Monday, 17 December 2012

Surveillance – Who Can ‘Surveil’ the ‘Surveilors’?

Yes dear reader(s?) it has been a small while since my writings were consistent and while I promised I had been working on a few articles - that is true – they remain works in progress for your dear blogger has been a magnus ignavus solum. Yes I can roll out the upper class fancities when needs must. So today I am going to write a little about a few different interests of mine all nicely intermingled into the one blog: history, criminology and politics. The history is brief – a quick synopsis of the report released recently about Pat Finucane. The criminology is investigative of the state.  The politics will aim to show how if we sociologically and politically wished to learn from history and criminology, we can quite easily do that and the tools are there for us now.

A report was recently released detailing how British intelligence colluded with the RUC and the UDA, or to be PC about it, they ‘facilitated’ the murder of a Human Rights lawyer, Mr. Pat Finucane. To be un-PC about it, the report merely stated in cold truth the unspoken words of the years of ‘the Troubles’ – that the agents of the British government, in the name of law and order conspired with the loyalist militias to kill (as they saw it) Republican sympathizers. If they were willing to do this to get a human rights lawyer, then you cannot be in any doubt it was done to get Republican Paramilitaries as well. The report of Sir Desmond de Silva implied that ignorance among politicians about what was happening on the ground in Belfast was almost intentional. On BBC Radio 4 Wednesday, Lord King (who was Thatcher’s Northern Ireland Secretary) feigned total shock at the findings of the De Silva Report and of course defended the RUC. As an agent of the state, the RUC were answerable to government so this defense by King is wrong.  Indeed De Silva said his report, which was mainly a review of the paperwork relating to the case, "left me in no doubt that agents of the state were involved in carrying out serious violations of human rights up to and including murder". He went on: "However, despite the different strands of involvement by elements of the state, I am satisfied that they were not linked to an over-arching state conspiracy to murder Patrick Finucane."

If he merely reviewed the paperwork relating to the case, the Northern Ireland Secretary would have seen this paperwork at the time. The other side to this is the side of the Finucane family. Mr. Finucane’s widow spoke after the release of the statement and after watching the debate about the report in the House of Commons. She said that it was “a report into which we have had no input. The British government has engineered a suppression of the truth behind the murder of my husband." She went on to say that dead witnesses and now-defunct military organisations had been given the main share of the blame

On the side of the government, that is not too shabby a hand to try and play. But as Michael Finucane, one of Pat Finucane's sons, said: "This is another piece of the jigsaw. The report needs to be read and the documents studied.
"They are bare and cold, containing more shocking facts. That can be used to further our case for a public inquiry."

It has taken over twenty years for the family to get this far and they are not finished their journey yet. Twenty three years to squeeze a little more information from the government archives in their search for the truth. Now I realise this is a sensitive subject and I apologise if anyone reads this that thinks I’m attempting to exploit this case for my argument. I’m not. I’m arguing for an immense power that we the people have in our midst and we’ve allowed ourselves be blinded by lies as to how helpful it can be for us.

(A quick aside to the Finucane news, Robert Fisk pointed out that “our protectors” released some more damning news on the same day that the Finucane Report came out. Amazing the stories that our governments slip out on the quiet.)

As a society, we have in our midst today an organisation that has been pilloried, attacked and in effect, criminalised by some of the most criminal governments around. An organisation that in the last number of years, has had more journalistic scoops than ‘esteemed’ journalistic empires like the BBC or the New York Times.

This organisation is of course, Wikileaks.

The anger is still obvious today. Here is an interview conducted by the BBC with the leader of the organisation, Julian Assnage. Invited on to discuss his new book, Cypherpunks (which I highly recommend), it didn’t take the ‘journalist’ 10 seconds to forget her Journalism for Dummies handbook and accuse Mr. Assange of the falsities that the mainstream media are still perpetrating. I emailed the BBC World Service and complained about her personal attack on him and her false accusations and was told that

“We regret that you were unhappy with the Zeinab Badawi interview with Julian Assange. We would like to assure you that we always strive to report in an unbiased, responsible, factual and sensitive manner.

The relevant department have given us the following statement, regarding this interview:

"It was a robust interview where Mr Assange put his points and the BBC asked challenging questions - as we do of all guests."

Robust interview my arse! The mainstream are fighting governments’ battles so they can maintain their access and this shows.

