The Julian Assange Interview
26 Apr 2011, 2136 hrs IST, TIMES NOW
WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange in an explosive revelation to TIMES NOW's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami on Swiss bank data, said there are Indian names in the Swiss bank list that is going to be made public. He noted that he has come to know through a report that there are more Indian deposits in the Swiss banks than any other nationality. Crusader Assange claims that India foolishly aped US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in questioning the authenticity of the cables. He further said the Indian government's response to the expose was one of the worst in the world.
The Julian Assange Interview
TIMES NOW: Mr. Assange, first of all, it is an absolute pleasure. You are an icon of journalism. People look up to you. I do not know if you are aware, what WikiLeaks has been doing through the India cables, has been making a lot of news in India, especially over the last 45 odd days. Have you been following that?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yes, we have been following that and we are of course extremely proud. This is what we all wanted and hoped in our work, to see this kind of effect. Perhaps we have seen a similar level of effect in the Middle East but really the spectrum of material that is coming out in India is exactly what we hoped for. So far there have been 21 front pages of “The Hindu” and of course the material has played out in many other ways in the Indian media.
TIMES NOW: Is it important to you that these cables have an impact? Because you put out these cables in the raw sense of it. There is no interpretation to it. Do you really look forward to a certain impact? For example, in the case of India?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, what we promised our sources is that we will try to get the maximum possible political impact for what they are doing. Perhaps you remember people who are coming to us are sometimes coming to us with great risk, with incarceration, persecution or execution. So we represent them like a lawyer represents a client to a court. We represent whistle blowers to the public and what we are trying to do is make sure the efforts they go through have the biggest possible impact. Our activity is sort of geared and structured around that way and that means very specific deals with the different media around the world, promoting things ourselves, doing interviews like this one to try and raise the level, the credibility of the material that we get.
TIMES NOW: Those who get hurt by the publication of your cables read motives. For example, in the context of India... the India cables primarily which have come out so far ... at least the first part of it ... were seen to be completely anti-American and also exposing members of the Indian political establishment who are too eager to please the Americans. Can a motive be read there?
JULIAN ASSANGE: What we do is provide people with the truth. Now that is not our interpretation of the truth. It is very interesting. We are in both in extremely difficult position; we take information which has the maximum possible censorship on it. If you look at their reaction, to our spy by the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA... we have our own publicly declared CIA Task Force into us. Of course, it is difficult to publish that kind of information, on the other hand, we have structured things in such a way that we also have a journalistically easy job, that is either the material we are publishing is a legitimate government document or corporate document or it is not. What is inside the documents in terms of its contents ... what the State Department is saying about India ... about other Ambassadors ... or what a banking organization is saying about its clients, that is an internal matter that journalists still have to check over ... crawl over and the public itself to understand what that means for a country ... what the allegation means. But for us things are relatively easy. We just say is this a true document, is this a false document ... now that is a black and white decision for us. So we are able to deal with this hard case of publishing material that Super powers do not like in part because the journalistic part of understanding is something true or false is very very simple.
TIMES NOW: Let me just step back a little, Mr. Assange. What did you set out to do when you started this whole journey? What really was the driving factor that you had?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Since the early 1990s, I have been involved in publishing things that have been difficult to publish and I understood that bringing the Internet to people ... bringing information to people, educating people about how their world actually works tends to make the world more just and so like the other individuals I want to live in a just place. And when I see something around me that is unjust or inhuman I feel the world around me is not a pleasant place for me to live in. So I wanted to take these things that I had done and learnt from ... some of my political understanding, my technical understanding and the contacts that I had made in human rights work, photography, intelligence agencies, journalism and pool them all together and solve what I saw as the biggest problem that I could solve which was people not knowing how political and corporate institutions in a modern era actually behave. Because we need to understand how they actually behave if we are to deal with them. And in the end it really is these institutions that control very large parts of our lives and the directions that human civilization is moving in. I see that there are three types of history and all our work as a civilization is based on these three types. So one is information that has an economy behind it. Some of that is extremely important information such as how to pump water, how to create penicillin... very very important human information but they exist and there exists an industry around that. The other is information which people no longer care about. Books published years ago, perhaps the information is important but there is no industry around it. On the other hand, no one is trying to destroy the information either. Then there is a third class of information which is information from within major institutions, that people are actively trying to suppress from the public. That type of information is something we have never really known before ... that human civilization has never really known ... going back all the way to ancient Greece we have never really known before because people have been working to keep it away from the public. And why do they work to keep it away from the public? Because they believe it will do something if the public knows. What will it do? Well, the public will take it and reform those institutions. If we want accountable, just human institutions, then we need to understand in all the ways in which they are into being accountable , in which they are not being just and once we have this understanding, then we can both address specifically individual acts of injustice but we can also get a feeling for how they behave as a whole ... about of systems of patronage work, systems of bureaucracy, international geo politics and I say until we can understand how these systems work there cannot possibly be a political prescription or a philosophical prescription into fixing those problems. So to that extent, all existing political philosophies are bankrupt because they are built on not understanding how human institutions actually behave in a modern era. We have to first understand how our institutions behave before we can come up with programs to reform them.
