In our previous two lessons we learned about influencing Parliamentarians and influencing the Public Service. We looked specifically at the Policy Cycle and how to engage with it.
We need to remember that nature abhors a vacuum and if you are not out there selling your cause someone else will be out there selling theirs. Policy marketing is a competitive business. We are going to look now at some of the less well known and less seen influences on public policy. This to help you think big and think strategically about what you want for the country, because others are.
The political parties and party factions
The Liberal/National and Labor parties are major multimillion dollar organisations in their own right. Behind your local member sits a formal party structure which is plugged into a network of companies, donors, think tanks, academics, unions, business groups, law firms, public relations firms, slush funds, and party operatives. In theory the major parties exist to further particular ideologies but in reality they exist to win power, raise money, and gain influence. In this way they are very similar to any large and powerful organisation. They have dedicated ‘dirt units’, destroy careers, punish disloyalty and reward loyalty. What is good for the party will almost always come ahead of what is good for the country.
A Case in point concerns Nicola Roxon. Ms Roxon was Minister for Health in the Rudd Government and then Attorney-General in the Gillard Government. She is a feminist, progressive and gay marriage supporter. She might be expected to stand up for the right of people to know about human rights abuses.
Nevertheless, as Attorney-General Ms Roxon actively covered up information that would have exposed the Labor government’s complicity with the genocide of the East Timorese at the hands of the Indonesian military. The massacre began under diplomatic cover from the Whitlam government and continued under the Fraser LNP government. There is no legal or rational argument why the public should not know now what the government knew then. It is reasonable to assume then that she was shielding her party from negative publicity. For his part Malcolm Fraser is now considered a humanitarian but he actively supported the Indonesian policy at that time.
This anecdote has been included to illustrate how ruthless the major Parties are. They are, however, also major drivers of policy largely through their different factional systems.
Factions are a natural part of life. They exist in almost any large organisation or movement because people tend to group together around values, common agendas or influential personalities. The same is true in political parties. In the Labor party the factional system is formalised and the factions operate as mini parties within the party. They have membership lists, they recruit and campaign, they develop policy papers, and they can deliver votes at the ALP National Conference. The factions have formal leaders. The leaders will negotiate deals that will deliver block votes to contenders for the party leadership and for policy proposals at the National Conference.
The National Conference is, in theory, where the Party debates and decides policies that are binding on the Party. In reality many of the votes are already agreed between factional leaders so the conference proceedings are mostly a formality; but robust debates still take place on some issues. Nevertheless, it has been the case since, at least the Hawke government, that Labor Cabinets do not consider themselves bound by policy positions adopted at the National Conference. Having said that, the factions are represented in Cabinet and both the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Ministers need to keep them happy. This dynamic drives a lot of the policy development within the party. If you want to get an insider view of factional politics, read The Latham Diaries by former Labor leader Mark Latham. He refers to “who’s who in the factional zoo”. The names will have changed since this book was published but this should give you a reasonable insight into the different factional groupings with the ALP.
The other important point to note is that the Party is influenced by affinity groups. These operate across the factions though some factions will be more supportive than others. Examples include:
In the Liberal Party the factional system is informal and much looser. The Parliamentary Liberal Party chooses the Party Leader who in turn, should they win an election, chooses the Cabinet members.
In either Party, factions can seek to undermine a Party Leader, as was the case with Kevin Rudd and more recently Abbott and Turnbull. Factions can also undermine each other thus weakening the party. The internal workings of, and deals between, factions are a matter of great interest to journalists and political scientists, but on the whole they are done behind closed doors. Public information usually comes to light by way of strategic leaks.
The Australian Greens also have at least two broad factional groupings. The Greens were established to further the environmental cause but otherwise closely resembled the Democrats in economic policy. However, on social policy the party has drifted to the far left. The left of the party is represented by people like Adam Bandt and largely represents the younger inner city latte set. Then there are supporters whose primary interest is with the environment but have more centrist views on social policy. This includes an older generation of activists.
Media Control and Ownership
Australia has a huge number of media outlets and platforms but very little real diversity. In fact, Australia has the highest concentration of media ownership outside of the Communist block.
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser is quoted as stating,
“In my term, there were seven print proprietors. Now there is one and a bit. We have the most concentrated media in any democratic country, anywhere in the entire damn world. That is dangerous.”
Nevertheless the policy under both major Parties in the last two decades has been to allow greater concentration of media ownership and greater foreign ownership. In your materials there are some links and articles on who owns what; but note that most of the print media divides between Murdoch and Fairfax media empires. Rupert Murdoch has vast media holdings in the USA and Great Britain as well as Australia. In this country his company News Corp owns: The Australian, The Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph and The Courier-Mail. It also owns Foxtel. His son, Lachlan Murdoch, is a majority shareholder in Nova, Network Ten, 93.7FM and Five AA radio.
Rival company Fairfax Media owns The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times, The Newcastle Herald, The Australian Financial Review, and 2UE radio.
WIN Corporation owns, or half owns, ten TV stations. Nine Entertainment Co, Ten Network Holdings, and Seven Media Group pretty much own the rest.
In other words, 6 companies control perhaps 80-90 per cent of the commercial TV and print media in this country, much of it sourced from overseas, plus a good slice of radio.
Radio, television and newspaper are the main source of domestic news and current affairs for over 95 per cent of the population.
The Murdoch press openly campaigns against addressing climate change, and openly campaigned against the Rudd government and the Greens. The Fairfax media has taken a more ‘middle of the road’ position on climate change. All large media outlets in Australia are currently strongly biased in favour of gay marriage. All of them line up with the foreign policy objectives of the USA. This is painfully obvious in the demonisation of America’s supposed enemies, formerly Saddam Hussein and now Vladamir Putin.
The effect of concentrated media ownership is that it is very hard to get a story out that does not fit within a narrow spectrum of opinion or world view. For example: Australia’s most famous investigative journalist John Pilger is published all over the world and writes for the Guardian newspaper in Britain. However, he cannot get published by any mainstream media organisation in Australia. Included in your materials is an article of his about another Australian called Julian Assagne. Compare this article to coverage of Assagne in the corporate media in Australia and you will begin to understand that much of what passes for news in this country is actually an advertorial for someone else’s agenda.
The only counter to this is the national broadcaster – the ABC and SBS. These have their own cultural biases, but they will provide factual coverage of issues that the corporate media will not cover or will slant, and they will do quality investigative journalism which is very rare in the corporate press. However, the ABC has been severely criticised for their coverage of the trial of then Cardinal Pell, and for uncritically spruiking open borders and climate alarmism.
In fact, if an alien from outer space were to look at our world today and rank the top five newsworthy stories these would probably be:
None of these things is considered newsworthy by the corporate press in Australia, Britain or the US. Compare this to what makes news on the commercial channels and you will realise that you are being fed a distorted reality.
Unsurprisingly many people have turned to the internet for alternative sources of news and information. Some of these sources are expert, professional, close to source, and reliable. Some are not, and many are little more than ‘click bait’ factories publishing unsubstantiated stories. Genuine effort and research is needed to find reliable sources on any issue in any media. Those whose predictions prove accurate over time are generally the most reliable. You will find a more detailed discussion on this topic under the FAKE NEWS heading here: https://3ptraining.com.au/ Overall it is best to see how an issue is reported by several different sources from different media/interest groups.
The Security Establishment
Most people spare little time wondering what ASIO, ASIS, the DSD, MI5, MI6, the CIA, the other eight intelligence agencies in the US, and all the rest of them, actually do all day. What we do know from Edward Snowden and Wikileaks is that they are completely out of control, run long term agendas and seek to put the entire population under surveillance. They also spend hundreds of millions of tax payer money without any real accountability. It would be naïve to imagine that these organisations and networks do not have an influence on public policy.
