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United States

Aug 29, 2012

US Ambassador: we have no interest in Assange

The US Ambassador to Australia has used an interview with Crikey to reflect on the impact of WikiLeaks, the constant speculation about Julian Assange and the lack of trust in governments globally.

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The US ambassador to Australia has insisted that the release by WikiLeaks of US diplomatic cables caused “serious and long-term damage” and placed people in harm’s way, but the only WikiLeaks-related investigation the US government is prepared to acknowledge is that of Bradley Manning.

In a wide-ranging interview with Crikey this week, Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich talked extensively about WikiLeaks and the rumoured investigation of Julian Assange.

“The US never talks about whether we’re conducting investigations of anyone, period,” the Ambassador said. “We have talked about investigations, for example, of Bradley Manning, for stealing classified information, but that’s because he’d been caught stealing classified information, been arrested, but generally we don’t talk about anyone, ever, whether they’re under investigation or anything else.

“People know we never say that, so they can say ‘well the US will not deny that it is investigating’. And then they say that if ‘they’re not denying it, it must be true’. There’s nothing to that at all.”

However, Bleich significantly left open the possibility that the investigation of Manning could lead elsewhere: “There’s an ongoing investigation of the Bradley Manning theft of classified information. Was anyone involved in a conspiracy, aiding and abetting, those sorts of things — and that’s reasonable, trying to see whether or not there are others, some liability out there.

“But it’s not that they pick someone, then figure out ‘oh now let’s see if we can find a crime’. They’re investigating a crime that did occur and they’re trying to figure out all the information that we can about it, how it occurred, and that could lead to other things.”

The Ambassador rejects the central argument of Assange and his supporters, that the US will seek to exploit Sweden’s attempts to extradite the WikiLeaks founder in order to extradite him onward to the United States. On Assange’s attempts to avoid extradition to Sweden, he said: “None of that has anything to do with the US and the US doesn’t have any interest at all in the extradition.

“The argument that’s been made that somehow the US is in cahoots with Sweden, that we want him to be extradited to Sweden so it will be easier for us to extradite from there, is just silly. If we want, if there was a basis and desire to extradite him now even, [we could] extradite him more easily from the UK than Sweden, there’s a more robust extradition agreement with the UK than there is with Sweden. I think it’s insulting to Sweden. Sweden is not a puppet state of the US.”

Bleich declined to comment on Vice-President Biden’s comparison of Assange to a “high-tech terrorist”, saying “I’ll just use my own words in what I think”. But in his view, WikiLeaks “is an irresponsible and dangerous approach to providing information”.

Bleich had a successful legal career, with a strong focus on international law, and was an adviser to President Obama before his appointment as Ambassador to Australia. “I was a lawyer who represented media, I worked with journalists all the time, I have tremendous respect for journalists, and for journalists I think it’s critical that they check government and they keep a close eye on government, and I used to do FOI requests all the time — not only FOI requests, I challenged gag orders on behalf of media. So … I get it.”

But Bleich argues WikiLeaks does not act like a traditional media outlet, which would be a key issue if Assange (or outlets such as The New York Times) are ever prosecuted for the release of the diplomatic cables. He says WikiLeaks “basically say if you steal it, we’ll publish it and it doesn’t matter if it’s newsworthy, we don’t purport to be in a position to know what to redact or what not to redact, they just threw it all up there, and it wasn’t clear what the point was”.

“If you ask people who had read — we don’t acknowledge the cables — but people who read this material and say ‘was this inconsistent with what the US was saying publicly?’ then … we said Gaddafi was a bad guy, this basically gives you information that’s consistent with that,” he told Crikey.

“At the same time, it put a lot of people in harm’s way. It compromised national security interests, individuals who were providing information to help us understand what’s going on had to be moved, had to leave, put in very dangerous situations.”

Bleich declined to give details on specific cases. But in his view, WikiLeaks is likely to cause damage to diplomacy through “information degradation”.

“As a result of things like WikiLeaks, if people feel anxious that they can’t have a fair conversation, what am I going to do? I’ll get worse information, so I want to understand what’s going on in the region. When I get that information I’m not going to share it as broadly as I should because I’m afraid it could leak, so I keep to too tight a grip. And I’m probably encouraged to do it by phone or in person as opposed to writing it down, so it doesn’t come back to bite anyone, which means the information degrades rapidly. And if you make a mistake you can’t go back two years later to figure out ‘where did we start making a mistake’ because there’s not enough of a paper trail,” he said.

Bleich believes governments are less trusted than ever, because of events like the Iraq War and the global financial crisis. “People feel as though the government is doing things that they didn’t quite understand and things went wrong, they want to know more about what the government is doing,” he said.

“There’s less trust in government. The global financial crisis created a lot of trauma around the world and people wonder ‘where were my leaders, what were they doing, what were they thinking, I want to know more, I don’t trust them as much’. I know the Iraq War was unpopular in many countries and very controversial in the US. The President himself said ‘I don’t think we should have gone in there’. So we know that caused people to say ‘I want to know more about what the government is doing’, and I think that creates an impetus for trying to get more authenticity and access to government decision-making.”

But, Bleich says, “when you sit down with people and actually talk about how it gets done, they say ‘yeah I get it, you wouldn’t want to have that conversation with everyone watching every single thing you say’. No other institution in the world operates that way.”

*More with Ambassador Bleich, including defence spending, copyright and the impact of the internet, tomorrow

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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135 comments

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135 thoughts on “US Ambassador: we have no interest in Assange

  1. Liue Sini

    government pisses on us, mainstream media tells us it’s raining.
    I love the way they all lie and call it news. Thanks WikiLeaks & New York Times! Thank you for sharing truth with the world. Brad Manning, you are a champ! Hang in there bro. Don’t let them break you.
    obama you are a puppet! Even then, u.s president Bill Clinton admitted to Sarah McClendon (White House reporter at the time)
    “Sarah, there’s a government inside the government, and I don’t control it.”
    Bless WikiLeaks, Mr Assange and all their supporters!

    p.s
    “AUSTRALIAN diplomats have no doubt the United States is intent on pursuing Julian Assange, Foreign Affairs and Trade Department documents obtained by the Herald show.

    This is at odds with comments by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, who has dismissed suggestions the US plans to eventually extradite Assange on charges arising from WikiLeaks obtaining leaked US military and diplomatic documents.

    The Australian embassy in Washington has been tracking a US espionage investigation targeting the WikiLeaks publisher for more than 18 months…”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/us-intends-to-chase-assange-cables-show-20120817-24e1l.html#ixzz25nH6hxcw

    (Syd Mornin Herald, 18 Aug)

  2. izatso?

    check the uk guardian thread history on assange and those very issues…… blood is shed …….

  3. Jimmy

    Fractious – So the public opinion would be so strong it would influence the politicians to influence the judicial system if the US wanted the extradite him from the UK but it wasn’t strong enough to stop him being extradited to Sweden when all his supporters believed it was just a stepping stone to getting to the US?

    Geomac – I am no expert on the Swedish legal system but does the prosecutors “insistence” just happen automatically, no judicial process?

    Warren Joffe – “As for the idea that he could be easily “rendered” from Ecuador, that’s just dopey. Even assuming you know what you are talking about and can say that CIA contractors could get past Ecuadorian security measures reliably, that would at one blow, so discredit the US’s anti-Wikileaks and anti-Assange moral case (such as it is) that even the most gung-ho advisers to presidents might pause, and Obama would understand that the US in 2012 doesn’t want to be telling its friends that it will grab their citizens when and where it wants to” I think the whole idea he could be “rendered” is dopey, however numerous people have said that the US could render him from Sweden which is dopey for all the reason you point out, but if they are willing to do it in one country why not from the UK or Ecuador?

    And if I could just clarify what is supposed to be happening here, Assange had a night out with some girls, they later alleged assault the charges were investigated and Assange was told he could go, the US then stepped in and corrupted the Swedish legal process not to have him extradited to the US but to have him locked up in Sweden, despite the fact these allegations are apparently so flimsy anyone can see he is innocent, even from the other side of the world.

    So why did the girls make the allegations in the first place and what is in it for them to continue with them?

  4. alfred venison

    hi Warren
    fair enough, time will tell. but i think you are generous in attributing sections to the usa gov’t choir in this number. and publicity cuts many ways, there will be publicity either way if they get their man or if they fail to get their man. -a.v.

  5. Liamj

    @ Ian – they’re american’s, they don’t bother with trials any more, not unless the sponsors demand it.

  6. Warren Joffe

    @ Alfred Venison

    You add something useful to the laying out clearly of official US interests or perceived interests but I think you overstate the certainty and oversimplify the motivations and reasonings.

