Category Archives: WikiLeaks diplomatic cables

Headline of the day: Assange offers U.S. a deal


From the London Daily Mail:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange agrees to extradition if Barack Obama releases U.S. military whistleblower Chelsea Manning

  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to agree to be extradited to United States if President Obama grants Chelsea Manning clemency
  • Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking U.S. military documents
  • WikiLeaks tweeted on Thursday saying Assange will agree to extradition
  • He has been in Ecuadoran embassy in London since June 2012

Did the FBI agents go to Iceland to frame Assange?


That’s the claim of the nation’s former Interior Minister, who says that the bureau dispatched a slew of agents to the Island nation, only to be met with a stern Nordic rebuke.

From the London Daily Mail:

Ögmundur Jonasson, who currently serves as a member of the Icelandic Parliament, said US authorities told him in June 2011 that hackers were trying to destroy software systems in the country.

The authorities said there was an ‘imminent attack’ on Iceland’s government databases and that the FBI would send agents to investigate.

Jonasson said he was immediately skeptical of the FBI’s intentions.

‘I was suspicious,’ he told Katoikos. ‘Well aware that a helping hand might easily become a manipulating hand!’

Jonasson said it was only when a ‘planeload’ of FBI agents arrived in August that he realized the true reason for their visit.

The former minister claims the FBI was seeking Iceland’s ‘cooperation in what I understood as an operation set up to frame Julian Assange and WikiLeaks’.

Jonasson said he immediately told the FBI agents to leave the country.

And here’s the reason for Jonasson’s decision, from the Katoikos interview:

I also made it clear at the time that if I had to take sides with either WikiLeaks or the FBI or CIA, I would have no difficulty in choosing: I would be on the side of WikiLeaks.

Do you think that whistleblowers should be protected?

Yes, I think that it is very important. The role played by whistleblowers could be seen as public service. We owe a lot to Chelsea Manning. We owe a lot to Edward Snowden. We owe a lot to Assange. We owe a lot to WikiLeaks.

Brazil’s new president is U.S. [+CIA?] informant


And a Wikileaks cable tells the tale, reporting on a meeting between newly installed Acting President Michael Temer and U.S. Embassy officials including political officers [poloffs], a position often used as official cover by agents of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Official cover posts come with diplomatic immunity, unlike the more perilous non-official cover [NOC] positions, where work can result in prison and even death sentences.

Temer is also named in 21 other cables, including one naming him as one of several conservative legislators caught on camera taking bribes. That cable follows after the jump.

We are very suspicious of the legal coup which has unseated progressive President Dilma Rousseff, given the unrelenting opposition of successive administrations to any Latin American government veering slightly to the left.

From the Wikileaks cache of cables released by Chelsea Manning, a cable from Christopher J. McMullen, then Consul General in São Paulo and currently Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Andean, Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs:

Date: 2006 January 11, 14:02 (Wednesday)

Canonical ID: 06SAOPAULO30_a

Original Classification: UNCLASSIFIED,FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Current Classification: UNCLASSIFIED,FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

TAGS: BR – Brazil | ETRD – Economic Affairs–Foreign Trade | PGOV – Political Affairs–Government; Internal Governmental Affairs | PINR – Political Affairs–Intelligence

From: Brazil São Paulo

To: Argentina Buenos Aires | Bolivia La Paz | Brazil Brasilia | Brazil Recife | Brazil Rio De Janeiro | Chile Santiago | National Security Council | Paraguay Asunción | Secretary of State | United States Southern Command (Miami) | Uruguay Montevideo

NCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 SAO PAULO 000030

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

NSC FOR CRONIN
STATE PASS USTR FOR SULLIVAN/LEZNY

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PINR, PGOV, ETRD, BR

SUBJECT: PMDB Leader Ponders Party’s Electoral Options

REF: (A) 05 Sao Paulo 1402; (B) Sao Paulo 1372

1. (U) Sensitive but Unclassified – protect accordingly.

2. (SBU) Summary: Federal Deputy Michel Temer, national president of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), believes that public disillusion with President Lula and the Workers’ Party (PT) provides an opportunity for the PMDB to field its own candidate in the 2006 presidential election. However, party divisions and the lack of a compelling choice as a candidate could force the PMDB into an alliance with Lula’s PT or the opposition PSDB. If Lula’s polling numbers do not improve before the PMDB primaries in March, Temer said his party might nominate its own candidate. This would still allow the party to forge an alliance with the PT or PSDB in a runoff, assuming that the PMDB candidate fails to make the second round. Given its centrist orientation, the PMDB may hold the balance of votes between the two opposing forces. It is also likely to remain a force at the local and state level. Temer believes it has a chance to win as many as 14 gubernatorial races. End Summary.

