Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Obama Tax & Unemployment "Deal" and The War On WikiLeaks

In This Issue:

- What is known about Obama's tax cut for the rich deal-making?
- The "War On WikiLeaks"


What is known about Obama's tax cut for the rich deal-making?

I was in a local business establishment this afternoon and was talking with the proprietor and a customer, who I have become acquainted with there. When the conversation turned to the issue of unemployment benefits being extended, the acquaintance, who is really fun to talk with, said something about giving more unemployment benefits to people who haven't found a job in two years was something like ill-advised to absurd. Anyone should be able to find a job in a little less than two years, even at McDonald's, right? In reading the article below about the details [I didn't] of the most recent Obama capitulation, I find that he probably didn't understand the details. According to these Congress watchers, "99 weeks would still be the maximum amount of time that anybody could receive benefits" which is a little less than two years of allowable unemployment benefits. That's it. So regardless of whether the economy is producing enough jobs to keep people gainfully employed, which it is not, if you can't find a job in 99 weeks, you can just fall through the "safety net" into sone sort of hell, perhaps on the street or worse.

The most recent Employment Situation Summary from the BLS reported that 39,000 jobs were created in November. Some spinmeisters saw this as a positive sign, but a report from an economist on NPR this last weekend noted that we need 115,000 to 120,000 jobs created every month just to keep up with population growth. [Nice of NPR to let this factoid through to their audience, as the are constantly labeling people opposed to mass-immigration as "anti-immigrant, even though mass-immigration (immigrants and children of immigrants) is responsible for between 75 to 90+% of US population growth.] Some commentators put the numbers higher, with one saying the number of new jobs needed to keep up with population growth is around 150,000, and even he uses what is probably a low estimate of actual population growth.

So the point is how are people supposed to find jobs when we can't create enough jobs to even keep up with new entries to the job market?

Another positive part of the article below is that the writer actually referred to the Tea Party folks as Republican. While many are in fact independents and Libertarians, it is clear that the press and Republican spin on their political ideology clearly favors the Republican leadership.

At the end of the day, when push came to shove this week, Obama didn't make the effort to offer a continued case to show that the Republican's were holding the unemployed hostage in order to enrich millionaires and billionaires. He has capitulated once again, and has given away his veto power. Now the deficit, that the Republicans say they hate, only gets worse. So-called compromise, even when it is self-defeating, destructive and idiotic, takes the day.

What Exactly Is In Obama's Tax Cut/Unemployment Extension Compromise?
Open Congress : Congress Gossip Blog
December 7, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

President Obama on Monday announced the “framework” of a deal with congressional Republicans for dealing with the looming expiration of the Bush tax cuts. It’s a two-year deal, and it includes a bunch of other stuff, all at a cost about $900 billion. None of it is offset, so this will be a direct increase in the deficit. Let’s take a look at the specifics of what’s included:

1. Two-year extension of all Bush tax cuts — Income taxes will stay right where they are at least until January 2013, even for the wealthiest Americans. Obama seems to think that having this tax debate again in 2012 will be good politics for his re-election.

2. Two-year estate tax cut — Bush’s 2001 tax bill gradually scaled back the estate tax, a federal assessment on inherited wealth, to 0% in 2010. But because it was done using budget reconciliation, the bill sunsets after ten years (just like the income taxes) and the rate is scheduled to go back up on January 1st to the pre-Bush rate — 55%, with the first $675,000 being exempt. Obama’s proposal would lower this significantly for 2011 and 2012 — the first $5 million would be exempt and the rest would be taxed at 35%. This compromise is taken directly from a Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] amendment that was added to the 2010 budget resolution by a vote of 51-48.

3. 13-month extension of federal unemployment programs — The filing deadline for federal unemployment insurance that provides benefits for people who run out of their 26 weeks of state-provided benefits without finding a job would be extended until January 2012. Essentially, this will make it possible for people who became unemployed in the past 99 weeks and still haven’t found a job to collect benefits for the same length of time as people who lost their job more than 99 weeks ago. This would not add additional weeks of benefits — 99 weeks would still be the maximum amount of time that anybody could receive benefits.

4. One-year payroll tax holiday — Social security payroll taxes, which, under current law, are split equally between employees and employers, would be reduced from 6.2% to 4.2% with all of the benefits of the reduction going to the employees. For the average U.S. salary of $50,000, this would mean tax savings of about $1,000 next year. Obama originally wanted to include an extension of his “Making Work Pay” tax credit, which provides workers up to $400 annually for all workers, but Republicans objected and the payroll tax holiday was included instead. Reducing payroll taxes is generally considered the most stimulative form of supply-side policy.