    No doubt there are a lot of people involved with somewhat different bureaucratic or political interests and different personal preferences and prejudices. Just as there were hawks and doves leading up to the Iraq disaster (the doves being in the State Department mostly and the hawks under Rumsfeld in Defence) there would be those, especially in State, who would be saying that what they have is good enough and that there is everything to be said for keeping cool and watching and waiting while Assange and Wikileaks are substantially disabled and US war crimes are not being magnified in court and amplified to the world. Amongst even government lawyers there would be at least three main streams of advice with doubt about the outcome and the publicity being high on the list for some giving advice.

  7. Ian

    Bleich… “but that’s because [Manning had] been caught stealing classified information”. Really, I didn’t know he had been tried and convicted of anything as yet.

  8. alfred venison

    Karen – ” there may be no ‘conspiracy’ by the US to extradite Assange at this point in time, because Sweden can achieve the same desired outcome of putting Assange away on its own charges”.

    its not the same to the yanks to have him incommunicado in a swedish jail – the yanks want assange on their soil so he can “face justice” & to do the plea bargain square dance with manning.

    if they can successfully bring charges & convict Assange they will have made an example that would effectively intimidate into silence the mainstream press & anyone else who might seek to e-publish e-proof of gov’t malfeasance in future.

    they have to have him to do that & they need to prove he was not in any sense of the word a “publisher” or he’s protected by nyt -v- united states (1971).
    a.v.

  9. Warren Joffe

    I should take the advice not to encourage Jimmy. He reminds me of some people whom I’ve listened to being cross-examined who manage to make their slippery performances last hours through seeming to be just dumb enough not to have fully understood the point, making non-responsive replies, replying so as to cover not quite all the question etc. But let me just point to something which suggests he hasn’t even done his homework.

    Apart from the obvious fact that public opionion, including that of tens of thousands of resident Australians, would make extradition difficult in the UK, the US would have had to get in before the Swedish use of the European Arrest Warrant which was, now, a long time ago [have you bothered to inform or remind yourself about that Jimmy?].

    As for the idea that he could be easily “rendered” from Ecuador, that’s just dopey. Even assuming you know what you are talking about and can say that CIA contractors could get past Ecuadorian security measures reliably, that would at one blow, so discredit the US’s anti-Wikileaks and anti-Assange moral case (such as it is) that even the most gung-ho advisers to presidents might pause, and Obama would understand that the US in 2012 doesn’t want to be telling its friends that it will grab their citizens when and where it wants to. But its a silly idea anyway. In the fog of uncertainty surrounding Assange and his pursuers there is only one sensible premise for judging Assange’s action in seeking Ecuadorian asylum and that is what is a credible range of probabilities that he could put on the various possible courses and outcomes, added to his moral or other personal starting point. I find it difficult to imagine that even you, when your mind is directed to it, could damn him for regarding a real possibility of being gaoled for many years in the US as a pretty fundamental starting point.

  10. fractious

    Publicity and protest can influence a political decision.

  11. geomac62

    Jimmy the quote comes from the link I provided above . 10.26 pm yesterday .

  12. Owen Gary

    Jimmy you need to get off that roundabout its going nowhere.

  13. Jimmy

    Fractious – “he US could bring against Assange, including espionage, conspiracy, unlawful access to classified information and computer fraud” Yep true, they could also bring charges of murder if they had evidence to back it up, but it doesn’t answer my question, why can’t they lay charges if they have enough evidence to do so?

    “For one Sweden has an established record when it comes to extraditing people to the US.” And it is impossible to extradite people from the UK? They don’t have a record of extradition?

    ” For two, contrary to popular opinion it would very likely be much harder for the US to get him out of the UK because of the amount of publicity and protest there, the much greater capacity for public scrutiny and comment (and protest) on the law and the much less opaque legal system.” So the US ambassador that has practiced international law is wrong? And publicity and protest can influence a legal decision?

    Radguy – I don’t think you did address why the US need sweden but on the credibility of the charges he faces if they are as flimsy as people on this site would have me believe he would have no worries having them tossed.

    Geomac – Could you source your quotes please.

  14. fractious

    “why can’t the US consider potential criminal charges?”

    Fairfax report on FoI request re US “interest” in Assange

    SMH dot com dot au/national /us-in-pursuit-of-assange-cables-reveal-20120817-24e8u h t m l.

    “…apparently on the basis of still classified off-the-record discussions with US officials and private legal experts, the [Australian] embassy reported the existence of the grand jury as a matter of fact. It identified a wide range of criminal charges the US could bring against Assange, including espionage, conspiracy, unlawful access to classified information and computer fraud.”

    “going to Sweden is not subjecting himself to the US, if the Us had of wanted him they could have extradited him form the UK”

    For one Sweden has an established record when it comes to extraditing people to the US. For two, contrary to popular opinion it would very likely be much harder for the US to get him out of the UK because of the amount of publicity and protest there, the much greater capacity for public scrutiny and comment (and protest) on the law and the much less opaque legal system.

  15. Radguy

    Jimmy, it doesn’t equate to brutal coercion, you have misinterpreted what I am saying. Allowing extradition for indefinite detention without charges does allow brutal coercion. The European Arrest Warrant system provides no protection from this. I think when it was implemented, the architects didn’t expect that “prosecution” would mean simple questioning, rather it should mean in English as the Oxford dictionary states “1the institution and conducting of legal proceedings against someone in respect of a criminal charge”. Yes there is another definition, but one would reasonably expect that in a legal matter, the legal definition would be used.

    As for your second point, I addressed this already in my previous post.

    You still seem to be silent on the credibility of the allegations directed at Assange. This is the difference between thinkers and spinners. Thinkers will address all issues. Spinners will avoid any that will expose their bias. It’s a flawed tactic as avoidance exposes bias anyway.

  16. geomac62

    Jimmy
    ” Swedish Prosecutor Marianne Ny insists Assange be held in remand, incommunicado, while the investigation progresses, and before any charge is brought against him. “

  17. Jimmy

    Geomac – So now getting him to Sweden isn’t about getting him extradited it’s about getting him locked up in Sweden? And he doesn’t have any possibility of avoiding this even if he is innocent, surely he would have access to a legal team, be able to put on a defence and have an independent court decide his guilt or innocence. Surely this legal team would be able to bring up all the “evidence” constantly pointed to hear that so clearly show the set up?

  18. Jimmy

    Warren Joffe – Manning is subject to a completely different system than Assange will be.

    And why can’t the US consider potential criminal charges?

    And going to Sweden is not subjecting himself to the US, if the Us had of wanted him they could have extradited him form the UK, if they want to rendition him they could from Ecuador.

    And that terrible first amendment is also the very thing that Assange will rel y on if he ever get’s charged.

  19. geomac62

    Lets put it this way Jimmy . Do you think the the trouble Assange finds himself in are a deliberate ploy to harass , silence and punish him ? The chain of events and lack of attempts to get this over and done with would suggest a witch hunt . Even the implication of assault rests on the wearing of a rubber not violence or intimidation , impl ied or otherwise .
    The problem the USA has in finding a crime to fit up Assange without also implicating big media which has published wikileaks provided files . Seeing as wikileaks provides a drop box proving how the info got there is also a problem . The USA has a big problem and that is its security which is compromised because it classifies everything as top secret and so has a phalanx of people with access . I don,t think they care too much if Sweden puts Assange in a box or they do later . The thing is to show what happens when you expose the difference between the rhetoric and the actual text .

  20. mattsui

    Please cease arguing with jimmy.
    Either he is being paid to foment this pointless cycle or he is solely responsible for the aleged low productivity of Australian workers.

  21. geomac62

    Lets put it this way Jimmy . Do you think the the trouble Assange finds himself in are a deliberate ploy to harass , silence and punish him ? The chain of events and lack of attempts to get this over and done with would suggest a witch hunt . Even the implication of assault rests on the wearing of a rubber not violence or intimidation , implied or otherwise .
    The problem the USA has in finding a crime to fit up Assange without also implicating big media which has published wikileaks provided files . Seeing as wikileaks provides a drop box proving how the info got there is also a problem . The USA has a big problem and that is its security which is compromised because it classifies everything as top secret and so has a phalanx of people with access . I don,t think they care too much if Sweden puts Assange in a box or they do later . The thing is to show what happens when you expose the difference between the rhetoric and the actual text .

  22. Warren Joffe

    What about pulling out the wool and switching on the grey matter Jimmy.

    Your guff about (an implausible or impossible) conspiracy of four countries’ executives, judiciaries and legislatures ( or most of them, I can’t stand checking back on your woolly guff) doesn’t do justice to those who address serious issues such as whether Assange (I repeat my lack of sympathy for the personality we have had described to us by admittedly unreliable and interested parties) should on all the solid evidence and all the reasonable estimates of probabilities submit himself to a process which could lead to his being banged up for many years in the US, possibly in the inhumane conditions the US has imposed on one of their own much younger, more vulnerable citizens, Bradley Manning.

