The Watering Hole: Tuesday, December 7th – Julian Assange arrested

picture source:

The BBC reports:

The founder of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been arrested by the Metropolitan Police.

The 39-year-old Australian denies allegations he sexually assaulted two women in Sweden.

Scotland Yard said Mr Assange was arrested on a European arrest warrant by appointment at a London police station at 0930 GMT.

He is due to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court later. (read all)

Don’t mess with the High and Mighty.

Don’t get me wrong here. If Julian Assange is a rapist, he will have to suffer the consequences. So should every rapist in Sweden or elsewhere. But do they? In 2007 only 13% of the 3’535 cases of rape reported to the police resulted in even the start of legal procedures, let alone a trial or conviction. I wish the police everywhere would be as adamant as in this case when it comes to dealing with rapists. Rich man’s son Carl Hirschmann in Switzerland was out on bail in no time. He’s haunting the clubs once again.

Take a look at Mikhail Chodorkowski. He’s in a labour camp in Siberia serving a nine year sentence and is again accused for some more crimes, to make sure he stays where he’s at. His real crime? Not tax evasion or fraud (though you don’t get to be the richest man in Russia by being a nice and straightforward fellow), you just don’t go to jail for that when you’re really rich in Russia (or elsewhere). He challenged Vladimir Putin politically.

Don’t mess with the High and Mighty.

Both Julian Assange and Mikhail Chodorkowski are answering to legitimate charges and no celebrity bonus should apply. But both are treated differently than others who have allegedly or really committed the same crimes.

Question: Wikileaks has published classified information from the Afghan  and Iraq war. Wikileaks has published the diplomatic cables. Both time their plans were announced beforehand and no action taken. Now wikileaks announces to publish secret e-mails from a bank. And a cyber war between those who cave to government pressure and the witty hacker community starts on their behalf. Now why would that be?

This is our Open Thread. You know what to do. The internet is still the place to voice your opinion, I don’t know for how much longer, however.

The Watering Hole: November 30, 2010 – Nothing New

So American Diplomats know how to read newspapers? What is the hullabaloo about their assessments of German politicians? I could have told them that and some..

Angela Merkel: The non-stick chancellor? Well she knows how to dodge a bullet, that’s for sure.

Guido Westerwelle: Arrogant? Incompetent? Well he has the job not for his skills but for arithmetics. The leader of the smaller coalition party always gets the job.

Horst Seehofer: Being a member of the CSU (Christian Social Union) in Bavaria will get you there. No matter if your a bit dim.

Wolfgang Schäuble: The angry old man. You should have seen him rip into his press secretary in a presser, that was on tv. Not so secret really.

If the State Department would just call me I could give them all they need to know and so could most of my fellow Germans. The news may be that the US is using it’s diplomatic corps for massive spying. But if we didn’t know that, we had already suspected it. Neither is the fact that most Arab countries are concerned about Iran’s nuclear program really news. Suffice it to say Iran is Persia and not Arabia, they never have trusted each other. So, whichever way you look at it, the leaks may be embarrassing, but they do not add significant new insight. Much more interesting is this: Wikileaks announced to publish secret papers from a big American Bank next:

“We have one related to a bank coming up, that’s a megaleak. It’s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it’s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it,” Assange said in the interview posted on the Forbes website.

He declined to identify the bank, describing it only as a major U.S. bank that is still in existence.

Asked what he wanted to be the result of the disclosure, he replied: “I’m not sure. It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume.” (read more)

When they target the politicians’ owners, now that could be interesting!

For more on the diplomatic cables and the European take, read: Der Spiegel and  The Guardian.

This is our open thread. Add your thoughts!


Afghanistan is Lost!

This is one major scoop of investigative journalism, just right next to The Pentagon Papers.

Wikileaks has produced over 90’000 partly classified documents covering a six year stretch of the Afghan mission. The Guardian in the UK, Der Spiegel in Germany and The New York Times have each received the documents a while ago for review and released their findings today. As I am writing this I cannot reach the wikileaks webpage, which must be overwhelmed with traffic, I suspect, so I give you a gist of what the three news outlets are making of the documents.

Der Spiegel:

The documents offer a window into the war in the Hindu Kush — one which promises to change the way we think about the ongoing violence in Afghanistan. They will also be indispensible for anyone seeking to inform themselves about the war in the future. (read article)

The newspaper then highlights five issues, one of them the situation in the North where German forces are stationed:

The Germans thought that the northern provinces where their soldiers are stationed would be more peaceful compared to other provinces and that the situation would remain that way.

