Possible Positive Outcome of Assange Asylum

Rafael Correa said "we have nothing to hide" with regard to his support/lack of fear of Wikileak disclosures with regard to Ecuador. Detractors have portrayed Ecuador as press repressive. With the OAS about to discuss the asylum/safe passage issue, I have been thinking about what could happen that could benefit Latin America.

While the OAS is not the only body that is going to discuss this, the fact that the US is a member could make this discussion the most interesting. Ecuador has stuck its neck out. It is safe to assume the US government will do its best to find things which Ecuador does have to hide. If there are such things, this could mean the US will have to disclose more bad things it has done.

What will other OAS members do? The OAS has been drifting away from being a US-run show. Some countries may see this as an opportunity to advance an anti-colonialism agenda. There are some obvious countries that are likely to take that position but what about some others?

To take possibly the most extreme example, we have Colombia. They receive huge quantities of US military aid so they are not in a good position to bite the hand that feeds them. But it is a lot safer to stick with your neighbors at time like this.

While I see Nicaragua as on the obvious Ecuador supporter list, what information may come out about its neighbors? Could, for example, Honduras see this as an opportunity to come clean about US involvement in the 2009 coup? Does Costa Rica have some dirty laundry to air? And, of course, are there things related to Nicaragua that will be exposed by others?

The potential for finding out some regional truths reminds me of the Iran-Contra hearings. During those hearings, in order to protect other countries it was agreed that rather than using country names, each would be assigned a number. So, for example, you might have heard "We bought AK-47s from country 3 with money from countr 5 and shipped them to country 1". It would take 10 minutes for anyone to make a scorecard translating country numbers to names.

As preparation I am thinking of making my own scorecard with country names and what secrets they have to hide. This should be fun.

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A Pithy Summary

from a respected source:

http://www.economist.com/node/21560881

Yawn

While there is nothing factually incorrect in the article, it is certainly not enlightening. While what it says will probably be "what they wanted to hear" for their typical readers, the links posted here will tell you 10 times as much.

In general, in each article that goes out of its way to explain alba in Spanish means dawn, it usually comes up pretty short on anything of real substance.

If I had to pick one thing that I see as the biggest contribution Correa has made in Latin America it is that his sticking his neck out has inspired many typically silent nations of Latin America to speak out. Independent of what happens with Assange and even Correa, this has been an amazing turn of events.

Everybody Wants That

fifteen minutes . . .

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2195339/Julian-Assange-Argentine...

Comments are revealing . .

I thought "stewardess" was PC-prohibited, have to use "Cabin Attendant" now ??

The strange bedfellows get stranger (If that's possible). What's next?

Stewardess is still used in countries where

politically correct, gender-neutral terms have not been forced on people as much as they have in Canada & the USA.

Outcome of the 3 meetings

UNASUR, ALBA and the OAS had emergency meetings over the British threat to the Ecuadorian embassy. The main issue was the inviolability of embassies, a smart move.

The OAS met and voted whether to have further discussion among their foreign ministers. The US, Canada, and Trinidad & Tobago voted against. The majority were in favor and will meet again this Friday.

ALBA sided unanimously with Ecuador. A few countries released statements condemning the British actions. They believe the UN should discuss the inviolability of embassies. From the statement...

“We warn the government of the United Kingdom that it will face grave consequences around the world if it directly breaches the territorial integrity of the embassy of the Republic of Ecuador in London”, the Alba announced in a statement.

UNASUR sided unanimously with Ecuador, issued a 7 point statement and called for further dialogue.

Taking advantage of the situation, Correa has offered 40% fuel discounts for long haul airlines that offer direct flights to Ecuador, believing people should come see the country. He suggested flights from Frankfurt, Rome, and Vancouver, among others.

But Aren't The

two issues completely unrelated? Sweden is a sovereign country with laws to be followed, just as is Ecuador. Should Ecuador NOT respect the laws of Sweden and the UK? Can one honestly say that Ecuador is motivated by a love of journalistic freedom? If so, how do you reconcile this "love" with the actual state of journalistic repression in Ecuador? It's a bit like Cuba and Libya on the UN Human Rights Commission.

I read the UNASUR declaration. There is nothing there NOT to agree with. Embassies have long been nests of spies, conduits for drug smuggling, etc Diplomats have literally gotten away with murder and every lesser crime by simply exercising their diplomatic privilege and leaving the host country. The concept of embassy inviolability transcends these problems; you take the bad with the good.

