What Is An Assange? Part II

turley_jonathan220px-John_Cusack_Comic-Con_2011John Cusack and I had a dialogue last year about civil liberties and other issues. John previously ran a second interview (actually half of a second interview) on Huffington Post. Huffington has now published the second half of this last interview. With the death of Aaron Swartz this month, the Assange case takes on even greater significance for many. Below is the full interview if you want to read it without edits for space.

For full disclosure, John and I grew up together. I have always been proud of John’s use of his celebrity status to help people and fight for civil liberties. With various stars working against human rights or focusing on their limitless consumption, John is a refreshing exception.

Here is the full interview: JA_discussionMC1210

16 thoughts on “What Is An Assange? Part II”

  1. There has just been a huge new document dump by Wikileaks. It was released yesterday, but I just found out about it. They call it “PlusD” and it contains 1.7 Million U.S. diplomatic records comprising ‘The Kissinger Cables’. The file is searchable. This one line is featured, and it is chilling:

    “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.” — Henry A. Kissinger, US Secretary of State, March 10, 1975:

    Here is the link to the source of the quote:

    Here is the link to the ‘Plus D’ Wikileaks page.

  2. http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty-national-security/justice-department-refuses-release-gps-tracking-memos (Justice Department Refuses to Release GPS Tracking Memos By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project)

    “Two key memos outlining the Justice Department’s views about when Americans can be surreptitiously tracked with GPS technology are being kept secret by the department despite a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU to force their release. The FBI’s general counsel discussed the existence of the two memos publicly last year, yet the Justice Department is refusing to release them without huge redactions. (You can see the heavily censored versions sent to the ACLU here and here, and our original FOIA request here.)

    The Justice Department’s unfortunate decision leaves Americans with no clear understanding of when we will be subjected to tracking—possibly for months at a time—or whether the government will first get a warrant. This is yet another example of secret surveillance policies—like the Justice Department’s secret opinions about the Patriot Act’s Section 215—that simply should not exist in a democratic society. Privacy law needs to keep up with technology, but how can that happen if the government won’t even tell us what its policies are?”

  3. Aaron Swartz’s FOIA Requests Shed Light on His Struggle

    Wednesday, 16 January 2013
    By Jason Leopold, Truthout | Report


    Excerpt, but recommending the entire article.:

    “Rankled By ICE Domain Name Seizures

    Morisy, the Muckrock founder, said Swartz was particularly disturbed by actions on the part of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that led to the seizure of dozens of Internet domain names. He filed a FOIA in December 2010 with the agency in hopes of prying loose documents about its actions.

    “That really bothered him,” Morisy said about the domain name seizures. “He felt it was politicized. He was just really upset that the government could come in and do this.”

    ICE turned over to Swartz last October about 100 pages of heavily redacted documents. But the materials do not help explain the government’s actions.

    Morisy said he was working on an appeal for Swartz to send to ICE, a draft of which was ready at the time of his death last week. He added that Swartz expressed some interest in working with advocacy organizations, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), to “raise awareness about these issues and effect change.”

    “It wasn’t just a curiosity for him,” Morisy said about Swartz’s FOIA requests. “He wanted to see something done differently.”

    Free Speech Advocate

    Swartz also sought government records related to Pfc. Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of State Department cables and other documents to WikiLeaks. Specifically, Swartz’s December 27, 2010 FOIA request asked the Marine Corps to “please process as quickly as possible a request for the government-curated audio tapes created in Quantico brig visitation room #2 on December 18 and December 19 2010 from 1:00pm – 3:00pm.

    “These tapes may also contain a recording of David M. House; I have permission from David House under the Privacy Act to request these records,” Swartz wrote. He filed the same request with the Army Criminal Investigative Service on February 9, 2011. Both requests were denied because the “requested documents are part of an ongoing Army court-martial litigation are not releasable to the public at this time.”

    House is a founding member of the Bradley Manning Support Network who helped raise awareness about the conditions of Manning’s detention, which a military judge recently ruled was illegal. In June 2011, House was subpoeaned to appear before a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, which is reportedly investigating Wikileaks and associations a group of Boston-area hackers may have had with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and/or Manning.

    House declined to comment about Swartz’s FOIA.

    Morisy said Swartz “was very interested in due process and the freedom of speech issues.” That certainly appeared to be the common thread in all of his FOIA requests.

    But it was also deeply personal for Swartz.

    Indeed, one of his FOIA requests sought from the United States Secret Service, “Any records on the procedures the Secret Service uses for reading encrypted hard disks.” Swartz, who filed the records request on February 28, 2011, was still waiting for the Secret Service to locate responsive records at the time of his death.

