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Afghanistan War Weekly: December 5, 2010


This week’s news from Afghanistan – and from most of the rest of the world – lives in the shadow of the WikiLeaks’ dump of 250,000 State Department documents. Is the Dump good or bad for the antiwar movement? While “sophisticates” might say that there is little new here, I expect that citizens of our European allies will be interested in the contempt that US State Department officials have toward their elected leaders and their military contributions to the war. I think this is especially true in the United Kingdom, whose citizens are already strongly against the war, and where there is a lot of unhappiness about the many British lives lost in Helmand Province, a military sacrifice now dissed in the documents by both the US and President Karzai. Also, official appraisals of Karzai and his government as totally corrupt – combined with the recent fraudulent elections – may make it more difficult for conservative NATO governments to continue to support the war at a time of financial and political crisis at home.

President Obama’s visit to Afghanistan this week can be seen as a reaffirmation of the political course set out at the Lisbon conference, as well as a message to the troops that the US is winning the war, and thanks a lot. In the course of the trip, a national security official told reporters that the long-awaited December Review will be nothing special. "This is a process which is diagnostic in nature. This is not a policy review similar to the one that was undertaken last year. We have a strategy in place," he said. Petraeus’ recent report to Congress, his policy directives to NATO’s Lisbon conference, and now the December “review” – there is no doubt that the US is committed to a more-or-less-forever war in Afghanistan.

To try to provide a useful guide to the WikiLeaks drama, I’ve included some sources and general interpretations, as well as links to especially useful/interesting Leaks relating to Afghanistan and Pakistan. I’ve also added a short off-topic section on the New York Times’ coverage of the WikiLeaks cables on Iran, a real scandal but useful and revealing about how media bias works in the Newspaper of Record.

Once again, if you find this newsletter useful, I would appreciate your help in expanding circulation. I would also appreciate suggestions about good articles to link here, and also comments (pro & con) that would help to make this newsweekly better. My email is fbrodhead@aol.com. This “issue” and some previous editions of the Afghanistan War Weekly are posted on the web sites of United for Peace and Justice (http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=4111) and War is a Crime (www.afterdowningstreet.org/aww).

----Frank Brodhead, Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)

THE WIKILEAKS LEAK
Sources for Cables and Commentary

---- Given the US cyber attacks on WikiLeaks and its threats against all who help WikiLeaks to continue, sources and sites for documents are pretty fluid. As of Sunday, December 5, WikiLeaks has a new home at www.wikileaks.ch, courtesy of the Swiss Pirate Party. The embassy cables can be searched (e.g., for “Afghanistan” or “corruption”) at http://cablesearch.org/.

Several media outlets have archives devoted to WikiLeaks. The best ones are at The Guardian [UK] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/the-us-embassy-cables and Aljazeera http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/spotlight/usembassyfiles/. The New York Times site is inferior, but it is important because the newspaper is so influential. The site also provides a case study in media bias, which can be seen when comparing the Times’ site to the others (see below). The Times’ site is at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/world/statessecrets.html?hp. At the daily publication www.antiwar.com, Jason Ditz provides short commentaries on many of the documents as they become available. Of the several blogs about the cables and the controversy surrounding them, the best one imo is by Greg Mitchell at The Nation - http://www.thenation.com/authors/greg-mitchell.

Some Comments and Analysis

(Video) “U.S. Facing Diplomatic Crisis Following WikiLeaks Release of Secret Diplomatic Cables”

From Democracy Now [November 29, 2010]

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/11/29/us_facing_global_diplomatic_crisi...

“Julian Assange: Wanted by the Empire, Dead or Alive”

By Alexander Cockburn, Counterpunch [December 3, 2010]

http://counterpunch.org/cockburn12032010.html

(Video) “Wikileaks Shows No "New Mind-Set" in US Foreign Policy”

By Phyllis Bennis [November 30, 2010] – 8 minutes

http://www.zcommunications.org/wikileaks-shows-no-new-mind-set-in-us-for...

“Wikileaks and the New McCarthyism: Maybe We Just Need a More Open Government”

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment [December 5, 2010]

http://www.juancole.com/2010/12/wikileaks-and-the-new-mccarthyism-maybe-...

“The moral standards of WikiLeaks critics”

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com [December 1, 2010]

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/01/wikileaks/i...

Media Analysis

---- The New York Times’ bias in presenting the WikiLeaks material is especially noticeable in its handling of the documents relating to Iran. This is illustrated by three good/interesting sources: Gareth Porter, “Wikileaks Exposes Complicity of the Press,” Counterpunch [December 1, 2010]. http://counterpunch.org/porter12012010.html; Peter Hart, “NYT Oversells WikiLeaks/Iranian Missiles Story,” FAIR [November 29, 2010] http://www.fair.org/blog/2010/11/29/nyt-oversells-wikileaksiranian-missi... and (Video) Ray McGovern, “New York Times Beats Drums for War,” Real News - 14 minutes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mfsjxkcu2pI&feature=player_embedded#

THE WAR IN WASHINGTON

(Video) Riz Khan - US milestone in Afghanistan

From AlJazeeraEnglish [December 1, 2010] – 23 minutes

---- The US has now spent more time in Afghanistan than the Soviet Union, but are Afghans any better off? [Among the commentators is Caroline Wadhams of the Center for American Progress, lead author of a recent policy review on the war; linked in last week’s AWW.] http://www.youtube.com/user/aljazeeraenglish?blend=3&ob=4#p/u/31/W5LmerA...

