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Under Attack Part Two: The Targeting of Wikileaks

While Laura Poitras was enjoying the success of her latest documentary, The Oath, the second film in a trilogy that includes her 2006 documentary My Country My Country, Wikileaks was busy publishing their first Cablegate document Reykhjavik13 and the shocking video Collateral Murder which showed “the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff.”  Within weeks of the Collateral Murder publication the United States government opened a grand jury investigation into Julian Assange because as everyone knows no one in the government likes when you call them out on their murderous rampages so if you do expect a target on your back.

A little over a month after Wikileaks published Collateral Murder, U.S. soldier Private Bradley Manning (formally known today as Chelsea Manning), the alleged source for Wikileaks’ Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs, Cablegate, and the Guantanamo Bay files,  reached out online to former hacker Adrian Lamo.  Over the course of several days, Manning revealed to Lamo that she had accessed an unimaginable amount of U.S. documents and told him that she felt comfortable sending the data to Wikileaks.  After Manning essentially confessed to the extraordinary breadth of files she had taken, Lamo contacted the authorities. The time between Manning and Lamo’s first online chat to Manning’s arrest was a mere six days.  And yes, snitch is one word that comes to mind.

Poulsen and Lamo

But besides the whole betrayal part, the really fun thing about Lamo, a former hacker who pleaded guilty in 2004 for hacking The New York Times and only received six months of house arrest in return, is that he handed over his chat logs with Manning to journalist Kevin Poulsen while he was still working as an informant for the FBI.  According to Glenn Greenwald, Lamo and Poulsen have a “long and strange history together” and noted, among a myriad of other Lamo/Poulsen stories he provided, that Lamo “typically sought media publicity after his hacking adventures, and almost always used Poulsen to provide that publicity.”

As you may recall, Julian Assange mentioned Poulsen in his December 1, 2017 letter to the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) last month,

“Poulsen is a key actor in the imprisonment of Chelsea Manning, and a confident of Adrian Lamo.  Poulsen and [Micah] Lee have both been developers of SecureDrop. Poulsen manipulated the alleged Manning-Assange chat logs in an attempt to frame Wikileaks…”

Assange went on to cite another Glenn Greenwald article, “The Worsening Journalistic Disgrace at Wired” in which Greenwald reported that Adrian Lamo had, indeed, turned over his chat logs with Manning to Poulsen and that Wired Magazine, despite having the logs in its entirety, only published about twenty-five percent of them. Worse, Poulsen refused to answer any questions as to what was in the other seventy-five percent leaving Lamo to drive the entire Wikileaks-Manning narrative.  And yes, the CIA was probably riding shotgun in this instance, as well.

For example, Greenwald pointed out that in a New York Times article Lamo claimed that the DOJ was trying to prosecute WikiLeaks based on the theory that Julian Assange helped Manning steal documents.  And folks, just as a side note the Deep State never gets tired of using this line.  Seven years after Lamo made that comment, Mike Pompeo remarked during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that Wikileaks “directed Chelsea Manning to intercept specific secret information and it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States.”  So there’s that little piece of Wikileaks propaganda that the intel agencies like to keep in their playbook.

Lamo also claimed that Manning told him he physicially dropped off classified information to WikiLeaks’ “intermediaries” in Boston—who I’m sure George Webb has shared a glass of wine or two with—and yet, after the chat logs were finally published in their entirety, no where does Manning say he dropped off classified information in Boston.  Nor do the chats indicate that Assange helped Manning procure any documents.  Yet, despite Lamo’s blatant lies that Kevin Poulsen helped cover up, Poulsen was invited to join the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s Technology Advisory Board in 2014 and although he’s no longer listed as such, an FPF webpage for him still exists.  Why FPF board members turned a blind eye to what Lamo and Poulsen did to both Manning and Wikileaks, including Glenn Greenwald who, ironically, was the one who called out Poulsen’s questionable behavior in the first place, is inexplicable.

John Cusack, Amy Goodman, Laura Poitras, Glen Greenwald, JP Barlow, and Micah Lee Posted April 12, 2014 via @micahflee

As noted by Assange in his letter, Poulsen also worked with the late (and great) Aaron Swartz and FPF board member, Micah Lee, on the submission system SecureDrop and after Swartz’s death, Poulsen turned the project over to the FPF in October, 2013.  As for recent events, if you’ve been following the latest Micah Lee/Barrett Brown saga via Twitter all I can say is this: The concept behind Aaron Swartz’s Dead Drop submission system which later developed into SecureDrop was based on Wikileaks’ earlier secure dropbox system.  But getting back to Poulsen…

He didn’t just mess with Wikileaks and Manning back in 2010 after which the FPF ignored his poor behavior.  In an article he wrote for the Daily Beast less than two months ago Poulsen’s anti-Assange campaign once again reared its ugly little head.  According to Assange,

“Through a Daily Beast article by ‘Kevin Poulsen’, who interviewed former FPF board member Xeni Jardin, I learned that the board’s weakening resolve is due to a Micah Lee initiative asking his fellow board members to ‘cut ties’ with Wikileaks…This is the person Jardin used to publicize the move to cut WikiLeaks off from its donor base on Lee’s initiative.”

