On Monday February 27th, 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files, over five million e-mails from the Texas headquartered "global intelligence" company Stratfor. The e-mails date between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal's Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor's web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods.
Re: Info - Wiki Founder
Date 2010-12-01 21:17:05
I would think that's the second to last place he would want to go.
GCHQ/london police/MI5 could easily find him, and I don't see why Cameron
and friends wouldn't be 100% agreeable to extradition.
But you're right, this is also the last report I saw. This could actually
mean the US has decided NOT to go after him.
From: Bayless Parsley
Date: Wed, 01 Dec 2010 14:14:30 -0600
To: Analyst List
ReplyTo: Analyst List
Subject: Re: Info - Wiki Founder
no, last he was heard from was in Britain.... and he sounded SUPER
this was before shit hit the fan like it has now hit following the pub of
the diplo cables
WikiLeaks Founder on the Run, Trailed by Notoriety
By JOHN F. BURNS and RAVI SOMAIYA
LONDON - Julian Assange moves like a hunted man. In a noisy Ethiopian
restaurant in London's rundown Paddington district, he pitches his voice
barely above a whisper to foil the Western intelligence agencies he fears.
He demands that his dwindling number of loyalists use expensive encrypted
cellphones and swaps his own the way other men change shirts. He checks
into hotels under false names, dyes his hair, sleeps on sofas and floors,
and uses cash instead of credit cards, often borrowed from friends.
"By being determined to be on this path, and not to compromise, I've wound
up in an extraordinary situation," Mr. Assange said over lunch last
Sunday, when he arrived sporting a woolen beanie and a wispy stubble and
trailing a youthful entourage that included a filmmaker assigned to
document any unpleasant surprises.
In his remarkable journey to notoriety, Mr. Assange, founder of the
WikiLeaks whistle-blowers' Web site, sees the next few weeks as his most
hazardous. Now he is making his most brazen disclosure yet: 391,832 secret
documents on the Iraqi war. He held a news conference in London on
Saturday, saying that the release "constituted the most comprehensive and
detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record."
Twelve weeks ago, he posted on his organization's Web site some 77,000
classified Pentagon documents on the Afghan conflict.
Much has changed since 2006, when Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian,
used years of computer hacking and what friends call a near genius I.Q. to
establish WikiLeaks, redefining whistle-blowing by gathering secrets in
bulk, storing them beyond the reach of governments and others determined
to retrieve them, then releasing them instantly, and globally.
Now it is not just governments that denounce him: some of his own comrades
are abandoning him for what they see as erratic and imperious behavior,
and a nearly delusional grandeur unmatched by an awareness that the
digital secrets he reveals can have a price in flesh and blood.
Several WikiLeaks colleagues say he alone decided to release the Afghan
documents without removing the names of Afghan intelligence sources for
NATO troops. "We were very, very upset with that, and with the way he
spoke about it afterwards," said Birgitta Jonsdottir, a core WikiLeaks
volunteer and a member of Iceland's Parliament. "If he could just focus on
the important things he does, it would be better."
He is also being investigated in connection with accusations of rape and
molestation involving two Swedish women. Mr. Assange has denied the
allegations, saying the relations were consensual. But prosecutors in
Sweden have yet to formally approve charges or dismiss the case eight
weeks after the complaints against Mr. Assange were filed, damaging his
quest for a secure base for himself and WikiLeaks. Though he characterizes
the claims as "a smear campaign," the scandal has compounded the pressures
of his cloaked life.
"When it comes to the point where you occasionally look forward to being
in prison on the basis that you might be able to spend a day reading a
book, the realization dawns that perhaps the situation has become a little
more stressful than you would like," he said over the London lunch.
Mr. Assange has come a long way from an unsettled childhood in Australia
as a self-acknowledged social misfit who narrowly avoided prison after
being convicted on 25 charges of computer hacking in 1995. History is
punctuated by spies, defectors and others who revealed the most
inflammatory secrets of their age. Mr. Assange has become that figure for
the Internet era, with as yet unreckoned consequences for himself and for
the keepers of the world's secrets.
"I've been waiting 40 years for someone to disclose information on a scale
that might really make a difference," said Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed a
1,000-page secret study of the Vietnam War in 1971 that became known as
the Pentagon Papers.
Mr. Ellsberg said he saw kindred spirits in Mr. Assange and Pfc. Bradley
Manning, the 22-year-old former Army intelligence operative under
detention in Quantico, Va., suspected of leaking the Iraq and Afghan
"They were willing to go to prison for life, or be executed, to put out
this information," Mr. Ellsberg said.
Underlying Mr. Assange's anxieties is deep uncertainty about what the
United States and its allies may do next. Pentagon and Justice department
officials have said they are weighing his actions under the 1917 Espionage
Act. They have demanded that Mr. Assange "return" all government documents
in his possession, undertake not to publish any new ones and not "solicit"
further American materials.
