fredag den 13. december 2013

Open Letter to Intelligence Employees After Snowden

The letter has so far been published in:
Denmark (Information): (op-ed) & (article)

US/UK (The Guardian):

Italy (L'espresso):

Portugal (Esquerda):

Brazil: (Plano Brazil):

Norway (Aftenposten):

Sweden (Sydsvenskan):

More to follow.
Open Letter to Intelligence Employees After Snowden

At least since the aftermath of September 2001, Western Governments and  Intelligence Agencies have been hard at work expanding the scope of their own power, while eroding privacy, civil liberties and public control of policy. What used to be viewed as paranoid, Orwellian, tin-foil hat fantasies turned out post-Snowden, to be not even the whole story.

What's really remarkable is, that we've been warned for years that these things were going on: Whole-sale surveillance of entire populations, militarization of the Internet, the end of privacy.

All is done in the name of "National Security" which has more or less become a chant to fence off debate and make sure governments aren't held to account – that they can't be held to account– because everything is being done in the dark; secret laws, secret interpretations of secret laws by secret courts - and no effective parliamentary oversight whatsoever.

We are your friends – Big Brother loves you!

By and large the media have paid scant attention to this, even as more and more courageous, principled whistle-blowers stepped forward. The unprecedented persecution of truth-tellers, initiated by the Bush administration and severely accelerated by the Obama administration, has been mostly ignored, while record numbers of well-meaning people are charged with serious felonies simply for letting their fellow citizens know what's going on.

It's one of the bitter ironies of our time that while John Kiriakou (ex-CIA) is in prison for blowing the whistle on U.S. torture, the torturers and their enablers walk free.

Likewise WikiLeaks-source Chelsea (née Bradley) Manning was charged with – amongst other serious crimes – aiding the enemy (read: the public). Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison while the people who planned the illegal and disastrous war on Iraq in 2003 are still treated as dignitaries.

Numerous ex-NSA officials have come forward in the past decade, disclosing massive fraud, vast illegalities and abuse of power in said agency, including Thomas Drake, William Binney and Kirk Wiebe. The response was 100% persecution and 0% accountability on part of neither the NSA nor the government.

Blowing the whistle on powerful factions is not a fun thing to do, but despite the poor track record of Western media, whistle-blowing remains the last avenue for for truth, balanced debate and upholding democracy – that fragile construct which Winston Churchill is quoted as calling "the worst form of government, except all the others".

The Winds They Are A Changing.

Since the summer of 2013 the public has witnessed a shift in debate over these matters. The reason is that one courageous person, Edward Snowden, not only blew the whistle on the litany of government abuses but made sure to supply an avalanche of supporting documents to a few trustworthy journalists.

The echoes of his actions are still heard around the world – and there are still MANY revelations to come.

Now The Public Need You

For every Daniel Ellsberg, Drake, Binney, Katharina Gun, Manning or Snowden there are thousands of civil servants who go by their daily job of spying on everybody and feeding cooked or even made-up information to the public and parliament, destroying everything we as a society pretend to care about.

Some of them may feel favourable towards what they're doing, but many of them are  able to hear their inner Jiminy Cricket over the voices of their leaders and crooked politicians – and of the people whose intimate communication they're tapping.

Hidden away in offices of various government departments, intelligence agencies, police forces and armed forces are dozens and dozens of people who are very much upset by what our societies are turning into: at the very least , turnkey tyrannies.

One of them is you.

You're thinking:

Undermining democracy and eroding civil liberties isn't put explicitly in your job contract.

 You grew up in a democratic society and want to keep it that way

 You were taught to respect ordinary people's right to live a life in privacy

  You don't really want a system of institutionalized strategic surveillance that would make the dreaded Stasi green with envy – do you?

Still, why bother? What can one person do?

Well, Edward Snowden just showed you, what one person can do.

He stands out as a whistle-blower both because of the severity of the crimes and misconduct that he is divulging to the public – and the sheer amount of evidence he has presented us with so far – more is coming. But Snowden shouldn't have to stand alone, and his revelations shouldn't be the only ones.

You can be part of the solution; provide trustworthy journalists – either from old media (like this newspaper) or from new media (such as WikiLeaks) with documents that prove what illegal, immoral, wasteful activites are going on where you work.

There IS strength in numbers; you won’t be the first – nor the last - to follow your conscience and let us know what’s being done in our names.