    Of course the US (not every citizen or even every official person in case you need it spelled out) detests Assange and has been investigating him and Wikileaks for years as well as taking active measures against them (like coercing, though not much coercion needed I suspect, Visa etc into denying service) and if you don’t believe a grand jury has been considering potential criminal charges against Assange while a good deal of the reason for delay in bringing Bradley Manning to trial is an attempt to coerce him into testifying effectively against others, especially Assange, then please add yourself to the list of those I want at my poker table startug with big piles of chips in front of them. Are you aware, btw, of one of the fundamental differences between our and the US justice system? I mean the First Amendment (I think it is the First which guarantees freedom of speech/the press) and its awful consequences for justice to the individual. Why are there so many plea deals? Because a prosecutor can load up the indictment with crimes carrying horrendous penalties and then rely on the media to generate an atmosphere of hostile intimidation against the accused. And as Karen (obviously a lawyer) has pointed out, the Swedish practices (pre-charge!) are unsophisticated and barbarous by our standards – the fact that a legacy of PC leftism in Scandinavia ensures only slaps on the wrist for punishment (21 years for Brevik!) doesn’t mean more than their fashions may cycle to a different beat.

  23. Jimmy

    Fractious – I admit (and have admitted) that the Swede’s not going to the UK is odd, however it isn’t odd enough for me to jump to the conclusion that there must be some 4 country conspiracy afoot. After all the US don’t need to get him to Sweden.

  24. fractious

    “is that really that unusual, you have never heard of someone being questioned, released and then wanted for questioning again”

    Plenty of times. What’s remarkable is the Swedes’ refusal to avail themselves of several offers to allow them to question Assange in the UK, particularly given how serious some people claim the allegations to be.

  25. Jimmy

    Fractious – ” “…he could possibly have assaulted 2 young women” which allegation, as Mattsui and Owen Gary among others have pointed out, has been investigated once and no further action taken” As I said above is that really that unusual, you have never heard of someone being questioned, released and then wanted for questioning again.

    My points aren’t meant to answer what is really going on, they are meant to show that these conspiracy theories don’t hold together, no one can point to anything Assange could possibly be charged wiht, no one has been able to answer the US need him to go to Sweden in order for them to get him to the US and no one can answer how they plan to hold him indefinitely without charge in direct contradiction of a recent court ruling.

    And where is the evidence he has been treated shabbily, the issue is that he thnks he will be treated shabbily, nothing has happened to this point that has violated his human rights.

  26. izatso?

    or me …

  27. fractious

    Jimmy
    “Everyone is more than happy to look at all Assange’s supposed heroic actions but no one wants to hear that he possibly endangered innocent lives with his publications or that he could possibly have assaulted 2 young women!”

    In my book it’s a fair bet that someone is a bit light on with their justifications when they start talking in absolutes – everyone, no-one, always, never etc.

    If you’ve read the comments on this thread you would have observed that several have addressed both issues. “…he could possibly have assaulted 2 young women” which allegation, as Mattsui and Owen Gary among others have pointed out, has been investigated once and no further action taken, while the subsequent rehashing of it led to Assange’s team inviting Swedish authorities to avail itself of EU provisions and question him further in the UK. Which they declined to do. R*pe is a serious allegation, as is s*xual assault – either the Swedes don’t treat them so or the yknow there reallys is sfa worth pursuing. The rest of your points don’t answer any of the legitimate questions about what’s going on. FTR I think Assange is an egocentric blister going by the testimony of those who know him well, but regardless of one’s personal opinion of his character if someone as high profile as Assange is treated so shabbily for so long by all those governments who piously spout about human rights, what hope for mere Joe Publics like me?

  28. Jimmy

    Geomac – “What I do know is that Assange was questioned by authorities and told he was free to leave” Is this unheard of? Is it that unusual that someone is questioned released then wanted for questioning again?

    “Ny the prosecutor has no legal impediment to questioning Assange in the UK or by video call .” True and I do find it odd, but not odd enough to hang a massive 4 country conspiracy off.

    “Manning has been under lock and key for years and has yet to face a trial so who wouldn,t be worried .” Manning is facing military court, Assange won’t be, if he is ever charged.

    And the US & Sweden may have “demonstrated a lack of concern for human rights and legalities including their own citizens when it suits their agenda” but can that be used as an excuse not to face any charge ever?

    And again if the US wanted to get Assange in any of the manners suggested here why do they need to use Sweden to do it?

  29. izatso?

    all yours Jimmy, I will not be acknowledging your Contrarian Split-Arse Advocacy till sometime as you are sick of it too……….

  30. geomac62

    Jimmy
    What I do know is that Assange was questioned by authorities and told he was free to leave . I,m also aware his ” victim ” was happily texting to friends about her guest ( Assange ) the day after the alleged offence . Ny the prosecutor has no legal impediment to questioning Assange in the UK or by video call .
    The USA has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of concern for human rights and legalities including their own citizens when it suits their agenda . Gitmo being a prime example but numerous others of recent times . Assange may or may not be full of himself but he has genuine reasons to be concerned regarding Sweden and the USA . Look what happened here with Haneef because of Andrews and Sweden has no such judiciary as helped Haneef out of his persecution . Manning has been under lock and key for years and has yet to face a trial so who wouldn,t be worried .

  31. izatso?

    crissake, Jimmy will never have it that our dear leaders can enable or otherwise suit our laws to their own ends, move the goalposts to ease/restrict controversies…….. Jimmy will nuance anything but these uncomfortable truths.

  32. Jimmy

    Radguy – I like you are no expert on the Swedish legal system but from what I can decipher out of your post I find it unlikely that simply allowing her to start “prosecution” to get Assange to Sweden then stop “prosecution” after question equates to “brutal coercion”.

    And again, why does the US need to use Sweden in such a manner?

  33. Radguy

    Jimmy – interested in the truth? How about a response to my post last night (5:14) that was moderated out until today.

  34. Jimmy

    Fractious – Everyone is more than happy to look at all Assange’s supposed heroic actions but no one wants to hear that he possibly endangered innocent lives with his publications or that he could possibly have assaulted 2 young women!

    On this and other threads it has been alleged that the US wants to get Assange to Sweden so they can extradite him but no one acknowledges that the US could extradite him from the UK if they wanted.

    It is also alleged that they want to get him to Sweden to “rendition” him, again ignoring the fact that if they wanted to “rendition” him they could do that from anywhere in the world, even Ecuador.

    It is alleged that the US will not follow legal proceedings in order to get at Assange but apparently they are so determined to follow legal proceedings that they have to get him to Sweden to make it legal for them to “borrow” him from them.

    It is also alleged by some now that the US don’t even want him extradited that they are happy for him to be sentenced and imprisoned in Sweden despite Sweden not even charging him as yet.

    It has also been alleged that the US will hold him indefinitely without charge (becuase what could they charge him with) despite a recent court ruling making this impossible.

    In short people have decided the US are going to get Assange, they don’t know what they could charge him with, how the could orchestrate it or why they are going about it the way they are but none of that matters, because they know.

  35. fractious

    Jimmy
    “It’s because they have made up their mind that Assange is a hero and can do no wrong and the US are e vil and out to get him. They aren’t actually that interested in the truth.”

    Dash it you’re right. What a fool I’ve been, thinking all along that Assange – as one of the most high-profile objectors to the status quo is recent years – was as good a litmus test as any to see whether the rhetoric of the US, the UK, Oz and the rest of the EU was matched by their actions when it came to human rights and the application of domestic and international law.

    But all along I woz rong, I’ve been duped, my humble thanks for setting me straight.

  36. Paul

    My comment is in moderation again. Take care and good luck my Aussie friends.

  37. izatso?

    …………. he who gets to write the history gets to hide the truth …….. and, for myself, I would assist in the revealing. even when it hurts me. Jimmy.

  38. Karen

    @ Jimmy – comment in moderation.

  39. Karen

    @ Jimmy – I don’t think Assange is a hero. For reasons stated in other posts, I have indicated otherwise. He may even be guilty of espionage, for all I know – although the longer it takes for the Americans to bring an indictment, the less likely this is to be either true or capable of being proved.

    However, the shortcomings of the Swedish legal system, the shortcomings of the prosecution case, including Sweden’s seemingly quixotic decision to resuscitate a weak prosecution case on the prosecutions own analysis of the evidence, is obvious. American hypocrisy is also obvious. For that, Assange deserves some sympathy.

    Frankly, Sweden’s bona fide concerns could be resolved easily enough if the prosecutor went to Britain and interviewed him, even in the face of some crazy legal rule that says that the complainants need to be questioned simultaneously (easily done through link-up – more preferable for the victims I would have thought).

    Sweden should just get on with it.

  40. Ian

    Ah, but what do we, the people, do about it? I reckon the very least we should do is put, Labor and the Coalition last and second last (you choose) when election time comes around. After all they don’t work for us any more but the Empire and the multinationals do get pretty good value out of them don’t they?