They were wrong. (read more)

In an interview with the weekly Julian Assange, founder of Wikipedia, says:

Assange: These files are the most comprehensive description of a war to be published during the course of a war — in other words, at a time when they still have a chance of doing some good. They cover more than 90,000 different incidents, together with precise geographical locations. They cover the small and the large. A single body of information, they eclipse all that has been previously said about Afghanistan. They will change our perspective on not only the war in Afghanistan, but on all modern wars. (read full interview)

The Guardian obviously eyes the British side of the conflict:

Questionable shootings of civilians by UK troops also figure. The US compilers detail an unusual cluster of four British shootings in Kabul in the space of barely a month, in October/November 2007, culminating in the death of the son of an Afghan general. Of one shooting, they wrote: “Investigation controlled by the British. We are not able to get [sic] complete story.” (read all)

and more here

The US army’s archives contain descriptions of at least 21 separate occasions in which British troops are said to have shot or bombed Afghan civilians, including women and children.

The logs identify at least 26 people killed and another 20 wounded as a result. Some casualties were accidentally caused by air strikes, but many also are said to involve British troops firing on unarmed drivers or motorcyclists who come “too close” to convoys or patrols. Their injuries result from what are described as “warning shots” or “disabling shots” fired into the engine block, as required by the military’s “escalation of force” regulations.

They explain how they came by the data:

The Afghanistan war logs series of reports on the war in Afghanistan published by the Guardian is based on the US military’s internal logs of the conflict between January 2004 and December 2009. The material, largely classified by the US as secret, was obtained by the whistleblower website Wikileaks, which has published the full archive. The Guardian, along with the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, was given access to the logs before publication to verify their authenticity and assess their significance. (read all and watch video)

The New York Times explains to its readers:

Deciding whether to publish secret information is always difficult, and after weighing the risks and public interest, we sometimes chose not to publish. But there are times when the information is of significant public interest, and this is one of those times. The documents illuminate the extraordinary difficulty of what the United States and its allies have undertaken in a way that other accounts have not. (read more)

The role of Pakistan in the Afghan war is of special interest to the NYT:

Some of the reports describe Pakistani intelligence working alongside Al Qaeda to plan attacks. Experts cautioned that although Pakistan’s militant groups and Al Qaeda work together, directly linking the Pakistani spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, with Al Qaeda is difficult.


Such accusations are usually met with angry denials, particularly by the Pakistani military, which insists that the ISI severed its remaining ties to the groups years ago. An ISI spokesman in Islamabad said Sunday that the agency would have no comment until it saw the documents. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said, “The documents circulated by WikiLeaks do not reflect the current on-ground realities.”


On June 19, 2006, ISI operatives allegedly met with the Taliban leaders in Quetta, the city in southern Pakistan where American and other Western officials have long believed top Taliban leaders have been given refuge by the Pakistani authorities. At the meeting, according to the report, they pressed the Taliban to mount attacks on Maruf, a district of Kandahar that lies along the Pakistani border. (read more)

There is heaps more in all three newspapers and this story is going to be hot for weeks to come, due to the vast expanse of the information made available. This may well be the final nail into the coffin of the Afghanistan war. There already is growing opposition against the mission and seeing the stark truth will further convince people, that the fight is not worth it. The documents cover the time from January 2004 to December 2009 after Iraq has been attacked on March 20th 2003 and the focus shifted away from the Afghan mission. The leaked documents don’t say anything about the time between October 2001 and 2004. I do hold on to the belief, however, that the Afghanistan mission wasn’t doomed from the beginning. But absolutely after the decision was made to attack Iraq. And again, as it is with most conflicts, the people of Afghanistan have suffered before the war, during the war and will continue to suffer after the international troops have long left.

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Ret. intel officer: US violated rules in Reuters shooting

From Raw Replay:

Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer told MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan that US forces may have violated rules of engagement with the 2007 shooting of two Reuters employees in Baghdad.

I watched this video yesterday on Huffington Post in its entirety. It was very upsetting. The video was obtained by WikiLeaks.

From Huffington Post:

Calling it a case of “collateral murder,” the WikiLeaks Web site today released harrowing video of a U.S. Army Apache helicopter in Baghdad in 2007 repeatedly opening fire on a group of men that included a Reuters photographer and his driver — and then on a van that stopped to rescue one of the wounded men.

In the Ratigan interview with the gentleman from WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, he (Assange) says there is another similar video (a military whistleblower video) from Afghanistan – from May of last year where 97 people were bombed – that is going to be released through Wikileaks as soon as they “have finished their analysis”.

Vodpod videos no longer available.