USEFUL FACTS ABOUT THE WAR
US Casualties

---- 53 US soldiers were killed in November, and three have been killed so far in December. This brings the number of US soldiers killed in 2010 to 464. Additionally, 5 soldiers from other Coalition countries were killed in November, and three have been killed so far in December. This brings the total number of US deaths in Afghanistan to 1,416, and the total number of Coalition deaths is 2,247. The number of US soldiers wounded in October 2010 was 578; 258 have been wounded through November 15. This brings the total US wounded during 2010 to 4.593, and the number wounded since the war began to 9,368. To learn more go to www.icasualties.org and to http://tomhayden.com/downloads/Wounded.pdf

Afghanistan Casualties

---- Between January 1 and June 30, 2010, 1,271 civilians were killed and 1,997 injured. This brings the total number of civilians killed since January 1, 2007 to 7,324. Between January 1 and June 30, 2010, 214 members of the Afghan National Army were killed, bringing the total killed since January 1, 2007 to 1,043. Between January 1 and June 30, 2010, 289 members of the Afghan National Police were killed, bringing the total killed since January 1, 2007 to 2,340. From Susan G. Chesser, “Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians,” Congressional Research Service [August 11, 2010] http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R41084.pdf, where the sources for the figures can be found.

Pakistan Casualties

---- According to an on-going study by the New America Foundation, the United States has launched 106 drone strikes in northwest Pakistan this year, compared to 53 during all of 2009. This brings the total number of such strikes since 2004 to 202. The study states that between 1,283 and 1,971 people have been killed by the strikes, of whom around 972 to 1,436 were described as militants in press accounts. “Thus, the true non-militant fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 28 percent. In 2010, it is more like eight percent.” NB the “estimating” and labeling is usually done by local government and/or military personnel; local civilians often give much higher numbers for civilian deaths. The study can be read at http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/drones. For a different view on the extent of civilian casualties by drone attacks, see Daniel L. Byman, “Do Targeted Killings Work?” Foreign Policy [July 4, 2009] http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2009/0714_targeted_killings_byman.aspx...

The Cost of the War

---- According to the web site www.costofwar.com, expenditures on the Afghanistan war have reached $368 billion [last week’s number], and the total for both wars is $1.117 trillion. For a useful resource on the costs of war, go to “Bring Our War $$ Home” at www.bringourwardollarshome.org/index.html

Public opinion about the war in Afghanistan

---- Americans are divided over the war in Afghanistan with 47% supporting and 45% opposing, a statistical tie within the poll's 3.1% margin of error. Likewise, 37% of Americans think the war was a mistake, and 37% thought it was not. Half of Americans, 51%, say they do not know what the nine-year war is about, while 49% claim they do. Less than one-in-five, 19%, of Americans expect a clear military victory for the U.S.-led forces. The Angus Reid poll was conducted October 15-17, 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_public_opinion_on_the_war_in_....

---- Only 12 percent of Americans are confident that U.S. policies in Afghanistan will be successful and 60 percent are not confident, according to the latest Harris Poll released on Tuesday. The poll, which surveyed 3,084 adults online between October 11 and October 18, also showed that the number of people who are not confident about U.S. policies in Afghanistan has continued to rise over the past few months. With 60 percent now saying they are not confident, this compares to 55 percent in June and 53 percent in January. http://wireupdate.com/wires/11864/poll-shows-only-12-percent-of-american...

---- Sixty percent of Americans believe the US war in Afghanistan is a lost cause, up from 55% in July. Only 31 percent still think the US can win the war. From a Bloomberg National Poll conducted October 7-10, 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_public_opinion_on_the_war_in_...

---- Also, polls taken in October show that a plurality of 47% of Swedes want their troops out, as do 60% of Britons and 55% of Canadians. Opposition to the war in the UK is the highest on record, while support the war in Canada is the lowest in the last two years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_public_opinion_on_the_war_in_...

THE WAR IN KABUL
Karzai Orders Inquiry into NATO Killing of District Governor

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [December 2, 2010]

---- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has promised to launch a probe into Monday’s overnight killing of a Helmand Province district governor, Haji Ebrahim, by NATO troops who raided his home. Ebrahim had been the governor of the Gireshk District since 2001, and NATO conceded raiding his home that night, and killing one “militant.” NATO’s use of night raids against civilian homes has been a source of growing friction with the Afghan government, and doubly so in this case as the governor appears to have been on comparatively good terms with both the Karzai government and the provincial government. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/02/karzai-orders-inquiry-into-nato-killi...

The Taliban Catch-and-Release Scheme

By Douglas A. Wissing, Huffington Post [December 3, 2010]

---- Reuters' recent report that Afghan security forces are systematically freeing captured high-level Taliban leaders in exchange for financial and political payoffs was familiar to me -- it's a story I started hearing over a year ago when I was reporting from Afghanistan. Emma Graham-Harrison's article discusses a "catch-and-release" system that is so well organized that the Taliban have a standing "Freedom" committee to handle the bribery negotiations with government officials. The officials authorizing and facilitating the releases include President Hamid Karzai and his half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, a Kandahar powerbroker with reported ties to the drug trade, the CIA and the Taliban. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/douglas-a-wissing/the-taliban-catchandrele...

From the WikiLeaks Leak

Cables show U.S. officials' sense of futility in Afghanistan

By Karen DeYoung, Washington Post [December 3, 2010]
---- Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables covering recent years of Afghanistan policy portray an unremittingly bleak landscape in which U.S. officials have alternately cajoled and pressured an erratic Afghan president, been repeatedly exasperated by corruption and seemed destined to repeat the past. "What does it take to break out of the cycle of 'clear and clear again' to achieve sustained success in an area of persistent insurgency?" U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry lamented in a June 2009 cable to Washington about repeated coalition offensives followed by Taliban resurgence in an area north of Kabul. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/02/AR201012...

US scrambles to restore Afghan relations after WikiLeaks revelations

By Jon Boone and Declan Walsh, The Guardian [UK] [December 3, 2010]

---- Foreign diplomats in Kabul fear that the publication of secret cables that portray the president of Afghanistan and his government in a deeply unflattering light will lead to a further slump in US-Afghan relations. The US embassy, led by Karl Eikenberry, the ambassador who described Hamid Karzai in classified cables as "a weak individual unfamiliar with the basics of nation-building" has for the last week been engaged in pre-emptive damage limitation. Of even greater concern for the Americans is that the private but highly critical remarks about Karzai by some cabinet ministers could lead to some of the country's few competent administrators losing their jobs. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/03/us-scrambles-restore-afghan-...