Truth is coming – it can't be stopped. Crooked politicians will be held accountable: It's in your hands to be on the right side of history and accelerate the process.

Courage is contagious.

Signed by:

Peter Kofod, Musician/Ex Human Shield in Iraq (Denmark)
Thomas Andrew Drake, Whistle-blower, Former senior executive of the NSA (US)
Daniel Ellsberg, Whistle-blower, Former US military analyst (US)
Katharina Gun, Whistle-blower, Former GCHQ (UK)
Jesselyn Raddack, Whistle-blower, Former DOJ (US)
Ray McGovern, Former senior CIA-analytist (US)
Coleen Rowley, Whistle-blower, Former FBJ (US)

mandag den 30. september 2013

Recently in NSA - September 30

Inspired by the extremely awesome (run by the also awesome @m_cetera) I'm now quietly introducing a similar (but not nearly as ambitious) feature here - focusing on the NSA-revelations by the whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

If you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you can watch him explain his actions, here:

Here goes:

  • Today (September 30th) is an all-day conference in Lausanne (Switzerland) on privacy and surveillance in the light of the Snowden disclosures. Taking part is - amongst others:
    Here is Guardian Live-blog to follow through-out the day.
  • Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) - who broke the Snowden-story in the Guardian & Jeremy Scahill (@jeremyscahill)- independent journalist of Blackwater + Dirty Wars fame announced that they are teaming up to disclose NSA involvement in the US Assassination program.
    "The connections between war and surveillance are clear. I don't want to give too much away but Glenn and I are working on a project right now that has at its center how the National Security Agency plays a significant, central role in the U.S. assassination program," said Scahill, speaking to moviegoers in Rio de Janeiro, where the documentary based on his book made its Latin American debut at the Rio Film Festival.
    "There are so many stories that are yet to be published that we hope will produce `actionable intelligence,' or information that ordinary citizens across the world can use to try to fight for change, to try to confront those in power," said Scahill.(Full AP article
  • US journalists James Risen (who's being persecuted by the Obama-administration) and Laura Poitras (who's being persecuted by the Obama administration) broke the latest giant Snowden revelation in the New York Times:
    WASHINGTON — Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.
    The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners. (Full NYT article)

søndag den 29. september 2013

Reflecting on the Snowden disclosures

-->-  Why it isn't JUST about NSA

After the months of Snowden revelations, it's useful to reflect a bit on what we've learned from all this – both from the individual articles in various media outlets around the world - and each single story is truly remarkable, many of them in themselves front-page news, not to mention Pulitzer-prize material – but also, more broadly; what to make of it all, knowing all this.

For the individual stories, Al Jazeera America has put together a good Timeline of Snowden's revelations, beginning with the FISC-order for Verizon to hand over all the call records of its customers and ending with (at time of writing) the Der Spiegel story that reveals that NSA is also spying on financial transactions. It's really worth taking the time to read through it all. (Here)

The sheer scale of Snowden's revelations – however many thousands or ten of thousands of Top Secret documents he liberated from the clutches of the National Security State – is staggering, and for almost each passing day, more stories derived from his source-material are broken somewhere around the world. Most recently India's “The Hindu” newspaper began publishing a series of articles on US snooping on both Indian telecommunications as well as “old fashioned” (albeit very high-tech) spying on Indian diplomatic missions in the US – my hunch is, that this drip-drip-drip spreading of stories will continue for quite a long time and this in itself will lead to a more critical public, more adversarial media that suddenly realized that public opinion is far ahead of the chattering classes on this, more pushback from governments and/or parliaments around the world (in the US congress, interesting things are happening, some of which genuinely are cause for optimism, while some are just typical “damage-control” maneuvers).

But hidden – maybe in plain sight – beneath the fallout from (principally) Greenwald's, Poitras' and Gellman's continuing disclosures of Snowden's documents is this:

NSA isn't everything; maybe NSA in a sense isn't even the most important of the numerous US alphabet soup agencies. (Snowden docs about the US Intelligence Budget released by Gellman in the Washington Post, reveals that contrary to popular belief, the CIA is even more heavily funded than NSA).

Some will argue that this fact makes whatever is revealed about NSA somehow less important (the retort to that should be: very well – I'm looking forward to you securing a comparable trove of documents from a whistleblower within the CIA/NRO/DHS/DIA/whatever).