5. Two years of 100% business expensing — Businesses will be able to immediately write off 100% of the costs of new equipment purchases until 2013. Typically, the costs of equipment purchases are deducted over the life of their use. This proposal is designed to free up now money for businesses that would normally be spread over multiples years in order to encourage more hiring and investing.

6. Miscellaneous stimulus bill tax cut extensions — The lower earning threshold for the child tax credit would be extended for two years. The expanded earned income tax credit would be extended. And the American opportunity tax credit, which provides college students with a $4,000 credit in exchange for community service, would be extended.

Now, this is far from a done deal. This package is designed to get 60 votes in the Senate, but it may not pass muster in the House. The House Democratic caucus, which is generally more progressive than their Senate counterpart, is reserving the option to revolt. And Tea Party Republicans are threatening to vote “no” because of the unemployment insurance extension that is attached.


The Baseline Scenario
What happened to the global economy and what we can do about it
Tax Cut Ironies

By James Kwak

From The New York Times:

“Congressional Republicans in recent days have blocked efforts by Democrats to extend the jobless aid, saying they would insist on offsetting the $56 billion cost with spending cuts elsewhere.”

Instead, as it turns out, they agreed to offset the cost with tax cuts elsewhere.

Still, though, I place the blame for this one squarely on the White House. The Republicans are just doing what Republicans do: arguing for lower government spending and lower taxes. The fact that they justify the former by saying it will cut the deficit and the latter by saying it will stimulate the economy (when you could just as easily switch the arguments and make them point the other way) is just a detail.

As I’ve said before, the Bush tax cuts were always bad policy.* After the last election, President Obama will be able to accomplish precious little. But he could easily have killed the Bush tax cuts and thereby done more good for our nation’s fiscal situation than anyone will be in a position to do for many years to come. Killing the tax cuts would alone reduce the national debt by roughly as much as the deficit commission’s entire proposal. And killing the tax cuts was the path of least resistance. Obama could have done it by doing nothing. Or he could have done it by taking a strong negotiating position and being willing to walk away from the table.

(Note to Barack: If you want to win a negotiation, you have to be willing to walk away. Take my daughter. If I threaten her with a three-minute timeout, she says, “I want a timeout for eight hours!” If I threaten to take away an episode of Dinosaur Train, she says, “I don’t want to watch Dinosaur Train ever again!” You have two daughters, right?)

Instead, we got a two-year extension as part of an overall package that adds $900 billion to the debt.

Now, Ezra Klein, whom I agree with more often than not, says, “the White House and Congress are right to make the deficit less of a priority than economic recovery.” Well, sure, in principle. But this deal isn’t justified by that principle for two reasons. First, as Paul Krugman pointed out, a two-year extension will reduce the unemployment rate by 0.2 to 0.6 percentage points. Yes, that’s hundreds of thousands of jobs, but it’s at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. And at the current course and speed, those hundreds of billions of dollars will, in the long term, get taken away from the middle class in lower Social Security and Medicare benefits. The reason it’s just 0.2-0.6 percent is that tax cuts, once again, are a lousy form of stimulus. According to Mark Zandi (via Menzie Chinn), the multiplier for the Bush income tax cuts is 0.29 and the multiplier for accelerated depreciation is 0.27.

Second, this can no longer be considered a two-year tax cut. This year, the Democrats gave in to the framing that letting the cuts expire would be a tax increase. President Obama has already nailed himself to the cross of “stop[ping] middle-class taxes from going up.” With that on his resume, how is he going to flip-flop and let those taxes go up in 2012? He won’t win a vote to cut taxes just for the middle class with fewer Democrats in Congress than he has now. So if he wants to preserve the middle-class tax cuts, he’ll have to compromise again.

And Obama will no longer be able to say the tax cuts were a mistake made by President Bush that he was letting expire. Now he owns the mistake. This is a long way of saying that this isn’t a two-year tax cut to stimulate the economy (with a 0.29 multiplier, remember) in a recession. It’s a wedge of about 2 percent of GDP that is part of the structural deficit for the foreseeable future, just like the AMT patch that magically keeps getting extended.

Sure, they might not be extended in 2012. But I fail to see how the politics will be any different. “I protected you from a tax increase in 2010, but I’m raising your taxes now because . . . because . . . suddenly I care about the deficit . . . and we’re not in a recession anymore.” Yeah, right. By comparison, the message this time would have been easy: “I and the Democrats in Congress supported a bill to keep your taxes low. The Republicans blocked it because they insisted on tax cuts for the rich. Blame them.” So the tax cuts might not be extended, but you could also say that Congress will vote to raise taxes. Not likely in either case.