Doesn't the threat by ALBA:

“We warn the government of the United Kingdom that it will face grave consequences around the world if it directly breaches the territorial integrity of the embassy of the Republic of Ecuador in London . . .”

go way beyond the UK advising Ecuador of applicable UK law -(passed as a result of an extreme provocation )? We can all agree that sheltering Assange does not rise to the level of murdering a UK policewoman, which is what gave rise to the UK legislation. Can we agree that an embassy cannot murder its host nation's citizens -in the Libyan case, the policewoman- by firing shots from within its embassy confines? Short of an incident that extreme, conflicts SHOULD be resolved diplomatically.

The UK could have simply waited this one out, and avoided all the negative reaction. It was an ill-advised response.

Assange is a completely different can of worms. His Swedish accusers are not going to go away. Rape is defined by different people very differently. To have sex with someone who is asleep goes straight to the argument about the basic definition of rape: lack of consent. Besides, it's just plain creepy. Some of the rest: "We can have sex but you have to use a condom" - - -is that rape or some tort - a question of contract law?

Distraction is not going to save Assange. It postpones the inevitable. The lack of support from Australia for one of its citizens is telling. Ecuador has had its fifteen minutes, and Assange is now a liability. The US position "this is a matter between the UK, Sweden and Ecuador" is the best one we could have taken. But, the US won't forget the incident, and shouldn't. Threatening Ecuador serves absolutely no purpose; quietly not renewing the trade agreement would make the point. Correa's friends in ALBA can absorb those exports coming to the US, and we can easily find other vendors. The resulting economic turndown may depose Correa, but that is really a problem of his own making -not ours. Hugo might make up the economic loss -if he's still around. We SHOULD support our friends, and some of ALBA are not our friends.

It's a new world. Alliances are quietly being built, with some unusual bedfellows: Turkey, Poland, Saudi Arabia. The US is moving rapidly towards energy independence (with a lot of help from Canada). With the right leadership we could be there by 2020. We may-- (or may not, who knows; this is a horse race I wouldn't bet on) - have another four years of stagnation and lack of leadership, but at some point the US economy will come screaming back. We'll remember who our friends are: The UK, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and many others, --and we'll remember the people who gratuitously poked us in the eye for a (very) short term political gain.

I hope Assange is enjoying his air mattress. That's quite a comedown from the mansion he was living in prior to jumping bail.

Should we trust Sweden?

An article in The Telegraph offers a bit of insight. And the ammunition comes from a leaked cable.

The secret cables, seen by The Daily Telegraph, disclose how Swedish officials wanted discussions about anti-terrorism operations kept from public scrutiny.

They describe how officials from the Swedish Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs had a “strong degree of satisfaction with current informal information sharing arrangements” with the American government.

Making the arrangement formal would result in the need for it to be disclosed to Parliament, they said.

Sweden has been much more cooperative with US renditions

...than I believe the UK has been. UK has the potential for less transparency, but also has a left that's quite hostile to the US and a Muslim minority that votes (often for Respect, which is left of center).

Rebecca Brown

Yeah, the UK is pissed that you guys think its OK

to kill cops from inside an Embassy.

Which cops got shot from the Ecuadorian Embassy?

UN diplomats never killed anyone that I was aware of in NYC, but they collected a massive amount of diplomatic immunity parking tickets and often didn't pay some of their other bills.

The thing about having embassies that work and diplomatic relations that don't end up with people shooting the diplomats when countries declare war on each other is that the rules have to be the rules, otherwise, you're setting your people up for a hard time in other countries. You can expel diplomats, break ties with countries, but tit for tat beyond that will go badly.

Rebecca Brown

I didnt say it was from the Ecuadorian Embassy did I?

But it was why the law was changed. Read the thread, its there.

I read the thread

The British were extending their law to cover things that weren't shooting. They got spanked for this, which was the right response from the diplomatic community.

Rebecca Brown

Show me the extensions.

Show me those things?

Show me where the law was only meant to cover shootings.

The law was used once to remove squatters from the Cambodian Embassy...not a shooting incident.

So what do you mean?

They're all separate issues

The asylum and the inviolability of embassies are two different things; bullying other countries is a separate issue, long resented by the Latin American countries; the sexual misconduct case and the wikileaks dumps are separate. They're all separate issues that are intertwined.

The reason Ecuador offered asylum to Assange is because they don't believe Sweden, the UK and the US can separate the sexual misconduct from the leaks, i.e. they weren't given assurances that Assange wouldn't be renditioned to the US, something Sweden has done in the past. At this point, the US keeps saying they're not involved, yet they're already talking of punishing Ecuador. Why is your country trying to dictate behavior to a tiny Latin American country over a sexual misconduct case that doesn't involve it? Why do you think this is okay?