See also: “Cable leaks 'hurt' US-Afghan ties,” from Aljazeera.net [December 2010]

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/12/2010124125816533706.html

WikiLeaks cables: Karzai pushed Nato to end Afghanistan night raids

By Jon Boone, The Guardian [UK] [December 3, 2010]

---- US diplomats in Afghanistan continually warned that night raids against insurgents by special forces had dramatically eroded public support for the Nato mission in key parts of Afghanistan. Night raids have recently become a major area of contention between Karzai and Nato. The Afghan president told the Washington Post last month that he wanted an end to the "kill or capture" missions. The cables show he has been privately asking the Americans to change their tactics for almost two years. In a memo of February 2009 Karzai asked the US under-secretary of defence policy Michele Flournoy for a limit on night raids. Since then the number of raids has increased fivefold. In several cables state department officials working in Afghanistan's provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) passed on reports from the field about the growing resentment towards night raids and warnings by locals that the US would inevitably come to be seen in the same light as the Soviet Union, which occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-cables-afghanistan...
WikiLeaks cables expose Afghan contempt for British military

By Jon Boone et al., The Guardian [December 2, 2010]

---- Britain's four-year military stewardship of the troubled Helmand province has been scorned by President Hamid Karzai, top Afghan officials and the US commander of Nato troops, according to secret US diplomatic cables. The dispatches expose a devastating contempt for the British failure to impose security and connect with ordinary Afghans. The criticism of the British operation in Helmand centres on its failure to establish security in Sangin – the town which has become totemic as the place that has claimed more British lives than any other in Afghanistan. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/dec/02/wikileaks-cables-afghan-british...

Demarche to Afghanistan on Cluster Munitions

[FB - The December 29, 2008 cable shows how the US planned to deal with the fact that Afghanistan had just signed the convention to outlaw cluster bombs, against US instructions. An Empire classic.]

http://cablesearch.org/cable/view.php?id=08STATE134777&hl=%3Anewest

See also, Scott Shane, et al., “Cables Depict Heavy Afghan Graft, Starting at the Top,” New York Times [December 3, 2010] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/03/world/asia/03wikileaks-corruption.html... Helene Cooper and Carlotta Gall, “Cables Offer Shifting Portrait of Karzai,” New York Times [December 2, 2010] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/03/world/asia/03wikileaks-karzai.html?ref... and “EU 'losing faith' in Afghanistan,” from The Telegraph [UK]

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2010/12/2010125125337676886.html

TRAINING THE AFGHAN ARMY AND POLICE
Afghan policeman kills six U.S. troops

By Joshua Partlow and Javed Hamdard, Washington Post [November 30, 2010]

---- An Afghan border police officer opened fire on U.S. troops during a training mission in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, killing six of them in one of the worst such attacks in the past year, according to Afghan and NATO officials. The shooting occurred along the border with Pakistan in the Pachir Wagam district of Nangahar province at a facility to train Afghan security forces.. A senior police official said the shooter had been recruited into the border police two years ago. The incident is the latest in a series of killings of NATO troops by Afghan security forces and demonstrates the risks involved in the intense effort to recruit and field tens of thousands of new Afghan soldiers and police. The killings have raised troubling questions about the degree to which insurgents have infiltrated the Afghan security forces and pose a threat to NATO forces that have made training one of the most important goals of the war. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/29/AR201011...

THE WAR ON THE GROUND
US troops take hard line to tame rebels of Sangin

By Julius Cavendish, The Independent [UK] [December 3, 2010]

---- There was so much high explosive raining down it was hard to believe anyone could have survived beneath the two-hour salvo of guided artillery rounds, Hellfire missiles and strafing runs by F/A-18 warplanes and helicopter gunships. But somehow they did. After every strike Taliban insurgents would fire back defiantly, telling the US Marines they were still there; still alive. Bombardment of this intensity in Afghanistan would have been unthinkable just a few months ago, when harsh directives were in place governing Nato's use of air power and British troops practised a kind of counter-insurgency that traced its roots to neighbourhood policing in Northern Ireland. Troops were spread out at patrol bases and checkpoints, a move designed to embed them among the people they were supposed to protect. Critics of the US approach include civilians trapped in the middle. Haji Gul Mohammad, an elder from northern Sangin, demanded at a recent meeting of elders: "Why are they making mistakes and killing civilians by dropping bombs on their compounds?" Lieutenant Colonel Jason Morris, commander of 3/5, said almost every allegation of civilian casualties against his Marines was dreamed up by Taliban provocateurs. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/us-troops-take-hard-line-to...

Coalition ramps up air war over Afghanistan

By Deb Riechmann, Associated Press [November 30, 2010]

----Once sharply curtailed because of complaints over civilian casualties, U.S. and NATO forces have ramped up the air war in Afghanistan since this summer. Coalition aircraft dropped 1,000 bombs and missiles in October — one of the highest monthly totals of the 9-year-old war. Despite large increases in sorties and weapons fired, the number of civilians killed in air operations is slightly down this year — NATO officials say — because of coalition restrictions on engaging insurgents. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101130/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan_air_power

Gen Petraeus hails Paras for precision attack

By Thomas Harding, The Telegraph [UK] [November 30, 2010]

---- Two Afghan civilians survived unscathed as bombs and bullets rained down on Taliban during a "precision strike" campaign being run by the 3rd Bn The Parachute Regiment. Gen Petraeus undertook an urgent fact-finding visit to the Paras and praised the attacks as "the most impressive way to do business". The American commander has adopted the mantra "ruthless prosecution of targets" since arriving in Afghanistan but has faced obstacles from subordinates worried over civilian casualties. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/8170804/Gen-...

CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
UN: 7.4 million Afghans are living with hunger and fear of starvation

By Michelle Nichols, Reuters [December 4, 2010]

---- The United Nations on Saturday launched a $678 million humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan, where despite inflows of millions of foreign aid dollars, the world body said about a quarter of the population goes hungry. U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg said some 7.4 million Afghans were living with hunger and fear of starvation, millions more rely on food help and one in five children die before the age of five. Western nations supporting President Hamid Karzai are pouring vast amounts of aid into Afghanistan, but much of the cash is spent in areas with the worst insurgency problems to show locals that they can reap gains from rejecting the Taliban. A substantial portion also goes on security costs and the salaries of foreign experts. Afghanistan does not grow enough food for its people, and the war between NATO-led forces and the Taliban -- now in its 10th year -- has pushed up costs of imports. The conflict has also made swathes of the country inaccessible for aid groups. http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2010/12/04/un-7-4-million-afghans-are-li...

PAKISTAN/INDIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
Pakistan's flood aid 'unspent and mismanaged'

From Agence France Press [December 2010]

---- Mismanagement and misuse of cash are hampering relief efforts for flood victims with nearly $60 million in the prime minister’s fund still unspent, officials say. Foreign donors have stumped up just half of a UN appeal target of $1.93 billion, sparking fears for 6.8 million who need emergency shelter as winter sets in, while farmland could remain flooded for another six months. But officials say efforts to rebuild 1.6 million homes are being compromised by infighting between federal and provincial authorities, and express amazement that a $58.5 million prime minister’s fund remains entirely unspent. http://tribune.com.pk/story/84399/pakistans-flood-aid-unspent-and-misman...

From the WikiLeaks Leak
The (Not So) Secret (Anymore) US War in Pakistan

By Jeremy Scahill, The Nation [December 1, 2010]

---- Despite sustained denials by US officials spanning more than a year, US military Special Operations Forces have been conducting offensive operations inside Pakistan, helping direct US drone strikes and conducting joint operations with Pakistani forces against Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in north and south Waziristan and elsewhere in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, according to secret cables released as part of the Wikileaks document dump. http://www.thenation.com/blog/156765/not-so-secret-anymore-us-war-pakistan

See also: “(Video) Jeremy Scahill: WikiLeaks Cables Confirm Secret U.S. War Ops in Pakistan,” from Democracy Now [December 2, 2010] – 12 minutes

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/2/covert_us_war_in_pakistan_confirmed

Nuclear Fuel Memos Expose Wary Dance With Pakistan

By Jane Perlez, et al., New York Times [November 30, 2010]

---- It may be the most unnerving evidence of the complex relationship — sometimes cooperative, often confrontational, always wary — between America and Pakistan nearly 10 years into the American-led war in Afghanistan. The cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of news organizations, make it clear that underneath public reassurances lie deep clashes over strategic goals on issues like Pakistan’s support for the Afghan Taliban and tolerance of Al Qaeda, and Washington’s warmer relations with India, Pakistan’s archenemy. Written from the American Embassy in Islamabad, the cables reveal American maneuvering as diplomats try to support an unpopular elected government that is more sympathetic to American aims than is the real power in Pakistan, the army and intelligence agency so crucial to the fight against militants. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/01/world/asia/01wikileaks-pakistan.html

The Conflict in Kashmir

The Future of Kashmir: Obama and the Vale of Tears

By Conn Hallinan, Counterpunch [December 1, 2010]

---- An autonomous or even independent Kashmir is not only in the interests of the 10 million or so people that inhabit one of the most beautiful—and tragic—areas of the world, it would help defuse terrorism in Pakistan and India. To sacrifice that for what can only be a temporary alliance against an emerging China is profoundly short sighted. Washington’s silence is no longer a viable option. “We are not asking the Americans to take a position against India and for Kashmir. We are just saying that there is a general recognition that India and Pakistan need to be pushed in terms of a dialogue,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the spiritual leader of Kashmir’s separatists, told the Financial Times. Others warn that Indian repression of the current non-violent movement might drive it to take up arms. “The status quo is not digestible for Kashmiris,” Sheikh Showkat Hussan, a Kashmir law professor, told the Financial Times. Today, Kashmir is a vale of tears, a place capable of sparking off a nuclear war that would affect everyone on the globe. It need not be so. http://counterpunch.org/hallinan12012010.html

They can file a charge posthumously against Jawaharlal Nehru too

By Arundhati Roy, The Hindu [November 30, 2010]

---- My reaction to today's court order directing the Delhi Police to file an FIR against me for waging war against the state: Perhaps they should posthumously file a charge against Jawaharlal Nehru too. Here is what he said about Kashmir: http://www.zcommunications.org/they-can-file-a-charge-posthumously-again...

DRONES

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Drone attacks stepped up in Pakistan

From: AlJazeeraEnglish [December 1, 2010] – 3 minutes

---- The US has stepped up a campaign of alleged drone strikes in Pakistan, despite the Pakistani military refusing calls for an operation in the North Waziristan region. But the US Defense Department says Pakistan is not acting swiftly enough against armed groups in the region, and officials say it's hurting US efforts to reverse the Taliban's momentum in the Afghan War. http://www.youtube.com/user/aljazeeraenglish?blend=3&ob=4#p/u/23/n7MMxnN...

NATO AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
EU 'losing faith' in Afghanistan

From The Telegraph [UK]

---- The European Union no longer believes that US and Nato forces can succeed in Afghanistan, but continues to commit troops to the fight "out of deference to the United States", the EU president is quoted as saying in leaked US diplomatic cables. Herman Van Rompuy, who at the time was president-designate, was quoted as telling Howard Gutman, the US ambassador to Belgium, in December 2009 that 2010 would be the "last chance" for Afghanistan in European eyes. "Europe is doing it and will go along out of deference to the United States but not out of deference to Afghanistan," Van Rompuy is quoted as saying in the cable posted by the WikiLeaks whistleblowing website on Sunday. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2010/12/2010125125337676886.html

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I don't know how many did, but anti-war, pro-justice, pro-mutual respect, and so on, people should have realized long ago that American officials don't have high regard for their European and Canadian counterparts. We have had quite obvious evidence of this a number of times with arrogance from Washington and some officers in high US military command positions. The Cablegate release from Wikileaks is a new way of illustrating Washington characteristics, arrogance, ego bs, sort of like narcissism, roguishness, deceitfulness, and so on, but we should and could have known they're often this way for a long time, already.