    In an article published Monday, investigative blogger Marcy Wheeler reported that two days before Swartz was arrested in January 2011, the Secret Service took over the investigation.

    On Monday, in what is considered standard procedure when the defendant in a case has died, the Justice Department announced that it had dropped its criminal case against Swartz.”


    From the Leopold article:

    “He did not leave a suicide note, according to police.”

    (It seems odd to me that he didn’t but, absent any other information, … )

  4. Wicked things goin’ on in America… Maybe Aaron Swartz realized that we won’t be able to fix what ails us… and it’s so much worse than many know or could even imagine. If something doesn’t give, it’s “game over”, I fear.


    A Senator’s Lonely Crusade to Learn the CIA’s Secrets
    By Conor Friedersdorf

    Jan 15 2013, 6:00 AM ET 3

    Ron Wyden is entitled to know the rules that surround targeted killing and all the countries where America is killing people. But no one will tell him.


    Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has sent an extraordinary letter to top White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, President Obama’s choice to lead the CIA. The letter poses questions about executive power, like “How much evidence does the President need to determine that a particular American can be lawfully killed?” and “Does the President have to provide individual Americans with the opportunity to surrender before killing them?” We’re used to such questions from organizations like the ACLU, journalists like Charlie Savage, and various concerned citizens. And though rules that confer death should always be transparent, the fact that they’re being kept even from Wyden is especially indefensible.

    The body he sits on, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is charged with providing “vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States,” to ensure “that they conform with the Constitution and U.S. law.” There is no one in America more justified in demanding to know the official legal rationale behind actions like targeted killings. Obama isn’t just keeping this information from the American people. He isn’t just hiding his legal reasoning from the U.S. Congress. He is stonewalling one of 15 senators that federal law establishes as the most important check on secret abuses by the CIA.

    Understand that the CIA’s capacity to commit abuses is anything but theoretical. As Obama well knows, its history is rife with examples of its personnel using the cover of secrecy to do things that the American people and their elected representatives would have never willingly permitted. CIA abuses inspired the creation of the very same Select Committee on Intelligence in 1976. It began after the Church Committee discovered and revealed abuses as varied as secretly opening the mail of American citizens, attempting to assassinate foreign leaders, trying to monitor private citizens who opposed the Vietnam War, and illegal wiretapping.

    That brings us back to Wyden’s letter to Brennan. It is worth excerpting at length:

    As you may be aware, I have asked repeatedly over the past two years to see the secret legal opinions that contain the executive branch’s understanding of the President’s authority to kill American citizens in the course of counterterrorism operations. Senior intelligence officials have said publicly that they have the authority to knowingly use lethal force against Americans in the course of counterterrorism operations, and have indicated that there are secret legal opinions issued by the Justice Department’s office of Legal Counsel that explain the basis for this authority. I have asked repeatedly to see these opinions, and I have been provided with some relevant information on the topic, but I have yet to see the opinions themselves.

    …. For the executive branch to claim that intelligence agencies have the authority to knowingly kill American citizens but refuse to provide Congress with any and all legal opinions that explain the executive branch’s understanding of this authority represents an alarming and indefensible assertion of executive prerogative. There are clearly some circumstances in which the President has the authority to use lethal force against Americans who have taken up arms against the United States, just as President Lincoln had the authority to order Union troops to take military action against Confederate forces during the Civil War. But it is critically important for Congress and the American public to have full knowledge of how the executive branch understands the limits and boundaries of this authority, so that Congress and the public can decide whether this authority has been properly defined, and whether the President’s power to deliberately kill American citizens is subject to appropriate limitations. I have an obligation from my oath of office to review any classified legal opinions that lay out the federal government’s official views on this issue, and I will not be satisfied until I have received them. So please unsure that these opinions are provided to me, along with the other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and our cleared staff, and that we receive written assurances that future legal opinions on this topic will also be provided.

    The Obama Administration’s failure to provide that information alone ought to be a scandal. It is certainly more scandalous than President Clinton’s sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

    And there’s even more stonewalling.

    Wyden isn’t just being denied information about the criteria for the extrajudicial killings of Americans. Team Obama won’t even tell him in how many countries the United States is killing people!