TIMES NOW: Isn’t the definition for what is just and unjust a very subjective thing?
JULIAN ASSANGE: No, I do not think this is subjective at all. I mean when we look at children around the world playing with toys ... one child is playing with a toy and the other larger child comes and takes the toy away, there is a feeling within the child that that was unjust. Similarly when people arbitrarily kill there is a feeling it is unjust. Now I say and evidence shows that in general around the world the feeling of what is just and unjust is actually pretty common. It is only when we get to the more complex and ornate cases that people start to differ and when we start to build up some kind of intellectual construct on these feelings of injustice but the basic feeling of injustice that if one person is full and another person is starving and they are sitting side by side that is unjust, that is something that is common amongst many many people.
TIMES NOW: When you were 16 you started off with hacking and it was under the name of which meant ‘nobly untruthful’. Can you just explain that, what you meant by ‘nobly untruthful’ and you have a name to your group which was ‘international subversives’, that sounds extremely dangerous. What were you setting out to do then?
JULIAN ASSANGE: We were teenagers trying to understand the world within the international context, actually but especially from within Australia which is fairly isolated. This is pre-Internet. What we were trying to understand how these big systems work, challenge them, find things that were unjust. I run a magazine from that and we ended up being prosecuted as a result of that magazine. It took about six years in court to get out of that. The ‘nobly untruthful’ is just a play-up. If you use a pseudonym, it is just a sort of clever play on the Latin words.
TIMES NOW: I want to ask you a few questions in the context of India. I do not know how much you have been following what has been happening in India, Mr Assange, but we had a series of scams. Now every time – and people like to know your views on this – every time there is a scam, the government sort of steps in or whoever is affected steps in and tackles that issue in what is seen to be a piecemeal way. It is more damage control. You know handle one scam at one time, put it up to some process of enquiry, ensure it is away from constant media attention. In your view how long will this sort of approach last.
JULIAN ASSANGE: I am not sure. When we started releasing these cables about India we showed two things. One is what was actually in the material ... the various scandals that have come out, relations with the US, the bribing in Parliament and so on. The other thing we revealed is the government’s reaction to all that was; Prime Minister Singh’s reaction to all that was and other peoples. So we can see two types of information and both of these are quite important to understand how these organizations are actually behaving. So I agree with you, the response by the government left a lot to be desired. I said before it was clear to me Prime Minister Singh was deliberately attempting to mislead the people on what type of material this was. People tell me that he is not personally corrupt. I do not know myself. I do not have any information on whether he is or is not but his reaction left a lot to be desired. It wasn’t to fully, frankly investigate what is going on and then provide the findings to the Parliament; rather it was an attempt to spin the issue and I suspect that has come from experience in dealing with similar scandals in the past. That is a way you can deal with them by trying to spin them than authorize and investigation or a response. If we are to have a strong response from the government, it will require a strong response from the media. They just have to be pushed and pushed and pushed until they see that there is an advantage in performing a proper response. That’s what will drive these people. I mean I understand from running an institution which is constantly under attack from state activists and from critics that you do try and put out the biggest fire first. So the absence of the Indian government to comprehensively respond doesn’t necessarily mean that they will not or that they have all sorts of vested interests in trying to shirk the issue. A large part of it is that they have many fires to put out like all big institutions and so they simply put out the biggest fire they can and then they turn their concentration to the small ones. So if you want the Indian government to really address corruption then it must become the central issue of the nation. So it cannot simply give the small concessions of a small investigation or push something off to a parliamentary committee and that actually seems like it may be on the cards.
