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Democrats Against Assange: Influencing US-Ecuador Relations

Such a historical twist, but one that deserves its iniquitous slot in the history books. No secret has been made about US policy towards Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, which continues its trajectory to seek his apprehension and shutter the organisation. Despite its cables being used for political effect by interested parties; despite the exposures of corruption within the ranks of US politics, Assange is to be thanked with punishment.

This is the sentiment expressed by Senator Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with nine other Democratic senators, in a letter to US Vice President Mike Pence. The senators had been losing sleep after getting wind of what was said, or rather not said, in a June 4 phone call between Pence and Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno. One glaring omission troubled them: the absence of any discussion about Assange’s asylum status and stay in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Ahead of Pence’s meeting with Moreno this week, the senators wished to press the matter. “As the United States is still seeking clarity about the full extent of Russian intervention in our elections and Russian interference in elections across the world, it is imperative that you raise US concerns with President Moreno about Ecuador’s continued support for Mr. Assange at a time when WikiLeaks continues its efforts to undermine democratic processes globally.”

This is a fine take, if dizzyingly inaccurate: WikiLeaks as the great undermining force of democratic states, worrying politicians in the United States who have enthusiastically backed the imperial project of overthrowing democratically elected governments. But slotting Assange, Putin and electoral interference in the same line is bound to have its emotive effect on politicians obsessed with government secrecy.

The charges tend to muddle the broader political landscape, but the intention in the letter is to paint Assange as an architect of discord, comfortably wading in the politics of other states. That such muck racking is often no more than releasing documents casting a different light on traditional politics is beside the point; Assange interfered in revealing the hidden whispers and clandestine reflections. Other scenes of engagement are also noted: the French presidential election, and the Spanish referendum on Catalan independence.

What the letter omits to say is that the current US president has expressed his delight at various nuggets he has received from the WikiLeaks trove. “I simply state what he states, it is for the people … to make up their own minds as to the truth. The media lies to make it look like I am against ‘Intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan!”

The specific reading advanced by the Democrats builds upon the stance that Assange as a radical transparency vigilante must be potted. It regurgitates, in uncritical form, the designation by former CIA director Mike Pompeo that WikiLeaks was a “non-hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” It makes the facile link between WikiLeaks and Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) in suggesting that the publishing outfit was used “to release hacked information in order to influence … the 2016 US Presidential election.” (Use here is conflated with manipulation, collusion, and conspiracy).

The content, and veracity of such material, is deemed irrelevant. And rather than being content with his arbitrary detention in Ecuador’s embassy compound in London, as found by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, there is a desire to take the next step.

As for the meeting with Ecuador’s Moreno, the White House was short if vaguely ominous: “the Vice President raised the issue of Mr Assange. It was a constructive conversation. They agreed to remain in close coordination on potential next steps going forward.”

The Senators’ letter also made the observation that US-Ecuador relations for the last decade had been “marked by unfortunate tensions. However, under President Lenín Moreno’s leadership, there is a unique opportunity to reverse this trend.” A change presented itself now to “forge a new chapter in longstanding relations with the United States and Ecuador built on shared values, and address remaining challenges between our countries.”

Too much bad blood exists within the Democratic camp about Assange, who has become a proxy hate figure for a party that bungled the US presidential elections in 2016. A steadfast refusal to accept the result, not to mention the inadequacies of their candidate where it most mattered permeates through the Mueller investigation and Russia Gate, all tied together by a bow of grievance.

A note from Harry Cheadle writing for Vice in the lead up to the 2016 election is instructive in painting the picture that emerged from the DNC-Podesta trove released by WikiLeaks. The emails portrayed an “organization that is contemptuous of opposition, often obsessed with how an issue is perceived, and yet sometimes prone to decisions that seem self-defeating and dance on the knife edge of political disaster.” The chickens, notably of the socialist variety, are vengefully coming back to roost.

Scratching for ideas and options in ambushing President Donald Trump, it is clear that the senators have latched on to the next best thing: revoking the political status of a man with no internet access who will be arrested the moment he steps out of the embassy door. How fittingly democratic of them.


7 comments

  1. nerodog

    I’m glad of anything defending Assange. I think the main reason Australians don’t speak up louder for him is that many are utterly confused by the mainstream media about what he did. They do think he is a criminal, but have no idea why. Here are words from a pamphlet that expresses what he did with simplicity:

    SPEAKING UP ABOUT WAR CRIMES AND GLOBAL SURVEILLANCE – JULIAN ASSANGE

    • If you knew that a government routinely covered up soldiers massacring civilians as if they were shooting them in a video game, would you stay silent?