I sure hope it's a new world but it's more like cold war behavior.

Another reason behind Correa offering asylum is that the leaked US cables helped him. He actually ended up expelling the US ambassador to Ecuador over her allegations in them. BTW the US is backing the local oligarchs who run the Ecuadorian newspapers, one of whom is running against Correa in the upcoming Presidential election. If you had done any checking at all instead of relying on a passing comment in the North American media, you would have known this.

We all know the US is furious over the cable leaks. What we don't know is what other information wikileaks has, and why a bunch of countries are desperate to ensure it doesn't get released, but the amount of attention from Sweden, the UK, and US is absurdly disproportionate for what is a minor sexual misconduct case.

What we don't know is what other information wikileaks has, and

Your last sentence is the most pertinent in your whole missive, Susan. What else does Assange have? -how massive is the damage done to the Western Alliance as a whole as far as their international intelligence nets? How many people are dead or captured or under threat in the Alliance's intelligence nets due to Manning and Assange? It is within the answers to these question lies the crux of whats going on. The US is not furious about these supposed "embarrassments", the US is much more concerned about something else ,as are all the countries in the Alliance. As our former RCMP officer down in San Juan del Sur will tell you that red-flagged Interpol notice on Assange comes from NATO/European countries as a whole not just the US, UK, and Sweden who are the players upfront. The total lack of support by his home country of Australia, including both of the main parties in Oz is telling as well. The US holding Bradley Manning virtually incommunicado for more than two years now is also very unusual for leaks that are supposedly only "embarrassing". The supposed "war crimes" of the US are already revealed and really nobody cares-war is war, bad shit and accidents happen in war. I can't think of another incidence in all of US military history where this has ever happened, even in wartime, to an American military prisoner. My own take is there is something much, much, bigger at play here and that most of the stuff showing in public is a "red herring" . Perhaps once we get Assange in custody in the US and he goes to trial , maybe we will then find out what. Or maybe no, maybe they will cut him a deal in exchange for whatever he has hidden. But, for my money, this isn't just about shutting up "whistleblowers" or the US being "embarrassed, or a minor rape case in Sweden. In this drama it has to be much bigger than that.

Collateral Murder?

I believe the Collateral Murder video is the most famous of the leaks. Before the Wikileaks release, my understanding is that someone at the NY Times had a copy and had shown it to people in his home but there was no NY Times coverage of it.

I don't agree that "really nobody cares". This is but one piece of truth that sheds some light on US involvement (remember, we have been told it was not a war). I agree that this is probably typical of the types of things that happen in war -- but for a US citizen to weigh in on whether they support such actions they need to understand what it really means. That was not what you got from the sanitized version of war from embedded journalists.

If the infrastructure to get information directly into the hands of the people had existed in the Vietnam era, for example, it is likely the whole non-war could have been avoided (as it US direct involvement started based on the Gulf of Tonkin lie) or if not totally avoided, quickly terminated.

The US/US media has done an excellent job of turning war into a spectator sport similar to a football game. Showing people (the voters) what war really is would likely change a lot of minds. Those in power recognize that. Their indirect threats against mainstream media (Wikileaks is a publisher, not a source. The threats to prosecure Wikileaks under the 1917 Espionage Act would be equally applicable to the NY Times.) certainly encourages the NY Times to find something else to talk about.

Collateral Murder?