Mr. Assange has responded by going on the run, but has found no refuge.
Amid the Afghan documents controversy, he flew to Sweden, seeking a
residence permit and protection under that country's broad press freedoms.
His initial welcome was euphoric.
"They called me the James Bond of journalism," he recalled wryly. "It got
me a lot of fans, and some of them ended up causing me a bit of trouble."
Within days, his liaisons with two Swedish women led to an arrest warrant
on charges of rape and molestation. Karin Rosander, a spokesperson for the
prosecutor, said last week that the police were continuing to investigate.
In late September, he left Stockholm for Berlin. A bag he checked on the
almost empty flight disappeared, with three encrypted laptops. It has not
resurfaced; Mr. Assange suspects it was intercepted. From Germany, he
traveled to London, wary at being detained on arrival. Under British law,
his Australian passport entitles him to remain for six months. Iceland,
another country with generous press freedoms and a strong WikiLeaks
following, has also lost its appeal, with Mr. Assange concluding that its
government, like Britain's, is too easily influenced by Washington. In his
native Australia, ministers have signaled their willingness to cooperate
with the United States if it opens a prosecution. Mr. Assange said a
senior Australian official told him, "You play outside the rules, and you
will be dealt with outside the rules."
He faces attack from within, too.
After the Sweden scandal, strains within WikiLeaks reached a breaking
point, with some of Mr. Assange's closest collaborators publicly
defecting. The New York Times spoke with dozens of people who have worked
with and supported him in Iceland, Sweden, Germany, Britain and the United
States. What emerged was a picture of the founder of WikiLeaks as its
prime innovator and charismatic force but as someone whose growing
celebrity has been matched by an increasingly dictatorial, eccentric and
Effectively, as Mr. Assange pursues his fugitive's life, his leadership is
enforced over the Internet. Even remotely, his style is imperious. In an
online exchange with one volunteer, a transcript of which was obtained by
The Times, he warned that WikiLeaks would disintegrate without him. "We've
been in a Unity or Death situation for a few months now," he said.
When Herbert Snorrason, a 25-year-old political activist in Iceland,
questioned Mr. Assange's judgment over a number of issues in an online
exchange last month, Mr. Assange was uncompromising. "I don't like your
tone," he said, according to a transcript. "If it continues, you're out."
Mr. Assange cast himself as indispensable. "I am the heart and soul of
this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder,
organizer, financier, and all the rest," he said. "If you have a problem
with me," he told Mr. Snorrason, using an expletive, he should quit.
In an interview about the exchange, Mr. Snorrason's conclusion was stark.
"He is not in his right mind," he said. In London, Mr. Assange was
dismissive of all those who have criticized him. "These are not
consequential people," he said.
"About a dozen" disillusioned volunteers have left recently, said Smari
McCarthy, an Icelandic volunteer who has distanced himself in the recent
turmoil. In late summer, Mr. Assange suspended Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a
German who had been the WikiLeaks spokesman under the pseudonym Daniel
Schmitt, accusing him of unspecified "bad behavior." Many more activists,
Mr. McCarthy said, are likely to follow.
Mr. Assange denied that any important volunteers had quit, apart from Mr.
Domscheit-Berg. But further defections could paralyze an organization that
Mr. Assange says has 40 core volunteers and about 800 mostly unpaid
followers to maintain a diffuse web of computer servers and to secure the
system against attack - to guard against the kind of infiltration that
WikiLeaks itself has used to generate its revelations.
Mr. Assange's detractors also accuse him of pursuing a vendetta against
the United States. In London, Mr. Assange said America was an increasingly
militarized society and a threat to democracy. Moreover, he said, "we have
been attacked by the United States, so we are forced into a position where
we must defend ourselves."
Even among those challenging Mr. Assange's leadership style, there is
recognition that the intricate computer and financial architecture
WikiLeaks uses to shield it against its enemies has depended on its
founder. "He's very unique and extremely capable," said Ms. Jonsdottir,
the Icelandic lawmaker.
A Rash of Scoops
Before posting the documents on Afghanistan and Iraq, WikiLeaks enjoyed a
string of coups.
Supporters were thrilled when the organization posted documents on the
Guantanamo Bay detention operation, the contents of Sarah Palin's personal
Yahoo email account, reports of extrajudicial killings in Kenya and East
Timor, the membership rolls of the neo-Nazi British National Party and a
combat video showing American Apache helicopters in Baghdad in 2007
gunning down at least 12 people, including two Reuters journalists.
But now, WikiLeaks has been met with new doubts. Amnesty International and
Reporters Without Borders have joined the Pentagon in criticizing the
organization for risking people's lives by publishing war logs identifying
Afghans working for the Americans or acting as informers.
A Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan using the pseudonym Zabiullah Mujahid
said in a telephone interview that the Taliban had formed a nine-member
"commission" after the Afghan documents were posted "to find about people
who are spying." He said the Taliban had a "wanted" list of 1,800 Afghans
and was comparing that with names WikiLeaks provided.
