2007 - 2020

Democracy Dies in The Old Bailey


Informed Electorate

The Washington Post’s tag-line is ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness,’ this is posed without irony at the top if their website, where the user is faced with a paywall, and must agree to be tracked and monitored before you can access any articles. This quote is obviously a riff on Thomas Jefferson, however a more modern take can be attributed to the father of the World Wide Web, whose creation you are currently using.

“We could say we want the Web to reflect a vision of the world where everything is done democratically, where we have an informed electorate and accountable officials. To do that we get computers to talk with each other in such a way as to promote that ideal.” – Tim Berners Lee

It is a lofty goal for the Internet, and one that inspired quite a number of it’s advocates. These two elements, an informed electorate, who require information to be available and reported accurately, coupled with the ability to hold officials to account. The former is the call of this article and the latter the response.

For the last four weeks the extradition trial of Julian Assange has been ongoing in the Old Bailey in London. It may be time reappraise our preconceived notions and received wisdom, and attempt to step back and consider what this trial is really about. It is based on a US indictment which focuses on the operations and actions of Wikileaks. The purpose of the proceedings in London is to whether Julian Assange can be extradited to the US to face this indictment. It is important to consider what Wikileaks did and it’s purpose.

“Wikileaks is a giant library of the world’s most persecuted documents. We give asylum to these documents, we analyze them, we promote them and we obtain more.” – Julian Assange

What Wikileaks did in line with the statement above was to provide a means for whistleblowers to release information to the general public, along with the ability to communicate that information. These two actions, which produces an informed electorate, is also embodied in the the US indictment against Julian Assange, however, in the indictment it is considered espionage. This is the same charge as was used against Daniel Ellsberg who released the Pentagon Papers, who we will hear from later.

Shining a light on states

In 2010 Wikileaks released a video called Collateral Murder, it is a window to the reality of American foreign intervention. It showed raw video footage and live communication from an attack helicopter in Iraq, where the operator gunned down a group of civilians, Reuter’s journalists, and first responders. It was not known at the time that there were two children in the van with the first responders, when the ground troops arrived and this was discovered the response was ‘Well it’s their fault bringing their kids to a battle.’ It is harrowing to watch. The incident was not revealed to Reuters when they attempted to investigate, and it was concluded by the military that this was within the ‘Rules of Engagement’. The truth regarding this event was only exposed when this video was leaked to Wikileaks by Chelsea Manning and released to the public.

This leak was followed by major document releases in the same year, the Afghan and Iraq War logs which consisted of over 300,000 reports on the war and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq dating from 2004 to 2010 followed by The Guantanamo Files in 2011, US Diplomatic Cables in 2016 and many others. Some of these document have since been entered as evidence in UK courts and have been used in courts around the world to aid in restitution for victims of torture.

Khalid El-Masri is a German citizen who happened to share the name of wanted terrorist, he was kidnapped at the Macedonian border in 2003, renditioned by the CIA to Afghanistan, tortured then released in Albania after being told never to mention what had happened to him. He made it back to Germany in 2004. After years fighting for recognition of what happened to him, it was only after the CableGate release in 2011 which showed that justice for Khalid had been sidelined and frustrated by US interference. In 2012 a judgement in The European court of Human Rights, with evidence from Wikileaks, held Macedonia responsible for his torture an ill treatment, which happened when he was handed over to the CIA, no-one in that organisation has yet been held accountable. In this case the court had argued “the concept of state-secret has often been invoked to obstruct the search for the truth.”

These examples highlight the outcome of leaks aided by Wikileaks, they were supplied by courageous whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, sentenced to 32 years in the US. Whistleblowers only make the information available, the next step was to make this information accessible and accurate, so it can then be used to inform action and hold power to account. The Afghan and Iraq War logs were not published by Wikileaks alone, at the time they received most of their public exposure due to collaboration with major newspapers. The Guardian, New York Times, Der Spiegel amongst others. Some of these collaborations eventually fell apart. For this brief period they were all engaged in the same ideal, accurately informing the electorate, the ideal shared by Jefferson and Berners Lee. One event that happened at this time was the disclosure of the unredacted War Logs. The purpose of redaction is to protect identified person in the documents, to prevent individual retribution if their involvement becomes known.

