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Thursday, December 16, 2010

'Conspiracy' or protection of news sources?

Federal prosecutors, seeking to build a case against the
WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange for his role in a huge
dissemination of classified government documents, are looking
for evidence of any collusion in his early contacts with an
Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking the
information, reports the New York Times.

'Justice Department officials are trying to find out whether
Assange encouraged or even helped the analyst, Pfc.
Bradley Manning, to extract classified military and State
Department files from a government computer system. If he did
so, they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in
the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents
who then published them.'
Read More:

Again, what about Siobhan Gorman, who, as a Baltimore Sun reporter, "colluded" with an NSA employee to receive secret documents via an encrypted email service? Gorman, now with the Wall Street Journal, was not charged though her source received a stiff prison sentence.

It seems probable that federal prosecutors are trying to get the accused leaker, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to give a statement implicating Assange in a conspiracy case in exchange for a milder sentence than the maximum.

First of all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know how to download a cache of files onto a flash drive. That's routine stuff. Secondly, Manning -- who hasn't been charged let alone convicted -- once he decided to pass the data to Wikileaks, would have needed to know a secure means of transmission. You may call this conspiracy, but it's no different from the conspiracy engaged in by Times reporter Elisabeth Busmiller to receive calssified national intelligence information. She had to assure, as best she could, confidentiality in the transmission.

In other words, Assange's "conspiracy" is very likely simply a "conspiracy" to protect a news source.

The Air Force is still blocking news sites that show classified documents but other Pentagon units were not going that far. Still, what the Obama administration is doing is laughable, and hard to fathom.

To wit, the rest of the Defense Dept. was following guidance that has already been issued by the Obama administration and the Defense Department directing hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors not to read the secret cables and other classified documents published by Wikileaks unless the workers have the required security clearance or authorization.

“Classified information, whether or not already posted on public websites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors, until it is declassified by an appropriate U.S. Government authority,” said a notice sent on Dec. 3 by the Office of Management and Budget, which is part of the White House, to agency and department heads, says the Times.

It also illustrates the contortions the military and other government agencies appear to be going through to limit the spread of classified information that has become widely available in the public domain, the Times observed.

My feeling is that the subversive invisible government is freaking out over the loss of face it is suffering over its ability to run its dirty system via "classified" information networks. It is trying to "show authority" somehow, somewhere, even though the horse is long gone from the barn.

“It is unfortunate that the U.S. Air Force has chosen not to allow its personnel access to information that virtually everyone else in the world can access,” said a spokeswoman for The Times, Danielle Rhoades Ha.

Biden chides Spain on Kosovo in secret cable newly published by Wikileaks.

Here is the cable:


DE RUEHSG #0331/01 0972057
O 072057Z APR 09



E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/07/2019

Classified By: Ambassador Paul Simons for reasons 1.4 (b/d).

¶1. (U) March 28, 2009; 9:20 am; Vina del Mar, Chile.

¶2. (U) Participants:

Joseph Biden, Vice President
Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the
Vice President
Brian McKeon, Deputy National Security Advisor to
the Vice President
Dan Restrepo, Senior Director, Western Hemisphere
Affairs, National Security Council
Craig Kelly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S.
Dept. of State
Brian Harris (notetaker), Political/Economic
Chief, U.S. Embassy Guatemala City

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Prime Minister
Bernadino Leon, Secretary General of the Presidency
Nieves Goicoechea, Deputy Secretary of State for
Trinidad Jimenez, Deputy Secretary of State for
Latin America
Maria Solanes, Presidential Counselor for
International Affairs

¶3. (C) Summary: During a bilateral meeting on the margins
of the Progressive Governance Leaders Summit in Chile, Vice
President Joseph Biden and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis
Rodriguez Zapatero discussed the need for a strengthened
relationship and greater collaboration between Europe and the
United States. Vice President Biden pledged increased
consultation with Europe and called on Spain and other
European nations to follow through on commitments with
action. He also criticized the lack of consultation prior to
Spain's withdrawal from Kosovo and requested Spain consult
the United States earlier and in a more transparent fashion
in the future. Zapatero defended the decision to withdraw
but allowed that Spain could have consulted earlier with the
United States. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Expectations and New U.S. Approach to Foreign Policy
--------------------------------------------- -------

¶4. (C) PM Zapatero opened the meeting by congratulating Vice
President Biden on the election victory and saying it had
raised expectations in Spain and throughout Europe for a new
relationship with the United States. Vice President Biden
thanked Zapatero and added that expectations may be too high,
and President Obama knows that high expectations have more to
do with the failures of the previous administration than with
his new administration.