From where I'm sitting, the real insight (at least so far) from all this is: Capabilities.
What Snowden has risked EVERYTHING for – and what Greenwald & co are running great risks in continuing to reveal - is to let the public know what NSA is CAPABLE of – not just what they themselves are actually doing right now. (And do notice the two qualifiers there: “themselves”, “right now”). When we're talking NSA we're really first and foremost talking capability, architecture & technology, not policy and – as I hope to show – not even law. That said, I should probably clarify: 1) I'm sure that NSA themselves ARE doing horrible stuff – right now, and 2) that of course policy & legal stuff IS really important too.

So, without further ado: Let me introduce the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).
You might have heard about them before, if not, they're the US government organization responsible for “national and international counterterrorism efforts”. Pretty vague huh?
Of course they're being overseen by the DNI (headed by James Clapper who is mainly know for lying to congress under oath (or, giving the “least untruthful answers”).

In the summer of 2012, no other than Obamas head of DOJ – Eric Holder – gave the NCTC extremely broad new powers, with regards to using data on Americans.. basically, everything is now on the table – no 4th amendment here.

Here's a flashback, to roughly a year before Snowden stepped forward.

“On March 22, 2012 the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Director of NCTC issued an update to the 2008 rules for handling information on US persons. These were radical changes (to see how different please check out redline comparison we did between the 2008 and 2012 guidelines).
The biggest change regards the NCTC’s handling of “non-terrorism” related information on US persons. Previously, the intelligence community was barred from collecting information about ordinary Americans unless the person was a terror suspect or part of an actual investigation. When the NCTC gobbled up huge data sets it had to search for and identify any innocent US person information inadvertently collected, and discard it within 180 days. This crucial check meant that NCTC was dissuaded from collecting large databases filled with information on innocent Americans, because the data had to then be carefully screened. The 2012 guidelines eliminate this check, allowing NCTC to collect and “continually assess” information on innocent Americans for up to five years.
Once information is acquired, the new guidelines authorize broad new search powers. As long NCTC says its search is aimed at identifying terrorism information, it may conduct queries that involve non-terrorism data points and pattern-based searches and analysis (data mining).”

“What if a government spy agency had power to copy and data mine information about ordinary Americans from any government database? This could include records from law enforcement investigations, health information, employment history, travel and student records. Literally anything the government collects would be fair game, and the original agency in charge of protecting the privacy of those records would have little say over whether this happened, or what the spy agency did with the information afterward. What if that spy agency could add commercial information, anything it – or any other federal agency – could buy from the huge data aggregators that are monitoring our every move?”(my emphasis) Full article from ACLU

This is quite important. No matter what “safeguards” the NSA say is in place – an no matter what “protections” US citizens might think they have from suspicionless NSA surveillance - whether NSA &; co are lying through their teeth about these safeguards/protections is a totally separate matter. Once the data - ALL of it - is passed along to the NCTC, all of these are out the window.

Now – thanks to Snowden and a few very hardworking journalists, we begin to see, just what “any government database” includes. Apart from what is mentioned in the quote above, here's a quick list of things we now KNOW NSA is collecting:

  • Telephone call records of just about everyone – read here if you still don't know why collecting metadata is truly troubling (also: metadata in aggregate IS content – h/t Jake Appelbaum)
  • Just about everything everybody does online; IP- addresses, history of visited websites, internet-searches, e-mails, chat logs, social media activity, Skype/VoIP etc.
  • Data from GPS/TomTom devices, billing records and bank records

Further, I think that given - among other things – the response from head of NSA Keith Alexander when Senator Ron Wyden demanded to know if they're collection geo-locations in bulk from cell-phones: Not under THIS program (note: he was answering under oath) that it's safe to say, that they are indeed collection location data from cell-phones, both in domestically and abroad. See the whole exchange here:

This is probably still just the tip of the iceberg (think: Trapwire/CIA/private Intel companies/biometric data) – and sometimes the devil ISN'T in the detail – but in the aggregate.

Ex-NSA whistle-blower Bill Binney told us (pre-Snowden) that NSA is building profiles/social graphs on US citizens that tells all there is to know about a person:

“Unfortunately, once the software takes in data, it will build profiles on everyone in that data,” he said. “You can simply call it up by the attributes of anyone you want and it’s in place for people to look at.”(Article from Wired)

Just today, this was confirmed by LauraPoitras & James Risen in the New York Times, using documents provided by Edward Snowden:

“The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.”