It is important to understand how this the unredacted War Logs came to be released. An encrypted archive of the War Logs were mirrored across the internet so access to the archive could be ensured. The reason for this was to prevent against ‘Denial Of Service’ attacks which would hinder access to the archive if it was only hosted at one location. Along with that if anything were to happen to Assange a password which could unlock the logs was given to David Leigh at the Guardian. Leigh later published this password in a book with Luke Harding in mid 2011. In September of 2011 the unredacted cables found their way onto the site Cryptome, another leaking website, It will likely never be known if this was a result of the password disclosure by Leigh and Harding. Only after the Cryptome release, Wikileaks also published the unredacted logs.

Considering the redacted War Logs, Wikileaks worked in collaboration with major newspapers, who also provided support around ensuring the accuracy of the information, that redaction was done correctly and the publishing of the information contained in the leaks. This relationship put these media outlets in conflict with powerful states and institutions which were exposed and embarrassed by the the leaks. Due to this being a collaboration it would be difficult to take legal action against any individual organisation without challenging the work of all of them. This fact seems to be ignored in the current US indictment.

States make it personal

The UN has a position of Special Rapporteur on Torture, their purpose is to report and track cases of possible torture. The current UN Special Rapporteur on Torture is Nils Melzer, Swiss academic and professor of international law at Glasgow University. He was first asked to look into the case of Julian Assange in 2018, after Assange had been in the Ecuadorian Embassy for six years. He turned this request down, because he had was busy and in his own words “I had this almost subconscious perception of him as a rapist, narcissist, spy and hacker”. In 2019 he was asked again if he would take up the case. This time he questioned his visceral reaction, he hadn’t dealt with Wikileaks and had not met Assange and couldn’t find an “objective basis” for his negative opinions of Assange.

Everyone is aware that although there were allegations of rape, there was never any charges brought against Assange, it is advisable to read the UN Rapporteur’s interview in Republik on this issue. When the UN Rapporteur chose to investigate Assange’s situation, a cascade of events happened which the UN Rapporteur describes as “really strange”. During this time the Swedish investigation was unceremoniously dropped. This resulted in a stalemate, with none of the involved states including Sweden and the UK entering into any meaningful dialogue with the UN Rapporteur.

In the first week of April 2019 the UN Rapporteur officially requested Ecuador to freeze the situation, with his intention to visit Assange on the 25th of April. He also asked UK not to extradite Assange if he entered their jurisdiction. Despite the UN Rapporteur’s intervention and specific request, on the 8th of April Assange’s asylum and Ecuadorian nationality was revoked and was taken from the Embassy “all without due process” . He was then convicted of criminal offence in a summary hearing, personally insulted by the a judge, and placed in a Belmarsh prison.

After visiting Assange in Belmarsh it is the UN Rapporteur’s opinion that Assange has been tortured, he defines it as a form of psychological torture. This was verified by two independent experts and was due to the constant threat of extradition to a foreign country where “he will with certainty be exposed to a politicized show trial, deprived of his human dignity and due process rights, and then imprisoned in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions for the rest of his life.”  Also throughout this process he has been isolated in the Embassy, spied upon, humiliated and demonised in the press, he was never charged with rape yet this is one of the most common characterisations of him.

Considering what we have above, an organisation, Wikileaks, which has exposed war-crimes by and corruption in the US, rape allegations, the publication of a password, unredacted disclosures which could potentially put people at risk, causing a espionage indictment and extradition. This could be seen as some type of conspiracy theory. It would be helpful if we had the ability to see into these organisations to better explain this. For example Stratfor which was subject to a leak in 2012, in one email dated December 2010:

“Let’s say the following scenario happens. Assange is arrested and extradicted to Sweden to face rape charges. Wikileaks releases the password to the insurance files. Would he not then be directly endangering U.S. and other country intelligence professionals? Would it not then be possible to prosecute him for espionage?”

That could be considered prophetic in 2010, if Stratfor was not an intelligence contractor with links to US intelligence services.

 

Justice?

