Inside the CIA's secret war plans against WikiLeaks
September 26, 2021 12:56 PM   Subscribe

In the long form "Kidnapping, assassination and a London shoot-out", Yahoo! news journalists Zach Dorfman, Sean D. Naylor and Michael Isikoff retrace the history of WikiLeaks [previously 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12], from Obama to Trump’s administration, giving voice to several former US national security officials.

...inside you will find Orwellian language (like redefining journalists "information broker", to avoid legal protections), imperialistic mindset (“This isn’t Pakistan or Egypt — we’re talking about London.”), disregard of the rule of law ("When Pompeo took over, he cut the lawyers out of a lot of things”), etc.
posted by - (25 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Marcy Wheeler has an interesting response to this article: The Yahoo Story About All the Things CIA Wasn’t Allowed to Do Against WikiLeaks.
posted by RichardP at 1:14 PM on September 26 [19 favorites]


I get the feeling that Julian Assange is like Tortuous Convolvulus, the Roman agent in the Asterix book of the same name; he pisses off everyone he comes in contact with.
posted by chavenet at 1:55 PM on September 26 [6 favorites]


Such actions were sure to create a diplomatic and political firestorm, as they would have involved violating the sanctity of the Ecuadorian Embassy before kidnapping the citizen of a critical U.S. partner — Australia — in the capital of the United Kingdom, the United States’ closest ally. Trying to seize Assange from an embassy in the British capital struck some as “ridiculous,” said the former intelligence official. “This isn’t Pakistan or Egypt — we’re talking about London.”...

“There was a discussion with the Brits about turning the other cheek or looking the other way when a team of guys went inside and did a rendition,” said a former senior counterintelligence official. “But the British said, ‘No way, you’re not doing that on our territory, that ain’t happening.’” The British Embassy in Washington did not return a request for comment.


Like Wheeler, I wonder if and how often Trump interceded to preserve Assange's life. Even with all the backdoor subterfuge discussed here, he was and remains valuable, a useful idiot to both Trump and Russia in their ongoing information war on the US and Britain.

Russia, or rather Putin deployed a radiological weapon in London, and more or less got away with it without any apparent consequences. Neither the UK nor it allies appeared to issue any real response to this.

Which could mean any of several interesting things about the relationship between the governments of the UK and Russia (particularly in the light of how Brexit came about, in the first place), or of that between the UK and the US, or of the reluctance of the CIA as a whole to operate as aggressively in foreign countries as Russian secret services. Too many fiefdoms.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks may be increasingly obsolete. The growing ability of groups and individuals — whistleblowers or dissidents, spies or criminals — to publish leaked materials online diminishes the group’s raison d’être. “We’re kind of post-WikiLeaks right now,” said a former senior counterintelligence official.

Whether Assange was or remains a target, as debated in the Wheeler response, the "post-legal" or extralegal language about journalists is troubling, if true. Much as John Yoo's memos helped provide cover for war crimes in Iraq, one could imagine some potential in "information broker" legal arguments, when targeting the media down the road.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:38 PM on September 26 [5 favorites]


he was and remains valuable, a useful idiot to both Trump and Russia in their ongoing information war on the US and Britain.

I've wondered sometimes if the more respectable parts of the left abandoning much of their skepticism of the imperial American state (which seemed to happen gradually during Obama's term in office) is why Russia and Trump and the crazier parts of the American right have been able to capture the hearts-n-minds of many of those who remained skeptical. Sustained, angry criticism of imperial corporatocracy in left-leaning spaces seemed to fade in parallel with a growing distaste for Assange, and it would be interesting to know why.

It's just weird to see so many left-leaning people identifying with the interests of the American state, is all...
posted by clawsoon at 6:16 PM on September 26 [4 favorites]


"Skeptical" isn't a description I'd apply to people whose hearts and minds have been captured by Russia and Trump, regardless where they fall on the political spectrum.

