Sunday, December 19, 2010

WikiLeaks and Wacky Links

THE plot thickens!

I must admit I have not read more than a fraction of the Wikileaks revelations. So it is possible I missed the crucial documents in which they "expose the truth about capitalism" (I thought all that was done a long time ago by Karl Marx) or enable people to "see the need for socialism" (something I think people are seeing unaided, or being reminded of, by the combination of bankers' bonuses and con-dem cuts).

Class war is alive and well, and like a good meat, needs no sauce, though the quotes above are from people who should know this, but are just waking up, reaching for stimulants, and revealing a religious-like tendency to seek and find meanings that suit, even when they are not there.

Nor can I take at face value the howling of the American 'Tea party' turned lynch mob and their absurd politicians, claiming that "lives have been put at risk", or even US policy been seriously undermined, by what I have seen so far. These are US diplomatic cables. They may reveal what the authors are thinking, or what they want us to think. Presenting a report alleging North Korea has provided Iran with a missile system capable of delivering nuclear warheads as a "secret" may be a good way of planting this story in relatively trusted media.

On the other hand, the claim that Saudi rulers were urging a US war strike on Iran, while it may suit the 'war party' in America and the Israeli government, is not necessarily rendered untrue thereby. What I find suspect is the interpretation which says what worries the Saudis are the nuclear weapons which Iran does not yet have, rather than the growing influence in Arab countries which it has.

So while it's right to defend Wikileaks and the freedom of the internet, and oppose any attempt to extradite Julian Assange to the United States where his life could be in danger before he even reached court, that does not mean we should give credence to everything that comes out, or rush to acclaim what might be yet another flawed hero whom the media provide. In line with my part-Litvak background, I'd take everything with more than a pinch of salt.

Someone who expresses more than skepticism about Wikileaks is Canadian academic Michel Chossudovsky, an economist by profession and conspiracy theorist by vocation, with a pronounced Slavophile tendency and penchant for discovering oil and gas pipelines behind conflicts, from Bosnia to Lebanon.

"Progressive organizations have praised the Wikileaks endeavor. Our own website Global Research has provided extensive coverage of the Wikileaks project. The leaks are heralded as an immeasurable victory against corporate media censorship. But there is more than meets the eye", warns Chossudovsky.

"Even prior to the launching of the project, the mainstream media had contacted Wikileaks. There are also reports from published email exchanges (unconfirmed) that Wikileaks had, at the outset of the project in January 2007, contacted and sought the advice of Freedom House.

Though as he goes on:
"There is no evidence of FH followup support to the Wikileaks project. Freedom House is a Washington based "watchdog organization that supports the expansion of freedom around the world". It is chaired by William H. Taft IV who was legal adviser to the State Department under G. W. Bush and Deputy Secretary of Defense under the Reagan administration".

There is other evidence of foundation money, not all of it American, supporting Wikileaks.. "Mr. Assange said WikiLeaks gets about half its money from modest donations processed by its website, and the other half from 'personal contacts,' including 'people with some millions who approach us....' (WikiLeaks Keeps Funding Secret,, August 23, 2010)

Chossudovsky then turns his suspicious eye on Wikileaks media support.
"America's corporate media and more specifically The New York Times are an integral part of the economic establishment, with links to Wall Street, the Washington think tanks and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Moreover, the US corporate media has developed a longstanding relationship to the US intelligence apparatus, going back to "Operation Mocking Bird", an initiative of the CIA's Office of Special Projects (OSP), established in the early 1950s.

"Historically, The New York Times has served the interests of the Rockefeller family in the context of a longstanding relationship. The current New York Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, son of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger and grandson of Arthur Hays Sulzberger who served as a Trustee for the Rockefeller Foundation".

I would not have thought the New York Times was the worst of American newspapers, indeed it is often a good news source about American and international events, including information that does not reflect what Wall Street or the CIA might have us told. Mind you, I am not well up on the current special "interests of the Rockefeller family" (must be those oil pipelines again), nor had it occurred to me that the CIA might rely on someone because of who their grandfather was (unless perhaps the family name is Bush).

