justice Department territory, and believed that the WikiLeaks founder’s case was best handled through legal channels, said the former official.

Sessions’ concerns mirrored the tensions between the ramped-up intelligence collection and disruption efforts aimed at WikiLeaks, and the Justice Department’s goal of convicting Assange in open court, according to former officials. The more aggressive the CIA’s proposals became, the more other U.S. officials worried about what the discovery process might reveal if Assange were to face trial in the United States.

I was part of every one of those conversations,” Evanina said. “As much as we had the greener light to go do things, everything we did or wanted to do had repercussions in other parts of the administration.” As a result, he said, sometimes administration officials would ask the intelligence community to either not do something or do it differently, so that “we don’t have to sacrifice our collection that’s going to be released publicly by the bureau to indict WikiLeaks.

Eventually, those within the administration arguing for an approach based in the courts, rather than on espionage and covert action, won the policy debate. On April 11, 2019, after Ecuador’s new government revoked his asylum and evicted him, British police carried the WikiLeaks founder out of the embassy and arrested him for failing to surrender to the court over a warrant issued in 2012. The U.S. government unsealed its initial indictment of Assange the same day.

That indictment focused exclusively on allegations that in 2010, Assange offered to help Manning, the Army intelligence analyst, crack a password to break into a classified U.S. government network, an act that would have gone beyond journalism. But in a move that drew howls from press advocates, prosecutors later tacked on Espionage Act charges against Assange for publishing classified information — something that U.S. media outlets do regularly.

Assange’s legal odyssey appears to have only just begun. In January, a British judge ruled Assange could not be extradited to the United States, finding that he would be a suicide risk in a U.S. prison. Although Assange supporters hoped the Biden administration might drop the case, the United States, undeterred, appealed the decision. In July, a U.K. court formally permitted the U.S. appeal to proceed.

Pollack, Assange’s lawyer, told Yahoo News that if Assange is extradited to face trial, “the extreme nature of the type of government misconduct that you’re reporting would certainly be an issue and potentially grounds for dismissal.” He likened the measures used to target Assange to those deployed by the Nixon administration against Daniel Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers, noting the charges against Ellsberg were ultimately dismissed as well.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks may be increasingly obsolete. The growing ability of groups and individuals — whistleblowers or dissidents, spies or criminals — to publish leaked materials online diminishes the group’s raison d’être. “We’re kind of post-WikiLeaks right now,” said a former senior counterintelligence official.

Yet spy services are increasingly using a WikiLeaks-like model of posting stolen materials online. In 2018, the Trump administration granted the CIA aggressive new secret authorities to undertake the same sort of hack-and-dump operations for which Russian intelligence has used WikiLeaks. Among other actions, the agency has used its new powers to covertly release information online about a Russian company that worked with Moscow’s spy apparatus.

For a former Trump national security official, the lessons of the CIA’s campaign against WikiLeaks are clear. “There was an inappropriate level of attention to Assange given the embarrassment, not the threat he posed in context,” said this official.

We should never act out of a desire for revenge.

***

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

US-backed counter-revolution coup against Cuba blatantly fails

globinfo freexchange   Since at least early 2018, the US imperialists were setting the stage for another coup against Cuba in the form of a "color revolution".  As reported back then:   The US State Department announced a new program called 'The Cuba Internet Task Force'. The Task Force will consist of the US government and non-governmental representatives to "promote the free and unregulated flow of information in Cuba". It is part of the National Security Presidential Memorandum of "strengthening the policy of the United States toward Cuba", that was issued by President Trump in June 2017.   This policy seeks "advancing Cuban human rights; encouraging the growth of a Cuban private sector independent of government control; enforcing final orders of removal against Cuban nationals in the United States". The US has sought to overthrow the Cuban government ever since the 1959 revolution. This is not the first time the US has attempted to

Chris Hedges on Assange, Donziger, & the US prison state

Redacted Tonight   Chris Hedges joins Lee Camp for a conversation around his latest book about teaching in American prisons. They also discuss corruption in the media and the U.S. System of Justice. The persecution of Julian Assange and Steven Donziger have garnered attention over the last few weeks for their egregious displays of judicial corruption in service of the world’s most powerful people. Hedges provides context for your outrage in their cases. He then reveals his experiences teaching prisoners in maximum security facilities and expresses support for incarcerated people who have chosen to protest their living conditions.

Alert: US imperialists prepare counter-revolution coup on November 15th to take over Cuba!

globinfo freexchange   On November 1st, Lee Camp appeared astonished by the fact that the State Department essentially announced a US-backed coup against Cuba in advance!  And not only that. The US imperialists revealed the specific method and the exact date of the counter-revolution coup! The method is the typical one that we've seen in various cases the last decade or so, which involves a type of "color revolution". The date: November 15th. On November 2nd, cadenagramonte.cu website gave the details and the key players of the operation.   On November 3rd, TeleSUR reported that:                                A Cuban government representative said that Cuba has probably been facing up the largest and most complex cultural warfare operation orchestrated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), promoting a new type of counterrevolution. On Twitter, Cuba's Deputy Foreign Minister Anayansi Rodríguez posted a U.S. plan to bring Cuba's political system down, whic