"After the process is completed, our Taliban court will decide about such
people," he said.
Mr. Assange defended posting unredacted documents, saying he balanced his
decision "with the knowledge of the tremendous good and prevention of harm
that is caused" by putting the information into the public domain. "There
are no easy choices on the table for this organization," he said.
But if Mr. Assange is sustained by his sense of mission, faith is fading
among his fellow conspirators. His mood was caught vividly in an exchange
on Sept. 20 with another senior WikiLeaks figure. In an encrypted online
chat, a transcript of which was passed to The Times, Mr. Assange was
dismissive of his colleagues. He described them as "a confederacy of
fools," and asked his interlocutor, "Am I dealing with a complete retard?"
In London, Mr. Assange was angered when asked about the rifts. He
responded testily to questions about WikiLeaks's opaque finances, Private
Manning's fate and WikiLeaks's apparent lack of accountability to anybody
but himself, calling the questions "cretinous," "facile" and reminiscent
Mr. Assange has been equivocal about Private Manning, talking in late
summer as though the soldier was unavoidable collateral damage, much like
the Afghans named as informers in the secret Pentagon documents.
But in London, he took a more sympathetic view, describing Private Manning
as a "political prisoner" facing a jail term of up to 52 years, without
confirming that he was the source of the disclosed war logs. "We have a
duty to assist Mr. Manning and other people who are facing legal and other
consequences," he said.
Mr. Assange's own fate seems as imperiled as Private Manning's. Last
Monday, the Swedish Migration Board said Mr. Assange's bid for a residence
permit had been rejected. His British visa will expire early next year.
When he left the London restaurant at twilight, heading into the shadows,
he declined to say where he was going. The man who has put some of the
world's most powerful institutions on his watch list was, once more, on
Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, and Dexter Filkins
from Kabul, Afghanistan.
On 12/1/10 1:29 PM, Sean Noonan wrote:
Is he even still in sweden?
From: Lena Bell
Date: Wed, 01 Dec 2010 13:10:26
To: Analyst List
Reply-To: Analyst List
Subject: Re: Info - Wiki Founder
Not sure that's happening re Oz; federal police have opened up an
investigation to see whether or not any Australian criminal laws were
broken. - where did Nick get the insight about an agreed extradition -
there is nothing about this on OS and of course it would mean Assange
would have to come home first. Something he is very unlikely to do.
GovGen hasn't ruled out canceling his passport incidentally.
His mother has recently been interviewed by the ABC and she is scared
that he will be "hunted down and jailed"... will make it difficult to
pursue the scenario painted below. Australians are likely to back him.
You wouldn't believe how much press/public sentiment david hicks created
in Guantanamo Bay. It really forced the Howard govt to change tactics...
esp when polling results overall were so poor.**
Bayless Parsley wrote:
The main thing I was trying to ask about earlier was in regards to the
logistics of actually detaining the guy.
I got the sense that Fred was saying US agents could physically do it
in another country. Perhaps I just misunderstood what he was trying to
say, because I find that really hard to believe (as rendition is not
an option in this case, which is why I brought up the fact that some
Republican congressmen are trying to call Assange a "terrorist" now).
Basic fact is that any move to arrest the guy (assuming they get an
indictment for him) would require that a friendly government do it and
then extradite him. Nick Miller told me the Australians have already
offered to do this, as Assange is an Australian citizen, and Australia
is the Canada of the southern hemisphere when it comes to its
relations with the US.
Also, Karen had a very good point about the sex charges. Weren't those
dropped months ago after the initial allegations? What do ya know,
after the US explictly warned him time and again to stop publishing
the cables, it pops back up all of a sudden...
On 12/1/10 12:36 PM, Reva Bhalla wrote:
can you charge them with anything if they paid for the information?
On Dec 1, 2010, at 12:35 PM, Sean Noonan wrote:
You mean by helping Manning get the information off the networks?
Training, computer codes, flash drives, etc??
That's a good point.
On 12/1/10 12:31 PM, George Friedman wrote:
He might have facilitated or suborned the access. For example,
provided the means for distirbuting it.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
*From: *Sean Noonan
*Date: *Wed, 1 Dec 2010 12:19:09 -0600 (CST)
*To: *Analyst List
*ReplyTo: *Analyst List
*Subject: *Re: Info - Wiki Founder
I think it's very difficult to indict him on anything though.
MAYBE espionage, but even those laws are still too old. I think
your FBI contact is right (sadly). the US can really only get the
person who did the leak, not who published it--George also pointed
this out over the weekend.
What would the sealed indictment be for?
(this is also why they will get him on some other charges in
On 12/1/10 12:15 PM, Fred Burton wrote:
Sealed indictment. Hand the warrant over to the USMS to execute.