Kudos to those leftists (or any political ideologue) who have been able to call a spade a spade.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:47 PM on September 26 [2 favorites]


clawsoon: most of the internationalist left, like for example progressive international (= Sanders Institute + Varoufakis' DiEM25), but not only, is very much for Assange liberation. Hating Assange because "he helped Trump win" is very much an American (neo)liberal take, that simply disregards the evidence of US imperialism and war crimes.
posted by - at 9:43 PM on September 26 [9 favorites]


It's just weird to see so many left-leaning people identifying with the interests of the American state, is all...

It's not that I'm in love with imperialism but If I'm forced to choose between making a governing coalition with corporatists or with fascists then my red cap will have "Coca Cola" written on it.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:45 PM on September 26 [12 favorites]


Given the CIA's success with Castro, no wonder he is still alive
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:24 PM on September 26 [1 favorite]


Hi, I'm from south east Queensland. At the same time we produced both Julian Assange and Steve Irwin. And me!

As far as local heroes, we are proud of Steve. He pursued fame for unselfish reasons, I don't think he was an egomaniac. He was a maniac in many ways, but I think he really wanted fame for the animals he admired.

Unlike Julian. Wikileaks was supposed to be a source for anonymous leaks. New internet technologies made this possible; you can dump the data over here and never leave your fingerprints on it. Ideally, this could have been done completely anonymously. The hacker world wikileaks was born from had anonymity as a central tenet. It was possible that the whole supply chain from anonymous source to anonymous publisher could have given whistleblowers the confidence they need to expose fuckery.

Enter Julian and his ego. Wouldn't it have been great if wikileaks was truly anonymous? But no, Julian had a fucking press conference. I dunno, did he read too many issues of Wired and felt like being on the cover?

Since then he's only brought us shame. At first I thought, yeah! A new way to expose corruption and war crimes, and it was a local boy to do it. I've come to realize that he wrecked that opportunity because he put his ego above whatever good wikileaks could do. Then he raped a woman. Then he cooperated with ??? for Trump. And then we got Trump.

I don't care about this guy. I hope he comes back to Australia, is safe from CIA torture prisons, and works at an Apple genius bar cleaning cum from macbook keyboards. And I hope I never hear from him again.

Steve Irwin used his fame and subsequent wealth to buy up giant parts of my home and made them into national parks. He was the best of us, fuck this Assange guy.
posted by adept256 at 10:24 PM on September 26 [37 favorites]


Russia and Trump and the crazier parts of the American right have been able to capture the hearts-n-minds of many of those who remained skeptical [of the imperial American state]

There have always been lefties who were big fans of Russia/USSR. I mean, there were tankies long before the invasion of Czechoslovakia. I don’t know what characterises them, but I don’t think it’s an excess of scepticism.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:27 PM on September 26 [4 favorites]


or
Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders
posted by clavdivs at 1:26 PM on December 23, 2010

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments

That was a wild thread.

How to define WikiLeaks has long confounded everyone from government officials to press advocates. Some view it as an independent journalistic institution, while others have asserted it is a handmaiden to foreign spy services.

That was my question in '10. Still is apparently. The collation of data given anonymously, is a thing, the question is how an intelligence agency will react despite it's intent definable by law and here we have many Senior officials having the Pompeo talking like Sonny Corleone. The odd bit was the Russian plan to extract Assange on Christmas Eve.
like he's the 'Blue Carbuncle.'

Unbeknownst to Ecuador, however, by mid-2017 UC Global was also working for U.S. intelligence, according to two former employees who testified in a Spanish criminal investigations.

that's not easy to pull off.
posted by clavdivs at 11:33 PM on September 26 [2 favorites]


Personally, I have no love for any of these assholes. Thankfully, one need not support Assange's fuckery to take issue with imperialist war crimes and other crimes that became more prevalent with the rise of the post-9/11 security state.
posted by wierdo at 12:29 AM on September 27 [5 favorites]


Russia, or rather Putin deployed a radiological weapon in London, and more or less got away with it without any apparent consequences. Neither the UK nor it allies appeared to issue any real response to this.