Returning to the work of Wikileaks which is the substance of the US indictment against Assange. 17 out of the 18 charges involve espionage and one is regarding an allegation of helping Chelsea Manning break a password to cover her tracks. The 17 charges of espionage are political offences. The Espionage Act is there to prevent espionage, the providing of secrets to a foreign power. Whereas what Wikileaks does, is provide information to the public, including the populations who need this information to hold their official to account, recall the collateral murder video and Khalid El-Masri.

The extradition trial is ongoing in the Old Bailey, and given the information above you may be surprised that you have not heard more news of it. To explain the implications of this case we can listen to Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers:

“if Julian is extradited to the United States to face these charges for doing the journalism that he has, the charges that are made against him, no journalist in the world is safe from life imprisonment in the United States of America.”

The possible outcome of this trial in setting precedence, is a direct attack on the free press and the public’s right to know.

The UN Rapporteur and a group of legal professionals have also highlighted questionable judicial irregularities in the proceedings. To explain the indictment, Lawyers for Assange released an open letter, signed by over 170 lawyers and Associations which highlights their concerns.

  • The lawful nature of extradition due to the risk of torture in the US, a right enshrined in Article 8 of the ECHR (European Convention of Human Rights)
    *
  • The political nature of the indictment, where extradition of prohibited under the UK-US Extradition treaty. The judge and prosecution are attempting to disregard this by basing the extradition on the Extradition Act which is of subsidiary importance to the treaty, this move also is in contradiction to the European Convention on Extradition, the UN Model Treaty on Extradition, and every bilateral treaty ratified by the US for over a century.
    *
  • Assange has been denied time and facilities to prepare his defence, he was also denied access to the indictment for several weeks after it had been presented.
    *
  • Violations of the freedom of the press and the right to know, the espionage charges effectively criminalises investigative journalism, enshrined in Article 10 of ECHR
    *
  • Judicial Conflicts of interest, Emma Arbuthnot, the Chief Magistrate in the case has been shown to have financial links to individuals and institutions whose wrongdoings have been exposed by Wikileaks, yet she has refused to recuse herself, which casts doubt on the impartiality of the proceedings.

This list not comprehensive but indicates the distribution of judicial violations in this case, and has resulted in the UN Rapporteur calling the process ‘irreparably arbitrary’.

Holding to Account

Is this trial and extradition retribution on the embarrassment Wikileaks caused the US or a response to Julian Assange’s character?

If you believe Julian Assange is a “narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests” as he was labelled at his trial in The Old Bailey by District Judge Michael Snow, displaying his impartiality. Does this distract from the importance placed on this trial by Denial Ellsberg over press freedom, The UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Mlezer regarding the torture of Julian Assange, and 170+ Legal professionals who have concerns over the judicial impartiality of the court. Along with the work of Wikileaks exposing criminality, war-crimes and corruption.

Returning to the principle of an informed electorate, what is on trial here is the right to know. Wikileaks provided a means for the whistleblowers to make information available. Initially the mainstream press were happy with their role to report accurately but have now pulled back for whatever reason, and engaged in a campaign of disinformation or silence, you can identify them by their work. The press is playing a dangerous game in this, taking another quote from Daniel Ellsberg speaking to Amy Goodman at Democracy Now:

“If Julian is extradited, as I say, as you said, it will lead to prosecution here [the US], and probably conviction, … he will be the first journalist and publisher [prosecuted], but not the last. New York Times probably won’t be the second, either; it might be the third or the fourth”.

The media may not realise the reality of what is happening, or worse think it does not effect them, but what it does demolish is an informed electorate, and with it any semblance of justice and democracy, not just in the US but in every country under it’s influence. Julian Assange is not an US-American, was not in the United States when any of this was done, yet held to a US law. If he is convicted in a US court, it will demonstrate he does not have protection under the First Amendment of the US Constitution ‘freedom of speech’. Whether your opinion on Assange is positive or negative, what is required now is to hold officials to account, what we need to do is speak up for the children in the collateral murder video, Khalid El-Masri, and Wikileaks.

Remember of the prose of Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-
     Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out-
     Because I was not a trade unionists.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-
     Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

In the new world of Tim Berners Lee’s internet they are first coming for the journalists, because they understand that “Democracy Dies in Darkness”, it is time to hold officials to account.