This of course is bad enough in and by itself – and again, the real point is capabilities; the reality is, that no matter if the current administration of the National Security State is packed with rainbow-shitting angels, this IS – in the words of Bill Binney - turnkey totalitarianism; or as another incredibly brave NSA whistle-blower put it: a “pre-fascist society”  (Thomas Drake).

But back to the ACLU:

“Perhaps most disturbing, once information is gathered (not necessarily connected to terrorism), in many cases it can be shared with “a federal, state, local, tribal, or foreign or international entity, or to an individual or entity not part of a government” – literally anyone. That sharing can happen in relation to national security and safety, drug investigations, if it’s evidence of a crime or to evaluate sources or contacts. This boundless sharing is broad enough to encompass disclosures to an employer or landlord about someone who NCTC may think is potentially a criminal, or at the request of local law enforcement for vetting an informant.” (please do read the full article from the ACLU)

So, no matter what rules the NSA themselves operates under, they're sucking up ALL data on everybody, all the time – and passing it on to NCTC who are free to do whatever the hell they want with it, including sharing it with absolutely anybody – including foreign powers and individuals(?!?!?) not part of government... without any oversight.

Oh – and the NCTC (by pure chance of course) is also the entity who's busy making lists for Obama's Terror Tuesday TM meetings, where he decides who should be drone-killed/bombed/kill-team'ed without any due process:

The "disposition matrix" has been developed and will be overseen by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). One of its purposes is "to augment" the "separate but overlapping kill lists" maintained by the CIA and the Pentagon: to serve, in other words, as the centralized clearinghouse for determining who will be executed without due process based upon how one fits into the executive branch's "matrix". (Fantastic pre-Snowden article by Glenn Greenwald)

Good night – and good luck.
/More Later

søndag den 2. juni 2013

A Card-carrying member of WikiLeaks

A few days ago some idiot and/or troll asked me, if I am a “card-carrying member of WikiLeaks”.
No – I said, just someone who cares deeply about truth and justice. I also very much believe that WikiLeaks has shown us the power of standing up to power. It's clear that they've also taken an enormous hit by doing so – but still their example is crystal clear: The Powers That Be are scared shitless. Even the faintest hint of Sunshine makes them panic – and the Genie is out the bottle:

Ridiculous secrecy to cover your crimes, is doomed to fail. Every time someone pulls a Bradley Manning – and their disclosures are in fact screamed from the rooftops to millions of people via something like WikiLeaks, millions of people pay attentention, and someone else will eventually pull an Ellsberg, a Thomas Drake, a John Kiriakou or a Bill Binney. Even in the face of severe repression and persecution, there WILL be more Kathrine Gunns, Frank Grevils and Craig Murrays. Likewise, there will be more and more Jeremy Hammonds, Barrett Browns, Aaron Swartz's and 'Weevs”. Also more and more people like Col. Morris Davis, Brandon Neely and Joe J. Glenton.
Courage IS contagious, and even the “Mainstream” Media can't keep people in line anymore. They might have succeeded in wounding WikiLeaks badly, just like they managed to make Occupy Wall Street stumple, but who cares? Truth, Justice and Peace is here to stay – and millions of people already knew that the real purpose of the media, is to suppress dissent.You ain't seen nothing yet.

SO – the idiot/troll DID in fact succeed in something. He made me think: why the hell not? I DO support WikiLeaks, even if I now and then disagree with them and Julian Assange in specific cases. So fucking what? I disagree with my friends and my wife now and then, but I still stand by them and support them – especially when the going get's tough. Same here. (for a somewhat long explanation of why WikiLeaks is important in the first place, see my first blogpost on the matter).

So why not make it official? I'm not at ALL ashamed to be a WikiLeaks supporter, and I know I'm far from alone. I've donated quite a lot of money to WikiLeaks in the past year or two, and plan on continuing doing so. I LOVE what the Freedom of The Press Foundation has done (and have donated through and to them as well), and while I understand why the anonymity of your donation can be important – it isn't for me. I'm NOT ashamed to donate money to WikiLeaks and I'm not the least bit scared doing so. The Wankers in the various 3-letter agencies can bring it on (To paraphrase a gigantic moron: NSA, Suck.On.This!).