¶5. (C) Vice President Biden added that we want to change our
foreign policy paradigm. We know that most of our challenges
lie beyond the scope of the United States to confront alone
and that President Obama genuinely wants engage in dialogue
with partners around the world to develop consensus around
solutions. We know what the pillars of our policy are, but
unless we listen and work with our partners, it will not
matter much.

¶6. (C) Vice President Biden went on to say that Spain and
the United States have worked as great partners in Iraq and
we need to enhance the cooperation between our two countries.
The relationship has not been all positive in recent years
but there was no reason why it could not change instantly.

¶7. (C) Zapatero responded that managing the relationship
between the United States and Spain under the Bush
administration was easy for him. Whatever position the Bush
Administration took, he would take the opposite and see his
domestic poll numbers increase. Sarcastically, Zapatero said
"for that I will always be grateful to the Bush
Administration." Now, however, Spain, and Europe in general,
want a change in the relationship with the United States.
Europe is a group of countries that the United States can
trust. We share the same general outlook and, to a great
extent, the same strategic interests. Europe wants to see a
United States that shares decision making on global issues
and listens to everyone, rather than pushing a single
dogmatic view as with the Bush administration. Europe is the
world's greatest debating club which--despite numerous
cultures, 27 countries, and 20 languages--can still reach
consensus. Were Europeans to be a little bolder, they would
have a great impact on world affairs. Now Europeans want to

contribute to reinvigorated U.S. leadership by helping to
contribute the best ideas and principles to help solve global

¶8. (C) Vice President Biden said that for eight years the
doctrine of "my way or the high way" had been ascendant in
American foreign policy and that he had long spoken against
this in the Senate. In his recent speeches at the Munich
Security Conference and at the North Atlantic Council he had
been a consistent proponent of collaboration and consensus
building. However, consensus building can have the drawback
of leading to the lowest common denominator. Working
together, Europe and the United States must reach agreement,
then implement plans and enforce the rules of the road.
Despite being an ardent Atlanticist, Vice President Biden
noted that Europe has been reluctant to act to enforce the
rules to which Europeans have ascribed. The Obama
administration brings good news and bad news for Europeans.
Unlike the Bush administration, the Obama administration will
genuinely consult and listen to its European partners.
However, once a decision is reached, the Obama administration
will be more aggressive in asking Europeans to follow through
on its commitments.

¶9. (C) Vice President Biden said regular Americans in places
like Peoria and Albuquerque do not like being a superpower,
they want others, such as Europe to help lead. When the idea
of a European military force separate from the NATO command
structure emerged, many in the Bush administration railed
against it. However, Vice President Biden said he had been
supportive of the idea and did not view it as a threat. In a
light moment, when Zapatero said that the European Defense
Force would happen, Vice President Biden extended his hand
and said "I bet it won't." Vice President Biden said we
view the U.S.-European relationship as an axis of world
stability and we need to work together to strengthen it.


¶10. (C) Vice President Biden said that we want to genuinely
collaborate with Spain, but changing a relationship was
difficult, and required reciprocal changes. For example,
when Spain unilaterally withdrew its mission to Kosovo, we
would have appreciated advanced warning and collaboration.
The decision is a sovereign one for Spain to make and one
that the United States respects, but we should discuss it in

¶11. (C) Zapatero responded that there must have been a
misunderstanding. Spain made the decision to withdraw a year
ago and could not maintain participation in the mission once
Kosovo declared its independence and was recognized by
numerous nations. Spain is a fractious country with Basque
(ETA) terrorist organization that has killed over 900
Spaniards in an effort to split from Spain. Any hint that
the Spanish government would support the dissolution of a
country into regional components would be sensitive
politically and could embolden separatists. Therefore, Spain
could not continue to support a mission to Kosovo. However,
Zapatero allowed, Spain could have conducted more
comprehensive consultations with the United States ahead of
its withdrawal.

¶12. (U) The Office of the Vice President has cleared this

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