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The WIKILEAKS NEWS & VIEWS BLOG FOR WEDNESDAY, Day 53 | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

The WIKILEAKS NEWS & VIEWS BLOG FOR WEDNESDAY, Day 53

As I've done for more than seven weeks, I will be updating news and views on all things WikiLeaks all day, with new items added at the top. All times are ET in USA. Contact me at epic1934@aol.com. Information on some of my books here.

UPDATE: Go to the Thursday version of this blog here.

10:15  Hot new scam, according to Forbes blogger: Calling people and telling them they are in big trouble for visiting a WikiLeaks-related -- unless they pay up.  Better Business Bureau on it, including in Seattle:  "A caller reported she received an automated phone call telling her that her computer and IP address had been noted as having visited the Wikileaks site, and that there were grave consequences for this, including a $250,000 or $25,000 fine, perhaps imprisonment. It left an option for leaving a message as to how she was going to handle this and the fine payment." 

8:30  Major new piece in The Australian on the rather strained relationship -- "locked in a war of words," so thy say -- between Assange and The Guardian, charges of betrayal, the falling out with Nick Davies, and so on.  Not exactly new but a lot of fresh quotes from close observers.  .  "I think Julian is an extremely colourful character, he is very aware of that, he uses that very smartly, he is very aware that a picture of him will play well in a newspaper," Ian Katz said.

8:20  Political scientist Michael Busch has been blogging abo,ut some of the interesting but less-publicized cables at two sites.  His own WikiBlogged includes regular updates often darkly humorous,  such as one from yesterday on monitoring driving and cell phone distraction in...Armenia.    He blogs less often at IPS's Foreign Policy in Focus.

4:30  Reuters with details on the Elmer arrest (see below): "Swiss police on Wednesday arrested former banker Rudolf Elmer on fresh charges of breaching Swiss bank secrecy law for giving data to WikiLeaks, hours after he was found guilty of another secrecy offense.  'The state prosecutor's office is checking to see whether Rudolf Elmer has violated Swiss banking law by handing the CD over to WikiLeaks,' the Zurich cantonal (state) police and state prosecutor said in a joint statement."

3:45  The Guardian with news break at top of page just now with no details:  The Swiss apparently have arrested the ex-banker who handed over CDs with "tax cheat" records to Assange this week on charges related to that.  Earlier today (see below) he had been convicted and fined for other charges.

2:35  Unusual expert piece inspired by that flap awhile back over WikiLeaks releasing info on U.S.  "key metals" supply and facilties, alleged threat to our national security or invitation to terrorists, Assange should be arrest and/or shot over this, and so.    

2:00   JIm Ridgeway and Jean Casella at The Guardian with a piece that opens by hitting cruel prison conditions for Bradley Manning, then goes further:  "Bradley Manning's treatment undeniably deserves this attention. But while Manning's punishment is cruel, it is far from unusual. According to available data, there are some 25,000 inmates in long-term isolation in America's supermax prisons, and as many as 80,000 more in solitary confinement in other facilities. Where is the outrage – even among progressives – for these forgotten souls."

12:45  Andrew Sullivan notes yesterday's news on administration officials admitting, privately, that cables have done little damage to US, while painting different picture in public, and links it to Sarah Palin's attacks on Assange—and her recent use of "blood libel" term.

12:25  Great panel coming up next Monday in NYC from Personal Democracy Forum, in partnership with New York University's Interactive Technology Program, with speakers Clay Shirky, Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir, Floyd Abrams (who wrote that WSJ op-ed critical of WikiLeaks), Gabriella Coleman, John Hockenberry.

12:00  New piece by Kathleen Christison:  "CounterPunch has accessed Wikileaks' file of cables on Israel’s Gaza assault two years ago (Operation Cast Lead, December 27, 2008 through January 18, 2009). Though the cables often  simply rehash Israeli press reporting, providing  little new insight into Israel’s attack or the planning behind it, they show with pitiless clarity  the U.S. government to be little more than a handmaiden and amanuensis of the Israeli military machine. The cables make clear, were any further disclosure needed, exactly where the United States stands with respect to Israel’s unprovoked attacks on Palestinians and its other Arab neighbors."