I had seen this video before on YouTube several months ago but was not aware till I clicked on FYL's link that this was the famous video that Assange and crew had claimed constituted "war crimes." Nor was I aware that the Reuters reporters were among those who died when I had watched it originally. I did listen to the radio chatter carefully when I first saw this several months ago and it pretty obvious then that the crews on those choppers had no idea that they were attacking anyone other than armed insurgents. They had no idea that any of the people on the ground were civilians. On watching this the second time around it is also clear that they are following the rules of engagement to the letter not only in their comments to command but also in the strikes that followed. It is also absolutely clear that the US ground forces coming in are clearly in fear of more armed insurgents attacking them. Next I have read through the entire article that Wikipedia has done on this incident with all its pros and cons from various sources-on what was done and who did what to whom. My own conclusions is that it is a regrettable but understandable mistake that was made. And I can understand why a lot of people who have never been in the military or in a war would question how this kind of stuff happens. The fact is that in any kind of war mistakes happen, not just a few, but a lot- and in today's modern world, starting back with Vietnam, warfare along with all our vaunted technology has in fact changed the very nature of the battlefield. Modern war seldom involves "front lines" any more. Instead, fights take place in a violent, confusing swirl of friends and foes, sometimes directed from afar with imperfect communications systems, and often in settings that include opponents indistinguishable from civilians. Along with this change has come a large increase in the number of "accidents" and incidences of friendly fire casualties-upwards of 20%, maybe even 30% of the overall total. The classic case is when a soldier in Afghanistan simply changed the batteries in his hand held GPS unit and then forgot to recalibrate the unit- he wound up calling in an airstrike on his own position. What happened in this attack was an accident compounded by a very confused urban warfare environment. The men who were killed were carrying weapons including RPGS (which can take down helicopters)and even the cameras were mistaken at a distance of 800 meters (2624ft-almost, half a mile) by the crews in the helicopters for more RPGs. The on-board gun/camera systems make it all seem much closer through magnification. These guys were in a free fire zone without any identification showing them to be reporters and in the company of armed men. This is the way of war and while it is horrifying to see men shot dead in so graphic a manner it is the way things go in real life in real war zones. I saw nothing that I would call a war crime here, just a reminder (as if I need reminded) what death and destruction looks like when the Elephant of War smashes humanity to bits again and again. War truly is the greatest evil that we do unto ourselves as a species. And, yet, we are supposed to be the most advanced thing on the planet. One can only wonder.

I will take issue with FYl on that point where he says that showing people what war is really like would probably change peoples minds and that the leadership knows that. I won't dispute that that is true FYL, and it that did happen all the way through the Vietnam war every night on the six o clock news.Along with terrible leadership at the top, and Daniel Ellsberg giving the game plan away to the Russians, Chinese , Vietnamese it cost us the war. The North Vietnamese propaganda machine loved it because it truly does saps the will of a people to fight , even in a just war such as WW2, and is why the military and government today has gone back to the embedded sanitized version. I believe in a free and responsible press, not an unrestrained one. An unrestrained press is what you get when you get yellow journalism such as William Randolph Hearst, or the British tabloids, the National Enquirer, or Julian Assange

As a corollary, I might add that the Watergate Investigation by Messieurs Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein would be more in line with what I called free and responsible journalism. On the other hand there are times (eg. the D-Day invasion plans) when national security interests trump the public's right to know. There's always a balance to be struck between too little and too much transparency. And for all those who are supporters of Assange and Manning and want to scream about US war crimes such Abu Graib, rendition, torture etc consider that those people are still alive while 3000 of our own people were killed in the attack on the World Trade Center (unless you're really a very crazy conspiracy theorist and think the US killed its own citizens that day) and when you whine about Guantanamo Bay and the US waterboarding Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of that attack and several others, watch the video if you dare of him sawing off poor reporter Daniel Pearl's head, while you cry in sympathy for poor little misunderstood khalid.

Thanks

With the exception of a bit of embarassing language that you didn't mention, I have no disagreement with what you said. I don't see what happened here as the "war crime". I see it as a result of the crime of war. (There are certainly other documented actions in the same conflict that I would classify as war crimes.)

The way I read this is that someone released this footage to a publisher named Wikileaks. That is a crime. Subsequently, the publisher made the material available. Making it available means that regular people get a better understanding of the consequences of war. Rather than seeing war as a sporting event they get to see that some of the players and many of the people who were just on the sidelines don't get back up again. They get to see that in spite of the marketing of smart bombs, precision strikes and such, this does happen. In other words, things such as this video offers balance.

After seeing this, a lot of people are going to change their opinion of whether negotiation should be used. It's much like all the WMD stories that were clearly hype but, unfortunately, people didn't find out they were hype until too late. Or, even now, all the birth defects caused by the harmless depeated uranium shells.

Classification of documents seems to be used all to often to cover up one side of a situation because the truth could sway public opinion. That, at least to me, is a very bad thing.

Err..if you mean me,

I was a Bobby not a Mountie

Sorry Bobby

I thought you had been a Mountie-been awhile I just remembered you were Canadian

close

Could have either been a Mountie or an Eskimo!!

very true

We're thinking along the same lines. I don't expect anyone that has served in any military anywhere to like him over the cable leaks. And on the other hand, wikileaks played a role in the Arab spring; Assange was nominated for a Nobel Peace Price; wikileaks prevented a corrupt man from being elected President in Kenya; and Iceland wrote their new media laws with his help.

BTW nice to see you posting.

new: Michael Moore's letter to the New York Times today.

An Elaboration Of

the sexual charges against Assange by an avowed fan of WikiLeaks:

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/time-for-julian-assange-to-face-the-...

This is the first honest clarification of the Swedish allegations that I have come across.