Οι ολιγάρχες ετοιμάζουν το Plan B που είχαν στο συρτάρι: Συγκυβέρνηση ΝΔ-ΚΙΝΑΛ και επιστροφή της γαλαζοπράσινης λαίλαπας

globinfo freexchange   Το άκρως φιλοκυβερνητικό Βήμα , κομμάτι της συστημικής προπαγάνδας της εγχώριας ολιγαρχίας, έδωσε χθες το σύνθημα για το Plan B των ολιγαρχών που είχαν στο συρτάρι ως εναλλακτική, καθώς δεν χρειάστηκε να το θέσουν σε εφαρμογή, λόγω της αυτοδυναμίας που πέτυχε η Μητσοτακική δεξιά στις εκλογές του Ιουλίου του 2019.    Πρόκειται το σενάριο συγκυβέρνησης ΝΔ-ΚΙΝΑΛ.  Όπως είχαμε γράψει τον Ιούνιο του 19, η ΝΔ (με ή χωρίς δεκανίκια), έχει ως μοναδική αποστολή να συνεχίσει το "λαμπρό" της έργο από εκεί που το άφησε. Βέβαια, η "Αριστερή παρένθεση", που η Τρόικα εσωτερικού και εξωτερικού φρόντισε έτσι και αλλιώς να κουρελιάσει, κράτησε λίγο παραπάνω απ'ότι υπολόγισαν τα "μεγάλα αφεντικά". Τώρα, ήρθε η ώρα να ξεκουμπιστεί, διότι υπάρχει κίνδυνος να θυμηθεί τις Αριστερές της καταβολές και να καταστρέψει το "θεάρεστο" σχέδιο του νεοφιλελεύθερου ιερατείου. Απ'ότι φαίνεται, υπάρχουν πρόθυμα δεκανίκια, για παν ενδεχόμενο. Από τότ

Free Julian Assange: Snowden, Varoufakis, Corbyn & Tariq Ali speak out ahead of extradition hearing

Democracy Now!   As jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces an extradition hearing Wednesday in London, supporters gathered Friday for the Belmarsh Tribunal, named for the Belmarsh maximum security prison where Assange is being held. The mock trial highlighted major WikiLeaks revelations of U.S. war crimes and demanded Assange’s freedom.    Assange faces up to 175 years in prison in the U.S. under the Espionage Act for publishing classified documents exposing U.S. war crimes. Though a British judge blocked his extradition in January, the U.S. appealed the decision.    Speakers from the tribunal include writer Tariq Ali, Afghan political activist Selay Ghaffar, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and former Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn.    “ Julian, far from being indicted, should actually be a hero, ” said Ali. “ He should never have been kept in prison for bail. He should not be in prison now awaiting a trial for extradition. He

The most important battle for Press Freedom in our time

If he is extradited and found guilty of publishing classified material it will set a legal precedent that will effectively end national security reporting.   by Chris Hedges  Part 1 For the past two days, I have been watching the extradition hearing for Julian Assange via video link from London. The United States is appealing a lower court ruling that denied the US request to extradite Assange not, unfortunately, because in the eyes of the court he is innocent of a crime, but because, as Judge Vanessa Baraitser in January concluded, Assange’s precarious psychological state would deteriorate given the “ harsh conditions ” of the inhumane US prison system, “ causing him to commit suicide .” The United States has charged Assange with 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count of trying to hack into a government computer, charges that could see him imprisoned for 175 years. Assange, with long white hair, appeared on screen the first day from the video conference room in HM Prison Belm

Top 1% of US earners now hold more wealth than all of the middle class

by Alexandre Tanzi and Mike Dorning  After years of declines, America’s middle class now holds a smaller share of U.S. wealth than the top 1%. The middle 60% of U.S. households by income -- a measure economists often use as a definition of the middle class -- saw their combined assets drop to 26.6% of national wealth as of June, the lowest in Federal Reserve data going back three decades. For the first time, the super rich had a bigger share, at 27%. The data offer a window into the slow-motion erosion in the financial security of mid-tier earners that has fueled voters’ discontent in recent years. That continued through the Covid-19 pandemic, despite trillions of dollars in government relief .   Rise of the Super Rich   Middle-class Americans now hold less wealth than the top 1% by income.   While “middle class” has different meanings to different people, many economists use income to define the group. The 77.5 million families in the middle 60% make about $27,000 to $141,000 annually

Top media company demands reporters write pro-US/EU/Israel propaganda

The Grayzone   The major media company Axel Springer SE, which owns Politico, Business Insider , and top German newspapers, was exposed for forcing its employees to write pro-US/EU/Israel propaganda. It has also been accused of being funded by the CIA. 

Visionary realism: A green future beyond capitalism - Yanis Varoufakis, Ann Pettifor & Noam Chomsky

DiEM25   "There is no alternative", "it's the end of history" in the shadow of the 2008 crash, the environmental crisis and ongoing COVID19 pandemic, never has the hubris of these words been more striking. Nevertheless if we are in fact at the end of an era, what comes next? Join us in uncovering the exciting possibilities that the future can hold with public intellectual Noam Chomsky and economists Ann Pettifor and Yanis Varoufakis. 

Assange appeal day 2: Extradition decision update

acTVism Munich   A report on the second day of the appeal hearing in the extradition proceedings of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The defense rebutted claims by the US government arguing that the assurances provided can be revoked at any time and are thus unreliable. Additionally, the court heard evidence that US intelligence plotted to assassinate Assange. A decision on extradition will be delivered in the coming weeks.