On Ukraine, it is extremely difficult to get any airing for anti-war opinions. On the mainstream media, it is simply impossible to get a hearing,” Craig Murray said. The human rights campaigner and former diplomat sat with “MintPress News” to discuss forever wars, whistleblowing and a future conflict with China. “There’s a universal media consensus on stoking the proxy war, pouring in billions and billions of dollars, pouring in more and more advanced weapons systems. And anybody on social media who attempts to counter that narrative is marked as disinformation or a Russian state asset,” Murray lamented, noting that even during the Iraq War, there was more space for dissenting opinions.
It was ten years ago that a United States military judge found Pfc. Chelsea Manning guilty of violating the Espionage Act, along with several other related offenses. She was fortunately acquitted of the most alarming charge levied against her: “aiding the enemy.” Manning provided over 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks, many of which contained evidence of torture, war crimes, human rights abuses, and corruption within the State Department. Panicked U.S. military and national security officials scrambled to respond to the fallout from what was revealed, and the U.S. government immediately tightened restrictions on how soldiers, contractors, and lower-level agency personnel could access information databases.
When we hear the term “whistleblower,” we tend to think of names like Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange—people who have risked their freedom, even their lives, to expose government lies, abuses of power, and state secrets that the public needs to know about. But there are a range of federal statutes designed to protect those who blow the whistle on their employers, too, especially when those employers are breaking the law and/or endangering their workers and the public. Michael Paul Lindsey II is a military veteran who has worked for Union Pacific as a trained locomotive conductor and engineer for the past 17 years
Of all the fine things written and said about Daniel Ellsberg since his death June 16, there is a thread running through them we ought not miss, a story Ellsberg himself told better than anyone else. It is a story from which we can all learn. As we consider this story, we can embrace Ellsberg as an exemplar as much as he was a courageous man of conscience. As he put it in an interview some years ago, “courage is contagious.” Ellsberg did not give the story I have in mind a name, a title, a headline, or any such designation, but he may as well have, and I take the liberty of drawing from his words to name it now, the process of Dan Ellsberg’s awakening.
Being an FBI agent was Stephen Friend’s dream job. For eight and a half years working there, the Notre Dame graduate and Iraq War veteran investigated around 200 violent crimes, including human and sex-trafficking cases, and served five years as part of an FBI SWAT team. Friend did his job so well that he won an FBI performance award. Then one day this past fall, his top-secret security clearance was revoked by his superiors at the Jacksonville, Florida, field office, and he lost his job. The reason was that he had expressed concern about a) the inflation of statistics regarding Domestic Violent Extremism (DVE) cases; b) assignments to surveil parents at school board meetings and log their license plate numbers in violation of the parents’ constitutional rights; and c) the FBI’s decision to use a SWAT team in the arrest of an alleged January 6 rioter who had expressed willingness to cooperate with the FBI.
After pleading guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges this week, Hunter Biden faces new scrutiny after two IRS whistleblowers allege extensive misconduct in the handling of his tax investigation. Biden failed to pay tax on more than $3 million in income. His plea helps him “avoid full prosecution on a separate gun possession charge,” according to a CBS report. Gary Shapley, one of two IRS whistleblowers—the second remains anonymous—testified to the House Ways and Means Committee that the IRS substantiated the need for stricter penalties and Biden was given a sweetheart deal. “I am alleging, with evidence, that DOJ provided preferential treatment, slow-walked the investigation, did nothing to avoid obvious conflicts of interest in this investigation,” Shapley testified.
Few people can say their actions helped to strengthen press freedom, end a war, and bring down a presidency. Daniel Ellsberg, who died today at the age of ninety-two, did just that. Ellsberg came to public prominence in 1971 when he photocopied a secret history of US involvement in the Vietnam War, what became known as the “Pentagon Papers,” and gave a copy to the New York Times. The New York Times’ decision to publish the papers set off a landmark press freedom battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Ellsberg became the first whistleblower indicted under the Espionage Act.
