US Has Secret Charges Against WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange After He Embarrassed US Goverment By Exposing Lies And Information

February 29, 2012

United States prosecutors have drawn up secret charges against the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, according to a confidential email obtained from the private US intelligence company Stratfor. embarrassing

In an internal email to Stratfor analysts on January 26 last year, the vice-president of intelligence, Fred Burton, responded to a media report concerning US investigations targeting WikiLeaks with the comment: ”We have a sealed indictment on Assange.”
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Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks speaks at a press conference in London, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012. WikiLeaks said on Monday that it was publishing a massive trove of leaked emails from U.S. intelligence analysis firm Stratfor, shedding light on the inner workings of the Texas-based think tank. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

”If I thought I could switch this dickhead off without getting done I don’t think I’d have too much of a problem.” … Stratfor’s Chris Farnham on Assange. Photo: AP

He underlined the sensitivity of the information – apparently obtained from a US government source – with warnings to ”Pls [please] protect” and ”Not for pub[lication]”.

Mr Burton is well known as an expert on security and counterterrorism with close ties to the US intelligence and law enforcement agencies. He is the former deputy chief of the counter-terrorism division of the US State Department’s diplomatic security service.

Stratfor, whose headquarters are in Austin, Texas, provides intelligence and analysis to corporate and government subscribers.

On Monday, WikiLeaks began releasing more than 5 million Stratfor emails which it said showed ”how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients”.

The Herald has secured access to the emails through an investigative partnership with WikiLeaks.

The news that US prosecutors drew up a secret indictment against Mr Assange more than 12 months ago comes as the Australian awaits a British Supreme Court decision on his appeal against extradition to Sweden to be questioned in relation to sexual assault allegations.

Mr Assange, who has not been charged with any offence in Sweden, fears extradition to Stockholm will open the way for his extradition to the US on possible espionage or conspiracy charges in retaliation for WikiLeaks’s publication of thousands of leaked US classified military and diplomatic reports.

Last week the US Army Private Bradley Manning was committed to face court martial for 22 alleged offences, including ”aiding the enemy” by leaking classified government documents to WikiLeaks.

In December the Herald revealed Australian diplomatic cables, declassified under freedom of information, confirmed WikiLeaks was the target of a US Justice Department investigation ”unprecedented both in its scale and nature” and suggested that media reports that a secret grand jury had been convened in Alexandria, Virginia, were ”likely true”.

The Australian embassy in Washington reported in December 2010 that the Justice Department was pursuing an ”active and vigorous inquiry into whether Julian Assange can be charged under US law, most likely the 1917 Espionage Act”.

In recent answers to written parliamentary questions from the Greens senator Scott Ludlam, the former foreign affairs minister Kevin Rudd indicated Australia had sought confirmation that a secret grand jury inquiry directed against Mr Assange was under way.

Mr Rudd said ”no formal advice” had been received from US authorities but acknowledged the existence of a ”temporary surrender” mechanism that could allow Mr Assange to be extradited from Sweden to the US. He added that Swedish officials had said Mr Assange’s case would be afforded ”due process”.

The US government has repeatedly declined to confirm or deny any reported details of the WikiLeaks inquiry, beyond the fact that an investigation is being pursued.

The Stratfor emails show that the WikiLeaks publication of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables triggered intense discussion within the ”global intelligence” company.

In the emails, an Australian Stratfor ”senior watch officer”, Chris Farnham, advocated revoking Mr Assange’s Australian citizenship, adding: ”I don’t care about the other leaks but the ones he has made that potentially damage Australian interests upset me. If I thought I could switch this dickhead off without getting done I don’t think I’d have too much of a problem.”

But Mr Farnham also referred to a conversation with a close family friend who he said knew one of the Swedish women who had made allegations of sexual assault against Mr Assange, and added: ”There is absolutely nothing behind it other than prosecutors that are looking to make a name for themselves.”

While some Stratfor analysts decried what they saw as Mr Assange’s ”clear anti-Americanism”, others welcomed the leaks and debated WikiLeaks’s longer-term impact on secret diplomacy and intelligence.

Stratfor’s director of analysis, Reva Bhalla, observed: ”WikiLeaks itself may struggle to survive but the idea that’s put out there, that anyone with the bandwidth and servers to support such a system can act as a prime outlet of leaks. [People] are obsessed with this kind of stuff. The idea behind it won’t die.”

Stratfor says it will not comment on the emails obtained by WikiLeaks. The US embassy has also declined to comment.

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State Department Official Quits After Criticizing U.S. Military’s Abuse Of WikiLeaks Army Soldier

March 14, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley has resigned after publicly crossing swords with the Pentagon over the treatment of an Army soldier accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military reports and sensitive diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. 

The chain of events that led to Crowley’s exit was set in motion Thursday when Crowley appeared at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology seminar and called the Pentagon’s handling of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is detained at the brig at Quantico, “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”

Crowley’s public criticism angered some at the Pentagon and others across the administration because it put him directly at odds with Defense Department officials who have spent weeks trying to defend Manning’s treatment. The soldier is being detained under near-constant lockdown, and he filed a formal complaint about being forced to strip each night at bedtime.