  41. mattsui

    @ Paul, I do recall hearing this story. One of those that failed to get much coverage in a news cycle dominated by 24 hr garbage.
    I also seem to recall that the Taliban and other factions in the region have been hunting down and murdering their percieved enemies since before Mr Assange was born. Did wikileaks facilitate this in some way? It is probable. Did the Mr Abdullah put himself at risk by associating with a foreign invasionary force? Undoubtedly. Sadly, people are dying daily for doing what they believe to be right.
    Wikileaks didn’t start the fire, it just helps us to know who is running around with cans of petrol.

    Another question for Bernard Keane; Do you get a whiff of gasoline as the Ambassador enters the room?

  42. izatso?

    ah the well known Newsweek , and wikileaks ex partner and competitor are so reliable/dismissable, and I could say that the well known paul is well known for just saying things are well known without referencing, but thats just me saying that………… I think ?

  43. Karen

    @ Jess – indeed, there may be no ‘conspiracy’ by the US to extradite Assange at this point in time, because Sweden can achieve the same desired outcome of putting Assange away on its own charges (provided they can get hold of him). Its legal system apparently allows people to be put in solitary confinement for questioning and allows for protracted delays in questioning, as has occurred already. Which is outrageous, based the standards of our criminal justice system.

  44. Jimmy

    Paul – “This is rather surprising that you Wikileaks andd Assange followers are not aware of it.” It’s because they have made up their mind that Assange is a hero and can do no wrong and the US are evil and out to get him. They aren’t actually that interested in the truth.

  45. Karen

    @ Paul – don’t know – maybe Crikey is concerned about my saying that peoples concerns on this site relate as much to the cover up of alleged secret crimes committed by powerful vested interests and governments who call it classified information, so it doesn’t get out into the public domain.

  46. Paul

    I’ve posted the link to the story but it is in moderation. The story was published in Newsweek. You can google Khalifa Abdullah and Wikileaks and it will come up, the story is well known. This is rather surprising that you Wikileaks andd Assange followers are not aware of it.

    Regarding redactions of names, according to the previous partner of Wikileaks and Assange, they had to beg Assange to redact names and Assange did not agree to it until 4 hours before publication and they did it hastily.

    There were four human rights organisations who expressed concerns and asked Wikileaks to edit out names and locations to protect people. Assange told them off and said if they want to then come and help him do the editing because he did not have the time, he wanted to publish the material quickly.

  47. izatso?

    ….and yes, TeeJay, astonishing, given the amount of funding and emphasis, how the intelligence agencies can and do drop the ball ………. ?

  48. izatso?

    yup, the list of unaccountables ( not enough space here ) grows, compared to the one and only ……. ?

  49. Paul

    Awaiting moderation? Why?

  50. Paul

    Here’s the link to the story of Khalifa Abdullah, it was big news I don’t understand why Wikileaks and Assange’s followers are not aware of it.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/08/02/taliban-seeks-vengeance-in-wake-of-wikileaks.html

  51. Teale Jess

    Good god. I’m not an anti-conspiracy-theorist. Politics and international affairs are so many conspiracies glued to each other. But here’s the thing about a successful conspiracy: not that many people know about it. That’s what makes it a conspiracy.

    In this case, the conspiracy would have to involve the legislative and political systems of three different countries for the sake of one man, which, as the ambassador points out, is absurd in a context where the UK has shown considerable willingness and allows considerable, unpoliticized legislative avenues to have its own citizens extradited to the US on demand, let alone an Australian.

    You want to think the US is the Great Satan, fine. But it can’t be the Great Satan and the Great Retard at the same time.

  52. Karen

    @ Izatso – in my moderated comment to Paul, I’ve made reference to the issue relating to publication of activists and intelligence operatives names, which is an obvious no-no, and Assange’s alleged denials of this matter. The hypocrisy of American MSM interests who have published unedited material, you’d think, would not have been lost on Bleich.

  53. Sean

    If the following article indicates the state of the US judiciary, law enforcement and sense of ‘blind justice’, I’m not quite sure why they get to dictate the terms of what’s fair and who can own what around the world:

    http://
    www.
    reuters.com/article/2012/08/24/us-un-texas-duel-idUSBRE87N10V20120824

  54. Sean

    If the following article indicates the state of the US judiciary, law enforcement and sense of ‘blind justice’, I’m not quite sure why they get to dictate the terms of what’s fair and who can own what around the world:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/24/us-un-texas-duel-idUSBRE87N10V20120824

  55. Karen

    Paul – comment in moderation.

  56. Karen

    @ Paul – I agree that there is a place for secrecy in certain instances – there are genuine secrets, which if exposed to enemies, will pose a genuine security risk to host countries. Bleich has a point, I think, about the quality of intelligence that may be exchanged if those involved cannot be assured of their secrecy. Again, that may work against the national interest of a nation. I certainly don’t agree with indiscriminate publication of activist identities involved in civil uprisings/wars or the identities of intelligence operatives. With respect to the latter, Assange is alleged to have said that such names were redacted and, accordingly, were not put at risk as a result of his efforts.

    I think what people here are concerned about is State cover up of secret crimes (yes, crimes) of powerful vested interests and governments who cover this up whilst purporting to act in the names of their citizenry. The interests of vested interests and those of the broader public don’t often coincide. For example, I think it in the public interest to release information about the reasons for America going to and dragging its allies into a war with Iraq on allegedly manufactured intelligence. Or other crimes levelled against unarmed civilians in countries at war with us etc.

  57. izatso?

    …… make you spit for the lack of any over sight on the actual publishers, the UK Guardian/US NY Times, and *their* failure to remove names from tranches given by Wikileaks, as per agreement. ………….”well known” Paul ? this the first (and unreferenced) telling I’ve seen ……. anyone ?

  58. Paul

    A well known death believed to have been linked to publications by Wikileaks is the death of Khalifa Abdullah.

    It was argued that many other Aghan lives were put at risk due to Wikileaks publishing the names of collaborators and the areas where they were from.

    There is difficulty to ascertain whether if any death of these individuals are linked to Wikileaks because they live in a war torn country and their death could be random. The only confirmation people get is that the Taliban did say they were going through Wikileaks publications to find names and they did promise revenge.

  59. Karen

    Thanks Matt. K

  60. mattsui

    @ Karen, The article I referred to last night is on the Crikey website. Under the Assange tag, it’s the third one down “Swedish Q&A; Do Assange’s claims on extradition stack up?”.
    Don’t worry, you won’t be subjected to a Swedish version of Tont Jones and there’s a thorough slicing of the arguements in the comment thread by none other than G. Rundle.
    Matt.

  61. Karen

    Thanks to all correspondents for those responses to my questions. Very interesting, indeed!

    In a common law country there would be NO way witnesses would be interviewed together, let alone alleged viciims and accused persons. All sorts of issues arise including: tainted evidence (when witnesses are brought together to check their evidence and iron out any inconsistencies); retractions because an alleged victim may become intimidated when sitting in the presence of an accused person who may be giving them the proverbial death stare.

    In Australia, for example, not only is this not done, but when such cases are tried, a victim can give evidence behind a screen , so they don’t have to face the accused in court for precisely this reason. Alternatively, victims, especially child victims, give evidence in a sealed off room with the use of CCTV – again for this reason.

    The Swedish criminal justice system sounds appalling. Unsophisticated, oppressive and opaque, to all parties. Open to abuse, as well. No wonder Assange doesn’t want to go there. And unsurprising that the Americans would be more than happy for Assange to go there…

    Alfred – interesting insights on record management. The Americans are probably ripping doors of hinges investigating their security leaks in order to patch things up. Their system sounds lax (especially chucking material with different security classifications together) and, for that reason, open to attack in any defence of Manning, Assange, whoever…

  62. alfred venison

    Hi Karen
    as a records manager i’m surpirsed that so very many gigs of docs & files with “top secret” classification could be downloaded in dvd sized chunks day after day after day to an external drive with no one questioning that activity. any good d/b can be configured to track file & doc movements & alert administrators of unsanctioned actions /movements. i can tell from my d/b whether a doc or file has been looked at , opened to edit, moved to another file, copied, e-mailed or printed. its elementary and like kevin and stella i’m surprised the usa state dept didn’t apparently conduct elementary oversight of its database. dumbass. i’m pleased kevin picked up on it & in his capacity as foreign minister spoke out about it. more people should speak of it. its really very elementary document security and they failed in it and they are blaming someone else for their lack of effective oversight.
    a.v.

  63. Warren Joffe

    @ Mattsui

    Not just “pretty thin” but inexcusable rubbish coming from the homeland of the inventors of Skype.

    I have just observed an 80 year old grandfather goaded into using the Skype loaded on his computer by his 12 year old granddaughter, which he did perfectly competently, even getting his stockbroker on video while sitting on a verandah in the Caribbean. I have seen a committee taking evidence from people on another continent by speakerphone, and that was 18 years ago. Come to think of it, I took part in a video conference between Melbourne and Sydney in 1972!

    As with Carr’s prevarications, and the failure to explain why the Swedes haven’t been asked by a goverment for and haven’t given a guarantee against sending Assange to the US, such cr*ppy arguments or explanation only make one surer that res ipse loquitur.

  64. mattsui

    @Karen.
    The official reason for not interviewing Assange in the UK (as reported in Crikey last week – I think). Is that for allegations of this kind it is necessary to have all parties concerned present (supposedly to allow facts to be checked etc) at the questioning. The line is that it would therefore be necessary for the two women involved to fly there with the prosecuter and they obviously want to avoid the sort of circus that would create.
    It all seems pretty thin but that is the line they’re taking now – at least as I understand it.
    As for Bob Carr, he’s engaging in the sort of secretive, two faced, back slapping diplomacy that the Wikileaks cables have shown to be the norm. He’ll keep telling us about consular assistance and not interfering in the legal workings of other countries….. nothing to see here, people….move along!

  65. Owen Gary

    Karen

    They don’t want to charge him because that way he will receive a proper court hearing with all due process which will bring this case undone as both women refused to bring any rape charge against him. The purpose of these allegations which he has already answered to was purely to get him there.

  66. Karen

    Geomac – do we know what Carr’s response is to Sweden’s insistence that Assange be sent to Sweden for questioning, as opposed to having it done in Britain? Our government has been completely stumm on this.

  67. Karen

    @ Geomac – interesting comments and article – it sounds pretty outrageous, by Australian standards, that a legal system can permit someone to be placed in solitary confinement for the purposes of questioning.

    It also sounds pretty outrageous that the Swedish prosecutor has allegedly delayed questioning for such a long period of time (which in our system would be a denial of procedural fairness) and has refused to come to Britain to question him as is apparently permitted under the EU regulations of Mutual Legal Assistance.

    Given those apparent powers, Assange’s concerns about rendition/extradition, and Assange’s initial cooperation to stay on in Sweden to answer questions after he was permitted to leave Sweden following the initial investigation, I can’t understand why the prosecutor doesn’t discharge her responsibilities in an efficient manner and come to Britain to conclude her investigations? What’s the reason for her refusal?

  68. geomac62

    No Ws but put the ht tp // bit first , dont forget the :
    justice4assange.com/Prosecution.html

  69. geomac62

    Swedish Prosecutor Marianne Ny insists Assange be held in remand, incommunicado, while the investigation progresses, and before any charge is brought against him.
    If Ny gets him to Sweden he will be in the same position as Manning in some respects .
    link to follow

  70. Komodo

    One reason Sweden might be preferable to the UK as a departure point is this:

    Start from the assumption that in 2010, the US had decided that it wanted Assange. First move, get him into custody in a friendly country, before he buggered off to somewhere the US could only touch him with a drone. The UK wouldn’t play ball as no crimes had been committed by Assange there – rendering him wasn’t a good political option given his public support and interest.

    But Assange was going to address some fellow subversives in Sweden. This was monitored, and a honey trap sprung. Nothing likely to put him away inconveniently long – the case was so weak that the initial prosecutor, not in on the deal, dropped it forthwith. But, demonstrably under political pressure, it was resurrected. The day after Assange left with the second prosecutor’s blessing, A European Arrest Warrant was issued. Previous cases indicate US policy in similar circumstances; it waits until the initial case is disposed of before seeking extradition, as the ‘criminal’ leaves the courtroom, or a short jail sentence. (The case is shot through with holes. My deceased grandmother could get Assange off. But the charade is being played to the end as if it were watertight.)

    So, the reason, in this view, would be simple opportunism. The question of whether Sweden or the UK would be more likely to extradite is irrelevant – either would be happy to do so with the minimum of difficulty. The priority was to get Assange’s movements controlled and that eftsoons or right speedily – the equipment was in place in Sweden, and Assange obligingly went there.

    And there’s a little bonus for the US in that Assange has now been thoroughly smeared as a rapist by the obliging media, further eroding his fan base abd reducing his political credibility.

    It’s a theory.

  71. Karen

    @ Alfred Venison – good points. I’ve also read/heard something similar from a former British intelligence female officer who was interviewed the other week, saying that sensitive or classified information was thrown in together with other information that didn’t genuinely attract that characterisation. Further, that most of the information fell into the latter category.

    Finally, it was suggested by this Officer that some information does genuinely requires secrecy in the interests of national security, however, this needs to be properly discerned, properly categorised and properly secured.

    If Assange is ever charged and brought to trial, together with others, I think there are going to be few red faces. I can see the defence teams ripping right into this issue…

  72. Karen

    @ Jimmy – “To me the big point is they could extradite him form the UK if they wanted, so why bother with the whole Sweden palava?”

    Possible answers are:

    1. The US are still trying to marshall evidence against Assange? It is alleged that a grand jury has already been empanelled. Its logical to surmise that the matter is currently under investigation. Its likely to be a complicated factual scenario involving the investigation of a number of security breaches, including conspiracy and/or joint enterprise. There are likely to be a number of possible persons of interest or witnesses they are looking to investigate/ use in any future prosecution. These things take time. And they are simply not ready yet.

    2. The Swedes might end up ‘taking the stone’ out of the US shoes by jailing Assange in respect of their charges. If Assange is in jail, he can no longer be a problem for them viz Wikileaks. This resolves the problem for them, practically speaking, at least for the foreseeable future.

    3. It could be seen to be easier, politically, for the Americans, the Brits and us, if Assange is extradited from Sweden, rather, than say from the UK and Australia, where there is already a lot of heat about this coming from its citizenry already. Trouble is, there is now global interest in what happens to Assange, so Sweden is now going to come under a lot of scrutiny than it would, otherwise, prefer.

  73. alfred venison

    dame stella rimington of mi5 celebrity told an international archiving conference in Brisbane last week that governments must be open and transparent, and only keep documents secret if security is a concern. She said the US government should have taken better steps to prevent Wikileaks from acquiring the information in the first place.

    she also said the usa government took “no proper consideration” of what was genuinely secret and should be only available to a select few. She said sensitive documents were instead included with other information accessible by many people, including Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking the information to WikiLeaks.

    “One can criticise the United States for having a so-called secret database which was apparently available extensively”, she said, “including to a young soldier if the reports are true”.

    google “rimington brisbane assange” if you want to read it – links get moderated here.
    alfred venison

  74. Warren Joffe

    @ Pedantic, Balwyn and all the others who think that Assange ought to go and clear his reputation (or some other equal unlikely and fatuous objective) in Sweden and show he is not cowardly or a sexual predator or whatever please, please, you simple-minded naive luvlies, come and make up a poker table with me and bring lots of money so it will be worth my while associating with such simple folk. So Assange is a lefty/anarchist/fascist egotist, control freak and misuser of his attractiveness to women… So what? In the meantime niceminded luvlies, don’t let any of your nearest and dearest fall for the idea that it can ever, unless you have many millions for your defence in the courts and the media, be a good idea to be tried in the US – or be subjected to court process in pretty well any other country unless you know the law, the customs, the culture, the language and the lawyers – and can afford and get bail and can recoup your expenditure more than fully with a book on your ordeal.

    It has been pointed out already that the US is probably reasonably happy with the current situation. It might also be added, peripherally to whatever is the main point in some relevant person’s mind, that Assange took a good deal of trouble, successfully it seems, to ensure that lives weren’t endangered by Wikileaks disclosures (it was the Guardian’s carelessness which effectually let out one of the unredacted sets of records ); also that at the least Wikileaks has done everyone a favour who might otherwise have trusted the US to keep secrets efficiently and reliably.

  75. Sean

    That’s funny, the US told Saddam Hussein they had no interest if he invaded Kuwait, and then waited in lie for him….

  76. AR

    An oldie but goldie description of a diplomat was “an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country”. I have no idea of Bleich’s previous claims to probity but the various quotes above prove accuracy of the definition.
    Or just plain dumb – “we don’t acknowledge the cables …“At the same time, it put a lot of people in harm’s way. It compromised national security interests,…
    so that’s all perfectly clear.
    Jimmy-rabble-soother, the US will not need apply to Sweden for extradition on a formal charge, he can be “lent” by that craven polity once they have him incommunicado with no time limit, no reportage and NO requirement that he be returned in one, or several pieces.
    Interesting that blei means “lead” (the metal,Pb) – his leaden lies were indeed heavy and bleich means “pale, wan” which anyone might be telling such porkies to anyone semi sentient, such as keen Bernard.

  77. GeeWizz

    Owen actually the scheme being scrapped by Dillard WAS a Tony Abbott dental scheme.

    Dillard doesn’t have any scheme… she is scrapping all dental schemes and making it someone elses problem(Liberals) in 2014 after Labor is booted out. Labor is so desperate for a budget surplus they will make people suffer with rotten teeth. Labor are a disgrace.

  78. Owen Gary

    Troofie,

    The only schemes rolled out for dental care under the coalition was a free cotton reel.

  79. Owen Gary

    @Pedantic Baldwyn

    He has already fronted up to the Swedish authorities when these allegations came out, as it was released in the Swedish tabloids days later. On presenting himself & answering questions he was told he had no case to answer.

    This should be common knowledge to everyone by now surely?
    After leaving Sweden sometime later he was then requested to return to answer these allegations “again” & to date still no charges have been laid. its quite bloody obvious whats afoot as Manning is still locked away after 3yr’s without charge please get a grip!! (watch the 4 Corners podcast)

    Anyone who publicises the facist & financial ways our so called democratic governments operate & then receives a worlwide audience will receive the same kind of attention, that is why they made up the so called anti-terrorism laws to bypass the judicial system.

    The Hegemonista that runs this planet will not tolerate anyone exposing them or anyone trying to change the system. Things will ever reamin the same until the majority of the public wake up & dethrone them, but when this happens there will probably be another (false flag) terrorist attack to distract this from happening as per usual.

    Ther is another one coming within the next 3 months so please don’t get sucked in again, can’t you see by now that Joe public is enemy No.1

  80. GeeWizz

    And Dillard let slip on tonight’s news that the new Dental Scheme is a budget saving… obviously didn’t get the script from Tanya Plebeseck who says it will be a substantial costs.

  81. GeeWizz

    Of ftopic, but… Suzanne did you hear about todays dental announcement?

    Dillards killed off the Chronic Disease Dental program and has a new program starting in 2014 costing $4 Billion dollars.

    Interestingly though the Chronic Disease dental program has been killed off starting January 1st 2013. It’s all spin… Dillard is killing off programs just to try and get her once in 24 Year Labor budget surplus and pushing spending off to when it’s someone elses problem.

    Meanwhile people in need of dental treatment next year will be told to put up with the pain.. put up with the rotting teeth… gotta get that buget surplus!

  82. mattsui

    Pedantic?
    Assange has already faced his accucers in Sweden once. At that time neither they nor the authorities deemed the case worth persuing and Assange was free to leave.
    Given the nature of the accusations, what could have changed since then to warrant the case being reopened with such fervour?
    Assange may be a little paranoid. Justifiably. But I doubt he fells any guilt over his nights of horizontal hacking with his “accusers”.

  83. Pedantic, Balwyn

    According to both Swedish and UK legal eagles it is easier to extradite a person from the UK to the USA, than it is to extradite that same person from Sweden to the USA.
    If that is the case why would Assange not return to Sweden to face his accusers?

    The USA may well like to jail Assange, but his “extradition” rationale for staying in the UK or fleeing to Ecuador does not resonate with me; more likely a case of a guilty conscience.

  84. fractious

    “‘The US never talks about whether we’re conducting investigations of anyone, period,’ the Ambassador said. ‘We have talked about investigations, for example, of Bradley Manning, for stealing classified information, but that’s because he’d been caught stealing classified information, been arrested, …'”

    And left in prison for almost 3 years without a single charge being levelled agaisnt him.

    I tip my hat to you Bernard (and crikey) for scoring and reporting on the interview. But given how Bleich palters with the truth on many matters (as pointed out by others above) and is at best economical with the truth on Manning (did crikey not ask him why it’s taken almost 3 years to trump up come up with any charges?), it’s hardly a wonder so many of us have donned our ‘cynic’ hats.

  85. Dagney_Taggert

    Nowhere in the Ambassador’s interview did he deny the involvement of the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people and under the supervision of the reverse vampires. Clearly, this is what they are afraid of St Julian revealing!

    Given the world attention being given to this, I highly doubt that Sweden (apparently of the “big” arms dealers to NATO, I learned above – big after the US, UK, France, Germany etc) would extradite him to the US unless any request was clear, above board and water tight.

    In any case, Sweden (and the UK and Australia) will not extradite anyone to any country to face the death penalty.

    I wonder how much longer the Ecuadorian Embassy will put up with Mr Assange – it’s seems such a small place for such a mighty ego. Maybe the next time he gives a balcony speech to the faithful he will cop an unexpected size 10 up the clacker and over the railing he will go.

  86. Harry Rogers

    Yes its astonishing that anybody would not believe what a government official says? Half the time they have absolutely no idea of whats going on themselves.

    History proves over and over and over again that governments consistently lie.

    Thats why sites like Crikey exist and why nobody trusts the traditional Fourth estate any more.

    They lie as convincingly as Governments.

    I wonder those who try to rationalise the US and Australian attitude to Assange would do the same if it was their wife or child that was being held or open to the whims of faceless men in these governments. Hell yeah of course, they would definitely trust the CIA and FBI with their on kin. Hmm!

  87. gautillard dellron

    “the release by WikiLeaks of US diplomatic cables…placed people in harm’s way”

    as opposed to the innocent children who were murdered by the US helicopter gunship in iraq? let’s not forget what this is all about: the US government has committed war crimes, and the only people who were put put in harms way are the innocents harmed by the beurocrats who sent people into war for their little geo-political puppet show.

  88. izatso?

    Also …….. Karl Rove holds a position as an adviser to the Swedish P.M. …. for some time now, but from after Assange was allowed to leave …….

  89. iggy648

    I’m interested in Ashar’s point:
    ‘So lets see:
    “the release by WikiLeaks of US diplomatic cables…placed people in harm’s way” This line has been rolled out by all US government officials and their cronies, and has consistently failed to show who has been actually harmed?’
    Jimmy and Suzanne, you would have researched this? Let us know!

  90. Radguy

    The UK will attempt to save face, after all, they use independent judicial officers to authorise warrants. The Swedes have no face to save, their legal system is being seen for the disgrace that it is.

    Anyway, as you were, continue to divert attention from the precedent set by allowing the word “prosecution” to be used to detain and question suspects without charges necessarily being laid.

    I recommend people look up this word in the Oxford dictionary as it clearly states the legal definition, despite the Swedish and UK courts ruling to allow the application of a very different definition. The etymology also suggests the legal definition “to bring before a court of law” has been in use since circa 1590. If you want to see where in the High Court transcript that this abomination of justice is applied, look for the words “cosmopolitan eyes”. Prosecution in my understanding is an IRREVOKABLE process that leads to charges. Ny has been granted an alternative definition which allows her to cease prosecution after questioning. This is a disturbing precedent which can be applied to other cases to allow extradition and detention for questioning by questionable justice systems. It allows for brutal coercion of innocent people who could easily answer questions remotely.

    Go on Jimmy, I dare you to comment on the credibility of the allegations including ALL relevant detail. Prove that you are no coward. I will prejudge any comment that declares these details irrelevant as evasive and cowardly.

  91. Ashar

    @Kevin Herbet
    “These responses evidence the fact that the Great Satan, in whose illegal wars since 1960…”

    If you are referring to the US government as the Great Satan, apart from the atrocities performed against the First Nations Peoples of North America, then the US government has been at it since 1880 and their invasion-without-cause of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

    What does that to do with the US ambassador and Assange –
    ““But it’s not that they pick someone, then figure out ‘oh now let’s see if we can find a crime’” – why stop now, the US government lied about the Queen of Hawaii to justify an invasion, and every government since has lied to either gain or maintain power, and not little white lies – big, killing lots of people type lies. Or in the case of Assange – persecuting or taking out enemies of the state.

  92. Jimmy

    Zut – “Possibly a deal has been done with the Swedish judiciary to put him away and save the US the trouble.” another conspiracy?
    But my point is that people are claiming “rendition” and that I am being naive worrying about “legalities” because the US doesn’t worry about the law but if these conspiracy theories are to be bel ieved they are going to extraordinary lengths to follow the law.

  93. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    1. Could it also be a ‘coincidence’ that Sweden is one of the big arms dealers to NATO?
    2. Would it be ‘good for business’ to ‘render’ Assange?

    1. It could be.
    2. Definitely.

  94. mattsui

    Perhaps jimmy has a point, after all.
    The U.S. don’t really want Assange. They want to reduce his appeal as a figurehead for radicalism within the constantly expanding security aparatus (bear with me here..).
    By allowing the target (along with the rest of us dupes) to believe he is wanted, they have forced him into ever tighter corners. To the point where he is now unable to leave an apartment in central London. Still definatively not being persecuted by the U.S. but now unable to promote himself or his organisation effectively and no doubt rapidly fading from the consciousness of the sort of people that watch the tv news – the stable popular base that keeps the state aparatus from collapsing.
    The U.S. Spook-state aparatus has actually achieved it’s goal and the fact that we’ve been intentionally misled for years (decades, a century?)is largely irrelevant.
    You know, it makes sense. Sorry jimmy, seems you weren’t a misguided troll after all.

  95. zut alors

    @Jimmy: ‘…why hasn’t the US got Assange already? Why do they need to get Assange to Sweden…’

    Possibly a deal has been done with the Swedish judiciary to put him away and save the US the trouble.

    Interesting that Clinton’s visited Sweden in June, the week after Assange’s appeal to the British Supreme Court was rejected – the first time in 36 years that a US Secretary of State has set foot in Sweden. A remarkable ‘coincidence’.

  96. Jimmy

    Radguy – “Jimmy, quite funny your attempt to steer the discussion towards considering the “legalities” regarding extraditions from the UK compared to Sweden. Same tactics used by David Allen Green. The trouble with these “arguments” is that Sweden, UK and US will quite happily thumb their nose at these if and when it suits them.” If that is true why are they bothering with all the pretext, why hasn’t the US got Assange already? Why do they need to get Assange to Sweden if the UK thumb their noses at the law anyway?

  97. Yclept

    Per chance, does Bleich sell used cars on the weekend?

  98. Jimmy

    Comments I this site could be summed up:

    I want to hear the truth but only the truth I want to hear!

  99. Radguy

    Jimmy, quite funny your attempt to steer the discussion towards considering the “legalities” regarding extraditions from the UK compared to Sweden. Same tactics used by David Allen Green. The trouble with these “arguments” is that Sweden, UK and US will quite happily thumb their nose at these if and when it suits them.

    Really, it is a not so clever diversion due to the lack of credibility of these mentioned nations, acknowledged by Assange and Wikileaks supporters.

    You won’t see US sycophants talking about the circumstances of the allegations. They are cowards at heart after all.

  100. Liamj

    Nice of Mr Bleich to confirm Wikileaks success re ‘information degradation’, a.k.a reduced trust & info flow within elite conspiracies, as Assange argued it would in his 90’s essay on the topic. Don’t stop now folks, they wouldn’t be working so hard to bulls hit us if they weren’t desperate!

    Otherwise just obfusication as usual, stomach-turning when consider that it fronts for the torture of Manning, thousands of collatoral murders by drone, ‘stabilised’ Iraq, the new African adventures, etc. Australia could really make a difference in taming US imperialism, if only we grew spines.

  101. mattsui

    Context, please Bernard Keane (unless this interview is being done by telephone). It’s great to be getting words from the President’s delegate’s mouth but we need to get a feel for which side of said mouth they’re coming out of.
    How does the man (aka Da Man) react to this line of questioning? How does he look? How does it feel to be in the presence of such alleged greatness? Does he sneer or sweat when he blatantly contradicts himself so? Does he appear worn down by the double standards he is forced to ignore and perpetuate at the same time? Is there any part of his character or nature that reflects the crumbling, bitter, failure of the former empire he represents?
    What he says is what he is paid to say. It may even be true, in some way. We need to know the human element in the Ambassador’s office.
    Keep it up.

  102. Kevin Herbert

    These responses evidence the fact that the Great Satan, in whose illegal wars since 1960 more than 4 million civilians have murdered, has no credibility whatsoever.

    Can anyone tell me what’s been gained by this slaughter? …..of course save for lining the pockets of the criminals who make up the MIC.

  103. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    People have every right not to trust governments that go to war on a pretext, and had Wikileaks or someone similar blown the whole “Curveball” saga open, GW Bush and his cronies could not have insisted they had credible intelligence when they demonstrably did not.

    Bleich is covering his arse with the Stars and Stripes, but that’s his job. No one is fooled, however.

  104. Jimmy

    Bill Williams – ” If I were Assange I would want a formal assurance from the US government given to the Australian government.” Why you wouldn’t beli eve it anyway becasue “they would say that wouldn’t they”

    Shepherd Maralyn – Why can the US only “rendition” people out of Sweden? If I was the US and wanting to rendition Assange and the UK would do my bidding (as alleged often) I would instruct the to let him go to Ecuador as I am sure it would be easier to “rendition” him from their, at least it would be a quick trip to guantanamo!

  105. QUIGLEY JOSEPH

    Ashar, thank you for your analysis.
    I didn’t keep tabs of the places where I went “Grrrrrrrrrrr!”
    You touched on most of them.
    George Orwell would have been as proud of you as I am grateful.
    Doubtles he would have been chuffed (in a perverse sort of way) to witness his prophecies about the corruption of power politics being realised just as much in so-called democratic societies as in totalitarian ones.

  106. zut alors

    @ Bill Williams ‘… go to Sweden and face the charges against him…’

    Except, as we all need to be reminded, there are NO charges. Assange is merely required for questioning.

  107. Bill Williams

    I wonder how many Crikey readers would, if they were Julian Assange, decide it was safe to go to Sweden and face the charges against him on the basis of Ambassador Bleich’s comments? If I were Assange I would want a formal assurance from the US government given to the Australian government.

    Bernard, why didn’t you question Bleich about the validity of the findings of the Four Corners report.

    In summary it seems that Bleich is saying: a) we have no interest in Assange and b) that (a) could change. Surely b) suggests a) may not be true?

  108. shepherdmarilyn

    Sweden rendered people to be tortured for the US. It is decades since I trusted a word from the US and most of the world feel the same way.

  109. Michael Clothier

    I first heard of Wiki Leaks when that absolutely compelling evidence of the helicopter strafing of that Iraq journalist came out on Utube. Fair enough a mistake was made but I couldn’t believe I was watching US soldiers also firing on the good Samaritan who came to his aid. The fact that there were children in the Samaritan’s van, yet the US gunship chose to knowingly fire on it, made me think that the people involved must surely be charged with murder. Perhaps Wiki Leaks and Manning’s uncovering of war crimes is something the Ambassador might have been asked about?

  110. Jimmy

    Edwin Coleman – Yep, which is probably why they haven’t extradited him and have no plans to do so.

    This rendition thing is the biggest crock, if they wanted to illegally kidnap him they would of already, they wouldn’t need to do it from Sweden. And given he has legal teams in 4 countries it wouldn’t exactly be easy.

  111. Dion Giles

    Re Edwin Coleman : Good point, but Britain may be a bit more picky on formal basis for extradition, and Assange’s Australian nationality would be a political barrier for Gillard and Co. being seen to shunt him off. Australian courts are notoriously non-servile when human rights are under attack – recall Dr Haneef. There would have to be a court hearing for it and that would be political dynamite. The Swedes don’t bother about formal justification. Google “Al-zery” and “Agiza”.

  112. michael crook

    Thank you, that has really set my mind at rest, I was wrong about the US all this time.

  113. edwin coleman

    @Jimmy
    Wouldn’t so-called “legitimate extradition” require at least that he be charged with something in the US?
    Rendition wouldn’t though.

  114. Jimmy

    Edwin Coleman ““Sweden is not a puppet state of the US.”
    by contrast with the UK which would apparently extradite him at once if asked? Or Australia?” there is a difference between being a puppet and granting legitimate extradition.

    To me the big point is they could extradite him form the UK if they wanted, so why bother with the whole Sweden palava?

  115. Radguy

    Clytie-so true. You can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.

  116. Radguy

    Yes Joffe, these are definitely problems that could have very bad consequences for ordinary folk. The TPP is a rort conceived by copyright holders who are typically not the authors.

    In other news, it was reported last night that there are approximately 15,000 prosthetic limbs fitted in Afghanistan per year. This is ridiculous and further validation of Wikileaks and whistleblowers in general. People being endangered by leaks? Pfft, give me a break. Go and talk to these amputees as well as the families who have lost members through this ill conceived military expedition. There are so many soldiers who set incredibly bad examples of westerners that the mission was flawed from the start.

    The only fix for Afghanistan is open dialogue accessible to all Afghans, but that doesn’t seem to be in the interests of the US. Luckily for us, the US is hopelessly incapable of challenging free thinkers with their doughy sock puppet army. At some point, they will be held accountable for their bullying.

    As for the US ambassador’s comments, he’s left an Assange sized hole in his comments. He also admits that the US will be more careful with secret information. One would think that there would be no need for this, in fact the opposite should be true of more honest information coming out to encourage support of the US. Well, this would be the case if the US were not involved in nefarious activities including trapwire.

  117. edwin coleman

    “Sweden is not a puppet state of the US.”
    by contrast with the UK which would apparently extradite him at once if asked? Or Australia?

  118. Jimmy

    Zut – Why is it so important – your bel ief that the response would be a l i e removes any requirement for courage in asking the question?

    And when the question has already been answered numerous times why does our govt need to ask it a third, to me all that shows is they haven’t been paying attention previousl y.

    And thirdly what fi the question is aksed and answered and then evidence comes to light that Assange has committed a crime? The assurance would stand for nought I would expect.

  119. geomac62

    We have talked about investigations, for example, of Bradley Manning, for stealing classified information, but that’s because he’d been caught stealing classified information, been arrested, but generally we don’t talk about anyone, ever, whether they’re under investigation or anything else.
    Manning was not caught stealing and is under arrest because of information from a hacker . Surely his arrest is to determine if he did in fact steal the data and pass it on to wikileaks . The subject that has not been addressed is the multitude of staff that could have stolen the data and the lax security that allowed it .

  120. zut alors

    @Jimmy: ‘…why are people demanding statements from the US if the don’t bel ieve them when they get them?’

    No statement by the US govt (or representatives) would satisfy or reassure me regarding Assange.

    However, it is of utmost importance that our obsequious government ASKS the question. I think this reticence to pose a direct, simple question is what makes Australians angry/dissatisfied. Australians don’t lack guts but our representatives frequently portray our nation as servile.

  121. Clytie

    Well, that’s a nice layer of sugar on top of the bad smell. The most revealing thing about the diplomatic cables was how these guys give you the smooth salve in public, but think, say and do something completely different behind your back.

  122. Warren Joffe

    Indeed well done even to get the Ambassador to say the predictable clearly. One can’t make too much of
    “The US never talks about whether we’re conducting investigations of anyone, period,” the Ambassador said.

    even if it is inconsistent with reported remarks about the US having no interest in Assange. He seems to have come clean enough not to deserve “weaselling” as a description.

    Please prepare, Bernard, to see my persistent prejudices repeated tomorrow when you write up Copyright concerns dealt with by the Ambassador. I have heard a DC lawyer, meant to be speaking on something else, take the opportunity to show just how aggressively US interests are pursued in a number of ways to do with copyright, especially if one includeds as a US interest the aggregation of copyrights by the likes of the Disney Corporation.

    Let it not be left unsaid whenever it can be said, that Copyright law generally is scandalous when you compare it with even the 20 year patent max for life saving drugs etc. That someone with no relevant qualifications or knowledge like Mark Vaile, also not helped by nominally better qualified Cabinet colleagues and totally non-commercial bureaucrats, should have given away so much in the so-called Free Trade treaty negotiations is something not to forget because opportunity should be found to redress the errors. At least it didn’t hand Disney etc. life plus 90 years copyrights, merely and extension from 50 t0 75. It should have been reduced to life or 25 years whichever is the greater! Or does one want to make sure that the likes of Agatha Christie’s great-grandchildren can go on collecting royalties for 100 years? Worse in Australia where the distant heirs of the recently enriched painters who have long since sold their paintings will be able to collect royalties for generations without death duties!!!

    Yes, Bernard, I want you onside, even if your clear thinking doesn’t quite extend to seeing what a problem there is with the IPCC’s seven different models and the summaries that crxxks like Pachauri give to busy blinkered politicians.

  123. Ashar

    Oh I get it – this is a game of “spot how many outrageous lies a government officer can get away with while still holding a straight face” right?

    So lets see:
    “the release by WikiLeaks of US diplomatic cables…placed people in harm’s way” This line has been rolled out by all US government officials and their cronies, and has consistently failed to show who has been actually harmed?

    “But it’s not that they pick someone, then figure out ‘oh now let’s see if we can find a crime’”
    Hmmm see Daniel Ellsberg (“Pentagon Papers” [1971] on the hidden and morally bankrupt US decision-making around the Vietnam War). Lets see what they did to him – charged with Espionage Act of 1917; house broken into by government agents (without warrant), illegally wire-tapped, illegal use of FBI powers in interviews, government officials committed conspiracy, and multiple attempts to discredit him through manipulating data about his mental state, as well as a plan to “totally incapacitate: him. That is just ONE of the more famous cases, but there is a plethora of examples of other whistlebowers etc who dare to challenge the supremacy of the US government’s (including all their agencies) moral authority to do whatever the hell it wants.

    “[Wikileaks] is an irresponsible and dangerous approach to providing information”
    Irrespective of the evidence to the contrary.

    “…in [Ambassador Bleich’s] view, WikiLeaks is likely to cause damage to diplomacy through “information degradation”
    Would that be confirming, in writing, to foreign authorities the poor views US authorities have of them? I am sure they were shocked, except their responses tend to say otherwise.

    “When I get that information I’m not going to share it as broadly as I should because I’m afraid it could leak, so I keep to too tight a grip. ”
    Really, that’s the response of a representative of over 300 million people to his obligations to keep his people informed? This though I understand is something of a new and radical thought in modern democracies – that The People have a right to know what is being done in their names, and with their resources.

    “I know the Iraq War was unpopular in many countries and very controversial in the US.”
    Maybe, because it was illegal? That whole paragraph was truly outrageous.

    But good on you for the pearl in the last couple of lines
    “when you sit down with people and actually talk about how it gets done, they say ‘yeah I get it, you wouldn’t want to have that conversation with everyone watching every single thing you say’. ”
    Really, which people? And since the US Ambassador is also talking about US governments collusion in the largest ponzy scam in history (Also known as the Global Financial Crisis – another dark humoured joke, right?), then I’d like to know which US citizens actually said anything remotely like that, because last I checked, the level of civil disobedience around illegal wars and government ponzy collusion was rating up pretty damn high, and the participants are not what you would normally think of as stereotypical protestors – probably because if your government backed the corporations who stole your house off you, you’d want to know what the hell was going behind closed doors to.

  124. Jimmy

    Zut – Of course his allegiance is to the US, he is their ambassador, but that doesn’t mean he is l y ing.

    And again, why are people demanding statements from the US if the don’t bel ieve them when they get them?

  125. Bohemian

    Well…it’s not like the US Government has ever lied before so we can pretty much take these comments at face value. Nothing to see here..move on.

    And besides if Assange ever came back to Australia he could count on the suckups in Canberra selling him out to good old Uncle Sam before he was free of the tarmac… bag over the head off we go to Egypt.

  126. zut alors

    Bleich is a smart fellow and appears most personable in all his interviews but, when it comes down to the bottom line, his allegiance is to his homeland, the USA. Everything he says will always be in their interest, no one else’s.

  127. Dion Giles

    What Bleich has not done is state that there are no plans to render Assange to a US kangaroo court to try him, a non-American, for failure on non-American soil to protect American geostrategic interests. All Bleich has done is weasel around the point that while victimising the American whistleblower Bradley Manning they may (for which read “are planning to”) move on from Manning to Assange. If Sweden wasn’t a puppet of America it would not have clandestinely co-operated, on Swedish soil, with rendition of non-Americans to an American flight to Mubarek’s Egypt for torture and got caught red-handed (e.g. Google “Al-zery” and “Agiza” – one can bet Assange has). As for Bob Carr, last night with Leigh Sales he threw away any credibility he might have had when he parroted the Jakartaspeak formula phrase “the two Papuan provinces”, for occupied West Papua, even more often than Tony Abbott parrots “the carbon tax”

  128. Frank Campbell

    ” the US doesn’t have any interest at all in the extradition”

    Bleich lies

  129. Jimmy

    SB – Thanks for proving my point.

  130. Suzanne Blake

    Nonsence

    why the Grand Jury then and the secrecy?

  131. Steve Gardner

    We are better informed than Ambassador Bleich thinks. We know from various other sources that a grand jury has been empanelled and is preparing an indictment of Assange under the Espionage Act 1917. See this http://pastebin.com/q0hTkwFh for example. We know that Australian Ambassador to the US Kim Beazley has requested that the US State Department keep him updated on the progress of its investigation of Assange. And there’s other evidence besides.

  132. Jimmy

    There have been a lot of calls for the US to come out and deny they are out to get Assange, now that the Ambassador have done so the line will be “you can’t trust what he says”.

    Plus the comment ““There’s an ongoing investigation of the Bradley Manning theft of classified information. Was anyone involved in a conspiracy, aiding and abetting, those sorts of things — and that’s reasonable, trying to see whether or not there are others, some liability out there.” Is not just a cover so they can charge after saying they wouldn’t, it is a logical position to say we don’t have an interest in him now but if more information comes to light we could be.

    I would also like to say that I have read many article form other journalists criticising Wikileaks lack of journalistic integrity and thougths for newsworthyness and consequences of publishing the ambassador has listed here.

  133. Gavin Mooney

    This sort if stonewalling makes me realise anew just why we needed and need WikiLeaks!

    When will such people as Bleich ever learn?

    And PS. Should Bob Carr not resign after the revelations in The Saturday Age recently? Why can Carr not simply ask Hilary Clinton: “If Assange were to go to Sweden will you categorically state that you will not seek to extradite him to the US?”

  134. paddy

    Points for scoring the interview Bernard.
    But on reading through all that, I just kept thinking…. Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?
    Perhaps his thoughts on copyright and the Internet will (hopefully) be more illuminating.

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