Something recently came to light that we should pay particular attention to. A German journalist, now retired, blew the whistle on the extent to which the CIA court, influence and recruit jouranlists to slant their reporting in favour of what the CIA wants you to think. The gentleman’s name is Udo Ulfkotte and he has written a bestselling book called Bought Journalists. Details are included in your notes. His specific claim is that on certain specific issues, some media are nothing more than propaganda outlets but he explains how, why, and for whom. His information is detailed and credible – he names names and explains the process of recruitment that he was involved with. You would think explosive revelation might rate a mention in the news in Australia but …no.
The kind of influence Udo refers to might go a long way to explaining the otherwise unexplainable. Here are three examples:
Some years ago a CIA backed military coup against the democratically elected leftist government of Venezuela was defeated, but this was not considered newsworthy in Australia. A link to a youtube documentary of what actually happened is included in your materials.
In the lead up to the second Gulf war when Washington was making a big fuss about all those weapons of mass destruction the Iraqi’s were supposed to have, some brave person leaked a critically important diplomatic document called the Downing Street Memo. The memo was written by an aide in the British Prime Minister’s Office and records a meeting of senior British Government, defence and intelligence figures discussing the build-up to the war. The memo recorded the head of the British intelligence service MI6 stating that – Quote – “the facts are being fixed around the policy” to justify the war. A copy of the complete text is included in your materials.
The memo made clear that the US had decided to invade Iraq and was merely using the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ as an excuse or fabrication. This should have been a game changer in terms of Australia’s rationale for becoming involved in the war. A free press would be expected to splash it across the front pages of every paper in the country, but the story was quietly buried.
If you followed the Ukraine crisis you probably think that Russia invaded Crimea because that is what you have been told. In fact, Russia had an agreement with Ukraine for the preceding 15 years that allowed them to station up to twenty thousand troops in Crimea. After the coup in Ukraine, Russia held a referendum in Crimea. Crimea is historically part of Russia and the majority in Crimea chose to side with Russia. The fifteen thousand Russian troops that had been legally in Crimea for the last decade or so simply stayed. Nevertheless, the corporate media still claim that Putin invaded Crimea when this is a known untruth.
From the above examples, it will be clear that if you are interested in truth, you should not believe anything that passes for news in the corporate press. As the saying goes ‘get a second opinion’ or even a third or fourth.
Corporate Funding and Organised Crime
We have noted that secret intelligence services seek to buy influence with journalists. It is a discrete and subtle influence and it works over decades not days. The same is true of any form of corporate funding. That is why we should be very concerned about corporate funding of Universities, think tanks, and political parties. Little discussed is the extent to which the Communist Government of China makes strategic donations and purchases through front companies in Australia and elsewhere, although this is becoming more public after COVID-19 exposed our dependence on Chinese imports. The extent of foreign ownership and the extent of that influence is there and it is growing. To put that in context, a Chinese company now owns (99 year lease) the Port of Darwin.
The same is true of organised crime. Officially organised crime in Australia is worth an estimated fifteen billion per year. That is three times the annual budget of the Federal Police and enough to replace all of the RAAF’s combat aircraft. Organised crime money is mostly laundered through real estate investment and gambling. You can assume therefore that politicians and public bodies involved in regulating gambling and real estate development will be targeted. After all we are talking $150 billion over ten years which was roughly half our government debt prior to COVID-19. That kind of money buys a lot of influence.
Organised crime is also very much involved in the sex industry in all its various manifestations including people smuggling. Most of this activity is legal. Therefore, if you are campaigning for restrictions on that industry, such as pornography for example, you are in part going up against organised crime interests that are capable of funding very sophisticated lobbying and public relations campaigns.
NGOs have become significant players in the public policy game within democratic societies. One reason for this is that they are often trusted as representing a community of interest independent of corporate or party political interests. That is often the case. However, NGO’s can also be funded by business interests, foreign governments, and global movements. For example, the Gulen movement based largely in the United States is a global Islamist movement which aims to influence Western societies for Islam. It is designated as a terrorist organisation in Turkey but operates through hundreds of businesses, community organisations and educational institutions around the World. It has allegedly contributed significant finance to the Democratic Party in the United States.
The George Soros Open Society Foundation (http://www.georgesoros.com/) funds a vast global network of NGO’s, front groups and political operatives aimed at promoting open borders and extreme ‘liberal’ policies. His network has been accused of undermining state sovereignty, intellectual dishonesty, personal attacks, and working closely with the US State Department and the CIA to undermine the government and sovereignty of Russia. It is banned in Hungary. It was in response to these concerns that the Russian Parliament, with the support of the Russian Orthodox Church, regulated Western NGOs operating in Russia. In Australia, Soros funds GetUp! Which openly targets politicians who uphold traditional values and sovereign borders. See further in your materials.
You may have found this lesson surprising, even upsetting. You do not have to take it at face value. Get out there and do your own research, make your own conclusions, check for yourself if what you are being told actually reflects the real world. A final thought: According to research Australians spend around fifty hours a week consuming media (or playing computer games) which is half our leisure time. What would happen to this country if we spent even half that time educating ourselves about public life and getting involved? What if, instead of watching the news, we made the news?
End of Lesson 7
What role if any did the secret services have in securing the imprisonment of Julian Assagne?
Sources and References
Links and Resources on Media Ownership
Source: The Conversation
“The passing of former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser last Friday prompted me to recall his warning about the state of Australian media ownership in an interview I did with him during the last federal election.
He said: “In my term, there were seven print proprietors. Now there is one and a bit. We have the most concentrated media in any democratic country, anywhere in the entire damn world.”
Malcolm Fraser’s warning is one we should take seriously. As Fairfax Media finalises union talks this week to cut 80 local jobs across its regional newspapers, and federal communications minister Malcolm Turnbull is again flagging relaxing media ownership laws, local news is particularly under threat in the global media environment where large audience reach matters.
More regional cuts
In Victoria, to remain competitive in this environment, Fairfax has proposed cutting 62 editorial jobs among the 80 full-time positions earmarked for redundancy across 13 regional mastheads including Albury Wondonga’s Border Mail, The Ballarat Courier, Bendigo Advertiser and The Warrnambool Standard.
Local MPs and city councillors in these regions have spoken out against the cuts with independent MP Cathy McGowan telling the Federal Parliament last week that regional newspapers such as the Border Mail play an important role providing local news and any job cuts could impact on this service.
The union representing local reporters, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, will meet Fairfax in Sydney today to discuss the cuts. It is understood that the Border Mail will lose up to 23 staff, the Wimmera Mail will lose 40% of its workforce, the Ballarat Courier will lose some reporting staff and its news director, and most of the newspapers will lose some photographers and sub-editors.
Diversity being squeezed
Fairfax’s regional publishing business Australian Community Media (ACM) is also proposing a common newspaper template with opportunities for content sharing. Journalists spared from the sackings will be required to do more with less including taking photographs, sub-editing their stories and uploading them online.
The implications of these changes are concerning for the diversity of local reporting, its accuracy and future print circulation figures, which until now have remained buoyant compared to their city cousins. A well-functioning democracy requires an informed citizenry and, to do this, journalists find and verify information in the public interest, rather than just selecting information from press releases. Citizen journalists can fulfil some of this local news gathering role, but subject coverage can be patchy and lacking editorial authority.
The all-too-soon forgotten Finkelstein media inquiry in 2012 reminds us that some local communities are already the poorer for losing local news outlets.