TIMES NOW: But Mr Assange, everyone responded. Everyone in the Government began to say just one thing... “Do you expect the Government of India to respond to WikiLeaks Paper? Do you expect us to take these cables seriously?” I mean at the end of the day, the description was that this was just diplomatic garble. It means nothing...It is unverifiable beyond a point. It is one person’s opinion and Governments can’t respond to what is seen to be the opinion of one person or a conversation that they called hearsay. . I want to know what you sense of that kind of response...that this is not serious matter...It is not legally verifiable matter. And hence we do not need to respond to this...That was the response to it.
JULIAN ASSANGE: That was a clear attempt to mislead the Indian nation on what the cables were. And I said that at that time that I find that quite disturbing. We have dealt with over 60 different countries in relation to things we have released related to the cables we have released and the Indian Government’s response was one of the worst in the world to the information.
TIMES NOW: Why? Could you explain that?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well the other countries that have come out have said, “Well on that particular issue revealed by the cables, we say we had a defence. So it is not quite as bad as it seems. Or we did something else, something like this....” But there was no questioning whether the cables themselves were legitimate and needed to be responded to. Part of what is going on in India I think is that Hillary Clinton back in December went around to many countries including India and said, “Look, certain things might be coming out and here’s how I want you to respond to them.” And what Hillary was doing and what the State Department has being doing is saying we refuse to confirm or deny them...We won’t talk about leaked things ever. And I suspect the Indian government rather foolishly, when the cables came out, decided they would ape her and play her line which has been very unsuccessful in the US as way of responding to the material. And other countries to their credit, have not decided to go down the line recommended by Hillary in refusing to talk about anything in the cables. But rather have fully engaged with what the allegations were and that is what the Indian Government needs to do...fully engage with what the allegations are. These cables have not been questioned at all. There is an ongoing prosecution in fact into us, into an alleged source, Bradley Manning...FBI investigations, CIA taskforce etc. The best journalists in the world have worked on this material and published thousands of articles on it. There is no doubt that what is in the cables is correct to the degrees that that is what American diplomats wrote. That is what they sent back to Washington.
TIMES NOW: Mr. Assange, when you say that Hillary Clinton went around...Is it just your assessment? Is this... you’re connecting the dots there? Or do you have some information that Hillary Clinton could have coached the Indian Government preemptively about what their response should be?
JULIAN ASSANGE: I have read that Hillary Clinton and members of the State Department did approach the Indian Government in this matter and we know they were doing that with dozens of Governments. And the large Government received protocols either from Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or Joseph Biden. Who in the State Department spoke to the Indian Government , I’m not sure about. But I understand it is admitted that the Indian Government was approached by the United States back in December.
TIMES NOW: Have you been following the Anna Hazare movement? The movement for a Lokpal Bill, an Ombudsman Bill. Have you been following the fast of Anna Hazare. You made some comments about it recently in your interview to the Hindu. What do you think about it?
JULIAN ASSANGE: It is extremely interesting that the Indian Government has said it will respond to the demands within 5 days. So that must show the level of support by the Indian population, by the Indian media. Of course when the Government says it will do something that doesn’t mean it will actually implement it. It requires constant pressure to make sure it is implemented. I understand now there is an attempt to try and embroil the movement in some kind of smear campaign against that movement. That is something we are used to as well. That has been working for many years against us. With our more impactful material, there is a more aggressive smear campaign. It is quite interesting to see how these things are completely in proportion. When we publish something that has incredibly high impact amongst major powers or powerful groups of powerful companies then we get an attack back that is proportionate o the power of the publication. Every single time, it is completely predictable. Before publishing something now, we predict we will have about 2 days before the smear comes around and they try and....
TIMES NOW: So you anticipate that?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yes absolutely!
TIMES NOW: So..
JULIAN ASSANGE: We can’t always anticipate. You know, we don’t anticipate always the precise smear. This is too difficult. But we always know we have two days of initiative after a publication and then the opponents and the supporters will then turn around and engage in some sort of smear campaign within 48 hours.
TIMES NOW: You know the argument always is, if you attack us with daggers, you don’t expect us to respond with cottonwool.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah
TIMES NOW: That’s what people say. So the Governments under attack are going to attack you back.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yes, but we’re not attacking them. We’re just telling the population the truth. One of our supporters, John Pilger, put it in quite an interesting way. You know that Governments, including the Indian Government, are not scared of Wikileaks. The American Government is not scared of WikiLeaks. The American Government doesn’t care what Julian Assange knows. It is completely irrelevant. What these Governments care about is what the audience knows...About what we tell the audience...They are only trying to attack us because it is a way of attacking the audience. What we know is really not that important. It is simply one ability to tell everyone else and defy. With the case of the Pentagon, defy a public demand by the Pentagon to destroy everything we had previously published and we were going to publish.
