Julian Assange on Wikileaks, Bradley Manning and the Emerging Surveillance State
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JULIAN ASSANGE: Amy, what is happening this week is not the trial of Bradley Manning; what is happening this week is the trial of the U.S. military. This is Bradley Manning’s abuse case. Bradley Manning was arrested in Baghdad, shipped over and held for two months in extremely adverse conditions in Kuwait, shipped over to Quantico, Virginia, which is near the center of the U.S. intelligence complex, and held there for nine months, longer than any other prisoner in Quantico’s modern history. And there, he was subject to conditions that the U.N. special rapporteur, Juan Méndez, special rapporteur for torture, formally found amounted to torture.
There’s a question about who authorized that treatment. Why was that treatment placed on him for so long, when so many people—independent psychiatrists, military psychiatrists—complained about what was going on in extremely strong terms? His lawyer and support team say that he was being treated in that manner, in part, in order to coerce some kind of statement or false confession from him that would implicate WikiLeaks as an organization and me personally. And so, this is a matter that I am—personally have been embroiled in, that this young man’s treatment, regardless of whether he was our source or not, is directly as a result of an attempt to attack this organization by the United States military, to coerce this young man into providing evidence that could be used to more effectively attack us, and also serve as some kind of terrible disincentive for other potential whistleblowers from stepping forward.
AMY GOODMAN: Julian, the Ecuadorean ambassador to the U.K., to Britain, Ana Alban, was quoted in The Independent saying that you’re suffering from a chronic lung infection from being in captivity for so long in London in the embassy. Can you talk about your health?
JULIAN ASSANGE: Amy, being in prison, house arrest, and now held captive in an embassy, with a bunch of cops outside, of course is a difficult circumstance, but it is not more difficult than the circumstance that is faced by Bradley Manning in Fort Leavenworth or by Jeremy Hammond, an alleged source related to the Stratfor files in New York, or by many other prisoners around the world. So, yes, circumstances is hard, but it could be much worse than it is, and people should direct their attention on these other cases.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk more about Jeremy Hammond, who is in prison here in New York City? Explain what Stratfor is; if you can, how you got the documents; or just explain what has taken place.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, Stratfor is a organization based in Texas. It has tried to model itself after some weird combination between doing private intelligence work, on the one hand, and covering that with an illusion of journalism by creating this thing called the Stratfor report, which has become very influential within—within the military and within government. It has a particular worldview, which is—which the head of Stratfor, Friedman, admits to being a Kissingeresque realpolitik. And through stealing, bribing, gathering information in various ways, they’re able to influence U.S. policy and, more broadly, Western policy. Now, it’s also—you know, it’s done all the usual nasty stuff, like working for Coca-Cola, making reports on PETA, making reports on Bhopal activists and so on. But its greatest importance is its private influence into the decision making of different people throughout government.
But we have found through the Stratfor files, which this young activist Jeremy Hammond is accused of hacking out of Stratfor and giving to us—we have found that actually the information or the sourcing for these reports is rather thin in many places or politically biased or is used to feed something that Stratfor set up called StratCap, which is a private capital investment company which takes the information that they’ve gained from bribery and uses it to make investments in, say, gold futures and so on. So, you know, you can see from the Stratfor material that this is a company that—where the boss, Friedman, has gone, "How can I be as evil as possible? How can I be some kind of stereotype cross between Kissinger and James Bond and tell everyone else to do it?" And, you know—and that’s what is done in that company. So, whoever the source is of the Stratfor material deserves enormous credit. Story after story has come out from all around the world of—about material that Stratfor collected and didn’t publish or gave to their private clients.