In fact, I'd LOVE to become a card-carrying member/supporter of WikiLeaks – please do send me a non-fancy plastic card that fits in my wallet (would also be handy to make other people interested in “joining”. Membership fees could be progressive (tick 10, 25, 50, xxx Dollars/Month) – and I'd guess that lots of people would be happy to sign up without expecting anything in return, apart from knowing that the money would be spent crushing bastards. (How many Amnesty/Human Rights Watch members are sitting around these days wondering why these multi-million dollar enterprises aren't speaking out against the persecution of Bradley Manning (and the rest of the Whistle-Blowers) – just like they were wondering why they didn't speak out against the brutalizing of Occupy Wall Street?)

Practically – and to avoid spending too much on bank fees – it might a good idea to set up national “chapters”, that could collect the monthly membership fees, and forward them to WikiLeaks. I don't know about elsewhere, but here in Denmark bank transfers are free of charge within the country. This MIGHT also come in handy for other purposes (activism, letter writing, contacting MP's, civil disobedience whatever flies your boat – kind of like a real-life FOWL).

There's around 6 million people in Denmark – it SHOULD be easy to get, say 50 or 100 people to sign up; let's say people choose an average donating of just 10 dollars/month., totalling 500 or 1.000 dollars/month. (6.000/12.000 dollars/year). That's not a fortune, but a start.

Now imagine the same taking place in Germany, UK, France, Australia, Canada etc., and we're talking at least several hundreds of thousands of dollars/year. Maybe even more important would be the social effect of people talking about supporting this for real – not ONLY by posting angry messages (guilty as charged) on Twitter. Not everyone is prepared to kick ass like WACA in Australia – but lots of people would love to do something like this (I think).

And as far as I can see – this would all be free of charge from the point of view of WikiLeaks. It might involve finding trustworthy people in a few countries (I'd volunteer, but I've heard WikiLeaks already has quite a few friends here), but how hard can that be?

Ideas/suggestions more than welcome – spread the word!

tirsdag den 28. august 2012

What needs to be said about WikiLeaks and the campaign against Julian Assange

Peter Kofod - Musician & former 'Human Shield' in Iraq.

 WikiLeaks is one of the most important things in the world right now – and should be seen as an organization that can cross all kinds of political divides. It isn't about left or right, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican. Instead it's about revealing the crimes of the powerful against us all.

It's about empowering citizens to make informed decisions about issues that affect them. It has the power to topple governments, to end wars, expose corruption, setting the records straight and bringing criminals – whether they happen to be CEO's, elected officials or political operators – all the over the globe to justice.

This – and this cannot be stressed too much – is something that most Western citizens have been led to believe was a job for their free media. And we've been terribly wrong. Instead the corporate media has been ineffective at BEST in challenging power (I'd argue that they've actually been quite effective, but that their role has been one of enabling instead of challenging - Aiding and abetting the powerful, so to speak; just look at the Iraq War, Global Warming, poverty, easily preventable diseases in the “Third World”, the Economic Crisis or rampant inequality for starters).

If you – like many others unfortunately – think that WikiLeaks is 'just' some kind of anti-American lobby group, you should think again, and perhaps check their record. They've been at it for years and years, before they started to draw major headlines in the West (mainly but not exclusively because their “targets” then, wasn't terrible important to Western elites).

It is however undeniable, that since 2010 WikiLeaks have set their sights (quite rightly) on the US (at that time at least, the sole remaining superpower). It would perhaps be a good idea to remember what all this fuzz REALLY is about (and no... it has nothing what so ever to do with sex-allegations, Women's Rights or due process, although the mighty Wurlitzer of propaganda very much would like you to think so.) It's about someone finally having the guts to stand up to power, and then doing something about it, instead of just talking.

It's about an organization that did what media outlets almost never does: challenge the powerful. It's about this video, shot from a US attack helicopter over Baghdad, gunning down civilians for fun. It's about US military personnel firing high caliber rounds into a car with children inside, and into people rushing to help the wounded.

It's about war crimes perpetrated by us, against defenseless civilians in faraway places. Nothing new here, except this time you got to actually see it without filter, telling us that we're a force for good.