Nice, huh?  As for Xeni Jardin, Assange noted that when she joined the FPF’s board he had never met nor worked with her before, she had written derogatory articles about Wikileaks in the past, and Assange viewed her as a long time opponent.  He warned FPF co-founder Trevor Timm to be careful because “She’s an exhibitionist and a networker–what’s to stop her swapping sides when she gets a better offer?” but, like Poulsen or Micah Lee, integrity doesn’t seem to be a deciding factor that gets you in the door at the Freedom of the Press Foundation.  I mean, here we are, years later, with Jardin being quoted in a Kevin Poulsen article as saying that Assange is known for his vindictiveness and that what appears to be some pretty mild DMs that allegedly passed between her and Assange should be viewed as personal threats.  Uh…someone want to tell this fragile protector of flowers to take a Xanax and call it a day?

Jardin later passed along these DMs to John Cusack, another FPF board member who allegedly responded with, “Oh my god” and during an FPF board meeting the following month she brought up the issue of Assange, the DMs, and the question of whether or not the FPF should keep processing payments for Wikileaks.  Gee, that doesn’t sound personal at all.

Xeni Jardin

During the board meeting where Jardin was stomping her feet about Assange but after the one where Cusack may or may not have been having a mild emotional breakdown, Micah Lee took things one step further by alleging that Assange had harassed board members (DMs with Jardin) and that he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it (Is everyone on this board a CIA snowflake?  No, seriously).  By October, 2017, the foundation was “ready to cut off Wikileaks” and it was only after Poulsen’s article was published that Assange learned of the FPF’s intentions.  Folks, if that level of unprofessionalism alone doesn’t turn you off of this organization I don’t know what will.  But I’ve totally digressed…

…getting back to those documents that Chelsea Manning may or may not have passed along to Wikileaks…

After word got out that Wikileaks had obtained thousands of military and State Department documents, according to an article published by Vanity Fair which may or may not be fake news, The Guardian reporter Nick Davies tracked down Assange in Brussels and managed to score a six-hour meeting with him.  What transpired after that was a partnership between Wikileaks and The Guardian to publish the Afghanistan and Iraq War Logs.  Shortly thereafter, The New York Times and Der Speigel were brought on board the project.

The Afghanistan War Logs were published on July 25, 2010, after which the Iraq War logs were scheduled to be published two weeks later but it’s been reported that Assange asked for a six-week delay in order to bring other media outlets up to speed.  Apparently annoyed at the delay, editor David Leigh demanded that The Guardian be given the “third batch of documents [Cablegate]” in return for holding off.  Assange agreed with the caveat that they would not share or publish the documents without Assange’s consent.  However, before the Iraq War logs were published two things happened:  Sweden and Daniel Domscheit-Berg.

I’m not about to recap Julian Assange’s entire legal nightmare when it comes to Sweden but it’s important to realize that what happened in August, 2010, was most likely a political set-up by the U.S. government to stop Assange from publishing more documents (note: see justice4assange.com for more information regarding the case).  On August 11, 2010, less than two weeks after The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger signed a letter agreeing not to publish or share Cablegate without Assange’s consent, Julian Assange arrived in Sweden with the intent on staying for only a few days.  At some point he met with representatives of the Swedish Pirate Party who had agreed to host WikiLeaks’ servers and, interestingly enough, it’s recently come out in the wash that the U.S. Embassy also met with members of the Swedish Pirate Party less than two weeks before Assange’s arrival.  This information was revealed in a cable found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.

 

 

Another interesting turn of events that you may not have been aware of was that shortly after arriving in Sweden, Assange’s personal bank cards were blocked and I can only imagine what government was behind that move.  Needless to say this forced Assange to rely, as they say, on the kindness of strangers.  Okay, not exactly but you get the point—he had no access to his financial accounts so food, a place to stay, telephone credit, and his overall safety became an issue.  For more, see Julian Assange’s 2013 affidavit here.