    • If you knew that 66,081 of the 109,000 recorded deaths in the illegal war on Iraq from US military were civilians, would you stay silent?

    • If you found out that a government was spying on the citizens of every nation in the world and passing the information onto corporations and the military, would you stay silent?

    Julian Assange did not stay silent. Courageously, he published the documents exposing murder and illegal surveillance, passed on to him by US. soldier, Private Manning.

    These documents were also accessed and published in whole or in part by many other reporting outlets, including The Guardian, Der Spiegel, The New York Times, El País, Al-Akhbar, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet, Verdens Gang, Aftenposten, Politiken, NRC, RTL Nieuws, Die Welt,and Fairfax Media. But those media are not being punished.

    The United States Government was the government involved in these war crimes and illegal global surveillance. It controlled the mainstream and corporate press and was incensed that Wikileaks, an alternative press, had the moral conviction to out it for its crimes. Its revenge was to engineer Julian Assange’s illegal detention in the Ecuadorian Embassy from August 2012.

    Using trumped up charges, the UK and Swedish Governments colluded with the United States so that Assange was likely to be extradited to the United States on unknown and probably illegal grounds if he left his place of asylum. The United States has the highest rates of imprisonment in the world and its private and military prisons are known to be brutal and unaccountable.

    Assange did not committed any crime by publishing material from a foreign state, any more than have the newspapers who also published this. His arbitrary detention has been denounced by the United Nations. His access to internet, telephone and visitors have all been withdrawn recently and a change of government in Ecuador threatens his continued asylum in its embassy. The Australian Government needs to act to bring Assange home to safety, in accordance with UN rulings.
    Will you speak up for Julian Assange, as he did for you?

    Further Information:
    The most controversial leaks were the Collateral Murder video (April 2010),[3][4] the Afghanistan war logs (July 2010), the Iraq war logs (October 2010), and CableGate (November 2010). .

  2. Peter

    I respectfully disagree.

  3. Chris P Bacon

    Peter can you give reasons why?

  4. paul walter

    Well, it is the same timidity that kept Bernie Sanders and the same timidity we see with the ALP here as to civil liberties issues.

    The talk is just now about “foreign influence”, but my bet is the USA, GB and Israel do more interference here than all other countries combined in a year, in a single day.

    It has always so baffled me that so many people can’t see what Assange has really been about, which is Oligarchy scapegoating another whistleblower.

  5. paul walter

    Speaking of timidity, we read this morning that lib/lab have passed/sneaked through more repressive “national security” laws.

  6. New England Cocky

    “This is a fine take, if dizzyingly inaccurate: WikiLeaks as the great undermining force of democratic states, worrying politicians in the United States who have enthusiastically backed the imperial project of overthrowing democratically elected governments.”

    This is the great LIE!!! Wikileaks is for the people and holding politicians accountable.

    The USA (United States of Apartheid) has interfered in world politics since at least the Russian Revolution when the Kuhn Loeb Bank provided $6 MILLION and safe passage to Lenin to enter Russia and successfully subvert the Russian war effort. Then Menshevik leader Kerensky finished up as a professor at Yale or some other Ivy League university.

    Five US Banks and Prescott Bush provided funds to the German Nazi regime in the mid-1930s while US manufacturers of war materiel set up factories in Germany that produced the equipment used AGAINST the Allies 1939 to 1945. After WWII the Marshall Plan resulted in the US taxpayers funding reparations to the US manufacturers for losses accruing in Germany under the Nazis.

    The there is the interference by US agents particularly one General Black (some say Green) who worked with Curr and three judges to cause the 1975 downfall of the Whitlam ALP government in Australia. The News Ltd MSM assisted here.

    Then look at Central and South America; Pinochet installed with the assistance of the CIA in Chile, the generals installed in Argentina with their death squads favouring the banks, the extra-judicial execution of Che Gueverra by the CIA, and the Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba.

    In Japan there is no teaching about WWII and in the USA there is no teaching about US interference in neighbouring states for the benefit if US financial interests.

  7. Jamesss

    The use of words like democracy by our Corporation representatives placate the suppression of free speech and eventually movement throughout our daily lives.
    Will enforcing such restrictions create an underground resistance movement?

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