Comments (37)

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  1. Dougie Blackwood says:

    All too true. The US pays no attention to anything that obstructs their vindictive activities against any that speak or act on any of their manifest injustices. “LAND OF THE FREE” is a joke. Only those with wealth and power are free. The poor and the coloured are treated as second class citizens without access to eihier good health care or justice in the courts.

  2. Richard Easson says:

    I keenly follow the trial each night on BBC news…..NOT.

    1. Wul says:

      I heard a report of this trial on BBC Radio 4’s “PM” show yesterday.

      First time I’ve heard it mentioned on Aunty Beeb. Maybe someone has “grown a pair” (or perhaps a heart? ) in the newsroom?

      1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

        I think you’re hearing only what you want to hear. The Assange Affair has been all over the BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/search?q=Julian%20Assange

        1. Dougie Blackwood says:

          I followed the link and while there are lots of pieces listed few are within any “News” broadcast. The last thing I would do is trawl through the reams of drivel that make up the BBC.

          1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            Well, if you’re going to confine yourself to one small corner of the broadcast media (i.e. to the steam wireless and terrestrial telly), you can hardly complain about being uninformed.

            This is just another shallow grievance.

        2. Wul says:

          Anndrais, I’m hearing what I actually hear when I switch on the radio. I listen to it regularly in my work shop several times a week and that was the first mention of Assange’s trial I’d heard*, other than when the trial started off. I don’t have a television.

          Amazing that you can know what other people hear; so very clever of you.

          * “heard” as in with ears. You know?

          1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            I don’t have a telly either. But you seemed to be implying that the Beeb wasn’t covering the Assange hearing. It’s all over the Beeb.

          2. Wul says:

            I’d noticed that actual trial coverage had appeared on a flagship Radio 4 daily news programme, as a major item. That was a change as far as I could ascertain. Big difference between that and a few items on their web site.

            It made me wonder if someone has become impatient and decided to do some real journalism. Fair point though, my post was a bit ambiguous re; the whole BBC.

            ( I’m also hearing a change in the way that Scotland is being covered; as if it is an actual place, with an actual leader, where important things may be happening)

        3. SleepingDog says:

          @Anndrais mac Chaluim, those seem to be comparatively few results spread across several years, and it is unclear how many appeared in prominent broadcasts or front pages of news websites. The BBC does not make its programme transcripts available as standard, so it can be hard to imagine how a proper analysis can be made of content using modern methods:
          https://www.bbc.co.uk/contact/questions/programme-information/transcript
          unless there are search-engine subtitling/captions indexing features which can be employed.

          I had slightly surreal experience recently watching the Manchester City vs Arsenal Women’s FA Cup semi-final when I could not be sure that the nationality of the various prominent Scottish internationals was ever mentioned (I had to recheck manually, and indeed Caroline Weir was identified as such, although at times it seemed that ‘Scotland’ was the hardest word for the commentary team to utter).

          I gather that MediaLens uses the ProQuest media database to check for coverage, but that seems to be largely concerned with printed newspapers. The world seems to have moved on from the heyday of the Glasgow Media Group, and the BBC seems adept at using new technologies to bury selected news, and no doubt spuriously justifying ‘balance’ in this way, tucking a “Julian Assange’s family” story into a corner of their website while maintaining silence in their main broadcasts.

          1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            Yes, I agree; I can’t see how claims that the Beeb has been burying news of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing can be the result of proper analysis by modern methods, given the paucity of the data available.

            Do you think the Beeb is deliberately suppressing that data?

            The plot thickens!

            Meanwhile, a wee tip: anyone who’s genuinely interested in the progress of the proceedings against Julian can get daily updates from a multi-perspectival range of sources by simply googling ‘Julian Assange extradition’. This reliance on being spoon-fed information by the Beeb is pitiable.

          2. SleepingDog says:

            @Anndrais mac Chaluim, how would someone know what to ‘google’ in this case? The point was aptly encapsulated by my political science lecturers: the control of the news agenda (those handful of stories which appear on the above-the-fold/nightly-news/newsfeed) is control of much of political debate. And Google is weighted to prioritise stories from the main news websites like the BBC, so non-published stories on their sites sink from search results. The point made by others here is (perplexing to yourself) what news others are exposed to, not just your ‘discerning/activist’ self.