We had visible evidence of this with Washington-Canada relations, and Washington relations with political leaders and representatives of some other countries. We didn't always have visible evidence of this, but we had some enough times to be able to realize that it's surely common with American "leadership".

Nevertheless, getting reminders and additional examples can't hurt. If the examples found in the diplomatic cables being released through Wikileaks help to stir up European opposition to continuing the war on Afghanistan, and other US-lead crimes in other countries where some European countries are allied with the US, then GREAT. That would be a greatly welcome consequence of "Cablegate".

More important: cables providing proof of blatant criminal conduct:

One thing I believe to have noticed about a few of the cables that've been released and examined, and which I've read about, is that some seem to certainly bear evidence that could be used for prosecutions of American and some foreign political and military leaders for some of their crimes. The cable from the US embassy in Honduras and which was sent to Washington around a month after the coup in June 2009 seems to be an example that could be possibly used for laying criminal charges against Washington, the White House and State Department, for their criminal involvement with this coup.

This is more important to me than whether the cables provide a lot of new information, or whether we can expect any to be real "bombshell" revelations, or not. Prosecuting the criminals responsible for the crimes is more important, imo; and prosecutions require evidence.

I'll provide a link for the article about the coup in Honduras further below, and all of the articles linked in this post tell me that the related cables all bear evidence of crimes of Washington, as well as some of their allies. I think all of these cables could be used for prosecutions; if we had a real system of justice, that is. Perhaps the cable there's an article for further below about the Georgian attack in South Ossetia in 2008 is not quite sufficient proof for use in a prosecution, but if it isn't and there are additional cables that are, then I suppose the one the article (further below) is based on could then be also used.

"WikiLeaks document exposes US complicity in Sri Lankan war crimes"
by K. Ratnayake, Dec. 4th, 2010

www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/sril-d04.shtml

I got the link for this piece from Uruknet.info.

One of the diplomatic cables from the US embassy in Colombo released by WikiLeaks this week shows that the Obama administration was well aware of the war crimes committed by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and his regime in the final stages of its war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

(snip)

The cable published by WikiLeaks was sent by the US Ambassador, Patricia A. Butenis, on January 15 this year, just a week before the presidential election in Sri Lanka. Rajapakse won the election, defeating former Army Commander, General Sarath Fonseka.

(snip)

Although it called for investigations into “human rights violations” after the LTTE’s defeat, Washington has never named the Rajapakse brothers or Fonseka as the chief criminals. The cable from Butenis confirms that the US knew all along that the country’s top civilian and military leaders were responsible for war crimes. ...

There is ample evidence that President Rajapakse and General Fonseka presided over war crimes. The UN has estimated that between January and May last year, 7,000 civilians were killed. The International Crisis Group has compiled evidence showing an even higher civilian toll of between 30,000 and 75,000 and of the Sri Lankan military’s deliberate targetting of hospitals and aid centres inside LTTE territory.

(snip)

The leaked cable highlights the duplicity of the policy pursued by the US and its allies, which backed Rajapakse’s renewed offensive to the hilt. They were silent over the army’s blatant breaches of the 2002 ceasefire, its bombardments of civilian targets and violations of democratic rights, including the operations of pro-government death squads. In the final months, they repeatedly demanded the LTTE’s unconditional surrender as the only way to end the carnage.

It was only during the last stages of the war and subsequently, that the US and other powers cynically played the “human rights” card to pressure the Rajapakse government. ...

Once it became clear that Rajapakse had consolidated his power in the wake of the war, US concerns about “human rights” were soon downplayed. Butenis’s cable was in line with a major report entitled “Sri Lanka: Recharting US Strategy After the War,” issued by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee last December. That report highlighted the danger to US strategic interests of China’s growing influence in Colombo and declared that the US could not afford to “lose Sri Lanka”. While “human rights” remained important, the report stated, “US policy towards Sri Lanka cannot be dominated by a single agenda. It is not effective at delivering real reform, and it shortchanges US geostrategic interests in the region”.

(snip)

TNA dissident M.K. Sivajilingam, who contested the presidential election, took a different tack. According to the Butenis cable, he spoke “about accountability, demanding an international inquiry to get justice for the deaths and suffering of the Tamil people”. Sivajilingam was supported by the ex-radicals of the Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP), who also urged the US and other powers to convene a human rights probe. The leaked cable confirms the political bankruptcy of that call. The US and its allies never had any intention of holding Rajapakse or Fonseka to account. Instead, their interventions were always entirely bound up with their strategic, economic and diplomatic calculations, not least the growing US rivalry with China.

Though the cable on Sri Lanka isn't a "bombshell" revelation, for what the above article describes about the US is the way the US acts in [many] countries, and how the US has really been acting for a very long time, the cable does bear [news] for me, for I hadn't seen any articles about what happened there; and I think it could be used for prosecutions against White House and possibly US State Department officials.

Honduras:

This is an excellent article on the US embassy cable sent from Honduras to Washington. I excerpted from this piece last week for a post here, so won't excerpt from it again for this post.

"WikiLeaks Honduras: State Department Busted on Support of Coup"
by Robert Naiman, Nov. 30th, 2010

www.truth-out.org/wikileaks-honduras-state-deptartment-busted-support-co...

