a timely reminder, given the imminence of julian assange’s attempted extradition

CIA Behind Guccifer & Russiagate – a Plausible Scenario
Editorial, Strategic Culture, Aug 14 2020

Former technical director of the NSA William Binney in the witness stand
of a parliamentary inquiry in Berlin investigating the NSA’s activities
in Germany, Jul 3 2014. Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters

William Binney is the former technical director of the Pindo NSA who worked at the agency for 30 years. He is a respected independent critic of how Pindo intelligence services abuse their powers to illegally spy on private communications of Pindo citizens and around the globe. Given his expert inside knowledge, it is worth paying attention to what Binney says. In an interview with Russia’s Sputnik News this week, he dismissed the so-called Russiagate scandal as a “fabrication” orchestrated by the CIA. Many other observers have come to the same conclusion about allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 Pindo elections with the objective of helping Donald Trump get elected. But what is particularly valuable about Binney’s judgment is that he cites technical analysis disproving the Russiagate narrative. That narrative remains dominant among Pindo intel boxtops, politicians and pundits, especially those affiliated with the Demagog party, as well as large sections of Western media.

The premise of the narrative is the allegation that a Russian state-backed cyber operation hacked into the database and emails of the Demagog party back in 2016. The information perceived as damaging to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was subsequently disseminated to the Wikileaks whistleblower site and other Pindo media outlets. A mysterious cyber-persona known as “Guccifer 2.0” claimed to be the alleged hacker. Pindo intel and news media have attributed Guccifer as a front for Russian cyber-operations. The Russian government has always categorically denied any involvement in alleged hacking or other interference in the 2016 Pindo election, or elections thereafter.

William Binney and other independent former Pindo intel mavens say they can prove the Russiagate narrative is bogus. The proof relies on their forensic analysis of the data released by Guccifer. The analysis of timestamps demonstrates that the download of voluminous data could not have been physically possible based on known standard internet speeds. These independent experts conclude that the data from the Demagog party could not have been hacked, as Guccifer and Russiagaters claim. It could only have been obtained by a leak from inside the party, perhaps by a disgruntled staffer who downloaded the information on to a disc. That is the only feasible way such a huge amount of data could have been released. That means the “Russian hacker” claims are baseless. Wikileaks, whose founder Julian Assange is currently imprisoned in Britain pending an extradition trial to Pindostan to face espionage charges, has consistently maintained that their source of files was not a hacker, nor did they collude with Russian intelligence. As a matter of principle, Wikileaks does not disclose the identity of its sources, but the organization has indicated it was an insider leak which provided the information on senior Demagog party corruption.

William Binney says forensic analysis of the files released by Guccifer shows that the mystery hacker deliberately inserted digital “fingerprints” in order to give the impression that the files came from Russian sources. It is known from information later disclosed by Edward Snowden that the CIA has a secretive program named Vault 7 which is dedicated to false incrimination of cyber-attacks to other actors. It seems that the purpose of Guccifer was to create the perception of a connection between Wikileaks and Russian intelligence in order to beef up the Russiagate narrative. Binney concludes in his interview with Sputnik News:

So that suggested to us all the evidence was pointing back to CIA as the originator of Guccifer 2.0. And that Guccifer 2.0 was inside CIA. I’m pointing to that group as the group that was probably the originator of Guccifer 2.0 and also this fabrication of the entire story of Russiagate.

This is not the first time that the Russiagate yarn has been debunked. But it is crucially important to make Binney’s expert views more widely appreciated especially as the Pindo presidential election looms on Nov 3. As that date approaches, Pindo intel & media seem to be intensifying claims about Russian interference and cyber-operations. Such wild and unsubstantiated “reports” always refer to the alleged 2016 “hack” of the Demagog party by “Guccifer 2.0” as if it were indisputable evidence of Russian interference and the “original sin” of supposed Kremlin malign activity. The unsubstantiated 2016 “hack” is continually cited as the “precedent” and “provenance” of more recent “reports” that purport to claim Russian interference. Given the torrent of Russiagate derivatives expected in this Pindo election cycle, which is damaging Pindo-Russia bilateral relations and recklessly winding up geopolitical tensions, it is thus of paramount importance to listen to the conclusions of honorable experts like William Binney. The Pindo public are being played by their own intel agencies and corporate media with covert agendas that are deeply anti-democratic.