TIMES NOW: So in a way the people who would have been at the forefront of the questioning the policies against corruption or the absence of them in India in an aggressive way...Those who were at the forefront of the people’s movement should have anticipated a counter campaign. I just want to ask one small question before I move one. They attacked you, but they attacked you personally as well. There were personal charges against you. In the context of some of the members of the movement, the questions have been about personal integrity, not in terms of character or a personal issue but financial propriety etc... being part of the same system of patronage. In your view, is that a serious enough issue? Because on side, you have an incredibly important cause of eradicating that form of institutional corruption in India. On the other hand, shouldn’t those who are the office bearers of that cause be seen to be like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion on issues of financial integrity and propriety?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Everyone should have some scrutiny but the scrutiny has got to be in proportion and I mean in our case, I will give you a small example. So we called for the transparency of major powers engaged in war crimes, engaged in Swiss banking accounts and money laundering, etc. and so one of the counter attacks on us is to say WikiLeaks as an institution is not transparent enough.
TIMES NOW: Yes, we heard that.
JULIAN ASSANGE: I mean it is just extraordinary the level that it goes to. For example, the reality is that we are a small media organization under tremendous attack. We have a publicly stated CIA Task Force into us. We also as an organization have a role to protect the identity of our sources. That is one of our primary missions to protect the identity of our sources. So of course we are not transparent about who our sources are. Of course we are not transparent about where some of our servers are. Of course we are not transparent about who some of our employees are because some of our employees are targeted by agencies. This should be completely obvious but because we preach that major powers should be transparent it is then sort of a natural attack by these groups to try and say well you are not transparent yourself. I mean here I am speaking for the organization and there is a lot of transparency related to what we do but there are also areas that we have to protect. So that is a standard rhetorical technique to throw your opponents’ moral position straight back at them. The Pentagon for example said that we might have blood on our hands and ran this. And now, if you look for WikiLeaks on the Internet with blood on its hands Vs. Pentagon with blood on its hands, you find there are 10 times as many web pages talking about Wikileaks having blood on its hands as the Pentagon involved in all its various wars. In fact, nothing we have ever published is even claimed by any official in any government to have resulted in someone’s death. So, this standard rhetorical technique of taking the accusation and turn it back on the person is simply there to distract from the power of the message. In our case because we produce the original documents that have proven to be true, proven to be official documents, there is no ability to attack what we publish. So the only sort of attack we get is on us as people and this case you are speaking about in India, I am sure that is the same framework. Of course, I do not if the accusations against these individuals are true or not but I am sure why these accusations are being made.
TIMES NOW: But the other argument that comes which is also relevant in the context of what you are doing internationally, especially in America is that in India what they say, what they have been saying over the last ... I do not know if you are aware but in the last 10-11 months there has been a series of scams and then there has been the WikiLeaks publication and parliamentary sessions. Now what we constantly hear from politicians is that do not undermine our democracy. We have a Parliament, do not undermine our institutions. If you undermine institutions you will undermine democracy and that is an argument that is put forth very often whenever there is a big scam or whenever there is public outrage ... whenever people come out on the streets ... almost suggesting it is subversive activity. How do you look at that response? We have seen that response more and more, we can have a debate but if you are questioning our institutions a red line of your freedom of expression.
JULIAN ASSANGE: I think Thomas Jefferson had it right – Information is the life blood of democracy. And the only way to keep institutions strong and clean is to present factual information on how they are actually behaving. Of course if the information being presented is untrue, that is a different story. You can actually corrupt a body politic by putting in lies. But if the information that is being presented ... for example the information we have presented with The Hindu in the cable releases ... then this is something that is really keeping democracy clean in India and keeps these institutions strong.
TIMES NOW: The biggest issue in India today is this secrecy in Swiss banks and I am sure you are aware of the public interest in India about it. This is a debate that has been going on for 3 decades. What do you think about it? About these secret Swiss accounts – I am sure you have heard about the enormous amount of ill gotten Indian wealth which lies in Swiss banks?