            Oh, and if you want a detailed account of the old bailey trial, Craig Murray’s blog provides a view. Apparently it’s quite difficult to get a seat.

          3. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            I’ve chaired enough meetings to appreciate that whoever controls the agenda controls… well… the agenda. This is the very issue of censorship.

            The situation with regards the BBC’s editorial choices illustrates this perfectly: a free internet makes it nigh impossible for anyone to control the agenda; we’re all ‘abandoned’ to control our own agendas, and authoritative editorialism goes out the window.

            And what content other discerning activists select to consume is none of my business. The assumption that, unlike oneself, others are too stupid or lazy to be active and discerning in their consumption and need authoritative guidance in what’s good for them is anathema

          4. SleepingDog says:

            @Anndrais mac Chaluim, what makes you think that the Internet is ‘free’? In any case, our Internet access is mediated on several levels: at the ISP (service provider), at national level, at the domain level, at the search engine level (suggestions, results and rankings), at content aggregator level, in some cases at the browser level, and so on. At each level, interventions like filters can apply. Sometimes there will be a legal framework behind these interventions, sometimes the interventions will have broad public support (for the suppression of child pornography, say).

            For example, under the European Court of Justice ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, Google responds to requests that certain pages be removed from their search results (so they are still up on the Internet, but are no longer discoverable through their search). The BBC has in turn responded by keeping lists of all their pages so effected:
            https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29658085
            which they publish monthly, I gather.

            There is evidence that there is limited, targeted political censorship of the Internet in and by the USA’s intelligence and security services, although nothing so drastic as in China. If there was filtering in the UK, I guess it would happen at LINX, although perhaps this is within GCHQ’s brief.

            Another sense of the Internet being ‘free’ is currently being contested, I gather. This is the move from representatives of content providers to charge aggregators like Google and Facebook for acting as intermediaries to their content.

          5. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            By the way: talking of editorialism, have you noticed that we can no longer access Mike Small’s articles? Or is that just me?

          6. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            Whit fir hae they bin taen doun?

          7. I think its called retrospective quality control

          8. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            Jings!

    2. SleepingDog says:

      @Richard Easson, this is MediaLens’ take on the coverage, with a focus on the (minimalist) BBC angle:
      ‘None Of It Reported’: How Corporate Media Buried The Assange Trial
      https://www.medialens.org/2020/none-of-it-reported-how-corporate-media-buried-the-assange-trial/

  3. Daniel Raphael says:

    Very glad to see this subject addressed at this site, which I hold in high esteem–as I do Julian Assange and his lifework embodied in Wikileaks.

    Let us speak the wretched truth: this is not a trial, it is a formality on the way to rendering Mr. Assange to the deliberately hellish maximum-security cubicle where he will be contained for the rest of his life. The judge has not attempted to conceal her bias, and undoubtedly has her instructions. This is a trial worthy of the Stalin era, a proceeding in which even Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders were barred from presence in the courtroom. Indeed, the entire object of those who rule corporate nations is to be sure democracy is without eyes and ears.

    What are we to do? At all times and in all ways available, we will continue publicizing and pressing for real justice for Julian Assange–not because there is any basis upon which to hope for its achievement, but because he, we, and the world we demand, require that effort. This article is a commendable and timely contribution to that effort. Thanks to the author and to this site for bringing it to us.

    1. Kevin Mulhern says:

      Thanks.

      With regard to action, we need independent press, support them, use other social media I suggest Mastadon, think globally, organise locally, build solidarity.

      To take a quote from Julian, ‘enjoy crushing bastards!’

    2. Bob says:

      Without doubt an import precedent for Scottish media. Well done indeed!

  4. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

    I agree with most of this. I’d take issue with the thought that the information that’s distributed via the internet needs to be accurate.

    The problem is that to ensure information is accurate it needs to be mediated by some arbiter; someone somewhere needs to arbitrate, on the basis of some historical criterion of accuracy, just what information is to be passed as ‘accurate’; a censor, in other words.

