'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just Do It 

From The Peninsula, a Qatari newspaper:

Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA, and many officials keep visiting US embassies in their respective countries voluntarily to establish links with this key US intelligence agency, says Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks.

These officials are spies for the US in their countries, Assange told Al Jazeera Arabic channel in an interview yesterday.

The interviewer, Ahmed Mansour, said at the start of the interview which was a continuation of last week’s interface, that Assange had even shown him the files that contained the names of some top Arab officials with alleged links with the CIA.

Assange or Mansour, however, didn’t disclose the names of these officials. The WikiLeaks founder said he feared he could be killed but added that there were 2,000 websites that were ready to publish the remaining files that are in possession of WikiLeaks after he has been done away with.

If I am killed or detained for a long time, there are 2,000 websites ready to publish the remaining files. We have protected these websites through very safe passwords, said Assange.

Currently, his whistle-blowing website is exposing files in a responsible manner, he claimed. But if I am forced we could go to the extreme and expose each and every file that we have access to, thundered the WikiLeaks founder. We must protect our sources at whatever cost. This is our sincere concern.

Some Arab countries even have torture houses where Washington regularly sends suspects for interrogation and torture, he said.

Philip Agee released this sort of information, and lived into his 70s, being fortunate enough to fall in love with a German woman who married him, enabling him to obtain German citizenship. He spent much of his life after the late 1970s in Germany and Cuba. Ecuador has already offered residency to Assange, and other South American countries, such as Venezuela, Bolivia, and Brazil, might do so as well if he requested it. So, there are places where Assange can live outside the reach of the US, or, at least, not any less so than Agee did.

Within this context, it is worth recalling Agee's motivation for releasing confidential information about the activities of the CIA around the world, especially in the Americas:

Agee had left the CIA in 1969 after 12 years working mainly in Latin America, where he gradually became disgusted by the agency's collusion with military dictators in the region and decided to blow the whistle on their activities. The Mexico City massacre of student protesters in 1968 also stiffened his resolve. His 1975 book Inside the Company: CIA Diary spilled the beans on his former employers and enraged the US government, not least because it named CIA operatives.

It was a time in the 70s when the worst imaginable horrors were going on in Latin America, he told the Guardian in an interview published a year ago today. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, El Salvador - they were military dictatorships with death squads, all with the backing of the CIA and the US government. That was what motivated me to name all the names and work with journalists who were interested in knowing just who the CIA were in their countries.

Of course, it is easy for someone like me to suggest that Assange should publicly release the information that he mentioned in his Al Jazeera interview. But there is no question that the worst imaginable horrors are going on in northern Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia today, just as they were in the Americas (and Greece as well) when Agee worked for the CIA. For example, consider what is happening now in Tunisia, a police state unknown to most Americans that is considered an important ally in the global war against terrorism. If Assange is speaking truthfully, wikileaks has documents in its possession that will expose US complicity in the abuse, torture and suppression of peoples throughout the Muslim world in places beyond the usual suspects, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, one should not forget to include Indonesia as one of the possible countries involved, even if, strictly speaking, it is inaccurate to characterize it as Arab.

Hat tip to Marcy Wheeler.

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