As we all know, Assange had consensual sex with a woman (SW) while he was in Sweden.  Days later and upon her request he agreed to meet her at a hospital so he could take a STD test.  However, before that meeting could took place, SW decided, bizarrely and without Assange’s knowledge, to report him to the police.  Another woman that Assange had slept with during his stay in Sweden, AA, accompanied her to the police station.  An investigation was opened on the suspician of molestation of SW and rape of the second woman even though AA told the police she had had consensual sex.  The assistant prosecutor initially called for Assange’s arrest but less than twenty-four hours later the chief prosecutor of Stockholm cancelled the arrest warrant due to a lack of evidence.

And yet, on August 27, 2010, Claes Borgstrom, a Swedish Social Democrat politician who was “running as a candidate in Sweden’s imminent general elections,” was appointed counsel for the two women and he applied to have the case against Assange re-opened.  Swedish Prosecutor Marianne Ny was more than happy to oblige even though there was a complete lack of evidence and text messages later revealed between SW and AA, exposed the true nature of the allegations and investigation against Julian Assange:

 

 

I know, I know, how was it that Sweden was allowed to drag this out for so long?  It’s literally insane.  And for those folks who like to shut down anti-Assange trolls on Twitter, remember, Assange remained in Sweden for an additional five weeks after Ny reopened the case and didn’t leave the country until his lawyer obtained an agreement from her stating that it was okay for him to leave.  He didn’t “run away” as many like to claim.

As if Sweden trying to set Assange up wasn’t bad enough, enter Daniel Domscheit-Berg aka Daniel Berg aka Daniel Schmitt who also had a chummy relationship with Kevin Poulsen back in the day.  This clown was apparently “responsible for keeping selected Wikileaks backups,” according to a statement made by Julian Assange until the guy apparently went all CIA/FBI shill sometime in 2010.  If you were to ask me what the problem was I’d probably tell you that it was his wife, Anke Domscheit-Berg who at the time was Director of Government Relations for Microsoft, Germany and was “on intimate terms with senior figures in the German government and bureaucracy.”  But what do I know.

According to his book, Daniel Domscheit-Berg met Anke on February 7, 2010 in Berlin, Germany—eleven days before Wikileaks dropped their first Cablegate document, Reykhjavik13—and within a few months the couple was married.  According to Assange,

“DDB [Daniel Domscheit-Berg]…moved into ADBs house in Berlin, without any counter-intelligence cover, going so far as to place his legal name on a street visible mail box and the interior door and that he would work from this location.”

And yes, the guy’s either a complete idiot or an informant.  One of the two.  In an open letter to Wikileaks, Human Rights and information lawyer, Renata Avila, also discussed her experiences with Domscheit-Berg like when she stayed in his home in Germany for a week and then handed over documents intended for Wikileaks that detailed “proof of torture and government abuse of a Latin America country.”  As she put it, “I did not intend to give such material to Mr. Domscheit-Berg personally, as was made clear to him by me at the time. My intention was to give it to the platform I trusted and contributed to; to WikiLeaks.”  But guess what?  Mr. Daniel Domscheit-Berg never handed those documents over to Wikileaks and as far as I know they have yet to see the light of day.  Suspicious?  Of course it is and that was back in 2009.

What’s more, apparently Domscheit-Berg also recorded internal Wikileaks encrypted chat conversations and then tried to publish them in his book.  Due to German privacy laws, his publishers’ attorneys put the kibash on that idea so Domscheit-Berg did the next best thing.  Although he originally denied it, he sent them to Wired Magazine, the same media outlet where Kevin Poulsen was working.  Fun!  Needless to say his suspension from Wikileaks which occurred in August, 2010, the same month Assange traveled to Sweden, was probably long overdue.

Daniel Domscheit-Berg

Although Renata Avila had noticed before Domscheit-Berg’s suspension that his enthusiasm for Wikileaks had diminished, a few weeks after the suspension he became downright “hostile towards Mr. Assange,” handing out derogatory remarks to the media like they were candy.  One story of note was when Avila arrived at Domscheit-Berg’s home a few weeks after his suspension only to find journalist Heather Brooke there.  Later in the evening Domscheit-Berg, his wife Anke, and Brooke were seen “toasting with Champagne” although it was unclear to Avila as to why.  If you’re not familiar with Heather Brooke listen to this.  In 2010, ex-Wikileaks volunteer, Smari McCarthy, leaked a copy of Cablegate to Heather Brooke who then buzzed on over to The Guardian and started working for them.  Editor David Leigh then sent the documents to The New York Times and Der Speigel after which Assange threatened The Guardian with legal action if they published the documents Brooke had given them.  Remember that letter The Guardian signed that said they wouldn’t share or publish the Cablegate documents without Assange’s consent?  Seems they didn’t believe those rules applied if they got the goods from another source…

…and here Brooke was toasting with Domscheit-Berg and his wife a year later.  Cozy.