I can assure you that the attitude of the British Government to that incident remains one of absolute fucking fury. Anglo-Russian relations are at a level best described as 'Cold War without the overt mutual abuse' - icy politeness but with no mutual engagement and regular low-level hostility.
posted by Major Clanger at 3:08 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]


Thankfully, one need not support Assange's fuckery to take issue with imperialist war crimes and other crimes that became more prevalent with the rise of the post-9/11 security state.

That's a great point. You definitely don't need to be a neoliberal to see how Assange ruined Wikileaks in the course of turning into a Kremlin shill, while also acknowledging at the same time that Wikileaks did uncover serious war crimes in the war on Iraqi citizens back in the mid- to late-00s.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:16 AM on September 27 [8 favorites]


As to whether Wikileaks is a journalistic entity or an agent operating on behalf of Russian interests, it seems like a grey area generally complicated almost entirely by its early history, as much as Assange's behavior and his growing relationship with the Kremlin state and state media. Being offered a quid pro quo from a former president via a Russian plant in the US government seems problematic, to say the least.

I can assure you that the attitude of the British Government to that incident remains one of absolute fucking fury

Russia also deployed a chemical weapon on British soil in contravention of a near century-old international treaty that proscribes their use by all states. A UK citizen died, as a result. Several independent lines of evidence tie this operation back to Kremlin operatives. The ruling government can be as furious as it likes, but it does seem to come down to said government to dictate policy and civil servants to execute on that, and nothing has been forthcoming.

I would ask in all seriousness what of genuine consequence happened from the nuclear and chemical weapon attacks that Russia launched against the United Kingdom? Further, in light of that, I'd be curious why the CIA was quoted to yield to UK edict about what it approves or does not approve about operations on its soil.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:39 AM on September 27 [1 favorite]


The Yahoo article that prompted this latest round of discussion notes that Trump himself asked CIA for "options" for assassinating Assange, so I'm not sure how much Trump really protected him. Were it any other recent President, I could believe there was either misdirection or a desire to hear all possible courses of action behind such a request, but the former Orange in Chief is not one to let anything get in the way of his Id. The man has no filter, just an obsequious tendency to go along with whatever is popular in the room.

At this point I don't really see any purpose to continue arguing for extradition, but I also think it's complete bullshit to argue that Biden's administration is somehow worse than Trump's on the subject or that it has any bearing on larger issues of journalistic freedom, as a certain Area Substacker is attempting to claim. I get more and more "Russian hacker" vibes as the years wear on.

He remains safe in his South American redoubt so long as he keeps ignoring the rising tide of fascists and muddying the waters to enable them. I suspect that the moment he publicly acknowledges the actual situation he will find his country of residence a rather inhospitable place, which is why I suspect that will not happen unless the political situation there changes.
posted by wierdo at 3:49 AM on September 27


Who remains “safe in his South American redoubt”?
posted by gnuhavenpier at 4:15 AM on September 27 [3 favorites]


Glenn Greenwald, in Brazil.
posted by hangashore at 9:24 AM on September 27 [3 favorites]


Ah. Thank you.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 11:03 AM on September 27


Speaking of which, Glenn's response (as recounted by Jeet Heer) is...something, alright.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:38 PM on September 27


Hah. Greenwald is trying to say that Pompeo did this without Trump knowing about it. He just can't bring himself to say anything bad about Trump, can he?
posted by octothorpe at 5:19 PM on September 27


The real kicker is that the very same report we are discussing is the one that says Trump was the one asking for options to assassinate Assange. Greenwald has gotten to the point where he picks and chooses which parts of an article he believes based on whether or not it supports his argument/world view.

The Yahoo article is totally reliable when it comes to the part about the CIA looking into maybe assassinating Assange, but it's obviously wrong about Trump asking whether it could be done. Yeah, that makes total sense. </sarcasm>
posted by wierdo at 6:32 PM on September 27






I don’t think this report is the sort of thing a British judge can take into account, but I can’t see how Assange could be extradited if there’s acceptable evidence that the US was contemplating assassinating him.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:19 AM on October 7


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