It's about releasing hundreds of thousands of secret government documents (Afghanistan War Logs, Iraq War Logs and Diplomatic Cables), thus exposing war crimes, cover-ups, corruption and extreme disdain for public opinion and the rule of law. It's about changing the tables on the powerful, about forcing the media to report OUR crimes too, and not just those of our official enemies.

In doing so WikiLeaks and editor Julian Assange has thoroughly shamed western media – that this tiny organization has been able to produce many, many more scoops than the western media in it's entirety speaks volumes not only about what great a service WikiLeaks has performed, but also about the incompetence of our 'Mainstream' Media (as a side note: Elitestream Media would be a better term, since it's blindingly obvious to anyone paying attention that there nothing mainstream about the performance of the media)

SO, where does that leave us now? Well sadly – but perhaps not very unexpectedly – it has left us in a situation, where most journalist are engaged in a senseless, hysterical smear campaign against Wikileaks and Assange (see Glenn Greenwalds superb demolition of the 'mainstream' narrative, here). It has left us in a strange situation where Assange is being dragged through the mud and the legal system (in that order) under the pretext of being wanted for questioning in Sweden regarding allegations of sexual misconduct. Most serious observers (including feminist author Naomi Wolff and the UK organization Women Against Rape) are able to see that this is a smoke-screen designed to deliver Assange's sorry ass to the US, where he will face the music for spilling secrets, but that doesn't bother the media very much. After all, we wouldn't want to be accused of rape-apologism would we? Or more to the point: we wouldn't want to have have to take a stand against the powerful, would we? That's bad for business, bad for media-careerism and probably bad for ones view of past performance as well.

If you doubt that the US would very much like to get Assange, you haven't been paying attention: The alleged source of many of these leaks is Bradley Manning – a young private in the US military – who's now standing trial, facing more than 50 years in prison. He's been held in solitary confinement for more than 800 days (the legal maximum is 120 days) and subjected to “conditions tantamount to torture” according to the UN special rapporteur.

On top of that, a multitude of well connected political insiders in the US have been at it, calling Assange a traitor (quite silly, since he's not a US citizen), a terrorist and a spy and calling for the government to murder him, no less. See for instance this little video:

If you bother, here's a list of prominent people who are perfectly comfortable with Assange being murdered: People OK with murdering Assange.

It's no secret (although you'd be hard pressed to find it mentioned in the media) that a grand jury has been convened in Virginia to examine what the hell to do about WikiLeaks/Assange, and most likely a sealed indictment already exists, ready for opening the moment he's extradited to Sweden, hence allowing for Uncle Sam to charge him with whatever they've been able to dream up. Espionage, computer crimes, incitement to commit a crime, whatever.

The simple truth is, that NOTHING WikiLeaks has done is a crime; and whatever they've done, is exactly the same as all other media outlets have been doing for ever (except, WikiLeaks has actually threatened power). If Assange should be punished, so should the editors of the New York Times, The Guardian and other media outlets who also published the leaked documents.

So what's up with Sweden I hear you say? Scandinavian paradise, due process, social democratic bastion of hope and all that. Well yes – and no.

Whatever one thinks of the Swedish allegations against Assange (and note: if one thinks anything at all about them, it must be assumed that one has examined them a bit right? For example read the police-report? Seen this documentary from Australian TV: Sex, Lies and Julian Assange, read this article from the Swedish Press?) it should be clear from the way the prosecution has handled the case (well.. the way the prosecution has handled the case since they initially dropped almost the entire case because there was a glaring lack of evidence that a crime – let alone rape – had been committed) in itself is evidence that their main interest is NOT justice on the behalf of the alleged victims.

Here's a few details, but seriously, if you've ever caught yourself thinking: “who don't this white-haired moron don't just go to Sweden to face the allegations if he's innocent” you must take it upon yourself to examine the details of the case.

1) Assange DID cooperate with the police while in Sweden.

2) He DID seek (and was granted) permission to leave the country – AFTER trying on several occasions to get the police to interview him again.

3) After leaving Sweden he tried to make an appointment for coming back to be interviewed in Sweden again (but was turned down by the prosecution).

4) Soon after he (legally) left Sweden, the prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for him (and subsequently an Interpol RED notice.. usually reserved for terrorist and the like) Assange cooperated with the police in the UK too, and tried constantly to arrange for a meeting to take place either at Scotland Yard, an Embassy or via telephone/video-link. All this was denied, even though this is normal procedure. Something that has been very much subject to criticism in Sweden.

