Posts Tagged ‘press should defend assange to protect freedom of press’


January 18, 2011

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Hanging Out on Main Street

What Does WikiLeaks Have on Bank of America?

Mary Bottari, Campaign for America’s Future: “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is promising to unleash a cache of secret documents from the hard drive of a U.S. megabank executive. Before the big banks start calling for Assange’s internment at Guantanamo, the question worth considering is what does Wikileaks have on America’s largest bank? Legal liability for toxic mortgages; reckless and illegal foreclosures; countrywide headaches [and] taxpayer paid bonuses.”

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Hole in the Law Gang

ABSTRACT: John Pilger’s Investigation Into the War on WikiLeaks and His Interview With Julian Assange Friday 14 January 2011

The attacks on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are a response to an information revolution that threatens old power orders in politics and journalism. The war on wikileaks, obama administration corrupts law to send Assange to hell-hole prison, incitement to murder trumpeted by public figures in the United States, together with attempts by the Obama administration to corrupt the law and send Assange to a hell-hole prison for the rest of his life, are reactions of a rapacious system exposed as never before.

In recent weeks, the US Justice Department established a secret grand jury in eastern Virginia that is home to the employees and families of the Pentagon, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and other pillars of American power. The object is to indict Assange under a discredited espionage act used to arrest peace activists during the First World War, or one of the “war on terror” conspiracy statutes that have degraded American justice. Judicial experts describe the jury as a “deliberate set up. “This is not good news,” Assange said. He is making some very serious enemies, not least of all the most powerful government engaged in two wars.

Regardless of the threats to his freedom and safety, he says the US is not WikiLeaks’ main “technological enemy.” “China is the worst offender. China has aggressive, sophisticated interception technology that places itself between every reader inside China and every information source outside China. We’ve been fighting a running battle to make sure we can get information through, and there are now all sorts of ways Chinese readers can get on to our site.”

It was in this spirit of “getting information through” that WikiLeaks was founded in 2006, but with a moral dimension. “The goal is justice,” wrote Assange on the homepage, “the method is transparency.” Contrary to a current media mantra, WikiLeaks material is not “dumped.” Less than one percent of the 251,000 US embassy cables have been released. Wikileaks editing sets the highest standard to protect the innocent, but to secretive power, this is journalism at its most dangerous.

On 18 March 2008, a war on WikiLeaks was foretold in a secret Pentagon document. US intelligence, it said, intended to destroy the feeling of “trust,” which is WikiLeaks’ “center of gravity.” It planned to do this with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution.” Silencing and criminalizing this rare source of independent journalism was the aim: smear the method. Hell hath no fury like imperial Mafiosi scorned

Others, also scorned, have lately played a supporting part, intentionally or not, in the hounding of Assange, some for reasons of petty jealousy. Sordid and shabby describe their behavior, which serves only to highlight the injustice against a man who has courageously revealed what we have a right to know

The latest propaganda about the “damage” caused by WikiLeaks is a warning by the US State Department to “hundreds of human rights activists, foreign government officials and business people of possible threats to their safety.” It is bogus. In a letter to Congress, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted that no sensitive intelligence sources have been compromised. On 28 November, McClatchy Newspapers reported, “US officials have no evidence that release of documents led to anyone’s death.” NATO could not find a single person who needed protecting

Great American playwright Arthur Miller wrote: “The thought that the state is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied.” What WikiLeaks has given us is truth, including rare and precious insight into how and why so many innocent people have suffered in reigns of terror disguised as wars and executed in our name; and how the United States has secretly and wantonly intervened in democratic governments from Latin America to its most loyal ally in Britain.

Javier Moreno, editor of El Pais, wrote, “I believe that the global interest sparked by the WikiLeaks papers is mainly due to the simple fact that they conclusively reveal the extent to which politicians in the West have been lying to their citizens.”

Crushing individuals like Assange is not difficult for a great power, however craven. We should not allow it to happen, which means those of us meant to keep the record straight should not collaborate in any way. Transparency and information, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, are the “currency” of democratic freedom. “Every news organisation,” a leading American constitutional lawyer told me, “should recognize that Julian Assange is one of them and that his prosecution will have a huge and chilling effect on journalism.”