—————————
With Allies Like This . . .
—————————

3. (SBU) Michel Temer, a Federal deputy from Sao Paulo who served as president of the Chamber of Deputies from 1997 through 2000, met January 9 with CG and poloffs to discuss the current political situation. Lula’s election, he said, had raised great hope among the Brazilian people, but his performance in office has been disappointing. Temer criticized Lula’s narrow vision and his excessive focus on social safety net programs that don’t promote growth or economic development. The PT had campaigned on one program and, once in office, had done the opposite of what it promised, which Temer characterized as electoral fraud. Worse, some PT leaders had stolen state money, not for personal gain, but to expand the party’s power, and had thus fomented a great deal of popular disillusion.

————————-
PMDB Perceives an Opening
————————-

4. (SBU) This reality, Temer continued, opens an opportunity for the PMDB. The party currently holds nine statehouses and has the second-highest number of federal deputies (after the PT), along with a great many mayoralties and city council and state legislative seats. Polls show that voters are tired of both the PT and the main opposition party, the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB). For example, a recent poll showed former governor (and PMDB state chairman) Orestes Quercia leading in the race for Sao Paulo state governor.

———————–
Divisions Dog the Party
———————–

5. (SBU) Asked why the PMDB remains so divided, Temer said the reasons were both historical and related to the nature of Brazilian political parties. The PMDB grew out of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) under the military dictatorship, which operated as an umbrella group for legitimate opposition to the military dictatorship. After the restoration of democracy, some members left the PMDB to form new parties (such as the PT and PSDB), but many of those who remained now act as power brokers at the local and regional level. Thus the PMDB has no real unifying national identity but rather an umbrella organization for regional “caciques” or bosses. Temer noted that the PMDB is not the only divided party. Although there are 28 political parties in Brazil, most of them do not represent an ideology or a particular line of political thinking that would support a national vision.

There’s much more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Is this the next Prime Minister of Iceland?


Birgitta Jónsdóttir. member of the Icleandic Althing [parliament] and founder of the Pirate Party. Via Wikipedia.

Birgitta Jónsdóttir. member of the Icleandic Althing [parliament] and founder of the Pirate Party. Via Wikipedia.

First up, while the media have reported that Iceland’s prime minister has resigned over the offshore banking scandal triggered by the massive leaks of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, there’s a new twist.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau [emphasis added]:

Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson said he was stepping aside following the largest anti-government protests in modern times in Iceland, a sign of the public anger over his family’s offshore holdings.

Iceland’s fisheries minister announced that Gunnlaugsson had stepped down, according to state broadcaster RUV.

In a statement late Tuesday, Gunnlaugsson’s office said he “has not resigned” and was merely stepping aside “for an unspecified amount of time” and would remain as chairman of his ruling Progressive Party. It said the party’s deputy leader, Sigurdur Ingi Jóhannsson, would take over as prime minister. Whether disgruntled Icelanders would allow Gunnlaugsson to return to the post in the future was far from clear.

But if his ouster becomes official, who’s his likely replacement?

Enter the poetician. . .

Here at esnl, we’ve been longtime fans of Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a poet and artist who cut her political teeth as a high-profile volunteer with Wikileaks, then moved on to electoral politics, forming two political parties and now heading the leading parliamentary power in the parliament that will soon meet to elect a new prime minister.

She heads the civil libertarian Pirate Party, one of the two she founded, and calls herself a poetician rather than a politician.

It’s fitting that the job is now vacant — ore nearly so — because of another leak, the massive document dump listing the clients of a Panamanian law firm specializing in setting up front to hide plutocratic wealth for government tax collectors.

From Judith Ehrlich, Oscar-nominated director of The Most Dangerous Man in America, Daniel Ellsberg & The Pentagon Papers, here’s a quick 2014 look at Jónsdóttir and some of her accomplishments:

The Mouse That Roared

Here’s what Jónsdóttir told the Sydney Morning Herald about the latest developments:

Birgitta Jonsdottir, ex Mullumbimby and Melbourne resident, former colleague of Julian Assange, now official ‘poetician’ for Iceland’s Pirate Party, admits with some surprise that she might be her country’s next prime minister.

“Statistically, that’s very possible,” she says. “But then, that is not my main goal.”