Happens everyday. The USMS works w/their counterparts and lock the dude
Bayless Parsley wrote:
How would it work if the US wanted to catch such a high profile target
like this? Despite what one Republican senator may have said the other
day (can't remember who, or if it was even a senator), he's not a
"terrorist," and so rendition..... wouldn't really be an option.
But legally, you'd have to have the host government's cooperation. Is
there any way aside from that scenario that could lead to his arrest
on charges of breaking US laws?
On 12/1/10 12:12 PM, Fred Burton wrote:
>From a very good contact @ the FBI --
How come you guys haven't picked this left-wing lunatic WikiLeaks founder up on
some sort of trumped up charge?
1st Amendment overprotects journalists.
Office: +1 512-279-9479
Mobile: +1 512-758-5967
Strategic Forecasting, Inc.
Office: +1 512-279-9479
Mobile: +1 512-758-5967
Strategic Forecasting, Inc.
Originally charged with murder, the charges were later reduced to involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, and on January 23, 2012 Wuterich pled guilty to a single count of negligent dereliction of duty as part of an agreement with military prosecutors. In exchange, all other charges were dropped.Wuterich was sentenced on January 24 and convicted to forfeiture of two-thirds of pay for three months and reduction in rank to private.
Marie Colvin 1995
My Best Friend, Journalist Marie Colvin an American working for Britain's The Sunday Times, was killed in Homs-Syria today.
Her intrepidness invited comparisons with the pioneering war reporter and fellow American Martha Gellhorn. Born in Long Island, she was educated at Yale University and started her career as a police reporter for a news agency in New York before moving to Paris and then London. She joined the Sunday Times in 1986 as a Middle East correspondent, covering the strife in Beirut, the intifada in Israel, the Iran-Iraq war, and Yemen, where she smuggled herself in from Djibouti by boat. By the time the first Gulf War came around in 1991 she was already battle-hardened. She was decorated for her reporting from Chechnya, where she was pinned down by fire from Russian aircraft and troops. Finding her last relatively sensible line of retreat cut off by paratroopers, she escaped over an icy mountain path into Georgia, but after four perilous days' journey found herself stranded.
Marie had a knack for getting into places before her contemporaries and leaving long after they had given up, her goal, to report the whole story and in depth. She was a brave and courageous woman and will be sorely missed. My first meeting with Marie was in Vienna, Austria in 1995, when she did a piece on me for The Sunday times, we kept in contact over the years, anyone who met Marie was immediately taken by her strength of character and her ease of wit. The only battle scars that Marie showed were the physical ones and with her usual elan she made them into a positive rather than a negative. Marie's dedication to reporting made her the respected name is journalism that she is. I fear that with her loss the world of journalism has lost a lot more of it's integrity.
Marie's death came as a double blow to me, firstly the loss of such a wonderful person and journalist and secondly for her death to occur in Syria a country so beautiful but troubled, a country that I have fond memories of because it was there that I reunited with my family in 2004.
Marie you are immortal in our memories, R.I.P. My condolences to your family and everyone who's life you touched, like me they too will never forget you.
Death in RAF helicopter and secret prison camp in Iraq desert raises questions about legality of British and US operations.
On the evening of 11 April 2003, a pair of RAF CH47 Chinook helicopters swept over Iraq's western desert towards a remote rendezvous point beside Route 10, the highway that begins life on the outskirts of Baghdad before running for mile after mile towards the border with Jordan.
As they approached their destination, the crews assumed they were on an operation that would be uneventful. Two days earlier Saddam Hussein's statue had been toppled after American tanks rolled into the Iraqi capital; three weeks later George Bush would stand in front of a banner saying "mission accomplished".
The helicopter crews had been told that a number of detainees were under armed guard at the side of the highway. They were to pick them up after dark and take them to a prison camp. What followed was far from routine: before the night was out, one man had died on board one of the helicopters, allegedly beaten to death by RAF personnel.
The incident was immediately shrouded in secrecy. When the Guardian heard about it and began to ask questions, the Ministry of Defence responded with an extraordinary degree of obstruction and obfuscation, evading questions not just for days but for weeks and months. The RAF's own police examined the death in an investigation codenamed Operation Raker, but this ended with some of the most salient facts remaining deeply buried. The alleged culprits faced no charges.
Asked where the men were being taken, the MoD had initially indicated that they were en route to a prisoner of war camp, one inspected regularly by the Red Cross.
Later it became clear that this was not correct: they were being transported to an altogether more secret location. The truth about the mission raises some searching questions about the legality of some of the British forces' operations carried out in close co-operation with US allies.
One of the first hints that something untoward had happened aboard one of the RAF Chinooks came six years later when Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Mercer was giving evidence at the public inquiry into the death of Baha Mousa, the hotel receptionist tortured to death by British troops in September that year.
Mercer, who had been the British army's most senior lawyer in Iraq, told the inquiry that by the time of Mousa's death, several other people had died in UK military custody.