My favorite secret document – leaked by WikiLeaks, of course – is from the Ministry of Defense in London. It describes journalists who serve the public without fear or favor as “subversive” and “threats.” Such a badge of honor. READ MORE:

Louis and Sly Discuss "Qualitative Easing"

ABSTRACT: The Fed Has Spoken: No Bailout for Main Street by: Ellen Brown, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis Friday 14 January 2011

The Federal Reserve was set up by bankers, for bankers, and it has served them well. Out of the blue, the Fed came up with $12.3 trillion in nearly interest-free credit to bail the banks out of a credit crunch they created. That same credit crisis has plunged state and local governments into insolvency, but the Fed has now delivered its ultimatum: there will be no “quantitative easing” for municipal governments.

On January 7, according to The Wall Street Journal, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced that the Fed had ruled out a central bank bailout of state and local governments. “We have no expectation or intention to get involved in state and local finance,” he said in testimony before the Senate Budget Committee. The states “should not expect loans from the Fed.”

So much for the proposal of President Barack Obama to have the Fed buy municipal bonds to cut the heavy borrowing costs of cash-strapped cities and states.

The credit woes of state and municipal governments are a direct result of Wall Street’s malfeasance. Their borrowing costs first shot up in 2008, when the “monoline” bond insurers lost their own credit ratings after gambling in derivatives. The Fed’s low-interest facilities could have been used to restore local government credit, just as they were used to restore the credit of the banks. But Bernanke has now vetoed that plan.

Why? The collective budget deficit of the states for 2011 is projected at $140 billion, a drop in the bucket (data,) the central bank provided roughly $3.3 trillion in liquidity and $9 trillion in short-term loans and other financial arrangements to banks, multinational corporations and foreign financial institutions following the 2008 credit crisis.

The argument may be that continuing “quantitative easing” (easing credit conditions by creating money with accounting entries) will drive the economy into hyperinflation. But creating $12.3 trillion for the banks – nearly 100 times the sum needed by state governments – did not have that dire effect. Rather, the money supply is shrinking – by some estimates, at the fastest rate since the Great Depression. Creating another $140 billion would hardly affect the money supply at all.

Why didn’t the $12.3 trillion drive the economy into hyperinflation? Because, contrary to popular belief, when the Fed engages in “quantitative easing,” it is not simply printing money and giving it away. It is merely extending CREDIT, creating an overdraft on the account of the borrower to be paid back in due course. The Fed is simply replacing expensive credit from private banks (which also create the loan money on their books) with cheap credit from the central bank.

So why isn’t the Fed open to advancing cheap credit to the states? Bernanke says, its hands are tied. He says the Fed is limited by statute to buying municipal government debt with maturities of six months or less that is directly backed by tax or other assured revenue, a form of debt that makes up less than 2 percent of the overall municipal market. Congress imposed that restriction, and only Congress can change it, said Bernanke.

Federal Reserve is the bankers’ private club, its legal structure keeps non-members out.

So Who Will Save the States?

Highlighting the immediacy of the local government budget crisis, The Wall Street Journal quoted Meredith Whitney, a banking analyst turned to analyzing state and local finances. She said that, in 2011, the US could see “50 to 100 sizable defaults” amounting to “hundreds of billions of dollars” among its local governments.

If the Fed could easily find $12.3 trillion to save the banks, why can’t it find a few hundred billion under the mattress to save the states? It could, if Congress were inclined to put non-bank lending back into the Fed’s job description. Why isn’t that being done? The cynical view is that the states are purposely being kept on the edge of bankruptcy because the banks that hold Congress hostage want the interest income and the control.

Whatever the reason, Congress is standing down while the nation is sinking. Congress must summon the courage to take needed action, not to impose “austerity” by cutting services when an already squeezed populace most needs them. Congress must create jobs that generate real productivity. To do this, it does not have to go through the Federal Reserve. It could issue its own debt-free money and repair and modernize our decaying infrastructure, and save our states. Congress’s task is easier if the people stand with them to demand action, but Congress is so gridlocked change may still be long in coming.

In the meantime, states can take matters into their own hands and set up their own state-owned banks based on the BND model. They could have their own very low-interest credit lines, just as the Wall Street banks do. Rather than spend or sell off valuable public assets or hoard them in massive rainy day funds made necessary by the lack of ready credit, states could leverage assets into a strong and abundant local credit system, using the accepted business practices of the Wall Street banks themselves.

On January 13, the Public Banking Institute is being launched to explore that alternative. READ MORE:

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