There is some evidence that both regional radio and television stations and newspapers have cut back substantially on their news gathering, leaving some communities poorly served for local news. This may require particular support in the immediate future, and I recommend that this issue be investigated by the government as a matter of some urgency.
Changes mooted for media laws
Yet, Malcolm Turnbull, photographed last year standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the nation’s media executives and flagging changes to media laws, has this month again raised the prospect of such reforms in a submission to the Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Turnbull’s argument essentially is that the internet has lowered the barriers to entry and enabled greater competition and more media diversity. At face value this sounds promising. Yet, such changes would make possible further media mergers and acquisitions and what such reforms would mean for local news reporting requires careful consideration.
Veteran journalists can readily recall the days when Canadian Conrad Black divested his stake in Fairfax because foreign ownership laws in 1996 prevented his company owning more than a 25% share of an Australian media outlet.
Today, among Australia’s top 10 news websites, all are digital iterations of traditional media outlets. The only new entrants to this list are not new Australian start-ups but large, foreign-owned companies such as Britain’s Daily Mail (fourth) and the Australian version of the British-owned Guardian (sixth).
Foreign-owned media companies are reaching out to Australian shores as never before — not only do we have Australian versions of the Guardian and Daily Mail, but BuzzFeed, and very soon the Huffington Post (in a 51-49 partnership with Fairfax). In the broadcast media sphere US-owned Netflix announced it will undercut local competitors — Presto, jointly owned by Foxtel and Seven West Media; and Stan, a Fairfax and Nice Entertainment Co. partnership — to stream video content to Australian subscribers for $8.99 a month.
The arrival of foreign-owned media is interesting in the context that we once had specific laws to guard against it in the name of protecting Australian news content and its democratic function. Oddly, in 2015 when local newspapers are experiencing financial duress, there is little examination about what these offshore arrivals mean for Australian audiences and Australian news content, particularly in terms of local news.
Start-ups struggling to survive
Perhaps, the important question arising out of this global media environment is not how to limit competition and potential sources of news diversity; but rather, what can be done to encourage growth in Australian news media start-ups? The current environment makes it very difficult for them to succeed long-term, as Wendy Harmer identified yesterday when announcing her online outlet The Hoopla will close. In the US, start-up news reporting entities are tax-exempt non-profits recognised by the IRS under section 501©(3) of the tax code.
Australia’s Finkelstein media review also included suggestions for tax breaks for non-profit news outlets. Another idea was to allocate a proportion of Australia’s multi-million dollar government advertising and public notices expenditure for new news ventures.
Of course, the ABC plays a unique role delivering local Australian news across the nation’s states, but it too has suffered recent substantial funding cuts and journalism job losses.
The right formula to preserve the diversity of Australian local reporting might lie elsewhere, but shouldn’t we at least engage in the conversation?”
Source: The Australia Institute at http://www.tai.org.au/node/1220
THE AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE
New media or more of the same?
The cross-media ownership debate
Christian Downie and Andrew Macintosh
Roy Morgan Research. The study finds that despite the rise of new media over the past decade, only a very small proportion of Australians rely on the internet for news and current affairs and,
amongst those who do, the vast majority turn to websites that are either controlled by
traditional media providers or draw their content from traditional media sources.
Important findings include the following.
On average, only 14 per cent of the time that Australians spend on consuming
media is devoted to the internet, compared to 44 per cent on television and 32
per cent on radio.
Television, newspapers and radio are the main source of domestic news and
current affairs for over 95 per cent of the population. By comparison, only
three per cent of people say the internet is their main source of domestic news
and current affairs.
Around 75 per cent of the population never or rarely use the internet to obtain
domestic and international news.
Of the roughly 25 per cent of the population that access the internet on a
reasonably regular basis for domestic news and current affairs, approximately
90 per cent rely on a small collection of websites that have a close association
with traditional media providers.
It is estimated that as little as one per cent of Australians rely on an alternative
media provider as their main source of news and current affairs.
Australians spend just over 50 hours (50hr 50 min) a week consuming media (Roy
Morgan Research 2005a), which constitutes more than 50 per cent of average total
leisure time (Productivity Commission 2005). Television occupies 44 per cent of total
time spent on media each week, followed by radio (32 per cent), internet (14 per
cent), newspapers (7 per cent), then magazines (4 per cent) (Roy Morgan Research
Australian media playing into China’s grand strategy
By Bill Birtles
Posted Fri at 8:03am
China’s leadership clearly has a desire to extend its soft power in the West through co-operation deals with local media organisations. And Australia is right in the thick of it, writes Bill Birtles.
Six years ago, as a foreign editor working inside the belly of China’s state-run media behemoth Xinhua, I was asked to attend a meeting.
On the upper floors of the company’s distinctive pencil-shaped tower in south-west Beijing, I was greeted by a boardroom-style table and a group of middle-management types.
They noted that I had previously worked at the ABC, and that Aunty now had multiple digital television channels to fill with content.
So they asked me whether it might be possible for Xinhua’s new television service to air in Australia on one of those channels.
Aside from the unlikeliness of the proposition, what struck me at the time was how amateur their approach was.
Getting a young foreign editor from the newsroom to be their intermediary to contact Australia’s national broadcaster reflected how little experience these state-media managers had dealing with foreign companies.
Yet six years on, like so many things in China, the progress of the government’s overseas media push is rapid.
In the past week, a senior Chinese propaganda official Liu Qibao capped off a successful two-day visit to Australia that included meeting the Governor-General and signing agreements or MOUs with several media organisations.
The most significant achievement was the announcement that Fairfax’s main newspapers – The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review, would distribute China Watch – a fully paid monthly eight-page supplement straight from the China Daily, its state-PR machine.
Fairfax has defended the deal as a “commercial printing arrangement”, and points out that papers around the world, such as the Washington Post, also distribute China Watch.
But China’s colossal PR machine doesn’t just have struggling newspapers in its sights.
The ABC’s 2014 deal with provincial-level Shanghai Media Group (SMG) paved the way for a rare coup – the establishment of a China-based website for the ABC’s international Australia Plus service.
The difficulty of obtaining a .cn portal underlines the significance of a Chinese-language service that potentially reaches tens, if not hundreds of millions of people.
But as Media Watch recently pointed out, the site had been caught self-censoring ABC news stories, and the ABC maintains it isn’t supposed to carry news at all.
More questionable is that the Australia Plus Chinese portal replaced the online Radio Australia Chinese service, which routinely published stories that wouldn’t make the cut under China’s tight censorship regime.
These types of co-operation agreements are just a taste of what’s to come.
Recently, Australian journalists in Beijing were asked to a meeting with officials from the State Council Information Office.
The meeting was off-the-record, but it was clear that finding further ways to push media co-operation with Australian outlets is a priority.
For China, there has long been a great insecurity about a deficiency of soft power on the global stage, and changing the “negative” tone of how China is covered in the Western media is a goal.
In the past, propaganda officials have suggested a UN-style body to regulate the world’s media organisations so they promote “fairness” in their reporting.
And just this week, China’s Premier Li Keqiang told an alliance of 30 news editors from across Asia to promote “an optimal environment for peace and prosperity”, according to the China Daily.
For Australia, the way news organisations engage with state-run counterparts from a country with media values that are anathema to Australian notions of freedom of speech, is just one of the tricky aspects of the Australia-China relationship.
For China, the hope is that increasing co-operation deals will eventually lead to influence that can reshape the way Australian journalists report on China, in a way more agreeable to the leaders in Beijing.
The question Australian news companies must ask themselves is whether they are willing to play a part in that.
Bill Birtles is the ABC’s China correspondent.