Yemen:

"Wikileaks : US Cable Confirms US Killed Women and Children In Yemen

Envoy's report released by WikiLeaks indicates Yemeni leaders 'lied' about air strikes to cover up U.S. involvement"

by Michael Isikoff, NBC News, Nov. 30th, 2010

November 30, 2010 "NBC News" -- The U.S. media paid scant attention in June when Amnesty International released a report (linked) charging that U.S. cruise missiles carrying cluster bombs had struck the village of al Majalah in southern Yemen on Dec. 17, 2009, killing 41 civilians, including 14 women and 21 children. (my emphasis)

Pentagon officials declined to discuss the matter at the time. But accusations of direct U.S. participation in that bombing and others in Yemen that reportedly caused civilian casualties quickly became a principal theme of al-Qaida propaganda.

That theme is now likely to get even more traction as a result of the disclosure by WikiLeaks of an unusually revealing State Department cable in which Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his top ministers appear to agree to cover up the extent of the U.S. military role in disputed air strikes in Yemen.

(snip)

"We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours," Saleh said, according to the cable. This prompted Deputy Prime Minister Rashad al–Alimi "to joke that he had just 'lied’ by telling parliament that the bombs in Ahrab, Abyan and Shebwa (provinces) were American-made but deployed by the ROYG (Republic of Yemen Government.)

(snip)

"The fact that so many of the victims were actually women and children indicates that the attack was in fact grossly irresponsible, particularly given the likely use of cluster munitions," said Philip Luther, deputy director of Amnesty’s International Middle East and North Africa Program.

(snip)

On Monday, in the wake of the WikiLeaks disclosure, an Amnesty International spokeswoman said the organization plans to renew its call for a U.S. investigation of the Dec. 17 air strike — a request that went unanswered when it released its report in June.

"It’s fair to say that this leak kind of confirms what we were saying in our report," said Sharon Singh, adding that both the Yemeni and the American public deserve to know the full truth about the air strike.

But so far, at least, the Pentagon isn’t talking. Asked whether U.S. cruise missiles are being used in air strikes in Yemen, Pentagon spokesman David Lapan said: "We work with the government of Yemen as well as others in the region to counter the threat of terrorism in the region." But, he added, "we don't discuss the nature of our operations."

© 2010 msnbc.com

Georgian attack on South Ossetia:

"WikiLeaks exposes US cover-up of Georgian attack on South Ossetia"
by Niall Green, Dec. 6th, 2010

www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/geor-d06.shtml

Leaked State Department documents provide further evidence that United States authorities knew that the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia, a key ally of Washington in the Caucasus region, initiated the August 2008 war with Russia.

Cables from US diplomats in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, were released through the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. They show that Washington was well aware that the Georgian government was intensifying its military build-up near the breakaway province of South Ossetia in the weeks before the outbreak of full-scale hostilities.

(snip)

Prior to the attack on South Ossetia by Georgian forces, a cease-fire was in place between Tbilisi and South Ossetian separatist militants.

(snip)

Despite this knowledge of Georgian military preparations, once the war began, US ambassador John Tefft simply relayed the claims of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili that Russia was the aggressor.

(snip)

The extent to which Washington was forewarned or even complicit in the attack on South Ossetia ordered by Saakashvili remains unknown, though WikiLeaks has only issued a fraction of the State Department documents in its possession. A Russian magazine has claimed it has information indicating that many of the leaked US State Department files still to be released relate to the 2008 Russia-Georgia war.

(snip)

Documents allegedly given to the magazine Russian Reporter by a WikiLeaks volunteer may provide further evidence that there was a deliberate policy of deception coming from the US embassy. According to the Moscow-based weekly, a cable from Ambassador Tefft to the State Department after the war broke out insisted that a coordinated position should be prepared to respond to those unsure of “Georgia’s absolute innocence.”

The pro-Saakashvili position of Ambassador Tefft was of a piece with the stance adopted by the Bush administration. ...

(snip)

Chiming in, then-Senator Barrack Obama, campaigning for the presidency, denounced Russian “aggression” and parroted the claims of the Bush administration that Georgia had only acted in self-defense.

The US press corps and the television news outlets quickly adopted the official line, denouncing the Russian invasion of Georgia while studiously ignoring claims of Tbilisi’s initiation of the conflict.

This unified position on the war, flowing from the Saakashvili regime, through the US embassy in Tbilisi to Washington, stands in stark contrast to the one thousand pages of evidence amassed by the European Union’s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia.

That investigation, headed by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, issued its report in September 2009–-to near complete silence from the US government and its media allies. It stated that “None of the explanations given by the Georgian authorities in order to provide some form of legal justification for the attack” were valid.

(snip)

The further release by WikiLeaks of many more State Department cables on the US role in the Russia-Georgia War can only confirm the dishonest and conspiratorial character of Washington’s role in that conflict. This, and the other crimes of US imperialism recorded by its diplomats, is why the Obama administration is so determined to silence the whistleblower website.

"Assange lawyer hits out at Australian government"
by James Cogan and Nick Beams, Dec. 6th, 2010

www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/assa-d06.shtml

The following is an audio-recorded interview with Julian Assange's lawyer in Great Britain, Mark Stephens.

"Julian Assange's lawyer denounces arrest warrant" (11:01)
Dec. 6th, 2010

www.abc.net.au/rn/breakfast/stories/2010/3085308.htm

WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange will fight any move to send him to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over rape charges. An international warrant has been issued for his arrest after a Swedish prosecutor re-opened a rape case which was previously dropped by another prosecutor. The charges centre on a visit Julian Assange made to Sweden in August. Meanwhile, the steady flow of some 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables in WikiLeaks' possession continues to embarrass governments around the world, including our own.

That's a very good interview and what Mark Stephens is good news. Julian Assange isn't in hiding from the governments and is ready to meet, along with his lawyer, the authorities, if and when they're ready to act with serious legal respect; instead of refusing to act as they legally must. They're "screwballs".

The following article is strictly with respect to the Australian government, while the above interview is different.

"Assange lawyer hits out at Australian government"
by James Cogan and Nick Beams, Dec. 6th, 2010

www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/assa-d06.shtml

The Australian Labor government has tried to deflect opposition to its support for the international campaign against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange by issuing a pro-forma statement that he has the rights of an Australian citizen.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland declared that Assange had “the right to return to Australia and also to receive consular assistance while he is overseas, if that is requested.”