    The democratic ideal is that each of us should be his or her own censor; it’s one’s own responsibility to decide what one’s going to believe or not, not that of some supposed authority on what’s good for one in the way of belief.

    The information we get from the internet needn’t, therefore, be accurate; for the internet to remain free and fulfil its potential for democracy, it needs to remain indiscriminate with regard to the content that’s distributed through it.

    1. Kevin Mulhern says:

      I think I agree, you write quite a lot there.

      I don’t think the internet should arbitrate, that should be consensus based social function, that requires information which can be validated or challenged, when you use ‘indiscriminate’ could i say agnostic?

      1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

        I think we’ve moved beyond the demand for consensus, Kevin. For much of our history, consensus – uniformity of belief and evaluation – has been viewed as a desideratum, the ultimate realisation of which can be taken as assured. Throughout our history, consensus was viewed not just as something to be desired, but as something the eventual actualisation of which is effectively guaranteed by a principle deep-rooted in the nature of the world; that is, the principle of singularity. Nowadays, we have lost faith in this singularity (this is part of what Nietzsche intended in his metaphor of ‘the death of God’); the truth is now plural rather than singular.

        As I’ve said elsewhere on this site, the demand for consensus or interpersonal agreement as a substitute for assured certainties is the last stand in an ethos of democracy of a predemocratic dirigisme; an insistence of social coordination that’s unwilling to let people go their own ways into a heterogeneity of belief and evaluation that affiliates each not to all but to whatever kindred spirits as circumstances may offer.

        In contrast to the sanctification of consensus, the salient emphasis of pluralism is on:

        Legitimate diversity: the varying experiential situation of different people makes it normal, natural, and rational that they should disagree, that they should proceed differently in cognitive, evaluative, and practical matters.

        Restrained dissonance: the need is not for social system founded on shared values but a purely pragmatic system, in which a general harmony of constructive interaction can prevail despite diversity and dissonance among its constituent individuals and communities, and which can accommodate our differences short of conflict.

        Acquiescence in difference: a willingness to accept and come to terms with the fact that others will quite naturally differ from one another in opinion, evaluation, custom, and ways of life.

        Respect for the autonomy of others: a willingness to concede the right of others to go their own variant ways within a pragmatic framework of such limits as must be imposed in the interests of maintaining that peaceful and productive coexistence that’s conducive to the interests of everyone alike.

        The downgrading of the demand for consensus opposes any utopianism that looks to a uniquely perfect social order that would prevail under ideal conditions. It exchanges the yearning for an unattainable consensus for the institution of pragmatic arrangements in which a dissensual society can acquiesce.

        The fact is that we live in an imperfect world. We have to be prepared to accept the fact that consensus is practically unobtainable. In a world of pervasive disagreement, exacerbated by the free exchange of the internet, we must learn to live with and accommodate dissensus, with pluralism in matters of evaluation and belief.

        Contextualistic pragmatism in relation to the issues regarding our social interaction bridges the abyss that Nietzsche, for example, discerned between the dogmatic absolutism of consensus and other authoritarianism with ‘the death of God’ and the nihilistic relativism into which that absolutism threatened to dissolve. It’s crucial that we abandon the sinking ship of the demand for consensus and come to terms with the idea of a social order that can function effectively on the basis of dissensus.

    2. Rich says:

      I have it from a very good source that you can kill Covid with a simple shot of bleach !
      The trouble with unchallenged crap in echo-chambers is that you get tribes of fruitcakes convinced they should be attacking Openreach vans or paediatricians.
      Why am I engaging with this ?
      Troll alert !

      This is about Assange – being made an example of by ‘the authorities’ .
      Another Christ on his way to another cross – a Wallace on his way to London – and a sound example to any who want to follow in his footsteps…

      1. Dougie Blackwood says:

        Oh Dear.

      2. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

        I agree: it’s about Assange and attempts to censor what’s distributed via the internet.

        And…? Your point is…?