Source: John Pilger reproduced at Independent Australia
“With the persecution of Assange about to enter a dangerous stage, John Pilger has updated his 2014 investigation of the unrelenting campaign, in Sweden and the U.S., to deny Julian Assange justice and silence WikiLeaks.
THE SIEGE of Knightsbridge is both an emblem of gross injustice and a gruelling farce. For three years, a police cordon around the Ecuadorean embassy in London has served no purpose other than to flaunt the power of the state. It has cost £12 million.
The quarry is an Australian charged with no crime, a refugee whose only security is the room given him by a brave South American country. His “crime” is to have initiated a wave of truth-telling in an era of lies, cynicism and war.
The persecution of Assange about to enter a dangerous stage
The persecution of Julian Assange is about to flare again as it enters a dangerous stage. From August 20, three quarters of the Swedish prosecutor’s case against Assange regarding sexual misconduct in 2010 will disappear as the statute of limitations expires. At the same time Washington’s obsession with Assange and WikiLeaks has intensified.
Indeed, it is vindictive American power that offers the greatest threat — as Chelsea Manning and those still held in Guantanamo can attest.
The Americans are pursuing Assange because WikiLeaks exposed their epic crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale killing of tens of thousands of civilians, which they covered up, and their contempt for sovereignty and international law, as demonstrated vividly in their leaked diplomatic cables.
WikiLeaks continues to expose criminal activity by the U.S., having just published top secret U.S. intercepts — U.S. spies’ reports detailing private phone calls of the presidents of France and Germany, and other senior officials, relating to internal European political and economic affairs.
None of this is illegal under the U.S. Constiution. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded whistleblowers as “part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal”. In 2012, the campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama boasted on its website that he had prosecuted more whistleblowers in his first term than all other U.S. presidents combined.
Before Chelsea Manning had even received a trial, Obama had pronounced the whistletblower guilty. Manning was subsequently sentenced to 35 years in prison, having been tortured during his long pre-trial detention.
Few doubt that should the U.S. get their hands on Assange, a similar fate awaits him. Threats of the capture and assassination of Assange became the currency of the political extremes in the U.S. following Vice-President Joe Biden’s preposterous slur that the WikiLeaks founder was a “cyber-terrorist”.
Those doubting the degree of ruthlessness Assange can expect should remember the forcing down of the Bolivian president’s plane in 2013 — wrongly believed to be carrying Edward Snowden.
According to documents released by Snowden, Assange is on a “Manhunt target list”. Washington’s bid to get him, say Australian diplomatic cables, is “unprecedented in scale and nature”. In Alexandria, Virginia, a secret grand jury has spent five years attempting to contrive a crime for which Assange can be prosecuted. This is not easy. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects publishers, journalists and whistleblowers.
Faced with this constitutional hurdle, the U.S. Justice Department has contrived charges of “espionage”, “conspiracy to commit espionage”, “conversion” (theft of government property), “computer fraud and abuse” (computer hacking) and general “conspiracy”. The Espionage Act has life in prison and death penalty provisions. .
Assange’s ability to defend himself in this Kafkaesque world has been handicapped by the U.S. declaring his case a state secret. In March, a federal court in Washington blocked the release of all information about the “national security” investigation against WikiLeaks, because it was “active and ongoing” and would harm the “pending prosecution” of Assange. The judge, Barbara J. Rosthstein, said it was necessary to show
“appropriate deference to the executive in matters of national security”.
This is the “justice” of a kangaroo court.
The supporting act in this grim farce is Sweden, played by the Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny. Until recently, Ny refused to comply with a routine European procedure routine that required her to travel to London to question Assange and so advance the case. For four and a half years, Ny has never properly explained why she has refused to come to London, just as the Swedish authorities have never explained why they refuse to give Assange a guarantee that they will not extradite him on to the U.S. under a secret arrangement agreed between Stockholm and Washington.
In December 2010, The Independent revealed that the two governments had discussed his onward extradition to the U.S.
Contrary to its 1960s reputation as a liberal bastion, Sweden has drawn so close to Washington that it has allowed secret CIA “renditions” — including the illegal deportation of refugees. The rendition and subsequent torture of two Egyptian political refugees in 2001 was condemned by the UN Committee against Torture, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch; the complicity and duplicity of the Swedish state are documented in successful civil litigation and in WikiLeaks cables.
In the summer of 2010, Assange had flown to Sweden to talk about WikiLeaks revelations of the war in Afghanistan — in which Sweden had forces under U.S. command.
‘Documents released by WikiLeaks since Assange moved to England,”‘wrote Al Burke, editor of the online Nordic News Network, an authority on the multiple twists and dangers facing Assange,
‘clearly indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters relating to civil rights. There is every reason for concern that if Assange were to be taken into custody by Swedish authorities, he could be turned over to the United States without due consideration of his legal rights.’
Why hasn’t the Swedish prosecutor allowed Swedish court access to so-called “evidence”?
Why hasn’t the Swedish prosecutor resolved the Assange case? Many in the legal community in Sweden believe her behaviour inexplicable. Once implacably hostile to Assange, the Swedish press has published headlines such as: ‘Go to London, for God’s sake.’
Why hasn’t she? More to the point, why won’t she allow the Swedish court access to hundreds of SMS messages that the police extracted from the phone of one of the two women involved in the misconduct allegations? Why won’t she hand them over to Assange’s Swedish lawyers?
She says she is not legally required to do so until a formal charge is laid and she has questioned him. Then, why doesn’t she question him? And if she did question him, the conditions she would demand of him and his lawyers – that they could not challenge her – would make injustice a near certainty.
On a point of law, the Swedish Supreme Court has decided Ny can continue to obstruct on the vital issue of the SMS messages. This now goes to the European Court of Human Rights. What Ny fears is that the SMS messages destroy her case against Assange. One of the messages from one of the women makes it clear that she did not want any charges brought against Assange, “but the police were keen on getting a hold on him”. She was “shocked” when they arrested him because she only “wanted him to take [an HIV] test”. She “did not want to accuse JA of anything” and “it was the police who made up the charges”. (In a witness statement, she is quoted as saying that she had been “railroaded by police and others around her”.)
Neither woman claimed she had been raped. Indeed, both have denied they were raped and one of them has since tweeted, “I have not been raped.” That they were manipulated by police and their wishes ignored is evident – whatever their lawyers might say now. Certainly, they are victims of a saga which blights the reputation of Sweden itself.
For Assange, his only trial has been trial by media. On August 20, 2010, the Swedish police opened a “rape investigation” and immediately – and unlawfully – told the Stockholm tabloids that there was a warrant for Assange’s arrest for the “rape of two women”. This was the news that went round the world.
In Washington, a smiling U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates told reporters that the arrest “sounds like good news to me”. Twitter accounts associated with the Pentagon described Assange as a “rapist” and a “fugitive”.
Less than 24 hours later, the Stockholm Chief Prosecutor, Eva Finne, took over the investigation. She wasted no time in cancelling the arrest warrant, saying,
“I don’t believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape.”
Four days later, she dismissed the rape investigation altogether, saying,
“There is no suspicion of any crime whatsoever.”
The file was closed.
Enter Claes Borgstrom, a high profile politician in the Social Democratic Party then standing as a candidate in Sweden’s imminent general election. Within days of the chief prosecutor’s dismissal of the case, Borgstrom, a lawyer, announced to the media that he was representing the two women and had sought a different prosecutor in the city of Gothenberg. This was Marianne Ny, whom Borgstrom knew well, personally and politically.