    As Wyden puts it:

    I have been asking for over a year for the complete list of countries in which the intelligence community has used its lethal counterterrorism authorities. To my surprise and dismay, the intelligence community has declined to provide me with the complete list. In my judgment, every member of the Senate Intelligence Committee should know (or be able to find out) all of the countries where United States intelligence agencies have killed or attempted to kill people. the fact that this request was denied reflects poorly on the Obama Administration’s commitment to cooperation with Congressional oversight. So, please ensure that the full list of countries is provided to me, along with other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    Every American ought to rally behind Wyden — and certainly every American who considers him or herself a small-government conservative, a liberal, or a libertarian. Among all the oversight responsibilities of Congress, what could be more important than studying whether the legal authority cited to kill Americans without trial is sound? Given the CIA’s history of excessive killing abroad and the multiple scandals that have resulted when its activities were exposed, along with Congress’s authority to declare war, what could be more reasonable than a request to merely know the names of the countries where the CIA has killed people?

    Obama has created exactly the sort of secretive, unaccountable environment that led to many of the CIA’s most egregious historic abuses. He ought to be held accountable for all abuses that result from his reckless imprudence. And he ought to be judged harshly, because he knows better.

  5. http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/01/11/did-john-brennan-create-the-loopholes-cia-used-to-help-spy-on-new-yorkers/

    Did John Brennan Create the Loopholes CIA Used to Help Spy on New Yorkers?

    Posted on January 11, 2013 by emptywheel


    There’s one question I haven’t seen anyone ask but which seems utterly critical to John Brennan’s fitness to be CIA Director.

    Back when the AP was first exposing how the CIA set up a spying program for the NYPD, they asked John Brennan about it. He professed to be “intimately familiar” with the program.

    President Barack Obama’s homeland security adviser, John Brennan, who was the deputy executive director the CIA when the NYPD intelligence programs began, said he was intimately familiar with the CIA-NYPD partnership. He said that agency knew what the rules were and did not cross any lines.

    As the program got more attention last year, Brennan even went to NYC to personally give the domestic spying program his seal of approval.

    The White House added its stamp of approval a month later when President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan visited police headquarters.

    “I have full confidence that the NYPD is doing things consistent with the law, and it’s something that again has been responsible for keeping this city safe over the past decade,” he said.

    Remember, this program is offensive not just because it spies on so many Americans and in such incompetent fashion. It’s offensive because it involved the CIA in training NY Police Officers in CIA spy techniques.


    And it seems very likely that John Brennan–the guy who wants to be CIA Director–created that loophole.

    Are we about to rubber stamp a guy who has already violated the spirit of the prohibition on CIA domestic spying to take over the CIA? Would Brennan–who has been expanding spying on Americans under Obama, too–just blow away the prohibition on spying on Americans once and for all? (end of article)

  6. His concept of “the CIA within the CIA” was that there was this elite corps that knew what was right for US interests even if these operatives had to operate far outside all principles of justice and decency. -Robert Parry, journalist, about his interview with “legendary CIA officer Miles Copeland

    America’s False History Allows the Powerful to Commit Crimes Without Consequence

    Tuesday, 15 January 2013 09:14
    By Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview


    Mark Karlin: Would the recent Obama nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA indicate that President Obama is continuing to follow the George W. Bush military posture and intelligence-gathering narrative?

    Robert Parry: It appears that Obama has finally learned some lessons from his retention of Bush’s military command in 2009, including Gates at defense and Gen. David Petraeus at CentCom. It took several years, but Gates was finally eased back into retirement and Petraeus – after being moved to the CIA – was given no White House protection when he flamed out over a sex scandal last November. Also, Hillary Clinton at state was generally allied with the old Bush-era hawks.

    So, Obama may finally be asserting his own foreign policy views with Chuck Hagel at defense, John Kerry at state and even John Brennan at CIA. This group shares a consensus against major military operations, like the Iraq and Afghan wars, although they favor more targeted counterterrorism strikes through the lethal drone program. Though many progressives find Obama’s approach unacceptable, he has marginalized the neocons and their hunger for a major military intervention in Syria and another war with Iran.

    Mark Karlin: You interview a senior CIA operative from the pro-Shah “CIA within the CIA.” He is very critical of President Carter, even though he admits that Carter is extremely bright and thorough. His chilling stinging criticism of Carter is that “He was a principled man.” What does that reveal to you about American foreign policy as conducted within the “stolen narrative?”

    Robert Parry: My interview with legendary CIA officer Miles Copeland was one of the most remarkable of my journalistic career. Copeland displayed a cynicism so pure that it could have been distilled. His concept of “the CIA within the CIA” was that there was this elite corps that knew what was right for US interests even if these operatives had to operate far outside all principles of justice and decency.

    According to Copeland, in 1980, this “CIA within the CIA” concluded that Carter had to be removed from the presidency for the good of the country, that Carter was operating in an unsound manner because he “actually believed” all the things we say in America.

    Sadly, my videotaped interview with Copeland, who was then living in a small village in the English countryside, was cut short by his wife. Before I could resume the interview at the next possible date, Copeland had passed away.