Sam Adams Associates for Integrity honored the late Dan Ellsberg with our annual award for fearless integrity on April 11, 2023. It was clear that Dan summoned much of his remaining strength to leave an unambiguous message to people of conscience as to why they should blow the whistle on government lies, as he did, but NOW, not later. The private ceremony was filmed by a friend of Dan and Patricia. Dan saved his parting plea for the last three minutes. Those wishing to go directly to that segment can start at minute 19:32. Dan’s words speak for themselves.
When the police arrived, a 13-year-old boy was photocopying classified documents. His 10-year-old sister was cutting the words “top secret” off each page. It seemed their dad, Daniel Ellsberg, had been caught red-handed. But the officers were responding to a false alarm and did not check what Ellsberg and his young accomplices were up to. “It was a very nice family scene,” the 90-year-old recalls via Zoom from his home in Kensington, California. “It didn’t worry them.” So night after night the photocopying went on, the crucial means that allowed strategic analyst Ellsberg to leak the Pentagon Papers, a secret report that exposed government lies about the Vietnam war.
CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin interrupted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a Washington Post-sponsored World Press Freedom Day event on May 3, taking the stage where a Post journalist was interviewing Blinken. Benjamin demanded that the U.S. and United Kingdom free imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. A group of men in suits, presumably Secret Service agents, immediately charged onto the stage and forcibly removed Benjamin and another activist who joined her. Blinken, however, failed to address either Assange’s persecution or the U.S.’s continued decline in press freedom after the disruption.
May 3, 2023, will mark the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, which the United Nations established to remind governments about the need to respect their commitment to freedom of the press. But as the Biden administration proclaims the centrality of press freedom globally, its hypocrisy in pursuing journalist and publisher Julian Assange is stunning. The Biden administration recently expressed outrage that Russia arrested journalist Evan Gershkovich of The Wall Street Journal, a United States citizen based in Moscow, for practicing journalism. Gershkovich is now incarcerated in Russia, facing espionage charges that could garner him 20 years in prison.
It was impossible to imagine four years ago when WikiLeaks Editor Julian Assange was hauled out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London and thrown in Belmarsh Prison that corporate media, which had smeared Assange, could stoop to new lows of government servitude. But it has now happened with the arrest of Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman, for allegedly leaking top secret government documents. The leaks exposed a number of significant lies told by both the U.S. government and corporate media about the ongoing war in Ukraine. Among many items of interest, the documents revealed that U.S. Special Forces as well as NATO forces are on the ground in Ukraine; that Ukraine is significantly unprepared for its planned spring offensive; as well as evidence of U.S. spying on its allies and António Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations.
Elected politicians in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and the United Kingdom signed on to letters to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding that the Justice Department drop the charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. A letter of opposition signed by four members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Representative Rashida Tlaib, who initiated the letter, was prepared. However, it had not yet been sent to Garland at the time of publication. The letters were timed to mark the fourth anniversary of Assange’s arrest and detention. On April 11, 2019, Ecuador President Lenin Moreno expelled Assange from the country’s London embassy.
April 11 marks four years since Julian Assange was forcibly dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2019 and put under arrest. Ever since his imprisonment, the Wikileaks founder has spent much of his time in the high-security prison in Belmarsh under judicial remand, without any charges or conviction, fighting a prolonged extradition process. The extradition request from the United States began under the administration of former president Donald Trump, and continues under the present Joe Biden administration. From recent revelations, it is understood that the US attempt to prosecute Assange has been going on since at least the Barack Obama administration.
The legendary Daniel Ellsberg has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In a March 1 email to friends, Dan wrote, “I’m sorry to report to you that my doctors have given me three to six months to live … it might be more, or less.” He will turn 92 on April 7. Dan displayed uncommon courage in 1971 when he publicized the 7,000-page top-secret Pentagon Papers while working at the Rand Corporation. As a consultant to the Department of Defense, Dan drafted Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s plans for nuclear war. In his book, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, Dan wrote that the Pentagon Papers exposed the “secrets five presidents had withheld and the lies they told” about U.S. decision-making in Vietnam.