The most recent hit on Julian Assange by the Intercept
Sure, kick him again while he’s down, you fearless investigative Intercept reporters! By now we can guess why, of course. But not only did Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi discover through her FOIA request that emails show Swedish prosecutors were considering dropping the extradition proceedings against Julian Assange in 2013, but that the Crown Prosecution Service had pressured Sweden not to ‘not get cold feet’ as in: ‘don’t give up the case’. And just after Judge Arbuthnot ruled against the second petition brought by Assange’s attorneys to find it in the public interest to quash the warrant, former Ambassador Craig Murray told the world that the Judge is in fact Lady Arbuthnot of Edrom, wife to Tory peer, former Tory junior Defence Minister & government whip Lord James Arbuthnot in his Feb. 14: ‘All Pretence is Over in Persecution of Assange’, part of which also references the CPS emails, and the ‘gallows humor’ of the Judge’s reasons for her ruling.
But RT read the recent report by the Intercept so you didn’t have to: ‘Sadistic
sociopath’: Leaked chats reveal Assange’s extreme disdain for Hillary Clinton’, Feb. 15, 2018
“WikiLeaks has never concealed its feelings about Hillary Clinton, but leaked chats obtained by The Intercept provide more insight into what its founder Julian Assange apparently thought about her during the run-up to the election.
The tweets are said to have been sent in a direct group message between Assange and around 10 of WikiLeaks’ most loyal supporters on Twitter. The group is described as a “low security channel for some very long term and reliable supporters,” according to the news outlet.
In the autumn of 2015, when the idea of Donald Trump becoming the next US president was still deemed highly unlikely by most political pundits, the iconic whistleblower spoke candidly about Clinton and his preference for a GOP victory. “We believe it would be much better for GOP to win,” he reportedly wrote. “Dems+Media+liberals woudl (sic) then form a block to reign in their worst qualities.” A couple minutes later, he apparently called the Democratic candidate a “bright, well connected, sadistic sociopath.”
Note that RT also follows Micah Lee, who’d begun by attributing those quotes to WikiLeaks, but in a Milwaukee minute changed to ‘Assange’, and of course he’ long known that the two aren’t conflatable. But who is ‘hazelpress’ who’d started the WikiLeaks supporters who can Tweet in their name?
@JulianAssange Feb 14 – ‘the article changes the context of its quotes even compared to the clearly highly selective claimed excerpts Lee placed on Document Cloud: ‘Excerpts From Private WikiLeaks Twitter Group’
Not one is from @julianassange, but many are black boxes with the times redacted. What’s up with that?
Moar: he apparently admitted that Republicans would “generate a lot oposition (sic), including through dumb moves.” ‘“ Hillary “has greater freedom to start wars than the GOP and has the will to do so.” after the primary : “Perhaps Hillary will have a stroke.”
He also said that her “role in the war in Libya is what should bring her down, however, the GOP is too close to others who have benefited to exploit this, it seems. That Hillary helped to sew the foundation for ISIS against pentagon generals (sic) advice seems huge. But the GOP resolutely ignores it. Hillary has so muc hslime (sic) on her shirt it is now hard to make dirt stick.”
“The archive, which was obtained by The Intercept, spans from May 2015 to November 2017 and includes 11,000 messages. More than 10 percent of them were written from the WikiLeaks account.”
[Whose were the other 90%?]
“The Intercept has made the assumption that the WikiLeaks account was controlled by Assange, stating that such an assumption is “widely understood” and noting that he refers to himself “in the third person majestic plural, as he often does.”
Following the Intercept’s article, Assange took to Twitter to dismiss the claims, stating that the WikiLeaks Twitter account has always been run by rotating staff. Assange has also noted that while the Intercept used messages from late October 2016, he had no Internet access back then, a fact that is widely known.
The WikiLeaks co-founder also empathized [emphasized, I’d think] the long-time rivalry between his organization and the Intercept. Assange posted a link to an article, highlighting FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds’ allegations that the Intercept was formed by eBay owner Pierre Omidyar, as a way to drive WikiLeaks out of the secrets-revealing business, take “ownership” of Edward Snowden’s leaks and ultimately create a “honey trap” for whistleblowers.