  7. The odd thing that sometimes happens with “List”

    This poster has a concept I missed at 1st glance.


    Judge Crater | January 15, 2013 at 4:08 am |

    I would like to know who the complainant was in the Aaron Swartz federal prosecution. JSTOR, which maintained the Internet database that Swartz was charged with hacking, refused to cooperate with the Feds. MIT, which did not own the database, could have charged Swartz with trespass and tampering with university computer equipment. MIT President Reif is a liar when he claims MIT only had a minor role in this prosecution. The answer as to why the Feds indicted Swarz was given by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, when she said a few weeks ago that she had no plans to run for elected office. To run for Senator Kerry’s soon to be vacated Senate seat would require hefty campaign contributions. Say from Hollywood. Lead prosecutor AUSA Stephen Heymann will have a tough time getting AG Holder to appoint him Assistant Attorney General now that this case has ended in disaster. CBS honcho Leslie Monves, the great nephew of David Ben Gurion, put business ahead of religion when he went along other Hollywood corporate titans to crack down on Internet piracy. Monves shows he has all the qualifications to have served on one of the Nazi judenrats in occupied Europe during WW2. Meanwhile, what has U.S. Attorney Ortiz done about rampant mortgage fraud in her jurisdiction? Nothing. Don’t expect Ortiz to resign anytime soon, what Big Law firm would hire such a waste of skin. Ortiz makes former AG Gonzales look like a shining star.


  8. Well, regardless it’s nice seeing so many people of position today sitting back & enjoying themselves in today’s time.

    It reminds me of the Germany citizens, Germany’s military officers & other Germans of position as Hitler’s Fascism was being built & funded by many of the same big Wallst/London Banks that are here now.

    (Ya we know the family names behind those outfit as well, don’t we)

    The people/officers at the time were thinking, ya the fascist were kinda creepy, but there might be a chance for their personal advancement.

    And how did that work out for them & their family/friends back then remaining silent about their concerns & taking no action.

    Go read the long history of Banking if you want to see how this current story ends without you people saying anything.

    Anyway, all the best as everyone knows it’s a hell of a mess.

  9. The United States is not a signatory nation to the treaty creating the International Court of Criminal Justice. Call you Congressman today, on his cell phone if need be, and demand action. We need to discuss the various outlines and activities of the various international courts, tribunals, commissions. America was the Exceptional nation that prodded the Ruskies into engaging in the Nuremburg War Tribunals to try the nazis. The Ruskies wanted to just shoot a bunch of them and be done with it. Now the foo is on the other shit. The U.S. is the dirty rat and is avoiding international scrutiny for a number of things. Our own government by its military criminals have tortured a man charged, not convicted, of revealing secrets. Bradley Manning. He has been charged and locked up for about three years. Tortured. If you think that stealing his clothing, denying him toilet paper, and turning up the air conditioner while yelling at him each hour is not torture then lets try it on your ma.
    Join the May Day demonstrations in Washington DC being organized by the dogpac. Be there or be square.

  10. Professor Turley,

    Excuse me if you’ve already answered these type questions before.

    Why hasn’t any lawyers/federal prosecutors/ federal judges empaneled Federal Grand Juries, open for public observation, to investigate Clinton, Bush, Obama, their administrations & many of the congress/courts for:

    Election Fraud through the use of Electronic Voting Machines, etc…

    Banking/Insurance/Securities Frauds of Wallst/London

    (IE: Recent cases at HSBC, JP Morgan etc..)

    War Crimes

    Crimes Against Humanity





    Creating Wars & Public Danger for the propose of Insurrection & overthrowing We The People’s legitimate Government.

    This is not a complete list of allegations.

    There is a mountain of publicly available information that I believe prove my charges to be true.

    Among the evidence is presented on your website, including this link below.


    Also evidence from 911, Fast & Furious, Irag/Afgan wars, etc…

    And the most recent event at Sandy Hook being used to attack the 2nd Amd..

    >> At Sandy Hook, with no trail yet, no info going on a month now, isn’t most all of evidence of any crime effectively contaminated at this point?

    Case in point, observe how Conan O’Brian’s video of Alex Jones vs Pezhead (Piers) Morgan interview, Conan changes the video & puts a gun in AJ’s hand where no gun was before.

    Isn’t Sandy Hook really in doubt now of just being another Govt False Flag Operation?

    US govt was the 1st to report using weaponized Drones to kill Americans. Could it be possible that rogue forces within the US govt used drone tech to comment part of the 911 attacks? <<

    Video Report: Operation Gladio – The Cold War ‘Black Op’ Continues
    January 13th, 2013

    Hurricane Katerina aftermath & LA Riots, etc

    Can you think of any other peaceful actions citizens can take against the corrupt pieces of this govt?