Asked about these mysterious deaths, the Ministry of Defence named one of the deceased as Tanik Mahmud, and said he had "sustained a fatal injury" while travelling aboard an RAF Chinook. Perplexingly, the ministry added that the cause of his death remained unknown.
'Unlawful killing'Asked how they could be sure he had suffered a fatal injury when the cause of his death was not known, the MoD took five weeks to answer.
Eventually, officials admitted that the RAF had received a complaint – anonymously, they said – that "three RAF Regiment personnel on board the helicopter had kicked, punched or otherwise assaulted Mr Mahmud leading to unlawful killing".
This raised many other questions, which the MoD appeared sometimes reluctant to answer.
One of the few that it answered promptly – within hours – concerned the location to which the prisoners were being taken. They were going to Umm Qasr, the MoD said: this was the town on the Kuwaiti border where British and American forces had constructed a large prisoner-of-war camp, a place that came under the supervision of military lawyers and was inspected regularly by the Red Cross.
More information about the incident was to be found in a number of documents released in Australia under that country's freedom of information laws.
The deceased had been one of 64 men detained at a roadblock set up by a soldiers of the Australian SAS. Working alongside a solitary member of a US airforce unit, the 20 Australians were attempting to capture so-called "high-value targets", former high-ranking members of the deposed regime attempting to flee the country.
Seven days earlier, Saddam had appeared suddenly in the middle of a crowd of cheering supporters, an event that was filmed and broadcast on Iraqi TV, along with a speech he was said to have made in which he exhorted his countrymen to "fight them brothers, hit them day and night". The coalition forces were determined to find him.
Three of the prisoners at the side of the highway were suspected of being officials of Saddam's ruling Ba'ath party. Four were held because they were Iranians and in possession of an enormous sum of cash – more than $600,000 – and a letter offering a bounty for each American killed.
The remainder of the prisoners appear to have fallen under suspicion because they were travelling together on a coach. Some were Iraqis and others were Syrian, and all were to be interrogated about Saddam.
None of the 64 were armed, however, and none were in uniform. A number were middle-aged and at least one was severely disabled. Despite this, the men were to be detained as EPWs, enemy prisoners of war. They were to be loaded into the Chinooks in groups of eight and ferried to the prison camp.
As a result of what might be described as a legal sleight of hand, the men were never recorded as prisoners of the 20 Australians. On paper, at least, the lone American was said to have captured them. This meant that the Australian government could consider itself not to be bound by a Geneva convention clause that obliged it to demand the return of any prisoner it transferred to the US if it became apparent that US forces were not treating them in accordance with the convention.
At this point in the Guardian's inquiries, a report written by the squadron leader commanding the 2nd squadron of the RAF Regiment was leaked.
This document, prepared as part of a brief US field inquiry into the incident, showed that the Australians had bound the prisoners' thumbs together before handing them over.
The RAF Regiment gunners then placed hessian bags over the prisoners' heads as they were being led aboard the Chinooks, despite a ban on hooding imposed on the UK's armed forces more than four decades earlier.
Knelt uponEach prisoner was forced to lie face down on the floor of the aircraft, and those who "refused to adopt the required position" were forced to the floor and knelt upon.
One man who slipped out of his thumb restraint and flailed his arms around was said to have been "lowered" to the floor and "subdued".
By the time the helicopters had reached their destination, two of the prisoners "were found to be unresponsive", according to the squadron leader, while "there was some commotion at the front of the aircraft" because a third prisoner, a disabled man, had somehow parted company with both his prosthetic legs.
It was a windy night, the sand was being whipped up by the Chinooks' rotor blades, and visibility was down to 1.5 metres. The American troops who received the prisoners say the British appeared to be rushing, anxious to transport them all before dawn.
The two "unresponsive" men were loaded into the back of a Humvee vehicle, face down and on top of each other, while the man with no legs was placed in the front passenger seat.
All three were driven to a "holding facility", where one was declared dead. The bag had been taped so securely over his head that it needed to be cut off.
The US inquiry concluded that "appropriate" methods had been used to subdue the man who died. The RAF made no attempt to contact next of kin to inform them of his death, however. Were it not for the anonymous complaint, this would have been the end of the matter.
The complaint is understood to have been made by a member of the Chinook's crew, unhappy at what he saw happening in the helicopter's cabin as they were flying to the camp. After receiving the complaint, the RAF police moved slowly.
According to the MoD, they waited more than a year after the death before asking an RAF pathologist whether the body should be exhumed and examined. Asked to explain the delay, the MoD said the investigators "did not know Mr Mahmud's place of burial".
Once the location was disclosed by the US military, officials explained, "discussions took place on the feasibility of accessing Mr Mahmud's remains, taking into account serious security concerns and obtaining permission from the local imam". At this point, according to the MoD, the RAF pathologist "indicated that given the climate and the degree of decomposition since the death, it would be extremely difficult to establish cause of death". As a result, no postmortem examination was ever carried out.
This advice surprises one eminent civilian pathologist, who says that only exhumation could reveal the state of decomposition.
