The Stringer | 29 Feb 2016
There are some amazing human beings who have appeared on the global stage in the last decade who have done more for an informed public than the tens of thousands of journalists around the world combined over the last century. The courageous sacrifices of for instance Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden have flickered hope on the horizon, galvanised many at the coalface. These true stalwarts of what humanity should mean pay a high price for their everyday living the common good; Chelsea Manning martyred in a diabolical 35 years sentence in an American prison.
– “It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realised in our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.” – Chelsea Manning
The WikiLeaks Publishing Organisation stands as a Diogenes in a world whipped so damningly clandestine, Kafkaesque, a world bitterly harassed by shadowy powerbrokers. Despite the harassment and diminution of WikiLeaks by a Pentagon owned Washington, WikiLeaks continues. But the world’s media has failed to support the courage that is WikiLeaks, failing to take to task the pernicious and endemic corruption, the murderous inhumanity exposed by WikiLeaks of the world’s most powerful elites. The chattering classes limit themselves to only the chatter, fearing to be who we should be.
– “I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others. If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.” – Chelsea Manning.
The Pentagon owned Washington administration of President Barack Obama has chased down, prosecuted and jailed more whistleblowers than not only any other administration but jailed more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. President George Bush let slide the whistleblowers. In the baying for blood and oil and rule in Central Asia and the Middle East his administration was not concerned about the needle in a haystack voices of independent media and what former intelligence personnel had to say. But then came along WikiLeaks and thanks to Manning they downloaded raw truth from the ether and which began to galvanise humanity. The Pentagon kowtowing Obama administration bit back. Posterity will condemn the ruthless powerbrokers and merchants of wars.
The Syrian crisis has changed the face of our world, millions lost in Syria and the Middle East and the human tragedy enveloping Europe. But WikiLeaks revealed not with commentary and speculation but with cables and facts how the United States of America ignited the bloodbath in Syria. In 2010, WikiLeaks began downloading to the world the ‘cables’. In that year WikiLeaks released 251,287 classified State Department cables. Some of these cables, from as far back as 2006, exposed the American agenda to destabilise Syria, to provoke regime change, to score the puppet state they are always after. The WikiLeaks publishing of the cables is always important because it goes to the motivation of the actions of foreign powers as opposed to how they portray themselves to the world as noble. Publicly, the American administration portrayed itself as deeply concerned with the human rights of Syrians but the cables tell a different story.
A December 13, 2006 cable written by William Roebuck at the US Embassy in Damascus advised strategies to destabilise the Syrian Government. The cable focused on how to create conflict for the Assad regime. “We believe Bashar’s weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues, both perceived and real, such as the conflict between economic reform steps (however limited) and entrenched, corrupt forces, the Kurdish question, and the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists.”
“There may be actions, statements and signals that the US Government can send that will improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising.”
So, publicly the United States favoured economic reforms in Syria but privately would use the pursuit of the reforms to undermine and destabilise the Syrian Government and its peoples. Publicly, the United States was opposed to the threat posed by Islamist extremists but in private considered them an opportunity to destabilise Syria.
Other cables by Roebuck advised the US Government as to how to divide the Shia and Sunnis.
“There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis. Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business.”
“Both the local Egyptian and Saudi missions here (as well as prominent Syrian religious leaders) are giving increasing attention to the matter and we should coordinate more closely with their governments on ways to better publicise and focus regional attention on the issue.” These cables were sent to the White House – to the Secretary of State. At the time of these cables the Bush administration was publicly denouncing the Sunni-Shia sectarian violence in Iraq and here is Roebuck advising that a similar predicament should be ignited in Syria. The promotion of such sectarian divides, culminating in abominable civil strife, would take down altogether Syrian society. Roebuck would be rewarded after leaving Syria with posts in Iraq and then Libya.
In another cable Roebuck advised the US Government, “Encourage rumours and signals of external plotting. The regime is intensely sensitive to rumours about coup-plotting and restlessness in the security services and military.”
“Regional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to meet with (exiled figures) like Khaddam (former vice president) and Rif’at Asad as a way of sending such signals, with appropriate leaking of the meetings afterwards. This again touches on this insular regime’s paranoia and increases the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction.”
Roebuck described the Syrian regime as ‘paranoid’ but the US has a century old history of destabilising and overthrowing governments. In 2014, the US would arm insurgents in Syria.
Roebuck considered every avenue to destabilise the Assad administration and argued that even economic reformation should be undermined. “Bashar keeps unveiling a steady stream of initiatives on economic reform and it is certainly possible he believes this issue is his legacy to Syria… these steps have brought back Syrian expats to invest.”
“Finding ways to publicly call into question Bashar’s reform efforts – pointing, for example to the use of reform to disguise cronyism – would embarrass Bashar and undercut these efforts to shore up his legitimacy.” The despicability of playing with people’s living conditions, their lives, did not seem to matter to Roebuck.