The show trial of Julian Assange is a cruel, pseudo-legal farce
Thomas Scripps, Kevin Reed, WSWS, Aug 15 2020

Yesterday’s hearing in London made clear, if any further proof was needed, that the persecution of Julian Assange is a shameful and degrading show trial, intended to railroad an innocent man to prison or death for revealing the crimes of Pindo imperialism. In a botched proceeding, Assange was initially not brought to the video room to join proceedings, the Pindo prosecutors failed to show up after getting the hearing time wrong, and, with only five observers allowed into the courtroom, every journalist and legal observer who tried to listen to the hearing remotely was not admitted. Assange, the world’s most famous political prisoner, has been denied access to his attorneys since March, and he has not seen his family or young children since then. In the most egregious move of all just two days before the hearing, the Pindo Justice Dept, under the right-wing authoritarian ideologue William Barr, issued a completely new indictment against Assange, which the accused had not been able to even read before the trial. WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said:

The Pindo government seems to want to change the indictment every time the court meets, but without the defense or Julian himself seeing the relevant documents.

Less than 24 hours before the start of the final procedural hearing and less than four weeks before the resumption of the extradition trial, Barr signed a new 33-page request to have Assange sent to Pindostan from the UK. The superseding indictment, upon which the new extradition request is based, was released on Jun 24, yet Pindo prosecutors refused to confirm over the course of two hearings on Jun 30 and Jul 28 precisely when it would be introduced into the UK legal proceedings. The new extradition request was brought after Assange’s legal team had submitted all of their evidence. The defense argued that to proceed on the basis of a new indictment would amount to an abuse of due process. Judge Baraitser refused the defense request, instead allowing them to apply for a postponement of the hearing. Assange’s legal team is now confronted with the choice of whether to accept the further sabotaging of its client’s case or prolong the endangerment of his life with more months in prison. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic rages through the UK prison system, Assange remains incarcerated in Belmarsh. Medical experts who have examined him report that his health is deteriorating, and he could die in prison.

The new indictment expands the scope of what is branded as criminal activity. The charge of “unauthorized disclosure of defense information” formerly accused Assange simply of “publishing [the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and the State Dept Cables] on the internet.” This has now been expanded to include “distributing” the documents, for example, to other media organizations. Assange’s associates Sarah Harrison, Jacob Applebaum and Daniel Domscheit-Berg are now also targeted as “co-conspirators.” Efforts to help Edward Snowden gain asylum and even to speak in defense of his actions are criminalized, as are the most general statements in support of government transparency. These details make it clear that while Julian Assange has been isolated in prison and unable to meet with his lawyers, the Pindo government has been building its extradition case and expanding the scope of the vendetta against all those who have helped WikiLeaks bring the truth to people of the world.

Julian Assange, who faces 175 years in federal prison for exposing Pindo war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan that claimed tens of thousands of lives, is being persecuted as part of an international drive by the ruling elite to criminalize whistleblowers, journalists and political dissent. The state conspiracy against Julian Assange is the spearhead of a sustained offensive against democratic rights targeting the working class. Assange’s crime in the eyes of his persecutors is his exposure of imperialist war crimes and diplomatic intrigues that galvanized mass oppositional sentiment around the world. The new indictment was drawn up by Barr, who six days earlier appeared on Fox News to denounce a broad swathe of Trump’s political opponents as “revolutionaries” and “Bolsheviks” who were intent on “tearing down the system.” Barr gives voice to the real scope of Trump’s plans to impose a presidential dictatorship.

These developments are a searing indictment of all those political forces who either maintained silence or supported Assange’s persecution. This includes the Democratic Party in the United States, which has spearheaded the attack on WikiLeaks as part of its neo-McCarthyite anti-Russia campaign. The Democratic candidates in the 2020 elections, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, have both been enthusiastic participants in this reactionary and anti-democratic vendetta. As for the liberal media, led by the Guardian and the NYT, it has thrown Assange to the wolves. It is significant that not a single major news organization in Pindostan even bothered to report the hearing yesterday. Neither did any of the pseudo-left publications such as The Nation or Jacobin magazine report the assault on fundamental rights taking place in the London courtroom. Predictably, the self-styled socialists Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib have all said nothing about yesterday’s pseudo-legal travesty.