Derrick Pounder, professor of forensic medicine at the University of Dundee, who has experience of exhumations and postmortem examinations in the Middle East – including cases of deaths in custody – said: "That advice would be contrary to the advice that any UK forensic scientist would offer to any police in the UK who were investigating an allegation of assault leading to death."
He says an examination of the hard tissue may have revealed evidence of an assault before the prisoner died: ribs, for example, sometimes fracture in a distinctive manner when kicked. Asked whether a copy of the pathologist's advice would be made available, the MoD said no copy could be found in its files. After this advice was received the case was passed to RAF's prosecutors, who advised that there was insufficient evidence to bring any charges. They also concluded that any further investigation was pointless.
Asked why the men had been taken as EPWs, when none were armed and all were wearing civilian clothes, the MoD appeared to be stumped.
"UK forces did not detain these individuals, they transported them," the ministry said. "This is not a question we can answer. This question should be directed to the detaining country."
Eventually, the Guardianobtained a copy of the passport that had been in the dead man's pocket, and the death certificate that had been issued by the US military authorities. The passport showed the dead man was a Baghdad odd-job man aged 36. It also showed that his name was not Tanik Mahmud, but Tariq Sabri al-Fahdawi. The RAF police investigation appeared to have been so superficial that it had failed to establish the dead man's identity.
Unknown cause of deathThe certificate recorded Sabri's cause of death as unknown. It also showed that the whereabouts of his grave, far from being uncertain, could be pinpointed precisely. The American officer who completed the certificate had gone to considerable lengths to ensure it could be found, beyond the airfield perimeter: "700m out front gate to first culvert, 191 degrees for 50m, next to grave with stacked stones in same location ..."
But of greater significance was what the death certificate revealed about the location of the airfield. It showed that the 64 prisoners had not been flown to the prison camp at Umm Qasr at all. They had been taken an airfield codenamed H1, described on the certificate as the forward operating base of a US special forces unit known as Task Force-20. H1 was an airfield built next to an oil pipeline pumping station.
It was 350 miles north-west of Umm Qasr, in the middle of Iraq's western desert, a vast and desolate expanse of sand and scree. The nearest settlement was many miles away: it is difficult to see how there could have been a "local imam" whose permission needed to be sought before exhumation, or how anyone in the vicinity who could pose "serious security concerns".
The holding facility at H1 was not inspected by the Red Cross. Moreover, its existence was not disclosed to Lieutenant Colonel Mercer, the UK's most senior army lawyer in Iraq at the time. Mercer says he was "extremely surprised" to learn of its existence.
He said: "This matter potentially raises very serious questions. Strenuous efforts were made at all times to ensure that all prisoners were accorded the full protection of the Geneva conventions and vigorous objections would have been raised if there was the slightest possibility of a breach of the conventions. It appears from the information disclosed that some prisoner operations were being conducted, deliberately or otherwise, outside of the chain of command."
The holding facility appears effectively to have been a secret prison – a so-called black site. It is entirely possible, according to international law experts, that taking prisoners to H1 could amount to "unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement", and that the prisoners were subjected to "enforced disappearances", both of which are war crimes under the Rome statute of the international criminal court.
One former RAF Regiment trooper who was based at H1 for several months has described being involved in a number of similar missions in which prisoners were collected from coalition special forces. This always happened "under total darkness", he says. On arrival at H1, the prisoners were handed on to people whom he describes as "other authorities".
Could this explain why the police investigation into the alleged killing of Tariq Sabri ended with some of the most basic facts – such as his name and the the cause of his death – remaining unknown?
According one well-placed source with knowledge of Operation Raker, the RAF police investigation into the death, there were some at the MoD who were concerned about the possible consequences of a more thorough inquiry: people who were filled with dread at the thought that it could lead to accusations that British forces and others had been involved in crimes against humanity.
When the MoD realised that the location to which the prisoners were flown was known to the Guardian, it quickly apologised for previously stating that they had been flown to Umm Qasr. This had been an innocent mistake, one that a spokesman said could be attributed to "admin/human error".
At this point the MoD also released a copy of the US field inquiry report, which had been withheld from the Guardian for more than a year.
The report showed that a British special forces unit known as Task Force 14, and an Australian unit known as Task Force 64 were an integral part of operations at H1. Both units were under US tactical control.
The ministry also volunteered an admission that the investigation into Sabri's death was not conducted quickly enough. But it said that this could not happen today as its procedures had changed, and added that Operation Raker was now the subject of a review by a team of military police and former civilian detectives known as IHAT – the Iraq historic allegations team.
Asked whether there was any truth in the suggestion that officials had interfered with the investigation into Sabri's death in order to suppress information about the UK's involvement with H1, the MoD replied that IHAT was "giving consideration to any involvement with the investigation of MoD officials who were external to it", and that it would be "inappropriate to comment" while that review was continuing.