    Thank You for your consideration,



    Here is the wording of the Fifth Amendment.

    “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”


    It protects the People in two ways. First, in the case of capital or otherwise infamous crimes, government cannot prosecute an individual without the People’s consent, in the form of Jurors. The decision to not indict is an absolute protection against government abuse, and cannot be overturned even by the President, Congress, or the Supreme Court.

    “The grand jury brings suspects before neighbors, not strangers. Just recently in Stirone v. United States, 361 U.S. 212, 218, we said, ‘The very purpose of the requirement that a man be indicted by grand jury is to limit his jeopardy to offenses charged by a group of his fellow citizens acting independently of either prosecuting attorney or judge.’” ― Justice Douglas, Hannah v. Larche (363US420)

    Second, the Grand Jury is empowered to judge government itself, with the power to investigate and indict, within its jurisdiction, judges, district attorneys, sheriffs, county supervisors, state attorney generals, all other government agents, and even the President of the United States.



  11. That is a really good flick, Mike, but for me it’s more like a pool of his work I like so well I couldn’t pick one from as a favorite so I call them all #1. “Grosse Point Blank”, “Identity”, “The Grifters” (the movie that sealed the deal with me as far as his acting skills go), “1408”, “War, Inc.”, “High Infidelity”, “Being John Malkovich” (which if pressed I might give #1 just for the sheer weirdness factor), “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, “Fat Man and Little Boy”, “Better Off Dead” . . . I love ’em all. My mom’s a big fan too. He’s the kind of actor though that even if I don’t care for the project in toto (like “2012”), I usually enjoy his performance. It is though, as you note, nicely serendipitous that his political heart is in the right place. I like it when a movie star turns out to be not only a grounded person but a decent person instead of a narcissistic butthead as is all too common with actors and celebrities.

    I am such an unabashed movie geek. 😀

  12. What Raff said it was engrossing. Also John Cusack has always been one of my favorite actors. how cool is it that he is a human rights activist of the “no bullshit” variety and a pal of JT’s. My favorite John Cusack movie is “Grosse Pointe Blank”.

    The comparison of Assange to Swartz are apt. We can only hope Julian has a long life and career ahead of him.

  13. If and/or when the truth about what’s taking place on America soil is revealed, the tide might turn. Wikileaks has promised another round of “leaks” early this year.


    “Next year will be equally busy. WikiLeaks has already over a million documents being prepared to be released, documents that affect every country in the world. Every country in this world.

    And in Australia an unelected Senator will be replaced by one that is elected.

    In 2013, we continue to stand up to bullies. The Ecuadorian government and the governments of Latin America have shown how co-operating through shared values can embolden governments to stand up to coercion and support self-determination. Their governments threaten no one, attack no one, send drones at no one. But together they stand strong and independent.

    The tired calls of Washington powerbrokers for economic sanctions against Ecuador, simply for defending my rights, are misguided and wrong. President Correa rightly said, “Ecuador’s principles are not for sale.” We must unite together to defend the courageous people of Ecuador, to defend them against intervention in their economy and interference in their elections next year.

    The power of people speaking up and resisting together terrifies corrupt and undemocratic power. So much so that ordinary people here in the West are now the enemy of governments, an enemy to be watched, an enemy to be controlled and to be impoverished.

    True democracy is not the White House. True democracy is not Canberra. True democracy is the resistance of people, armed with the truth, against lies, from Tahrir to right here in London. Every day, ordinary people teach us that democracy is free speech and dissent.

    For once we, the people, stop speaking out and stop dissenting, once we are distracted or pacified, once we turn away from each other, we are no longer free. For true democracy is the sum – is the sum – of our resistance.

    If you don’t speak up – if you give up what is uniquely yours as a human being: if you surrender your consciousness, your independence, your sense of what is right and what is wrong, in other words – perhaps without knowing it, you become passive and controlled, unable to defend yourselves and those you love.

    People often ask, “What can I do?”

    The answer is not so difficult.

    Learn how the world works. Challenge the statements and intentions of those who seek to control us behind a facade of democracy and monarchy.

    Unite in common purpose and common principle to design, build, document, finance and defend.

    Learn. Challenge. Act.

    Now.” -Julian Assange

    Thanks for this interview and the Aaron Swartz posting today, Jonathan.

  14. If memory serves me correctly they LBJ went after Billy Sol Estes…. Because of the potential credible information that could have undone the dynasty at the time…..

    I hope they leave Julian alone…..and not dead…..

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