JULIAN ASSANGE: I have seen a report from this EU ... as opposed to Swiss ... but an official report that there are more Indian deposits in Swiss banks than any other nationality. So that should be a concern. The work I did in Africa I discovered that 3 billion dollars had been sucked out of Kenya and pushed around the world including into Swiss banks. And it struck me that this was much worse than just local corruption because when you have local corruption, when someone steals from a ministry and puts it into their company in India and spends it in India well, even if the government is losing money at least the people of India are not losing the money. But when the money taken is pushed offshore, then every time someone sends a million dollars to a Swiss Bank, they are buying Swiss Francs and they are selling rupees and the result is that the currency of the nation is debased. And so there is a double effect in the corruption. Everything for all Indians becomes more expensive as a result of that transfer. We ... a few years ago in 2008, published a series of accounts of Swiss bank account holders in the Cayeman Islands and the Cayeman Islands was being used across the world to hide assets and to evade tax. To open one of these bank accounts with a bank like Julius Baer, the largest private Swiss banking concern, one needed at least a million dollars. So this is not ... when we speak of banking, here we are not talking about normal banking and that is a defense these banks often use. They say, “Oh, you like your bank account to be private, don’t you? This is just the exact same sort of thing.”
TIMES NOW: Exactly.
JULIAN ASSANGE: This is absolutely not the same kind of a thing. It is wrong to call this banking. It is something else. It is asset hiding and they use laws in Carribean Islands like the Cayeman Islands, they use complex structures. It is not anything like a normal bank account ... The position lawyers ...
TIMES NOW: Transfer funds.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Transfer funds all over the place, make sure there is no accessible names, use secrecy laws etc, and the only reason you would want to be putting your money into a Swiss bank controlled place like Cayeman Islands is to hide assets. It is actually quite expensive to do. Looking at the documentation we saw in that period, it was about 15-25 thousand US Dollars per year just to keep the account. Why would someone be paying so much money to do that?
TIMES NOW: No, but it happens. There is a cloak and dagger way to it. I do not know if you have heard of Hasan Ali, India’s biggest tax swindler. He is currently in jail. In one account itself, he had 8 billion dollars and later when the government went to find out ... one day there was 60,000 dollars left and the other day, there was none. So the money had been taken away. Now Mr. Assange, the argument the Indian government has given so far is that there are rules. There are always two arguments that governments give. One is national security, and the other is international rules and protocol. On international rules and protocol they say there is a double taxation avoidance agreement with Switzerland which we must respect, with other European countries, we must respect. We cannot break those rules. But there is a strong view in India that if the governments on both sides want, they can change the rules. So it is a system of patronage, isn’t it?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Of course, they can change it. I mean I had a Swiss bank account.
TIMES NOW: Really? How much did you have in it?
JULIAN ASSANGE: I had a Swiss bank account not with Julius Baer but with the post office in Switzerland. It also runs bank accounts. And my Swiss bank account was closed down like that (snaps fingers) as a result of US pressure. That was a publicly declared bank account designed to raise funds for our legal defenses. Closed down like this (snaps fingers) as a result within 4 days of Cablegate. So it is simply not true that these organizations and governments can’t come up with alternative proposals if they have the will to do so.
TIMES NOW: So this argument of double taxation is not something that would apply.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Double taxation doesn’t have anything to do with asset hiding. So it doesn’t ... simply cover asset hiding. In terms of putting money offshore, it can cover that but the citizen concerned can’t be Indian. We had a similar issue in Australia where most of the share owners of the mining companies were from overseas ... from the US and the dividends were being paid off to the US. So there was no tax on those dividends and the Australian government decided it would introduce special tax on the mining companies because the mining industry was making so much money and the other industries weren’t. It is completely possible to do. The Australian government decided to do it although quite interestingly the mining lobby, they all got together and rolled the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd and put another person in his place, Julian Gillard and the cables released showed some of the scheming going on to roll the Prime Minister. So in Australia’s case it was perfectly possible to do it legally, it wasn’t possible to do it politically. The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd lost his prime ministership as a result.