Geneva conventionThe MoD was also asked whether it was satisfied that UK forces serving at H1 had never been in breach of the Geneva convention, or any other international humanitarian law. It replied by stating only that IHAT would consider the actions of those who came into contact with Sabri.
Nor would the MoD comment on another claim made by the source with knowledge of Operation Raker: that both CIA and MI6 officers were involved in the interrogation of prisoners flown secretly to H1, and that these were the "other authorities" whom RAF Regiment troopers were told would be taking possession of their prisoners. The ministry's only response to questions about non-military interrogators at H1 was a terse: "No further information."
The involvement of the CIA in Task Force 20 is no secret in the US, where it has been disclosed in Pentagon statements and congressional testimony. According to Human Rights Watch, the inter-agency unit was responsible for "some of the most serious allegations of detainee abuse" following the invasion.
Before the end of that year, the unit merged with a similar unit previously based in Afghanistan and changed its name to Task Force 121. By then, however, some at the Pentagon were sufficiently concerned about its methods to send a special investigator to Iraq. Stuart Herrington, a retired military intelligence colonel, discovered that the unit was holding undeclared "ghost" detainees and operating a secret interrogation centre to conceal its activities. Some of its prisoners showed signs of having been beaten.
This was several months before the abuses at Abu Ghraib became known, and Herrington's top-secret report shocked some in Washington. Eventually, somebody leaked it.
Over the years that followed, the unit changed its name again, to Task Force 6-26, and later to Task Force 145, possibly in an attempt to confuse adversaries. Its precise size and the names of its commanders have never been disclosed. But its methods appear to have remained the same. The American Civil Liberties Union obtained a series of US defence documents that showed that the unit's personnel had been investigated repeatedly over their alleged involvement in a catalogue of abuses. In one case, taskforce interrogators were said to have forced a 73-year-old woman to crawl around a room while a man sat on her back, before forcing a broom handle into her anus. Two of her fingers were broken. The woman, a retired teacher, said her interrogators demanded to know the whereabouts of her son and husband, both of whom she said were dead.
In 2006, an investigation by the New York Timesfound that some taskforce prisoners had been water-boarded, and others were beaten or shot with paintball guns. While a number of interrogators had been prosecuted, posters around one of their bases proclaimed "no blood, no foul": they would be safe as long as none of their subjects bled. The ultimate destination for some of the prisoners who passed though this base was said to be Abu Ghraib. The newspaper's investigation did not uncover the continuing UK involvement with the taskforce, however.
But this became clear when one British member spoke out after quitting the army in disgust. Ben Griffin, a young SAS trooper, said the unit was capturing hundreds of people who were being rendered to prisons where they faced torture, and that he had witnessed dozens of illegal acts by US troops. "My commanding officer at the time expressed his concern to the whole squadron that we were becoming the secret police of Baghdad," Griffin said. The MoD responded by obtaining a court injunction to silence Griffin, and warned he faced jail if he said any more.
The review of Operation Raker being conducted by IHAT is nearing completion, and a report is expected to be handed to the head of the RAF police at the end of this month. The MoD says it is not going to be published.
A few months ago I had an email exchange with the former Deputy Director General of The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Bruno Pellaud.
I had intended to weave this interview with the Swiss physicist into a larger report, but that didn't materialise. With IAEA inspectors recently concluding a trip to Iran and western powers still seemingly convinced that Iran is developing a bomb (watching the Republican Presidential Debates in the US you'd be forgiven for thinking they already have a nuclear arsenal and war is imminent); and with the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists plus fears that Iran may cut off the Straits of Hormuz in response to economic blockade - anxiety and tensions are escalating from multiple directions. This is why I felt this interview was too good to waste, because understanding some of the nuclear aspects of this standoff may be helpful, however overwhelmed they may be by the politics.
I began by highlighting to Mr Pellaud that, because the burden of proof was on the accusers and not the accused, Iran's accusers had reminded me of Bertrand Russell's teapot theory. Russell wrote:
'' If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.''
So why should Iran have to prove that it doesn't want a nuclear weapon? Why isn't it up to its accusers to prove their claim? And are we seeing a situation that could be resolved peacefully if there was the appetite for it from all parties, be it not for a global game of chicken, of poker-faces and hurt feelings?
Here's an excerpt of the exchange:
IG: Is it actually possible for a nation to categorically prove that a nuclear programme is peaceful?
BP: Not in absolute terms. For sure, Bertrand Russell's teapot theory applies here also - on the impossibility of the accused party proving a negative, and the shifting of the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused. Or of demonstrating the absence of a needle in a stack of hay. Nonetheless, circumstantial evidence provided in full transparency will help the State to come pretty close to a solid proof. Firstly, through the absence of suspicious activities which do not belong by nature to a peaceful programme (e.g. working on uranium in metallic form). Secondly, by being outright forthcoming, by offering more information and access than requested by inspectors.