On 30 August, Assange attended a police station in Stockholm voluntarily and answered all the questions put to him. He understood that was the end of the matter. Two days later, Ny announced she was re-opening the case. Borgstrom was asked by a Swedish reporter why the case was proceeding when it had already been dismissed, citing one of the women as saying she had not been raped. He replied, “Ah, but she is not a lawyer.” Assange’s Australian barrister, James Catlin, responded,
“This is a laughing stock… it’s as if they make it up as they go along.”
On the day Marianne Ny reactivated the case, the head of Sweden’s military intelligence service – which has the acronym MUST — publicly denounced WikiLeaks in an article entitled “WikiLeaks [is] a threat to our soldiers.” Assange was warned that the Swedish intelligence service, SAPO, had been told by its U.S. counterparts that U.S.-Sweden intelligence-sharing arrangements would be “cut off” if Sweden sheltered him.
For five weeks, Assange waited in Sweden for the new investigation to take its course. The Guardian was then on the brink of publishing the Iraq “War Logs”, based on WikiLeaks’ disclosures, which Assange was to oversee. His lawyer in Stockholm asked Ny if she had any objection to his leaving the country. She said he was free to leave.
Inexplicably, as soon as he left Sweden – at the height of media and public interest in the WikiLeaks disclosures – Ny issued a European Arrest Warrant and an Interpol “red alert” normally used for terrorists and dangerous criminals. Put out in five languages around the world, it ensured a media frenzy.
Assange attended a police station in London, was arrested and spent ten days in Wandsworth Prison, in solitary confinement. Released on £340,000 bail, he was electronically tagged, required to report to police daily and placed under virtual house arrest while his case began its long journey to the Supreme Court.
He still had not been charged with any offence. His lawyers repeated his offer to be questioned by Ny in London, pointing out that she had given him permission to leave Sweden. They suggested a special facility at Scotland Yard commonly used for that purpose. She refused.
Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape wrote:
“The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction… The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will. [Assange] has made it clear he is available for questioning by the Swedish authorities, in Britain or via Skype. Why are they refusing this essential step in their investigation? What are they afraid of?”
The Supreme Court made a crucial error over the European Arrest Warrant
This question remained unanswered as Ny deployed the European Arrest Warrant, a draconian product of the “war on terror” supposedly designed to catch terrorists and organised criminals. The EAW had abolished the obligation on a petitioning state to provide any evidence of a crime. More than a thousand EAWs are issued each month; only a few have anything to do with potential “terror” charges.
Most are issued for trivial offences, such as overdue bank charges and fines. Many of those extradited face months in prison without charge. There have been a number of shocking miscarriages of justice, of which British judges have been highly critical.
The Assange case finally reached the UK Supreme Court in May 2012. In a judgement that upheld the EAW – whose rigid demands had left the courts almost no room for manoeuvre – the judges found that European prosecutors could issue extradition warrants in the UK without any judicial oversight, even though Parliament intended otherwise. They made clear that Parliament had been “misled” by the Blair government. The court was split, 5-2, and consequently found against Assange.
However, the Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, made one mistake. He applied the Vienna Convention on treaty interpretation, allowing for state practice to override the letter of the law. As Assange’s barrister, Dinah Rose QC, pointed out, this did not apply to the EAW.
The Supreme Court only recognised this crucial error when it dealt with another appeal against the EAW in November 2013. The Assange decision had been wrong, but it was too late to go back. With extradition imminent, the Swedish prosecutor told Assange’s lawyers that Assange, once in Sweden, would be immediately placed in one of Sweden’s infamous remand prisons..
Assange’s choice was stark: extradition to a country that had refused to say whether or not it would send him on to the U.S., or to seek what seemed his last opportunity for refuge and safety. Supported by most of Latin America, the courageous government of Ecuador granted him refugee status on the basis of documented evidence and legal advice that he faced the prospect of cruel and unusual punishment in the US; that this threat violated his basic human rights; and that his own government in Australia had abandoned him and colluded with Washington.
The Labor government of prime minister Julia Gillard had even threatened to take away his passport.
Gareth Peirce, the renowned human rights lawyer who represents Assange in London, wrote to the then Australian foreign minister, Kevin Rudd:
‘Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions… it is very hard to attempt to preserve for him any presumption of innocence. Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged.’
It was not until she contacted the Australian High Commission in London that Peirce received a response, which answered none of the pressing points she raised. In a meeting I attended with her, the Australian Consul-General, Ken Pascoe, made the astonishing claim that he knew “only what I read in the newspapers” about the details of the case.
Vituperative campaign against Assange is petty, vicious and inhuman
Meanwhile, the prospect of a grotesque miscarriage of justice was drowned in a vituperative campaign against the WikiLeaks founder. Deeply personal, petty, vicious and inhuman attacks were aimed at a man not charged with any crime yet subjected to treatment not even meted out to a defendant facing extradition on a charge of murdering his wife. That the U.S. threat to Assange was a threat to all journalists, to freedom of speech, was lost in the sordid and the ambitious.
Books were published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and an assumption that attacking Assange was fair game and he was too poor to sue. People have made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive. The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, called the WikiLeaks disclosures, which his newspaper published, “one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years”. It became part of his marketing plan to raise the newspaper’s cover price.
With not a penny going to Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a “damaged personality” and “callous”. They also revealed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the U.S. embassy cables.
With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the last laugh”.
The injustice meted out to Assange is one of the reasons Parliament reformed the Extradition Act to prevent the misuse of the EAW. The draconian catch-all used against him could not happen now; charges would have to be brought and “questioning” would be insufficient grounds for extradition. “His case has been won lock, stock and barrel,” Gareth Peirce told me,
“these changes in the law mean that the UK now recognises as correct everything that was argued in his case. Yet he does not benefit.”
In other words, the change in the UK law in 2014 mean that Assange would have won his case and he would not have been forced to take refuge.
Ecuador’s decision to protect Assange in 2012 bloomed into a major international affair. Even though the granting of asylum is a humanitarian act, and the power to do so is enjoyed by all states under international law, both Sweden and the United Kingdom refused to recognize the legitimacy of Ecuador’s decision. Ignoring international law, the Cameron government refused to grant Assange safe passage to Ecuador. Instead,
Ecuador’s embassy was placed under siege and its government abused with a series of ultimatums.
When William Hague’s Foreign Office threatened to violate the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, warning that it would remove the diplomatic inviolability of the embassy and send the police in to get Assange, outrage across the world forced the government to back down. During one night, police appeared at the windows of the embassy in an obvious attempt to intimidate.
Since then, Julian Assange has been confined to a small room under Ecuador’s protection, without sunlight or space to exercise, surrounded by police under orders to arrest him on sight. For three years, Ecuador has made clear to the Swedish prosecutor that Assange is available to be questioned in the London embassy, and for three years she has remained intransigent. In the same period Sweden has questioned forty-four people in the UK in connection with police investigations.
Her role, and that of the Swedish state, is demonstrably political; and for Ny, facing retirement in two years, she must “win”.
In despair, Assange has challenged the arrest warrant in the Swedish courts. His lawyers have cited rulings by the European Court of Human Rights that he has been under arbitrary, indefinite detention and that he had been a virtual prisoner for longer than any actual prison sentence he might face. The Court of Appeal judge agreed with Assange’s lawyers: the prosecutor had indeed breached her duty by keeping the case suspended for years. Another judge issued a rebuke to the prosecutor. And yet she defied the court.
Last December, Assange took his case to the Swedish Supreme Court, which ordered Marianne Ny’s boss – the Prosecutor General of Sweden Anders Perklev – to explain. The next day, Ny announced, without explanation, that she had changed her mind and would now question Assange in London.
In his submission to the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor General made some important concessions: he argued that the coercion of Assange had been “intrusive” and that that the period in the embassy has been a “great strain” on him. He even conceded that if the matter had ever come to prosecution, trial, conviction and serving a sentence in Sweden, Julian Assange would have left Sweden long ago.