So finally, you have to ask, what does Barack Obama want? Does he really like most of the Bush tax cuts? Does he really think the bulk of the tax cuts are good for the country, and that going along with the tax cuts in the top brackets is a reasonable price to pay to keep them?

* How bad? Here’s one example. In order to pass the bill using reconciliation–the first time reconciliation was ever used to pass a deficit-increasing bill–they had to limit the ten-year cost of the bill. One way they did that was by adding a provision that allows upper-income taxpayers, in 2010, to convert their traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs. This is unambiguously good for upper-income taxpayers, because it’s optional, so you can decide if you want to do it. So in the long term, it will result in lower tax revenues. But it artificially juices tax revenues in 2010, because when you convert you have to pay tax on the conversion amount now. That increased the amount by which they could cut taxes elsewhere in the bill. So, as my tax casebook puts it, the bill uses tax cuts for the rich to fund more tax cuts for the rich.


President Obama: FIGHT, don't cave on Bush tax cuts for millionaires!

The War On WikiLeaks: WikiLeaks and the Arrest of Julian Assange
One of the hallmarks of Fascism is the cooperation and collusion of corporations with governments to their mutual benefit, which is not, unfortunately, the same as benefiting those they have power over, the people. The behavior of US multinational corporations (eg. Amazon terminating it's WikiLeaks hosting, and PayPal preventing contributions to Assange's defense) and several of the world's governments, especially our's, in their attempts to destroy Julian Assange for informing people about the true nature of their governments is a case in point.

Assange, who turned himself into British authorities today was denied bail. He was alleged to have conducted "rape" and not worn a condom during consensual sex [later reports say the condom broke and he continued to engage, and in one case was reported to have unprotected sex with a "sleeping" woman he woke up with 12/10/10], with adult women who were proud of their association with him afterwards, with one even hosting a party for him the next day (she had also worked for a CIA funded anti-Castro group). Mysteriously (or not), Assange has not actually been charged with any crime (Glenn Greenwald on the Arrest of Julian Assange and the U.S. "War on WikiLeaks"), and he is only wanted for questioning about possible charges of "rape" and abuse for not wearing a condom. Interesting that a person who turns himself in for questioning under a warrant without charge, would be arrested and denied bail, don't you think?

My own thoughts on the situation are that an internationally lawless US government has arranged for his arrest on trumped-up charges in order to get him extradited to Sweden, who will then extradite him to the US, or that he will be directly extradited to the US, so that the your government can charge him, and perhaps imprison him indefinitely, on even more spurious charges related to espionage, even though he only reported information that was provided to him, and even though that same information is being reported by the New York Times, the Guardian of London, and other mainstream media outlets.

Don't Shoot Messenger for Revealing Uncomfortable Truths

WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.

By Julian Assange

December 07, 2010 "The Australian" --IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain's The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be "taken out" by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be "hunted down like Osama bin Laden", a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a "transnational threat" and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister's office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.

Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn't want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.

Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.

Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: "You'll risk lives! National security! You'll endanger troops!" Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can't be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn't find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.

But our publications have been far from unimportant. The US diplomatic cables reveal some startling facts:

► The US asked its diplomats to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. Presumably Australian UN diplomats may be targeted, too.

► King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked the US to attack Iran.

► Officials in Jordan and Bahrain want Iran's nuclear program stopped by any means available.

► Britain's Iraq inquiry was fixed to protect "US interests".

► Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.

► The US is playing hardball to get other countries to take freed detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama agreed to meet the Slovenian President only if Slovenia took a prisoner. Our Pacific neighbour Kiribati was offered millions of dollars to accept detainees.

In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government". The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks.
Copyright 2010 News Limited

Glenn Greenwald on the Arrest of Julian Assange and the U.S. "War on WikiLeaks"

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in London on an international warrant to face sex crime allegations in Sweden. Assange is expected to face a hasty extradition process to Sweden. We speak with Glenn Greenwald, constitutional attorney and blogger at Salon.com. Greenwald says: "Whatever you think of WikiLeaks, they have not been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted. Yet look what has happened to them. They have been removed from Internet … their funds have been frozen … media figures and politicians have called for their assassination and to be labeled a terrorist organization. What is really going on here is a war over control of the Internet, and whether or not the Internet can actually serve its ultimate purpose—which is to allow citizens to band together and democratize the checks on the world’s most powerful factions."

Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney and political/legal blogger at Salon.com.

Related stories:

With Rumored Manhunt for Wikileaks Founder and Arrest of Alleged Leaker of Video Showing Iraq Killings, Obama Admin Escalates Crackdown on Whistleblowers of Classified Information

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Cancún, Mexico, at the U.N. Climate Change Conference. In a moment, we’ll turn to the talks here in Cancún, but first our top story. Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks website, was arrested in London earlier today on an international warrant to face sexual assault allegations in Sweden. Assange is appearing in court today after surrendering to British police. The case reportedly centers on accusations from two women who say Assange refused to use a condom during consensual sex. Assange and WikiLeaks have denounced the case as a political witch-hunt that’s intensified with the group’s release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is carrying out a separate criminal probe focused on WikiLeaks’s decision to release secret U.S. documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghan and U.S. diplomatic cables. U.S. Defense Secretary Gates said earlier today Assange’s arrest, quote, "sounds like good news to me."

The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has said it will keep operating as normal despite the arrest of its founder, Julian Assange, in Britain. A spokesperson said, quote, "WikiLeaks is operational. We are continuing on the same track as laid out before. Any development with regards to Julian Assange will not change the plans we have with regards to the releases today and in the coming days." WikiLeaks has released less than one percent of the more than 250,000 secret diplomatic cables in its possession.

For more on the arrest of Julian Assange, I’m joined by Democracy Now! video stream by Glenn Greenwald, constitutional attorney and blogger at Salon.com.

Glenn, if you could just respond to this latest news on the arrest of Julian Assange in Britain.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, what’s interesting is it’s being depicted in the media as some kind of an international manhunt that finally concluded. That’s what Matt Lauer announced this morning on NBC News, the international manhunt is over. The reality is that although this case has been around for quite some time, there was really only a valid arrest warrant for the first time in England, the country where he’s been located, as of yesterday, and last night his attorneys negotiated his turning himself in with the police department in London. So it was entirely voluntary. There was never any manhunt of any kind, nor has he been actually charged with a crime. The arrest warrant has been issued by the Swedish authorities in order to question him about the accusations that have been made. There’s no judgment that he’s guilty or that there should be a prosecution at all. They’re simply seeking to interrogate him.

And one of the most—the strangest and most interesting aspects of all of this is that it’s extremely unusual for Interpol, the international police agency used in Europe and other places, to be used in this manner. I mean, he was put on the, quote, "most wanted" list, even though, as I just said, he’s not charged with any crime. They’re simply seeking to interrogate him. And for months now, his attorneys have offered to the Swedish police and to prosecutors to make him available for questioning, whether it be by telephone or by Skype or by appearing in some other technologically suitable means, and yet they’ve been extremely insistent, very oddly so, that that isn’t good enough, that he actually make himself physically available in the jurisdiction of Sweden in order to be detained and interrogated.

And, of course, the real concern is—and it’s the concern that Assange and his lawyers have—is that what this really is is just a ploy to get him into custody in a country, which is Sweden, that is very subservient to the United States, that is willing to extradite him to the United States or turn him over with the slightest request. And any person who has followed the United States, quote-unquote, "justice system" over the last decade knows that there’s good reason to fear that, that anybody who’s accused of national security crimes, especially if they’re not an American citizen, is treated in violation of virtually every Western norm of justice, without almost any due process.

So I think the responsible thing to do for any person is to wait and see with regard to the allegations themselves that these women have made, whether there’s evidence to support it. We should all wait and see one way or the other, and hopefully the case will play itself out. But there’s lots of reasons, in terms of how it’s been treated by Swedish authorities, to find it very questionable indeed whether what’s really going on is a politically motivated effort to get him out of WikiLeaks, stop what he’s doing in terms of exposing and bringing transparency to governments around the world, and ultimately hand him over to the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Julian Assange has appeared on Democracy Now! several times this year. On October 26th, he detailed some of the international pressure facing WikiLeaks.

JULIAN ASSANGE: Oh, there’s no doubt that this organization is under siege. There was a direct demand made by the Pentagon that we destroy all previous publications, all upcoming publications—an incredible demand for prior restraint on a media organization by a military—and that we cease dealing with U.S. military whistleblowers.

My Swedish residency application was denied for reasons that still remain secret.