TIMES NOW: On the 17 th of January 2011, you had this press conference in which Elmer gave you two discs of data in front of reporters and he said about the system that the Swiss system runs exactly what you are saying ... it damages society. And since then Mr. Assange, people across India have been waiting to know when this information will come out. It has the potential of correcting one of the greatest ills of our system.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, let me tell you what has happened in relation to that. Normally, we only deal with anonymous sources. Mr. Elmer and his legal team for reasons of their own, which I do not understand, decided to have a public press conference. He then returned to Switzerland and was immediately imprisoned. While an investigation is taking place he is still in prison at this moment. He has not as far as I am aware been charged with anything. He is still simply in prison during the period of investigation. And we have had an indirect offer through a third party that if we return what they believe to be the data then they will work to acquit Mr. Elmer to be free. So my ability to talk about this subject is of course limited by the fact that the Swiss bank has a hostage.
TIMES NOW: So it is a difficult situation for you. You know the person who have given you the CD is a hostage and as of now because of that you are being held back from making this information public.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well I obviously cannot say whether there was information of those CDS and what sort of information it was. But yes, it is a very difficult situation for us that he is effectively being held hostage. Let us not forget that Switzerland...about 50 percent of its GDP comes from backing activities. The last case we did in 2008 regarding the Swiss bank Julius Baer....they tried to close us down. They went to a California court. It became a very very big case. In the end we won and it cost them approx. 300 US million dollars in loss of profits. They had to cancel their US operations and so on. But Mr. Elmer was followed around by private investigators- that is fully documented and proved-paid for by the Swiss banks. It is a difficult business.
TIME S NOW: You have strong views on it. And I completely appreciate that you can’t talk about it in detail. But let me ask you more generically, that is your heart, you would like to reveal the details..in your heart. I am not asking you when and under what circumstances, but having known about it, you would like to reveal details of how the system operates, wouldn’t you?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, we have various types of information about different banking operations in the world. Over time, we have revealed those. In fact, most of the legal attacks on us have been from banks. Banks in Scotland...banks in Dubai...banks in Iceland. We all received legal attacks from these banks. And we will continue publishing data on these banks as soon as we are able to do so.
TIMES NOW: have you encountered any Indian names? I am not asking you to tell me where, which banks...
JULIAN ASSANGE: Yes there are Indian names in the data we have already published or going to publish. I can’t remember specifically whether there are Indian names in the upcoming publication. But I have read Indian names. Similarly, in these private Swiss banking concerns, where you need at least a million dollars...which is a significant amount of money..Not an average Indian..
TIMES NOW: And it is difficult to identify those names. Anything else you can tell us?
JULAIN ASSANGE: I can’t tell you anything more at this stage. As we go through the process of releasing data, as always we have to do extra research. And once we understand which media organizations are best placed to help us with that research, then we operate with them. But we are not at that stage yet that I know all the research that is going on.
TIMES NOW: To all our Indian viewers, just one point. Should they lose hope that the names will come out at one point.
JULIAN ASSANGE: No
TIMES NOW: What would you say to them
JULIAN ASSANGE: That you should absolutely not lose hope. It is quite interesting. There is a..There are different forces at play here. The German Government in particular has been very strong. There needs to be transparency in banking operations. It has gone so far as to buy CDs off...in Liechtenstein and so on...To reveal this information. Very, very aggressive approach by the German Government and the German Government is the dominant power within Europe. SO those German attitudes are seeping into Europe as a whole. The US has also been applying pressure in relation to UBS and tax evaders. So the problem is, as Swiss bank accounts are opened up there are simply other ways to deal with the situation. So you go and register a trust, in say Charles and then the trust then goes and opens a Swiss account while you might own a Swiss bank account, but what is there is a trust in Charles..Then you have to break that trust in Charles. That is the problem throughout the offshore sector. That is quite hard to deal with. In case you get this through regulation, investigation...you kind of get this at a level that although people can hide their assets in this way, the amount of expense and effort and risk involved in the asset hiding doesn’t make it worthwhile.
TIMES NOW: Given the economic and political clout that India wields, any reason that India should not be as aggressive?
JULAIN ASSANGE: No. There is no reason why India should not be aggressive. In fact maybe, it should be more aggressive because India seems like it is losing per capita much more tax money than Germany.
TIMES NOW: Mr. Assange, at the very end, you have become an unlikely journalistic icon. You are changing the rules of the game. Do you think there will be others like you? Do you think this form of journalism that you are putting out...you today know..I wouldn’t want to say sort of copyright..But this form of journalism is solely identified with you and your movement. Do you think this is a form of journalism which will change the rules by which the Fourth Estate operates in the future?