The accumulation of circumstantial evidence over the scope of activities, over the full extent of the country and over time put gradually the State in a position to prove the point categorically.
IG: What do you make of President Obama's claim that Iran is the only member of the NPT who has not been able to demonstrate that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes?
BP: Be it only for Russell’s teapot theory, this formulation is patently wrong. Some other countries have recently been named rightly or wrongly in this connection: Myanmar and Venezuela in particular. Some countries have in the past engaged in non-peaceful activities – e.g. South Africa, Argentina and Brazil. Did those countries provide an iron-clad demonstration that they have renounced? I think so, but others may still believe differently - in the name of the “absolute truth” and of a more categorical proof.
President Obama should have said “that Iran is the only member of the NPT who denies to the IAEA the information and the access to facilities that would enable the IAEA to verify that its nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes”. Take note: “…the IAEA to verify”, not to ascertain, not to prove categorically. The obligation for the accused is to allow the accuser to do an appropriate verification job.In Iran, the refusals to respond to IAEA’s requests and the systematic attempts to conceal information have marked the relationship with the IAEA since the early nineties. Accepted by the highest officials of the Islamic Republic in 2003, the obligation to provide early information to the IAEA about new facilities has been contested by Iran since 2007 with fallacious legal arguments (an obligation that has been accepted by all other States). Furthermore, Iran refuses to join the more than 100 countries that open the doors to any relevant facility that the IAEA may wish to inspect. Hiding activities and facilities goes counter to proving categorically that the programme is peaceful.And one counter example. In late 1993, South Africa “demonstrated” that its nuclear programme had been dismantled by granting the IAEA full access to all corners of the former programme. Comparing that with a huge tree, the IAEA verified a large number of branched activities (not all) – walking up the trunk, the branches, the twigs and then to the leaves, with the complete help of all the South Africans met by inspectors. On this account, the IAEA Director General Hans Blix concluded - with a very high degree of confidence - that South Africa had fulfilled its commitment. In early 2003, Hans Blix concluded that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction left, after conducting a vast verification campaign during which the Iraqis tried systematically to deny access, to refuse information, to hide people and facilities, to lie about minor things and to mislead the inspectors - AS IF they had much to hide. Among other things, this behaviour led the Americans to believe wrongly that Hans Blix was wrong…
National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski visited Afghanistan in 1979:
This is what he said to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
"We know of their deep belief in God, and we are confident their struggle will succeed. That land over there is yours, you’ll go back to it one day because your fight will prevail, and you’ll have your homes and your mosques back again. Because your cause is right and God is on your side"
Former British Foreign secretary, Robin Cook said:
"Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.'
Hilary Clinton admits that the American government created, supported and supplied the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 70's, these Mujahideen became Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the Brotherhood of Islam. The very terrorists that they now fight in their "War on Terror".
Yes Mrs Clinton They created them and we pay the price.
Mr. Obama, President of the United States of America welcomes the mass murderer Noori Al-Maliki to the Whitehouse and says without shame that Iraq is a safe, independent, sovereign state in which Al-Maliki is a Democratically elected leader.
Yes Mr. Obama, in Al-Maliki's democratic Iraq there are 138,000 in prison and an unknown amount in secret prisons, seven of which have been discovered recently. During the dictator Saddam Hussein's reign we had 14,800 prisoners -this information was found after the 2003 invasion-
Half of the number of prisoners held under Al-Maliki's democratic government have not been afforded legal aid, a court hearing or visitation by family members, in fact once they are handcuffed and removed from the family home or wherever they are arrested ,no other news is ever passed on the family of their whereabouts or legal standing. Under this "Democratic Government" that America supports, Iraq has no electricity, no clean water, no infrastructure, no justice and no human rights. Presently there are 3 million Iraqi refugees inside Iraq -mostly since the civil war from 2006 until now- something that is not reported in the western media as it would be evidence of Americas failure. 5 million Iraqi refugees outside of Iraq and over 1.5 million killed. There are 1 million widows.
A special thanks also to you Mr. President, for your presentation of Iraq as a gift to Iran on a golden plate.
The irony of the situation is that when America chooses to go to war with another country it uses "Human Rights violations" as it's first tool in the propaganda machine. Where are the Human rights in Iraq now?
A special thanks from me to your CIA, well done and thank you for having me put on the "terrorist watch list" in Ireland, it only goes to back-up my belief that if you are honest, speak out for your people and country, have a manner or dignity, you are a terrorist in the eyes of American foreign policy. We all know that Ireland -the state not the people- will always believe what you tell it to, it is a state of America not Europe, and even if it were to try some independent thought you would keep it in line by threatening to send all the Irish illegal immigrants home, just like your predecessor Mr. Bush did when the Irish government didn't want to open Shannon airport to the US Military or rendition flights. If having dignity and manner, speaking out for my country, it's people, justice and human rights around the world makes me a "terrorist" in your eyes, well then sir, I will wear that title proudly.