>snip<

Ms Jonsdottir, a member of parliament for the Iceland’s Pirate Party, says Mr Gunnlaugsson had taken his colleagues by surprise with his visit to the president.

“He had not consulted with anybody and they were like so pissed off,” she said. “They did not conceal it, they were just seething.” They had then forced him to resign, she says.

“It’s been a really long day… this whole day was totally bizarre in so many different ways.”

To get an idea of the man whose job she stands to inherit, here’s what hapopened when a Swedish television report held his feet to the fire with questions about those offshore companies incorporated by those Panamanian money hiders.

From videos hahaha:

Iceland’s prime minister walks out of interview over tax haven question

Program notes:

Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, the prime minister of Iceland, walks out of an interview with Swedish television company SVT. Gunnlaugsson is asked about a company called Wintris, which he says has been fully declared to the Icelandic tax authority. Gunnlaugsson says he is not prepared to answer such questions and decides to discontinue the interview, saying: ‘What are you trying to make up here? This is totally inappropriate’

If you’d like to learn more about Jónsdóttir, here’s a link to a TedX talk she delivered last June. Her Twitter account is here.

UPDATE: Newsweek has just posted an essay by Jónsdóttir on her party’s sudden change in political fortunes, in which she writes:

Currently we are experiencing similar events to that which Iceland experienced in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008. And yet we still don’t have a satisfactory system for holding those in power to account—other than standing outside the parliament and screaming it out loud.

The constitution we would implement was written by and for the people of Iceland in 2011 in response to the financial meltdown. It would include the separation of powers to prevent another economic collapse, while also reforming the way MPs are elected and judges are appointed. It is completely unacceptable that despite a referendum in 2012 that saw 67 percent of the electorate voting to put this new crowd-sourced constitution into law, it still hasn’t been.

It is difficult to say at this stage exactly what the complete ramifications of this scandal are, but it is obvious that our nation’s reputation will be severely damaged abroad, simply because we are the only Western European country with a sitting minister—let alone a prime minister—that has been directly implicated in this scandal.

If this was a comedy it would be funny but this is actually our head of state. This is not what Icelanders are like and this is not what Iceland is.

Digital Dissidents: Whistleblowers documentary


Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Daniel Ellsberg are all well-known for their revelations of governmental wrongdoing, while William Binney and Thomas Drake are less well known for their exposure of National Security Agency misdeeds.

Then there is Annie Machon, who narrowly escaped a British prison cell after her revelations about MI-5, Britain’s domestic security agency.

What all have in common is a belief that it was worth risking the threat of prison, or worse, to guarantee that citizens of their countries know the truth about what their governments were doing, both to themselves and others, in the name of national security.

Digital Dissidents is a documentary from German director Cyril Tuschi released theatrically last year and now offered only by Al Jazeera English, which writes:

Whistleblowers such as Daniel Ellsberg, Thomas Drake, William Binney, and Edward Snowden; and hackers and activists such as the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the former British secret service agent Annie Machon, warn us about the complete surveillance of our society.

They oppose intelligence agencies, governments and corporations. And for this, they are threatened, hounded and imprisoned.

Why are they so committed? What drives them? And is there a collective motive?

Digital Dissidents is a two-part documentary that goes into the heart and experiences of what it means to be a whistleblower and the nature of the quests to disclose radical truths hidden from society.

We hear the personal testimonies of whistleblowers and examine the psychology of whistleblowing.

What happens when an intelligence insider wants to reveal their country’s surveillance secrets? What about if that secretive culture still affects an individual after they’ve become a whistleblower?

One of our favorite quotes from from Machon, and esplains why we have persistently declined to submit to the tender ministrations of the Zuckerberg machine:

“Facebook is evil in my view, I’ve been saying this for years. […] We offer up our information and it’s just there on a plate for the spies to access. And we know they do through back doors and things. Yet that sort of information used to take them weeks or months to gather on an individual.”

And with that, on with the show, via Al Jazeera English:

Digital Dissidents — Part One

Program note:

An in-depth look at the most famous whistleblowers of the 21st century and what drives them to speak out.

And the second half:

Digital Dissidents — Part Two

Birgitta Jónsdóttir: Headed for Iceland’s top post?


A 2011 self-portrait by Birgitta Jónsdóttir

A 2011 self-portrait by Birgitta Jónsdóttir

esnl‘s long been partial to Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Iceland’s poet, artist, Internet activist, publisher, hacker, and best-known science fiction fan.

She came to international prominence as a Wikileaks activist at a time when half the world’s cops and spooks wanted to shut the site down, and her activism led her into the national legislature as a member of the Pirate Party, a movement she helped found.