Political responsibility for the ability of the Trump administration in the US and the Johnson government in the UK to proceed with their joint efforts to silence Assange rests with the entire pseudo-left fraternity who lined up against Assange, recycling the smears and lies of the State Dept, Pentagon and CIA over frame-up Swedish allegations, “failure to redact” and other lies. Those in the official campaign around WikiLeaks who seek to channel the defense of Assange behind appeals to the Labor “lefts,” trade union bureaucrats and Assange’s chief persecutor, the Demagog Party in Pindostan, are perpetrating a political fraud that prevents a genuine movement for Assange’s freedom. The WSWS renews the call for the international working class to come to the defense of Julian Assange. The working class must make clear the fundamental link between Assange’s persecution, the defense of his democratic rights and the struggle against the descent of the entire capitalist system into war and barbarism. The fight to free Assange is inseparable from the mobilization of a mass political movement in the struggle for socialism against imperialist war, social inequality and the lurch to dictatorial forms of rule.

Julian Assange Court Case Delayed Again in Bizarre Circumstances
Alan Macleod, MintPress News, Aug 14 2020

There were bizarre scenes at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London today, as the extradition process of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange (present via videophone from Belmarsh prison) was again delayed. Proceedings were held up this morning so Assange could converse for the first time in five months with his legal team. The prosecution team failed to turn up at the hearing because they were told events started at 3:30 pm. Only five members of the press were allowed to enter the courtroom to monitor proceedings. Other journalists, observers, and NGOs attempting to listen via telephone could not, as they were given the number to another courtroom. One journalist who did make it inside claimed that judge Vanessa Baraitser was “clearly reading from a pre-written ruling.” Assange sat in a conference room used by the entire prison, without a mask, and was seen coughing a number of times. At one point, proceedings in the courtroom were interrupted by screaming coming from another booth in Belmarsh prison, loud enough to cause a delay. Present at the hearing, Assange’s mother, Christine, warned that he would not survive extradition to Pindostan.

Perhaps most bizarre, however, is that the Pindo DoJ dropped its original indictment in June, just two days after Assange’s defense team submitted their full and final evidence for the extradition hearing. Today was the first time Assange saw the charges against him. Yet they are almost identical to those previously issued, save for slightly broadening the scope to include some interactions with hacking groups in 2011. The Pindo DoJ itself admitted that their new indictment “does not add additional counts to the prior 18-count superseding indictment returned against Assange in May 2019,” leading Wikileaks to allege that Pindostan is attempting to string the process along until after the November election, in order to avoid any negative consequences for the Trump administration. Kristinn Hrafnsson, the organization’s current editor-in-chief, said:

This was the worst hearing so far. The Pindo government seems to want to change the indictment every time the court meets, but without the defence or Julian himself seeing the relevant documents.

The defense team, led by Edward Fitzgerald QC, was given a week to decide whether to ask for a hearing scheduled for Sep 7 to be postponed. However, they must do that without the input of their client, as Belmarsh prison denied them a post hearing video conference. One consequence of the replacement indictment is the legality of even keeping the hacktivist publisher imprisoned. Baraitser stated that Assange has not even been arrested under the new indictment and is still being held under the old one that is now null and void. Thus, to recap: the defendant (who is not even legally under arrest) had not even seen the “new” charges (which were the same as the old ones) or met with his defense team for five months, the judge was reportedly reading from a pre-written script, the prosecution did not turn up, journalists could not watch or listen to the proceedings, which were interrupted by screaming from the prison where Assange is being kept. The farcical events were immediately denounced by onlookers. Rebecca Vincent, Director of International Campaigns for Reporters Without Borders, said:

I have never in my career faced so much difficulty attempting to trial monitor as in Julian Assange’s case. Whether in person or remotely, there are constant barriers to access. Completely unacceptable.

Journalist Kevin Gosztola wrote on Twitter:

Having covered Chelsea Manning’s court martial in a Pindo military court, let me say this clearly: Julian Assange isn’t even being granted the same minimal rights and the same standards of press access that Chelsea had. It’s much, much worse.

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