So, why is he afraid to go back to Sweden now? Actually he isn't! Ecuador (who now has granted him political asylum, while he's sitting inside their embassy in London – and THIS is very remarkable! This is the first time a western citizen has been granted political asylum from the West, by one of the new democracies outside the West – I'm afraid it wont be the last time) has stated repeatedly that if Sweden would be willing to negotiate some kind of deal that could make sure that Assange would NOT get himself extradited to the US, he could go to Sweden tomorrow). Assange's lawyers, friends, supporters and himself has said the same. Sweden refuses to even talk about this.

Combined with the fact that most legal experts believe that after questioning, Assange would be a free man (because the evidence is so weak), it really isn't strange that he is not comfortable with the whole idea.

Further, in 2001 Sweden became famous for letting CIA snatch 2 innocent asylum seekers who 'renditioned' them to Egypt where they were tortured. This of course was totally illegal, and apparently totally extra-judicial as well. They didn't even bother to invent a pretext.

WikiLeaks cables show a remarkable willingness from certain high-profile Swedish politicians (Case in point: Carl Bildt) to suck up to US power.

Swedish pundits talk a lot about something they call “the Duckpond”, which can be explained like this:

“One of Sweden’s big problems in reference to political debate is posed by the small size of the country’s cultural elite. At the end, there is no real debate. This is possibly because in Sweden everybody within the political-cultural elite seems to know each other, or is related with each other for one reason or the other.” (link).

Two examples of this, that also further illustrates why Assange is reluctant to go to Sweden:

The former Swedish Minister of Justice Thomas Bodström who approved the rendition described above, is law firm partner with Claes Borgström who is now representing the two accusers in the Assange case.

A key issue in a debate as to if the Swedish Government can deny an forward extradition to the the US, is Swedish legal lecturer Mark Klamberg: Klamberg is - if not the only, then almost - the only Swedish legal source who is arguing that the Swedish government would NOT have final say in approving an extradition of Assange to the United States. As such, he is being held up by widely quoted UK legal correspondent David Allen Green (The New Statesman) as an authority on this very issue.

It should be noted that all other Swedish experts, official documents from the Swedish government itself as well as Klamberg HIMSELF (before he realised that this was embarrasing to the government position) cares to disagree with this.

That's silly enough in itself, but well, back to Klamberg: His wife happens to be a minister (no less) in the Swedish government who's hellbent on not cooperating with Assange in any way (see above) – so hardly an impartial source (even though he genuinely seems like a nice guy).

And if that isn't weird enough, consider this: Minister Birgitta Ohlsson is a personal friend of policewomen Irmeli Krans who under extremely weird circumstances was the one who took the statement of Sofia Wilen (one of the accusers, although 'accuser' is probably the wrong word, since she appearently never had any intention of accusing Assange of anything. When she realized what the police/prosecutor was up too, she became distressed and refused to sign her statement.).

Irmeli Krans is in turn both a personal friend of Anna Ardin, the second accuser, a fan of Claes  Borgström (cousel for the accusers) and enemy of Julian Assange. Small world, eh.

If anybody is in doubt Assange, – like anyone else – is responsible for his actions, and if he has done something wrong with regards to these two women, he – like anyone else – must be held responsible. There can not be any doubt about this. They deserve this, he deserves this, WikiLeaks deserves this and WE deserve this. It is crucial to realize that it is the Swedish prosecutor – not Julian Assange - that has stood in the way of justice for these past years, and it is to this day the Swedish prosecutor that could give up her stubborn insistence of doing so: by questioning Assange. In lieu of this, the Swedish and/or UK governments could almost effortlessly stop this circus and negotiate a way forward that would allow Assange to face the allegations in Sweden without fearing being extradited to the US on WikiLeaks related charges.

Further, if anyone is in doubt: the case against Assange seems flimsy at best, but none of the above would change if the case appeared extremely strong. If a video was leaked (no irony intended) that showed Assange brutally raping the two women while calling them names and strangling a baby-seal, that would a very, very serious crime, and he WOULD deserve a very harsh punishment in Sweden for his actions. He STILL would NOT deserve to be delivered to the US injustice system for WikiLeaks related “crimes”.

If any of this is news to you - you should spend a few moments contemplating that very fact.