In a split decision, one Supreme Court judge argued that the arrest warrant should have been revoked. The majority of the judges ruled that, since the prosecutor had now said she would go to London, Assange’s arguments had become “moot”. But the Court ruled that it would have found against the prosecutor if she had not suddenly changed her mind. Justice by caprice.
Writing in the Swedish press, a former Swedish prosecutor, Rolf Hillegren, accused Ny of losing all impartiality. He described her personal investment in the case as “abnormal” and that she should be replaced.
Having said she would go to London in June, Ny didn’t go, but sent a deputy, knowing that the questioning would not be legal under these circumstances, especially as she had not bothered to get Ecuador’s approval for the meeting. At the same time, her office tipped off the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen, which sent its London correspondent to wait outside Ecuador’s embassy for “news”. The news was that Ny was cancelling the appointment and blaming Ecuador for the confusion and by implication Assange.
The statute of limitations expires 20 August. What next Marianne Ny?
As the statute of limitations date approaches – August 20 – another chapter in this hideous story will doubtless unfold, with Marianne Ny pulling yet another rabbit out of her hat and the commissars and prosecutors in Washington the beneficiaries. Perhaps none of this is surprising. In 2008, a war on WikiLeaks and on Julian Assange was foretold in a secret Pentagon document prepared by the “Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch”. It described a detailed plan to destroy the feeling of “trust” which is WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity”. This would be achieved with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”.
Silencing and criminalising such a rare source of truth-telling was the aim, smear the method. While this farce and judicial scandal continue the reputation of Sweden is diminished and the shadow of America’s menace touches us all.
For important additional information, click on the following links:
Source: Russia Insider
Members of the German media are paid by the CIA in return for spinning the news in a way that supports US interests, and some German outlets are nothing more than PR appendages of NATO, according to a new book by Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany’s largest newspapers.
Ulfkotte is a serious mainstream journalist. Here he is on Germany’s leading political talk show [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9SYdhHPA5Y] a couple of years ago. The book is a sensation in Germany, #7 on the bestseller list. Its political dynamite, coming on the heels of German outrage of NSA tapping of their phones. Check out the RT.com story on it in the video below.
Here at Russia Insider, it has long been apparent to us that there is something distinctly odd about the German media regarding Russia. We follow it, and it is much more strident than even the anglo-saxon media regarding Russia, while German public opinion is much more positive towards Russia than in other countries.
Another interesting thing about it is that it is very disparate. Some major voices are very reasonable about Russia, but most are negative, and some are comically apocalyptic. This is what one would expect if there was some financial influence ginning the system.
We’ve been talking about this for a while now. German public opinion is becoming more and more fed up with the what they increasingly believe to be a rigged media, and its starting to come out everywhere.
The allegations, while shocking, are consistent with the CIA’s long and well-established history of media infiltration.
Operation Mockingbird, which began in the 1950s, was a secret CIA operation [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mockingbird] which recruited journalists to serve as mouthpieces for the American government. The program was officially terminated after it was exposed by the famous Church Committee investigations, but evidence of ongoing CIA influence over the media continues to accumulate.
Just last week Glenn Greenwald’s (of Edward Snowden fame) new groundbreaking investigative website, The Intercept, charged that the CIA leveraged its considerable influence – some might even say friendship – with media in order to discredit Gary Webb, the fearless American journalist who uncovered CIA cocaine trafficking as part of the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s.
From The Intercept (emphasis our own):
On September 18, the agency released a trove of documents spanning three decades of secret government operations. Culled from the agency’s in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence, the materials include a previously unreleased six-page article titled “Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story.” Looking back on the weeks immediately following the publication of “Dark Alliance,” the document offers a unique window into the CIA’s internal reaction to what it called “a genuine public relations crisis” while revealing just how little the agency ultimately had to do to swiftly extinguish the public outcry.
Thanks in part to what author Nicholas Dujmovic, a CIA Directorate of Intelligence staffer at the time of publication, describes as “a ground base of already productive relations with journalists,” the CIA’s Public Affairs officers watched with relief as the largest newspapers in the country rescued the agency from disaster, and, in the process, destroyed the reputation of an aggressive, award-winning reporter.
It’s as if Operation Mockingbird never ended.
Exclusively for RI, Dutch journalist Eric van de Beek interviews the senior German editor who is causing a sensation with his allegations that the CIA pays German media professionals to spin stories to follow US government goals.
We wrote about this two weeks ago, and the article shot up in views, becoming one of the most read articles on our site.
Udo Ulfkotte reveals in his bestseller Bought Journalists, how he was “taught to lie, to betray and not to tell the truth to the public.”
The former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which is one of Germany’s largest newspapers, was secretly on the payroll of the CIA and German secret service, spinning the news in a way that was positive for the United States and bad for its opponents.
In his latest interview, Ulfkotte alleges that some media are nothing more than propaganda outlets of political parties, secret services, international think tanks and high finance entities.
Repenting for collaborating with various agencies and organisations to manipulate the news, Ulkotte laments, “I’m ashamed I was part of it. Unfortunately I cannot reverse this.”
Some highlights from the interview:
“I ended up publishing articles under my own name written by agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, especially the German secret service.”
“Most journalists from respected and big media organisations are closely connected to the German Marshall Fund, the Atlantik-Brücke or other so-called transatlantic organisations…once you’re connected, you make friends with selected Americans. You think they are your friends and you start cooperating. They work on your ego, make you feel like you’re important. And one day one of them will ask you ‘Will you do me this favor’…”
“When I told the Frankfurter Allgemeine that I would publish the book, their lawyers sent me a letter threatening with all legal consequences if I would publish any names or secrets – but I don’t mind.”
“[The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung] hasn’t sued me. They know that I have evidence on everything.”
“No German mainstream journalist is allowed to report about [my] book. Otherwise he or she will be sacked. So we have a bestseller now that no German journalist is allowed to write or talk about.”
Here’s more from the interview:
“Bought journalists”, who are they?
“We’re talking about puppets on a string, journalists who write or say whatever their masters tell them to say or write. If you see how the mainstream media is reporting about the Ukraine conflict and if you know what’s really going on, you get the picture. The masters in the background are pushing for war with Russia and western journalists are putting on their helmets.”
And you were one of them, and now you are the first to blow the whistle.
“I’m ashamed I was part of it. Unfortunately I cannot reverse this. Although my superiors at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung approved of what I did, I’m still to blame. But yes, to my knowledge I am the first to accuse myself and to prove many others are to blame.”
How did you become a bought journalist?
“It started very soon after I started working at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. I learned to regard luxury invitations as quite acceptable and to write positive articles in return. Later on I was invited by the German Marshall Fund of The United States to travel the United States. They paid for all my expenses and put me in contact with Americans they’d like me to meet. In fact, most journalists from respected and big media organisations are closely connected to the German Marshall Fund, the Atlantik-Brücke or other so-called transatlantic organisations. Many of them are even members or ‘fellows’. I am a fellow of the German Marshall Fund. The thing is, once you’re connected, you make friends with selected Americans. You think they are your friends and you start cooperating. They work on your ego, make you feel like you’re important. And one day one of them will ask you ‘Will you do me this favor’ and then another will ask you ‘Will you do me that favor’. Bye and bye you get completely brainwashed. I ended up publishing articles under my own name written by agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, especially the Bundesnachrichtendienst.”
You said your superiors approved of that?