The statement was issued in response to an online interview given by Assange to the British Guardian, in which he denounced his treatment by the Labor government, likening it to the treatment of Guantánamo Bay prison camp detainee David Hicks, who endured six years of illegal imprisonment.

In London, Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephen told the Australian Broadcasting Commission: “He has had no assistance and offers of assistance. … One has to question what the value of an Australian passport is, whether you agree with what he has done or not. One would think that having an Australian passport you would get some assistance, but thus far, I have to say the [Australian] high commissions and embassies have been shutting their doors to Julian Assange.”

(snip)

The Australian Labor government has joined the international lynch mob. ...

Even the right-wing Liberal-National Party opposition has displayed more concern for legal procedure than the Labor leaders. ...

(snip)

The latest round of Wikileaks disclosures has included the record of a 75-minute conversation between then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on March 24, 2009.

According to the US diplomatic cable, Rudd told Clinton that while seeking to engage diplomatically with China, the US should be “all the while also preparing to deploy force if everything goes wrong”. (See: “WikiLeaks continues exposure of predatory US foreign policy”)

Greens’ leader Brown defended Rudd’s comment and criticised concerns expressed by Julie Bishop that Rudd’s advice was “troubling.”

(snip)

Besides the discussion on China, the other significant revelation of the Rudd-Clinton talks was the offer by Rudd to send Australian special operations troops into Pakistan to assist in efforts to hunt down and kill insurgents fighting the US-led occupation of Afghanistan — providing the US could get an agreement for such actions from the Pakistani government.

(snip)

The obvious question posed by Rudd and Clinton’s conversation is whether Australian forces were also deployed into Pakistan, without the knowledge of the Australian parliament and the population as a whole.

(snip)

In other words, behind all the condemnations and threats against Julian Assange and Wikileaks is the fact that they have exposed the manner in which imperialist governments plot wars against their rivals and organise criminal operations against oppressed people behind the backs of the world’s population.

The following article provides notes from several important cables added this weekend to the Wikileaks Web site for the release of diplomatic cables. These new ones include a little more information on the lengthy discussion between Kevin Rudd and Hillary Clinton, rising tensions between these imperialist powers and China, Saudi Arabia being considered the greater threat in the Middle East than Iran is, Washington lies when claiming that President Ahmadinejad didn't win the election in Iran, and other topics based on the latest cables posted by Wikileaks. This provides [news], revelations.

"WikiLeaks continues exposure of predatory US foreign policy"
by Patrick Martin, Dec. 6th, 2010

www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/wiki-d06.shtml

"Julian Assange's lawyers say they are being watched"
Sam Jones and agencies, Guardian, UK, Dec. 5th, 2010

www.uruknet.info/?p=m72523

WikiLeaks founder's lawyers also accuse US state department of inappropriate behaviour in not respecting attorney-client protocol

(snip)

Jennifer Robinson and Mark Stephens of the law firm Finers Stephens Innocent told the Guardian they had been watched by people parked outside their houses for the past week.

"I've noticed people consistently sitting outside my house in the same cars with newspapers," said Robinson. "I probably noticed certain things a week ago, but mostly it's been the last three or four days."

Stephens said he, too, had had his home watched. Asked who he thought was monitoring him, he said: "The security services."

Robinson said the legal team was also experiencing "other forms of pressure" from Washington.

She pointed to a letter from a state department legal adviser (linked) – addressed to both Assange and her – which appeared to bracket together client and lawyer as if to suggest that WikiLeaks and its lawyers were one and the same.

(snip)

She said that although they had requested a public retraction from the state department, no answer had been received.

"It's quite a serious situation," she said, adding that, according to the UN's Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (linked), governments should ensure that lawyers "are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference" and that "lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients' causes as a result of discharging their functions".

(snip)

It emerged on Saturday that Australian police are investigating whether Assange (linked), an Australian citizen, has broken any of the country's laws and is liable to prosecution there.

The foreign minister, Kevin Rudd, said: "The Australian government unequivocally condemns the action by any of those responsible for the unauthorised release of classified and confidential information and diplomatic communications between states."

(snip)

Stephens told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "It is quite bizarre, because the chief prosecutor in Sweden dropped the entire case against him, saying there was absolutely nothing for him to find back in September, and then a few weeks later on – after the intervention of a Swedish politician – a new prosecutor, not in Stockholm where Julian and these women had been, but in Gothenburg, began a new case which has resulted in these warrants and the Interpol Red Notice being put out."

He added: "It does seem to be a political stunt."

The following page is for an audio-recorded interview with Andrew Wilkie, an "Independent MP and former whistleblower", on Kevin Rudd, who was Australian PM from Dec. 2007 to June 2010 and presently is Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs. Andrew Wilkie formerly worked in an intelligence service and also served in the military, Australian, I guess. And the interview is very favorable for what Wikileaks is doing.

"Andrew Wilkie on WikiLeaks' Rudd revelations" (8:51)
Dec. 6th, 2010

www.abc.net.au/rn/breakfast/stories/2010/3085200.htm

The federal government refuses to comment on revelations that Kevin Rudd suggested force might be needed if China could not be successfully integrated into the international community. The inner thoughts of the former PM on the rise of China come via a leaked diplomatic cable on the WikiLeaks website.

"Assange Accuser Worked with US-Funded, CIA-Tied Anti-Castro Group"

by Kirk James Murphy, FDL, firedoglake.com, Dec. 5th, 2010

www.uruknet.info/?p=m72533

There's a picture in this copy of the article and it shows Julian Assange and a woman, in two separate snapshots; not photographed together. There's no caption, but I guess the woman in the picture is the one the article's about. And I'm not surprised by the title. The thought had come to mind that either one or both of the women accusing Julian Assange of rape was or is likely associated with the government of the US, somehow.