        1. Rich says:

          Yes – you put me right there – where is my point ?
          My concern is that unchallenged content can dangerous , personally , socially and politically . It would be nigh impossible to turn the tide of some media without risking retribution . The victimisation of individuals , the spreading of lies , conspiracy theories and straightforward hate to say nothing of well-resourced state actors in the online media make me wish for a referee in the game !
          Yes – we might be better off without censors despite all this. One may nobly defend the right to free speech when a matter is actually being debated , but what is to be done when the published content spread plain misinformation or urge readers to endanger certain sections of society ?
          There has long been calls for social media to moderate content , and no real response apart from token suppression of sexual content , but there are many inflammatory and hateful postings that would not even be debateable (this is me the censor) , that should never have been allowed in any civilised society. Do we allow the posting group to bottle-feed their readers/viewers until they are drunk enough to take action ? What do you think ? Can harm be averted – how ?
          Assange only got to us because he didn’t have to apply to a censor for permission . Others will get to us also , but there’ll be no talking with them , I fear.

          1. Anndrais mac Chaluim says:

            But there’s no need for content to go unchallenged by those who perceive it to be ‘dangerous’. One of the beauties of the internet is that not only can anything be published; everything can be called out too. The onus is on everyone who encounters content they consider dangerous to call it out, not some external arbiter of truth, taste, or morals.

            The idea that content needs to be moderated is based on the assumption that [other] people are too weak-minded to a) know what’s bad for them and/or b) can respond appropriately to what they find harmful. I refuse to victimise people in this way.

            Let us all be our own censors.

  5. Alex Mitchell says:

    Sadly the fact that the US is allowed to interfere in the UK courts, is a measure of our subservience. The US is a law unto itself, our “Government” is more obedient than a well trained dog. Recall the Lockerbie trial which was supposed to be held under Scottish process, but which was excessively influenced by the US. The principal witness for the prosecution received a large cash award from the US. Justice like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  6. SleepingDog says:

    It should be straightforward to make a case that the USAmerican Central Intelligence Agency be added to any list of proscribed terrorist organizations, should the political will exist. By any reasonable standard, the CIA must be the world’s greatest terrorist organization.

    I have now finished reading Ruth Blakeley’s book State Terrorism and Neoliberalism: The North in the South (2009). She opens with “State terrorism is one of a number of coercive tools that have regularly featured in the foreign policy practices of liberal democratic states from the North”, goes on to account for the lack of ‘state terrorism’ in academic accounts and international law, provides a model relating the progress of state terrorism from European imperial colonialism, through the Cold War, a comparative lull during a brief ‘legitimation’-preference stage, before a resurgence in state terrorism after 9/11. The CIA is not the only arm of neoliberal state terror, of course, but it is the one at the top of the list.

    As the Black Lives Matter movement has help put pressure on nations to open up about their colonial histories, the covert activities of state terror agents and actors are being increasingly brought to light. Legal actions against the perpetrators of Operation Condor also shine a light in the darkness:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Condor

    Wikileaks publishes the data, but the main story is the continuity and scale of wrongdoing, the cultural racism and impunity, the hypocrisy and cant, the degradation of worldwide people power and the living environment, for what seems like largely absurd, petty, avaricious, sadistic, jingoistic, vicious and spiteful reasons.

    For the purposes of national security, the first thing an independent Scottish government should do is to proscribe the state terrorist organizations which will be working against Scottish democracy. However, it will be interesting to see if there are international precedents before that.

  7. john burrows says:

    The ‘Old Bailey’has always been available to facilitate “extraordinary rendition.” This is not surprising.

    The conflict of interest of the presiding magistrate, though, is a clear grounds for appeal of any judgement she makes. Refusal to recuse herself from the trial is indefensible.

    1. James Mills says:

      Unfortunately any appeal on the grounds of bias by the magistrate/judge will be judged by the same ‘unbiased ‘ group with deep connections to the security services / Government etc..

      1. john burrows says:

        Point taken.

  8. Dougie Blackwood says:

    I’ve now read through a number of thse posts and learned a lot. It seems clear that we are spoon fed media gossip and propaganda rather than news.

    I heard nothing at all about these extradition hearings either on TV news or in any of the two newspapers I read from front to back.

    There is no doubt that the leadership of both UK and US have firm control of the news media and ensure that none of their dirty washing gets an airing .

    I wonder if an independent Scotland will be able to ensure we have real news rather than what we have now?

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