“They did. From my private point of view, in retrospective, they even sent me to spy. For instance in 1988 they put me on a plane to Iraq, where I traveled to the border with Iran. In those days Saddam Hussein was still seen as a good guy, a close ally to the US. The Americans supported him in his war against Iran. About 35 kilometers from the border, in an Iranian place called Zubaidad, I witnessed the Iraqis killing and injuring thousands of Iranians by throwing poison gas at them. I did exactly what my superiors had asked me to do. I made photo’s of the gas attacks. Back in Frankfurt it appeared my superiors didn’t show much interest in the atrocities I had witnessed. They allowed me to write an article about it, but they severely limited the size of it as if it wasn’t of much importance. At the same time they asked me to hand over the photo’s that I had made to the German association of chemical companies in Frankfurt, Verband der Chemischen Industrie. This poison gas that had killed so many Iranians was made in Germany.”
What’s your opinion on press trips? Journalists usually excuse themselves by saying they are perfectly able to follow their own judgment and that they don’t commit themselves to anything or anybody.
“I’ve been on a thousand press trips and never reported bad about those who paid all the expenses. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. That’s where corruption starts. And that’s the reason why magazines like Der Spiegel don’t allow their journalists to accept invitations to press trips unless they pay for their own expenses.”
The consequences of becoming a whistleblower can be serious. Do you have any indications people tried to prevent the publication of your book?
“When I told the Frankfurter Allgemeine that I would publish the book, their lawyers sent me a letter threatening with all legal consequences if I would publish any names or secrets – but I don’t mind. You see, I don’t have children to take care of. And you must know I was severely injured during the gas attack I witnessed in Iran in 1988. I’m the sole German survivor from a German poison gas attack. I’m still suffering from this. I’ve had three heart attacks. I don’t expect to live for more than a few years.”
In your book you mention many names of bought journalists. How are they doing now? Are they being sacked? Are they trying to clear their names?
“No German mainstream journalist is allowed to report about the book. Otherwise he or she will be sacked. So we have a bestseller now that no German journalist is allowed to write or talk about. More shocking: We have respected journalists who seem to have gone deep sea diving for a long time. It’s an Interesting situation. I expected and hoped that they would sue me and bring me to court. But they have no idea what to do. The respected Frankfurter Allgemeine just announced they will fire 200 employees, because they’re losing subscribers very rapidly and in high numbers. But they don’t sue me. They know that I have evidence on everything.”
Source: The Weekend Australian Magazine
The (Australia) (Published as Australian, The (Australia)) – August 22, 2016
Get up and be more transparent, Mr Soros
Groups such as those aligned to George Soros intrude more and more into politics.
In perhaps the biggest political scandal since WikiLeaks, a group of hackers has dumped hundreds of files exposing the influence of socialist billionaire George Soros on Western politics.
The files show Soros has established a transnational network that pressures governments to adopt high immigration targets and porous border policies that could pose a challenge to legitimate state sovereignty. His Open Society Foundations target individuals who criticise Islamism and seek to influence the outcome of national elections by undermining Right-leaning politicians. The Australian arm of the Soros network is GetUp!.
GetUp! was established by activists Jeremy Heimans and David Madden with funding from Soros. The Labor-affiliated Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union donated $1.1 million to the group. Bill Shorten and John Hewson are former board members. A major funder listed on its 2014-15 Australian Electoral Commission expenditure return is Avaaz, the US GetUp! affiliate that has received copious amounts of funding from Soros networks.
Like most NGOs, GetUp! claims to be independent from political parties. Like many NGOs, however, it has close ties to the Left. As Sharri Markson revealed in this paper, GetUp! chairwoman Sarah Maddison urged people to vote for the Greens in the past federal election
In the wake of the election, GetUp!’s Paul Oosting revealed its campaign strategy was to target conservative MPs to reduce their influence. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was a primary GetUp! target. In Tasmania, the organisation spent up to $500,000 to unseat Andrew Nikolic and forked out $140,000 on campaign advertising alone.
GetUp! has engaged in an effective reframing of politics by rebranding conservatives as the hard Right while recasting the Left as moderate or progressive. Many sections of the media have uncritically adopted GetUp!’s rhetoric, which effectively divides the Coalition by aligning conservatives falsely with a range of hard-Right views that they abhor.
Soros-affiliated organisations follow a well-worn political and rhetorical strategy updated for the digital age. Like the socialists and communists of old, they attack liberal democracy by delegitimising the classically liberal values of individualism, free speech, logical argument and public reason. They attack democratic states by advocating a porous border policy, reframing illegal immigrants as refugees and degrading critics of totalitarian tendencies such as Islamism in orchestrated campaigns of PC censorship. Documents uncovered by Soros leaks reveal a pattern of funding for programs that prosecute porous borders, mass immigration into the West nations from Islamist regions, and overt campaigns against dissenters. OSF has provided several million to the Centre for American Progress, whose programs include the explicit targeting of freethinkers critical of Islamism. A recent program grant described a strategy to target six critics of Islamism and the “right-wing media” in an “audit of Islamophobic activities”.
OSF has extended its reach in the European Union through NGO and human rights networks. It sought to influence EU elections by thwarting the success of candidates it deemed xenophobic or racist. The term xenophobic is commonly applied by the Left to politicians who seek rational immigration with a focus on resettlement rather than the disastrous porous border policy championed by the EU’s Green-socialist bloc. The OSF also funded a range of media projects focused on changing how journalists report on politicians and policies cast as xenophobic, intolerant or far Right. Leaked documents reveal OSF’s endorsement of questionable tactics to achieve its aims. A document reviewed by news source Breitbart states: “Naming and shaming from us is problematic: we are also in the business of channelling money into other countries for political purposes.” It is neither uncommon nor illegal for philanthropists to fund political advocacy groups and lobby politicians. However, there is an ethical line between evidence-based advocacy by NGOs and disproportionate influence on the democratic process.
Following the Soros leaks, concerns have been raised about the influence of groups claiming to be disinterested third parties and NGOs on core Western values such as free speech and government by the people. In one of the leaked documents, there appears to be a problematic connection between Soros funding and campaigning against politically incorrect media. OSF took credit for funding an advocacy campaign in which a group worked to “take away” news anchor Lou Dobbs’s platform on CNN. Dobbs resigned from CNN amid controversy over his critical views on immigration. I would criticise some of Dobbs’s statements but conform to the view that free speech is protected unless an individual or group incites violence or engages in terrorist or treasonous activities.
Another leaked report suggests Soros and OSF played a direct role in Barack Obama’s decision to increase the US immigration target. Soros wrote to Obama to request the increase while OSF advocates organised a group to act. In its 2015 report, the OSF board stated it took “very active efforts … to provide a special allocation of an additional 100,000 refugee slots for Syrians … In the face of this pressure, the Obama administration announced … that by 2017 it would raise to 100,000 the total number of refugees the US takes worldwide each year.” While NGOs and human rights groups routinely demand greater governmental transparency and accountability, they are rarely required to live up to their own standards. A new global transparency group, Transparify, rated Soros’s foundations zero for transparency among 200 organisations. Ironically, Transparify receives funding from OSF.
The belief the NGO sector has been hijacked by interests intent on challenging sovereignty to destabilise legitimate states is driving governments to introduce legislation to neutralise the perceived threat. A NGO transparency bill introduced by Israel was condemned by the EU, the UN, US Democrats and many human rights organisations. The law demands that NGOs whose primary support comes from foreign political entities publicly disclose the fact. Unsurprisingly, many of the NGOs exposed by the law were left-wing and human rights organisations that challenge Israel’s right to sovereign power by attacking its border security policy. Expect NGOs to continue attacking conservative MPs who champion liberal democracy by defending Australia’s sovereign border and national security policy. It is perhaps time to rewrite the NGO sector’s demand for government transparency and accountability as a mutual obligation.