Roebuck advised the White House to discourage foreign investment in Syria.
“Discourage foreign direct investment, especially from the Gulf. Syria has enjoyed a considerable uptick in foreign direct investment in the last two years that appears to be picking up steam. The most new foreign direct investment is undoubtedly from the Gulf.”
Alarmingly, Roebuck advised the White House to publicly perceptually modify the presence of existing tensions and fears in Syria to overwhelming in the perception of chaos and of a regime teetering on the edge. This could only galvanise civil strife, ignite bloodshed.
“Publicise presence of transiting or externally focused extremist groups in Syria, not limited to mention of Hamas and PIJ. Publicise Syrian efforts against extremist groups in a way that suggests weakness, signs of instability, and uncontrolled blowback. The Syrian government’s argument (usually used after terror attacks in Syria) that it too is a victim of terrorism should be used against it to give greater prominence to increasing signs of instability within Syria.”
So Roebuck advised the White House to turn around the portrayal of the extremist elements as the victims of ‘terrorism’. Roebuck was America’s top diplomat in Syria.
The US Government would secretly fund opposition groups in Syria.
The majority of our generation may have failed to galvanise against the wrongs of today but generations unborn will pass their judgements. But that is little comfort to those today who suffer the injustices. It is truly honourable that little Ecuador has braved the injustices and silences of the rest of the world. It was Constantine Cavafy who aptly penned the meaning of honour in the face of injustice in the poem, Thermopylae:
– Honour to those whom in the life they lead
Define and guard a Thermopylae.
Never betraying what is right,
Consistent and just in all that they do
But showing pity also, and compassion;
Generous when they are rich, and when they are poor,
Still generous in small ways,
Still helping as much as they can;
Always speaking the truth,
Yet without hating those who lie.
And even more honour is due to them
When then they foresee (as many do foresee)
That in the end Ephialtis will make his appearance,
That the Medes will break through after all.
Since the radical and dramatic unfolding into the public domain of the clandestine and duplicitous nature of the powerbrokers in our world’s governments, since the media’s original immediate interest, diabolically the media has since ceased reporting on the cables and shifted almost exclusively to the dreadful predicament of Julian Assange’s asylum status at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Assange’s most powerful ally should have been the world’s media chasing down the incredible revelations in the hundreds of thousands of cables. In general, the world’s media have shamelessly betrayed Assange, Manning and others too like Snowden.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Assange has been effectively corralled at the Ecuadorean Embassy because of the United Kingdom’s hypocritical disrespect for his right to seek asylum. He is lawfully entitled to seek asylum and the Ecuadorean Government approved his application for asylum. Therefore the United Kingdom should have allowed Assange passage to Ecuador. The United Nations Working Group finding is significant. It has only made five previous findings in the twenty years it has been around. The Working Group worked with the British and Swedish governments and investigated and deliberated for 16 months.
The world’s media has scandalously contained its reporting effectively to the immoral farce that he ‘sexually assaulted’ two women – Anne Ardin and Sophia Wilen. No charges have ever been laid. There have never been any specific allegations registered. Sophia Wilen has never signed the police statement. Their rights should be upheld if there were allegations and charges laid but there are neither. So what is going on? The first Swedish prosecutor stated there was nothing to aspersions cast through the media.
“I do not believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape,” said Swedish Prosecutor, Eva Finne.
Then a second prosecutor said that there was. Julian Assange was in Sweden for five weeks further since all this surfaced. Why wasn’t he interviewed? He wanted to get to the United Kingdom to release thousands of cables and asked Sweden if he could leave. They granted him permission to leave! Once he arrived in the United Kingdom he found that the Swedish prosecutor had stitched an Interpol red alert on him and turned him into a fugitive. The rest is history, an abominable tale.
On December 8, 2010, Julian Assange presented himself to London police. He is remanded in custody. I imagine that he believed that the UK justice system would prevail instead of degenerating into a gross miscarriage of justice rivalling that of the Swedish.
The Swedish prosecutor refused to interview him by video despite such provision within Swedish law. This tactic began the corralling of Julian Assange and the potential diminution of the WikiLeaks Publishing Organisation.
Julian Assange once said to me about his time in the Embassy, “I have been through a lot in my life, worse than what I am going through now. I will get through this.”
I liked a comment that he made to me, “I am never a quitter. I hate quitters.”
I will end this piece with words of Chelsea Manning.
– “In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi Government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.”
– “Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power.”
– “It is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission. Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy – the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps – to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.”
– “As the late Howard Zinn once said, ‘There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
– This is the third of a 51 part series on Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks Publishing Organisation
Previous articles in the 51 part series: