WikiLeaks US prosecution: State Department admits with ‘slip of the tongue’

Fri, 2012-08-24

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune
Washington, DC. 24 August (

The U.S. Department of State spokesperson Victoria Nuland made a serious ‘gaffe’ on August 20 at her daily press briefing despite the Obama administration has repeatedly said that it has no intention of prosecuting the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for disclosing thousands of top secret, classified and highly sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables.

A gaffe is a verbal mistake, a mistake that comes from saying something that is true, but inappropriate. It may also be an erroneous attempt to reveal a truth. Typically, it refers to a politician or a public official inadvertently saying something publicly that they legitimately believe is true but have not fully analyzed the consequences of publicly stating such. Also the person who makes the ‘gaffe’ privately believe it to be true, realize the dire consequences of saying it, and inadvertently uttering in public the unutterable.

And, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s spokesperson Victoria Nuland made this ‘gaffe’ in uttering the truth contrary to Obama administration’s open declaration that it does not intend prosecuting Mr. Assange at a Grand Jury hearing.

Here is Ms. Nuland’s gaffe.

On August 20 State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked during a press briefing whether Assange “could face persecution” if he “was to come to the United States under whatever circumstances.” The reporter asked, “Do you find that that’s a credible argument? Does anyone face unwarranted or illegal government persecution in the United States?”

Nuland reflexively said no. When the reporter inquiringly said, “No?” She bluntly said “no” again. As the reporter continued to press her, she dropped a major hint, “If you’re asking me whether there was any intention to persecute rather than prosecute, the answer is no. Okay?”

The reporter caught her and said, “Okay. Well, wait. Well, hold on a second. So you’re saying that he would face prosecution?” To which she said, “We were in a situation where he was not headed to the United States; he was headed elsewhere.” But that doesn’t mean he would not, at some point in the future, be reeled into the clutches of US justice (which, according to Nuland, would never in present-day America “persecute” anyone—women, immigrants, people of color, gays, Muslims, etc—no one).
Well readers, did you get Ms. Nuland’s ‘gaffe’?

Now we present, based on Asian Tribune investigative research, how the Obama administration is planning to prosecute, not persecute as Ms. Nuland reaffirmed, WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange for disclosing diplomatic secrets that embarrassed the American administration and led to chilly relationship with some nations even withdrawing a couple of ambassadors. His extradition to Sweden is well connected to the entire issue.

US intends to chase Assange: Australian dip cable

The declassified Australian diplomatic cables, released under Australian freedom of information legislation, show Australia’s ambassador ,the former Labor leader Kim Beazley, has made high level representations to the US government asking for advance warning of any moves to prosecute Assange.

Australian diplomats have no doubt the United States is intent on pursuing Julian Assange, Foreign Affairs and Trade Department documents obtained by the The Sydney Morning Herald show. This was revealed by Herald in its August 18, 2012 edition.

Briefings for the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Senator Carr suggest the Australian government has no in-principle objection to extradition, the herald says.

The Australian embassy in Washington reported in February that “the US investigation into possible criminal conduct by Mr Assange has been ongoing for more than a year”.

The embassy identified a wide range of criminal charges the US could bring against Assange, including espionage, conspiracy, unlawful access to classified information and computer fraud.

Australian diplomats in Washington expect that any charges against Assange would be carefully and narrowly drawn in an effort to avoid conflict with the First Amendment free speech provisions of the US Constitution.

The released diplomatic cables also show that the Australian government considers the prospect of extradition sufficiently likely that, on direction from Canberra, Mr Beazley sought high level US advice on “the direction and likely outcome of the investigation” and “reiterated our request for early advice of any decision to indict or seek extradition of Mr Assange”.

WikiLeaks Stratfor emails: A secret indictment against Assange

On January 26, 2011, Fred Burton, the vice president of Stratfor, a leading private intelligence firm which bills itself as a kind of shadow CIA, sent an excited email to his colleagues. “Text Not for Pub,” he wrote. “We” – meaning the U.S. government – “have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.”

The news, if true, according to a report written by Michael Hastings to the widely-read ROLLING STONE magazine, was a bombshell. At the time, the Justice Department was ramping up its investigation of Julian Assange. An indictment under the 1917 Espionage Act would be the most serious action taken to date against Assange, possibly paving the way for his extradition to the U.S.

Hastings notes in his submission dated February 28, Burton, a former federal agent with the U.S. Diplomatic Security Services, had reason to trust his information. He often boasted of his stellar government sources (“CIA cronies,” he called them in another email), and in his role as a government counter-terror agent he had worked on some of the most high-profile terrorism cases of recent years, including the arrest of the first World Trade Center bomber, Ramzi Yousef.

As the vice president of Texas-based Stratfor Global Intelligence, a private firm that contracts with corporations and several government agencies, like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to collect and analyze intelligence on political situations around the world, it was part of his job to keep those contacts alive and share inside information with analysts at the company.

Burton’s information had the ring of truth, says Rolling Stone account. As Salon’s Glenn Greenwald reported last May 2011, a secret grand jury had begun taking testimony from Wikileaks supporters in a courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia.

The Stratfor internal communication was a revelation by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks.

Rights group condemns indictment against WikiLeaks

Leaks published from Stratfor, a private intelligence corporation, indicate the United States Department of Justice has issued a secret, sealed indictment against Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, the Center for Constitutional Rights issuing a statement said.

Following is the full text of the Washington-based Center for Constitutional Rights released 28 February 2012:

(Begin Text) A sealed indictment against Julian Assange would underscore the very thing Wikileaks has been fighting against: abuses the government commits in an environment of secrecy and expansive, reflexive calls for “national security.” From the shocking, inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning, to secret grand jury proceedings, to Stratfor’s apparent knowledge of the existence of a sealed indictment before either Mr. Assange or the American public had such knowledge, the government’s conduct in this case reveals why more transparency, not more secrecy, is essential. This would also mark perhaps the first time a journalist has been prosecuted for allegedly receiving and publishing “classified” documents. Indicting Julian Assange would represent a dramatic assault on the First Amendment, journalists, and the public’s right to know.

Rather than promoting transparency as promised, the Obama administration has aggressively pursued whistleblowers and dissenters, launching Espionage Act prosecutions twice as many times as all previous administrations in the last century combined. Attorney General Eric Holder should rethink this dangerous course. Instead of pursuing Julian Assange, Mr. Holder should investigate the serious crimes and abuse of government authority exposed by Wikileaks.(End Text)

FBI serves Grand Jury subpoena related to WikiLeaks

Glenn Greenwald writing to the media network SALON on April 27, 2011 said this:

In the wake of a massive disclosure of Guantanamo files by WikiLeaks, the FBI yesterday served a Grand Jury subpoena in Boston on a Cambridge resident, compelling his appearance to testify in Alexandria, Virgina. Alexandria is where a Grand Jury has been convened to criminally investigate WikiLeaks and Julian Assange and determine whether an indictment against them is warranted. The individual served has been publicly linked to the WikiLeaks case, and it is highly likely that the Subpoena was issued in connection with that investigation.

Notably, the Subpoena explicitly indicates that the Grand Jury is investigating possible violations of the Espionage Act (18 U.S.C. 793), a draconian 1917 law under which no non-government-employee has ever been convicted for disclosing classified information.

The investigation appears also to focus on Manning, as the Subpoena indicates the Grand Jury is investigating parties for “knowingly accessing a computer without authorization” – something that seems to refer to Manning — though it also cites the conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. 371, as well as the conspiracy provision of the Espionage Act (subsection (g)), suggesting that they are investigating those who may have helped Manning obtain access. The New York Times previously reported that the US Department of Justice hoped to build a criminal case against WikiLeaks and Assange by proving they conspired with Manning ahead of time (rather than merely passively received his leaked documents).

Also cited is 18 U.S.C. 641, which makes it a crime to “embezzle, steal, purloin, or knowingly convert . . any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States.”

The Nuland ‘Gaffe’

The ‘gaffe’ made by the State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland on August 20 at the news briefing in Washington was an erroneous attempt to reveal the truth. The Obama administration privately believed prosecuting Julian Assange to be true but realized the dire consequences of saying it and inadvertently uttering in public the unutterable.

– Asian Tribune –

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