Wikileaks have uncovered and shared with the world massively important issues that prove beyond doubt governments lie, they cover up murder, they tolerate abuse.  Think Afghanistan and Iraq war logs. They’ve released diplomatic communications detailing what diplomats think of their host nations and government ministers. With relevance to Ireland, Wikileaks detailed what government ministers thought of their own legal system and it’s people. All this information obtained and released within a few years of their happenings.

When awarded their Walkley prize for journalism in Australia (the comparison would be the American Pulitzers), the panel noted the group’s “courageous and controversial commitment to the finest traditions of journalism: justice through transparency,” and hailed it for having “applied new technology to penetrate the inner workings of government to reveal an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup.” In summation, they said “by designing and constructing a means to encourage whistleblowers, WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief Julian Assange took a brave, determined and independent stand for freedom of speech and transparency that has empowered people all over the world.” Some commendation.

In tackling State Crimes, I don’t believe there is any organisation more valuable to society than Wikileaks. Don’t believe me? Look at how the attitudes changed within the mainstream media after the US government started going after them. The New York Times, The Guardian, all dropped Wikileaks like a hot stone. If you are in the media and the government love you, then there is something wrong. "A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, an ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know." -- Judge Murray Gurfein, Pentagon Papers case, June 17, 1971

The problem today is access. The press wants it and the government gives it to the good news clubs. Wikileaks threatened these news corporations access by revealing government lies and the access was revoked. That caused anger on behalf of the news organisations. Hatred and jealousy festered and those that were associated with Wikileaks also bore the brunt of the mainstream media’s petty jealousy. Read the following article from the ‘liberal’ Guardian newspaper on the winner of their Person of the Year 2012 Award

Bradley Manning has been held for 934 days at the time of writing without trial.  He was accused of releasing state secrets to Wikileaks. State secrets that Robert Gates, then defense secretary of the US, later stated “has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by the disclosure.”

Yet there he is. 934 days without being charged of any crime. Do the mainstream media cover his case? No. The media complicity and submissiveness of the last few years has been criminal.

Likewise without any criminal prosecutions, US ‘lawmakers’ got companies like Mastercard, Visa, Paypal, Amazon to all cut support for Wikileaks and their work. Corrupt, inept politicians. Who has stood by it? The People. People are financing it, keeping it going. Paypal, Visa and Mastercard stopped allowing payments to be made despite Wikileaks breaking no laws. Anywhere.

Thankfully our European Parliament has some balls. 

But did Wikileaks die? No. People are still finding ways of supporting it. 
Like this way.
Or this.
Or this.

Besides my hinting at ways to support this organisation, my main point with this argument is that organisations like Wikileaks can ensure that if States commit or collude in crimes, that swifter justice for victims could ensue. It could mean less chance that dead witnesses and now-defunct military organisations could be saddled with the main share of the blame in cases like Mr. Finnucane’s. Think of the Hillsborough tragedy and the time taken to get the government to acknowledge the wrong that happened. Think of the struggles that families have had while the police, the government and the media created a false shitstorm around the 96 victims. Thankfully in the US, there is a fight back taking place.  The newly formed Press Freedom Foundation is taking the lead to try and ensure that Wikileaks can get the funds needed to operate successfully. I would urge you if you can spare a few of whatever currency you use to spare it on these guys. Their battle for transparency affects us all. Whatever one government gets away with, others will only follow.

We need whistleblowers and we need organisations like Wikileaks. Ironically, Hilary Clinton has spoken about the need for whistleblowers while her President has used the Espionage Act more times to prosecute whistleblowers than any preceding administration combined.  This clip really says it all and this article is worth a read

Remember that in 2008 Candidate Obama saidGovernment whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal."

934 days. Without trial.

Most mainstream media do not even bother covering Bradley Manning’s case. Al Jazeera’s programme, The Listening Post, covered investigated this in their most recent show. 
It is thanks to Twitter and being able to follow dedicated professional caring human beings that I have been able to. These people, alongside Bradley Manning, are heroes. They refuse to let Bradley’s story die. They cover it, tweet about it, write about it, go on independent media with his story.

So for Christmas this year, consider supporting Bradley Manning, 

Even if it is to be supportive and write him a letter to know that his cause is being followed.  Small acts can be the biggest boost when you learn others around the world believe your cause to be just. Don’t let the military machine of the US beat this man.

Consider supporting Wikileaks using the links above.

Remember: The truth is not treason unless we allow it to become treason by not standing up for the truth tellers.

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