The anger spurring her move into the political arena came from the national government’s capitulation of the banksters who had brought the country to near-ruin.

But now she stands on the brink of yet another major change.

Birgitta Jónsdóttir could become the nation’s next prime minister.

From a 28 January post from the Reykjavik Grapevine:

The Pirate Party is currently polling at 42%, remaining the top party in the country for the past year now. Support for the party exceeds that of both parties in the ruling coalition combined.

These results come from a new poll conducted by Stöð 2 and Fréttablaðið, where the Pirates have polled at over 30% for the past 12 months.

At the same time, support for the Independence Party is now at 23.2%, which is a record low for the party for this poll. Their partners in the ruling coalition, the Progressive Party, are currently slightly above 10%. This puts support for the Pirates alone almost 10% greater than that of both parties in the coalition.

So what would this remarkable activist do in office?

From a 22 January Backchannel profile:

Stubbornly, Birgitta follows the Pirate Party guidelines: horizontal leadership, power rotation, liquid democracy. She votes in Parliament according to the majority will collected on the Píratar web platform. Birgitta is a captain with no title or privileges. Yet she leads.

With only three parliamentarians, Pirates have surged into first place for the next legislative elections. (With 38 percent of voter intention, they are ahead of both traditional parties combined.) “People are really fed up,” she comments. Birgitta could become prime minister. She rolls her big eyes and says, “That is my worst nightmare.”

Birgitta isn’t a rebel but a hacker. Complaining and pointing fingers is a waste of time. She has a goal, a plan: Birgitta wants democracy to work again. Being in charge is the price to pay. Yet she imposes her conditions: She wants her hands free. If in power, Birgitta’s action plan is clear: apply the new constitution; implement IMMI to make Iceland a safe haven for freedom of expression and data; hold a proper debate on joining the European Union, followed by a referendum; conduct a six-month policy assessment of every ministry; and turn the recommendation into a government plan. After that, Birgitta would step down to force new elections to have this plan supported across the board. A true pirate, she would leave her seat as soon as she is done. Power destroys souls. It has worn her out already.

So what does she believe?

From Julian Correa, a video of a talk she gave on freedom of information [and much more] at the November 2014 CopyCamp, a Warsaw gathering on copyright law:

Birgitta Jónsdóttir

And here’s an interview from We Are Change Rotterdam:

Birgitta Jónsdóttir: “We have to help the system to collapse”

Program notes:

Birgitta Jónsdóttir is a politician (poetician) and an activist member of the Althing, the Icelandic parliament, formerly representing the Citizens’ Movement and The Movement, but now representing the Pirate Party. We Are Change Rotterdam got a chance to talk to her about revolution, Icelandic politics, the new Icelandic constitution and much more. Utrecht, 2014

We suspect life is about to get very interesting in Iceland.

Her blog is here, she also posts on Facebook and on Twitter.

Julian Assange gets ol’ Palestinian treatment


You know, the one in which a few small powers reject the overwhelming votes in their favor from a vast majority of the world’s nations.

First, from the Los Angeles Times:

‘How sweet it is,’ WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange declares after U.N. panel backs his freedom

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Friday he felt vindicated by the findings of a United Nations panel that ruled he should be allowed to walk free.

And the inevitable, via Deutsche Welle:

Assange stays put as Britain, Sweden reject UN decision

The British and Swedish authorities have rejected a UN panel’s findings and say WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will still face arrest if he exits Ecuador’s embassy. He’s not budging, reports Samira Shackle from London

UPDATE: From The Real News Network, an interview [transcript] on Britain’s response with Assange’s own attorney:

UK Rejects UN Ruling that Assange Detention Is Illegal

Program notes:

After the UN finds Assange to be arbitrarily detained, Assange attorney Carey Shenkman explains how the UK is undermining the authority of the UN while simultaneously relying on it to release detained UK citizens

BBC News covers Old Blighty umbrage:

Julian Assange decision by UN panel ridiculous, says Hammond

The UK foreign secretary has branded as “ridiculous” a UN panel’s ruling that Julian Assange be allowed to go free, as the Wikileaks founder demanded the decision be respected.

And the response, via the Guardian:

Julian Assange accuses UK minister of insulting UN after detention finding

Foreign secretary Philip Hammond dismisses panel’s finding as ‘ridiculous’ but WikiLeaks founder hails ‘sweet victory’

Anonymous voices our own sentiments, and much more graphically:

BLOG Anon