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General News    H1'ed 11/29/12

Julian Assange on WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, Cypherpunks, Surveillance State, from DemocracyNow

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William Binney, the former chief of research, the National Security Agency's signals intelligence division, describes this situation that we are in now as "turnkey totalitarianism," that the whole system of totalitarianism has been built--the car, the engine has been built--and it's just a matter of turning the key. And actually, when we look to see some of the crackdowns on WikiLeaks and the grand jury process and targeted assassinations and so on, actually it's arguable that key has already been partly turned. The assassinations that occur extrajudicially, the renditions that occur, they don't occur in isolation. They occur as a result of the information that has been sucked in through this giant signals interception machinery.

AMY   GOODMAN : Julian Assange, we can't ignore the fact that we're speaking to you inside the Ecuadorean embassy, where you've taken refuge, where you're really there as a kind of refugee. You've gotten political asylum from Ecuador but can't leave the embassy. What are your plans right now? Are you negotiating with the Swedish government, if you were to be extradited there, that they would not extradite you to the United States?

JULIAN   ASSANGE : Well, Amy, Ecuador has really stepped up to the plate and must be congratulated. I have been found to be, through a formal process, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a political refugee and have been granted political asylum, in relation to what has been happening in the United States and allied countries and their behavior--Sweden and the United Kingdom. The situation for me now is that I have been here for five months in this embassy; prior to that, 18 months under house arrest; prior to that, being chased around the world for about six months by U.S. intelligence and its allies.

Now, I must correct an earlier statement that you made--this has become common in the press--saying that I was here in relation to Sweden. The reason I am here is essentially in relation to the United States. But the Swedish government said publicly that it would imprison me without charge. And in such a situation, I'd not be able to apply for asylum. Now, the Ecuadorean government has asked the Swedish government to give a guarantee that I would not be extradited to the United States. We have asked for a long time for such a guarantee. That has been refused. All the regular processes have been refused in this case. You know, it's an extremely odd and bizarre case, and I encourage everyone to go and look at that aspect of the case at And you can see report after report. You can see all the material that the police claim to be true and all the things that have occurred, the Cambridge International & Comparative Law Journal condemning the decisions that were made here in the British courts.

AMY   GOODMAN : Are you saying, Julian, that you would go to Sweden, if they assured you that you wouldn't be extradited to the United States, to answer questions about these two women who have made charges on sex abuse on your count?

JULIAN   ASSANGE : Yes, that has been our public position for quite a long time.

JUAN  GONZÁLEZ: Julian, I'd like to get back to your book for a second and talk about, at this crossroads, as you see it, in terms of the future of the internet, the importance that you see of cryptography as a weapon of the people on the internet.

JULIAN   ASSANGE : Well, the development of cryptography is absolutely fascinating. So, we're not just talking anymore about people being able to write in a secret code that other people can't read except their intended recipient. Crytography, as a science, in the last 30 years, has developed a basic--basic techniques that we would normally associate with democratic civilization and moved it into the digital realm. So that includes things like anonymous electronic cash and digital voting and signatures and proofs of agreements between people.

So, when we look at what happens when civilization moves onto the internet, how is it controlled? At the moment, a lot of the problems we face on the internet and the independence of the internet is guys with guns can simply turn up to any internet server and tell the people there to behave in a certain way, just like they do with oil wells or they do with customs. So, as an international new civilization, a forum where people are intellectually expressing themselves, where we deposit our history and our political ideals and ambitions, the internet is suffering, on one hand, from mass interception and, on the other hand, that it is still in many ways subservient to the physical force in the various states that its infrastructure is located in. Cryptography provides a way to abstract away from the physical world to create a sort of mathematical barrier between the physical world and the intellectual world, and in that way slowly declare independence from nation states. So our intellectual world cannot simply be censored or deleted or taxed in the manner which we have suffered from for so long in nation states.

Now, the internet--on the internet, there's no direct physical force that needs to be policed in that manner, so we don't need armies on the internet. We don't need policemen on the internet, in a way that we may need them in our regular nation states. So, we do have this opportunity, with careful use of cryptography and a movement behind it, to achieve some forms of independence for the intellectual record and for our communications with one another. And those aspects of cryptography, we have used, with varying degrees of success, in WikiLeaks to publish material that no other publisher in the world was able to publish because they were constrained by physical threats within particular nation states.

AMY   GOODMAN : Julian Assange, we are talking to you on the day that Bradley Manning is expected to testify, be heard publicly for the first time in over two years at Fort Meade. His lawyer has said he would plead guilty to certain charges, and that is releasing documents that he got in Iraq on the computer to your organization WikiLeaks, but refused to plead to others, like aiding the enemy. Talk about Bradley Manning, and then talk also--if you could weave that into why you're so concerned about being extradited to the United States.

JULIAN   ASSANGE : Amy, what is happening this week is not the trial of Bradley Manning; what is happening this week is the trial of the U.S. military. This is Bradley Manning's abuse case. Bradley Manning was arrested in Baghdad, shipped over and held for two months in extremely adverse conditions in Kuwait, shipped over to Quantico, Virginia, which is near the center of the U.S. intelligence complex, and held there for nine months, longer than any other prisoner in Quantico's modern history. And there, he was subject to conditions that the U.N. special rapporteur, Juan Me'ndez, special rapporteur for torture, formally found amounted to torture.

There's a question about who authorized that treatment. Why was that treatment placed on him for so long, when so many people--independent psychiatrists, military psychiatrists--complained about what was going on in extremely strong terms? His lawyer and support team say that he was being treated in that manner, in part, in order to coerce some kind of statement or false confession from him that would implicate WikiLeaks as an organization and me personally. And so, this is a matter that I am--personally have been embroiled in, that this young man's treatment, regardless of whether he was our source or not, is directly as a result of an attempt to attack this organization by the United States military, to coerce this young man into providing evidence that could be used to more effectively attack us, and also serve as some kind of terrible disincentive for other potential whistleblowers from stepping forward.

AMY   GOODMAN : Julian, the Ecuadorean ambassador to the U.K., to Britain, Ana Alban, was quoted in The Independent saying that you're suffering from a chronic lung infection from being in captivity for so long in London in the embassy. Can you talk about your health?

JULIAN   ASSANGE : Amy, being in prison, house arrest, and now held captive in an embassy, with a bunch of cops outside, of course is a difficult circumstance, but it is not more difficult than the circumstance that is faced by Bradley Manning in Fort Leavenworth or by Jeremy Hammond, an alleged source related to the Stratfor files in New York, or by many other prisoners around the world. So, yes, circumstances is hard, but it could be much worse than it is, and people should direct their attention on these other cases.

AMY   GOODMAN : Can you talk more about Jeremy Hammond, who is in prison here in New York City? Explain what Stratfor is; if you can, how you got the documents; or just explain what has taken place.

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