Yesterday Alexander Cockburn reminded us of the news Israel Shamir and Paul Bennett (linked) broke at Counterpunch in September. Julian Assange’s chief accuser in Sweden has a significant history of work with anti-Castro groups, at least one of which is US funded and openly supported by a former CIA agent convicted in the mass murder of seventy three Cubans on an airliner he was involved in blowing up.

"Anna Ardin (the official complainant) is often described by the media as a "leftist". She has ties to the US-financed anti-Castro and anti-communist groups. She published her anti-Castro diatribes (see here and here) in the Swedish-language publication Revista de Asignaturas Cubanas put out by Misceláneas de Cuba. From Oslo, Professor Michael Seltzer points out that this periodical is the product of a well-financed anti-Castro organization in Sweden. He further notes that the group is connected with Union Liberal Cubana led by Carlos Alberto Montaner whose CIA ties were exposed here."

Quelle surprise, no? Shamir and Bennett went on to write about Ardin’s history in Cuba with a US funded group openly supported by a real terrorist: Luis Posada Carriles.

(snip)

Who is Luis Posada Carriles? He’s a mass murderer, and former CIA agent.

(snip)

Luis Posada Carilles is so evil that even the Bush administration wanted him behind bars:

(snip)

Who is Julian Assange’s chief accuser in Sweden? She’s a gender equity officer at Uppsula University (linked) – who chose to associate with a US funded group openly supported by a convicted terrorist and mass murderer. She just happens to have her work published by a very well funded group connected with Union Liberal Cubana – whose leader, Carlos Alberto Montaner, in turn just happened to pop up on right wing Colombian TV a few hours after the right-wing coup in Honduras. Where he joined the leader of the failed coup in Ecuador to savage Correa, the target of the coup. Montnaner also just happened to vociferously support the violent coup in Honduras, and chose to show up to sing the praises of the Honduran junta. Jean-Guy Allard, a retired Canadian journalist who now writes for Cuba’s Gramma, captured the moment

"(snip)

On the margin of his media news shows, Montaner’s is known for his fanatic support of the most extreme elements of the Cuban-American mafia.

(snip)"

Oh…and the "rape" charge that’s smeared Julian Assange’s name around the world? On Thursday James D. Catlin, the Melbourne barrister who represented Assange in London (linked), wrote:

"Apparently having consensual sex in Sweden without a condom is punishable by a term of imprisonment of a minimum of two years for rape. ...

Sweden’s Public Prosecutor’s Office was embarrassed in August this year when it leaked to the media that it was seeking to arrest Assange for rape, then on the same day withdrew the arrest warrant because in its own words there was "no evidence". The damage to Assange’s reputation is incalculable. ... Consensual sex that started out with a condom ended up without one, ergo, the sex was not consensual."

I’ve spent much of my professional life as a psychiatrist helping women (and men) who are survivors of sexual violence. Rape is a hideous crime. Yet in Assange’s case his alleged victim – the gender equity officer at Uppsula University – chose to throw a party for her alleged assailant – after they’d had the sex that even Swedish prosecutors concede was consensual. Barrister Caitlin again:

"[The] phenomena of social networking through the internet and mobile phones constrains Swedish authorities from augmenting the evidence against Assange because it would look even less credible in the face of tweets by Anna Ardin and SMS texts by Sofia Wilén boasting of their respective conquests after the "crimes".

In the case of Ardin it is clear that she has thrown a party in Assange’s honour at her flat after the "crime" and tweeted to her followers that she is with the "the world’s coolest smartest people, it’s amazing!". Go on the internet and see for yourself. That Ardin has sought unsuccessfully to delete these exculpatory tweets from the public record should be a matter of grave concern. That she has published on the internet a guide on how to get revenge on cheating boyfriends ever graver. The exact content of Wilén’s mobile phone texts is not yet known but their bragging and exculpatory character has been confirmed by Swedish prosecutors. Neither Wilén’s nor Ardin’s texts complain of rape."

(snip)

If Julian Assange really was with either of these two women, then he definitely needs to be careful about who he associates with in private.

One of the articles linked in the above one about the two quack women is the following. Another is a Sept. 14th, 2010 piece by Israel Shamir and Paul Bennett at Counterpunch.

"When it comes to Assange rape case, the Swedes are making it up as they go along"

by Melbourne barrister James D. Catlin, who acted for Julian Assange in London in October, Dec. 2nd, 2010

www.crikey.com.au/2010/12/02/when-it-comes-to-assange-r-pe-case-the-swed...

"Students warned: Read WikiLeaks and you’re out of a government job"
by Daniel Tencer, Dec. 5th, 2010

www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/students-warned-read-wikileaks-government-job/

I got this link from a copy of the piece at Uruknet.

Graduate students at US universities are being warned not to read or post links to WikiLeaks documents, or they could be denied work with the US government.

Several news reports suggest the State Department has been warning university departments that students could fail security screening if they are seen to discuss or post links to WikiLeaks documents on social networking sites. The US government considers the leaked material to be classified, even after public release.

AboveTheLaw.com has obtained a letter (linked) from the career development dean of the Boston University School of Law warning students to stay away from WikiLeaks material.

(snip)

DemocracyNow's Amy Goodman obtained a copy (linked) of a similar letter sent by the office of career services at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

(snip)

Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars likens (linked) the US government's efforts to prevent federal employees and prospective employees from reading the leaks to a game of "whack-a-mole," a view shared by AboveTheLaw's Elie Mystal:

"Basically, I don’t think the federal government is even competent enough to find all the Wikileaks readers and blacklist them from the federal payroll. I mean, if the FBI or CIA or whatever really was the kind of omnipresent force idealized in movies, tell me how Julian Assange is still alive, much less in a position to publish thousands of confidential documents."

(snip)

Regarding what's quoted from what Susie Madrak wrote, if I understood Julian Assange's lawyer correctly in the audio interview linked at or near the top of this post, then the governments of the US, Sweden and Britain know where Julian Assange is and the location just isn't made public. Maybe I misunderstood him.

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