Source: The Saker
George Soros Open Society Foundation Unmasked in a Major Leak
A leak of private documents of George Soros’ Open Society Foundations has been released, courtesy of DC Leaks.
George Soros is known to be involved in pretty much any revolution or coup around the world as well as heavily influencing politics. But these leaks provide direct evidence and show how deep and serious his involvement is. Here’s a quick analysis of what one can find.
First, there’s a lot of cash involved. The guy is literally pouring money into all these NGOs by either financing them directly or sponsoring their projects (which always have clearly defined goals).
The papers don’t mention final intentions directly but always use “promoting” with the following keywords:
* human rights
* LGBT rights
* women’s rights
* alternative news (which is really funny as they also boast their relations with mainstream media like The Guardian, Liberation, Huffington Post, etc…)
* gender equality
They’ll also claim to fight corruption and fascism. Of course, corruption and fascism always seems to happen within systems opposed to “EU values” (Orban’s Hungary, Putin’s Russia, …) and not where they really happen (ie. Ukraine, although they do recognize Ukraine is in a messy state).
Here are some of the techniques they use:
* influence new political parties (eg. Five star movement in Italy, Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, …)
* organise conferences in universities
* organise exchange visits with activist groups between countries (eg. Ukrainian activists meeting Spanish protesters)
* get the support of mainstream journalists
* setup coalitions and make it appear it’s the only truthful news source (eg. Friends of Maidan)
* influencing EU MEPs
* kicking out Russian media broadcasts
* getting young people to vote in a certain way
* producing videos, documents, social media groups, …
* organizing protests
* praising migrations, LGBT, equality (of genders, never of salaries and social status)
* attack populist/nationalist movements
They try to brainwash these group of people:
* left wing groups
* young people
* the right (refered to as ultranationalists and anti-semitic)
* Russia (Putin’s Russia, Russian propaganda, anything from Moscow is dismissed)
* Hungary (Victor Orban)
* anything that tries to resist the EU
They fear crackdowns on NGOs, which is something Russia initiated some years ago as they recognized the dangers these organisations bring.
List of organisations with Open Society sponsored projects for the year 2014:
* 444 – Hungarian Jeti Co.
* Associazione 21 luglio
* Associazione Upre Roma
* Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Romania
* Association l’Universite du Citoyen
* Athena Institute
* Athens Pride
* Bite the Ballot
* Bondy Blog
* Budapesti Szocialis Forraskozpont
* Centre for Peace Studies
* Cité en Mouvement
* Communication Center X
* Daniel Sachs Foundation
* EUobserver ASBL
* European Alternatives
* European Citizens Abroad
* European Cultural Foundation
* European Network Against Racism
* European Women’s Lobby
* European Digital Rights
* European Youth Forum
* Finance Watch AISBL
* Fiscal Responsibility Institute Budapest
* Foundation Expo
* Foundation for an Open Society
* Foundazione Romani Italia
* Heinrich Böll Foundation Greece
* Hellenic League for Human Rights
* Hungarian LGBT Alliance
* Hungarian Helsinki Committee
* HOPE not hate Educational Ltd
* IG Kultur Osterreich
* International Alert
* Ligue des droits de l’Homme
* Lithuanian Youth Council
* Media Diversity Institute
* Migration Policy Group
* Migrant’s Rights Network
* Migrant Voice
* Milestone Consulting Kft
* OSF Prague
* National Youth Council of Slovenia
* New Europeans
* Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform
* Polish City Club
* Political Capital Institute
* Progressives Zentrum
* Prospect Mühely Alapitvány
* Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia
* SOLIS Conseil
* Stefan Batory Foundation
* Stichting Eurofact
* SOS Racisme Catalunya
* Transparency International Latvia
* Transparency International – Liaison Office to the European Union
* Transparency International Hungary
* UNITED for Intercultural Action
* Votewatch CIC
* Young European Federalists
As you can see, this is a long list. Some NGOs are country specific and some are spread between many countries of the European Union. Here’s the fully detailed list: http://linkis.com/sli.mg/a/Dvev5
The full documents are searchable on DC Leaks (http://soros.dcleaks.com/). Here are some interesting ones I found:
Soros idea on Ukraine, make it an attractive investment, at the expense of EU countries:
Example of a consultancy contract. Notice how the goals are clearly stated beforehand any research is done: http://soros.dcleaks.com/download/?f=/Ukraine%20and%20Europe/italy/final%20draft%20contract.docx&t=europe
Ted Talk – media manipulation and ‘astroturf’ organisations
Journalist Sheryl Attkisson
Downing Street Memo
Text of Memo
“SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL – UK EYES ONLY
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell
IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER’S MEETING, 23 JULY
Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.
This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.
John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam’s regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.
The two broad US options were:
(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).
(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.
The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:
(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.
(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.
(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.
The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun “spikes of activity” to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.
The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.
The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.
The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.
On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.
For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.
The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.
John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.
The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.
(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.
(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.
(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.
(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.
He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.
(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.
(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.
(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)
The United Nations failed to authorise invasion. Saddam allowed UN weapons inspectors in and they found no unconventional weapons. Britain and the US invaded anyway in accordance with their policy. The invasion was illegal under international law and led to the subsequent deaths of approximately 750,000 people according to the Lancet medical journal. The Downing Street Memo was talked down or ignored by the Australian press. The subsequent and ongoing catastrophe in Iraq continues to be ignored by the Australian press. The destruction of Iraq led to the creation of ISIS and the subsequent devastation in Syria. This in turn created the refugee crisis in Europe which his now destabilising the EU. Russia intervened in Syria to stop ISIS and create the conditions for settlement. This brought Russia and NATO to the brink of war. The consequences of press deception in the months before the second gulf war are still unraveling. This and the Downing St memo are still taboo topics within the media and political establishment.
Sources for Organised Crime
An example of Chinese influence in Australia
“One of Australia’s most exclusive universities has called off a talk to students by the Dalai Lama, prompting accusations it is bowing to China which has branded the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader a dangerous separatist.
Sydney University, ranked in the world’s top 50, cancelled the June visit by the Nobel Peace laureate to avoid damaging China ties, including funding for its cultural Confucius Institute, Tibetan activists and Australian lawmakers said.
“As a democratic country, we should be encouraging more open and frank discussion about the current situation in Tibet, not banning the country’s spiritual leader from addressing students and staff at universities,” said Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, whose party wields the balance of power in the upper house of parliament.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard was heavily criticised for refusing to meet the Dalai Lama during a 2011 visit to avoid damaging two-way trade worth $120 billion last year.
Gillard this month led a trade delegation to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, with both countries agreeing to a new strategic partnership including yearly talks between both leaders on foreign policy and economics.
China’s human rights record in Tibet remains a controversial issue in Australia, a close U.S. ally, and Sydney University’s new Institute for Democracy and Human Rights organised an on-campus talk by the Dalai Lama during his 10-day visit.
This was overturned by a decision to move the event off campus after the university warned organisers not to use its logo, allow media coverage or entry to the event by free Tibet activists.”
The Coup you were not told about:
Venezuela Coupe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id–ZFtjR5c
An example of Correspondence with the Defence Minister and Subsequent Revelations from Wikileaks:
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald based on Wikileaks
Minister told US ALP criticism of jet was ‘political’ PR
February 9, 2011
19 December 2007
Toxic Sludge is Good for you! Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry, John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, Common Courage Press, 1995 (Distributed in Australia by UNSW Press Sydney 2002).
Necessary Illusions, Thought Control in Democratic Societies, Noam Chomsky, Pluto Press 1993