But sticking to the "Ro..."s, it isn't just Rockefellers.

" Wikileaks and The Economist have also entered into what seems to be a contradictory relationship. Wikileaks founder and editor Julian Assange was granted in 2008 The Economist's New Media Award.
The Economist has a close relationship to Britain's financial elites. It is an establishment news outlet, which has, on balance, supported Britain's involvement in the Iraq war. It bears the stamp of the Rothschild family".

Not being an economist, I'd say it also bears the stamp of the British Foreign Office, but I'm not sure where that gets us.

According to Chossudovsky:
"The released wikileaks cables have also being used to create divisions between Iran on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States on the other ... WikiLeaks claimed that certain Arab states are concerned about Iran’s nuclear program and have urged the U.S. to take [military] action..."

The conflict between Saudi and Iranian regimes, reflected in Saudi support for Taliban, and several other battlefields, is underpinned by Wahabi fundamentalism and supported by US imperialism. Chossudovsky, no friend of Muslims where the Balkans were concerned, now tries to absolve the Saudis of responsibility for anything. We may well, if we are conspiracy-minded, look at some recent odd diplomatic alignments and wonder - who is behind Michel Chossudovsky?

The Israeli humourist Ephraim Kishon observed many years ago that, whatever people in Washington, Paris, Moscow or London believed, about the political rows and divisions in their countries, there were wise men in cafes in Tel Aviv or Cairo who could tell you that the world statesmen were mere puppets, whose strings were really being pulled from the Middle East. Unfortunately it nowadays suits some people in the really powerful states to pretend that this is true.

Anyway, some people believe they know who is "behind Wikileaks".
"According to an Arabic investigative journalism website , Assange had received money from semi-official Israeli sources and promised them, in a “secret, video-recorded agreement,” not to publish any document that may harm Israeli security or diplomatic interests.

"The sources of the Al-Haqiqa report are said to be former WikiLeaks volunteers who have left the organisation in the last few months over Assange’s “autocratic leadership” and “lack of transparency.”

"In a recent interview with the German daily Die Tageszeitung, former WikiLeaks spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg said he and other WikiLeaks dissidents are planning to launch their own whistleblowers’ platform to fulfil WikiLeaks’s original aim of “limitless file sharing.”

Mr Domscheit-Berg, who is about to publish a book about his days ‘Inside WikiLeaks’, accuses Assange of acting as a “king” against the will of others in the organisation by “making deals” with media organisations that are meant to create an explosive effect, which others in WikiLeaks either know little or nothing about.

"According to the Al-Haqiqa sources, Assange met with Israeli officials in Geneva earlier this year and struck the secret deal. The Israel government, it seems, had somehow found out or expected that the documents to be leaked contained a large number of documents about the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza in 2006 and 2008-9 respectively. These documents, which are said to have originated mainly from the US embassies in Tel Aviv and Beirut, where removed and possibly destroyed by Assange, who is the only person who knows the password that can open these documents, the sources added.

Indeed, the published documents seem to have a ‘gap’ stretching over the period of July – September 2006, during which the 33-day Lebanon war took place. Is it possible that US diplomats and officials did not have any comments or information to exchange about this crucial event but spent their time ‘gossiping’ about every other ‘trivial’ Middle-Eastern matter?

Following the leak (and even before), Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a press conference that Israel had “worked in advance” to limit any damage from leaks, adding that “no classified Israeli material was exposed by WikiLeaks.” In an interview with the Time magazine around the same time, Assange praised Netanyahu as a hero of transparency and openness!

According to another report, a left-leaning Lebanese newspaper had met with Assange twice and tried to negotiate a deal with him, offering “a big amount of money”, in order to get hold of documents concerning the 2006 war, particularly the minutes of a meeting held at the American embassy in Beirut on 24th July 2006, which is widely considered as a ‘war council’ meeting between American, Israeli and Lebanese parties that played a role in the war again Hizbullah and its allies. The documents the Al-Akhbar editors received, however, all date to 2008 onwards and do not contain “anything of value,” the sources confirm. This only goes to support the Israel deal allegations.