The State spokesman’s predicament may have worsened further Friday afternoon, when ABC’s Jake Tapper asked Obama during a White House press conference whether he agreed with Crowley.

“With respect to Private Manning, I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are,” Obama said. “I can’t go into details about some of their concerns, but some of this has to do with Private Manning’s safety as well.”

When Tapper pressed the president further, Obama replied tersely, “I think I gave you an answer to the substantive issue.”

Obama never said explicitly whether he agreed with the military’s handling of Manning. White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to elaborate on the president’s remarks.

In a statement Sunday, Crowley, notably made no apology for his remarks, but acknowledged that they made his continued service untenable.

“The unauthorized disclosure of classified information is a serious crime under U.S. law. My recent comments regarding the conditions of the pre-trial detention of Private First Class Bradley Manning were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership. The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values,” Crowley said.

“Given the impact of my remarks, for which I take full responsibility, I have submitted my resignation as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Spokesman for the Department of State,” Crowley said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement that she accepted Crowley’s resignation “with regret.”

His service, she wrote, “is motivated by a deep devotion to public policy and public diplomacy, and I wish him the very best.”

According to administration officials, Crowley had been on the outs with Clinton, and rarely accompanied her on her travels abroad. Michael Hammer, President Barack Obama’s NSC spokesman, had been sent to State earlier this year, and some officials expected  him to succeed Crowley, those sources said.

However, other officials offered a somewhat conflicting version of events, saying that Crowley asked for Hammer as a deputy. The two men worked closely together at the NSC when both were spokesmen there during the Clinton Administration. One source denied any rift between Clinton and Crowley, saying the decision for him not to travel was made largely so Crowley could better oversee State’s large public affairs staff.

Crowley made his remarks about Manning in response to a question at an MIT new media roundtable Thursday in Cambridge, Mass.

“I spent 26 years in the Air Force,” Crowley, a retired colonel, said, according to blog posts by two of those present at the MIT discussion. “What is happening to Manning is ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid, and I don’t know why the DoD is doing it. Nevertheless, Manning is in the right place” in detention.

Manning has formally complained that guards at the brig have harassed him and that commanders there have punished him since he was placed in custody in July.

Manning, 25, faces a possible court-martial for leaking vast troves of classified information. The Army recently upgraded the preliminary charges against him to include aiding the enemy. That can be punishable by death, though Army prosecutors said they did not plan to seek capital punishment in Manning’s case.

Earlier this month, guards began demanding that he strip off all his clothes at night. Defense officials have suggested that the measure was needed to keep Manning from attempting suicide. But Manning’s official complaint notes that Navy psychiatrists who have examined him don’t believe he’s a suicide risk.

Journalist Philippa Thomas and Internet researcher Ethan Zuckerman, who both were at the MIT discussion conference, reported Crowley’s comments.

Thomas said she later asked Crowley if his remarks were on the record. She said he had a one-word reply: “‘Sure.’”

“What I said was my personal opinion. It does not reflect an official [U.S. government] policy position,” Crowley told Foreign Policy magazine on Friday. “I defer to the Department of Defense regarding the treatment of Bradley Manning.”

“We are aware of Mr. Crowley’s remarks and have since sent him the facts on PFC Manning’s pre-trial confinement,” a Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Dave Lapan, said Saturday.

On Thursday, Manning’s defense lawyer released his client’s latest complaint about his treatment, an 11-page memo that claimed he’s being improperly held on a “prevention of injury” status and required to hand over his clothes to guards each night. The complaint said he was recently given a “smock” to wear at night.

“The determination to strip me of my clothing every night since 2 March 2011 is without justification and therefore constitutes unlawful pretrial punishment,” Manning wrote. He said Navy psychiatrists have repeatedly recommended lifting the prevention of injury restrictions but brig commanders have declined.

The order for Manning to strip at night apparently followed what he described as a sarcastic comment he made to guards — that if he were intent on strangling himself, he could use his underwear or flip-flops.

“As the result of concerns for PFC Manning’s personal safety, his undergarments were taken from him during sleeping hours,” Lapan confirmed. “PFC Manning at all times had a bed and a blanket to cover himself. He was not made to stand naked for morning count but, but on one day, he chose to do so. There were no female personnel present at the time. PFC Manning has since been issued a garment to sleep in at night.”

There were immediate signs Sunday that, as a result of his firing, Crowley was becoming a kind of cult hero for the left.

Jane Hamsher, writing on the liberal Firedoglake website, branded Crowley’s abrupt departure as Obama’s “Saturday Night Massacre” — a reference to the resignation of Attorney General Eliot Richardson and his deputy after they refused to carry out President Richard Nixon’s order to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox.

In recent months, Crowley had been a key spokesperson for the administration on the WikiLeaks issue, sometimes offering harsh assessments of Manning’s alleged conduct.

“Someone inside the United States government violated the trust and confidence placed in him. He downloaded material and passed it to people not authorized to have it. That is a crime. We’re investigating that crime and we’re going to prosecute those responsible,” Crowley told CNN in December.

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