11:30  That ex-banker who handed over CD on "tax cheating" to Assange this week found guilty today. "A judge at Zurich's Regional Court has sentenced Rudolf Elmer to a fine of over 6,000 Swiss francs ($6,000). Elmer claimed at the one-day trial in Zurich's banking capital Wednesday that he acted after being persecuted by his former employer Julius Baer." 

10:40  We've mentioned this in a preview, but now here's full piece on WikiLeaks browser, via Dazzlepod, coming to... Facebook.

10:00  Switzerland probing US spying there, after cables released.

9:05  Former Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer, who just handed over "tax cheat" CDS to Assange in London, appeared in court today to answer breach of secrecy charges.

8:45  TV drama NCIS: Los Angeles with WikiLeaks-inspired show last night! Excerpt from  full rundown: "Driscoll somehow got his hands on highly classified documents and was going to post them online. The problem is that no one knows the decryption key to actually open the files yanked from the Pentagon, and that a couple of mercenaries are willing to kill for it. As NCIS: LA battles the hired guns looking to snag the code and files for themselves, they also battle the FBI for jurisdiction over the case, and the clues within it."

8:35  Russia blocks Wikileaks site after it publishes photo of Putin's $1 billion palace. But maybe that is past tense, as I got to the site easily, with palace down the page a big (I think).

8:00  Mother Jones re-visits Rep. Peter King's "terrorism problem"—threatens Assange and WikiLeaks but aided IRA.

7:55: And we're back. Glenn Greenwald just out with new post on story we pushed very early on, following yesterday's late-afternoon Reuters report: "To say that the Obama administration's campaign against WikiLeaks has been based on wildly exaggerated and even false claims is to understate the case. But now, there is evidence that Obama officials have been knowingly lying in public about these matters.... One might express bewilderment that most American journalists never learn their lesson about placing their blind faith in government claims."

7:50  Reuters: New cables find US ordering "its Middle East diplomats in 2008 to gather data on encrypted Israeli communications and build financial and 'biometric' profiles of Palestinian leaders." Secret memo from Condi Rice. 

12:05  NYT reports on the new Rudolf Elmer / WikiLeaks  tax cheat bank leak: "The individuals and companies whose offshore account information may be detailed in Swiss banking documents disclosed to WikiLeaks could face American prosecutors—or go untouched, senior tax lawyers said on Tuesday.  

"Whether the more than 2,000 wealthy investors and companies from the United States, Europe, Asia and elsewhere get a knock on the door from the Internal Revenue Service or other American agencies will depend in large part on if the documents contain detailed records showing criminal tax evasion. 'It’s obviously tremendously worrisome for these people, because every time a whistle-blower has said he has the goods, he’s had the goods,' said Peter R. Zeidenberg, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer at DLA Piper."

From late Tuesday

The Center for Investigative Reporting looks at Bank of America secretly buying up domain names to counter WIkiLeaks criticism. This goes beyond the first words about this last month... Well, Bank of America was a little too slow getting to one domain name (see item below):  BankofAmericaSuck is up and running with pro-WikiLeaks articles, links and video. (h/t @emirjame at Twitter). 

Marcy Wheeler on the Reuters scoop below. When the truth "lies."

Reuters's Mark Hosenball with quite a revelation: "Internal U.S. government reviews have determined that a mass leak of diplomatic cables caused only limited damage to U.S. interests abroad, despite the Obama administration's public statements to the contrary.  A congressional official briefed on the reviews said the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers. 'I think they just want to present the toughest front they can muster,' the official said.

"But State Department officials have privately told Congress they expect overall damage to U.S. foreign policy to be containable, said the official, one of two congressional aides familiar with the briefings who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity. 'We were told (the impact of WikiLeaks revelations) was embarrassing but not damaging,' said the official, who attended a briefing given in late 2010 by State Department officials."

 
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