One week after the release of the Afghan war diaries, our donation credit card processing company Moneybookers, the second biggest on the internet after Paypal, terminated our accounts, and we were forwarded an email by the security department explaining the situation to the account manager, which was that we were on a U.S. watchlist and an Australian government blacklist and to see the current controversy in relation to Afghanistan. Fortunately, we have just now managed to get up an Icelandic-based credit card processing scheme, so donors can once again donate there.

The Australian attorney general stated that he would assist any country anywhere in the world to prosecute us over these disclosures and that, when asked the question, had he provided intelligence assistance, something that we have evidence of, said, "Well, yes, we help countries from time to time, but I won’t comment directly on that matter."

And we know the Icelandic government has been publicly pressured to not be a safe haven for our publishing activities or for me personally.

The Swedish government has been pressured at the intelligence agency level to its body SAPO. When I left Sweden on the 27th of September, my—to a flight to Berlin on SAS, one of the world’s most—if not the world’s most reputable airline—my luggage disappeared. That was the—I was the only case in that plane.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Julian Assange speaking on Democracy Now! just a few weeks ago.

By the way, a correction to an earlier headline, a Swiss bank has frozen Julian Assange’s account, not a Swedish bank.

Also, the newspaper called The Australian is preparing to run an op-ed by Julian Assange that was written before his arrest. The newspaper reports, quote, "Mr Assange begins by saying: 'in 1958, a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's the News, wrote: 'In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.' It goes on to say a few more things about freedom of speech; the 'dark days' of corrupt government in Queensland (where Assange was raised); and it says much about his upbringing in a country town, 'where people spoke their minds bluntly'. It says that Australian politicians are chanting a 'provably false chorus' with the US State Department of ’You’ll risk lives! You’ll endanger troops!’ by releasing information, and 'then they say there is nothing of importance in what Wikileaks publishes. It can't be both.’" Those are a few of the quotes that will appear in Julian Assange’s op-ed piece. The Australian newspaper is releasing it at midnight Australian time. Final comments, Glenn Greenwald?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I just want to underscore how alarming everything is that you just described, both in that report and in your earlier one, which is, whatever you think of WikiLeaks, they’ve never been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted. And yet, look at what has happened to them. They’ve been essentially removed from the internet, not just through a denial of service attacks that are very sophisticated, but through political pressure applied to numerous countries. Their funds have been frozen, including funds donated by people around the world for his—for Julian Assange’s defense fund and for WikiLeaks’s defense fund. They’ve had their access to all kinds of accounts cut off. Leading politicians and media figures have called for their assassination, their murder, to be labeled a terrorist organization. What’s really going on here is a war over control of the internet and whether or not the internet can actually serve what a lot of people hoped its ultimate purpose was, which was to allow citizens to band together and democratize the checks on the world’s most powerful factions. That’s what this really is about. It’s why you see Western government, totally lawlessly, waging what can only be described as a war on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange outside the bounds of any constraints, because that’s what really is at stake here. If they want to prosecute them, they should go to court and do it through legal means. But this extralegal persecution ought to be very alarming to every citizen in every one of these countries, because it essentially is pure authoritarianism and is designed to prevent the internet from being used as its ultimate promise, which is providing a check on unconstrained political power.

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, I want to thank you very much for being with us, constitutional lawyer and blogger at Salon.com. He’s speaking to us from Brazil. We’re in Cancún covering the U.N. climate change talks. And we’re going to go to that after break. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. You can go to our website at [democracynow.org] to see all our interviews with Julian Assange, as well as with Daniel Ellsberg, perhaps the premier whistleblower in the United States.


[These audios are from Australia and may be very slow in downloading at times.]

In two ABC Radio Australia interviews, John Pilger asks Australians to break their silence and rally round compatriot Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief of Wikileaks. John Pilger's new film, 'The War You Don't See', due to be released in Australia in 2011, will feature an interview with Queensland born Assange.

First interview - Breakfast (3 Dec)

John Pilger in second interview:
"I think we have got to the stage where we have been deceived on such a scale about how wars begin, how governments deal with each other, ah, that in democratic societies we have a right to know, without that right to know we have no democracy-- that is basic. . . . . Jefferson said Information is the currency of democracy, and without it we don't have any. . . ."

Billy Bragg and Wilco-- "The Unwelcome Guest"
By Woodie Guthrie


rashid1891 said...

By the way, a correction to an earlier headline, a Swiss bank has frozen Julian Assange’s account, not a Swedish bank.

Christopher Christie said...

Yes, that's true rashid1891. Amy Goodman made the correction in her Glenn Greenwald interview: "By the way, a correction to an earlier headline, a Swiss bank has frozen Julian Assange’s account, not a Swedish bank." Thanks.