JULIAN ASSANGE: We have a lot of people who are trying to do similar things now that have been inspired by us. Mostly, they haven’t gotten anywhere yet. These are very preliminary stages but we know of about 30 different attempts to do things a little differently like we are doing. People are concentrating I think wrongly on the leaking side. Protecting sources coming in that is very important. It is only useful if you can publish, so The New York Times is an example. It is going ahead and trying to build its own sort of system in immediate information. But the problem is a wide class of information in the New York Times that publish. So you actually need both of these. Getting information in and getting information out. But I just earlier today spoke to some people in Kyrgyzstan and there is a little Kyrgyzstan newspaper very aggressive and for the past one month inspired by us has been getting in reports of corruption in Kyrgyzstan and publishing it.
TIMES NOW: So there is a Domino effect. Do you think the American government will get you?
JULIAN ASSANGE: I don’t think so. But only because we have a lot of support. It really is like that, we have people supporting us, doing a lot in various levels from demonstrations in the street to just recently .. just yesterday 12 people went to an Obama fund raiser, paid 5,000 dollars per person, sat at the table and altogether got up and sung how unhappy they were with the White House’s treatment of Bradley Manning, our alleged source who is in military prison. That spectrum of support is what is keeping us strong, is what is keeping these forces at bay. They are very aggressively trying to get up the case in Virginia. ... that means detaining people many times at the US border, raiding people around Boston, pulling records from Twitter and presumably Google and Facebook and all the other companies they can ... it is a conflict situation but we have the overwhelming numbers ... so we have the overwhelming support of the general public and most young journalists. And what our opponents have is organization. So for instance, if the State Department internally is organized. The FBI internally is very well organized. Our supporters in the world is numerous but not very well organized. As time goes by they are becoming more and more organized. They are meeting each other, making connections with each other. They are finding each other and starting to work out what they can do. For example, this event that occurred at the Obama fund raiser, this was not something we organized. This was something our supporters organized by themselves. As long as that tendency continues, then we will be in a position where it will be extremely hard for the US to act.
TIMES NOW: It has been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you very much. Thank you Mr. Assange.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
April 26 - wikileaks WikiLeaks BBC responds to Gitmo Files accusations its employees may have collaborated with Al Qaeda
BBC responds to Gitmo Files accusations its employees may have collaborated with Al Qaeda http://huff.to/gbmLaW
Foreign Policy and the New America Foundation bring you a twice weekly brief on the legal war on terror. You can read it on foreignpolicy.com or get it delivered directly to your inbox -- just sign up here.
BY ANDREW LEBOVICH | APRIL 26, 2011
Massive cache of Gitmo docs released
Several American and European newspapers on Sunday night released an enormous cache of documents - some obtained by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks and others from third sources - providing a wealth of information from the files of many of the 779 former and current detainees at Guantánamo Bay, stretching from 2002 until the beginning of 2009, when the Obama administration instituted its own review of the then-241 remaining detainees (NYT, NPR, Washington Post, McClatchy, Guardian, Telegraph, Le Monde, El Pais, Der Spiegel - for a round-up of coverage, see FP). The documents, primarily composed of Detainee Assessment Briefs (DAB) of over 700 detainees but also containing interrogators' memos on threat rankings, judging al Qaeda cover stories, and guidelines for judging terror links (available here), provide never-before released information on over 150 prisoners, as well as further information on all but about 75 detainees (NYT).
While the broad contours of much of the information in the documents has been previously reported, the new documents provide a more detailed look at the often contentious and subjective internal deliberations surrounding detainee evaluations (NYT, Guardian, Guardian, Miami Herald, AP, Guardian). The documents also reveal the complications surrounding detainee transfers, whereby diplomatic pressure and assurances led to the transfer of many detainees deemed "high risk" while detainees deemed innocent (150 from Afghanistan and Pakistan, for instance) sometimes took years to be cleared and repatriated (WSJ, BBC, Guardian, CNN, NPR). Around 220 detainees were deemed "dangerous" while another 380 were considered more low-level fighters (Telegraph). Additionally, around 100 detainees were deemed to have "psychiatric illnesses," and the Times reports that detainees regularly discussed suicide (Guardian, NYT).