Anke Domscheit-Berg

The whole thing gets worse.  In Domscheit-Berg’s book he alleges that he took control of Wikileaks’ main submission system in September, 2010, because Julian Assange “could not be trusted to protect sources.”  Although it remains unclear exactly how much crack Domscheit-Berg was smoking when he made that statement or how much damage was done to the submission system, Wikileaks issued a lengthy statement that included,

“Mr Domscheit-Berg has acted dishonestly, he has admitted to stealing WikiLeaks property, and has admitted to the deliberate sabotage of WikiLeaks’ operations, impeding WikiLeaks from carrying out the will of its sources. He has lied, constantly and flagrantly, to the public, to us, to our lawyers…”

Domscheit-Berg also tried to start a rival website called OpenLeaks which obviously never rivaled Wikileaks but was clearly intended to divert material (and sources) his way.  He probably told his friends and family at the time that the website was an opportunity but some kids today call it a honeypot.

Then there’s the fact that Assange received warnings from an intel agent that Domscheit-Berg had been in contact with the FBI (he denied it) while his wife, Anke, allegedly had communications with the CIA while she was working for McKinsey & Company consulting group (she denied it).  Bottom line is that this entire story about the Domscheit-Bergs reeks of government influence and if my day consisted of more hours than the usual twenty-four I’d research how close, if at all, Domscheit-Berg and his wife, Anke, were with ex-Wikileaks’ volunteers Smari McCarthy, Birgitta Jonsdottir, and Sigurdur Thordarson or maybe even people like Laura Poitras.  But alas, it doesn’t.

So, even though the U.S. government wrangled up their grand jury, Lamo and Poulsen tried to throw Wikileaks under the bus, The Guardian attempted to go behind Assange’s back, Sweden tried to stitch him up with rape allegations, ex-Wikileaks volunteer Daniel Domscheit-Berg completely lost his shiz, sabotaged Wikileaks’ submission software, and probably married an intel agent and then sold out to the U.S. government, Julian Assange still managed to get the Iraq War Logs published on October 22, 2010, because he’s literally that much of a bad ass who refuses to cave under political pressure, sabotage, and threats.

Of course shortly after that Interpol issued a Red Notice for Assange’s arrest, Sweden issued a European arrest warrant, the financial blockage against Wikileaks started, and on December 7, 2010, Assange turned himself over to the UK police after which he spent ten days in solitary confinement.  Whoever said that no good deed goes unpunished knew exactly what they were talking about.

In the years to follow, Assange continued to face Sweden’s lies that have kept him detained for over seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy, U.S. threats to maybe or maybe not extradite him (because they won’t say), The New York Times jerky move to secretly hand over Wikileaks’ Cablegate publication schedule to the U.S. government, The Guardian’s own David Leigh publishing the password to the full, unredacted Cablegate files, and Domscheit-Berg’s insanity like when he announced that he destroyed more than 3,500 unpublished Wikileaks documents.  Let’s not forget about that slick presentation Palantir and HBGary put together for Bank of America on how to take down Wikileaks because that was super fun.

What becomes clear when you look at the history of attacks against Wikileaks is that they’ve always escalated in direct relation to their publishing.  We saw it with the DNC and Podesta emails (Guccifer 2, Russiagate, the black-PR campaign, Assange-Trump-Putin collusion) and then again after the Vault 7 and Vault 8 publications (Wikileaks is a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” Section 623, anti-Assange Anonymous accounts, Poitras’ re-edited documentary Risk), and more recently, the “Assange is an alt-right facist” narrative.  Does this mean that the Freedom of the Press Foundation’s recent decision to turn its back on Julian Assange and Wikileaks is just one more page out of the CIA’s anti-Assange playbook?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

What I do know is that people like Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, Micah Lee, and activist Barrett Brown have all collected paychecks from the same guy who acquired PayPal back in 2002 which is the same financial services company that was part of the banking blockage against Wikileaks:  Pierre Omidyar.  What I’m saying is that some of the people who sit on the board of The Freedom of the Press Foundation which was specifically created to protect Wikileaks from the banking blockage have been paid for years by one of the people responsible for that blockade.  

I mean, what?  

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6 Comments

  1. Suzie Dawson Suzie Dawson January 9, 2018

    Well done. Covered a lot of ground in a relatively short article. Thanks for your work

    • Llama Llama Post author | January 10, 2018

      Thank you, Suzie. Much appreciated.

  2. Anonymous Anonymous February 20, 2018

    Berg wrote a book that was critical of Assange. It’s good to get Assange’s side of what happened. You have provided excellent info. It shows why Assange is so careful with security.

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