We might note that some of this "Israeli connection" story comes from supporters of Arab governments who want to hide their own part in things, and from Gordon Duff, who like Chossadovsky, is keen on the "9/11 Truth" effort.

But a story which counteracts all that -or does it ? - comes in the shape of a Guardian Comment is Free piece by Andrew Brown, who says:

"WikiLeaks's spokesperson and conduit in Russia has been exposed in the Swedish media as an anti-semite and Holocaust denier; his son, who represents the organisation in Sweden and is handing out stories to selected papers there, has been involved in an earlier scandal where a story he wrote about the supposed Israeli control of Swedish media was withdrawn after several of the people in it complained of being misquoted.

"While this does not affect the credibility of the WikiLeaks revelations, it does raise uncomfortable questions for the whistleblowers' organisation.

"The two men involved are Israel Shamir, a Jew who has converted to Orthodox Christianity and passionate antisemitism, and his son Johannes Wahlström. Shamir was listed as a co-author of a story in Counterpunch, which suggested that the woman who brought a complaint of rape against Julian Assange was a CIA plant. But he has a longer and stranger past than this would suggest.

"According to Magnus Ljunggren, a retired professor of Russian literature at Gothenburg University, Shamir has had at least six different names, among them Izrail Schmerler (as he was born in Novosibirsk, Siberia), Jöran Jermas, Adam Ermash, but is internationally known as Shamir. He has been a Swedish citizen since 1992".

"His latest book, in Russian, is called is called How to Break the Conspiracy of the Elders of Zion.

"His son, Wahlström, is even more remarkable because he is more outwardly respectable. He has been employed in various journalistic capacities by the Swedish state broadcaster, SVT, by the newspaper Aftonbladet, and by the leftwing magazine Ordfront. The magazine was forced to retract and to apologise for a story he wrote in 2005 about supposed Israeli control of the Swedish media, which contained quotes attributed to three other journalists, which they denied ever making. None the less, Aftonbladet is paying him both as a researcher and a consultant, because he has exclusive access to the WikiLeaks cable dump in Sweden and is the gatekeeper who doles out stories to favoured media partners".

We know about Shamir, aka Jermas etc. Emerging during the second Intifada as a supposed Israeli dissident, a prolific writer who was supporting the cause of the Palestinians, he was soon being avoided by Palestinian campaigners who formed the view that whatever drove Israel Shamir it was not liberation or ant-Zionism. A PLO representative in Stockholm told me Shamir was coming out with some "odd ideas", claiming the Blood Libel was true.

It was in Sweden that anti-fascist activists discovered Shamir's double identity, as a Swedish antisemite called Joran Jermas. But it was here in Britain that an academic active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and already the target for Zionist attacks, was shaken to find that Shamir had passed on her details to his "friend", Martin Webster, the former National Front leader.

As regards the "respectable" media place which Andrew Brown finds "remarkable" in the case of Shamir's son, I can tell him that Shamir himself used to work for the BBC's Russian service, which may be how he came to make the acquaintance of Russia's far-Right.

Andrew Brown concludes:
"There, for the moment, the story rests. Given the tight if murky links between the Russian security apparatus and the quasi-fascist Nationalist movement with which Shamir is associated there, it has worrying implications for the security of anyone named in the cables. This is not because the cables themselves are inaccurate, but because they are not".

I'd say uncovering one dodgy character, or some alleged links, does not tell the whole story about Wikileaks. But you would think some savvy journalists well-up on international affairs and intelligence matters would have had their doubts aroused about working with someone like Israel Shamir, whatever his true identity. And it could be neither of the public images we've seen is the real Shamir.

Don't beware taking anything from Wikileaks. But be wary.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home