Initial reporting on the documents does contain new data on a number of fronts:
- The Washington Post and others trace the travel patterns of Osama bin Laden and other key al Qaeda figures before, during and after the 9/11 attacks, which includes the journey to and escape from Tora Bora, planning for future attacks (some allegedly including nuclear or chemical weapons), and the presence of several al Qaeda leaders in Karachi on the morning of 9/11 (Washington Post, Guardian, NYT, AP). Reported plots allegedly included a plan to attack London's Heathrow Airport (Der Spiegel);
- Interrogators were told to consider links to Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to be equivalent to links with al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas or Hezbollah (Guardian, Reuters, AFP, AP);
- At least 10 foreign governments, including China, Tunisia, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Jordan, Algeria, Yemen and Kuwait were allowed to send agents to interrogate detainees (Guardian);
- A Libyan former detainee now believed to be training rebels fighting dictator Muammar Qaddafi, Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda Bin Qumu, was alleged to have trained in two al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and engendered close links with the organization (NPR, NYT);
- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed reportedly told interrogators in 2004 a nuclear bomb hidden in Europe would detonate if Osama bin Laden were killed or captured, while other detainees told their interrogators about plans, some wildly implausible and others less-so, to acquire, transport and use radiological or chemical materials (Telegraph);
- At least three al Qaeda leaders provided information, likely coerced, about alleged plans for Dr. Aafia-Siddiqui, a U.S.-educated neuroscientist to smuggle explosives into the U.S. and possibly manufacture bioweapons (Guardian);
- U.S. interrogators believed an al Qaeda "assassin" had also worked as an informant for British intelligence while planning and conducting attacks in Pakistan after 9/11 (Guardian, BBC);
- Involvement with one of nine mosques around the world could be regarded as an indicator of terrorist links, including a mosque in Montreal, Canada (Globe and Mail).
- And having a certain type of Casio wristwatch was reportedly considered "an indicator of [al Qaeda] training in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices (IEDs)" (Der Spiegel).
British papers showed particular concern for British detainees in their coverage of the documents, and the Telegraph reports that at least 35 Guantánamo detainees were radicalized in part in Britain (Guardian, Guardian, Guardian, Telegraph). The Times and NPR have created interactive graphics showing detailed data on the detainees, including recidivism by country of origin and the repatriation of detainees of different threat levels (NYT, NYT, NPR, Guardian). And the Washington Post has a timeline of major events at Guantánamo (Washington Post). For additional commentary on what the documents do - and don't - mean, see Foreign Policy, "The Prisoner's Dilemma" (FP).
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell and Amb. Dan Fried, the U.S. envoy charged with closing Guantánamo, condemned the document release, saying (NYT):
Both the previous and the current Administrations have made every effort to act with the utmost care and diligence in transferring detainees from Guantanamo. ... Both Administrations have made the protection of American citizens the top priority and we are concerned that the disclosure of these documents could be damaging to those efforts.
The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut notes this morning that various organizations and politicians from across the political spectrum have used the new documents to bolster long-held positions about Guantánamo (Washington Post). 172 prisoners remain at Gitmo, and this weekend's Washington Post also has a must-read detailing the chronology and reasons behind President Obama's failure to close the prison (Washington Post, Guardian). And a defiant U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a speech on Apr. 25 laid out the four "essential" priorities for the Justice Department, including "protecting Americans from terrorism at home and abroad" (Washington Post, CNN).
Trials and Tribulations
- Federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment (available here) on Apr. 25 charging four men with involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks; purported Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) figure and attack coordinator Sajid Mir, Abu Qahafa, Mazhar Iqbal, and a man known only as "Major Iqbal" (AP).
- International forces in Afghanistan reportedly killed a senior al Qaeda figure in the country, a Saudi named Abdul Ghani or Abu Hafs al-Najdi, two weeks ago in the country's east (BBC, AP, Reuters). Coalition forces also arrested a purported leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in the northern Kunduz province last Friday (NYT).
- Indonesian authorities arrested a 20th man in connection with recent bomb plots targeting moderate Muslims and Christians in the country, as authorities grow concerned about the involvement of older militant groups in the new wave of attacks and plots (AP, Jakarta Post, VOA).
- Three suspected Northern Irish dissidents appeared in court yesterday after they were allegedly caught with weapons last Friday, one of three weapons seizures in Northern Ireland in the past several days (BBC, Guardian, AP).
- Iran and Iraq signed an extradition agreement on Apr. 24 that may lead to members of the banned Mujahideen-e-Khalq organization being sent to Iran to face charges there (Reuters).
- Investigators have named a suspect in the attempted bombing of a Colorado shopping mall last week, Earl Albert Moore, but said the incident was likely not related to the 12th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings, which took place nearby (AP).