The private Twitter group was set up in mid-2015 by a former supporter and volunteer at WikiLeaks, who goes by the name “Hazelpress.” That person – whose real name remains unknown – is the same person that leaked the messages [direct messaging] after news broke that WikiLeaks had secretly corresponded with Donald Trump Jr. during the election, reportedly urging his father to reject the results as “rigged” if he lost, and requesting that he use his connections to make Assange the Australian ambassador.
“At this point, considering the power exercised by WikiLeaks, [disclosing] literally anything Assange says is in the public interest,” Hazelpress told The Intercept. He added that Assange’s political position during the election is fair game, as WikiLeaks “purports to be a neutral transparency organization.”
Now of course Micah Lee began by attributing those quotes to WikiLeaks, but in a Milwaukee minute changed to ‘Assange’, and of course he’s long known that the two aren’t conflatable. But who is ‘hazelpress’ who’d started the WikiLeaks supporters who can Tweet in their name? Among the (now) 712 comments on the ‘exposé’, a high percentage called TI for it’s anti-Assange agitprop, not a few said they’d never give the place money again, and mentioned their earlier screeds against Assange. Of the Assange detractors, all seemed to believe that it was he, not multiple WL contributors…was speaking.
One recent commenter linked to ‘Opinion: ‘Et Tu, The Intercept? Smear Of Assange Murderously Timed’, zerohedge via disobedient media.
“The timing of the article’s publication acted to brutally counter growing support for Assange that arose in the wake of a clearly unjust UK ruling. Essentially, the publication of the smear attempted to deflect attention from the revelation of corruption in the ongoing detention of Assange, and to assassinate his character in the process.
The Intercept’s decision to publish the article at such a time unfortunately serves to characterize the outlet as a servant of the same US deep state that The Intercept has gained a reputation for – at least in theory – opposing.”
One comment exchange contained this:
EH: ‘What makes this story even stranger is that one of the participants of the chat was Glenn Greenwald. Micah Lee is busy trashing Assange for the gross nature of this conversation, but doesn’t mention that his boss is part of it.’
C: ‘How do we know that Greenwald was a participant? Source?’
EH: ‘Look for a post from someone named Anderson Hale down below. He found a chat between WL and someone whose name was blanked out. The anonymous guy was saying he might have confused people whether a leak came from WL or the Panama Papers. On the very same day Greenwald commented in a tweet on a WL tweet with a leak from the Panama Papers.
Read it. I found it convincing.’
SP: ‘Glenn brings up a point about this coverage in his Tweets (highlighted in a comment below, as well): “the Intercept is responsible for what it publishes on its site, not what its employees say on social media (much as is true of WikiLeaks).”
Yet this article makes an unexplainable overreach in inferring that Assange authored all of these private chats on social media (not Wikileaks responsibility, or Assanges’ per Glenn’s comment) without suitable evidence for doing so.
And yet Micah, Cora, and the editors here feel it’s OK for The Intercept to malign someone because that someone (unproven) **may** have maligned others in private, and on social media? Even if that’s true, that Assange said these things in the manner presented here, what’s the issue?
This is a smarmy, unnecessary, and disingenuous account provided by The Intercept, no matter the facts behind them. “The Intercept’s decision to publish the article at such a time unfortunately serves to characterize the outlet as a servant of the same US deep state that The Intercept has gained a reputation for – at least in theory – opposing.”
Here’s the Sibel Edmonds’ assertions link by Whitney Webb at mintpressnews.com Assange had Tweeted. She gives a lot of the same information that I had in my III-part series, but far more coherently, shall we say? The Daily Beast smackdown, two other hits from the Intercept, etc. She includes the Freedom of the Press Foundation having voted WikiLeaks ‘off the island’ (accepting donations to be disbursed to WikiLeaks ‘anonymously’, which was one of the big benefits Assange and WikiLeaks had lamented after the fact.
“WikiLeaks, in recent tweets, has suggested that Omidyar’s influence was responsible not only for the FPF’s decision but also for the unusual attacks that some FPF members have launched against WikiLeaks, particularly Assange, in recent months. The most outspoken of these members has been FPF director Micah Lee, who is employed by the Omidyar-owned publication, The Intercept.
And yes, the author of the current hit piece in the self-same Micah Lee that authored the recent…screed.
“In February of last year, Lee called Assange a “rapist, liar & ally to fascists” in a tweet — despite the fact that Assange was never charged with rape, his alleged accusers have also claimed that Assange had not sexually assaulted them, and there is abundant evidence suggesting that the rape investigation was a means of ensnaring Assange to ensure his extradition to the United States. Based on Lee’s other tweets, the “ally to fascists” charge ostensibly refers to Lee’s belief that Wikileaks’ publications of emails from the DNC and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta was done explicitly, with Assange’s blessing, to aid the Trump campaign.
Despite the slander and demonstrably false claims, other FPF members who have historically defended WikiLeaks and Assange were silent regarding Lee’s accusations, including Glenn Greenwald, Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden. Though FPF members have denied that Omidyar’s influence has had a role in these attacks, as well as in the board’s decision to cut ties with WikiLeaks, a closer examination of Omidyar and his ties to the U.S. political establishment — as well as his apparent influence on some of the FPF’s most prominent members — gives credibility to WikiLeaks’ concerns.”
But this is fascinating, and some of it’s new to me:
“Omidyar has a vested interest in advancing the interests of the U.S. political establishment for a variety of reasons. Sibel Edmonds, who was among the first to note Omidyar’s background upon The Intercept’s founding, noted that the PayPal executive “has been in bed with the CIA and NSA” and even the Department of Defense — further noting that the Snowden documents that The Intercept, and thus Omidyar, controls “contain information about PayPal’s direct partnership not only with the Treasury Department but also the CIA.”
Edmonds further stated that Greenwald had confirmed Omidyar’s long-running partnership with the CIA and other government agencies on Twitter during a heated exchange between the two in 2013.
Omidyar is also well-connected to Snowden’s former employer Booz Allen Hamilton, a major government contractor known as the “world’s most profitable spy organization,” whose former executives include James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, and Michael McConnell, former Director of the NSA. Omidyar’s Ulupono Initiative, a venture capital fund that operates in his home state of Hawaii, cosponsors one of the Pentagon’s most important contractor expos, in which Booz Allen Hamilton – and the Department of Defense – have a major stake. In addition, a former Booz Allen Hamilton vice president, Kyle Datta, is General Partner of Omidyar’s Ulupono Initiative.
Also striking was Omidyar’s decision to accept Snowden’s former boss at Booz Allen Hamilton, Robert Lietzke, into the Omidyar Fellows program in 2015 after personally interviewing Lietzke as part of the program’s application process. What was unusual in Lietzke’s case was that Omidyar also oversees The Intercept, which has exclusive publishing rights over the Snowden cache – which was taken from under Lietzke’s nose at Booz Allen Hamilton by his former employee, Edward Snowden. Snowden himself has remained silent on Omidyar’s decision, despite the mixed signals it sent and continues to serve as the president of the FPF — which, as mentioned, is also funded by Omidyar.”
Her section ‘The fine line between curation and censorship’ is quite on topic to the ‘good whistle-blower v. bad whistleblower’ trope , but I’dd add that has included the fact that Julian Assange is both anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist (anti-war), while the Intercept asks the DoD for permission to publish, and they then redact what might ‘harm the US war effort’ (or close).
Nice job, Intercept. And thanks for outing Reality Winner as your source, then trying to make it all better raising money for her defense.
I’ll end with this quote from Sibel Edmonds:
“The Intercept is a continuation of that blockade [of WikiLeaks]. [It] was set up with that purpose. Specifically, it was set up to block true, real information and put forth narrative that has already gotten the approval of special interests including the U.S. government. It made perfect sense for him [Omidyar] to move from that to setting up a news organization and posing as an outlet for investigative reports depending on whistleblowers.”
How many ‘journalists’ are in the Intercept’s stable by now? Scores and scores, but try to find the list now; I can’t. The Omidyar Network online. On Twitter. Such investment philanthropy! #What.a.Schmuck
A key addendum I’d just remembered that I’d featured earlier in my own series: ‘The Freedom of the Press organization had also created ‘Secure Drop’ aid to potential whistleblowers; as per the Daily Beast:
“Journalists are starting to recognize that sophisticated communications security is a key element in the newsgathering process,” Freedom of the Press Foundation’s Chief Technology Officer Micah Lee said. “SecureDrop is the safest way we know for an anonymous source to send information to journalists while protecting their identity.”
As per the Daily Beast: Under the foundation’s stewardship, SecureDrop today is running in dozens of newsrooms, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Bloomberg.”
How utterly fearless of them.
(cross-posted from café babylon; again: if i don't answer your comments in a timely fashion, please feel free to come knock on my door there.)